The North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA) has brought on a new board member, Joanne Lawrie, co-owner of Annapolis Home Hardware Building Centre in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.
Lawrie has been in the hardware industry since 1988 when she started as a part-time cashier with Canadian Tire at the age of 15 and remained with the same store until high school graduation. While attending university and earning a bachelor of commerce degree, she worked retail with Sears Canada to earn spending money.
“After I graduated from university, I worked briefly in the insurance industry and learned quickly that it was not for me,” she says. “I went back to what I knew. During one of my lunch hours, I went to the local Canadian Tire store, asked to speak to the dealer and he hired me there on the spot.”
Not long after rejoining the retail world, Lawrie met her now husband, who owned and operated a Home Hardware store with his family. She says she fell in love with the business as well as her husband and has been with Home Hardware since 1996 and a Home hardware dealer since 1999.
At Annapolis Home Hardware, Lawrie says she is a jack of all trades, working in every job position except driving the boom truck. She is a multistore dealer and owns and operates seven stores, overseeing the store managers and their store operations, ordering products and managing the HR and safety components of the company.
“I lead by example and work with all the staff to help them successfully serve our customers who shop in our stores,” she says.
Lawrie says her favorite part of working in the industry is helping customers build, design and fix their dream homes and projects.
“It is exciting to be a part of their journey, helping them work through the challenges and walk them through their decision-making process,” she says. “It brings me joy to see their happy faces when they finish their projects.”
Working with her staff is another favorite part of Lawrie’s role. She says she enjoys developing and growing their staff to help them be the best to serve customers.
Looking at 2023, the biggest challenge will be to adapt to the “new normal” and reset the staff, the inventory and the new ways of serving the customers, Lawrie says.
“There is now a shift in how we operate our stores,” she says. “Change is normal and change is needed; we had to change during the COVID-19 years and it changed our labor force, consumer spending patterns and expectations. So, it is our job to adapt our ways to stay competitive in the market.”
When it comes to opportunities for 2023, Lawrie looks to rebuild the services that they previously offered customers. She wants to provide a shopping experience for customers that motivates them to drive to and shop in brick-and-mortar stores.
“We will have the opportunity to rebuild our sales team and learn new, efficient ways to use technology to be more efficient and cost effective,” Lawrie says. “The pandemic taught our communities that we are reliable and dependable. We are resilient and our customers will remember us and support us more now than before.”
As a part of the NHPA board of directors, Lawrie says she is most looking forward to learning about the power of the independent industry and how other bannered stores operate their business.
“I love to see businesses grow, and I love the power of teamwork,” she says. “We are all owners and operators, it does not matter what banner we hold because we have common issues, concerns and victories.”
She says it’s important to participate in this way as a way to support all members of the industry.
“Industry boards provide a platform to celebrate, educate and foresee change to help business owners be better at their business, serve their communities better and stay in business for a very long time,” she says. “It is a great opportunity.”