View in your browser


February 10, 2020 | Volume xxvi, #6


  • Sexton Group’s Steve Buckle explains latest executive changes
  • Where it began: the first Hardlines newsletter was issued 25 years ago
  • Michelle Porter is named Hardlines’ new Marketing and Events Manager
  • What Lowe’s Canada has planned for décor trends this spring

PLUS: Home improvement retailers make Canada’s best list, FCL’s Co-op Community Spaces program, IKEA will close U.K. store, Freud adds to sales team, Callbecks expands, Home Depot drops antitrust suit, Saint-Gobain completes Continental takeover, St-Laurent selects Nicholson and Cates, 3M profits down, Desjardins and Reno-Assistance and more!

Sexton Group’s Steve Buckle explains latest executive changes

WINNIPEG — A series of changes has been made at the upper management levels of the Sexton Group, all of which reflect the company’s efforts to stay positioned for the changes ahead in the marketplace.

Brian Kusisto, formerly CEO, has assumed the role of chairman of the Sexton parent company, and Steve Buckle has taken over as CEO. He was previously president of the Sexton Group. 

Hardlines recently sat down with Buckle (shown here, left, with Brian Kusisto) to get his insights into the changes, and what they mean for the national buying group.

A significant passage for the company was the death in July 2019 of founder Ken Sexton. He had been chairman of the overall business, and Kusisto’s move into that role was a natural next step. But, says Buckle, the changes had been planned even before Sexton’s passing.

“We looked for a way to transition that was the least disruptive to the business and the members,” he says.

Buckle’s assumption of the CEO role puts him in charge of not just Sexton Group, but also other holdings that are related to that business, all created by Ken Sexton. Now, Buckle oversees the entire Sexton family of companies. These consist of Sexton Group Ltd., the buying group based in Winnipeg with 400 members across the country; Kenroc Building Materials, a gypsum specialty dealer serving contractors in Western Canada; Builders Choice, a wholesale distributor supplying materials to drywall specialists and lumber yards across Canada; and Sexton Transport, a North American trucking company.

Buckle has been with the Sexton Group for 14 years, taking over as general manager from Bob Mondy, who had run the group since Ken Sexton founded it in 1985. Buckle was named president in 2014.

Stepping in to manage the day-to-day operations of the Sexton Group is Eric Palmer. Formerly senior manager, purchasing, he has been named vice president and general manager and reports to Buckle.

Under Buckle’s leadership, the company had focused on three areas: obtaining the best pricing for members, working on their behalf to sort out issues with vendors and ensuring that rebates and payments back to members occur in a timely fashion.

With those fundamentals in place, he says the group went to market with “a solid business proposition” for dealers—and leaves a solid legacy for Palmer to step into.

Looking to the future of the group, Buckle admits, “We have to evolve.” That requires changes from both the dealers and the vendors. “On the vendor side, there’s lots of increased consolidation. Those companies—big and small—have to be able to deliver volume reliably,” he says.

“The ones that get that have a future.”

On the dealer side, there has to be a shift away from a group merely saying they’ll provide volume and then expecting a rebate. “Members have to be able to deliver on their volume commitments. You’ve got to pull together.”

That puts pressure on the group itself to deliver, he notes. “We have to celebrate those independents. But we must prove to them that there’s value in bringing their volume to us.”

Where it began: the first Hardlines newsletter was issued 25 years ago

SPECIAL REPORT — In February 1995, a lot of familiar companies were making news—just as they do today. The regular chronicling of those companies and this industry began with the first issue of Hardlines on February 13, 1995.

The first headline of the very first issue featured Castle Building Centres. The LBM buying group continues to thrive to this day, representing sales in excess of $2 billion from approximately 300 dealer-members across the country. Twenty-five years ago, Hardlines reported on the group’s partnership with Cotter Canada, a subsidiary of Cotter and Company in the U.S., to supply products to Castle members. Under the leadership of Pro Wylie, the newly hired general manager of the group, a deal was struck with Dan Cotter, chairman of the U.S. wholesaler.

Another company that made the news in the inaugural issue (and gave us the first of a decades-long legacy of typos, courtesy of the publication’s dyslexic editor) was Sodisco-Howden. Under the headline, “Howden-Sodisco [sic] finalizes its ownership,” terms of the latest financing for the struggling hardware wholesaler were laid out. Sodisco-Howden was later purchased by building materials distributor CanWel, which in turn sold it to TIMBER MART in 2011. The business was eventually sold to U.S. hardware wholesaler Orgill.

