Battle of the big boxes

  • Associated Press
  • Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:00pm
  • Business

ATLANTA – Home Depot Inc. CEO Bob Nardelli doesn’t like to talk about his company’s chief rival, but that doesn’t mean he’s ignoring it. He tours Lowe’s stores when he travels around the country.

He doesn’t go incognito, so he’s sometimes asked to leave.

“For the record, they were not personal visits,” Nardelli said, laughing.

Nardelli is checking out the competition as he leads Home Depot’s efforts to give its stores a new look and revamp customer service, a move that began amid a charge into its turf by North Carolina-based Lowe’s Cos.

Still, he’d rather not link Home Depot’s makeover to its rival.

“He has suffered with the comparison with Lowe’s,” said former General Electric Co. chairman and CEO Jack Welch, who used to be Nardelli’s boss. “Lowe’s has a fraction of the stores he has. His stores are older. It’s the law of size and age, but he’s fixing that.”

Nardelli, who headed GE Power Systems, was a candidate to replace Welch at GE, but didn’t get the job, instead landing the top position at Atlanta-based Home Depot in 2000. Welch said it wasn’t a consolation prize for Nardelli, but rather a perfect fit. Nardelli gave the mostly decentralized Home Depot some direction.

“He’s got an engine inside him,” Welch said.

Analysts agree that Nardelli is putting Home Depot on a better path.

Colin McGranahan, an analyst with Bernstein &Co. in New York, said the company has made its stores cleaner and brighter and is trying to appeal to a wider base of customers.

“If there is a negative, it’s that their strategy needs to be flexible,” he said.

Those who know the 56-year-old Nardelli describe him as determined.

“He’s always been very sure of the course that needs to be taken,” said Larry Mortier, who played football with Nardelli at Western Illinois University. “I see a lot of the intensity Bob had as a player in the way he approaches his professional life.”

By all accounts, Nardelli is a workaholic. He has moved 13 times and worked in numerous fields, particularly during his years at GE, from medical systems to locomotives to lighting to power plants.

Working seven days a week and staying late each night, Nardelli said he developed his strong work ethic from his father, a longtime General Electric employee. At Home Depot, Nardelli tours 300 stores a year.

“I don’t try to manage an 8-to-5,” Nardelli said. “You measure yourself in accomplishments, not time.”

That includes record financial results for Home Depot under his watch. However, the company’s stock price has fallen during his 31/2 years as CEO. Now trading in the $35 range, it’s down $16 from its early 2001 level.

Associated Press

Home Depot Inc. CEO Bob Nardelli plans to revamp his stores with a new look and a renewed emphasis on customer service.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

The Westwood Rainier is one of the seven ships in the Westwood line. The ships serve ports in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast Asia. (Photo provided by Swire Shipping)
Westwood Shipping Lines, an Everett mainstay, has new name

The four green-hulled Westwood vessels will keep their names, but the ships will display the Swire Shipping flag.

A Keyport ship docked at Lake Union in Seattle in June 2018. The ship spends most of the year in Alaska harvesting Golden King crab in the Bering Sea. During the summer it ties up for maintenance and repairs at Lake Union. (Keyport LLC)
In crabbers’ turbulent moment, Edmonds seafood processor ‘saved our season’

When a processing plant in Alaska closed, Edmonds-based business Keyport stepped up to solve a “no-win situation.”

Angela Harris, Executive Director of the Port of Edmonds, stands at the port’s marina on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Leadership, love for the Port of Edmonds got exec the job

Shoring up an aging seawall is the first order of business for Angela Harris, the first woman to lead the Edmonds port.

The Cascade Warbirds fly over Naval Station Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald file)
Bothell High School senior awarded $2,500 to keep on flying

Cascade Warbirds scholarship helps students 16-21 continue flight training and earn a private pilot’s certificate.

Rachel Gardner, the owner of Musicology Co., a new music boutique record store on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. Musicology Co. will open in February, selling used and new vinyl, CDs and other music-related merchandise. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Edmonds record shop intends to be a ‘destination for every musician’

Rachel Gardner opened Musicology Co. this month, filling a record store gap in Edmonds. owner Tom Harrison at his brick and mortar storefront on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Burst pipe permanently closes downtown Everett toy store

After a pipe flooded the store, MyMyToystore in downtown Everett closed. Owner Tom Harrison is already on to his next venture.

Melrose and Vine Collective owner Kara Langus in her vintage collection room at her store on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New and vintage women’s boutique aims to dazzle in downtown Everett

Add some sparkle to your wardrobe: Melrose and Vine Collective opened inside a former bank building on Pacific Avenue.

Garry Clark, CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
CEO steps down at Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Garry Clark, who has led the nonprofit chamber of commerce for three years, is leaving to “seek new opportunities.”

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Ex-Seagen CEO to return to Bothell to lead newly relocated biotech firm

Clay Siegall, who resigned from Seagen over allegations of domestic abuse, is now CEO of cancer therapy developer Immunome.

Molbak’s Garden Cafe in Woodinville, Washington. Photographed in 2016. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
‘Shocked and heartbroken’: Woodinville garden store Molbak’s to close

After 67 years, Molbak’s Home + Garden, a mainstay just across the county line, will cease operations early next year.

Good Cheer’s two thrift stores are great places to find Christmas decorations and other knick-knacks. (File photo by David Welton)
A guide to gift buying on Whidbey Island

Consider these unique gift idea suggestions from the South Whidbey Record and the Whidbey News-Times

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.