After 32 years, and a difficult 2011, Kirbie retires

The retirement of Houston-based Handy Hardware Wholesale President Tina Kirbie earlier this year marked the end of a 32-year run for the co-op executive. The company’s new leadership, meanwhile, told Home Channel News “everything’s positive and we’re moving forward.”

Kirbie, a 32-year Handy Hardware veteran who began her career as an accounting credit manager, took part in the co-op’s January market in Houston, but in a limited role. 

Kirbie’s retirement follows a tumultuous year at Handy, including supply chain and delivery errors. Kenneth White, a partner at national consulting firm Tatum, was placed in charge when Handy’s board of directors agreed to Tatum’s action plan to address issues in IT and operations.

In a letter to the membership, White thanked Kirbie for “all of her great years of service at Handy.”

As for the co-op’s operations, White said the co-op recently rolled out a radio-frequency system in the Houston and Meridian, Miss. Distribution centers. “Since we implemented it, our miss-picks and miss shipments, our longs and shorts, have pretty much dissipated.” 

Membership has remained at about 1,300 retailers, White said. And 2011 sales showed a 3% increase over 2010. He described the top-line growth as broad based. 

“Last year was a difficult year for the co-op, with a lot of operational issues” he told Home Channel News. “Yet our membership remained constant and our sales grew. That says a lot for the company.”