Asmall group of reform-minded Ace Hardware owner-members have vowed to form an independent “owners slate” of candidates to run for the board of directors at the Chicago-based co-op’s annual stockholders’ meeting in June.
In a letter circulated via e-mail and obtained by Home Channel News, the members pointed to two major events of the last three months as the impetus for their action: the aborted plan to convert the co-op into a member-owner corporation and the announcement of what was described at the time as a $154 million accounting error.
The letter explained: “Now, more than ever, it is critical that the owner-members of Ace be able to engage their board of directors and management in a meaningful dialogue, to ensure that our expectations regarding the handling of this loss and the future of our company are being fully addressed.”
Intended to be nominated for the 12-member board are Charlie Huff, CJ’s HomeCenter in Omaha, Neb.; Brian Odell, Arlinton Ace Hardware in Kensington, Calif.; Larry Perry, Woodstock Home & Hardware in Woodstock, Vt.; and Patrick Smith, Dunn Hardware in Lyndhurst, Ohio.
“The cornerstone of our candidacy is open dialogue with owners before, and after, major decisions are made,” the letter continued.
If the four member-owners become candidates, the move would mark a break from the tradition of nominees being selected by the committee running unopposed.
At corporate headquarters, Ace’s Paula Erickson, director of advertising and brand development was aware of the intention of the four to run and added it “absolutely has the ability to do so.” However, she also said the letter didn’t “completely articulate” the overall nomination process, which she defended as thorough and designed to bring the best group of diverse member-owners to the table.
“Our management team and board of directors feels strongly about who they nominate, and our board has served this company extremely well,” Erickson said.
The current 12-member board includes 11 member-owners, representing variety in terms of size, geography and type of business. She pointed to examples of that diversity, including Dick Stine, owner of 10-store Stine Lumber and Home & Yard in Louisiana, to Rick Karp, who operates urban hardware stores in San Francisco. There’s also international representation: Sameer Al-Hamidi, general manager of a 15-store chain in Saudi Arab