Partners in Growth
A Review of Ace's Strong Results
Growing for the Future
Working Together for Common Success
Building Customer Loyalty
Exceeding Customer Needs
Reaching out to the Community
Serving the Global Market
Leading the Team
Solidifying Ace's Premier Position

Like any good team, Ace retailers understand that each member brings different strengths, unique experiences and diverse talents to the mix. These qualities, when combined, can improve the performance of the whole team, and that’s why Ace retailer groups are not only a unique competitive advantage for Ace retailers, but are also a critical component for Ace’s continued success.

The entrepreneurs participating in retailer groups continue to operate their stores via their own methods, but use the advice and experiences of other group members to improve, enhance and grow their businesses. And each group is as unique as the stores themselves. Regardless of size, product mix or format, participating retailers find value in the experiences of the other members in their area.

In 2004, 179 retailer groups, divided by geographic area, were operating throughout the country. Each group contained, on average, 18 stores – for a total of 3,222 stores participating in Ace retailer groups. And participation in these groups has been on the rise – Ace added four new retailer groups in 2002, four new groups in 2003 and seven new groups in 2004, for a total of 270 new stores added within the past three years.

The participants in Ace’s retailer groups aren’t just growing in number – they’re also continuing to seek out bigger, better and more innovative ways to use the strength that the groups provide. For example, in the fall of 2004, 22 Ace stores in the Denver retailer group banded togethe in an entirely new way to support the grand opening of the third Ace Solutions Concept store in Lafayette, Colo.

To enhance the grand opening event, and further build the Ace brand in that market, every retailer in the group hung grand opening signage in their stores, ran the same advertising circular, promoted the same products and special prices, and even offered consumers the same daily giveaways.

These group efforts not only helped the Lafayette store opening be an outstanding success, but collective sales increased an average of nearly 22 percent for all the stores within the group throughout the event.

Being part of a retailer group also assists members in finding ways to improve business processes and enhance customer relationships throughout a given area. For example, in 2004, retailer group members throughout the Chicago area united to create and implement one uniform return policy to be used by every store within the group.

As retailer groups continue to strengthen and grow the Ace cooperative, Ace remains committed to supporting their efforts. Last August, Ace hosted its first annual two-day group leader conference, inviting those responsible for the organization and motivation of retailer groups to enhance their leadership skills through workshops and educational activities hosted by Ace’s Retail Training department. Nearly 50 group leaders attended the event, held near the Ace corporate campus in Oak Brook, Ill.

To help further foster leadership and networking among the younger retailers and team members at Ace, the Progressive Ace Leaders (PAL) group continues to expand in terms of size and scope. This unique team, which meets a minimum of three times a year including at an annual three-day conference, is working toward achieving its mission: To build relationships through learning and sharing information to grow their individual businesses and the entire Ace Team.

Being part of the Ace cooperative isn’t just about collective buying power. Through its network of engaged retailer groups, Ace is also about teamwork – retailers working together for the betterment of every member in the Ace family. Retailer groups are just one way that Ace remains focused on growth, working together to ensure collective success.

Next: Building Customer Loyalty »

Ace Hardware Corporation 2004 Annual Report
Included in the Ace family are 4,800 stores and 80,000 retailers and retail associates in all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide. Through the power of collective buying, and the ability to band together for common success in markets both near and far, the Ace retailer-owned cooperative has enjoyed retail success for more than eight decades.