Adversity, disruption, and uncertainty. They are likely the three descriptors that will be most often employed in future to help identify the tenor of our current times, both here at home and around the world. They will be helpful in framing many of the difficulties that people in communities everywhere have struggled with for more than a year now, difficulties that are set to persist at least through to the foreseeable future. And, they’ll also most accurately describe the turbulence that’s been experienced by most retailers within the industry to this point. Despite the reality of these times, however, there are organizations that have managed to withstand the impacts of the pandemic to varying extents. And there are even some, like Peavey Industries LP, that have continued to grow.
Boasting a storied history within the industry that spans more than a half century, the company is not unfamiliar with the effects of adversity, disruptions, and uncertainty. Originally founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1967 as part of National Grain, the company opened its first National Farmway Stores location in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. After early success that saw the retailer open 20 stores within its first couple years of operation, it underwent a couple of acquisitions, a change to the brand name, and a lingering unpredictability concerning its future. However, in 1984, on the back of two years’ worth of hard work and creative efforts, the company was bought by management, establishing it for the first time as a wholly-owned Canadian company. The nature of Peavey’s first 17 years of business, and the resilience that was required from everyone who was involved, helped to lay a foundation for the brand and cultivate a culture of perseverance and innovation within the organization that remains very much intact today.
Growth Amid Uncertainty
The foundation and culture that it’s developed has also lent toward the development of qualities and characteristics that include agility, nimbleness, adaptability, and courage, enabling it to cope with impositions on its business and the industry at large, positioning it well to meet the tumult of the current situation. Operating three brands — Peavey Mart, Ace Canada, and MainStreet Hardware — the company also possesses an intimate understanding of and relationships with its loyal rural customers, supplying them with an impressive array of products and services that cater to their down-to-earth lifestyles, including agriculture, farm and ranch, pet, workwear, lawn and garden, hardware and homesteading supplies. It’s this combination of strong organizational foundation and dedication to its customers, along with its fortune of being deemed an essential retailer, that allowed Peavey Industries LP to assume a leadership role during these past 13 or so months. And, according to Dave Simmonds, Chief Operating Officer at Peavey Industries LP, it also helped to inform the company of its responsibilities and direction.
“COVID has obviously been a real game-changer for many within the retail industry,” he recognizes. “Very early on, we realized the seriousness of the situation and got to work immediately on creating a safe and comfortable environment and experience for our employees and customers. It’s remained our first and foremost concern throughout the pandemic. And what we’ve learned is that execution really matters in a situation of this magnitude. And it’s through effective execution that you build further trust with customers. Unlike a lot of other retailers, we were considered essential. Because of this, we didn’t have time to go off in a closed environment to figure out how we’d do this. We did this quickly as an organization, collaborating daily in real-time with our store operators across the country, allowing us to remain nimble, receiving and acting on constant feedback in order to continuously improve our operations throughout the pandemic.”
In addition to ensuring the safest, most comfortable environment possible for its employees and patrons in its stores, the company has also been incredibly busy throughout the pandemic, finishing work that it had started prior to the global spread of COVID-19 while breaking ground on new projects as well. The company completed the acquisition of TSC Stores at the end of 2017, converting 51 locations in Manitoba and Ontario into Peavey Mart stores, adding to its 34 existing locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It recently wrapped up the conversion in full on March 20 of this year, followed closely by the launch of the company’s new peaveymart.com website on April 1, which merged both tscstores.com and peaveymart.com to create an entirely new digital experience for the brand and its virtual customers. It’s a feat that Jest Sidloski, Vice President Marketing, Customer Experience and eCommerce at Peavey Industries LP, recognizes as a massive achievement and the final piece of the company’s national brand alignment.
“The entire team has put so much work into the store conversion,” he explains. “It was a monstrous task and an accomplishment that we’re really proud of. It’s the reason we’re celebrating with our National Grand Opening Month at all Peavey Mart locations in Canada throughout the month of April. Our brand conversion finalized, and our celebrations started with the soft launch of our website, which has been introduced as a starting point from which features and benefits can rapidly grow. There are a lot of enhancements coming to the website, including personalization and a more intuitive search. PayPal will also be added into the system very soon. But, initial traffic on the site at the moment is incredible. Site and checkout speed improvements have been made and sales are off to a good start as well. In fact, our conversion rate today is about three-times higher than it was on our old platform. Consumer feedback has been amazing. We really couldn’t have asked for a better launch.”
