John Caulfield, Contributing Editor
vol. x, #37, September 13, 2004

IN THIS ISSUE: • Home Depot opens first Manhattan store • Frank's going out of business • Dealers help out hurricane victims • Rona makes deal with Air Miles loyalty program • Ace forms team to add 1,100 stores • RFID association emerges • TORBSA growth marks focus on GSDs

* * * * * * NOTE: Dollar amounts are stated in the currency of the country from which the story originates. — Michael McLarney, Editor & Publisher * * * * * *
"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is." —Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Bev AllenWORLD HEADQUARTERS, TORONTO — From the "big picture" of global economic factors affecting retail, right down to best practices from the front lines of the home improvement industry, the issues facing retailers are daunting, exhilarating — and remarkably consistent throughout the world.Those issues were the subject of last week's Hardlines Conference Series, held at the Renaissance Hotel near Toronto International Airport on September 8 and 9. Beverly Allen, director of sales and marketing for Hardlines, kicked off the event, which featured more than 200 delegates — managers and executives from leading retail groups and manufacturers across the country. They gathered to hear a dazzling international roster of speakers. (Because we've got such a jam-packed issue for you this week, I'll include more coverage of the Conference next week.— Michael)
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — As Florida digs out from two devastating hurricanes that hit its southeastern shores within days of each other, bracing this past weekend for the strong probability of the arrival of yet another storm, Hurricane Ivan, the state's recovery efforts are being supported again by the nation's home improvement retailers.Both Lowe's Cos. and Home Depot demonstrated once more how quickly their disaster relief machines can spring into action. Lowe's, which has 65 stores in Florida, sent more than 600 truckloads of supplies to the sunshine state, and transferred more than 450 employees from stores in other states to help out at the company's stores in markets that were in the storms' paths. That extra manpower was especially needed in the days between when Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Frances hit, as customers lined up at Lowe's stores for supplies and sometimes had to take numbers to buy product that hadn't even arrived. "At one store in Fort Lauderdale, we got 1,000 sheets of plywood yesterday afternoon and within 30 minutes it was all gone," said Chris Ahearn, a Lowe's spokesperson. "People were waiting for the truck to arrive." Carol Tomé, Home Depot's CFO, told the NBC affiliate in Atlanta that Home Depot's stores in hurricane-ravaged towns were seeing "a fivefold increase [in sales] in one day." Independents have been working hard to help, as well. In the first three days of September, Ace Hardware sent 9,980 flashlights to its dealers' stores in southeast Florida, compared to 9,683 flashlights that it shipped for the entire month of September 2003. Shipments of generators were five times greater than the same period a year ago. Natalie Danaher, an Ace spokesperson, stated that the co-op's distribution centers in Tampa, Fla., and Loxley, Ala., maintain a three- to four-month supply of emergency products "constantly." Home Depot operates around 130 stores in Florida. It sent an estimated 450 truckloads of supplies and more than 1,000 of its employees from other states to help keep many of its stores open 24 hours. Several markets were without power for days after each hurricane blew through the state, causing a run on generators. Both Home Depot and Lowe's shipped thousands of generators from their stores around the country to Florida in what Don Harrison, a Home Depot spokesperson, called "the biggest re-supply in the company's history."
TROY, Mich. — Frank's Nursery, the largest lawn and garden specialty retailer in the United States, has filed for protection from its creditors for the second time in 28 months. But this time, there will be no reorganization, as the 169-unit dealer said it would initiate going-out-of-business proceedings.The writing was on the wall for Frank's in late August, when the company started missing payments to vendors, according to the Detroit News. In its September 8 filing with U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the 55-year-old retailer reported assets of $123.8 million and liabilities of $140.5 million as of August 8. Its largest unsecured creditor is Keen Realty, which is owed $871,038, but Frank's also has $62 million in debt outstanding form a line of credit with Kimco Capital Corp. (with which it had amended its credit line last January for an additional $25 million), and $6.5 million in debt from a credit line supplied by Congress Financial. Frank's had emerged from Chapter 11 in May of 2002, but still reeled under a soft economy and stiff competition from dealers such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart and Target. For the fiscal year ended in January 2004, Frank's reported a $23.8 million loss on $316.9 million in sales, which were essentially flat from the previous year, but compare unfavorably to the $512 million in revenue it generated in 1998. Frank's president and CEO, Walt Spokowski, had just joined the company in August from another bankrupt dealer, the tool specialty retailer Woodworkers Warehouse.
