True Value lost an executive known as a game changer within the Chicago-based co-op. Steve Mahurin, senior vp and chief merchandising officer, will leave the co-op to become executive vp-merchandising for Office Depot at the end of March.
In a memo to True Value owners circulated Tuesday (March 25), True Value CEO Lyle Heidemann described Mahurin as a leader who, in his four years with True Value, improved the company's merchandising performance, as well as helped develop the new Destination True Value retail format. A search is on for a replacement.
The news of Mahurin’s imminent departure sent shock waves through the co-op, with some True Value members expressing disappointment. One such owner is Steve Fusek, owner of Fusek's Hardware in Indianapolis. “He'll be tough to replace, he's one in a million,” said Fusek. “He showed the company the light.”
Perry Hahn, owner of Hahn True Value in Hartford, Wis., said he was disappointed but not surprised that Mahurin was moving on after spending four years with the co-op. “Steve is a go-getter. He was a shot in the arm for True Value when we really needed it after our financial difficulties,” Hahn said. “He put programs in place that someone else can move forward with.”
Hahn was referring to the line review process Mahurin initiated shortly after joining True Value in March 2004. His team began working its way through each product category, trimming about $34 million worth of underperforming skus by the end of 2005. Mahurin also shored up the global sourcing department, patching in private labels where necessary and creating hundreds of what became known as Certified True Blue (CTB) product assortments.
“I believe he was the first real buyer this company ever had that really put the manufacturers’ feet to the fire for our stores,” said Russ Woodmansee, owner of Florence True Value Hardware in Florence, Ariz. “Steve put True Value stores in line with the big boxes on cost. He had the backbone to stand up for our buying power with the suppliers.”
Prior to his time at True Value, Mahurin worked at Home Depot for 13 years, beginning his career there as an assistant store manager and rising to the position of senior vp-merchandising.
At headquarters, True Value released a statement explaining that the company's merchandise team is focused on established goals and reporting directly to Heidemann. “We thank Steve for his invaluable contributions to the co-op, most notably his integral role in the development and rollout of our new retail format, Destination True Value, and his relentless focus on increasing our retailers’ profitability,” said Heidemann.