John Hartmann

John Hartmann
President and CEO, True Value Company

Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
Education: BS, Rochester Institute of Technology;
JD, Syracuse University College of Law;
Accelerated Leadership Program certificate, Emory University Goizueta Business School
First Job: Picking corn on a local farm
What I’m Reading: Quantum Leap Thinking by James J. Mapes
Best Advice: If you believe it, you achieve it.

Driving accountable leadership

At True Value Company, we embrace initiatives that support and empower a diverse workforce and reflect the diverse communities our independent hardware retailers serve across the United States and around the world. We’re strongest as an organization when all associates are respected, and can contribute and feel included. We’ll accomplish our best for the co-op, our retailers, and consumers when we work together, inclusively, relying on each other’s strengths to drive True Value forward. As CEO, I often speak to our associates about the importance of a diverse workforce, particularly when it comes to diversity of thought. Embracing diversity at True Value means acceptance of different races, religion and experiences, as well as thoughts, perceptions, and ideas that shape us as individuals.

The company’s focus on diversity starts at the top. I believe leadership must create and support an environment in which associates can fully contribute their talents and have the opportunity for continued growth. For this to happen, leaders must hold themselves and others accountable. When I took the role of president and CEO in May 2013, I introduced mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all people leaders, highlighting our leaders’ roles in inspiring associates to bring their varied talents together to achieve success. Every associate has different needs, and that means there are always opportunities to revisit offerings and to be flexible—the key is to recognize them and take action.

I expect our leaders to:

  • Understand why inclusion is important to business
  • Set aside bias about people who are different
  • Appreciate and honor all backgrounds, differences, and perspectives • Welcome all ideas, opinions, and feedback
  • Challenge and hold accountable those who exclude or disrespect others
  • Help people feel valued, appreciated, and included
  • Take action to improve our practices to ensure everyone is included

One of the greatest ways to lead is by example. I’ve supported the development of women’s leadership with two formal programs, as well as a young professionals group, and the inception of an associate diversity council in 2014.

Additionally, I work with our team to create benefits and programs inclusive of all our associates. True Value has proudly offered same-sex benefits since 2004. We also hold an annual values week celebration that highlights the diversity aspects of our company values.

With a consistent message across the entire organization, I am committed to ensuring that True Value’s diversity initiatives remain in place, while adding new expectations to empower our associates’ success.