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April 5, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #14



  • Taking care of staff, hiring right, succession among subjects of new publication
  • PODCAST PREVIEW: Lowe’s Canada’s Tony Hurst on assortments, pricing, and growth
  • Orgill maps out its strategy for virtual and live dealer shows for coming years
  • Vendors meet online sellers at Home Improvement eRetailer Summit

PLUS: RONA dealers acquire third store, Home Hardware named top fleet employer, Darryl Pollock at Trusscore, DMC Recruitment adds Shannon Cupskey, Castle signs Toronto’s ML Lumber, Dollarama reports Q4 profits, West Fraser issues mill update, U.S. retail sales, and more!

Taking care of staff, hiring right, succession among subjects of new publication

For Christian Leduc, running a big box through the lockdowns of 2020 brought new challenges on a daily basis for him and his staff. As manager of the RONA Plateau store in Gatineau, Que., and then the nearby Réno-Dépôt, he saw the personal lives of his staff become more enmeshed than ever in the realities of the workplace.

“We always said, ‘take care of your employees,’ but under the pandemic last year, we had to be even more attentive about that. We had to be a big family and make sure everyone had good health,” says Leduc.

Leduc’s story is just one of the many that will be explored in the pages of Hardlines HR Advisor, the newest publication from Hardlines, Canada’s information network for the home improvement industry. This new monthly newsletter will feature industry knowledge, tips, and more to help business owners and managers deal with the well-being of their people.

HR Advisor is designed to keep you informed about human resources issues and concerns. In the latest edition, we got advice from one retail HR leader on how to make sure your team feels connected during these difficult times.

To ensure you get guidance to help manage and support your teams, every month we will include advice from HR professionals who work in retail, wholesale, and manufacturing to share their expertise. This month, Walter Pranke, vice president, human resources at Lee Valley Tools, shares how to ensure that you hire not just for work experience and job skills, but for the right values that align with your company’s.

A Question of the Month will shed light on issues that affect any business owner, including vaccine hesitancy among staff, sick days and COVID, leadership, and succession.

(Hardlines HR Advisor went live last week. And it’s free! Don’t miss a single issue of this new monthly publication to help you manage the wellbeing of your team. Click here to sign up now!)

PODCAST PREVIEW: Lowe’s Canada’s Tony Hurst on assortments, pricing, and growth

As the president of Lowe’s Canada, Tony Hurst heads up one of this country’s largest home improvement retailers. He shared some of his thoughts and insights in a recent interview with Hardlines on topics ranging from product assortments to aligning with vendors.

That interview will be featured in the very first episode of our new Hardlines podcast series, What’s in Store.

When asked about the company’s plans for growth, Hurst says he envisions lots of room to grow the business. That growth can occur in a couple of ways, including both increased market penetration and greater incremental growth. “There’s obviously growing your square footage, and I don't think we're there yet. But I think my focus is really on organic growth. How do we grow within our current footprint within Canada?”

Those efforts won’t be at the expense of physical growth, but he sees an immediate opportunity addressing what he calls “retail fundamentals” within the existing stores, regardless of the banner.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do there to make sure that the way our stores are operating, the operational and merchandising processes and systems, are all harmonized,” says Hurst. Those processes will help standardize expectations for customers to help drive footsteps into the stores.

That includes working with merchants and field teams to “make sure we’ve got the right products in the stores,” as well as looking at pricing strategies. “We’re getting more focused on everyday low prices so that our customers know what to expect when they come into our doors, from a pricing standpoint.”

(The full interview with Tony Hurst will appear on the very first episode of our brand new Hardlines Podcast Series, What’s in Store, which goes live this week. Hurst will share the company’s plans for growth in Canada, his insights into the importance of the pro customer, the value of the multi-banner model, how relations with vendors have been enhanced, and much more!)

Orgill maps out its strategy for virtual and live dealer shows for coming years

In response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Orgill debuted its first-ever Online Buying Event last year. It also represented an evolution in the way the company would host buying shows in future.

“While the restrictions placed on us as a result of the pandemic forced the innovation of our Online Buying Event, the concept has proven to be relevant whether there is a pandemic or not,” says Boyden Moore, Orgill president and CEO. “Integrating additional Online Buying Events that work together with live events is definitely our path forward.”

