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June 6, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #22


  • Reorg at BMR head office includes new head merchant and new COO
  • TORBSA merges with U.S.-based buying group
  • Canadian roofing giant IKO opens new Brampton facility
  • CertainTeed parent Saint-Gobain to acquire Kaycan

PLUS: RONA Buying Show re-imagined, BuildDirect.com reports Q1 revenues, U.S. construction spending, Lowe’s Canada garners award, and more!

Reorg at BMR head office includes new head merchant and new COO

The latest changes at the head office of BMR Group have resulted in a new head buyer, a new COO, and the departure of at least one senior executive.

Charles Grégoire-Béliveau (shown here) has been named vice president, merchandising. He joined BMR in 2016 as director, purchasing for corporate stores. In that role, he led the merger of the purchasing, distribution, and corporate stores teams. He also increased BMR’s imports from Asia. He was promoted in 2020 to senior director, merchandising before getting this latest title. Grégoire-Béliveau is chairman of Éco-Peinture, an organization that regulates paint recycling in Quebec.

Other changes at BMR include a new chief operations officer, Antonio Di Pasquale. He joined BMR Group in 2020 as vice president, supply chain and operational excellence. In this new role, he will oversee all of BMR’s operations.

In addition, Jonathan Gendreau, who had been VP business development, marketing, and customer experience at BMR, has left the organization. He had been with BMR since 2017.

BMR has seen a number of changes at head office over the past year. In March 2021, Alexandre Lefebvre was appointed CEO, replacing Pascal Houle as head of the group. Lefebvre came over from Lefebvre & Benoît, a large commercial dealer that is owned by BMR. In addition, changes to the group’s mid-level team to improve organizational structure, including the addition of Simon Gouin as senior director, business development for eastern Canada, occurred exactly one year ago.

The latest shuffle is aimed at helping BMR continue growing its dealer base in eastern Canada. Along with its strong presence in Quebec, where it has more than 230 stores, BMR has long been present in the Maritimes and particularly New Brunswick, where it has 11 stores. Its biggest growth target is Canada’s largest province, Ontario. There, it has 20 stores, including the recent additions of an important building supply dealer in Cornwall and the conversion of a contractor-oriented dealer in Elmvale.


TORBSA merges with U.S.-based buying group

TORBSA Ltd., the Bolton, Ont.-based buying group, announced last week that it had merged with another buying group, AD, a North American contractor and wholesale buying group. The merger is expected to close July 1.

“The decision to align our business with AD was one that was scrutinized thoroughly,” said TORBSA president Paul Williams. “TORBSA and its shareholders are truly excited at the road ahead, as we lay the foundation for what will be many years of success as a business.”

Founded in 1966, TORBSA represents 30 members in 40 locations across Canada. But with the merger, a new division of AD has been created: AD Canada Building Supplies. Williams will head this new division, which effectively replaces TORBSA, and TORBSA members will become shareholders of AD Canada. Williams will now report to Rob Dewar, president of AD Canada, while three additional TORBSA employees will join the AD team.

But what is AD?

AD is a wholesale buying group that provides contractor-related and industrial products to some 845-plus independent member owners in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and represents annual sales of some $58.5 billion. AD operates 13 divisions that cover industries including electrical, industrial, safety, bearings and power transmission, plumbing, PVF, HVAC, decorative brands, and building supplies.

TORBSA had previously been part of another hardlines buying group, OCTO, which specializes in plumbing and heating, electrical, and tools. Another member of OCTO that TORBSA had a relationship with is Indica. Indica represents some 440 industrial supply distributors in the U.S. and Canada that represent more than 1,600 locations. It has partnerships with 230-plus suppliers.

“AD brings decades of experience, strong leadership throughout the organization, with strong business ethics and core values that align with our own. Their scale and expertise across North America give us the strength to compete and succeed in an ever-changing marketplace,” Williams said.

AD’s Rob Dewar added that TORBSA’s strong leadership and financial success made the buying group an ideal match for AD. “TORBSA has been a leader in this space for a long time, and our new relationship will help us provide more benefits for members, including an increased supplier portfolio.” The deal also fits with a key priority of AD in recent years to grow its presence in Canada.


Canadian roofing giant IKO opens new Brampton facility

Canadian roofing products maker IKO held a grand opening recently to officially launch a new factory and warehouse in Brampton, Ont. The facility sits on the site of the original building that was constructed in 1959 and de-commissioned in 2017.

The new operation covers 150,000 square feet and is one of three finished product facilities on the west side of the Greater Toronto Area.

A tour of the plant by Hardlines revealed that it has capacity to store one million bundles of shingles and can produce 2,100 bundles in an hour. The brands made here are Dynasty, Cambridge, and Baltimore. Laminate shingles were on the production line during the grand opening, in response to the high level of demand for this type of product. IKO prides itself on its vertical integration: the wrapper and the granules used to produce the shingles had all come from sister facilities.

On hand for the ribbon cutting were brothers Saul and Henry Koschitzky, who built the original Brampton plant and remain active in the business. Their father, Israel Koschitzky, established the company’s first plant in Calgary in 1951. The fourth generation of the family is now involved in the business. (Pictured l-r: IKO’s Yekutiel Koschitzky and Jack Gottesman.)

