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June 7, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #23



  • High lumber costs worry dealers, homebuilders alike
  • Just how busy is the industry right now? We asked the folks doing the hiring
  • With a new name, hardware and housewares association expands mandate
  • Home Depot pilots same-day delivery for its pro customers

PLUS: TIMBER MART adds new finance partner, TORBSA’s new board, BMR’s fall show, Dollarama’s Q1 earnings, Grainger’s social responsibility report, POS provider Lightspeed’s acquisition of two California businesses, and more!

High lumber costs worry dealers, homebuilders alike

The cost of building materials has risen by between 20 and 30 percent in the past twelve months in the U.S., the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo found in a survey of the association’s stakeholders.

The average response indicated costs had risen by about 26.1 percent. More than one in five respondents said they have seen costs go up by at least 40 percent.

The market south of the border remains heated, putting further pressure on supply and prices. April’s construction spending in the U.S. edged up by 0.2 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department reported, and year over year it was up almost 10 percent.

Likewise, here in Canada, the 2021 Business Conditions Survey by Hardlines found that product availability and high prices are among the top concerns of hardware dealers.

These findings are borne out by industry observers. Oregon-based Random Lengths, which monitors wood markets, said in its recent newsletter that the price of Western SPF two-by-fours dropped for a second consecutive week. Yet cash prices for lumber remain high—nearly four times higher than the June 2020 benchmark.

“My sense is that prices have peaked,” consultant Russ Taylor told The Globe & Mail. “But very few producers are building new mills. They’re buying existing mills and modernizing.”

With a new name, hardware and housewares association expands mandate

After 52 years, it was time for a change. That’s how Sam Moncada explains the rebranding of the association that represents Canada’s hardware and housewares vendors and agencies. Last month, the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) unveiled a new name, the Canadian Home Products Trade Association (CHPTA), or L’Association Canadienne du Commerce des Produits de Maison (ACCPM) in French.

The change wasn’t considered lightly. Moncada, the president of the association, says it did its homework and that focus groups revealed the distinction between housewares and hardware could be reflected in a more unified way, with the word “home.”

The group also wants to be more encompassing. “That’s why we eliminated the word ’manufacturers’ from the name,” Moncada says.

As the industry has evolved, so has the association. It no longer represents vendors solely. Membership includes manufacturers’ reps and service companies. “We wanted to make everyone feel included so we used ‘trade’ instead. Now we can be more inclusive of the entire sector.”

At the heart of the change is the goal of helping the organization’s membership grow by appealing to a larger audience beyond the vendor community. That will include retailers, dealers, builders, tradespeople, suppliers, and end consumers. Over time, says Moncada, the association could eventually embrace other industries and product markets.

Just how busy is the industry right now? We asked the folks doing the hiring

Like just about everything else that’s been happening during COVID, anticipating what the job market would be like now has been a mystery. But as the industry nears the halfway point of the year, companies are finding the need to hire has stayed strong—to say the least.

In fact, given changes in how people work, companies are having difficulty finding staff.

“As an organization, we were expecting things to be a little quiet during the first half of the year, but that’s not really what’s happening,” says Matt Frost, senior recruitment consultant at Lock Search Group, a recruitment firm based in Toronto. Frost's specialty is in the home improvement and building supplies space.

“There’s been lots of activity within the industry, whether that be companies amping up their online presence or tapping into heightened sales activity thanks to the rise in home renos.”

Wolf Gugler, president of Wolf Gugler Executive Search, is based in Oklahoma. Although the company is based in the U.S., Gugler built his career recruiting in Canada for hardware vendors and retailers alike. “Yeah, I’m busy. On both sides of the border,” he says. “I’m just closing a search for a lumber trader at a Canadian group, and a director of national accounts role for a vendor in the U.S.”
As business in the hardware and home improvement sector has remained buoyant, lockdowns are lifting and the sector is expected to stay active. But that’s leaving some companies playing catch-up. Frost says a lot of organizations identified previous blind spots within their companies during the pandemic, especially in areas like their omnichannel environment.

“We’re also seeing companies building growth plans to expand their field teams as our economy continues opening up a little more because they want to gain access to top talent on the market before their competitors do,” Frost notes.

Gugler says most of the positions he’s hiring for are new roles, after so many companies held back under COVID. “The demand in the market and the uptick in the business has increased the need,” he adds. “These companies may have the tactical strength already, but they needed support on the strategic side, areas like marketing and promotion.”
While this may sound dire for companies that want to hire, Frost points out that from a candidate perspective, there is plenty of good talent out there. Many were let go due to the pandemic and are now looking for their next opportunity.  “The second half of the year, which is really just around the corner, is going to be busy, so that’s a good thing.”
The last word can go to an HR director of a major hardware manufacturer, who spoke with us off the record. Companies will encounter a lot of people who couldn’t or wouldn’t work during the year of the pandemic, whether to look after kids or parents or to protect themselves because of age or pre-existing conditions. “Expect a lot of gaps on resumés,” they say.

Home Depot pilots same-day delivery for its pro customers

The Home Depot Canada continues to ramp up its services for pros and contractors. The pilot of a same-day delivery service exclusive to pros is being tested in some Toronto-area stores is just the latest example.

