"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)

IRLY opens three new stores  

  SURREY, BC - Recruitment efforts by IRLY are picking up speed with the addition of three new members in less than a month.   In mid-September, Gus' Hardware and Building Supplies celebrated its grand reopening as an IRLY dealer in Deep Cove, North Vancover. The store's new owner is Mike Tigges, formerly a local commercial painter. Prior to the opening, a 1,000 warehouse was renovated, expanding the original retail footprint of 1,200 square feet. New hand and power tools were brought in, as were more LBM products and a tool rental outlet. Later last month, owner Brian Tancock celebrated the opening of Parkland Building Supplies in Salmon Arm. Tancock already owns an IRLY building supply business in Sicamous, BC, which is about halfway between Calgary and Vancouver. The new Salmon Arm operation includes about 15,000 square feet of retail, and a three acre yard. Tancock says he's "experimenting" by expanding his assortment to include a full showroom of mid- to high-end kitchen cabinets, and eight major brands of fireplaces. "We decided not to try and have the cheapest two by fours, but to expand into home décor a bit. If people come by for that, we think we're likely to get the building end of their business as well." This past weekend, the family-owned Griff Building Supplies, run by Carole Albertson and Deborah White, became the 41st IRLY member in British Columbia.

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Strong dollar of limited help to manufacturers

TORONTO - Recent gains in the Canadian dollar have resulted in rising pressure from retailers on manufacturers and vendors to lower prices, according to Vaughn Crofford, president of the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA). That pressure, he says, was the motivation for a CHHMA survey and position paper that details rising costs manufacturers and importers have faced over the last few years. "Retailers were pressuring manufacturers to come up with reductions and even in some cases rebates, so we undertook the survey to determine what other factors came into play," says Crofford. Survey responses indicate that few manufacturers or importers have introduced general price increases since 2005 or earlier. During the same period, the report notes, vendors have been forced to absorb costs and maintain or lower pricing. Fortunately, says Crofford, those challenges have been offset by strong sales over the last five years. While the rising Canadian dollar has provided good news, manufacturers say the impact may be less than what consumers expect, and that any change will take several months, as current inventories travel through the system. Manufacturers also say that, while the Canadian dollar is doing well against its U.S. counterpart, costs related to offshore facilities are also rising. The price of raw materials continues to rise, as well. For example, oil and steel experienced increases in 2006 of about 20%. Meanwhile, freight climbed on average 17% in 2006 and another 13.5% in 2007. Over the last two years, labor and staffing costs have increased an average of 7.4% for Canadian companies in the hardware and housewares business, while employee benefits and group insurance rates rose 6.1% in 2006 and another 8.3% in 2007. Other rising costs identified in the report include insurance, up an average of 16.2% in the last two years, as well as property taxes, utilities, environmental stewardship fees, and service and merchandise resets. "The strong dollar is eating up some of those increases," says Crofford, "but manufacturers and brand owners had been seeing shrinking profit margins for some time, and it was getting pretty serious."

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DRIcore signs on with renovation show

MISSISSAUGA - DRIcore, which makes basement subfloor systems, has signed on as a sponsor of Disaster DIY, an HGTV home improvement show hosted by professional contractor Bryan Baeumler, who will also appear in company commercials aired during the show. Disaster DIY features hapless do-it-yourselfers with botched reno jobs, who are need of some help. Each week, Baeumler swoops in and shows the harried homeowner how to fix the mess. The pairing is a good fit, according to Brent Feilders, sales and marketing manager for DRIcore. "Disaster DIY's focus on educating homeowners about the right way to do a job is consistent with DRIcore's emphasis on education and successful project completion."  

