University Instructors


Wilbur R. (Wil) Davis

Davis is co-founder of Ontario Systems, a software development company that focuses on the receivables management industry. Ontario Systems serves a national client base from its offices in Muncie, Indiana.  In the more than 30 years since founding Ontario Systems, the company has grown from a custom software business into the premier software provider in many of its selected markets. Davis received his undergraduate degree and his MBA from Ball State University.  He began his career as an accounting supervisor at Mutual Federal Savings Bank and, from there, accepted a position as a systems engineer in the industrial engineering automation group of Fisher Guide Division of General Motors before he co-founded what became Ontario Systems in 1980. Long in demand as a keynote speaker and seminar leader, he has published his first book entitled: Creating a Culture of Excellence: Changing the World of Work One Person at a Time.


Dr. Mike Goldsby

Goldsby is a tenured faculty member and served as the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Ball State University for six years before becoming the CEO. Goldsby is also the featured instructor for Ball State University's Great Courses entrepreneurship series. 



Rob Mathews 

Matthews served as Assistant Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Ball State University for six years prior to moving on to the Director of Entrepreneurial Leadership at the university. Mathews has previously been part owner in Marco True Value Hardware in Marco Island, Florida, and owner of Mathews True Value Home Center in Pendleton, Indiana.

Both Goldsby and Mathews are fully certified in Basadur Applied Creativity's Simplexity Complex Problem Solving Process and as Professional Innovation Advisors. Goldsby and Mathews led the transformation of Ball State's nationally-acclaimed entrepreneurship education programs into the modern era with a design-centered, problem-solving, and opportunity finding approach. This led to various honors, including being named as the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship National Model Program in 2013, Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education in 2013, Department of Defense and Federal Laboratory Consortium Outstanding Technology Transfer Program Award in 2013, and U.S. News & World Report #1 ranked Most Impactful Classroom on the Outside World in 2012 for its Military2Market tech transfer program through the DoD and Crane Naval Base.

NRHA and Home Improvement Industry Expert Instructors

Josiah Gates
Director of Operations, Aubuchon Hardware

Gates is Director of Retail Operations for Aubuchon Hardware, which operates more than 110 retail hardware stores throughout New England. He has been involved with many aspects of the business while working for Aubuchon Hardware during the past 18 years, starting as a part time salesperson before being promoted to Store Manager, District Manager and now in his current position as Director of Operations. Gates is heavily involved in many aspects of the corporation and is responsible for developing and managing the Destination Hardware Store Program, which focuses on driving sales in Aubuchon’s best performing stores. He also works very closely with the Distribution Center in store product allocation. Gates has a BBA in Business Administration and an AB in Small Business Management from Lyndon State College in Vermont.  

Phil Mitchell
Co-Founder, Discovery-Based Retail

Mitchell is a founding partner of Discovery-Based Retail, a consulting company that helps retailers facilitate and communicate profit-focused differentiation. Having served many years in both retail and wholesale hardware operations he has developed a strong background and unique perspective that allows him to help retailers focus on the customer experience their stores create. Mathews teaches retailers to understand that a store focused on creating favorable customer experiences produces increased shop times, increased impulse sales and ultimately, better bottom-line profitability. He has designed many interior layouts and has used his knowledge and background to help improve store performance. Currently, he continues to spearhead that capacity for his company. Mitchell is the author of Discovery-Based Retail, a book that has been lauded by readers, acclaimed by industry experts and featured by trade magazines, including Hardware Retailing. He is also co-author of 10 Weeks to a Better Retail Operation. Both books have sold internationally. In addition to his consulting work, Mitchell is regularly engaged by companies to deliver educational seminars and keynote addresses.

Gary Petz
Co-Founder, Discovery-Based Retail

Petz is a partner and co-founder of Discovery-Based Retail, a consulting company that helps retailers facilitate and communicate profit-focused differentiation. His company works with many different store types. Having served many years in management at both retail and wholesale hardware and lumber operations, Petz has developed a strong background and unique perspective that allows him to help retailers focus on the customer experience their stores create. He is also the co-author of 10 Weeks to a Better Retail Operation, a book that suggests ways in which a store’s performance can be enhanced in just a short amount of time. Both books have sold internationally.

Dan Tratensek
Publisher, Hardware Retailing
Vice President of Publishing, NRHA

In his position as publisher of Hardware Retailing, Tratensek has the opportunity to visit with independent retailers of all types and sizes and shape the editorial direction of the magazine to meet the needs of the independent retailing market. In addition to his role on Hardware Retailing, he also oversees NRHA’s other publishing projects, which include a range of special interest publications, contract publishing titles, online content and more. Prior to his current position, Tratensek worked as an editor and reporter for Hardware Retailing and has been involved in business journalism and news reporting for the past two decades.

Scott Wright
Executive Director–Retail Leadership Institute, NRHA

A home improvement industry veteran, Wright has spent the past 20 years developing programs and services to serve the association’s mission of helping retailers become better and more profitable merchants. During his tenure, Wright has spearheaded the development of NRHA’s industry-leading training programs, including the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program. He was also instrumental in developing content for NRHA’s PlanItDIY Consumer Awareness Initiative. Wright has a BA in Journalism from Indiana University’s School of Journalism and was formerly Editor and Associate Publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine. Before that he served as Editorial Director of Custom Publications for the association where he was in charge of launching national B-to-B and B-to-C publications for companies such as Ace Hardware, Distribution America and United Hardware.