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January 17, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #3
  • New hires at TIMBER MART reflect importance of LBM buying function
  • Home Depot’s new credit card program for pros has benefits for Canadians
  • Walmart Canada to eliminate plastic bags in its stores
  • Kitchen countertops will be hot in 2022, says Houzz study

PLUS: ABSDA cancels Atlantic buying show, BMR dealer adds eighth location, Létourneau joins Castle, manufacturers’ association hosts speaker series, Kohler products at Wolseley Canada, lumber production by sawmills increases, pioneering Home Depot exec shares insights in latest Hardlines podcast, PPG expands range in U.S. Home Depot stores, and more!

New hires at TIMBER MART reflect importance of LBM buying function 

Dealers across the country continue to review their options under COVID, making new alliances and switching buying groups. But movement within those groups reflects further the dynamic nature of the business currently.

That includes the realignment of the LBM buying function at TIMBER MART. In November 2021, the group was able to secure Bruno Baldessari, an industry veteran who had spent years at a rival group, BMR, as vice president of forest products trading. Baldessari is responsible for leading and managing TIMBER MART’s national lumber trading division. He had left BMR following changes to senior management at that group.

With responsibility exclusively for lumber trading, Baldessari now works to increase TIMBER MART’s focus on commodity trading. In taking over this role, he relieves John Morrissey, the TIMBER MART vice president based in Halifax, who is in charge of the group’s presence in Atlantic Canada. Morrissey continues to oversee distribution for TIMBER MART Down East.

One of Baldessari’s objectives is to grow his unit and its functions with new products and services to support the TIMBER MART members. As a result, he has been adding to his team.

At the beginning of the year, Nathaniel Boyd, a sales development agent at TIMBER MART, was promoted to the position of commodity trader. He is responsible for securing commodity products for members in Ontario. Based out of the group’s Mount Forest, Ont., distribution centre, he reports directly to Baldessari.

Most recently, Milynn Bruneau has also joined as a commodity trader for Ontario. Like Boyd, she undertakes purchasing on behalf of TIMBER MART’s Ontario members. She has retail experience and was a panel trader at AFA Forest Products. She also reports directly to Baldessari. Bruneau and Boyd are part of a team of six traders nationally for TIMBER MART.

Growth continues as well at the dealer level. Aluminium J. Clément Inc. in Mont-Tremblant, Que., is the newest member to join TIMBER MART. Manugypse, a TIMBER MART member with locations in Quebec City and Boucherville, is set to open a third this March, in Mirabel.

Home Depot’s new credit card program for pros has benefits for Canadians

The Home Depot in the U.S. is enhancing its commercial credit offerings for pro customers and their respective businesses. The retailer introduced the Pro Xtra Credit Card, a new iteration of its Commercial Revolving Charge, as well as updates to its Commercial Account Card. But most of the services already exist in Canada, as well. The credit options in both countries are powered by Citi Retail Services.

Pro Xtra is The Home Depot’s loyalty program that offers members-only benefits like volume pricing, exclusive product offers, and paint rewards. The new card can be linked with the Pro Xtra loyalty program to earn registered users Pro Xtra Perks four times faster on regular card purchases, says the company.

The benefits spill over to Canada, as well. A spokesperson for Home Depot Canada confirmed that its pro customers can link their Pro Xtra membership here to Home Depot Canada’s store commercial credit card and receive similar benefits. These include rewards on all purchases, 365-day in-store returns, and the ability to issue cards to trusted staff members.

Walmart Canada to eliminate plastic bags in its stores

Walmart Canada will eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags in a move it says will prevent almost 750 million plastic bags from entering circulation each year. The changes apply to in-store purchases along with online grocery pickup and delivery orders. The phased approach will see all of Walmart's more than 400 Canadian locations make the change by Earth Day 2022 (April 22). The national roll-out follows a 10-store pilot that began in August 2021.

Walmart says the pilot received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and associates and diverted nearly six million plastic bags. The change will help to eliminate more than 10 million pounds of plastic from circulation each year, the company claims.

“Eliminating plastic shopping bags is a significant milestone on our journey to becoming a regenerative company—and it's the right thing to do,” said Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, in a release.

In advance of the change, Walmart will launch a comprehensive customer awareness and education campaign to assist in the transition to a plastic bag-free experience. Customers will be encouraged to bring reusable options from home to carry their purchases. Reusable bags will also be available for purchase in stores if needed.

Walmart has already adopted a series of changes to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics, especially in its food packaging. That includes increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled content in packaging for baked goods, a move that is avoiding the use of 925,000 lbs of new plastics annually.

Kitchen countertops will be hot in 2022, says Houzz study

Houzz, an online platform for home renovation and design, has released its 2022 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. It was based on a survey that gathered data from 2,400 U.S. homeowners who are planning, are in the midst of, or have just finished a kitchen renovation.