CertainTeed parent Saint-Gobain to acquire Kaycan

CertainTeed parent Saint-Gobain has reached a deal to acquire Kaycan Ltd., the Montreal-based manufacturer and distributor of siding products. The $928-million transaction is slated to close—pending regulatory approvals—by the end of 2022.

The deal represents a net acquisition price of about US$820 million and includes the planned divestiture of Kaycan’s small U.S. distribution arm, which accounts for about US$70 million in sales. Saint-Gobain says it intends to hold onto Kaycan’s “locally well-established Canadian distribution.”

With the acquisition, Saint-Gobain says it is reinforcing its position in sustainable construction and its position as a siding player in Canada. The company also looks forward to enlarging its vinyl offering across the U.S. The company says this acquisition meets its strategic and financial aims to strengthen its leadership in North America, while enriching its offering in light and sustainable construction, particularly in aluminum and engineered wood siding.

People on the Move

Carol Crystal has been promoted to VP, merchandise LBM, at Home Hardware Stores Ltd. She joined the company as director, merchandise hardlines in August 2020 and moved to the comparable role in LBM in June 2021. Previously, she held executive positions at Lowe’s Canada, Walmart Canada, and Hudson’s Bay Co. In her new role, Crystal reports to chief merchandising officer Marianne Thompson.


... that Hardlines is the only national breaking news service for Canada’s retail home improvement industry? Our mission is to connect the industry through information. If you have news to share, whether it’s a new hire, banner change, acquisition, or a new line, let Hardlines know. We are working for you!


Lowe’s Canada has reimagined its fall RONA market for 2022. This year’s Buying Show, which is held for its affiliated RONA dealers, is being re-launched under a new concept with a new name: RONA Connexia. The annual event will now be divided into three interconnected activities spread throughout the fall, kicking off in person Sept. 7-9 in Quebec City and from Sept. 14-16 in Vancouver. Conferences, training, and networking sessions with vendors and dealer support teams will be part of the shows.

Castle Building Centres Group held its Castle Expo at Deerhurst Inn in Huntsville, Ont., last week. The “speed-dating” format of the event gave all participating vendors face time with Castle dealers in attendance.

Lowe’s Canada received an award for the In-Store Experience & Design category (tied) at the Retail Council of Canada’s Excellence in Retailing Awards Gala last week. The award recognizes Lowe’s Canada’s implementation of myredvest, a self-serve and assisted checkout system implemented at 51 Lowe’s, RONA, and Réno-Dépôt stores in Canada in under two years. It’s Lowe’s Canada’s fourth RCC award in the last five years.

BuildDirect.com Technologies reported Q1 revenues of $24.4-million, up 16.8 percent from a year ago. Sales to pro customers came to $18.7-million, an increase of 14.7 percent from Q4 of 2021. Gross profits rose 18.1 percent year-over-year to $8.7-million.


Taiga Building Products has been honoured with a Telly Award for one of its promotions. The 40-second ad entitled “You don’t need luck” took Bronze in the category Non-Broadcast: General Sales. The Telly Awards began in 1979 to recognize the best TV commercials, and have since grown to cover non-broadcast and digital content.

A class action suit against Visa and MasterCard has been settled to the tune of $131-million, The Globe and Mail reports. Retailers who have accepted credit card payments can join the class until Sept. 30. Small businesses (with under $5-million per annum in sales) can receive $30 for every year they accepted card payments, up to a maximum of $600. They do not need to document their claim. The suit was launched in 2010 over the fees charged to merchants for processing credit card payments. As a result of the settlement, retailers will be allowed to charge customers extra to cover their card fees beginning in October.


Yvonne Patton (Castle Building Centres)

After a brief battle with cancer, Yvonne Patton died on March 18. Yvonne was well known throughout the industry as one of the faces of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. She was the executive assistant to president and CEO Ken Jenkins, sharing the role with her colleague and close friend Peggy Cuff. Together, Yvonne and Peggy were the key contacts for the company and worked in unison to coordinate the group’s annual general meetings. Yvonne is survived by her husband, Gary, children Joshua (Sabrina) and Cameron (Diana) and Yvonne’s granddaughter Olivia. She was predeceased by her father, Samuel Joseph Freel.


Total construction spending in the U.S. for April was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.74-trillion. That’s up 0.2 percent over the previous month. Spending on private construction was up 0.5 percent, while public construction spending was down 0.7 percent from March. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)


Government inaction on promises to reduce credit card fees is putting pressure on small businesses, The Globe and Mail reports. The increase in card payments during the pandemic has heightened the urgency of the situation. The Liberals campaigned on a pledge to reduce the cost for retailers in the 2019 and 2021 elections.


“We both share a passion for serving independents and helping them thrive in competitive markets, and we’re honoured to have them join the AD community.”
—Rob Dewar, president of AD Canada, on the wholesale buying group’s merger with TORBSA, a buying group representing 40 dealer locations in Canada.


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