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April 25, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #17


  • Call for entries: enter your banner in the 2022 Outstanding Retailer Awards!
  • Calgary’s Hillhurst Hardware sells to pros the old-fashioned way 
  • Both new and existing housing markets show signs of cooling off in March
  • Takeaways from NHPA conference at NHS: focus on your staff, online sales

PLUS: Lowe’s Canada named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers, Grainger has been named one of Fortune’s 100 Best, Wolseley Canada celebrates B.C. opening, vendors face made-in-America movement, Tractor Supply Co.’s Q1 sales, Husqvarna to acquire Heger, U.S. housing starts rise, investment in building construction up in February, and more!

Call for entries: enter your banner in the 2022 Outstanding Retailer Awards!

It’s time to start sending in your nomination forms for Hardlines’ Outstanding Retailer Awards!

The ORAs are the only national awards program in our industry that crosses all banners. Awards are presented in at least seven categories, including Best Young Retailer and Marc Robichaud Community Leader.

“It’s so rewarding to be recognized for doing a job that you love,” says Jillian Sexton, 2021 Young Retailer of the Year. “Winning an ORA gives you a unique platform to share your story with the entire industry. It’s been such a welcome surprise to be congratulated by people from every corner of the hardware world.”

“Please, please recognize that this is a big deal,” urges Alex Yakovyshenko, who won the same award in 2017. “This is a big deal for your brand; this is a big recognition industry-wide.” He underscores the pride he took in “hearing our community talk about how proud they were to have a local business recognized Canada-wide.”

Winners of the ORAs attend the Hardlines Conference as our guests. In addition to being honoured at the ORA Gala Dinner, they get to take full advantage of the jam-packed conference program. ORA winners also receive marketing materials including a write-up in Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly magazine.

Yakovyshenko recalls fondly “how welcoming the experience was.” The people, he says, “were just fantastic. Everything was planned: they flew me here, arranged the hotel. I couldn't have asked for more.”

Visit the ORA website for more information and to download the nomination form. (Oui, le formulaire est également disponible en français! – votre rédacteur fidèle). Head office staff may complete the nomination form on behalf of dealers. Entries are due by June 22, 2022. Winners will be notified by mid-July. The awards will be presented during the Hardlines Conference in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Oct. 18 to 19, 2022.


Calgary’s Hillhurst Hardware sells to pros the old-fashioned way

Hillhurst Hardware, a hardware store in Calgary, is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Phil and Jackie Larkam. Jackie is the granddaughter of the store’s founder, Abe Perry, and the current generation includes Jackie’s brother Mike Perry, who is the manager.

Hillhurst is an unusual store in many respects, starting with its proudly independent status: it is not a member of a co-op or banner group. Above all, Hillhurst is a contractor specialist store. Pros come to its downtown location from all over Calgary and beyond.

Perry said that the store is such a big player in contractor tools that it can make its own deals with suppliers. “We buy direct from manufacturers,” he said. “We have arrangements with different guys locally but most things are direct. We punch above our weight, that’s for sure.”

Hillhurst operates in a prosperous urban area with a lot of construction and growth going on all around it. All that development has been good for the store because of its pro focus. “All the construction going on is, in some aspects, pretty good—because it’s right on our doorstep,” Perry said. “With the congestion and everything, it’s getting busier down here. Sometimes it’s hard to get product in but we work around that.”

In an era when online shopping has exploded, Perry says that Hillhurst Hardware is happy doing business the old-fashioned way, face to face. “We barely sell anything online,” he said. “Contractors want to come in and hold the tool, feel the balance of it. They want to put on a tool apron and feel the weight of it.”

(This is an excerpt from a larger article in the latest edition of our sister publication, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly. HHIQ is being mailed out right now to 11,000 dealers and store managers across Canada. If you’re not getting your own copy—it’s free to retailers and retail head offices—click here!)


Both new and existing housing markets show signs of cooling off in March

Sales of existing Canadian homes fell 5.4 percent in March, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reports. That puts activity back in line with where it had been since last fall. Sales were down in about half of local markets compared with the previous month, led by declines in the Greater Toronto Area and Calgary.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in March 2022 came in 16.3 percent below the record set in March 2021. Still, the latest numbers reflect the second-highest level on record for that month.

