"My face is my mask." Lorne John "Gump" Worsley  (National Hockey League goalie, 1929 -2007)

LBMAO announces new location and name for 2008 show

LONDON, Ont. — The Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario announced at its latest show, held here this past weekend, that it will move the show to Toronto in 2008. And with the new location comes a new name. Formerly called the Winter Buying Show, the newly minted Canadian Home Improvement Show will leave London after four years in existence, and move to the Toronto Congress Centre, near that city's Pearson International Airport. The dates for the 2008 show are Feb. 8-9. The LBMAO relies on its membership of building centre dealers from towns and cities across the province to provide the customer base for the show's exhibitors. These dealers have typically been averse to attending an event in Toronto, but London is no longer proving either large enough or central enough as the show continues to grow. In a survey of both exhibitors and retailers over the past year, the association established that moving to the Toronto location is the best way to ensure maximum attendance from retailers across the province. "Since the launch of the show in 2004, we have maintained our focus on strategic plan to build a true buying event for the industry and our members," says Dave Campbell, president of the LBMAO. "We have enjoyed slow, steady growth and last year we saw our attendance increase by over 25%. The momentum continues to build, the show continues to grow and we are looking forward to a move to Toronto to continue the trend."

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Environment, comfort top trends at Home Furniture

ST. JACOB'S, Ont. — Home Hardware continues to expand its focus on environmentally friendly products. Most recently, its Home Furniture banner introduced a line of furniture hand-crafted from reclaimed lumber. Called the Irish Coast Collection, the line includes bed frames, nightstands, dressers, mirrors, chests and wardrobes and was launched at a trends seminar held during Home Hardware's Spring Dealer Market. Other trends that will be reflected in the product mix of Home Furniture stores in 2007 are pieces designed for home theatre systems, storage solutions and items for the home office. The themes of comfort and environmentalism run across all categories.

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Lincoln Electric speeds into car show

TORONTO — The Lincoln Electric Company of Canada, which supplies the welding industry worldwide, launched its Hot Rod 1953 Chevy panel delivery truck at the recent Speedorama Custom Car Show in Toronto. The Hot Rod is equipped to demonstrate TIG, stick, MIG, and flux-cored welding as well as plasma cutting.

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Buying show reflects buoyant Western economy

SASKATOON — Attendance and purchases remained strong at the Prairie Showcase, the annual buying event for building supply dealers held here recently by the Western Retail Lumber Association. According to Gary Hamilton, executive director of the WRLA, attendance was up 12%, with exhibiting companies growing to 606 from 540 last year. More than 460 stores were represented, accounting for 1,200 dealer visitors at the show. Besides the Prairies, dealers came from British Columbia, Ontario, Nunavit, Yukon, the U.S., and Atlantic Canada. "We seem to be expanding our borders for attendance," Hamilton says. The show had room to expand this year as well, thanks to a 50,000-square-foot addition to the facility, Prairieland Park, enabling exhibitors to spread through two large halls, instead of the former four smaller ones, "The flow of traffic on the show floor was greatly improved," says Hamilton. The mood of the dealers was also positive, reflected in "a lot of quality buying going on. Everyone was writing orders," says Hamilton. Fueled by the dynamic Western economy, dealers are already doing a lot of estimates in preparation for the busy spring season. One of the highlights of the show, says Hamilton, was the recognition of Provan Wylie, outgoing president of Castle Building Centres Group, who received the 2006 industry achievement award. He received the award from Kevin Stricker of Fries Tallman Lumber, who is president of the WRLA.

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BMR growth in '06 gets boost from Maritime expansion

LONGUEUIL, Que. — Sales by members of Le Groupe BMR enjoyed solid growth in 2006, and more of the same is expected this year. According to Gabriel Pollender, vice-president, commercialization, for the Quebec-based buying group and wholesale distributor, 2006 sales by its 150 member-dealers reached $1.12 billion, exceeding the billion-dollar mark achieved in 2005. Although a couple of pockets of Quebec suffered a downturn in 2006, most dealers were up, accounting for the healthy increase in sales. "Our dealers in the Maritimes increased their sales, using BMR's flyers and promotional aids. Some of the dealers there got a 50% increase," Pollender says. BMR has also been aggressively wooing dealers in Ontario. "We expect a lot from Ontario, where we now have seven members — and anticipate more soon." Pollender adds that BMR has reprised its presence at the LBMAO's Winter Buying Show, which was held this past weekend in London, Ont. "We are pleased with the response we are getting from dealers who were invited to come visit us at this show."

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Home Depot boosts customer service through hiring

ATLANTA — After a spate of layoffs and management shuffles, Home Depot is going on a hiring spree to make sure sales floors are well staffed for the spring selling season. The company's intention to hire 15,000 more employees for the upcoming spring season breaks down to adding about eight new full-time and part-time associates to each of its 1,870 stores in the United States. This is a positive move for a company whose customer service has been roundly criticized of late. But the retail giant will hire considerably more people per store in certain markets than others, based on news reports from around the country. For example, it intends to add 2,300 associates to its 61 stores in the Washington D.C., area, or close to 38 per store. In Charleston, W.Va., the addition of 400 workers would come close to doubling the 450 employees who already work in its four stores there. Other metro markets where Home Depot wants to beef up its store staffs include its homebase Atlanta (2,500 new hires planned), Los Angeles (2,400), Chicago (2,000), North Texas (1,300), Cleveland (1,000), Detroit (700), Birmingham, Ala. (600), and Orlando, Fla. (400). But even secondary markets are being fortified, such as Kansas City, Mo., where Home Depot has 15 stores and will add 600 employees, for an average of 40 per unit, two-thirds of which will be full timers. It's worth noting, too, that this recent hiring spree is not so out of the ordinary for Home Depot, which added 15,000 employees in 2006 and 20,000 in 2005. It also fills around 50,000 existing jobs that open up each year. Home Depot currently has around 355,000 employees working in its 2,147 stores in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Mexico.

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Attendance will be up at National Hardware Show

ORLANDO — Pre-registration figures indicate that attendance at the National Hardware Show, Lawn & Garden World and the new Homewares Show will show a significant increase, especially from industry reps from the Eastern seaboard. Attendance from the Southeast is up 151%, from the Mid-Atlantic, up 42% and from New England, up 32%. "These statistics reflect new and additional selling opportunities for manufacturers," says Rob Cappiello, industry vice-president, National Hardware Show. "We also believe that the rebuilding of the Gulf States' area has some impact on this increase. With more federal money being invested into this region, it stands to reason that homeowners will be looking for new products to repair, remodel, and redecorate their homes." For more information on the 2007 National Hardware Show in Orlando, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com

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