Let’s Make a Deal … and Another, and Another
Unlocking a Hardware Store’s Dream of Expansion
When Matt Woods joined his family business full time, he became its fourth-generation leader. But he’d started having an impact on the business long before, winning industry recognition for his sales-floor and inventory improvements and his smart digital and radio marketing tactics.
The business Matt inherited had a history of evolving with the times. In the hands of Matt’s parents, Acme Lock had been essentially a locksmith shop located in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. When the Woods family noticed more people returning to urban living, they saw an opportunity to serve them by carrying more household and hardware items. That shift in offerings proved so successful that when Matt joined the team, the family decided to focus even more on hardware.
Matt and his family had already begun the process of acquiring Small’s Hardware, a local chain with four neighborhood locations (Lockland, Cheviot, Harrison, and Roselawn). But the family wasn’t sure how to execute the deal. A Xavier MBA student at the time, Matt took the opportunity to add to the family’s knowledge base by signing up for a Mergers & Acquisitions class.
As it turned out, his professor was Dino Lucarelli, a Barnes Dennig Director and mergers & acquisitions authority with unparalleled experience helping companies with financial and organizational matters like acquisitions and capitalization. Dino’s extensive financial background includes long-time experience as a CPA, and he’s also served as CFO for multiple organizations.
In more ways than one, Dino would help the Woods family write the newest chapter in their business story.
The new chapter started when, that same year, Matt spearheaded the acquisition of both the hardware store chain and an internet company. When he needed experience and insights, he knew exactly who to call.
Dino stepped in to run projections, approach banks, and secure the necessary loan financing. “The biggest challenges were the bank and the other party,” said Matt. “We thought it would be done in three months – it took a year. There were a lot of moving parts, so the bank had to be fully comfortable.”
Once the deal was done, it was time to combine the two companies. And while Acme was all digital, many of Small’s Hardware’s records were actually hand-written. Again, Dino provided much-needed perspective. “He’s been through this many times. Expectations were adjusted. He was very forthcoming. There were some points when we were about ready to pull the plug and he’d say, ‘Just take a step back,’” Matt remembered. Together, they pushed through until the sale was finalized.
Afterward, Matt rebranded Acme Lock as Woods Hardware: a name that better reflected the family’s business focus and larger holdings. The rebranding was part of a vision for his company’s future that extends beyond its bricks-and-mortar/Main Street roots.
Woods Hardware reopened in a new downtown location: a renovated historic building with two stories and 8,000 square feet of space. It was now a full-service hardware store with mechanical and industrial goods on one level and housewares, gardening, pet goods, and more on the other.
Matt never wants it to get too big. He wants to create a new kind of hardware store. One that feels like a small, family-run shop but provides large-company benefits. One that combines big-box prices with familiar, helpful staff and a coffee bar that invites people to linger.
Matt is also setting the stage for a different kind of success. The Lockland location, the largest of the four he acquired, now houses Woods Hardware’s online division. Using his True Value partnership, Matt has built an internet sales team that can offer products online with competitive shipping rates.
The company is working on a virtual shopping experience that, like other cutting-edge online retailers, lets customers browse as if they’re standing in the store and receive their items in two hours. Matt dreams of being able to sell part of each shop to its manager and expand his chain to Columbus and beyond.
Something tells us he’ll find a way to get it done.
About Barnes Dennig
Barnes Dennig is a Certified Public Accounting and consulting firm serving businesses and organizations in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. We offer tax, accounting, auditing, business consulting, and business advisory services to help our clients make the most of every financial opportunity.
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About Woods Hardware
Woods Hardware is Downtown Cincinnati’s hardware and locksmith leader, specializing in such home improvement needs as paint, tools, locks/keys and locksmith services, plumbing, electrical, lawn and garden, and hardware. The store has been independently owned and operated in the Cincinnati area since 1933.