Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

Retailers, Wholesalers, and Manufacturers of Hardware, Building Supplies, Kitchen & Bath, Paint & Decorating, Lawn & Garden, and Other Allied Products.


March 13, 2018

Economy Expected To Slow

After a year of rapid growth, the Canadian economy is expected to slow in 2018 amid the prospect of rising interest rates and lower consumer spending, says an RBC ‘Economic Outlook.’ Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is forecasted to slow to 1.9 per cent in 2018, followed by 1.6 per cent in 2019, compared to three per cent in 2017. "Following a 3.5 per cent increase in consumer spending in 2017, we anticipate that rising interest rates will take their toll on indebted Canadians throughout 2018," says Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC. "But a healthy labour market and rising wages will help soften this blow. While the Canadian consumer reins in their spending, we expect business investment and government outlays to contribute more significantly to the economy."

End Of NAFTA Would Have Short-term Impact

Canada's economy would lose about half a percentage point of growth and about 85,000 jobs in the first year following the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, says the Conference Board of Canada. Although growth would largely recover in the year following the end of NAFTA thanks to a lower exchange rate and reduced interest rates, the level of gross domestic product (GDP) would remain permanently lower, representing a loss in income across Canada. The analysis suggests a modest impact on the Canadian economy if NAFTA is abolished and replaced by MFN tariffs. In the longer term, Canada would lose the ability to attract investment related to securing access to the U.S. market. The resumption of tariffs on previously-exempt goods would immediately make Canadian exports more expensive in the U.S. However, a lower Canadian dollar post-NAFTA would mitigate the average increase in prices of Canadian goods in the U.S. Overall real merchandise exports would decline by 1.8 per cent in the year following a NAFTA termination. Motor vehicle and parts exports would feel the most significant effect. There would also be significant declines in exports of consumer goods, food and beverages, chemicals, wood products, and agricultural products.

Home Hardware Pro Show Comes To Quebec City

Home Hardware Stores Limited’s ‘Annual Pro Show’ welcomes contractors, renovators, builders, and tradespeople to the invitation-only national event that stops in six cities across Canada. Sixty-five hardware and building material suppliers will be featured at the show and contractors can also participate in the ‘Contractor Skills’ competitions including the driver drill competition, golf challenge, strong arm, and home hoops. Each competition will run for the duration of the show. There will be giveaways and door prizes awarded. The next show takes place from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on March 14 at the Complexe Capitale Hélicoptère in Québec City, QC.

EISENWARENMESSE Reaches More International People

EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair 2018’ in Cologne, Germany, recently wrapped up with a total 2,770 exhibitors from 58 countries and over 47,000 trade visitors (up nine per cent) from 143 countries. Eighty-seven per cent of the exhibitors and over 70 per cent of the trade visitors came from abroad. Significant growth was registered from Asia, especially from Japan, and from North and South America, Africa, and from the Russian Federation. The number of international buyers was correspondingly high. For the exhibitions, the fair included new products, innovations, and trends from categories including tools, industrial supply, fasteners, and fittings as well as house and garden and DIY products. It also featured speakers and events on topics such as digitalization and awards celebrating innovation. The next ‘EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair Cologne’ is scheduled to take place March 1 to 4, 2020.

Brick To Carry Sharp Products

Sharp Electronics of Canada Ltd. will expand its home appliance product offerings to the Brick. The company says the decision is part of a strategic effort to offer the Canadian consumer more access to Sharp's appliances, technology, and design. The Brick will feature products such as microwave drawer ovens and the three-in-one SuperSteam+ oven. All other models will be available online or through store-order.

Gluckstein Takes On New Role

Brian Gluckstein is home design ambassador with Hudson’s Bay. His brand, GlucksteinHome, has been part of the retailer for 15 years. In this new role, he will offer his expertise to inspire customers to find design solutions. As of this spring, he will be featured in seasonal look books, print marketing, and on the website in a series of videos.

Huttig Year-over-year Sales Flat

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $198.7 million for the second quarter of 2017, an increase of less than one per cent over net sales of 197.9 for the second quarter of 2016. Gross margin was unchanged at $42.2 million. Income from continuing operations before taxes was $3.4 million versus $9.4 million, and net income was $2.2 million versus $10.4 million in the year-ago period. Millwork sales increased four per cent year-over-year.

Event Focuses On Design And Merchandising

Store design, shopper marketing, visual merchandising, and retail technology are just some of the topics covered at GlobalShop. The event features exhibitors, pavilions, educational sessions, and networking opportunities. It takes place March 27 to 29 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. For information, visit

March 12, 2018

Ontario Multi-family Dwellings Drive Building Permits

Canadian municipalities issued $8.4 billion in building permits in January, up 5.6 per cent following a 2.5 per cent rise in December, says Statistics Canada. The value of permits for three components rose, while industrial buildings (18.6 per cent) and single-family dwellings (1.3 per cent) declined. The January increase was largely due to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario. Nationally, apartments accounted for approximately three-quarters of the value of permits for multi-family dwellings in January, while row houses made up just under 18 per cent. The rest of the multi-family dwelling component is comprised of permits for doubles such as semi-detached homes, and minor residential additions and renovations (permits under $50,000). Sixteen of the 36 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported gains, led by Toronto, ON, at a 25.5 per cent increase.

Home Depot Foundation Supports Skilled Trades Training

The Home Depot Foundation will contribute $50 million to train 20,000 U.S. tradespeople over the next 10 years in order to fill the growing skilled labour gap. There are currently 158,000 unfilled construction sector jobs in the U.S. – a number that is expected to increase significantly as tradespeople retire over the next decade. In 2017, the foundation launched a pilot trades training program for separating military members in partnership with the non-profit Home Builders Institute (HBI). The first set of students will graduate this month. The 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program, which is provided at no cost to students, uses an industry-based curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. The program, which has a job placement rate of more than 90 per cent, will now roll out on additional bases across the United States.

