Events Schedule

Tuesday, August 13


IGC Keynote – Through Your Customers’ Eyes: What Science Shows They See (And Ignore!) While Shopping Your Store

Presented by
Dr. Bridget Behe, Professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University
(Located at Show entrance)

State of Independents Conference Midyear Review

1:00pm – 1:30pm

Welcome & State of the Industry—A Midyear Review

Presented by
Dan Tratensek, Hardware Retailing, NRHA

So far, 2019 has already had its share of ups and downs in the home improvement industry, from the impact of tariffs to the wild weather throughout the country. During this session, NRHA will share insights from recent research about the health of the home improvement industry through the first half of the year and thoughts on where things might be headed during the coming months.

1:35pm – 2:15pm

A Changing Industry

Presented by
Jim Robisch, The Farnsworth Group

During this presentation, Jim Robisch will provide a broad overview of the factors impacting home improvement retailing and the industry at large. Ranging from a review of outside influences and shopper dynamics impacting the industry to retail trends, this session will undoubtedly provide attendees with a better understanding of the home improvement landscape.

2:30pm – 3:45pm

Growing Impact: How Lawn and Garden Has Emerged as a Primary Driver for Home Improvement

Moderated by
Dan Tratensek, Hardware Retailing, NRHA

During this retailer panel discussion, we will hear from successful home improvement retailers who are setting their operations apart from the competition by offering best-in-class lawn, garden and outdoor living assortments. Learn from these retailers what it takes to be competitive in this key category and how they continue to redefine the role lawn and garden plays within the home improvement industry.

NRHA STIHL Foundations of Leadership Conference Kick-off

4:00pm – 4:15pm

Welcome, Opening Remarks and STIHL Donation to Fuller Center Presentation

Presented by
Scott Wright, Executive Director, Retail Leadership Institute, North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA)

Roger Phelps, Corporate Communications Manager, STIHL Inc.

4:15pm – 5:00pm

Panel Discussion — The Independent’s Advantage: Vibrant Stores Through Leadership, Loyalty and Growth

Moderated by
Scott Wright, Executive Director, Retail Leadership Institute, North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA)

This session will feature professional insights from the instructors in NRHA’s Retail Management Certification Program (RMCP) and the Foundations of Leadership program discussing major challenges and opportunities that independent retailers face today as they pertain to growing their operations. This session will also preview some of the learning themes that will be presented on Day 2 of the NRHA STIHL Foundations of Leadership Conference.


  • Wil Davis, Ball State Innovation Corp
  • Dr. Rob Mathews, Director, Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, Ball State University & Co-owner, M & W Gardens
  • Dr. Mike Goldsby, Chief Entrepreneurship Officer, Ball State University
  • Roger Phelps, Corporate Communications Manager, STIHL Inc.

Wednesday, August 14


IGC Keynote – What Can a Classic Rock Star Do To Help You & Your Garden Centers? PLENTY!

Presented by
Jeff Baxter, Rock Musician & Consultant to U.S. Department of Defense
(Located at Show entrance)

NRHA STIHL Foundations of Leadership Conference

10:00am – 10:45am

Keynote – The Power of Purpose: An Independent’s Advantage in All Seasons

Presented by
Wil Davis, Ball State Innovation Corp

Not only do our stores cater to the various seasons of the year, business cycles induce even larger and longer-term “seasons” through which we must lead and manage. This session will explore a conceptual framework to guide us as we make decisions through various transitions in the cycles of business. According to author and researcher, Jim Collins, the foundation for any organization’s existence, and the source of its sustainable competitive advantage, lies in its core purpose. This session is designed to encourage identification and pursuit of the core purposes of our businesses. We will challenge our understanding of why people work, teach a model based on alignment of purpose between individuals and companies, and discuss the legacy we leave personally and corporately when we align personal and corporate purposes.

11:00am – 11:45am

Keynote – The Power of Purpose: An Independent’s Advantage in All Seasons

Presented by
Dr. Rob Mathews, Director, Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, Ball State University & Co-owner, M & W Gardens

Dr. Rob Mathews brings a unique perspective with more than 23 years of retail home improvement experience as well as nearly 20 years of academic experience in Ball State University’s nationally acclaimed entrepreneurship programs. Mathews will offer his five key insights for retail excellence based on his business ownership and consulting experiences as well as his academic research. Those insights include living by your purpose and brand promise, building a multitalented team, professionalization, embracing a culture of innovation and focusing on customer experience details. Mathews, co-author of “Entrepreneurship the Disney Way,” will also infuse best practices from his work with Disney Parks and Resorts and companies like Procter & Gamble into each insight.

1:00pm – 1:45pm

Leveraging Your Local Leadership: How Buying Into Buying Local Can Help You Become a Better Local Leader

Presented by
Bill Brunelle, Co-Founder of Independent We Stand

American shoppers’ desire to buy local has never been stronger. In this session, attendees will learn more about the buy-local movement and how it can help drive sales and help you become a local leader in your community. We’ll present research that proves that buying local is better for the local economy, and you’ll learn about resources you can use in your hometown to more completely leverage your localness.

2:00pm – 2:45pm

Workforce Development in the 21st Century: The Independent Retailer’s Advantage in Creating a Desirable Workplace

Presented by
Dr. Mike Goldsby, Chief Entrepreneurship Officer, Ball State University

The No. 1 issue in the modern economy is workforce development. Companies are seeking motivated and loyal employees, and the workforce is seeking engaging workplaces. Much of this phenomenon is driven by the millennials and Generation Z entering and moving through the workforce ranks. These groups do not look for traditional work-life balance. They see their work and personal lives as one life. Driven by values different than their parents, they seek places to work that benefit their communities and respect their employees and customers as the main objectives of business. In sum, this is the key source of the independent store advantage. Unlike Fortune 500 corporations, independent stores have an advantage creating the very types of businesses that millennials and Generation Z are seeking. In this talk, Dr. Mike Goldsby covers employee productivity, leadership pipelines and engagement cultures where people want to learn and grow in the independent stores where they are employed. You will take away tips for accomplishing these goals.

