John Caulfield, Contributing Editor
 vol. x, #10 March 8, 2004

IN THIS ISSUE: * Home Depot Canada to launch self-checkouts * 84 Lumber sales up 18% * Chase-Pitkin makes deal to sell appliances * Ace ships snakes, Lowe's gets sinking feeling * Sodisco-Howden says loyalty remains high * LBMAO evaluates future locations for show * Loblaw wants your barbecue business!

* * * * * * NOTE: Dollar amounts are stated in the currency of the country from which the story originates. — Michael McLarney, Editor & Publisher * * * * * *
"Sentimentality is only sentiment that rubs you the wrong way." —Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
Eighty-Four, PA — 84 Lumber Co., the nation's largest privately-held building supply company, announced that sales for 2003 finished at $2.5 billion dollars, an increase of 18% over the previous year.Maggie Hardy-Magerko"2003 was another successful year here at 84 Lumber," said 84 Lumber president Maggie Hardy-Magerko in a prepared statement. "None of this would be possible without each and every one of our associates. I am very proud of them; they never cease to amaze me." The company managed to crack the $2-billion mark two years ago, when sales in 2002 topped $2.1 billion. With those sales spread across 450 stores and 12 component plants in 34 states, 84 Lumber is known for its smaller, contractor-oriented outlets, However, five of them managed to hit $20 million in sales in 2003. "Our associates are a determined group of people who always go above and beyond the goals and expectation set," said Hardy-Magerko, who often cites the importance of 84's 6,500 employees when talking about her company's successes. Founded by Magerko-Hardy's father, Joe Hardy, in 1956 in this town, 84 Lumber plans to open almost 30 new stores and six component plants in the coming year.
TORONTO — Home Depot Canada plans to begin installing self-service checkouts in its stores by early April.These checkouts, which can be monitored by only one cashier, are part of Home Depot's larger effort to upgrade its information technology in the front and back ends of its store. In 2003, the Atlanta-based company installed more than 90,000 electronic devises in its stores across North America, including 31,328 touch-screen POS terminals and self-service terminals into around 800 stores. Bob DeRodes, Home Depot's chief technology officer, told analysts that, through mid January, 120 million purchases had been transacted through the self-service terminals, and that Depot had been able to reduce its checkout queue time during weekends by 40%. Home Depot store frontAnnette Verschuren, Home Depot Canada's president, adds that 30% of all transactions at Home Depot stores now go through self-service checkouts, and she has been looking forward to having the technology in her own stores. "Our front end has been strong, and the reception of our cashiers has been exceptional" to the company's Front End Accuracy & Service Transformation, a program known internally as FAST, that's aimed at improving cashier productivity and getting shoppers out the door quicker.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Chase Pitkin Home & Garden, a 15-unit home improvement dealer based here, is jumping on the appliance bandwagon, but without the inventory and in-store space commitments that competitors like Lowe's, Sears and Home Depot are devoting to the category.This regional dealer, with estimated annual sales of more than $200 million, has formed strategic alliances with retail appliance dealers in several of its markets. Through a new program called Appliance Advantage, shoppers who purchase kitchens from Chase-Pitkin are now entitled to a 10% discount on appliances purchased from its partners. "We're trying to keep our business local," Frank Auria, Chase-Pitkin's vice-president merchandising, told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "We figure it's a great partnership, us offering our customers a value proposition when purchasing a new kitchen. The next step is buying appliances. We figure to capture the appliance-buying business by turning it over to the local expert." A spokesperson for Chase-Pitkin told Hardlines that, while the program is available to customers at all of the dealer's stores, it is being marketed primarily at the nine stores with kitchen design centers.
MONTREAL — Deflecting criticism of his company's low profile of late, Sodisco-Howden Group president and CEO Jos Wintermans says his dealers are satisfied with the wholesale distributor's service levels.Back from the annual dealers meetings, he says, "I haven't seen the dealers as positive and optimistic as long as I've been with Sodisco-Howden." Wintermans took over the company two and one-half years ago. His tenure has been marked by acquisitions of other regional distributors, consolidation of operations between its two main warehouses — Victoriaville, Que. and London, Ont. — and rebuilding relations with Sodisco-Howden's often disgruntled dealers, most of which fly the Pro banner. Currently, Sodisco-Howden is in a quiet period, awaiting the results of an evaluation by an international finance company, N M Rothschild, that will make recommendations on the future of the company. In the meantime, some uncertainty hangs over the fate of Sodisco-Howden. Nevertheless, says Wintermans, dealer loyalty is strong and so are the company's financials. "We're up significantly in January to February. We've started off the year with a bang." Sodisco-Howden also continues to keep ties with its key customers, the LBM buying groups. In January, the company signed a major new supply agreement with Western buying group Tim-BR-Marts Ltd., and says Wintermans, the members of AWARD in Atlantic Canada who have signed on with Atlantic Distribution Ltd., based in Halifax, "are still maintaining ties with Sodisco-Howden Group." Sodisco-Howden owns the license to Ace Hardware in Canada, and that program has become the option of choice for Sodisco-Howden's dealers who currently operate under the Do-it center banner. That program is being phased out, and Wintermans says most of his Do it center members are switching to Ace. "The exception is Newton Enterprises, which went with Rona, but nobody has followed Newton's lead," he notes. Newton is a two-store chain with a mix of DIY and pro customers about 45 minutes outside of Winnipeg. It became the first independent dealer in Western Canada to sign on with Rona. "When you want to be a true independent, going with Rona or Home Hardware is not the way to go," he adds.
