Fort Wayne-based Do It Best Corp. says business has been surging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation’s second-largest hardware cooperative has used a tech-focused supply chain strategy it says has allowed it to keep up with what Vice President of Logistics Tim Miller calls a “historic surge” in demand for the home improvement industry. The co-op says warehouse sales more than doubled in some locations during the first two weeks in May.
Miller discussed the efforts in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“Every day’s been a Saturday and Saturdays are big days in hardware and home improvement for our retailers,” said Miller. “We’ve experienced double-digit sales increase in March and April and those are typically strong months for us. Our May sales for brick-and-mortar were up 50%. Our online e-commerce fulfillment was up over 150% and that just has continued all the way through June.”
Miller says the co-op, which has over 3,800 stores throughout the county, has seen record sales in a variety of items such as paint, lawn and garden, outdoor living, and general hardware. That’s in addition to COVID-related products such as hand sanitizers, disinfectants, gloves and masks.
“For example, our hand sanitizer sales…we’ve sold more than a 40-year supply in just the last couple of months. Isopropyl alcohol is up over 500%. We’ve sold infrared thermometers, hundreds of thousands of dollars; that’s a category that we’ve never even stocked until very recently and so keeping up with that demand’s been a challenge.”
Do It Best says it had a plan in place even before the pandemic hit, which contributed to its response.
“One of the very first things we did back in early March when this all started to play out was we initiated our Business Continuity Plan. We assemble that team a couple times a year, but it’s usually in response to a localized disaster like a blizzard or a hurricane…and our key objective has always been to continue to provide our store owners with an uninterrupted of merchandise.”
Miller says that process involved working on the co-op’s supply chain, placing very large orders of speculative goods, and locking alternative suppliers as needed.