September 2016 — Murdale True Value in Carbondale, Ill., was one of six hardware retailers honored with Beacon Awards during a special awards banquet held during The Hardware Conference in Marco Island, Fla., on Friday, September 9. The Beacon Awards are a premier national industry awards program developed by The Hardware Connection magazine and The Hardware Conference to recognize the “best of the best” independent hardware/home improvement retailers while encouraging a new generation of retailers to make their mark.

“We believe it’s important for the hardware industry to have a first-class national awards program, and there is no better place to conduct this awards program than at The Hardware Conference, which is the industry’s largest gathering of independent retailers from different wholesalers,” said Tom Delph, Beacon Awards program director.

The 2016 Beacon Awards were sponsored by Apex Tool Group, Epicor Software Corporation, Sunnyside Corporation and 3M, with wholesaler sponsorship support from True Value Company and other industry wholesalers.

The Beacon Awards honored the Retail Beacon Award winners for each of the four participating wholesalers, plus the Best New Stores in two categories: under 20,000 square feet and over 20,000 square feet. Murdale True Value Hardware was honored as the Retail Beacon Award winner for True Value Company.

“Murdale True Value Hardware is part of an outstanding group of Beacon Award winners this year. They all share similar stories of being family-owned businesses marked by innovation, creativity, passion and strong community involvement,” stated Chris Jensen, editor/principal of The Hardware Connection, the hardware industry’s leading digital publication.

What follows is an overview of True Value Hardware’s Retail Beacon Award winner:

Retail Beacon Award—Murdale True Value Hardware, Carbondale, IL

George Sheffer has been in the retail hardware business since 1979, when he worked in partnership to operate hardware stores in Harrisburg and Carbondale, Ill. He eventually became sole owner of the Carbondale store, Murdale True Value, and later sold the Harrisburg location so he could concentrate on the greater potential of the Carbondale store. His wife Diane has been involved the entire time as bookkeeper for the business. Murdale True Value was named “Best Hardware Store in Town” by True Value for 2015.

Murdale True Value started out with a 10,000-square-foot sales floor, but George kept expanding until it now features 28,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The store features four distinct businesses: hardware, rental, appliance, and lock and locksmith. George employs five full-time locksmiths and can handle anything from safes and master keys to auto chip keys.

The Just Ask Rental department offers tools and construction equipment but is also big in party supplies and inflatables. They do lots of weddings and are the main supplier of tents for tailgating and other events at Southern Illinois University in town. George belongs to the BrandSource buying group for major appliances, which allows him to remain competitive in the category against the big boxes in his trade area.

The staff of 30 is dedicated to giving friendly “customer delight,” not just customer satisfaction, and associates are paid to take ongoing training courses.

Murdale True Value adopted the Destination True Value format and underwent a complete remodel in 2012 and 2013. The entire assortment was scrutinized and tweaked to ensure dominance in core categories. New gondolas and new lighting were installed, making the store brighter and easier to shop as well as more female friendly.

George believes there are four legs to a successful business: customers, employees, financial backing and a good supplier. True Value has been his partner in the business since the beginning and he credits them with showing him how to get into the rental business, training his staff, attracting customers with monthly promotional flyers, modernizing his store and coming to his aid when 100 mile-per-hour winds knocked power out for a week.

Murdale True Value puts on big events such as Safe Halloween, which attracts thousands of kids, and holds fundraisers for the local pet shelter and other charities. Product and project demonstrations are held in the store every Saturday from 10 to 2. “We’re very involved in the community. It’s another way to distinguish ourselves from other stores,” George says.

George strives to stock items that make his store a destination. Murdale True Value is known to have the largest selection of nuts and bolts in southern Illinois. The knife selection is huge and the furnace filter selection is so large it’s the store of choice for HVAC contractors. About 2,000 square feet is devoted to grills and barbecue accessories. A grill is set up outside the store every Saturday to cook food and wow customers.

George is fond of the saying: “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.” He views his job as taking good care of his employees and credits his success to them. His manager, Morris Arnold, who is retiring in December, has been with him for more than 30 years, and George brought him along to The Hardware Conference as a thank you for his years of service. “It’s always nice to have your store picked out for recognition,” George says, “but I’ve had a lot of help along the way.”


More About the Beacon Award Sponsors:

Apex Tool Group

Apex Tool Group is one of the largest manufacturers of professional hand and power tools in the world, with corporate headquarters in Sparks, Md. With a portfolio of more than 30 brands, the tools stand for quality, innovation and value.

Epicor Software Corporation

Epicor Software Corp. is a global leader delivering inspired business software solutions to more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries. Thousands of leading retailers use the Epicor Eagle N Series business management solution to become more competitive in their business operations.

Sunnyside Corporation

Sunnyside Corporation is a formulator and packager of solvents, oils and chemical-specialty products. Founded in 1893, the company is now in its fourth generation of family ownership.

3M Company

At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily. With $30 billion in sales, our 90,000 employees connect with customers all around the world. The 3M Construction & Home Improvement Division offers products for painting, decorating and repair, safety and home environment for both do-it-yourselfers and professionals.

The Hardware Connection

The Hardware Connection is the industry’s leading digital publication, published eight times a year to help independent hardware/home improvement retailers improve and grow their businesses, to help manufacturers better understand the needs of retailers and to help strengthen the two-step channel of distribution.  The Hardware Connection magazine is distributed to over 64,000 people in the hardware industry.

The Hardware Conference

Now in its 28th year, The Hardware Conference in Marco Island, Fla., is the industry’s largest gathering of independent hardware retailers regardless of wholesaler affiliation.

Profiles of the Beacon Award honorees will be featured in the Sept/Oct 2016 issue of The Hardware Connection magazine. For more information, go to

Beacon Awards Contact: Chris Jensen, 317-514-8864