Who's Speaking at the Conference?

Keynote Speakers

Jason Ballard
Co-founder and CEO, TreeHouse

In his role at TreeHouse, the world's first home upgrade company, Jason Ballard is dedicated to working on big problems at the intersection of human civilization and the natural world. The company sets itself apart from traditional home improvement retailers with its selection of sustainable products and technologies and its turnkey solutions across all categories of the home from kitchen and bath, flooring and paint to solar, insulation, HVAC and more.

Prior to co-founding TreeHouse, Ballard worked as a green builder in Boulder, Colorado, and as an environmental consultant for utility vegetation management company ACRT. Ballard is also a GLG Social Impact Fellow, a group of social entrepreneurs. He serves on the Carbon War Room/Rocky Mountain Institute Energy Think Tank and was recently invited to join the Sustainability Advisory Council of NRG, the largest seller of green energy in the nation.

Ballard hails from East Texas and studied conservation biology at Texas A&M University. He currently resides in Austin, Texas, home of the flagship TreeHouse location, with his wife and two children.

Jules Pieri
Co-founder and CEO, The Grommet

Jules Pieri is co-founder and CEO of The Grommet, a site that has launched more than 2,500 consumer products since 2008. The company’s Citizen Commerce™ movement is reshaping how products are discovered, shared and bought. The Grommet is Pieri’s third startup, following her roles as vice president at Design Continuum and president of Ziggs.com.

Jules was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2013 and one of Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Interesting Entrepreneurs in 2014. In June 2014, she was invited to the White House Maker Faire to launch The Grommet Wholesale Platform. This extension of The Grommet’s business connects makers with main street retailers. The Grommet’s goal in the next five years is for 10 percent of all products flowing through U.S. retail originate from independent small-scale makers.

Pieri has delivered presentations on consumer trends and technologies, design and entrepreneurship at institutions such as Harvard Business School, the Savannah College of Art and Design and MIT and at conferences, including SXSW, Internet Retailer and the Conference on World Affairs.

Karen E Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk
Show Hosts, Good Bones

Karen E Laine (mom), former lawyer and Mina Starsiak Hawk (daughter), real estate agent are Two Chicks and a Hammer, Inc. They began rehabbing houses in their neighborhood near downtown Indianapolis in 2007 (before it was a “hot” neighborhood). In the process, they discovered a skill set and passion for neighborhood rehabilitation, one house at a time. They found that they could do well by doing good! In 2014, High Noon Entertainment, who filmed a pilot for HGTV, founded their company. The pilot aired in May 2015 under the name “Two Chicks and a Hammer.” In July 2015, they began filming the first season of the show now known as “Good Bones.” The series follows the expert team as they buy homes in serious disrepair, sometimes gut them to the studs and transform them into stunning remodels. They are now currently filming their third season!

Conference Speakers

Andrea Ridout
Author and Speaker

After three decades in the hardware industry and as a media personality, Andrea Ridout has become a nationally known expert on products and processes for home improvement. She has hosted numerous radio programs including Mother Earth News Radio, Ask Andrea and The Energy Show. She is a popular guest on TV morning shows around the country and was also a cast expert on DIY’s Tools and Techniques on the DIY Network.

Andrea has owned and sold three award-winning hardware businesses and has a wide breadth of knowledge from decorative hardware to eco-friendly products and gardening supplies as well as marketing to specialty groups such as women and millennials. She is also one of the country’s leading authorities on selling chicks and poultry supplies in a retail environment.

Andrea’s latest hardware venture, Gecko Hardware, was launched on Earth Day of 2013, winning national recognition in its first year as the Best New Small Hardware Store in the Country by the Beacon Awards. Gecko Hardware was recently acquired by Sharon Anderson, CEO of Half Price Books, continuing Andrea’s legacy of industry-changing concepts.

Andrea’s articles, expertise and product critiques have been in scores of magazines and newspapers as well as in her own book, “If I Had a Hammer,” published by Harper Collins. She is currently working on a manual about raising backyard chickens for Texas A&M Press.

Bill Brunelle
Co-founder, Independent We Stand

Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, PPG Pittsburgh Paints and Do it Best Corp., which 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.

Dan Tratensek
Vice President of Publishing, North American Retail Hardware Association

Dan Tratensek is the publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine and the Vice President of Publishing for the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). NRHA is a trade organization representing the $300 billion retail hardware/home improvement industry in the United States and Canada, and has published Hardware Retailing, the industry's leading trade magazine, for more than 100 years.

In his position as publisher of Hardware Retailing, Tratensek has the opportunity to visit with independent retailers of all types and sizes and shape the editorial direction of the magazine to meet the needs of the independent retailing market.

In addition to his role on Hardware Retailing, Tratensek also oversees NRHA's other publishing projects, which include a range of special interest publications, contract publishing titles, online content and more.

Daniel Duty
Founder and CEO, Conlego

Daniel Duty is an internationally known expert in the fields of negotiation, partnership building, joint business solutions and complex problem-solving. He is the founder and CEO of Conlego, a firm specializing in these areas for retail and CPG companies.

Duty built the Business Partnerships and Negotiations team for Target where he developed its negotiations and partnership strategy and implemented a variety of tools, creating billions of dollars in savings and growth.

Duty has led hundreds of negotiations on every conceivable topic with companies from private-label producers to Coca Cola, Hasbro and Levi’s. He developed strategic partnerships creating innovative new products and solutions with organizations like P&G, Starbucks and UNICEF.

Duty has taught thousands of businesspeople in the art and science of negotiation and partnerships at companies, business forums and leading universities such as Harvard, Berkeley and Northwestern.

Prior to joining Target, Daniel negotiated on behalf of U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, the U.S. International Trade Commission, General Mills and other organizations.

Jim Robisch
Senior Partner, The Farnsworth Group

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.

Scott Reynolds
President and CEO, Member Insurance

Scott Reynolds joined Member Insurance and was elected to the board in 2011. He is responsible for the overall operations of Member Insurance Limited and Member Insurance Agency.

Reynolds brings over 25 years of insurance industry experience in numerous senior level roles. Prior to Member Insurance, he was the president of United National Group, a specialty insurance company that focuses exclusively on the program market.

Prior to United National, Reynolds served as president of the Specialty Underwriting Division of AmWINS Group Inc., where he oversaw their program business from 2006 to 2008. He also served as AmWINS chief actuary from 2002 to 2006. Prior to AmWINS, Reynolds managed the finance and actuarial departments at Royal & SunAlliance USA.

Reynolds has a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Appalachian State University. He is an associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society, a member of the American Academy of Actuaries and is a licensed insurance producer and surplus lines agent throughout most of the U.S.

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