The study found that kitchen countertops are the top priority this year, with more than a third (35 percent) of respondents spending on this category. It also represents the most frequently upgraded part of the kitchen, with nine out of 10 homeowners changing out their countertops during a kitchen renovation.

The survey found that homeowners choose their countertops based mainly on look and feel. The most popular materials are engineered quartz and granite, with 42 percent and 24 percent of respondents, respectively, desiring those materials. White is the most popular colour, identified by 39 percent of respondents.

“Hiring rates for home professionals to complete these projects are the highest we’ve seen in four years,” said Marine Sargsyan, a senior economist for Houzz.

U.S. homeowners spent more on both major and minor kitchen remodels in 2021. The median cost for a major renovation was $40,000, up 14 percent from 2020, while the median cost for a minor renovation was $10,000, up 25 percent. More homeowners also hired professional help in 2021, with 89 percent of renovations done by a contractor, up from 85 percent in 2020.

People on the Move

Lowe’s Canada’s new president, Tony Cioffi, has promoted Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux to the position of senior vice president for RONA affiliates, wholesale, and public affairs at Lowe’s Canada. Previously, Lamoureux was senior VP for public affairs, asset protection, and sustainable development. He joined the company in 2017 as VP, communications and public affairs.

BuildDirect.com Technologies has appointed David Lazar as interim CEO, subject to regulatory approvals. Lazar was previously CEO of Bailey 44, a premium apparel company that was sold to Digital Brands Group last February.

Walmart CFO Brett Biggs will leave the company in 2023. In his post since 2015, Biggs presided over a major expansion of the company’s online and international businesses. He was seen by some analysts as a contender to eventually succeed Doug McMillon as CEO.


...  that we never get tired of thanking you, our Faithful Readers, for your support through the past year? Now we want to make sure that you continue to receive communications from Hardlines that are relevant to you. We’ve added new products in 2021 and we don't want you to miss out on any of them! Besides the Hardlines weekly, we now have three free newsletters—and a podcast! So please take a moment to update your profile by clicking here.


Matériaux Pont-Masson, which joined BMR last July, has acquired a neighbouring BMR location. The BMR F.V. Lalonde Renovation Centre in Les Coteaux, Que., will be the eighth store in Pont-Masson’s network, which straddles the Ontario-Quebec boundary. The store includes 17,000 square feet of sales floor, as well as a 70,000-square-foot lumber yard and 25,000 square feet of covered warehousing.

Matériaux de Construction Létourneau has joined Castle Building Centres, building on the buying group’s recent growth in Quebec. Based in Waterville, it also has a location in Bromptonville, a borough of Sherbrooke. After it departed from BMR at the end of 2019, Létourneau joined TORBSA the following year. It tendered its resignation from that group at the end of last month.


The Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association has announced the cancellation of its 2022 Building Supply Expo. The event was set for March 9 and 10 at the Halifax Convention Centre. Organizers explained that they were not confident public health restrictions would be lifted in time to allow the expo to take place. Reimbursements for vendors who paid for their booths will be processed over the coming weeks.

A speaker series hosted by the Canadian Home Products and Trade Association and the Canadian Office Products Association is continuing in the new year. Making Waves is an online learning program presented in collaboration with the Schulich Executive Education Centre. (Click here to view the full schedule.)

Kohler kitchen and bath products will be rolled out at more than 200 Wolseley Canada outlets this month, the companies announced, expanding Kohler’s footprint across the country. Wolseley Canada will carry the products at its branches and showrooms nationwide and online through its online platform, Wolseley Express.

PPG has expanded its relationship with Home Depot in the U.S. to offer an extensive lineup of PPG paint products and services designed exclusively for the retailer’s pro customers. The new product lineup began rolling out on shelves in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will be available in all U.S. Home Depot stores.


Lumber production by sawmills in October increased 0.3 percent from September to 4.66 million cubic metres. Production was 8.4 percent lower than in October 2020. Sawmills shipped 4.48 million cubic metres of lumber, down 4.9 percent from September and 8.9 percent from October 2020. (StatCan)


In the latest episode of our podcast series, What’s in Store, we talk to former Home Depot executive Jim Inglis, author of Breakthrough Retailing: How a Bleeding Orange Culture Can Change Everything. Inglis looks back on the early years of the company and the skepticism it was met with by the industry. He also delves into Home Depot’s entry into Canada through the acquisition of Aikenhead’s. You can now listen to the Hardlines Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts(Sign up now to get updates about the latest podcasts in your inbox!)


“There’s a huge difference between knowing about the customer and knowing the customer.” —Jim Inglis, retail consultant and a former executive vice president at The Home Depot during its early days of growth. He talks about his experiences working with the company’s founders in our latest Hardlines Podcast.

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