The first change related to this new strategy is with its Fall Dealer Market, which had originally been planned for Aug. 26 to 28 in Chicago. Now, Orgill will host an online buying event that will run from Aug. 16 to 27.

In addition to that switch, Orgill will add the following events:

  • A winter 2021 Online Buying Event in late October.
  • A spring 2022 Online Buying Event that will coincide with the in-person Spring Dealer Market in Orlando in February 2022.
  • A summer 2022 Online Buying Event in late April of that year.

The next in-person event will be the Spring Dealer Market in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 24 to 26, 2022. Besides marking the company’s return to in-person buying markets, it will also be Orgill’s 175th anniversary.

“Believe me, we are planning for the Spring Dealer Market to be a celebration in a lot of ways,” Moore says. “Most importantly, we want it to be a big thank you to our customers and our vendors for getting through the past year, but also for supporting Orgill and helping us achieve such a significant milestone in our corporate history.”


Vendors meet online sellers at Home Improvement eRetailer Summit

The fifth edition of the Home Improvement eRetailer Summit, and the first one to go virtual, was held last month. As a forum for vendors to get in front of online sellers, it proved a success.

The one-on-one meetings, which took place on day two, allowed vendors to connect with retail buyers and executives from the likes of Goedeker’s, Spreetail, Boscov’s, Sustainable Supply,, and Firefly Buys. Collectively, these online home improvement sellers represent billions of dollars in sales annually.

The first day concluded with a panel featuring some of America’s leading online home improvement sellers and moderated by Michael McLarney of Hardlines. The panelists shared key learnings they had experienced coming through the COVID pandemic.

Brian Fricano, CEO of Sustainable Supply, noted that for companies and individuals alike, the trials of last year required the ability to adapt or pivot very quickly. He called it “an essential 21st-century skill” that found his company shifting assortments to remain relevant to customers.

Asa Farquhar, VP of Spreetail, stressed the importance of human relationships. As an organization, it’s important to consider the priorities between work and home so individuals can balance them both through the pandemic. “We did that by focusing on honest, open communications with employees and with our partners about what could happen to their lives.”

For Elizabeth Ragone of Boscov’s, a chain of 50 department stores in the U.S., the challenge was about timing. Her company had historically catered to a loyal and ageing customer, but the advent of COVID forced the retailer to reconsider—and quickly. Moving more online and educating that venerable customer to come with them was a part of the transformation Boscov’s went through in 2020.

Each of these major retailers was among the individuals who met virtually with vendors to discuss online sales opportunities.

“The summit offered a great opportunity to meet with some of the best online retailers in North America,” McLarney said. “Each of them offered valuable insights about their experience overseeing their business during the pandemic. They talked about the importance of shifting their product lines to meet changing demand, the importance of maintaining strong relationships with their teams while working remotely, and they need to think differently through this whole experience.”

People on the Move

Darryl Pollock has been named channel partner manager at Trusscore. He joined the Kitchener, Ont.-based company last summer as a product manager. Before joining Trusscore, he was a roofing product manager at Bailey Metal Products, and his background also includes stints at Ply Gem Canada and CanWel Building Materials.

DMC Recruitment Group has welcomed two new members to its building materials recruitment team. Mike Houston has 13 years of experience recruiting for mid-level to executive positions in the LBM and construction industry. Shannon Cupskey has worked for more than 20 years in the home improvement industry, including retail, sales agencies, manufacturing, distribution, and buying groups.



... that the very first episode of our brand new Hardlines Podcast Series, What’s in Store, goes live this week? Our inaugural episode features an exclusive interview with Tony Hurst, the president of Lowe’s Canada. Be sure not to miss this important update from one of the country’s leading home improvement retailers. Click here now to sign up for the Hardlines Podcast Series!


RONA affiliate dealers Lori and Marc Palsson have acquired a third store in Dryden, Ont. After 40 years in business, the store will be converted to the RONA banner and undergo renovations to increase its sales area by over 5,000 square feet. The overhaul will allow it to house a new 3,300-square-foot seasonal area and a 2,500-square-foot kitchen, bath, and appliance centre. The process, which should take five to six weeks, will represent a local investment of approximately $1 million and is expected to create 15 jobs in the community.

