BMCC, the national industry association, makes gains with recruitment platform

According Denis Melanson, chair of the Building Material Council of Canada (BMCC), 25 percent of the workforce in lumber and building materials is age 55 and over. And that, he says, should serve as a wakeup call for the entire industry.

 Speaking at the Hardlines Conference late last year, he explained to a group of 150 dealers and suppliers that BMCC has rallied sponsor support and invested in recruitment tools to woo a new generation of workers to enter the world of building materials. The mandate is to serve both the retail and the supplier sides of the industry with a job board online, at buildingsupplycareers.ca. Since its launch in June 2018, it has become the “go-to site” for the industry, says Melanson.

 A video on the BMCC site aimed at the 18 to 44 demographic spotlights the dynamic, people-oriented aspects of working in the building materials industry. It’s filled with clips and sound bites from retail employees and warehouse workers who’ve thrived in the industry. The video has been viewed 150,000 times and Melanson notes that 27 percent of the site’s followers are women.

The BMCC brings together the Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association (ABSDA), the Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario (LBMAO), the Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA) and the Building Supply Industry Association of British Columbia (BSIA). It represents more than 2,400 members from the retail, wholesale and vendor sides of the business.

Castle unveils new, updated website

The buying group Castle Building Centres Ltd. has redesigned its website with a more intuitive, mobile-friendly version. The new castle.ca site also has an efficient store locator function that can map a user’s route right to the nearest store. The site offers a selection of some 30,000 products, including access to the catalogue of Castle’s primary hardware supplier, Orgill.

BMR dealer overcomes fire to rebuild and win Outstanding Retailer Award

The path to becoming an Outstanding Retailer Award winner can be a rocky one. But even a devastating fire a few years ago could not stop Connie Gutoskie Lasalle and Jean-Guy Lasalle from earning this year’s Outstanding Retailer Award for best building supply or home centre over 15,000 square feet.

The pair started Matériaux JLS in 1993 in Bryson, in the Pontiac region of Quebec, northwest of Ottawa. Business was good, and five years later they purchased a second store in nearby Mansfield-en-Pontefract.

But after more than a decade of expansion there, the unthinkable happened: just a month before Christmas in 2015, the store burned to the ground—a blow to both the business and the economically disadvantaged town.

With support from their Bryson location, the Lasalles set up trailers and within 36 hours began serving Mansfield customers, a decision, they say, that “wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.” Without even being asked, the staff all came out to pitch in. “They wanted to help and support us because the store was their home and the community’s home as well,” says Gutoskie Lasalle.

After much discussion, they decided to rebuild the store in March 2016. By December, they had built two new buildings—a garden centre and a drive-through warehouse, that includes a heated area to house rental equipment and service trucks. They held a grand re-opening party in the spring of 2017. “We strove to create a store that would make everyone comfortable, excited and feel that we were their one-stop shop,” Gutoskie Lasalle notes.

Although it was a tough ordeal to endure, the Lasalles viewed the fire as an opportunity for a fresh start—one that helped them become ORA winners in 2018.

Housing markets expected to slow in coming years, with renos staying stable

After strengthened activity in 2016 and 2017, housing starts in Canada slowed through 2018. And that trend is forecast to continue into 2020, says a report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. However, reno spending is expected to punch above its weight, says one forecaster. According to the latest housing report housing starts will slow down gradually over 2018 to 2020, from the 10-year high recorded in 2017. The slowdown will be “more in line with a moderating economic outlook and demographic conditions,” particularly as income and job growth slow, the report says.