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Home Depot showcases spring lines for media

TORONTO - LED house lights, lightweight lithium-ion batteries and reusable wallpaper were just some of the innovations on view at a recent product showcase hosted by Home Depot Canada. The retailer rolled out a  number of new products from its spring lineup (many of which will be in stores by Christmas) at a special media preview that showcased the wares of more than two dozen vendors, ranging from power tools and lighting products to stylish outdoor furniture and barbecues loaded with features. LED is no longer a novelty lighting application. Home Depot, under its proprietary Commercial Electric brand, was showing LED lights in both recessed indoor and exterior lamp applications, while Philips, the giant bulb manufacturer, showed an LED line of its own that underscored the company's commitment to the technology. And for consumers unsure of LED, or even of compact fluorescents, Philips has a new line of halogen bulbs for domestic use. Home décor continues to be a focus for Home Depot. Under its Hampton Bay brand, the company is expanding its offerings of window treatments, launched in spring 2006, with a wider range of blinds and window coverings, which will be available on special order in the spring. The trend of taking the "indoors to the outdoors" was reflected in a number of products, including a souped-up Blue Ember barbecue by Fiesta that features a marinating bin, ice bucket, cutting board and - for cooking at night - a light in the hood. Gracious Living showed a line of outdoor comfort furniture upholstered in a style that looks like it belongs indoors. Also on display; new applications for biometric technology from Chamberlain, the garage door maker, with an opener activated by one's fingerprint; and a four-tool combo power-tool kit from Bosch powered by a lightweight 36-volt lithium-ion battery.

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Caruk launches homebuilding boot camp  

BLOOMFIELD, ON - Jim Caruk, host of the HGTV's Real Renos, has developed a hands-on crash course for rookie renovators and builders, covering the basics of homebuilding and remodeling in both two-day and nine-day programs. Called the Canadian Building Institute, the educational initiative is being periodically offered at a rural conference facility about two hours east of Toronto. Caruk, fellow contractor Stuart Morrison and a variety of guest speakers, recently took their first batch of 20 students through the nine-day course, to positive reviews. They built an actual house, although it can't be lived in - the roof was assembled on the ground for safety reasons. Caruk says no one can teach a rookie how to be a professional builder in just nine days, but he believes the groundwork can be laid to help do-it-yourselfers tackle a variety of projects more confidently, or to feel less vulnerable in selecting the right contractor or subtrade for a more complex job.

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Since 1959, Canadian owned Mitten Inc. has been an industry leader in quality vinyl siding exterior home products. With branches across Canada serving the siding industry and retail lumberyards, we are currently seeking a Branch Manager for our Winnipeg location. Responsible for increasing market penetration, overseeing other sales professionals, administration and warehousing activities in your branch, you will ideally be an experienced, successful sales professional with supervisory and branch management experience in a related industry. Mitten provides a positive work environment with competitive compensation and benefits. If you would like to join a Canadian success story that believes in the value of its workforce, please send your resume stating salary expectations in confidence to: Ms. Connie Barnard, Human Resources Manager, 70 Curtis Avenue North, Paris, Ontario N3L 3T2 or fax: 519-442-3214 or email: connieb@mittenvinyl.com Mitten Inc. hires on the basis of merit and we encourage all qualified persons to apply however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. No telephone calls please. Deadline for submission of resumes is October 15, 2007.


National USA Sales Director

Colonial Elegance Inc., provides Balustrade, Doors and Millwork Specialties to many Home Improvement Retailers and Big Boxes in Canada and USA. The company is looking for a highly motivated result-driven National Sales Director, based in Montreal, to complement the present sales team. The successful candidate will be bilingual, have significant retail experience in the building supply industry and excellent communication and organization skills to manage our major USA customers and develop this specific market. Responsibilities: - Manage specific USA account relationships - Identify growth opportunities and facilitate plans to execute growth goals - New business development Qualifications: - A minimum of 5 years experience in the Home Improvement industry - Excellent ability to build relationships with dealers - Comfortable with travel in the USA - Motivated and exposure to national accounts. Prior experience in US market is desirable. - Strong analytical and presentation skills with a creative mind Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. All applications will be held in the strictest of confidence. Please email your resume to bnadeau@colonialelegance.com.


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