The number of newly-listed homes fell by 5.5 percent on a month-over-month basis in March. The monthly decline was led by Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Calgary and the GTA.

“While the market remains historically very active, March definitely saw a slowdown compared to February in terms of both activity and price growth,” said Jill Oudil, chair of CREA. “One month does not make a trend, so we’ll have to wait and see if this is the beginning of the long-awaited cooling off of this market.”

The latest housing start numbers for March paint a similar picture. The annualized rate of housing starts was down by two percent from February to 246,243 units, according to the latest data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Urban starts declined by two percent, reaching 220,708 units. The biggest drop was in multi-unit urban starts—mainly condo construction—which decreased by five percent to 154,876 units. Single-detached urban starts rose by eight percent to 65,832 units.

A similar trend is emerging in the U.S. There, sales of existing homes fell in March by 2.7 percent. That was the lowest level of sales since June 2020.

Takeaways from NHPA conference at NHS: focus on your staff, online sales

The 2022 NHPA All-Industry Conference, co-located at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, wrapped up earlier this month, offering three days of speakers and panels from industry experts and top-performing retailers. Attendees came away with numerous insights and best practices they can implement in their own businesses, and here, we share our top takeaways from the conference in case you missed it. 

Uncertainty still dominates our economy. According to Connor Lokar, senior forecaster for ITR Economics, the American economy is as uncertain as it’s ever been. He cited global events such as the crisis in Ukraine, but he also said supply chain problems and inflation will get better later in 2022.

“We’re playing catch-up. It’s the year of normalization,” he says. “This is when the channels clear—where what we thought about pre-COVID normal creeps into the conversation as this year goes on. This is a global deceleration.”

As a leader, tell your story. NHPA’s director of organizational development and consulting Kim Peffley shared how to create innovative problem-solvers in your company by leading by example and being transparent as a leader. 

“Admit when you make mistakes and encourage others to be open to making mistakes too, because mistakes are opportunities to learn,” she says. “And always be learning yourself.” 

Invest in your people. Elliot Greenberg, president and CEO of JC Licht, a paint and wallpaper chain which has 50 stores in the American Midwest, shared his strategy for growth.

“We have a big growth strategy, and people ask why we want to grow so quickly and so big,” Greenberg says. “The only way we can get outstanding people is to promise them advancement and growth and a better life.” 

Make your employees’ experience a priority. Keynote speaker Kevin Hancock, chairman and CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, shared how to put employees first for more loyal customers and stronger sales. He talked about the social and economic benefits of creating an employee-centric company.

“Across time, ‘leaders’ have done more to restrict, direct, and control the voices of others than to liberate them,” Hancock says. “The partial loss of my own voice was an invitation to lead differently in a manner that strengthened the voices of others and create an employee-centric company where our employees’ experience at work is our top priority.” 

Tailor hiring to your company’s core values. NHPA managing editor Melanie Moul discussed hiring strategies that retailers are using to find success.

“The top-performing retailers in the industry run their businesses by specific core values that are part of every decision in the organization. From how to solve a customer’s plumbing problem to who to hire, core values offer critical guidance,” Moul said. “You need to ask yourself, ‘Who do we want working in our business?’ People who understand the mission of the business and can show the core values in everything they do.”

Check out the latest issue of our sister publication, Hardlines HR Advisor, for more details on how to “brand” your company to appeal to new hires. —Editor

Digital commerce and bricks and mortar should work together. The Farnsworth Group president Grant Farnsworth noted that the separation between e-commerce and commerce no longer exists—nearly every customer, whether they’re a pro or a DIYer, is using online platforms for research prior to buying. 

“It’s more critical than ever that there is a consistency between digital and in-person worlds,” he says. “Contractors are using more than three (online) sources on average, going between manufacturing and supplier sites before buying.” 

Good customer service starts with good employee training. Rodney Bullion, director of learning and development at TAL Holdings, says customer service starts with thorough employee training.

