Former ORS, Grainger Exec Named True Value CEO

Industrial distribution veteran Chris Kempa will take over executive leadership of the hardware retailer in May.

True Value
True Value

Chicago-based hardware retailer True Value Company announced Monday that its current chief commercial officer, Chris Kempa, has been promoted to chief executive officer and that current chief financial officer, Deb O'Connor, will become president and CFO. John Hartmann, who has been True Value's CEO since 2013, KempaKempawill transition his responsibilities in May and remain a director on the company's board.

Kempa joined True Value this past December in the newly-created role of CCO. From 2017 to 2019, Kempa served as group president, industrial at Essendant, leading the business units of ORS Nasco, MEDCO, CPO Outlets and Essendant Canada. Before Essendant, Kempa spent more than 20 years in executive roles at Grainger, including titles of vice president and general manager of global business, vice president of sourcing and director of product management.

O'ConnorO'ConnorO'Connor came to True Value in 2015 with a wealth of retail experience having worked in various finance roles over the last 25 years. She spent seven years at OfficeMax, where she was the senior vice president of integration and finance, playing a critical role in the OfficeMax/Office Depot merger.

"I am very proud of the organizational depth which allows True Value to promote two capable executives from within," Hartmann said.  "As I shared last Fall when he joined the company, Chris Kempa brings a wealth of highly relevant experience thanks to his successful, two-decade career at Grainger and the impressive growth he achieved at ORS Medco. Similarly, Deb O'Connor has been my trusted CFO for five years now and knows True Value intimately. Together, I am confident that they are going to lead True Value effectively and continue to develop it into the independent hardware retailers' most reliable and highest value-added supplier."

True Value Company LogoTrue Value has 13 regional distribution centers and approximately 2,500 associates across over 4,500 stores.

"As the Company moves into this next phase of growth, we have a deep leadership bench, with Chris and Deb at the helm, to continue the important investments being made to support the growth and profitability of our retailers," said Aron Schwartz, True Value board chairman. "Chris has a long track record of successfully leading businesses in this channel and has rapidly implemented and executed an integrated merchandising, sales and pricing go-to-market strategy at True Value."

More in Staffing Changes