After last November’s passing of HTI founder and president Bob Coviello, KC Lapiana was named the buying group’s successor and purchased all shares of the company’s stock jointly with her husband, Jim. Prior to assuming leadership for HTI, Lapiana had been an HTI member, and is the owner of independent gourmet housewares store, In The Kitchen, located in Pittsburgh, PA.
HWB: What are some key experiences you’ve had that have played a role in helping you succeed as the owner of HTI?
KC Lapiana: I had been an HTI member for about 12 years working with Bob Coviello when he approached my husband and I about taking over HTI after his cancer diagnosis. We had developed a strong professional and personal relationship over those years. He was always very respectful of my opinions, and we had a tremendous respect for each other. Bob believed in us and that we could lead this group.
Owning and running In The Kitchen at the same time I’m running HTI puts me at an advantage because I’m down in the trenches with my peers. That’s extremely unique, and it allows me to have my finger on the pulse of the industry. I’m able to run analytics and numbers, and I can easily figure out what issues retail members in the HTI community may have. As a fellow store owner, I have the tools necessary to be able to do that.
HWB: What are your plans to grow HTI?
KC Lapiana: We are a research and education-based company. HTI stands for Housewares Training and Information, after all. We create a lot of research and education programs that are applicable to our retailers. On the vendor side, we provide sales analytics, promotional programs and insights on consumer buying trends.
For retailers, it’s not just about discounts. We give HTI members ideas about what’s happening, what’s progressing and what’s important for buying purposes as well as inventory management.
Even with our partnerships, such as credit card or gift card companies, we want to partner in a very controlled manner. I want people who can help HTI, and I want people who we can help. That’s what a buying group does; we strive to bring what’s best for every retailer and every vendor.
HWB: What makes the organization successful?
KC Lapiana: Our role in the big picture is to be able to bring like-minded individuals together to create something spectacular. I think that the industry has so much room to grow, and as long as we work together and forge forward all with a common goal, we can all be extremely successful. Additionally, the knowledge of my staff at HTI plays a big role. No one member can succeed alone. We are all dedicated to what we are doing and together we hope to continue on the legacy of HTI.