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Servant Leadership in Action: The Building Blocks of Community Stewardship

Presented by
Jeff Cardwell, President and CEO, Cardwell Home Center
Scott Wright, Executive Director, Retail Leadership Institute, North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA)

In this one-on-one discussion, Jeff Cardwell, who owns a Do it Best Home Center in Indianapolis, will discuss his journey as a servant leader though his involvement with The Fuller Center for Housing and The People Helping People Network that he founded. Learn how to apply the principles of servant leadership to establish your business as a community action center that helps residents in times of need. Learn about simple events you can stage to fight hunger in your community and how to help community residents in need make necessary home repairs or even realize the dream of homeownership. The insights gained from this session will cover the basics of community servanthood to set you and your business apart from the rest.

5:45pm – 7:00pm

Rock Concert – Starship

(Located at Show entrance)

Thursday, August 15


IGC Keynote – Cracking the Millennial Code: A Look at the Generation Who at Times Makes Us Laugh … And Tear Our Hair Out!

Presented by
Mark Belling, Top-Rated Radio Talk Show Host & Award-Winning Commentator
(Located at Show entrance)

Event Speakers

Jeff Baxter

Jeff Baxter is an American guitarist, known for his stints in the rock bands Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers during the 1970s and Spirit in the 1980s. More recently, he has worked as a defense consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense. In his exclusive keynote at IGC Show 2019, Baxter will highlight creative, unconventional problem-solving and planning techniques by showing how to apply knowledge gained in one area to advance goals in completely different fields.

Bridget Behe

Dr. Bridget Behe joined Michigan State in 1997 after working for eight years as an assistant professor then associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at Auburn University in Alabama. Dr. Behe earned her PhD from Penn State after earning a masters degree from The Ohio State University. Before that, she earned simultaneous bachelors degrees in horticulture and agricultural education, from Penn State University. Dr. Behe is also a certified florist.

Mark Belling

Mark Belling is the afternoon drive time host on News/Talk 1130 WISN-AM in Milwaukee. He is also a weekly columnist for many local newspapers in the Milwaukee area. Belling is one of the best-known local talk show hosts in America. He has for years been one of TALKERS magazine’s “100 Heavy Hitters,” a listing of the most important talk shows in America. He has won the Marconi award for best radio host in America. Mark’s show is a mixture of his principled conservatism, lifestyle issues and anything else “I feel like talking about.”

Bill Brunelle

Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a campaign sponsored by STIHL, Do it Best Corp. and PPG Paints, that is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. Brunelle is a regular presenter at events within the independent channel.

Wilbur R. (Wil) Davis

Wil Davis is co-founder of Ontario Systems, a software development company that focuses on the receivables management industry. Ontario Systems serves a national client base from its offices in Muncie, Indiana. Over the course of more than 30 years, the company has grown from a custom software business into the premier software provider in many of its selected markets. Davis received his undergraduate degree and his MBA from Ball State University. He began his career as an accounting supervisor and later accepted a position as a systems engineer in the industrial engineering automation group of Fisher Guide Division of General Motors before he co-founded what became Ontario Systems in 1980. Long in demand as a keynote speaker and seminar leader, he has published his first book, “Creating a Culture of Excellence: Changing the World of Work One Person at a Time.”

Dr. Mike Goldsby

Dr. Mike Goldsby is the chief entrepreneurship officer and executive director of the Ball State University Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise, the Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, professor of management, and director emeritus of the Entrepreneurship Center and Program at Ball State University. He teaches creativity, innovation, and design in the university’s nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs in entrepreneurship. Ball State University’s Entrepreneurship Program and Center have earned national rankings under his leadership. Dr. Goldsby is also the featured instructor for Ball State University’s Great Courses entrepreneurship series.

Dr. Rob Mathews

Dr. Rob Mathews is the director and operations manager of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Ball State University. He is also an instructor of management in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship Center in the Miller College of Business. He currently teaches the introductory entrepreneurship course, “The Entrepreneurial Experience.” Mathews has also led courses in market research, the business plan, entrepreneurial design, entrepreneurial decision-making, entrepreneurial consulting, management ethics, marketing for new ventures and entrepreneurial finance.Mathews has previously been part owner in Marco True Value Hardware in Marco Island, Florida, and owner of Mathews True Value Home Center in Pendleton, Indiana.

Jim Robisch

Jim Robisch is senior partner of The Farnsworth Group, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in the hardware, home improvement and building supply markets. Robisch directs all retailer and wholesale service activities for the firm including customer intelligence, brand positioning, advertising, market expansion, customer satisfaction, consumer research, contractor satisfaction, market image, growth and strategic planning.

Dan Tratensek

Dan Tratensek has worked at the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) for more than 20 years and is currently executive vice president and publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine. In his role, Tratensek works with each segment of the independent home improvement channel to help retailers run better, more profitable operations.

Scott Wright

Scott Wright has spent the past 20 years developing programs and services to serve the North American Retail Hardware Association’s mission of helping retailers become better and more profitable merchants. During his tenure, Wright has spearheaded the development of NRHA’s industry-leading training programs, including the NRHA Retail Leadership Institute, which houses the Retail Management Certification Program, the Foundations of Leadership program and many other advanced educational and networking opportunities for independent home improvement retailers.