Home Hardware Stores has been named a Top Fleet Employer of Distinction by Trucking HR Canada. The program, now in its eighth year, honours the best trucking and logistics industry workplaces in Canada. Award applicants are evaluated on recruitment and retention practices, workplace culture, compensation, training and skills development, and innovative HR practices. Home Hardware has 140 tractors and over 500 trailers on the road, travelling 20 million kilometres per year, says the company.


The newest member of Castle Building Centres is Toronto’s ML Lumber & Building Supplies. Owners Connie Vieira and her son Rene Silva Jr. have operated independently in Toronto since 1974. The business was founded as Maple Leaf Lumber in 1932.

Dollarama reported Q4 profits of $173.9 million, compared to $178.7 million a year earlier. Sales for the quarter rose to $1.1 billion from about $1.07 billion. Comparable store sales edged down by 0.2 percent. Despite a spike in-store traffic during the holiday season, sales suffered after the introduction of retail restrictions in Alberta, Ontario, and the chain’s home province of Quebec.


West Fraser Timber Co. has issued an update on its Dudley, Ga., lumber mill and Chambord, Que., OSB mill. Substantial portions of a new Dudley mill are being commissioned and are ramping up, with the site expected to be fully operational by the end of the second quarter of 2021. Operations at the original site will be wound down by that time. The Chambord mill has completed commissioning and panels are now being produced and shipped. It has started the ramp-up toward full production capacity.



Total U.S. retail sales excluding non-store retailers (not seasonally adjusted) in December 2020 were up 4.8 percent. Sales by the building supplies, garden equipment, and supplies dealers subsector were up 20.5 percent in December compared with the same period a year earlier. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)


Léger Marketing’s annual reputation ranking shows that Quebec consumers are responding positively to familiar brands. Léger VP Christian Bourque suggests the uncertainty of the pandemic makes stability and familiarity attractive so people are rewarding these types of businesses. Canadian Tire took the top spot both nationally and in Quebec, while IGA, Metro, and pharmacy chain Groupe Jean Coutu also featured in the top 10. RONA, which moved down in the rankings after its 2016 acquisition by Lowe’s, logged the second-biggest jump this year, rising by 20 points to number 15.


“We believe that by adding additional Online Buying Events to our schedule, we can help our customers take better advantage of the seasonal buying opportunities available to them. By adding events, we won’t be asking them to condense their purchases into two narrow windows in the fall and spring.”
—Greg Stine, EVP of marketing and communications at Orgill, on that company’s commitment to continue to provide purchasing access for customers through virtual events, in association with live shows as conditions improve.



Classified Ads

ACE Lead Merchandiser 

The ACE Lead Merchandiser is responsible for leading the ACE Merchandising Team to organize, set & merchandise retail ready products in customer stores under conversion to the ACE Canada banner.

Apply here



HOURS: Varied with Extensive Travel                                                                 

Responsible to the Store Design Merchandising & Systems Supervisor for assisting Dealers improve store appearance and profitability, through effective merchandising and display for all Product Categories.

Assists Home Dealers with Merchandising Product and Installation of Displays and Shelving, with primary focus on current Merchandising Technique, Programs and Plan-o-grams

Helps with the flow of information between Dealers and the Dealer Support Centre with respect to product mix, display and assortment, and reporting of issues that affect the project progress to the Store Planner.

Makes onsite recommendations and modifications to the merchandising plan, in collaboration with the Home Dealer, Store Planner and Retail Operations.


Must be able to travel extensively and be away from home for several weeks at a time.  Valid Driver’s license is required.

College or University diploma or degree in business an asset, with effective communication skills.
Retail experience (hardware or building supplies) is a preferred asset. An understanding of Category Management principals and Plan-o-grams is a preferred asset.

Must live near an international airport or be within commuting distance to St. Jacobs to facilitate travel to Stores.

Fluency in both English and French would be an asset.

*We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only qualified candidates will be contacted for interviews.

Krista Gromeder, Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources Phone: 519-664-4611

We will accommodate the needs of qualified applicants on request, under the Human Rights Code in all parts of the hiring process.

Sales Representative / merchandiser

In store (Ontario)


You like customer service, you may be interested in this position. Davidson Sales & Marketing represents international companies

Looking to post a classified ad? Email Michelle for a free quote.



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