|In This Issue:
“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of fact, but of values”
—Dean William R. Inge (British clergyman, scholar and teacher, 1860-1954)
| National Hardware Show attracts top Canuck buyers
|LAS VEGAS — Although this year’s National Hardware Show felt the effects of the economic downturn, both in the U.S. and around the world, the show, now packed into just two halls instead of three, as in years past, featured 600 new exhibitors and drew delegates from as far away as Pakistan and from as close as three blocks away.
Given the relatively stronger economy in Canada, Canadian buyers were out in force, a fact that was noted not just by the Canuck vendors who wished to do business with them, but by American exhibitors who expressed some amazement that the Canadian contingent was so strong this year. Buyers were present from Home Hardware and Canadian Tire, which brought seven and 10 buyers respectively, while Home Depot Canada and Lowe’s Canada also sent buyers. In addition, the independents were well represented, with buyers and retailers from IRLY Distributors, Federated Co-op, and Spancan among the many Canadians walking the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center last week.
“Canadian presence has been very strong,” said Fergus Chapman, vice-president sales for RCR International in Boucherville, Que., even though, he added, overall traffic appeared to be lower than last year. Added André Daigle, president of RCR: “The Canadians are here to do business more so than the U.S. and international retailers.”
The show featured a strong showing by both domestic and international exhibitors.
However, the sheer size of the show managed to make up for the lower numbers. Another Canadian exhibitor, Alain St-Cyr, vp sales and marketing for Victoriaville, Que.-based Saman, said, “The show is good. The U.S. market is so large that there are always more people to meet and new potential customers.” For James Mumby of Dynamic Paint, Missisauga, Ont., the show was so busy that he didn’t have time for a break on the first day, with existing customers and prospects alike requesting information on his lines of paint sundries.
One of those potential customers was Robert Sim, who drove over from the Ace Hardware store he manages just down the road. He took time off to check out the new products and meet some suppliers. Akhtar Ismail travelled considerably farther, however. His company, Amalgamated Textiles, is based in Karachi, Pakistan. Ismail sells “a lot of canvas drop cloths in the U.S.,” he says. “I get to meet my customers all under one roof. To keep in touch and to show my face, this is a good place to meet a lot of people.”
Our man Brady Peever (he’s the one
on the right) looking for new products.
| TSC tries out in-store rentals with Stephenson’s
|MISSISSAUGA, Ont.. — Stephenson’s Rental Services Inc. has opened test outlets in two TSC Stores. The plan is part of an aggressive expansion strategy by Stephenson’s, one that will also provide TSC’s customers with a rental solution for their equipment needs. The initial phase of the partnership involves two pilot TSC locations in Ontario, in Uxbridge and Bowmanville. However, more are already being planned.“We expect this relationship will pave the way for us to open a significant network of hub stores associated with the TSC network across Ontario, providing a heightened level of service to our customers,” said Willie Swisher, president and CEO of Stephenson’s Rental Services.
In July of 2007 EdgeStone Capital Partners, a private equity manager, became the principal shareholder of Stephenson’s. EdgeStone is keen to invest and support future Stephenson’s growth initiatives whether through fleet expansion, new market penetration, or acquisitions.
The partnership is expected to increase traffic and sales in existing TSC stores. “The venture also allows us to leverage the tremendous investments that we have made over the last several years in our store network to increase our revenue productivity per outlet,” says David Roussy, president and CEO of TSC Stores L.P.
TSC Stores operates 42 corporate stores in Canada. Its 40th location in Ontario just opened last month in Uxbridge. TSC has two more stores in Manitoba.
| Home Hardware’s contractor customers remain positive
|ST. JACOBS, Ont. — The negativity surrounding the economy has somehow been missed by many of Home Hardware’s contractor customers. Home Hardware has been able to gauge the construction prospects of its pro customers through contractor shows held across Canada and through their loyalty club, Top Notch Rewards. Of those polled, 86 percent felt that 2009 would be as good, if not better, than the 2008 building and renovating season, even after a slow start during the first two months of the year.“With all the doom and gloom that had been reported within the economy and in particular, the supposed slow down in the construction industry, I was not expecting the positive outlook that we received”, says Joe Jacklin, contractor marketing manager for Home Hardware Stores Ltd. “Our numbers seem to support their claims as well.”
Many of the contractors polled pointed out the success of the 15 percent home renovation tax credit from the Federal government as an incentive to spur business. “People are getting on board with the federal tax credit and probably 90 percent of our prospects have questions about how they can qualify,” says renovator Laverne Brubacher of Menno S. Martin in St. Jacobs, Ont.
In addition to the tax credit, contractors are feeling the positive effects of the lowest interest rates in modern history, even as formerly red-hot markets such as Western Canada have cooled to more normal levels. “Did we really need a fifth record breaking year in a row? I will be using this year as a time to catch up, clean up and to refocus on the core values of my company, says Tim Kasten, a builder from Kamloops, B.C.
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