Other companies referenced in the first issue included Beaver Lumber (purchased by Home Hardware in 2000), Toronto-area chain Lumberking (now defunct), Price/Costco (renamed Costco) and erstwhile mass merchant Bi-Way.

At its inception, Hardlines was sent out by fax from a basement office in mid-town Toronto. Using a fax distribution software—at the time a state-of-the-art program—each send would take up to 26 hours to dial up the hundreds of fax numbers on the publication’s growing subscription list. Within a couple of years, the publication would make the move to email, becoming a pioneer in electronic content delivery.

Michelle Porter is named Hardlines’ new Marketing and Events Manager

WORLD HEADQUARTERS, Toronto ― At Hardlines Inc., we are proud to announce the appointment of our new Marketing and Events Manager. Michelle Porter, our former Office Manager, has taken on this new role, overseeing our promotional and marketing efforts. She will also manage our growing range of events, including the upcoming Orgill Canada Night in Orlando, Fla., and our annual Hardlines Conference, which marks its 25th anniversary this year.

Michelle has been with Hardlines since October 2017. Arriving just two weeks before that year’s Hardlines Conference, she hit the ground running. She quickly proved her ability to think creatively and work efficiently, immediately becoming an invaluable member of the team. She’s used her discerning eye and attention to detail to improve Hardlines’ website, streamline internal processes and generally whip the company into shape.

We’re delighted to watch Michelle grow into this new position and continue to take on a leadership role within the organization.

What Lowe’s Canada has planned for décor trends this spring

BOUCHERVILLE, Que. ― Amidst recent changes at head office (see lead story in our last issue. ―Editor), Lowe’s Canada is driving its business as usual at the merchandising level. That includes the release of the latest trends in home décor for the year ahead at its Lowe’s and RONA stores.

Under the direction of Cindy Jardim, style and trends director at Lowe’s Canada, the company has identified four décor themes for 2020. They are “Pure,” the merging of pastels and modern earth materials; “Wild,” which combines rustic wood grain and metals with feminine and natural hues; “Brave,” called “a perfect mix of traditional and modern”; and “Noble,” which introduces bohemian and geometric elements.

Colours and designs extend to everything from shelves and curtain rods to porcelain tiles, cabinets and even heavy appliances. The company is also putting a push on peel-and-stick wallpapers.

In every case, the styles of furniture and accessories are paired with paint colours from the Sico paint brand.

People on the Move

At Freud Canada, Silvano Marone has joined the sales team as senior account manager – retail. He will be focused on the major national accounts and the field strategy to support them. Marone comes over to Freud after several years at Bosch Canada, in the automotive and power tools divisions, and Newell Rubbermaid before that.

Trent Ogilvie, president of ROCKWOOL North America, has decided to retire after 25 years at the helm of the stone wool insulation manufacturing company. Rory Moss, currently managing director at ROCKWOOL Nordics, will step into the role of president of the North American business. He will relocate from Denmark to assume his new position effective April 1. 


... that Hardlines offers several ways for you to stay up to date on the industry? Make sure you are subscribed to: our Daily News (free); monthly dealer newsletter (free); and our print magazine, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly (free to dealers)! For more information on all of our news, visit hardlines.news.


JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Several home improvement retailers made Canada’s 2020 Best Employers list. The Forbes survey is compiled by electronically surveying 8,000 Canadians working for businesses with more than 500 employees. Home Hardware came in at number 114, Lowe’s Canada made number 152, Lee Valley Tools was 172, Calgary Co-op made 190, Home Depot came in at 236 and Canadian Tire was 255.

SASKATOON — Federated Co-operatives Ltd.’s Co-op Community Spaces program is open for applications as it enters its sixth year. Launched in 2015 to help protect, beautify and improve spaces across Western Canada, it has provided $8.5 million to 115 projects, including parks, greenhouses and sports fields.

MILTON KEYNES, England — IKEA will close its Coventry store this summer, the company’s first closure of a major U.K. outlet. The retailer said the store has been making “consistent losses” since it opened in 2007, citing “the changing behaviour of customers in the area who prefer to shop in retail parks and online,” leading to fewer visits than expected.

