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December 2, 2019 | Volume xxv, #45

HOLIDAY PUBLISHING SCHEDULE: Hardlines is monthly in December, but we’re adding an extra issue this year to keep you informed over the coming weeks. There will be no Hardlines on December 9, 22 or 30. However, the World Headquarters remains open until December 19. In the meantime, be sure you’re getting our free Daily News updates to stay on top of the latest retail and industry scoops!


  • BMR evaluates dealer recruitment plans to enhance its growth
  • TIMBER MART signs two dealers in Eastern Ontario
  • Key executives step back at WSB Titan as company readies for future
  • Artificial intelligence: the future of retail is already here

PLUS: New RONA Appliance & Design Showroom by Coast Builders, FCL blames Calgary Co-op, Loblaw launches “curated marketplace” online, HBC shareholders warned, CanWel to buy back shares, Stanley Black & Decker trains workers to get along with AI, sales of existing U.S. homes and more!

BMR evaluates dealer recruitment plans to enhance its growth

QUEBEC CITY — During the recent BMR dealer show held in Quebec City, Hardlines sat down with Martin Ménard, BMR’s VP of hardware and imports, to discuss the company’s expansion efforts, both within its home province and beyond.

At a time when the subject of banner conversions is in the air throughout Quebec, Ménard is philosophical. It’s a “long process to convert a store,” he says. While the co-op is always open to new recruits, “there’s no point for us to gain a store in a market where we have [an existing] store.” That means that growth will be focused outside of Quebec, particularly in the Ontario market.

So far this year, BMR has managed to sign three dealers in Ontario, including most recently Richmond Building Centre in Ottawa (shown here), under owner Doug Kazda. The first, at the beginning of this year, was Griffith Building Supply in Griffith, owned by John Lacourse and Derek McGrimmon. That store also ended up becoming the first BMR dealer to adopt the Pro banner, catering to the pro market. Just a month later, BMR hired Jason Hamburger to the newly created position of business development manager, Ontario, reinforcing the company’s commitment to that market. Then, in July, BMR announced the signing of Feldman Lumber, a family-owned business headed by Lorne Feldman, in Timmins.

The flexibility of its banners goes a long way to tailoring the BMR offer for potential dealers. “It’s a matter of making sure the product mix is tweaked to the local community,” says Ménard. “What will sell in Lac-Saint-Jean might not sell in Montreal.”

With its deep roots in Quebec’s regions, he explains, BMR has no choice but to be flexible to meet their varied needs. “That’s what BMR is all about.”

TIMBER MART signs two dealers in Eastern Ontario

VAUGHAN, Ont. — TIMBER MART has added Morin Bros. Building Supplies Inc. to its membership. Located in Ottawa, Morin Bros. will join effective January 1, tapping into the buying power of the country’s second-largest stand-alone buying group.

It’s the second sign-up that TIMBER MART has announced in as many weeks. Cornerstone Building Supplies in Kingston, Ont., is yet another independent retailer to join the buying group. While Morin Bros. has been in existence for almost 34 years, Cornerstone was opened in September of last year by owner Mason Laframboise.

Cornerstone has 7,500 square feet of retail space on top of a warehouse and yard and serves a clientele that ranges from contractors and DIYers to architects and interior designers. “Mason and his team are energetic entrepreneurs who have a bright future ahead of them in the building-material industry,” says Ian Cook, TIMBER MART’s regional director of member services for Ontario. “They’ll benefit greatly from our marketing support as well as our building-material and hardware buying programs.”

Morin Brothers, an important player in the Ottawa market, helps round out TIMBER MART’s growing commercial side of its membership, which consists of dealers who are focused more on building, OEM and institutional customers. With their trade focus, many do not even carry the TIMBER MART banner or make use of many of the DIY-focused services such as flyers.

Founded in 1986, Morin Brothers employs a team of 60 full-time staff and offers a wide product assortment that includes gypsum, light steel framing, insulation, acoustical and speciality ceilings, doors and frames, wall coatings and hardware. It operates on a property that stretches across 3.9 acres and includes 33,500 square feet of warehouse space and 7,300 square feet of retail space and offices.

The signing also provides Morin with a Canadian-made option. “A number of American-based businesses are buying into our Canadian market share and we felt we needed to join forces with TIMBER MART to be better recognized by manufacturers and truly compete,” says Gérald Morin, a co-owner of Morin Bros. Building Supplies. “We look forward to benefitting from the group’s buying power and their many other services that will sustain our rapid growth in Ontario and amidst fierce U.S. competition.”

Key executives step back at WSB Titan as company readies for future

VAUGHAN, Ont. ― Following a flurry of changes, WSB Titan is preparing for its next steps as two senior members of the national drywall, steel framing and insulation supplier network move into retirement.