TORONTO —Two companies and one individual were recognized last week for their "significant impact on the industry."The Newsmaker of the Year Award for a retail group was given to Le Groupe BMR, the Quebec-based wholesale buying group. Over the past seven years, the company has been making its impact felt by getting into hardware distribution to its own members, then expanding the wholesale function to include two other buying groups, and it's even started buying other stores of its own. On hand to accept for BMR were (l-r) Christian Nadeau and Marvin Ettinger, shown here with Ian Gray, president of LBMX. The Imperial Manufacturing Group was recognized in the Newsmaker Award's manufacturer category. Started as a sheet metal shop with six staff, the company 25 years later has 10 divisions across the United States and Canada that employ 800 and produce more than 10,000 products. (l-r) Steve Finlay, Greg Parlee and Normand Caissie, president of Imperial, accepted the award from Ian Gray of LBMX. The final award of the program, held during lunch on day one of last week's Hardlines Conference Series, went to a personality. Ron Marchetti, currently retiring as national business development manager for Castle Building Centres, was given recognition for his personal impact on an industry he has spent more than 40 years in (shown here accepting his award from Brent Davies of CRC and Ian Morrison of IKO). But the Conference had still more excellence to honour. This year, for the first time, Hardware Merchandising magazine held its illustrious Outstanding Retailer of the Year Awards in conjunction with the Hardlines Conference Series. The winners came from every end of the country and almost 200 people filled the room to pay tribute. (we'll have the full line-up of ORA winners, including pics, later this week. Stay tuned!—Michael)
TORONTO — Rona inc. has struck an agreement with Loyalty Group to offer its Air Miles Reward Program through Rona stores across the country. Rona has been an Air Miles sponsor in the province of Quebec since 1992, but the new contract extends to all Rona stores west of Quebec, including Western Canada, where the Air Miles sponsor has been Tim-BR-Marts Ltd.Sylvain MorisetteHowever, says Sylvain Morissette, director of public affairs for Rona, interviewed last week during the Hardlines Conference Series, Tim-BR-Marts is not a direct competitor with Rona stores in Western Canada. Rather, they offer a more LBM-oriented alternative to home improvement customers than a typical Rona store. The decision to engage in a multi-year contract was based on success Rona enjoyed with the program in the Quebec. In addition, more than 70% of Canadian households actively collect Air Miles, with the percentage increasing farther west—more than 90% of households use the program. As for any possible overlap with existing home improvement partners, Tim Urquhart, president and general manager of Tim-BR-Marts Ltd., regards the Rona signing as a positive move. “We believe that increased consumer awareness will be a benefit for both companies,” he says. Flyers and TV spots started last Wednesday, and an official "re-launch" of the Air Miles program was orchestrated in Quebec. Support for the launch also came from a number of vendors, which put their products on special. They included OSRAM Sylvania, Venmar and Tango Laminate Flooring.
HALIFAX – Tom Smith, president and CEO of the AWARD buying group, which represents 64 members dealers in Altantic Canada, has revealed that his organization has bought its first stores – and he’s on the lookout for more. A former AWARD member that went out of business in Paquetville, N.B., was purchased by the membership recently. Smith wants to keep boosting the buying group’s membership – and sales volumes – as the group gets into hardware distribution of its own, with a new warehouse that was established in the spring of this year. And this is just the beginning. “It’s important that we make additional acquisitions that will increase our volumes and add value," says Smith, hinting that there’s more to come.
NEW YORK — Home Depot opened its first downtown store here, a 105,000-sq.ft. urban neighborhood style outlet that focuses on paint, décor, and stylish hardware, at the expense of heavy duty building materials.Located at 23rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, the multi-level store offers daily how-to clinics, same-day delivery — and even a full-time concierge. It also features nine paint- mixing stations and boasts the broadest selection of decorative cabinet hardware in the city. The new store offers tool rental with delivery and pick up throughout Manhattan, and an expanded key-making and locksmith service. Free how-to clinics will be offered three times each day in a designated learning area that features plasma screens. Since 2001, Home Depot has invested nearly $14 billion in new store construction, modernization and technology. It currently operates 14 stores with approximately 3,900 associates in the New York boroughs. Another Manhattan store is scheduled to open later this year, this one in the Midtown area.
