February 9, 2015 Volume
“Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny.” —Kin Hubbard (American cartoonist, humorist and journalist, 1868-1930)
La Coop fédérée completes takeover of BMR
MONTREAL — La Coop fédérée has aquired all assets of Groupe BMR, creating a combined entity that is second only to RONA in Quebec’s retail home improvement arena.
The deal, which makes BMR a wholly owned subsidiary of La Coop, is the conclusion of a union that began more than a year ago, when La Coop bought up 20% of the closely held buying group and wholesaler. Since then, hardware supply to the giant coop company’s home improvement dealers, under the Unimat banner, was transferred to BMR’s operations in Boucherville, Que.
Besides having more than 160 stores in Quebec—most of them dealer-owned—BMR is also active in Ontario, the Maritimes, and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. It generates annual sales of more than $1.4 billion and employs 5,000 people through a total of almost 180 stores. The merger will give La Coop a total of 350 building centres and hardware stores. Both the Unimat and BMR brands will remain in use.
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Atlantic Show faces bad weather, and a sad moment
MONCTON, N.B. — Legendary rock band Foreigner headlined the Gala Dinner at the Atlantic Building Materials Show in Moncton last week. The evening brought together an estimated 900 people despite the storms ravaging the Maritimes and causing concerns about attendance at the show itself.
Photo by Nicole Payzant
The event, held by the Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association, also paid tribute to Don Sherwood, former president of the ABSDA, who died suddenly in December. Sherwood, who began transitioning into retirement last summer, was to have enjoyed a send-off at this show; instead, the industry held a sombre memorial, led by ABSDA past chair Brian Warr (shown here), of Warr’s Castle Building Centre in Springdale, Nfld.
Photo by Nicole Payzant
Day one of the event had a fairly strong showing of dealers—at least through the morning. However, even some dealers who would have otherwise driven in were thwarted by bad weather conditions, following a dump of more than 100 cm of snow on the city in the week running up to the show. On day two, attendance fell dramatically. The number of exhibitors also appeared to be down, judging by the empty spaces on the show floor.
Despite the challenges posed by weather and industry consolidation, the event still offered a chance for dealers and suppliers to meet face-to-face, celebrate, and reflect.
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Takeover of BMR a big step in La Coop’s growth plans
MONTREAL — The takeover of Groupe BMR by La Coop fédérée marks the latest, and most dramatic, move by the Quebec farm co-operative to position itself as a leader in the hardware and building materials arena.
And while La Coop first approached BMR less than two years ago, the company’s focus on hardware and home improvement dates back almost four decades.
Serving the farm market through its network of co-op stores, La Coop watched the decline of the farm market with the consolidation of small farms and the rise of factory farming. “In 1977, the company made the decision to increase the hardware and building supply side to support the farmers,” says Gaétan Desroches, CEO of La Coop fédérée. In 1986, the Unimat banner was introduced.
Desroches says the concept proved successful, and the company eventually faced the need to develop its infrastructure to adequately support its growing dealer ranks. That’s when the decision was made to consider an acquisition. “So we knocked on BMR’s door,” he adds. La Coop ended up buying up 20% of BMR effective the beginning of 2014.
Unlike some buying groups, BMR is closely held by a small group of the dealers. One of their main dealers is also the past head of the company, Yves Gagnon. He was to have run BMR at least for the first two years, but decided to step down for health reasons in September 2014. Pascal Houle, who came over from La Coop, became executive vice president of BMR and will continue to run that business.
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HTV: TORBSA get serious about growth
CALGARY — After years as a regional buying group, TORBSA is getting more aggressive about recruitment. That includes exhibiting at trade shows, such as the recent WRLA Buying Show in Calgary and last week’s Atlantic Building Materials Show in Moncton, N.B.
In addition, TORBSA has brought on Bob Hill, whose background includes RONA and Beaver Lumber, as business development manager to handle dealer recruitment. We caught up with the group’s general manager, Bob Holmes, at the show in Calgary. He explained why TORBSA is emerging as a good alternative for independent dealers considering a new option.
“We bring to the table the fact that we’re a low-cost group. We have five people that work in our organization.” He says the group strives to develop a culture of strong communication and involvement, not just between head office and the members, but among the members themselves. He also notes that TORBSA does not promote a national banner, leaving that branding up to the members. “They’ve been successful in their markets since their inception and there’s no reason why that should change.” Instead, the group looks for ways to help them operate more successfully and share best practices.
After being centered mainly in Ontario, the group is starting to spread its reach. Its newest member is Crown Building Supplies in Surrey, B.C. What was the attraction for a dealer located so far from TORBSA’s head office in Bolton, Ont.? “What drew him,” says Holmes, “is that we allow him to be an independent and to have the ability to buy from whomever he wishes.” Not only that, but dealers who feel that other banners or buying groups are already well represented in their markets have the opportunity to differentiate themselves.
While TORBSA’s membership consists mainly of commercial dealers, the group’s ranks are more diversified than that, Holmes adds. “We can answer the needs of any dealer.”
(Click here to watch the full interview with Bob Holmes on Hardlines TV!)
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RONA takes over Millwork stores in Ontario
OSHAWA, Ont. — RONA inc. has taken over the assets of Millwork & Building Supplies Limited. The deal was effective February 2.
RONA will continue to operate Millwork’s stores in Oshawa, Ajax, and Peterborough, along with its truss plant in Bowmanville, Ont. The stores, which will now be run as corporate stores, reopened to the public on February 3.
Millwork joined RONA as an affiliate dealer in 2012. The company, a founding member of Independent Lumber Dealers Co-operative, was started in 1951 by Ed Lupton. By the time of its affiliation with RONA, the company was in the hands of the second generation of the Lupton family, specifically Rob and his sister Gail. It represents estimated annual sales of $42 million (source: Hardlines Who’s Who Directory ) .
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