CHICAGO — True Value Company has announced that current Chief Commercial Officer, Chris Kempa, has been promoted to chief executive officer and the current Chief Financial Officer, Deb O’Connor will become president and CFO. John Hartmann, who has served as True Value‘s chief executive officer since 2013, will transition his responsibilities in May and remain a director on the company’s Board.
“I am very proud of the organizational depth which allows True Value to promote two capable executives from within,” said Hartmann in a press release. “As I shared last Fall when he joined the Company, Chris Kempa brings a wealth of highly relevant experience thanks to his successful, two-decade career at Grainger and the impressive growth he achieved at ORS Medco. Similarly, Deb O’Connor has been my trusted CFO for five years now and knows True Value intimately. Together, I am confident that they are going to lead True Value effectively and continue to develop it into the independent hardware retailers’ most reliable and highest value-added supplier.”
In recent years, True Value has shifted a focus to local digital marketing, while also renewing a commitment to bring along more LBM dealers. In 2018, the distributor announced that it has joined NLBMDA’s Manufacturers and Services Council, and signed Ohio-based, 146-location Carter Lumber.
“It has been my highest honor to serve the independent hardware retailer alongside the greatest support associates in the industry,” added Hartmann. “I am proud of the relationships we have built and nurtured with our members, customers, and vendor partners. I am equally proud of the relationship we have built with our financial partner, ACON Investments, which has allowed True Value to become the only branded, national wholesaler without a membership requirement, enabling retailers to invest their hard-earned money back into their business. Over the last two years, we’ve accelerated investments in the business, including the modernization of our supply chain, doubling the size of our sales force, implementing hyper-localized marketing and improving pricing across the best product assortment in the industry. There is still tremendous opportunity to be captured as we continue to find new ways to better serve the independent hardware retailers which anchor America’s communities. I am confident that Chris and Deb are extraordinarily qualified to accomplish this, and I am thrilled to continue serving as a member of the Board to support them in those efforts.”
“I’d like to extend our sincerest appreciation to John,” said Aron Schwartz, chairman of the True Value Company Board of Managers. “Over the last seven years, John’s leadership has shaped the Company, including the last two with us, where he was the visionary behind the transaction unlocking over $250 million of retailers’ equity. He was the leading advocate of investments the company has made in supply chain, technology, as well as a number of merchandising and marketing initiatives, to better serve True Value’s customers. As the company moves into this next phase of growth, we have a deep leadership bench, with Chris and Deb at the helm, to continue the important investments being made to support the growth and profitability of our retailers,” said Schwartz. “Chris has a long track record of successfully leading businesses in this channel and has rapidly implemented and executed an integrated merchandising, sales and pricing go-to-market strategy at True Value. Deb has been with the Company for five years and has been an instrumental leader in transforming the business and accelerating investments to further support all independent hardware retailers.”
Prior to joining True Value, Kempa had 25 years of experience in the distribution sector, most recently serving as CEO and group president of ORS Medco, and previously as an officer at Grainger with responsibility for its international business. O’Connor came to True Value with retail experience having worked in various finance roles over the last 25 years. She spent seven years at OfficeMax, where she was the senior vice president of integration and finance playing a critical role in the OfficeMax/Office Depot merger.