Ace Hardware President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Griffith announced he will retire from the hardware cooperative on March 31, 2013.
The board of directors of the Oak Brook-based hardware cooperative named Chief Operating Officer John Venhuizen to succeed Griffith. Venhuizen has already assumed the role of president, the company said in a release, while retaining his Chief Operating Officer duties. Griffith will maintain his role as Chief Executive Officer until his retirement.
Ace's board of directors and Griffith created a succession plan over the past three years, with Venhuizen the clear choice.
"Ray's decision to retire and spend more time with his family has been a deliberate and well thought-out process," said Ace Hardware Board Chairman David Ziegler. "As part of the company's succession plan, Ray and the board have worked together on the appropriate timing that is right both for the company and for Ray personally. John has worked side-by-side with Ray for the past 14 years and has unquestionably proven his leadership abilities."
In his more than eight years as the company's leader, Griffith has overseen Ace through a period of dramatic change, growth and financial success, the company said. Griffith's restructuring of Ace's supply chain improved Ace's distribution network. He expanded the company's presence in the international arena through the subsidiary transition with its own governance and Board structure.
He also enhanced Ace's commitment to communities through increased community outreach and a solid pledge to The Ace Foundation, supporting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and The American Red Cross.
"Ace's performance has been outstanding under Ray's leadership and the company is poised for a sound future under John's leadership -- strategically, financially, operationally and from a management perspective" said Ziegler. "Ray will be deeply missed. We look forward to a successful transition ahead as Ray closes the book on his commendable Ace career."
Venhuizen's career with Ace spans more than 20 years. He joined the cooperative in 1992 and served as Chief Operating Officer and as Vice President of Business Development, Retail Development, Retail Training and International. He has led many of the major business units throughout the organization, including supply chain, category management and information technology.
"John has already achieved tremendous success as a leader of this organization," said Griffith. "He has played a significant role in placing a renewed emphasis on the Ace consumer, always keeping the needs of Ace's independent retailers in mind."
Griffith joining the company in 1994. Under his leadership, he introduced and made significant progress in the company's core business strategy, bringing renewed focus to Ace's new store expansion efforts, the company said. Griffith significantly improved Ace's core competencies in wholesale pricing, product selection, customer service, distribution and marketing.