Doug Skrepnek (shown here), president of WSB Titan and president of the Canadian division of parent company GMS Building Supplies, had been actively building Titan’s presence in Canada when it got a takeover offer of its own last year.

GMS, a giant commercial drywall operation out of the U.S., acquired WSB Titan in June 2018 for US$627 million ($800 million). But WSB Titan had already been making acquisitions of its own prior to the GMS takeover. That included the takeover in 2015 of Slegg Building Materials, with a dozen locations on Vancouver Island, and BC Ceilings in the Lower Mainland and Alberta.

Now Skrepnek says he’s stepping back to assume a consulting role at WSB Titan. Travis Hendron, currently EVP of Watson, will take over Skrepnek’s role beginning in January. Hendron, a VP with GMS in the U.S., formerly headed up that company’s mergers and acquisitions group. He came up to Canada from Atlanta this past June. Skrepnek’s son Evan has stepped in as VP of Watson.

Another arm of WSB Titan, Shoemaker Drywall Supplies in Alberta, is also going through some succession changes. Ryan Shoemaker has been stepping back in recent months as Greg Holunga, formerly VP of sales, has moved into the leadership role there. His title is now president of Shoemaker Drywall and WSB Titan for the Lower Mainland.

Artificial intelligence: the future of retail is already here

SPECIAL REPORT ― Walmart and Target are both using artificial intelligence to streamline their operations, but how each company is making use of retail robots underscores the possibilities and pitfalls of in-store robotic technology, an article from CNN reveals.

Walmart is investing heavily in artificial intelligence in its stores. The company will add self-driving robots to scrub the floors of more than 1,860 of its individual stores by February. Additionally, it will deploy robots to scan shelves at 350 stores and use AI to scan deliveries and sort them by department onto conveyor belts at 1,700 stores.

The CNN article says that operating numerous large brick-and-mortar locations is expensive for Walmart, especially as more customers shop online. By adding more AI to their stores, Walmart hopes to increase worker productivity and control costs.

Walmart says these “smart assistants” will reduce the amount of time associates spend on “repeatable, predictable and manual” tasks so they can offer more direct customer assistance to shoppers.

On the other hand, U.S. mass merchant Target has a markedly different vision for the role of AI in its operations. The company has added self-checkout and automatic cash-counting machines to hundreds of stores in recent years, CNN says, but according to CEO Brian Cornell, the company won’t be adding AI to its 1,850 sales floors.

“You won’t see robots in Target stores anytime soon,” Cornell says. “We really think, even in today’s environment, where people are talking about AI and robotics and different elements of technology, the human touch still really matters.”


People on the Move

John Mombourquette has been promoted to district manager for Orgill Canada. Reporting to Erik Schlaud, VP of Sales-Canada, Mombourquette will manage the sales teams in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. He was formerly a business development manager with Orgill.



... that you can read our sister publication, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly, online? This magazine gets mailed to 11,000 dealers and managers across the country four times a year. But you can access back issues of HHIQ anytime on our website—and they go all the way back to 2013. Check them out here!


BOUCHERVILLE, Que. ― RONA dealer-owners Russ and Tess Jones recently celebrated the grand opening of a new concept for RONA, their new RONA Appliance & Design Showroom by Coast Builders in Gibsons, B.C. The Joneses, who own two other B.C. RONA stores in Madeira Park and Sechelt, acquired the 5,000-square-foot Gibsons Sears store in 2017. The owners connected three shipping containers to the store, creating a space for seasonal, patio and outdoor power equipment products. 

SASKATOON ― Federated Co-operatives Ltd. blamed Calgary Co-op’s decision to switch grocery suppliers for forcing its hand into closing its Calgary warehouse. In a statement, Federated Co-op VP Vic Huard blasted Calgary Co-op’s switch to competitor Save-on-Foods as an “avoidable development” that will add to the city’s economic pressures. Calgary Co-op, he added, will now lose millions of dollars of annual profit sharing, while FCL will be deprived of about $400 million in annual revenue.

BRAMPTON, Ont. ― Loblaw Cos. Ltd. has launched a “curated marketplace” online, featuring brands and products not previously available through its retail banners, in a move to eat into Amazon’s Canadian market share. Building on the existing PC Express platform, which offers buy online, pick up in-store and home delivery options, the new marketplace is open to customers of the Loblaws, Real Canadian Super Store and Atlantic Super Store banners, but is not yet offered in Quebec.

TORONTO ― Hudson’s Bay Co. Chairman Richard Baker has warned minority shareholders that his $1.1 billion bid to take the company private is their best bet, as shares fell last week to a five-month low. Shareholders vote on the $10.30-per-share bid on December 17. Baker has secured the backing of the board of directors and shareholders controlling about 57% of the company’s equity. Outspoken dissidents, however, include Catalyst Capital Group and Sandpiper Group.