COLOGNE — More than 48,000 exhibitors and delegates from the lawn and garden industry worldwide attended last week's joint trade show for that industry, spoga + gafa 2004. Trade visitors came from a total of 102 countries on all five continents.gafa 2004, the International Garden Trade Fair, September 5-7, presented the innovations of 1,210 suppliers from 52 countries focused on work, lifestyle and well-being in the garden and home. Products are moving beyond a generalized target group of amateur and leisure-time gardeners to target more specific users, especially women and senior citizens. Another category that had a strong presence at the show was motorized garden equipment and garden technology, which actually made up the show's largest product group. Products included professional garden equipment and landscaping machinery. Trade visitors showed equally strong interest in decorative garden elements, plants and plant-care products, floristry supplies and decorative items. gafa was held in tandem with spoga, the International Trade Fair for Sport, Camping and Garden Lifestyle, which focuses more on the leisure activities in the garden or while. Product segments included garden furniture and barbecue equipment. Since spoga runs every year, but gafa is biennial, all gafa product groups related to garden will have a chance to exhibit annually, starting next year. That's when spoga will feature a redesigned "Garden Lifestyle" section. This section will provide gafa suppliers of lifestyle-oriented products an opportunity to showcase their products annually in Cologne. (The next spoga Cologne, International Trade Fair for Sport, Camping and Garden Lifestyle, will be held September 4-6, 2005.)
BOLTON, Ont. — The addition of a new member to the ranks of TORBSA Ltd. reflects both the vitality of the housing market in many parts of Ontario and the stability of this buying group of pro-oriented dealers.Morin Brothers became the 26th TORBSA member earlier this month. "He joins a group that is comprised largely of medium- to large specialty gypsum dealers," says Bob Holmes, general manager of TORBSA. "Like most members, these are family owned businesses, independent dealers that are highly specialized in their markets." Although TORBSA has always catered to GSDs, there has been a growing trend in the industry that finds more and more of this kind of dealer becoming affiliated with a group. TIM-BR Mart Ontario has enjoyed tremendous growth in both sales and membership through its commercial division, Commercial Independent Dealers (CID), while a brand new group, The Signature Group, was established earlier this year to attract GSDs exclusively. "If you look at the marketplace today, and look at the dealers out there, very few are not affiliated," says Holmes. "I expect that all dealers will be affiliated eventually."
ATLANTA — BlueLinx Holdings, the former building materials distribution division of Georgia-Pacific, has disclosed its intention to launch a $150 million initial public offering of common stock later this year. Monies raised from that offering will go towards repaying the company's $100 million term loan and redeeming up to $35 million of its Series A preferred stock. BlueLinx is the largest building products wholesaler in the U.S. It distributes 10,000 SKUs of building products from more than 750 suppliers to 11,7000 customers that include home improvement retailers, homebuilders and remodelers. It operates 63 warehouses nationwide and two sales centers in Atlanta and Denver, and claims to control about 11% of the $39 billion building products supply sector. The company was formed after being acquired by the New York-based investment firm Cerberus Capital Management for about $773 million.NORWALK, Conn. — The National Hardware Show is already close to selling out. With eight months to go until the 60th annual edition of the show, in Las Vegas, more than 1,700 manufacturers have already committed to in excess of 444,500 sq.ft. of the available floor space for 2005. To accommodate the growth, next year's NHS will span two Las Vegas venues — the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Convention Center. The Sands — site of the 2004 show — will house the Lawn & Garden World, New Product World and Global Hardware Expo, the international exhibition area, while the Convention Center will house Hardware & Tools, Paint & Decor, Plumbing, Electrical and Housewares and its own New Product World. The dates for the 2005 Show in Las Vegas are May 17-19. WEST JORDAN, Utah — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest of people connected to a June 14 fire that caused $1.5 million in damages to Stock Building Supply's yard here. The FBI suspects that the Earth Liberation Front is behind the arson, as the initials ELF were found spray painted at the property. The Bureau has also traced a fax claiming responsibility for the blaze that ELF allegedly sent to a University of Utah health clinic in Midvale, Utah, according to local news reports, which have reported earlier