“The more we grew, the more we knew that we had to engage our people and grow our people quickly to be as effective as possible, because our employees are our key asset to offering a great customer experience,” says Bullion. 

People on the Move

The Home Depot has announced the appointment of Matt Carey to the newly created role of EVP, customer experience. He was previously SVP and chief technology officer at eBay, which he joined in 2006 after serving in the same roles at Walmart. Also at Home Depot, Fahim Siddiqui has been named EVP and chief information officer. Siddiqui has been with Home Depot since 2018 as SVP of information technology.


... that Hardlines Classified Ads are an effective—and targeted—way to connect with experts in the hardware and building materials sector for your next hire? Affordable rates and a broad reach through our huge database of industry executives, managers, store owners and operators make Hardlines Classifieds an effective way to connect you with your next big hire! Contact Michelle Porter at the Hardlines World Headquarters to get hiring today.


Wolseley Canada last week celebrated the grand opening of its newest branch in Richmond, B.C. The 12,000-square-foot facility includes a Wolseley Studio showroom, Wolseley store, and a 7,000-square-foot warehouse. The location is run by branch manager Jacqueline Parrent.

Lowe’s Canada has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for a second consecutive year. The distinction is part of Mediacorp’s annual “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” competition. Among the accomplishments cited were Lowe’s Canada’s reduction of energy usage, its phasing out of single-use plastics, and its use of waste management monitoring tools.

Tractor Supply Co.’s Q1 sales rose by 8.3 percent to $3.02-billion, compared with $2.79-billion a year earlier. Comp sales grew by 5.2 percent. Net income for the U.S. farm-and-ranch retailer increased 3.2 percent to $187.2-million from $181.4-million, while diluted earnings per share were up 6.5 percent to $1.65 from $1.55 in the comparable period of 2021.

W.W. Grainger has been named one of Fortune‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2022. Great Place to Work, a workplace culture specialist firm, makes the selections based on a confidential survey of more than 4.5-million employees.


The White House last week issued new procurement rules that limit federally funded projects to the use of U.S.-made construction materials. According to Dennis Darby, head of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canada will have to rise to the challenge of fighting for exemptions as it has in the face of previous protectionist policies. “Canada and the U.S. don’t compete with each other in the manufacturing sector; we actually make things together,” Darby told the Toronto Star. “We’d love to say, ‘Buy North American.’ ”

Husqvarna Group’s Construction Division will acquire Heger, a privately owned business specializing in professional diamond tools for European sawing and drilling contractors. It will become part of Husqvarna Group’s Concrete Sawing & Drilling business in Central Europe. Heger was founded in 1908 and is based in Heitersheim, Germany.


Investment in building construction increased four percent in February, reaching $20-billion for the first time. Residential construction spending continued to increase, with investment in single family homes up 4.9 percent in February. Multi-unit construction increased 5.1 percent. Overall, residential construction investment rose five percent to $14.9 billion in February. (StatCan)

U.S. housing starts rose by 0.3 percent in March to 1.793-million units. Building permits increased by 0.4 percent to 1.873-million units. (U.S. Census Bureau)

U.S. retail sales increased by 0.5 percent in March, largely on the strength of gasoline purchases. Excluding gasoline, sales edged down by 0.3 percent. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)


Canadian Tire Corp. and Loblaw Cos. have paid out major bonuses to executives for weathering another pandemic year, The Globe and Mail reports. Senior executives at CTC took home bonuses in 2021 that were up by 80 percent from the previous year. CEO Greg Hicks received $2.64-million, almost triple his bonus pay for 2020. Loblaw paid its five highest-earning executives more than $1-million each in bonuses.



“We’re right beside Amazon. And that’s just fun any day of the week. Oh my God, they’re trying everything. They’re saying, ‘If your vaccinated, here’s a hundred dollars.’ ‘If you’re signing, here’s $3,000.’ We’re a mid-level company. We’re not an Amazon. So all these things are challenging.”
—Martina Pileggi, senior director of human resources for the Hillman Group Canada. A larger interview with her appears in the latest issue of Hardlines HR Advisor, which will be out on Wednesday. Click here to subscribe to this free monthly publication.)


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