News Release
Contact:  Ken Pentel

July 22, 2003.  The WATER Foundation announced today the beginning of a new phase of their conservation initiative with Ace Hardware.  Called the Ace Conservation Initiative (ACI), the program stems from a mutual commitment to help reduce pollution and increase business at the same time.  The initial phase of the ACI, which started in 1994, was an “advertorial” phase with the theme Conservation Pays! promoted via the foundations nationally syndicated radio programs and mascot, Bog Frog®.  The new ACI phase will focus on sales and merchandising of Ace vendor products which help make Conservation Pay even more through increased sales.

More Ace Retailers are making conservation pay than ever before…partly because it’s the right thing to do, partly because of increasing regulations and partly because the cause creates more loyal customers and new business.  Whatever the reason, many Ace stores now host successful conservation programs ranging from internal recycling efforts to active merchandising efforts.  For example, Palo Alto Ace Hardware is the leading retailer of residential photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in California, which is the leading solar state!  Denny and Kathy’s Ace is the leading DIY promoter of Paint Recycling in Minnesota.  The Big Horn Home Improvement Center (Ace store and lumberyard in Colorado) has received a prestigious environmental award from the American Institute of Architects for its new building center.  The list is long…suffice it to say that most Ace retailers are moving towards conservation at a good pace...some faster, some slower, but all with similar directions: first, cleaning up their own operations and then letting the public know about conservation products they offer.

Mike Bodzewski, Senior VP of Marketing for Ace Hardware Corporation had this to say:  "Our commitment to conservation is important to us.  Not only is conservation vital for helping future generations have a better quality life, but we see great sales and profit potential for Ace vendors and stores.  The EPA estimates that sales of conservation-oriented products have grown to over 130 Billion dollars in 2002, up 35% from 1995.  Included are products that save energy and water, reduce pollution and waste, products made from recycled content and those which provide more natural, safer alternatives.  We plan to provide the best conservation items for Ace Retailers to sell and we want Ace to become the leader in sales of conservation products.  I have confidence that our partnership with The WATER Foundation will help us accomplish these goals because of the excellent work they did for Ace during Phase One of our ACI, starting in 1994."

Current and prospective Ace Vendors are invited to submit their product information to The WATER Foundation for consideration in the Ace Conservation Initiative.  The products will be initially considered for their actual benefits to conservation:  energy savings, water savings, pollution and waste reduction, recycled content, as well as other health and safety considerations.  The WATER Foundation is working with both the Ace Merchandising and Advertising departments to create effective merchandising and promotional strategies.  Vendor products chosen will be advertised through Ace nationally in radio, print and the internet.  A booth will display chosen vendor products at the upcoming Ace convention this October.

David Winkelman, Director of The WATER Foundation said this in a recent meeting:  “Independent hardware retailers and vendors can prosper from the growing trend towards conservation technologies.  Personal service and assistance drives conservation efforts, such as energy retrofits, pond gardening and recycling programs.  Enterprising retailers can tie-in with local electrical, plumbing, HVAC contractors and recyclers to do installs and service for their customers.  People want the personal service that the independent, community-minded store can supply.  It’s a natural marketing match.  Look at the growth of the recycling industry as an example:  Over 80% of Americans now recycle something, compared to only 20% in 1990.  Thousands of businesses have prospered from community-based recycling programs.”

Participating Ace Vendors will also become eligible to earn Conservation Merchandise awards given by The WATER Foundation and Ace each year.  Recognition and publicity will further enhance sales since winning products will be featured in trade media, conventions and related websites.

For more information on the ACI, contact The WATER Foundation at 218-764-2321 or email  Vendor Sales Reps are welcome to visit the foundation’s headquarters near Brainerd, MN to learn more about the Ace Conservation programs.

A Project of The WATER Foundation
and Ace Hardware
©Copyright 2003 The WATER Foundation