EUREKA, Calif. — Voters in Humboldt County, Calif., rejected a recall of District Attorney Paul Gallegos that had been bankrolled by Pacific Lumber Co., which Gallegos had accused of fraud.In a turnout that far exceeded the state-wide turnout for California's presidential primary, three-fifths of voters in the county decided to retain the 41-year-old D.A., who had been barraged by a multimedia ad campaign depicting him as soft on crime. That campaign was funded by Pacific Lumber. In a March 2003 filing, Gallegos accused Pacific of lying to state regulators during a highly controversial land-use deal four years earlier. The deal ended up pitting environmentalists, who were trying to preserve ancient redwoods, against the producer and local workers who depend on timber harvesting for their livelihood. According to the Los Angeles Times, prosecutors contended that Pacific Lumber fraudulently harvested about $40 million worth of trees each year — on 211,000 acres supposedly protected by logging restrictions. Pacific Lumber and its corporate parent, Houston-based Maxxam Inc., paid $8 a signature to get the recall on the ballot. The Times reported that the timber company and its contractors donated more than 80% of the money — $266,000 disclosed so far — to the marketing campaign to vote Gallegos out. The D.A.'s supporters raised $180,000 and put together teams of volunteers to counteract the ad campaign. "This recall election wasn't about me, it's about a corporation trying to control politics here in Humboldt County," said a triumphant Gallegos. "This is about a defendant getting rid of the prosecutor."
OCEAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse recently decided to close indefinitely its 150,000-sq.ft. store here as a precaution — because the store is slowly sinking into the ground.Although the store is barely a year old, cracks have formed in its floor slab, caused by the settling of the landfill on which this store was built. The damage has to be repaired before customers will be allowed back in. The Asbury Park Press reported that the building's landlord, Starwood Heller Seaview LLC, had issued Lowe's a long-term warranty against major defects. The newspaper also reported that the township knew about the cracks last March, when the store opened. The 123-acre landfill at one time was on the U.S. government's Superfund list of potential hazardous waste sites. It was removed from that list in 1991. Lowe's operates four other stores within the vicinity of its Ocean Township unit.
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Flush with the success of its first Winter Buying Show, the Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association of Ontario is making plans for next year. The Winter Buying Show, put on by the LBMAO, was inaugurated this year after splitting from the Canadian Hardware and Building Materials Show. According to LBMAO president Dave Campbell, the event was considered a success, both financially and in terms of attendance, despite its modest size relative to the national show.Many exhibitors shared that view, with more than 600 purchase orders signed over the course of the two-day event. "The show was a little light," says Dave Covin, regional manager — Ontario, at Emco Building Products. "But I would never judge an event by its first time. The show will stay in London at least one more year, but may begin moving locations after that. Other cities under consideration are Kingston, Ottawa, Peterborough, and maybe even Toronto, though out on the edge of town, near the Toronto Airport, says Campbell. Regardless of where it ends up, suppliers appear to be supportive. "We'll definitely be back next year," says Covin.
TORONTO — Loblaw, the giant Canadian grocery retailer, wants to be dominant in certain hardlines, as well. John Lederer, president of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., speaking recently to an audience at the CIBC World Markets Conference here, said his company is now sourcing its own products, lines such as barbecues. At up to $400 less expensive than a leading U.S. brand name, Loblaw can offer an affordable alternative. As a result, he said, his company could own one-third of the Canadian barbecue market within five years.Other areas Loblaw is moving into include digital cameras, TVs and other electronics, said Lederer. In addition, the company plans to leverage its famed private brand, President's Choice, so common on higher-end foods, in new ways. Four President's Choice car washes are scheduled to open in 2004. "President's Choice is the most important brand we've got," he said.
Canadian Tire 44.98 28.70 44.90
Canfor 14.70 7.60 14.00
Costco 40.42 27.00 38.15
Goodfellow 16.00 9.75 15.75
Home Depot 37.89 21.51 37.45
Hudson's Bay 14.15 7.75 13.17
Lowe's Cos. 60.42 35.45 55.47
Rona Inc. 35.00 13.65 32.99
Sears Canada 21.50 13.60 17.30
Sodisco-Howden 3.35 1.30 3.10
Taiga Forest 8.76 6.31 8.55
Wal-Mart 61.31 46.50 60.24
West Fraser 43.25 29.25 41.00
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — A new format by Sears Roebuck, the retailer's first off-mall discount store, is exceeding revenue forecasts. And even though expenses being incurred by the new Sears Grand are still too high, company executives say that's just part of the process of working out the bugs in the five pilot stores. The first Sears Grand store opened last fall in West Jordan, Utah, 17 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. It's bigger than most Wal-Mart stores, complete with everything from toys to groceries.ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp. had net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2004 of $11.33 billion, up 14% from $9.92 billion in 2Q 2003. Net income for the second quarter increased 25% to $226.8 million, from $182.1 million in 2Q 2003. Net sales for the first half of fiscal 2004 increased 14% to $21.64 billion from $18.93 billion. Net income for the first half of fiscal 2004 increased 18% to $387.0 million. SURREY, B.C. — Irly Distributors has been quietly gaining ground in Western Canada, adding six new dealers over the past two years. The latest to join, Barriere True Value in Barriere, B.C., like about half of Irly's membership, are co-bannered with True Value. Barriere becomes the 44th shareholder in the group, which represents more than 50 stores through British Columbia, the Yukon and Alberta, and prides itself on rarely seeing a member lost to another banner. BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores has bought a Brazilian supermarket chain from Dutch retailer Royal Ahold NV. Bompreco, which has 118 stores. The purchase cost the world's largest retailer $300 million and gives Wal-Mart more presence in the northeast of Brazil. The Bompreco stores raise the company's network of outlets in Brazil to 143. HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Roebuck reported total sales for February declined about 0.5%, to $1.74 billion from $1.75 million in the year-earlier period. Same-store sales increased only 1.1% in February, although sales were strong in lawn and garden products, power tools and fitness equipment. This helped to counter sales on the apparel side, which were flat overall. TORONTO — The Canadian Society for Training and Development each year recognizes the country's best training programs with Ontario's Top Training Excellence Recognition Awards. This year, the top award in the most competitive category — Best External Training Program — was awarded to Benjamin Moore & Co. for its Training Triad of courses, designed to raise standards of performance in the retail environment. DUNCAN, B.C. — Still battling under bankruptcy protection, Doman Industries has received a stay of proceedings until April 5, 2004 from the province's supreme court. All six of the company's sawmills will remain in operation, at least for the short term, according to the latest report from Doman's auditor, KPMG. However, the Port Alice pulp mill remains closed, and efforts are being made to find a buyer separate from the rest of Doman's operations. BALTIMORE, Md. — A shipment coming to Ace Hardware's distribution center in nearby Loxley had a rare boa constrictor trapped inside. No zoo wanted the two-foot-long critter, so it's going home. The snake, which came in a shipment of pallets being returned from Ace Hardware dealers in Puerto Rico, can grow up to six feet long and belongs to an endangered species indigenous to that Caribbean island. LONGUEUIL, Que. — Sico Inc. enjoyed stronger sales in 2003, thanks to its acquisition of Para Inc. in May 2003, along with growth in its architectural division. Sales totalled $283.6 million, compared with $257 million in the year-earlier period, an increase of 10.4%. However, profits slipped, with net earnings down to $11.2 million for fiscal 2003, compared with $12 million. For the fourth quarter, the company posted a net loss of $883,000 on sales of $58.1 million, compared with a net profit of $20,000 on sales of $48.7 million a year earlier.
At TruServ Corp., Steve Mahurin has been named chief merchandising officer. A veteran of Home Depot and Payless Cashways, Mahurin has worked in the retail home improvement field for more than 20 years. He replaces Bill Godwin, who had been TruServ's senior vp-merchandise supply chain since April 2001 and has been with the co-op since 1995, when he worked for Coast to Coast. Godwin is leaving the company to pursue other business opportunities, according to TruServ.Rona Inc. has added to its dealer development team in the West. Lawrie Shears, a 30-year veteran of the hardware and building supply industry, has been appointed director of development, Western Canada, handling British Columbia. (604-882-6244) ... John Penner, whose history in the industry goes back 23 years and includes Ace Hardware Canada and Beaver Lumber, has joined as director of development, Northwestern Ontario and Prairie Provinces. (403-257-8332) Chad Murray has joined the sales team of Quest Plastics Ltd. (905-270-4438) Black & Decker is reorganizing its executive team in an effort to sharpen the distinction between its two top brands, Black & Decker and Dewalt. Thomas D. Koos has been named group vice-president and president of the Black & Decker Consumer Group. Koos joined the company in 1999 and has served as president of Black & Decker consumer products in the U.S. since 2000 ... John W. Scheich has been appointed group vice-president and president of the Dewalt Professional Group. Scheich joined Black & Decker in 1980 and had served as president of Dewalt Professional Products in the U.S. since 1999 ... Ian Carter, who was most recently head of the power tools and accessories business in Europe, has been named president for Europe and Asia, which includes Australia and New Zealand ... Edward J. Scanlon, previously in charge of North American commercial operations, has been named president of commercial operations for North and South America ... Paul F. McBride has been appointed to the newly created post of senior vice-president for human resources and corporate initiatives. He succeeds Leonard A. Strom, the previous senior vice-president of human resources, who has retired ... Christopher T. Metz has been named group vice-president and president of the hardware and home improvement group. He previously headed up the Kwikset security hardware business.
Spending on new construction slid in January by 0.3% to $931.18 billion seasonally adjusted, says the Commerce Department. This was the first such drop since May 2003. Much of the decline was due to a weakness in commercial building.Gross domestic product grew in the fourth quarter of 2003 at a healthy 4.1%, says the Commerce Department, fuelled by brisk business spending. Job creation fell short of expectations in February, as the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.6% seasonally adjusted and the workforce increased by only 21,000 new positions. About 8.2 million people were unemployed in February. Americans are starting to feel better about the financial situations, reflected in a rebound in consumer confidence over the past month. The AP-Ipsos consumer confidence index rose to 97.7 this week. That's an improvement from a reading of 91.7 in early February when consumer confidence took a hit.
The value of residential building permits in Canada was up 1.1% from December to January, setting a new high of $2.98 billion. However, non-residential permits fell by 4.9% in January, says Statistics Canada, bringing the overall drop in building permits down 0.9% to $4.38 billion from the previous month, and down 1.4% from January 2003. This overall drop follows a rise in December of 6.3%.
Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and more! Hardlines will host its third annual Meet the Buyers Breakfast Seminar, April 28, 2004. For more details, call Bev Allen at 416-489-3396 or