that the group said the yard was torched because Stock had ignored warnings to repair its forklifts that emitted more pollution than diesel engines. CHICAGO — A new RFID trade association, the International RFID Business Association, will announce its official launch tomorrow at the Frontline 2004 Conference at Navy Pier. The RFIDba, through its executive and advisory committees, will present the mission of the organization to an audience of Auto-ID, RFID, and mobility experts from around the world. The not-for-profit trade organization's mission is to help in implementing current and future RFID applications across a range of industries. The RFIDba is not meant to compete with any standards or trade organizations, but to promote the work of the standards bodies and provide greater bandwidth and variety in what is shaping up to be a strenuous RFID adoption period. TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Coopérative fédérée de Québec officially inaugurated the expansion of its distribution center here last week. The expansion was in response to its growing distribution networks, under the CO-OP and Unimat banners. The expansion represents a $2.3 million investment and the addition of 35,000 sq.ft. of space. Coop fédérée serves 155 CO-OP stores and six Unimat stores. CLEVELAND, Ohio — CSA International, the certification and testing organization, opened its new OnSpeX test center here last week. OnSpeX conducts consumer product testing for both manufacturers and retail customers. It focuses on two broad categories: Accelerated Product Evaluation Programs and Quality Assessment & Advisory Services. The Accelerated Product Evaluation Program offers both certification services and consumer product evaluation to increase the speed of information delivery and reduce delays in the supply chain process. The accelerated full-cycle program offers factory evaluation, product design review, pre-certification assessment (qualified lab), certification document preparation, performance testing, safety analysis, reliability testing, package testing (ISTA), in-process inspections, pre-shipment inspections, data collection of QA results from factory and data analysis of QA results. CALGARY — Canadian Tire Corp. is getting more creative in cross-promoting its Mark's Work Wearhouse chain. Last week, hundreds of motorists lined up at a Canadian Tire gas bar here to redeem five- and 10-dollar free gas cards they'd earned buying clothes at Mark's stores. The added incentive? The first 350 customers got to fill up for free.
Mike Zipser has been hired as vice-president, retail development and new business at Ace Hardware Corp. He will be responsible for executing the company's plan to add 1,100 new stores over the next five years, both through new investors and added locations from existing dealers. Zipser joins Ace from Border Stores, where he had served as vice-president ... John Venhuizen has been promoted to director of new business development, reporting to Mike Zipser. He was formerly Ace's marketing manager.At Do it Best Corp., Dan Walton has been promoted to the position of communications coordinator in the company's marketing department. Walton will be responsible for overseeing the production of corporate newsletters and other promotional corporate communications materials for Do it Best. Walton joined the company in 2002 as a member-retailer support representative. Prior to joining Do it Best Corp., he served in the United States Air Force for four years.
Wholesale inventories in July were $313.8 billion, up 1.3% from June and up 6.8% from the same month a year ago, according to the Commerce Department. Sales were $271.6 billion, up 0.5% from June's revised level and up 13.8% from one year ago.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 241,500 in August, up from 218,600 in July, according CMHC. Strong consumer confidence and continued growth in employment, combined with low mortgage rates, were reportedly the drivers of a buoyant new housing market. Demand remains strong, as well, in the resale market . The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts was up 11.9% to 214,700 units in August, due mainly to multiple starts, which increased 35.9% to 114,600 in August. Urban single starts declined 6.9% to 100,100 on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Year-to-date actual urban starts were 8.2% higher through August than for the same period last year.The value of building permits issued in July fell 11.4% to $4.8 billion from the record $5.4 billion set in June, says Stats Canada. However, despite the decline in both the residential and non-residential sectors, July was still the second highest month on record. A drop of nearly one-third in the value of multi-family permits issued compared with the previous month drove the residential sector down 10.3% to $3.1 billion.
"Our new Manhattan location is a retail marvel and proof positive that The Home Depot continues to break the mold in how we approach new formats, new markets and new customers." — Bob Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot, on hand from Atlanta to attend the grand opening of the retailer's urban neighborhood store in Manhattan last week.

