Clint Spence has been involved in the hardware industry for more than 43 years at Beaudesert Mitre 10 and is a valued member of the Hardware Australia Committee, Chair of the Queensland state committee and this year was appointed our Vice-Chair.
When we caught up with Clint earlier in the month, we found out more about his career challenges, highlights and how he came to join our state & national committee.
How did you get involved in the hardware industry?
In 1976 I started with the local council in their supply- stores department with my Scout Leader as my boss. I was introduced to bolts, cement, hard hats, safety lanterns etc for a period of 7months. Don Franklin one of three brothers that owned Beaudesert Hardware which was also an ex Scout of my present boss came and asked me to join his team at the hardware store. I thought it would be a great opportunity to know more about tools and building materials, so I began working for Beaudesert Mitre 10 in May 1977.
What has been some of the main achievements or highlights in the business over the past 12 months?
Fine tuning the business in the pricing and margin area and most recently transforming the layout of the store with the help of my staff to achieve a more comfortable shopping experience for our customers. The Covid-19 event has certainly produced a history making situations. One that comes quickly to mind is, at the height of our first lockdown I have never seen a seed packet stand stripped bare of every packet in 2 days in all of my career, just amazing.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced in the business?
The introduction of the GST in 2000. It was unchartered waters for everyone at the time, but also a challenge. We worked with computer companies, government departments, tax office, stationary, printers, industry bodies, and accountants and most importantly explaining how it was going to work to our customers; and yet today it seems so simple and part of everyday business.
What is the one business tip you would like to pass onto another hardware store?
We spend a lot of time looking after our customers which is very important, take time out twice a year to sit down and look at your figures. Learn formulations to show how you are actually performing financially. Benchmark yourself against other stores similar to yours, if that opportunity arises. Our industry and other stores have a great deal of information that can be accessed and then implemented to better ourselves. But do not forget about balancing that work/family time. I for one failed in this arena for a period but realised that watching your family growing up is so rewarding.
When did you join the Hardware Australia committee?
I was succumbed by Brian Lee a rep for Lockwood in the early 2000, our store had been a member of Hardware Association of Queensland (HAQ) for many years and utilising their training techniques and industry information. Brian invited me to join the board of Queensland. There I was, a young guy from the bush sitting at the table with all these experienced hardware retailers, a learning experience I can honestly say. I soon realised we were all there to see that our hardware industry was tracking in the right direction and arming the retailers with information and connections that would help them in their daily business routine.
Where do you see the future of the hardware industry?
As I polish up my crystal ball and see that our future remains strong. You may be able to source products, watch YouTube, and purchase online, but the hands on experience you and your staff have will never be matched by Mr Google. The younger generation coming through are “Do it for me” and I believe that’s where our opportunity lies.
What do you think is the biggest benefit of being a member of Hardware Australia?
Since the amalgamation of all the states to form Hardware Australia, we have grown in strength and experience. Our voice for the independent Hardware members is being heard, our aim to Educate, Advocate, and Associate will always be at the forefront of all our discussions and activities. The resources that are available at present for stores/ members give a sense of partnership and a comfort blanket that you can talk to a person when the need arises.
You were awarded the Brian Lee Hardware Industry legend award last year (2019), how did you feel about winning the award?
The Legends Award last year was an honour to receive in front of my fellow hardware suppliers, retailers, family, and friends. I’m a quiet achiever normally, but to be acknowledged for my work to date for the industry was rewarding. To receive the Brian Lee Award was quite ironic as I have mentioned above as Brian introduced me to the fold many years prior.
Was there anyone that helped shape your hardware career?
You never stop learning and the people you meet always teach you something different. My mangers before me (Allan & Phil) at the store, passed on their skills to me as well as Don Franklin. Don challenged everyone to do better and learn, he was a businessman through and through and I thank them all for seeing the potential in me in those early years.