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January 20, 2020 | Volume xxvi, #3


  • Gagnon Group of stores leaves BMR, aligns with Octo
  • Lowe’s adds cloud technology to help drive online sales
  • Prepare your visit to world’s largest hardware show
  • Econo Lumber leads way among independents battling shrinkage

PLUS: Lowe’s and Google Cloud, Castle recruits new dealer development lead, IKEA Canada will shutter pick-up points, CanWel Chairman acquires shares, Nicholson and Cates adds line, Energizer Holdings finalizes sale, existing home sales down and more!

Gagnon Group of stores leaves BMR, aligns with Octo

CHENEVILLE, Que. — Groupe Yves Gagnon, a chain of home centres in Quebec, has left BMR Group to go out on its own. The retailer has also announced that the distribution company that serves it has joined Octo Purchasing Group, another buying group that works behind the scenes to help with purchases for retail and wholesale companies in core categories such as plumbing and electrical. The move was effective January 1.

Groupe Yves Gagnon operates five stores in smaller communities in Quebec. It also has a truss and wall panel manufacturing division called Évolution Structures. Yves Gagnon established the retail business in 1973. Today, these businesses are managed by Gagnon’s daughter, CEO Geneviève Gagnon, while he serves as president of Groupe Yves Gagnon.

Geneviève Gagnon also owns Évolution Distribution, based in St-Jérôme, Que. This distributor, which supplies both Groupe Yves Gagnon and Évolution Structures as well as one other dealer, has officially joined Octo.

But Yves Gagnon is also the former president and CEO of BMR Group, well known as a charismatic leader who guided the growth of the buying group and wholesaler for a decade and a half. He retired from his role as head of BMR in 2014, after 20 percent of that group was acquired by La Coop fédérée. La Coop went on to purchase BMR in its entirety in February 2015.

According to Geneviève Gagnon, her company’s departure from BMR was in response to what she called differing goals. The move will enable her stores to better focus on their local communities and manage their involvement in those communities. “We left to be respectful to who we are and our DNA. We felt our two organizations were going in opposite directions. We felt we didn’t fit anymore with the model of the BMR banner.”

While BMR offers distribution, as well as retail support, including a banner and branding, Montreal-based Octo operates behind the scenes to aggregate purchases among its members.

Although the Gagnon stores represented significant volume for BMR, that group says this volume has been more than made up for with the addition of new stores over the past year. They include new members in Ontario, where BMR is actively expanding, as well as an investment in Lefebvre & Benoit, which sells to commercial contractors and builders.

Lowe’s adds cloud technology to help drive online sales

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s Cos. in the U.S., continues to push his company to find ways to improve its online presence in that country, especially in comparison to its Canadian division, which flourished under former VP of eCommerce and Omnichannel Tanbir Grover. (Grover moved at the end of 2019 to The Co-operators, an insurance company.)

In a presentation to analysts late last year, Ellison and his team admitted that online business—he called it “dot-com growth”—was essentially flat in the company’s third quarter. “If you think about the impact of dot-com to our business, it was basically a neutral impact. We grew dot-com by three percent for the [third] quarter; we grew U.S. sales by three percent, so there was really no benefit.”

The company is currently in the midst of a large-scale, multi-year investment in technology transformation. The latest move is a partnership with Google Cloud to enhance the retailer’s e-commerce, merchandising, supply chain management and pricing system. Lowe’s will spend at least $500 million annually through 2021 and hire up to 2,000 engineers to continue to build out its retail network across online and bricks-and-mortar formats.

Ellison admitted that his company’s online business was lagging behind other large traditional retailers that are doing business online—and he is correct. At The Home Depot, Lowe’s chief competitor, online sales have been growing consistently in double digits in recent years. In its third quarter, digital growth reached 28 percent. More than half of those sales were picked up in Home Depot stores.

In Canada, Lowe’s has enjoyed strong growth in online sales. Though the company won’t break out its online business here, efforts in recent years have been successful across all banners. In early 2017, Lowe’s Canada introduced a “Click and Collect” program for its Reno-Depot stores; its Ace stores in Canada were on board with the program by the end of that year. The following summer, e-commerce was up and running at more than 100 participating RONA dealer stores. In August 2019, Lowe’s Canada relaunched it website with a focus on mobile e-commerce.

In the U.S., online sales remain a priority. “We’re not there yet,” Ellison said, “but we know how to get there, and we’re trying to take the right steps to fix the root cause of the issue.”

Prepare your visit to world’s largest hardware show

COLOGNE, Germany — The International Hardware Fair, Eisenwarenmesse, is one of the world’s largest trade shows for the hardware and home improvement industry. Hardlines will be there this year, from March 1 to 4, along with a number of Canadians—buyers and vendors alike—looking for the hottest trends and products hitting the home improvement market.

The show, held every two years in the German city of Cologne, drew 47,000 visitors in 2018 from 143 countries to visit 2,770 vendors. That included Canadian buyers from Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Home Depot and independents such as Patrick Morin. The Canadian vendors who made the journey found it to be worthwhile, as well, whether as exhibitors or simply walking the huge show.