VANCOUVER ― CanWel Building Materials Group says the Toronto Stock Exchange has accepted its notice of intention to proceed with a normal course issuer bid. The forestry firm intends to purchase for cancellation up to 5,995,340 of its common shares, but no purchases are guaranteed. Any shares CanWel does buy back will be at the market rate at the time of the transaction.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. ― Stanley Black & Decker is moving to train workers to collaborate with artificial intelligence. According to Pradheepa Raman, chief talent innovation officer for the tool maker, Stanley Black & Decker is committed to overcoming a skills deficit by training 10 million factory workers, or “makers” in company parlance, by 2030. As part of that training push, machine engineers and operators will learn how to work alongside automated devices.



Sales of existing U.S. homes in August rose unexpectedly to their highest level in nearly a year and a half. Home resales increased by 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million units in the second consecutive month of gains. (National Association of Realtors)


The latest StatCan data show Canadian retail sales growth “stumbling along slowly” according to analyst Ed Strapagiel. Although sales have edged up slightly recently, the three- and 12-month trends remain lacklustre. LBM and garden equipment, however, were a bright spot, with building material and garden equipment and supplies merchants up 5.4% in Q3—a significant recovery from the 0.9% gain for the first half of the year.


“Do you know, in our entire history, we have not closed one store?”
―Fred Pennell, vice president merchandising operations at Princess Auto. He spoke at the recent Hardlines Conference near Toronto.


Watch for David Chestnut and Michael McLarney at the Buildings Show and Construct Canada this week at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.



Classified Ads



About Home Hardware Stores Limited

Home Hardware Stores Limited is Canada’s largest Dealer-owned cooperative with close to 1,100 Stores and annual retail sales of over $6 billion.

Located near Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, Home Hardware remains 100% Canadian owned and operated.  Home hardware has received designations as one of Canada’s Best Cultures and Best Managed Companies and is committed to providing local communities with superior service and quality advice.

Home Hardware is searching for a Pro Marketing Manager to join its Marketing Department. Reporting to the Director, Loyalty & CRM, this role will be focused on developing and managing Home’s Pro marketing program to ensure corporate strategic alignment and connection with the valuable Pro customers and Dealer activities. Additionally, it will be responsible for the development of all aspects of Home’s Pro Loyalty Program (Top Notch Rewards), execution of Home’s Pro Shows and support the growth of Home’s Tool Rental program.


  • University degree in Business, Marketing or a related field combined with 5+ years of progressive marketing experience.
  • Understanding and experience with Pro Loyalty & CRM programs and principles; previous experience managing a Pro Loyalty program is preferred.  
  • Knowledge and experience in the Building Supply Industry, specifically in Sales, Contracting and Building Supply Products and Suppliers.
  • Ability to travel and work flexible hours when necessary.

Interested candidates, please visit www.homehardware.ca to apply.
Phone: 519-664-2252 ext 6130
34 Henry St W, St. Jacobs, ON, N0B 2N0

*While we appreciate all applications received, only those to be interviewed will be contacted.
We will accommodate the needs of qualified applicants on request under the Human Rights Code in all parts of the hiring process


About Home Hardware Stores Limited

Home Hardware Stores Limited is Canada’s largest Dealer-owned cooperative with close to 1,100 Stores and annual retail sales of over $6 billion.

Located near Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, Home Hardware remains 100% Canadian owned and operated.  Home hardware has received designations as one of Canada’s Best Cultures and Best Managed Companies and is committed to providing local communities with superior service and quality advice.

Responsible to the Store Design Merchandising & Systems Supervisor for assisting Dealers improve store appearance and profitability, through effective merchandising and display of the current Home Fastener program.

Assist Home Dealers with Merchandising Product and Installation of Displays and Shelving for the current Home Fastener Program.

Help with the flow of information between Dealers and Home Office with respect to product mix, display and assortment.

Make onsite recommendations and modifications to the merchandising plan as required. 


  • Extensive travel required - away from home for several weeks at a time. 
  • Valid Driver’s license required.
  • College or University diploma or degree in business an asset.
  • Effective communication, both verbal and written, with Home Dealers & Home Staff.
  • Retail experience (hardware or building supplies) is a preferred asset.
  • Must live near an international airport or be within commuting distance to St. Jacobs.
  • Fluency in both English and French would be an asset.

    Interested candidates, please visit www.homehardware.ca to apply.
    Phone: 519-664-4975
    34 Henry St W, St. Jacobs, ON, N0B 2N0

    *While we appreciate all applications received, only those to be interviewed will be contacted.
    We will accommodate the needs of qualified applicants on request under the Human Rights Code in all parts of the hiring process  

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




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