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Overheard in Vegas: The 2018 National Hardware Show

Overheard in Vegas: The 2018 National Hardware Show


Last week, senior members of the Schaffer Associates team traveled to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show.  They joined thousands of industry professionals from around the world at the 73rd installment of the Show, which showcased hundreds of new products from companies across all industry sectors.  And while it’s said that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” we thought we’d violate that saying and share some of what our team members reported from their time at the National Hardware Show.

Year after year, the NHS attracts thousands of attendees, and this year was no different.  The large crowds we’ve come to expect from the Show were on hand again, with noticeable enthusiasm from attendees as well as vendors. With the topic of innovation driving most of the discussion during the Show, exhibitors with new products were especially busy. As was the case last year, home technology remains one of the most vibrant niches of our industry as we see countless new products coming online.  Outdoor living is also a popular subset, and there seemed to be no end to the grill exhibits on display at the Show!

It’s hard to walk the Show floor without noticing the impact that young companies – and young people – are having on our industry.  There were several young companies whose presence at the Show was marked by the fact that the companies were Shark Tank graduates.  Success stories like these demonstrate that the industry is changing, albeit slowly.  And while employers were quick to tell our team that they are adapting better to working with millennials, concerns remain about differences in work ethic and motivation.

One of the major points of discussion at the NHS was the continued gradual demise of traditional brick and mortar retailing in the face of the rapid rise of omnichannel retailing.  Those conversations also touched on the impact that various mergers and acquisitions may have, or are already having, on the industry.  These changes generate varying levels of excitement or concern, based on which side of the equation a particular company is on.  Attrition is expected due to these acquisitions, and therefore, many of the impacted companies have yet to determine how that attrition will affect their talent.

Speaking of talent, our team found that employers continue to struggle to locate and attract high caliber talent in our industry.  While some companies are experiencing relative stability in upper management and sales, there is a glaring need for talented hires in mid- and entry-level positions.  Also, stability at the management level is threatened by looming retirements and the lack of “bench strength,” as most companies spoke of a lack of individuals ready to take on senior management roles.  The full-employment economy we’re currently enjoying is actually taking a toll on companies throughout our industry who are looking to fill positions.  Good people are hard to find unless you work with people who know where to find them, which is where we come in.

The Schaffer Associates team is glad to have attended another successful National Hardware Show.  We saw old friends, made new ones, and we now look forward to fresh opportunities to find the most talented individuals out there for companies like yours.  Call us today.

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Schaffer Associates is a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future.

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