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


Toronto based national buying group is planning to expand the role and function of its lumber and commodities department. The successful candidate will be responsible for negotiating and establishing annual purchasing agreements, provide weekly commodity market updates, initiate pool buys, direct mill purchases, and provide individual support and consultation for member companies. Knowledge of product and product application, channels of distribution, alternative and related bldg. materials and marketing trends in the LBM industry is essential. Candidate will also posses a sound working knowledge of Microsoft excel, and Microsoft word. A minimum of 10 years experience in retail, distribution or manufacturing is required We offer a competitive remuneration and benefit package Please reply in confidence to; put P.O. 723 in the subject line.


SENIOR SALES EXECUTIVE A leading Canadian supplier of Hand Tools, Power Tool Accessories and Rotary Tool Accessories to leading retailers in North America and Europe, has an opening for a senior position in its Sales & Marketing department. The incumbent will be responsible to manage the sales of nominated house accounts/territories in the North American retail market. This position would also involve managing the Sales Agents/Agencies for your accounts/territories. This individual will be responsible for devising sales strategies, increasing customer base, increasing the product & program base to existing customers and ensuring budgeted sales numbers are met or exceeded. Experience in the Hardlines Retail Industry, a proven record of managing large & small customers and sales agencies and a willingness to travel is essential. Prior experience in the U.S. Market is desirable. Salary & perks based on experience, qualification & previous achievements. If you are a self-starter and a team player with management skills, able to recognize the market needs & willing to take the challenge, please contact Harjinder Sangha at in confidence.



We are a major building materials company seeking a proven sales executive for the Ontario region.

Based in GTA the position entails a variety of responsibilities that would include but may not be limited to:
  • Sales/Territory Management
  • Business development
  • Major Account Management

Candidates are required to have pertinent industry experience in sales and/or marketing management. A university degree would be an important asset but equivalent experience will be considered. Our company offers a very competitive salary and benefits package appropriate to the position.

Please forward your resume with covering letter to and put P.O. Box 815 in the subject line.



Cooper Hand Tools, a leading manufacturer of professional hand tools and material handling products has an opening for a Product Manager at its Canadian sales and distribution facility in Barrie, Ontario. The position will be responsible for both product management and proactive marketing related activities for a wide variety of Cooper's Hand Tool products in Canada. The ideal candidate should have a successful record in sales / marketing in the Canadian hard goods industry and a demonstrated knowledge and experience of marketing requirements for both the retail and industrial / MRO sales channels. The position works closely with the Canadian sales team and will report to the VP of Marketing at a USA based divisional office.

Prospective candidates should have a four-year degree in a related discipline and be computer literate. Strong organizational, administrative, quantitative and analytical skills are essential. Some travel is required. The Company offers a very competitive salary and benefits program along with a good working environment. Please submit your confidential resume outlining accomplishments, objectives, and salary requirements along with a cover letter describing how your background fits the position to: Cooper Hand Tools HR Dept. 164 Innisfil Street Barrie, Ontario L4N 3E7
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