When Stauffers of Kissel Hill promoted Steve Norman to the role of Home & Garden Chief Operating Officer, it marked the first time that someone outside the Stauffer family has held the position. Norman replaced third-generation owner Jere Stauffer, who retired in January 2017 after 49 years of service at the company, which is based in Lititz, Pa., and includes seven home and garden stores.
“The transition has been smooth overall,” says Norman, who has been with the company since 1991, and has been a director and stockholder since 2015. “We had a plan already in place, so many areas [of the transition] had already been mapped out. Our leadership team played an integral part in our overall focus and success this past year, and our strong store management teams played a tremendous part, too.”
We caught up with Norman to learn more about what’s changed — and what remains the same — as the company charges ahead.
To keep more than 900 employees (including 288 Home & Garden team members) focused and aligned, Norman knows it’s vital to communicate goals and expectations clearly. That required refreshing and updating the company’s core messaging.
“Our board of directors recognized that our values, vision and mission (VVM) statements, as they expanded over the years, became cluttered and sometimes redundant,” Norman says. “We have not changed our values, but they’re now stated more succinctly. It was our desire that the VVM statements build organizational clarity that enables our team members to reach our goals by recognizing the importance of everyone working as a team.”
Stauffers’ refined values of teamwork, respect, integrity, commitment and service are summarized in a memorable acronym, “T.R.I.C.S. of our Trade.” The vision was refined to be: “passionately focused on meeting the needs of others,” with a streamlined mission to: “delight shoppers, energize our team, and enrich our community.”
In addition to seeing these statements posted on the wall, employees hear Norman and other company leaders talk about them regularly — at the annual companywide meeting, spring kickoff meetings at each store, and store visits and seasonal inspections throughout the year. Norman’s goals through all these interactions include: “trying to listen more, asking lots of questions, tapping into the fresh ideas and different perspectives of our talented team members, and getting good feedback on how we can make our business stronger.”
We are very fortunate to have a leadership team that challenges the status quo. [You have to be] creative and flexible with your model to see more opportunities for your business.” – STEVE NORMAN, HOME & GARDEN CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, STAUFFERS OF KISSEL HILL
With a solid plan in place and an unwavering focus on meeting growth targets, Stauffers saw record-setting year-end sales last year — resulting in the strongest year ever for the Home & Garden line of the business. Specifically, the greenhouse and home accents departments both experienced record sales growth. Boutique items like clothing, jewelry, and bath and body products also saw tremendous growth, and garden art products were strong as well.
Of course, growth often requires some difficult decisions, too. This past July, the company closed its popular Oregon Pike location in Lancaster County because, Norman says, “we were not able to expand on that site.” But with plenty of growth potential elsewhere, Stauffers offered all the Oregon Pike team members positions at its seven other locations in Pennsylvania.
The company also decided to halt online sales in January 2017, because the costs exceeded the revenue it generated. “However,” Norman says, “we continue to have an active, up-to-date website, shop.skh.com, which allows customers to [browse] our products for current price and availability at each location. At the same time, we refocused our energy on other aspects of our retail operations for growth opportunities.”
One of the biggest challenges that comes with growth has been hiring and attracting new team members to keep up with seasonal demands. “We’ve had to be more creative with our process to attract and hire this past spring season,” Norman says. That included multiple job fairs at its stores and corporate office, referral and sign-on programs, and even developing a recruitment video that showcases team members sharing what they love about working at Stauffers. (Watch the video here: www.skh.com/careers/)
Bringing the right people on board is important, he says, because teamwork and exceptional customer service have been key to Stauffers’ growth. As the company evolves, Norman and his leadership team keep exploring new ways to achieve their mission.
“We continue to position our Home & Garden line of business to be more relevant with the changing markets, and to become less seasonal in nature,” Norman says. “We are very fortunate to have a leadership team that challenges the status quo. [You have to be] creative and flexible with your model to see more opportunities for your business.”