And huge it is. The four-day show will fill 10 buildings, totalling almost two million square feet of space. Long recognized as the show to visit to glimpse the trends expected to hit North America in the next few years, Eisenwarenmesse puts a huge emphasis on innovation, including the latest merchandising and packaging, along with the latest technological advancements that are influencing the future of the home improvement industry.

Hardlines will play an active role in welcoming Canadians who head over to this year’s show. We will once again host a Canada Night International Reception. This event will be held in a German pub right on the show floor. In years past, Canada Night has been a great way for Canucks to gather and meet colleagues from other countries around the world.

(To learn more about the International Hardware Fair and to join us at Canada Night, get in touch with Michael McLarney here at the World Headquarters!)

Econo Lumber leads way among independents battling shrinkage

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. ― Independent home improvement dealers inevitably struggle with shrinkage, whether through theft, breakage or electronic and inventory screwups. And for many independents, investing in sophisticated equipment is something that has to be left to the big players.

One exception is Econo Lumber, the largest lumberyard in north-central Saskatchewan, with a 60,000-square-foot store, a 40,000-square-foot outdoor storage area, and a 26,400-square-foot drive-through warehouse. The Prince Albert-based company has an on-site technology specialist whose job includes keeping Econo aware of email hacks, phishing and “ensuring we have excellent software on our systems, so this doesn’t take place,” says Angelo Minier, Econo’s director of corporate finance.

Econo Lumber’s network of 25 high-resolution cameras provides video that, on a number of occasions, has resolved disputes with shoppers. Minier notes that a customer recently came into the store claiming that he hadn’t picked up the 2x4s he bought the previous day, even though the store’s paperwork showed otherwise.

“We looked at the camera footage and saw that he did, in fact, take the items.” Upon reviewing that footage, the customer “realized that he had ‘forgotten’ that he picked up [the lumber],” says Minier, who notes that video surveillance is also useful when accidents in the yard occur.

He says Econo Lumber has found that “human error”—such as shipping or loading mistakes—is the primary cause of shrinkage. Consequently, no customer gets loaded without proper paperwork. If there’s a discrepancy in the order’s unit count or billing, the customer needs to go back into the store to resolve the problem.

Throughout the year, Econo conducts ongoing inventory counts, going as far in some departments as to count actual quantities on hand to see if they coincide with what the store’s sales system indicates. If something is amiss, Econo does a thorough investigation that includes speaking with the employees who sold and loaded the merchandise.

Whether or not they can afford sophisticated technology or training programs, home improvement dealers are waking up to the reality that lacking a loss prevention strategy costs them a great deal in the long run. That strategy means finding solutions that meet both their needs and their budget.

(This article is excerpted from a larger feature in the next issue of our sister publication, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly magazine. HHIQ is mailed out four times a year to 11,000 dealers and store managers across the country. Click here for more info!)

People on the Move

At Castle Building Centres Group Ltd., Richard Hamel has been appointed business development manager for eastern Quebec and northern New Brunswick. Prior to joining Castle, he was in sales and business development at Roland Boulanger & Cie. He joins Robert Legault, who has been a business development manager for Castle in Quebec for almost 11 years.

Hudson’s Bay Co. has announced the appointment of Iain Nairn as president of its namesake banner. Nairn was previously CEO of international design and stationery firm kikkk.K. Nairn's predecessor, Alison Coville, stepped down last February.

True Value has appointed Chris Kempa as its first chief commercial officer, reporting to CEO and President John Hartmann. Kempa was most recently group president, industrial, at office supplies wholesaler Essendant Inc.


... that the 2019-2020 Hardlines Market Share Report breaks out the sales and store counts of every key home improvement banner by province? This invaluable marketing tool will help you identify sales and market opportunities and align your own forecasts with regional market breakouts. It’s now available in a special package with our Hardlines Retail Report, which provides valuable forecasts for the industry for 2019 and 2020, including analysis of the top players. (For more info, click here!)


MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Lowe’s Cos. and Google Cloud are expanding their partnership to modernize the home improvement retailer’s e-commerce, merchandising, supply chain management and pricing systems. As part of the initiative, Lowe’s is using Android devices and Google Cloud technology to enable employees to view and update pricing and inventory on the fly. The retailer has deployed 88,000 mobile devices to allow its associates to access real-time data without leaving the sales floor or interrupting a customer interaction.

BURLINGTON, Ont. — IKEA Canada has announced it will shutter its pick-up points across Ontario on January 29. The decision affects five locations and about 150 jobs. The last day to place orders for delivery to the pick-up points will be January 15. IKEA launched the Pick-up and Order Point pilot in 2015.


HORSHAM, Pa. — Benjamin Obdyke, Inc. has introduced its flagship product, HydroGap drainable housewrap, to the Ontario market. Designed for custom residential homebuilders and large volume production projects, HydroGap is available through Nicholson and Cates Ltd. beginning this month. 