Expanding Store Network
Sidloski also points out that peaveymart.com e-commerce sales in 2020 were twice that of the previous year, but says that the best is yet to come with an improved experience supported by a more robust infrastructure. However, digital is not the only area that the company is investing in. It also recently completed impressive expansions of its Camrose and Vegreville Peavey Mart stores in Alberta, and announced three new locations in Airdrie, Alberta, Brooks, Alberta and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. What’s more, a new flagship location for the brand will be erected in Red Deer, with ground breaking in May of this year and an opening scheduled one year later. The addition of new locations to the Peavey Mart store network is clearly a signal of intent from Canada’s national farm and ranch retailer. But Simmonds believes that it’s also a testament to the character of the company and the path it had long ago set.
“We’ve been very much a growth company for quite some time,” he asserts. “In fact, many of our most recent initiatives, including our acquisition of Ace Canada, new locations, the development and launch of our new website, were all part of our strategy long before COVID. We had already identified them as opportunities for growth. Staying on track with the company’s vision and delivering on these critical pieces has been key to much of our success. And, of course, maintaining an unwavering focus on our customer helps to drive everything that we do. Our customer-base had been growing year after year prior to the pandemic. But COVID has in a big way highlighted Peavey Mart and got the brand recognized by people outside of our traditional markets. As a result, there are a lot of customers that have recently discovered the Peavey Mart brand and the fact that we have the items that they’re looking for. Because of this, we were presented with a massive opportunity to be there for Canadians during a difficult time.”
When speaking of the tremendous growth that the company has experienced in recent years, as well as the opportunities that it has managed to seize, Simmonds directs much of the credit toward the people at Peavey Industries LP. He describes the company’s employees as its greatest asset, saying that they have been instrumental in executing on all of the initiatives that have been undertaken over the course of the past five years or so. And he says that the role they play in helping the company continue to move forward amid further growth will be just as critical.
“The biggest reason for our success, both prior to COVID and during the pandemic, is our people,” he states. “They’ve helped to support our growth strategy and are so important in helping to collectively achieve our goals and targets. Without them and their level of commitment to the company, we wouldn’t be able to deliver on anything that we’re currently doing. And, as a group, the company continues to learn as we grow. It’s very much a part of our culture and history. The Red Deer flagship is exciting because it gives us the opportunity to take all of the things that we’ve learned over the last several years and leverage them to create an incredible experience for our customers. And that learning and evolution helps us consistently look toward the future as well. For instance, there’s tremendous opportunity for us to really grow the Ace brand in Canada and further develop what it means to Canadians.”
Complementing the growth of its store network and investment into enhancing the digital Peavey Mart experience, the company also offers its highly successful private label products, including OxGear, Harvest Gear, Harvest Grade, Harvest Goodness. And, it just recently launched its online seed store, onlineseeds.ca, a service that delivers garden and vegetable seeds right to the customer’s front door. It’s all representative of the company’s relentless pursuit of growth and commitment to the communities it serves. But, according to Simmonds, it’s also indicative of Peavey Industries LP’s dedication to constantly improve its offering and the experience it provides for its customers.
“Internally, we’re working through a number of different projects that are aimed at improving our efficiency and effectiveness operationally. We’re adapting some of our systems to enhance the work we do and how we do it. It’s going to enable our current and future growth. We’re also having a lot of great conversations around further store growth for both Peavey Mart and Ace. There’s a lot of white space across Canada. And as a national retailer, we’re going to be looking to introduce our brands to new markets. We’re also always looking very closely at product lines and assortment that will complement what we do, presenting us with lots of opportunity for organic growth. And, enabling a lot of our growth is our new digital omnichannel strategy. It’s allowing us to extend our reach even further into communities right across the country. It all adds up to very exciting things for the company, its brands and our customers.”