Walsall Hardware

Marketing for the New Millennium

By Nick Pernokas

Walsall pic 2

Martin M. Jordan worked for the famous hardware company North and Judd, of Waterbury, Connecticut, in the 1930’s. He was a salesman and he sold the entire line including a lot of military hardware. In 1947, Martin decided to go out on his own, and he started the Martin M Jordan Saddlery Hardware Company in New York City. He found some space in an industrial area near the water.

“It was on the ninth floor, and I can remember as a kid, that the elevator was one of those that shook when you went up and down in it,” recalls Martin’s grandson, Richard T. Hass.

At the time, most of the hardware companies were producing their hardware domestically. Martin went to England to get high quality hardware to compete with them. Much of the hardware was made in Walsall, England, which was the English saddle making “Capitol of the World.” Martin frequently traveled to England by boat to cultivate the relationships which would last until 1973. The initial line was a small one of about 300 items which ranged from dress buckles to saddlery hardware.

Eventually Walsall developed their own molds, and moved production to Taiwan, with a small percentage in China as well. This was in order to be able to compete in the modern hardware market. They’ve been with the same factories now for 20 years, which gives them good control over the consistency in weight and quality of their products.

In 1970 Martin died. His son in law, Richard “Dick” Hass, purchased the company with a partner, Jim Flanagan. By 1975 Dick bought everyone else out, and decided to move the company to Tempe, Arizona.

“For five years we ran the New York and Arizona offices, which made us look like a good size company,” laughs Richard.

Eventually the company was consolidated in Scottsdale, Arizona, where it has remained. Dick was successful in building the company into what it resembles today.

Fifty-six-year-old Richard began working at the company in the mid 1970’s when he was fourteen years old. Under Dick’s guidance, Richard took over running the company by the end of the 1990’s.

Dick passed away in September of 2014.

Richard’s son, also Richard, went to work running Walsall’s shipping department three years ago. With the next generation stepping into the business, Richard decided to aim for the future. He purchased an adjoining building, knocked out a wall, and built a complete “virtual” retail store. A customer cannot buy any of the 30,000 packages on display here though. The store is strictly to show retailers what the products would look like in their stores. They can visit it in person, or virtually through the Walsall Hardware website. Walsall has created a software program that lets them interact seamlessly with the client store’s database, to service and restock their accounts for them.

“Pet Smart and Home Depot do this,” says Richard. “We’re hoping that stores will be able to see our marketing concept in this way. We’ve never been in the merchandising business before, so this is a big leap.”

The store is divided into the different industries that would use a particular type of hardware. These include “Ranch, Farm, and Home Hardware,” “Stable Hardware,” “Pet Hardware,” “Marine Hardware,” “Saddlery Hardware” and “Hobby and Craft Hardware.” This is an aggressive move towards putting their product in the larger farm stores, for example, where the customer can purchase an attractively packaged single piece.

In addition, the store functions as an inventory warehouse. The product is backstocked in the store, so that it is always available, and can be shipped right away.

Walsall is also going through their molds and restructuring them. They’ve gone back to their sample boards from 30 years ago in order to duplicate some of the older and heavier products that were made then. By putting more material in the mold, they feel like they are increasing the durability and quality of the piece.

“The metal is everything,” says Richard. “We want to avoid liability problems, so we try to put a better quality product out there.”

Walsall puts stainless steel tongues in their brass buckles to make them stronger. They polish both sides of each piece so that they look good in high-end saddlery. As the trend continues towards the use of stainless steel in hardware, Walsall uses A.S.I. 316 stainless steel in their products, as opposed to the A.S.I. 304 which can be found in some other products on the market today. The 316 is a little harder and truer.

Richard likes to keep in touch with custom saddle makers. He goes to the saddle shows in Sheridan and Wichita Falls.

“The custom saddle makers are where I get my ideas from,” says Richard.

Walsall can do custom orders for the custom craftsman. They only ask that if it’s a small quantity, they are allowed to sell it to other individuals. Walsall Hardware is available to saddle makers through a distributor or direct, with a small minimum order. To find out about their hardware, go to www.walsallhardware.com, or call 800-925-7255.

Walsall Hardware

7831 East Greenway Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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