Tractor Supply Puts Data and AI to Work, Promotes Three to C-Suite

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Tractor Supply Company says it’s putting its customer data into action and using artificial intelligence to communicate one-on-one with customers.

Additionally, the rural lifestyle retailer’s president and CEO Hal Lawton, who took over from Greg Sandfort last month, has promoted three senior executives and expanded the retailer’s executive committee.

    • Seth Estep, SVP of General Merchandising, has been promoted to to EVP, chief merchandising officer. A 13-year veteran of Tractor Supply, Estep assumed responsibility for Petsense in January 2020.
    • John Ordus, SVP of Store Operations, has been promoted to EVP, chief stores officer. Ordus has over two decades of Farm and Ranch retail experience, and joined Tractor Supply as a store manager in 2002
    • Colin Yankee, SVP of Supply Chain, has been promoted to EVP, chief supply chain officer. Yankee joined Tractor Supply in 2015, coming onboard from Neiman Marcus where he was VP of Logistics from 2013 to 2015.
    • Yankee and Christi Korzekwa, SVP of Marketing, have been named to its executive committee of which Estep and Ordus were already members.

“Today’s promotions of Seth, John and Colin reflect the confidence that our board of directors and I have in their capabilities and dedication to Tractor Supply’s growth and success,” said Lawton. “These executives have tremendous industry insights and have made significant contributions to the company’s growth over their tenure with Tractor Supply.”

The move comes just three weeks after Lawton took over for Sandfort, who noted on his last earnings call that the retailer made solid progress on many of its ONETractor strategic initiatives in 2019, including the rollout of Stockyard in-store kiosks and mobile POS technologies to all 2,000 stores across the chain.

He also noted the retailer’s Neighbor's Club loyalty program is approaching nearly 15 million members and boasts an 80% retention rate.

“Our loyalty program is a transformational asset to Tractor Supply that we will continue to elevate to drive greater relevance, engagement and loyalty,” commented EVP and CFO Kurt Barton on the call. “We're actioning the rich customer data we are receiving from our Neighbor's Club loyalty program.”

Looking ahead, Barton said Tractor Supply’s artificial intelligence enabled tools are allowing the retailer to scale its marketing efforts to target communication on a one-on-one basis.

“Our Neighbor's Club communication is being customized to offer products and services to an existing customer, engage a lapsed customer, or welcome a new customer to the program,” he explained.

Tractor Supply also put a new tool into place in the back half of 2019 that allows the retailer to find look-alike “lifestylers” and then digitally engage with them.

“We made great progress to improve our targeting of high value customers and look-alike customers throughout various digital channels,” Sandfort said.

In addition, the retailer said new space productivity technology for SKU localization and assortment will be implemented across the chain to help drive specific growth plans by category and refine Tractor Supply’s product mix.

“As you are acutely aware the retail industry is experiencing disruption and reinvention at an unprecedented speed,” Lawton said. “Leading retailers need to excel at not only merchandising customer service and execution, but also at data, technology, flexible supply chains and productivity.” 

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