The service can deliver orders of any size, including bulk items, within two hours. Delivery rates are based on the postal code. Four stores in the Greater Toronto Area currently offer the service, each with its own delivery team of two drivers. Each crew uses Sprinter vans, the same vans used in Home Depot’s rental service. Home Depot can also provide its flatbed service as required for larger orders.

The company has plans to expand the service to other Home Depot stores over time.

You won’t find the program online. Right now it’s an in-store service only, managed through each store’s pro desk staff. This allows Home Depot associates to enter pro customers’ orders on-site and then direct those orders to the delivery crews.
In the pilot phase, there is no minimum order. The store’s delivery team will pick, load, and deliver orders of any size. Orders deemed too small for the new service will be redirected to Home Depot’s existing express delivery channel.

The pilot program has been in place since February and the retailer is working to expand the volume within the four pilot stores. , Home Depot plans to tweak the service before expanding it, incorporating feedback from both the stores and the contractors themselves. The company says that it will then get the service online, which will enable the opportunity to leverage any store for product and delivery.

People on the Move

At TORBSA Ltd., Gary Sangha of Crown Building Supplies Ltd. in Surrey, B.C., has been elected as chairman of its board for the year 2021. In addition, the 2021 board of directors includes past chairman Steve Guglietti, Pro Con Building Supplies, Brampton, Ont.; vice-chairman Michael Burkart, Bernardi Building Supplies, Mississauga, Ont.; treasurer Len Hewson, Hewson Brothers Building Supply, Cambridge, Ont.; vice-chairman of operations Dante DiGiovanni, Blair Building Materials, Maple, Ont.; and secretary Greg Drouillard, Target Building Materials, Windsor, Ont.



... that nominations for the 2021 Outstanding Retailer Awards are due June 25? All Canadian hardware and home improvement retailers and managers who have operated under their current ownership for at least two years are eligible. Dealers may submit their entries directly or their chain or buying group head offices may select their best dealer(s) and prepare their entries in collaboration with the dealer. Click here for more information and application forms (en français aussi).


BMR Group will hold its buying show in a virtual format for a second consecutive year, the company has announced. The decision was based on the uncertainties surrounding the health measures that will be in effect in the fall and the limitations that still apply today in relation to business gatherings. The group says it has “decided to err on the side of caution.” In addition, BMR reports positive results from its fall 2020 virtual show, so it’s working to determine the format of this year’s event to optimize the experience for its member-dealers.

TIMBER MART has entered a partnership with Toronto-based international payments and foreign exchange firm Dunbridge Financial. Dunbridge will offer all TIMBER MART members access to foreign exchange, global payment and receipts, and currency risk management protection. The service is available to all TIMBER MART locations across Canada and includes secure money transfers for all foreign purchasing and revenue repatriation needs. The partnership is intended to enable foreign hardware and LBM suppliers to enter the Canadian market more easily.

Dollarama reported Q1 earnings of $113.6 million, compared with $86.1 million a year ago, while sales rose 13 percent. Earnings of $0.37 per diluted share were about in line with analyst expectations of $0.38 and above $0.28 in 2020. Comp sales, excluding temporarily closed stores, rose by 5.8 percent. The Montreal-based discount retailer’s sales momentum took a hit from retail restrictions put in place during the stay-at-home order in Ontario, which is home to 40 percent of its stores.

W.W. Grainger has announced the publication of its 2021 corporate social responsibility report, which is now online. It's the 10th annual edition of the report, which outlines the company's commitment to addressing key environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns.

Key to the report is the company’s materiality assessment, which was updated this year from the inaugural assessment in 2018. Customers, suppliers, investors, community partners, and team members contributed to this assessment, which highlights topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion; energy and emissions; and product quality.

CORRECTION: Our survey article on dealer recruitment efforts in Quebec in last week’s edition had some errors. One of the recent signings by Home Hardware was a hardware store in Laurier-Station. It is 7,000 square feet in size, not 1,000. Another, Quincaillerie Y. Gosselin et Fils Ltd. in Frelighsburg, is a former RONA dealer, not an independent. Finally, we reported that TORBSA does not have a member in Quebec. We had overlooked that buying group’s signing last summer of Matériaux de Construction Létourneau, based in Waterville, Que.


Canadian point-of-sale software provider Lightspeed POS announced the acquisition of two California-based businesses. The company is set to purchase e-commerce platform Ecwid Inc. for $500 million and NuORDER Inc., which automates wholesale orders, for $425 million. The acquisitions will expand Lightspeed’s reach in the retail sector and make it a potential rival to Canadian giant Shopify.

The announcement late last month of Natural Resources Canada’s Canada Greener Homes Grant generated enough buzz to crash its website, but concerns remain about the program’s parameters. Homeowners must make a considerable up-front investment before they see any reimbursements, including paying for two energy audits.


“Since there’s a heightened amount of people looking for their next career opportunity, it’s becoming even more challenging for smaller HR teams to dedicate the required time to proactively chase down top talent.”
—Matt Frost, senior recruitment consultant at Lock Search Group, on the challenges of finding the right candidate without the help of an executive search firm.





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