****HARDLINES MARKETPLACE**** Don't miss the products and services on the Hardlines web Marketplace: And check out Hardlines Classifieds on the web: HELP WANTED

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SENIOR MANAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES TruServ Canada, a 100% Canadian-owned cooperative, has two exciting employment opportunities available! We provide hardware and general merchandise product and support programs for approximately 675 True Value Hardware, Country Depot and V&S Department stores across Canada.
  1. Regional Manager, Sales, Operations & Member Relations (East) — Responsibilities include: maximizing Corporate and Member growth, profitability and market share within the region through existing Member stores; leading and managing the District Managers to achieve store growth, retail, wholesale and profit objectives — this includes directing, training and leading the Member to participate and execute the essential retail programs for the specific banner; managing the existing base of stores through the District Manager, and through store visits, by working closely with the District Managers, including travelling with them and developing their skill sets. This position is based in our Kitchener office.
  2. National Growth Manager, True Value / V&S — Responsibilities include: Creating a professional business development and recruitment process coordinating all aspects of prospecting; researching and enhancing the True Value / V&S retail brands for future market development inclusive of marketing/advertising/communications, building décor, and small to large prototype models — this includes the conceptual development of prototype stores (by size); implementing an Active Brand Management process that targets prototypical markets and enhances brand equity. This position is based in our Winnipeg office.

Please visit our web site for more details on these two positions, including qualifications required. Interested candidates may submit a resume via email: or confidential fax: (204) 453-9414. ********************************************************************************** RETAIL ACCOUNTS EXECUTIVE

Master Lock, an industry leader in the security hardware industry, is seeking a Retail Accounts Executive.

A strong understanding of the retail market is a must, along with at least 3 years experience with large retail national accounts, specifically in the hardware wholesalers and warehouse home centers. Preference given to candidates with:

  • 5 years overall marketing/sales experience including preparatory field sales and marketing assignments,
  • proficiency in Microsoft Office,
  • exposure to key accounts’ vendor software,
  • fluent French.

Education equivalent to college degree required, preferably marketing or business administration.

Master Lock Canada is conveniently located in Oakville. Nearby highway access includes the QEW at Winston Churchill and 403 at Dundas Street.

Qualified applicants should send resume via email to No phone calls please.

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