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DEALER PROFILE: Leave the Light On



Benny’s son, Bill Friedman, eased his dad into retirement in 1985, and obtained sole ownership of the company in 1999. Over the next few years, Friedman Bros. Hardware transformed the brand into Friedman’s Home Improvement. Family ownership has been reinforced now that Barry, Bill’s son, has become the third-generation president and CEO of the company.

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While Friedman’s is proud of its family roots, Barry explains that the company’s growth and innovative approach—which sets it apart from competitors—would not be possible throughout its many years without its devoted customers and team members.

“It starts with our team,” Barry says. “We have 550 employees, many of whom have been with us for a number of years; our longest team member has been with us for 45 years. Our team’s knowledge, experience, and their commitment to our customers is second to none.”

With a separate outside sales force, and a customer base of 60% retail/DIY and 40% pro, Friedman’s has consistently seen an uptick in year over year growth during the past four years, ending 2013 with total revenues reported to be more than $110 million.

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On top of attributing increasing growth trends to its team and stating that Friedman’s has only the highest standard of how it presents itself to the customers, Barry says that instead of serving just pros or retail, “we really have the best of both worlds. Our assortment of more than 42,000 different products appeals to a broad customer base. Plus, with our large square foot stores and outdoor lumberyards, we are able to supply the products that our DIY’er and pro builder customers need.”

Although Friedman’s experiences challenges like any business, such as remaining competitively priced, the operation is regularly looking for products to enhance its already broad product mix to help propel the business forward. “The opportunity is to not only have the right product, at the right price, but to also have an enhanced shopping experience for our customers,” Barry says. “We really feel like we did a great job of that in Petaluma by being able to increase the visibility and accessibility to our products, and the way that our customers interact with those products.”

A Long-Awaited Homecoming

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 When Friedman’s made the decision to return to Petaluma, the company wanted to come back stronger than ever. That’s why when the operation planned the 83,000-sq. ft. store, 3-1/2 acre yard, 35,000-sq. ft. dry shed, and 20,000-sq. ft. nursery greenhouse, it included many characteristics that made the store look and feel like Sonoma County.

“We didn’t want to just build a store,” Bill says. “It’s so important that when a customer comes into the store they feel the warmth and welcome of our business and family. It’s not just numbers, dollars and cents; it’s an experience to have the customer feel welcome.”

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