Alan Bryant is the newest addition to the True Value Hardware Co. board of directors. The president of Bryant Homecenters in California spoke withHCNabout his three-location family business and what it's like, at the age of 44, to be the youngest member of the True Value board.
HCN: You appear in an add with the slogan "Master of all things Hardwarian?" Does that describe you?
Bryant: I'm wearing a badge that says that.
HCN: Running a hardware store is not easy. Why do you do it?
Bryant: The hardware store is a critical part of small town America. It's a gathering place. To be the owner of the local hardware store and make a difference in the community is a big draw to the younger generation.
HCN: A restaurant franchise might have tens of SKUs. A hardware store has thousands. What's the key to managing everything?
Bryant: There is a lot to learn. Someone from another industry might be daunted. People wonder how you know so many different things. You definitely need to surround yourself with knowledgeable people. My brother [Paul] and I both started in the lumberyard stacking two-by-fours. Our father did us a great service by making us work through the business like everybody else. It was many years working side by side next to some really knowledgeable people.
HCN: You're 44. What's it like to be the youngest member of the True Value board of directors?
Bryant: I'm excited to be a part of that, and maybe add a little younger viewpoint to the board. It's exciting to be part of something successful. Our goals are to expand membership and make it easier for people to open new stores. One of the key things to me is trying to make a difference and allowing me to be part of something bigger.
HCN: How has the business changed from the previous generation to your generation?
Bryant: It's been interesting to watch the growth of the company with my father, and then getting to the point where we are now working on the technology side — social media and online shopping 24/7, for instance. We have great ways of gathering data through loyalty programs, things that previous generations never thought about doing.
HCN: What about the Yellow Pages?
Bryant: That, too. The days of putting an ad in the newspaper and hoping everyone sees it are long gone.