ST. LOUIS — Energizer Holdings has finalized the sale of its European consumer battery division to Germany’s Varta AG. The companies reportedly reached a $401 million deal in May after Energizer’s January acquisition of Spectrum Brands’ battery business. In order to allay European Commission concerns about competition in the battery and portable lighting market, Energizer had pledged to divest Spectrum’s Varta-branded line in the region.


Existing home sales edged down 0.9 percent in December, ending a streak of monthly gains that began last March. Higher sales were experienced in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and in Calgary and Montreal, offsetting declines in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in December was up 22.7% compared to December 2018. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price climbed 9.6 percent year over year. Activity ended the year about seven percent below the heights recorded in 2016 and 2017. (Canadian Real Estate Assoc.)


The 8th Global DIY Summit will take place June 10 to 12 at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre. More than 1,100 delegates from 50 countries are expected to attend. Under the theme, “The New Normal: Adapting to a Rapidly Changing World”, the summit will feature speakers from Salesforce, Rakuten and Facebook. Topics will include the latest home improvement trends, corporate social responsibility and getting started in the massive China market. Visit the official website for more info.


If you’re headed to Calgary for the WRLA Buying Show this week, be sure to say hello if you see David Chestnut and Michael McLarney on the floor or even pop over to our booth and have a chat with Sigrid Forberg about all things Hardlines!


Classified Ads

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

Taymor Industries Ltd. is now recruiting for a Sales Representative – Home Improvement Retail & New Construction Builders Markets located in Ottawa with travel to Eastern and Northern Ontario.

Family owned since 1948, Taymor is a leading designer and manufacturer of architectural hardware.

If you would like more information regarding the role please visit our company careers webpage at https://www.taymor.ca/en/career/sales-representative-independent-retail-and-builders-markets

Please send requests for full detailed job descriptions, questions and resumes to careers@taymor.com.

Business Development Manager – Western Canada

Orgill Canada Hardlines, ULC is the nation's largest independently-owned hardlines distribution company that is recognized as an industry leader for its development of innovative retail programs and services that are designed to fulfil a simple mission; Help Our Customers Be Successful.

We exist to serve our customers and our mission is the foundation upon which all of our services, products and activities are built. Orgill Canada employees strive for the highest quality and endeavour to do things right the first time, constantly working towards improving everything they do. Employees want our customers to know that they can depend on us every time they do business with Orgill Canada. 

Increase Orgill’s market share in an assigned geographic region by identifying, qualifying, and calling on prospective customers.  


  • Increase dealer participation in Orgill buying and marketing programs with direct or indirect account responsibility. Make dealer presentations on all sales and marketing related issues to existing and prospective accounts, either with a Sales Representative, District Manager, or exclusively by the Business Development Manager
  • Prospect for new business in the region with or without the Sales Representatives to gain new business opportunities in existing accounts
  • Introduce niche-buying programs to enable the retailers to capture greater market share
  • Attend trade shows and industry functions as and when directed in an effort to promote Orgill
  • Gain knowledge and use of tools and technology developed for the Sales Department to create a stronger bond between Orgill and our customers


  • Effectively manage time and prioritize multiple responsibilities
  • Interact effectively with other departments, all levels of management and external customers
  • Accept, prioritize, and complete multiple tasks with minimal supervision
  • Plan, organize, and implement a range of sales promotion ideas and programs
  • Strong presentation and communication skills
  • Must have experience in our industry and a thorough knowledge of the retail hardware, lumber, and building material industry’s concepts, practices, and procedures
  • Must have a valid driver’s license with a good driving record

Please apply by January 31, 2020 and send your current resume and a cover letter to:
Please note the position title in the subject line

Orgill Canada Hardlines, ULC is an equal opportunity employer; this position is offered in accordance with this principle


Job Description


The President of the LBMAO reports to the Board of Directors of the LBMAO.  This position is responsible for the day to day operation of the Association including the following:

  • Financial management of the Association.
  • Recruitment and retention of members.
  • Providing editorial content for the LBMAO magazine as the managing editor.
  • Overseeing the employees of the association including developing and maintaining company employee policies.
  • Managing the company payroll including direct deposit through the 3rd party payroll management system.
  • Attend industry functions representing the Association in a professional manner.
  • Working with the board of directors to develop a strategic plan for growth of the association as well as searching out and developing member benefit programs.


  • Post -Secondary degree in Business administration or comparable industry experience.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Excellent computer skills in Microsoft word, Excel, Power-point.


The LBMAO is a not-for-profit trade association with a long history (102 years) of providing services, social functions and advocacy to the independent building supply retailers and their key suppliers in the province of Ontario.  The association has evolved to meet the changing needs of its members and heavily weighted towards supplying relevant industry specific training, health and safety programs and communication platforms both hard copy and digital to keep its members informed and up to date on industry trends and changes.


  • A base salary will be provided plus bonuses for member growth and retention.
  • Comprehensive benefits package.
  • RRSP matching contributions.

All applications with resume for this position should be submitted to the following address no later than January 30, 2020.

Mr. Ron Schell, Chairman
The Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario
120 Traders Blvd. E.
Mississauga, On L4Z 2H7

We thank all those who apply, however only those candidates who meet the qualifications will be contacted for an interview.


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




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