The survey results are in, and John Venhuizen is the highest rated speaker in the history of our PGA TOUR annual meetings! The unique ability that John has to combine humor, storytelling and humility into a presentation on Service Excellence is one that captured the attention of all in attendance. He seamlessly weaved the Ace Hardware concepts of Head, Heart and Hands into his session which hit home to all of our attendees. John spoke to the group in such a way that everyone felt they were having a one-on-one conversation with one of the most dynamic leaders they had ever had the chance to meet. Congratulations and many thanks for providing such a tremendous message on service and relationships to our team at the PGA TOUR.
“Six years ago our company was growing rapidly, yet struggling to be profitable. On the recommendation of a number of our peers, we began working with Art Freedman. Art delivered immediate results by revamping our retail pricing and rounding, which drove gross margin and our bottom line up significantly. Since then, Art’s role with Costello’s has expanded greatly and he has been instrumental in our growth and success.
A talented leader and engaging speaker, Art has spent countless hours inspiring our team of associates, managers, executives, and future leaders. He has driven results in:
1. Customer Service. Through numerous training initiatives including the implementation of
Ace’s Helpful 101
2. Marketing. By promoting creativity in branding, events, and procuring vendor funds
3. Staff development. Through many self-authored presentations on store operations and leadership including Costello’s Business Academy, an introductory leadership program given to newly hired and promoted members of management in our company.
Costello’s store count has grown by 60% in this short period; Art has been integral in positioning our company for this current and continued growth. Art has done this by creating a culture of teamwork, trust and excellence. He has added value to store operations, development & training, marketing, finance, category management, retail pricing, corporate structure – virtually every aspect of our business.
Art Freedman’s talent and passion are felt everywhere in our company from board room to sales floor.
I was recently pleased to welcome Gina Schaefer to a Hannaford Leadership Meeting where she served as an inspiring keynote speaker.
Hannaford, a successful regional grocer, is in the midst of identifying ways that we can enhance our delivery model through calculated risk-taking and changing paradigms. In an era of disruption, Hannaford is eager to learn from others about approaches that not only distinguish us in the markets where we do business, but also in ways that align with our strategy and core values.
Gina’s perspective was not only relevant but thought-provoking. Of particular interest were her views on engaging and supporting local communities, a cornerstone of both the Hannaford and the Ace Hardware model. She also provided insight to store-modeling for new geographies, including integration into urban markets and the “thinking out of the box” innovation required to achieve success in otherwise saturated areas.
Gina’s insight, wit, authenticity, and ability to connect with a diverse group of leaders around a common theme made her an exceptional addition to our annual summit.
The response from our ENTIRE organization to Gina’s address has been overwhelming! We knew that the idea of our folks hearing about the world of hardware for Gina’s perspective would be valuable but we did not anticipate how they would react. Gina made it personal. Her personal story and her honest detail of the daily opportunities and struggles of an entrepreneur launched a sea of ideas from all of the E.A. Langenfeld and TouchPoint 360 Associates of how we can help Gina and all Ace Retailers better…Yeah!!, that’s our job and why our company exists!! Almost everyone that I spoke with directly after you and Gina left asked when she was coming back. Mission Accomplished!
We were recently honored by John Venhuizen’s participation in our spring conference. Our organizations share many commonalities including our cooperative structure, being retail driven and our “David vs. Goliath” challenges. John’s keynote exhibited the passion and “Servant Heart” he and his team share in supporting Independents. Further, John captured the hearts and minds of our audience with the right mix of humor and impactful information. We deeply appreciated John’s powerful message and Ace’s example of success.
Art Freedman has brought a new way of thinking to our retailers in Ireland. The education Art has brought to our conferences from his “real world” experiences and his passionate presentation works very well in our country. Art’s energy has a way of not only inspiring the participants but also mobilizing them to ACT when they return to their business. When it comes to Customer Service, no one in the world I know of can present this message in a way that everyone can understand. When the participants leave, they have the confidence and knowledge, along with the inspiration to execute what they have learned
Tom’s message was very relevant and meaningful. He challenged our company and our customers with some ideas on how to improve business. There is credibility in his message because he feels and faces similar challenges every day at Ace. I would recommend Tom to most any business interested in a message that is real and can make an impact.
We are a general merchandise retailer as well as a manufacturer and wholesaler. Art Freedman has done several Customer Service Trainings with our entire team. Art’s real world experience, knowledge of Ace Hardware’s Customer Service techniques and presentation style has enabled our company to develop a culture of service which far outpaces our competition.
I personally appreciate you sharing your blueprint for how local family businesses can continue to grow and thrive in a world of big box consolidation. As you know it is a passion we both share.