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Callbecks Ltd., which owns a Home Hardware Building Centre in Prince Edward Island’s second-largest municipality, is expanding into the Charlottetown market. Its newly announced acquisition of Charlottetown Home Hardware is a joint venture with Charlottetown’s Metro Home Building Centre.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Home Depot has dropped its antitrust suit against DuPont de Nemours, Inc., suggesting the parties are prepared to settle. The suit alleged that DuPont and Millennium Inorganic Chemicals Inc. conspired with two other chemicals firms to fix the price of titanium dioxide, a paint ingredient.


MALVERN, Pa. — Saint-Gobain has announced that its acquisition of Continental Building Products has obtained approval from Continental’s shareholders, while the statutory waiting period for the merger has expired. Upon completion of the approximately $1.4 billion transaction, Saint-Gobain will acquire all the outstanding shares of Continental for $37 per share in cash.

BURLINGTON, Ont. — St-Laurent, a maker of dual-toned finished fibre cement siding products, has selected Nicholson and Cates Ltd. as its exclusive distributor in Ontario.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — 3M Co. reported that profits plunged by 27 percent in the fourth quarter, taking a hit from restructuring and legal costs. Net income declined to $970 million from $1.35 billion a year ago. Sales rose by 2.1 percent to $8.1 billion.

QUEBEC CITY — Desjardins is now the majority shareholder of Reno-Assistance, a company that pairs clients with contractors for large-scale residential or commercial renovation projects from a pool of more than 1,000 pros. The financial giant is supporting Reno-Assistance’s plan to increase its footprint outside the Greater Montreal, Greater Toronto and Quebec City regions.

CLEVELAND — Sherwin-Williams Co. reported Q4 profits of $248.6 million, up from $101 million a year ago. Same-store sales in the U.S. and Canada rose by 4.6 percent. Total revenues increased by 1.2 percent to $4.11 billion, compared with $4.06 billion the previous Q4.


Our VP & Publisher David Chestnut, and our trusted field reporter Geoffrey McLarney, will be at the TIMBER MART National Buying Show at the Palais des congrès in Montreal this week. Got a scoop or a new product? Look for them on the show floor!


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 the Best Managed Companies and Top Ten Most Trusted Brand’s in Canada and is committed to providing local communities with superior service and quality advice.



Responsible to the Vice-President, Store Operations for developing, overseeing and implementing strategies and procedures for continuous improvements in sales, retail execution, customer experience and operational excellence in retail for Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Create an empowered environment through leadership, coaching and communication ensuring the Retail Sales and Operations Team understand the goals and objectives of the business and have the resources and management support to be successful.

Provide leadership and direction to the Quebec and Atlantic Retail Sales and Operations teams in the management of all retail activation activities from sales campaigns, operational initiatives, store expansions and new Dealer growth and development. 

Establish sales and operational goals and key performance indicators and monitor the effectiveness of the teams through measurable metrics and analytics.

Prepare annual operational and capital budgets working with Finance department to analyze costs of improvements and lead cost and productivity improvement initiatives.

Partner with other key stakeholders (Merchandise/Marketing) to drive sales by introducing new programs and sales initiatives.  Evaluate and communicate the execution of these initiatives at retail level.

University degree in a business-related field or retail strategy, with minimum ten years’ progressive experience in a retail management capacity at a senior leadership level.

Solutions-oriented decision maker with proven ability to build, execute and measure data-driven retail programs and deliver on commitments.

Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with confidence to interact with all levels.  Fluent in French and English is required. 

Understanding of key KPI measures for retailing; knowledge and use of consumer insights tools and ROI metrics.

Solid understanding of digital marketing, social platforms, analytics, optimization and traditional marketing.

Willingness and flexibility to travel extensively and work varying hours to fulfil the requirements of the position.


Responsible to the Senior Director, National Retail Operations for effectively leading the day-to-day activities of the Ontario West Retail Sales and Operations team and facilitating retail sales, store growth, profitability and operational excellence.

Coach the Ontario West Retail Sales and Operations team to achieve operational objectives and retail sales targets.
In conjunction with Dealer Development, assess and approve all prospect all Home Dealer applicants.

Work closely with existing Dealers through the application process who are looking to grow their business through consolidation, expansion or additional locations by submitting forecast requests, business plans and completion of the application outline.

Coach and add value to Dealers during special projects including, but not limited to financial focus, businesses for sale, expansion & relocation and overlapping objections.

