Supply House Times recently talked with Cindy Hall about being the first CEO of the Forté decorative plumbing and hardware buying group. Hall’s experience with Forté began Aug. 1 at the group’s summer conference in Chicago, which she found to have a lot of synergy between fellow shareholders (Forté shareholders operate more than 250 showrooms in the U.S. and Canada). Hall has 27 years of experience in the furniture industry and is excited to start this new chapter in her career.
How did you get involved with Forté?
CH: It was one of those random calls from the recruiter, which I normally don’t answer. On this particular day I did and they talked about the opportunities within the decorative and luxury plumbing and hardware industry. It piqued my interest.
What was your first order of business as CEO?
CH: The first two weeks, I reached out to the members and to the preferred vendors — introducing myself and letting them know I am available to listen and help wherever they need it, and act as the liaison between the member and the vendor. I’m the very first hire of Forté directly and I report to the Board of Directors, which is a new function. I look at this as a very large puzzle. Today, I’m trying to put all the edges together and then I’ll start working my way inward. But the reception from both the vendors and the members has been very welcoming.
What will be your primary job focus?
CH: I’ll be looking at every process to see where we can create more value and help produce solutions to the issues our members face.
Do you have any top items on the agenda for 2017-2018?
CH: Number one is the website and rebranding. Right now, there’s not really a good go-to website so that is something I’ve already started working on. We want to make the new website more state-of-the-art, making sure we give the members training tools, and access to sales and rebate progress. This is one way to create value, but it’s definitely one that needs to be taken care of pretty quickly.
How does Forté help its members take advantage of business opportunities?
CH: We help them connect better through networking, peer-to-peer groups and conferences — facilitating conversations between the preferred vendors and the members. We hope to create such value that more vendors and more members will want to be part of it. It is in their financial interests to be part of the buying power of the group and having the help to improve their profitability.
What would you like people to know about you?
CH: I am accessible, I am very transparent and I want to help. I’m here to be an extension of their operation. I encourage people to reach out to me with any questions they may have via my new email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you had one piece of business advice to give what would it be?
CH: Don’t spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror at things that have happened or what brought you to today. Instead, look forward to what’s to come, at what else is out there and find new solutions. Don’t let the past derail the future. They need to say, “I’m going to do things differently than I’ve done before and pave a new way.”
This article was originally titled “Creating value” in the November 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.