The July 23 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 19th annual Impact Merchants special report. Housewares suppliers, representing the categories that HomeWorld covers, once again were asked to nominate buyers and merchandisers believed to have made a significant impact during the past year.
The selection of the 19 Impact Merchant winners is not intended as a definitive list of the best merchants in housewares retailing. Votes went to several more merchandisers than those featured. This year’s honorees represent buyers in given categories that received the majority of votes by vendors polled.
Voters were asked to give added weight to merchandising creativity, trend and marketing astuteness, attention to detail, openness to risk, flexibility, relationship building and the ability to deliver a profitable program for both the vendors and retailer while providing value to consumers. One thing this year’s Impact Merchants share is a vote of respect by their vendors. In today’s unpredictable retail environment, that vote really counts.
Robert Wilburn, The Home Depot, Online Merchant, Housewares and Small Electrics
Robert Wilburn’s route to The Home Depot was an interesting path. An aerospace engineer by trade, he joined the home improvement retailer seven years ago after the manufacturing company he was working for left Georgia for Arizona.
“When the company I was with asked me to move with them, I tried it out for a few weeks, but quickly realized I needed to stay in Atlanta due to the life stage I was in,” Wilburn, a 2018 Impact Merchant, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. “I had several friends that worked for Home Depot in Atlanta, and I knew by their opinion of the company that it would be a phenomenal place to take my career in a new direction.”
Since joining the retailer in 2012, Wilburn has worked in several areas of the company including store operations, property management, and online merchandise planning. In 2016, he moved into merchandising as an associate merchant charged with building out Home Depot’s housewares selection online. Recently, he was promoted to the title of merchant as Home Depot continues to expand rapidly in this space.
Wilburn noted the excitement of the category is building an assortment that matches how vast Home Depot’s reach is.
“In this category, we have to make sure we have the right brands and products for our customers that match the life stage they are in,” he said. “We have customer groups that start with us during their first apartment move, when they buy their first house, and when they build their dream kitchen. My goal is to have an assortment that serves all of those consumer groups under the same roof with the quality, value, and service they expect from us.”
On a daily basis, Wilburn says his favorite thing is working with his vendors and talented peer group at Home Depot to bring those product experiences to life for the customer.
2018 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):
- Kirsten Quatromoni, HomeGoods
- Robert Wilburn, The Home Depot
- Dan Weiland, Menards
- Chris Etheridge, Conn’s
- Kevin Lubelczyk, Wayfair
- Cory Ellis, Kroger
- Kim Kimbriel, The Container Store
- Bill Nadel, Bed Bath & Beyond
- Becky Blake, Walmart
- Ashlee Cook, Ulta Beauty
- Amy Neuman, Kohl’s
- Michael Wolpert, Macy’s
- Harry Jacobs, HomeGoods
- LaToya Jackson, At Home
- Zoran Todorovic, Walmart
- Joe Hufford, J.L. Hufford
- Brittany Aluce, Kohl’s
- Allison McPartland, Wayfair
- Chris Gridley, DD’s Discounts