Steve Frawley of Emery-Waterhouse
Emery-Waterhouse CEO Steve Frawley anticipates changes now that Ace Hardware has acquired the 170-year-old regional wholesale distributor.
Some will be subtle, some substantial, and some as yet unknown.
The deal, terms of which were not revealed, also marks the beginning of a separation between Portland, Maine-based Emery
and Distribution America, the co-operative of nine regional distributors that pool together as a buying group.
"We are working out a transition plan," Frawley
"We are one of the founding members [of Distribution America], and they've done a terrific job for us."
On the new business arrangement with Ace
described the Emery model as a "high-touch, high-service personalized business.
Looking at Ace
sees a lot more clout on the buying side and "world-class distribution," he
While the plan calls for Emery to operate independently as a subsidiary of Ace, both companies say they expect to benefit through combination.
is excited about the potential for sharing of best practices.
"We think we have an opportunity to offer our customers the best of both worlds," Frawley
"Compatibility is there.
And so is the ability to add more value and services to the customer."
Emery's focus is on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, but the deal introduces the possibility of expansion beyond its traditional boundaries, as long as the distributor continues to improve and win customers, Frawley
also sees the Ace deal as a move that puts Emery
in a better position to navigate intense industry competition and consolidation.
"When you look at this world, you see it getting just more competitive," Frawley
"And it's not necessarily the independents competing against each other.
It's the Wall Street guys -- Home Depot
- that are the real challenge."
added: "The sale is not going to define Emery