Successful applicant must be willing to locate in close proximity of the Dealer Support Centre in St. Jacobs.

College/University diploma or degree in a business-related field or retail strategy. 

Progressive store operation and retail industry experience, with five to ten years in a leadership level. 

Thorough understanding of retail and business fundamentals and KPI’s.  Knowledge of Account Management an asset.

Consumer insights and analytics exposure.

Willingness and flexibility to travel extensively and work varying hours to fulfil the requirements of the position.

Fluent in both French and English would be an asset.

Interested applicants, please submit resume to www.homehardware.ca/careers.
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


Job Description

TORBSA is a Shareholder-owned Canadian Buying Group of Independent Building Material Dealers established in 1966. The Group's focus is to offer the independent business, whether it is Commercial or Specialty Dealer or Lumber Yard, a transparent, low-cost, and relationship driven choice. It is the Group's collective buying power that allows us to develop, negotiate and facilitate opportunities to grow the Shareholders' Business.

Job Opportunity


Under the supervision of the Board of Directors, the President will be responsible to continue to grow TORBSA’s Branding across the Canadian marketplace. As the President, your duties will also include the facilitation of selected communications and job responsibilities, as outlined below:


  • Oversee Management of the Head Office Staff
  • Promote mission and values of the organization
  • Solicit, establish, and maintain business relationships with prospective independent building material dealers to generate growth of the group across the Canadian marketplace
  • Support the existing Shareholders
  • Participate in trade shows and conventions related to the building or construction sectors
  • Manage the TORBSA Website
  • Develop and maintain Vendor Relationships
  • Facilitate ongoing Negotiations on behalf of all Shareholders
  • Co-ordinate Shareholder and Corporate Meetings to share best practices and build both Shareholders and Vendor Relationships
  • Implement all decisions of the Board and Shareholders, reporting progress and status on a timely basis
  • Make recommendations and provide leadership to the Board and Shareholders, to enable TORBSA to achieve its corporate goals
  • Act responsibly and professionally when carrying out duties of the President


  • Undergraduate degree preferred - preference given to studies in engineering, sales and marketing
  • 10 - 15 years of direct work experience in the building material sector
  • Excellent organizational, strategic, planning and implementing skills that will benefit each member as well as the Group as a whole
  • Strong presentation, communication and written skills are considered a valuable asset
  • Ability to speak French is an asset
  • Must be computer literate, with knowledge of Microsoft Access, Word and Excel
  • Ability to become proficient in the management and modification of the Group's website
  • Excellent negotiation skills are highly desired
  • Knowledge of building materials and the building material industry
  • Knowledge of buying groups and how they function in our marketplace is essential
  • Must possess a willingness to travel relevant to the growth aspirations of TORBSA
  • Proven abilities to develop and maintain excellent internal and external relationships with the staff of TORBSA, the Shareholders of the Group and all vendors that make TORBSA the success it is

Compensation and Benefits

  • Wages - Competitive wages based on the market and experience
  • Benefits – Health, Dental and Retirement Savings

Please email resume to cindy@torbsa.com



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




Privacy Policy | HARDLINES.ca

HARDLINES is published weekly (except monthly in December and August) by HARDLINES Inc.
© 2020 by HARDLINES Inc.
HARDLINES™ the electronic newsletter www.HARDLINES.ca
Phone: 416.489.3396; Fax: 647.259.8764
Michael McLarney — President— mike@hardlines.ca
Sigrid Forberg — Editor— sigrid@hardlines.ca
Geoff McLarney — Staff Writer— geoff@hardlines.ca

David Chestnut — VP & Publisher— david@hardlines.ca
Michelle Porter— Marketing

& Events Manager— michelle@hardlines.ca
Accounting — accounting@hardlines.ca

The HARDLINES "Fair Play" Policy: Reproduction in whole or in part is very uncool and strictly forbidden and really and truly against the law. So please, play fair! Call for information on multiple subscriptions or a site license for your company. We do want as many people as possible to read HARDLINES each week — but let us handle your internal routing from this end!
1-3 Subscribers: $460
4-6 Subscribers: $615
7-10: Subscribers: $750
After initial 10 subscribers, blocks of 10 are $285.
For more information call 416-489-3396 or click here
You can pay online by VISA/MC/AMEX at our secure website, by EFT, or send us money. Please make cheque payable to HARDLINES.