Masco Completes Kichler Acquisition

Masco Corporation, a global manufacturers of branded home improvement and building products, has completed the acquisition of the L.D. Kichler Co. Based in Cleveland, OH, Kichler is a developer of decorative residential and light commercial lighting products, ceiling fans, and LED lighting systems across both consumer and professional distribution channels. It had revenues of approximately $450 million in 2017.

CanWel Revenues Increase

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd.’s consolidated revenues increased by 16.1 per cent to $1.14 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 which ended December 31 compared to $978.3 million in the same period in 2016. Sales for the building materials distribution segment increased by $142.4 million or 15.2 per cent, largely due to the company’s continuing focus on its product mix strategies and target customer base, continued strengthening of U.S. housing markets, and the results from the Honsador and TFI acquisitions, as well as an upward trend in construction material pricing. Sales for the forestry segment increased by $15.2 million or 37.7 per cent. The forestry segment commenced operations on May 13, 2016. Net earnings during the quarter, before the non-recurring items, increased by 91.9 per cent to $7.1 million. This represents a 43 per cent increase

Intertape Revenue Rises

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. had revenue of $237.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 13.1 per cent over revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016. Gross margin decreased to 22.8 per cent from 25.6 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings were $21.3 million for the quarter, a decrease of $0.4 million over the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA increased 0.2 per cent to $35.7 million.

March 9, 2018

Moderate Rise In Housing Starts Trend

The trend in housing starts was 225,276 units in February 2018, compared to 224,572 units in January 2018, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The trend has been very stable since November 2017, masking offsetting trends for multi-unit and single-detached dwellings. Multi-unit starts trended higher in recent months in most major urban centres while single-detached starts have trended lower. Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA) continued to build on the increase in construction activity in the previous month, leading to a strong start to the year in 2018. Total housing starts in the Calgary CMA trended lower in February 2018, compared to the previous month as the relative pace of starts declined from January. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 229,737 units in February, up from 215,260 units in January.

Planned Projects Move Higher

The ‘Dodge Momentum Index’ increased 0.5 per cent in February to 146.9 from the revised January reading of 146.2. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The move higher in February was the result of an 8.2 per cent increase in the institutional component, while the commercial component contracted 4.8 per cent. The commercial component has declined for two consecutive months and while this should not lead to an outright decline in construction activity, it is an additional sign that commercial building construction growth could ease in 2018 in response to rising vacancy rates for offices and warehouses. On the other hand, institutional building construction continues to feed off the massive number of state and local bonds issued for schools and other institutional buildings over the past few election cycles.

Superior Glove Launches Revamped Site

Super Glove has launched its revamped website ( The goal of the redesign was to offer easy access to essential information for customers and to streamline the site with the company’s new branding. Tweaks include improved methods of finding products, information articles, and other resources. The website also features the ‘Glove Selector,’ which helps customers narrow down the options to find the right protection based on ‘hazard’ or ‘industry.’


KNIPEX-Werk C. Gustav Putsch KG was awarded the EISEN CSR Award at EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair Cologne. The Innovation Award 2018 was given to three companies, HAZET-Werk Hermann Zerver Gmbh & Co. KG for its HiPer fine-toothed reversible ratchet 916 HP ‒ 1000 Nm, 90 teeth; KNIPEX-WERK C. Gustav Putsch KG for its KNIPEX rope cutter 95 62 160; and Wiha Werkzeuge GmbH for its Wiha SpeedE. EISENWARENMESSE took place in Cologne, Germany from March 4 to 7.

Roseburg To Acquire Pembroke MDF

Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products plans to acquire the medium density fibreboard (MDF) and moulding production facilities of Ontario-based Pembroke MDF, Inc. The acquisition will be Roseburg’s first international purchase and will continue the company’s expansion throughout North America. The company is currently building an engineered wood products plant in South Carolina and recently acquired 158,000 acres of timberland in Virginia and North Carolina. It also owns and operates an MDF plant in Oregon which produces the company’s Arreis, Medite, Medex, Permacore, and Fibrlite product lines. The deal is expected to close in April.

3M Names New CEO

Michael F. Roman is chief executive officer with 3M, effective July 1. He has served as chief operating officer and executive vice-president since July 2017, with direct responsibility for 3M’s five business groups, along with the company’s international operations. He has been with the company for 30 years.

Sales Strong For Ply Gem

Ply Gem Holdings, Inc. had total net sales of $516.9 million for the fourth quarter of its 2017 fiscal year, an increase of 11.8 per cent over total net sales of $462.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Increased sales were partially due to higher Canadian net sales. Operating earnings were $34.4 million for the quarter, an increase of 11.8 per cent year-over-year. Net income was $14.6 million, an increase of $7.9 million, while adjusted EBITDA increased $6.1 million to $51 million. Gross profit margin was 21.3 per cent, which represented a decrease of 110 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2016. The siding, fencing, and stone segment had an increase of 14.7 per cent in net sales for the quarter compared to the year-ago period. The windows and doors segment had an increase of 9.l5 per cent year-over-year.

PEI Home Show Celebrates 34 Years

This year marks the 34th edition of the ‘PEI Provincial Home Show’ that will offer visitors the chance to shop, learn about the hottest new products, get expert advice, find inspiration for their home, and plan large and small renovations. The event takes place to March 11 at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, PE. For more information, visit

March 8, 2018

Canadian Holiday eCommerce Sales Significant

The 2017 holiday period was a time of significant growth for Canadian retailers who invested in their eCommerce infrastructures, says Absolunet in its ‘eCommerce Holiday Index for Canadian Retailers.’ The report shows that eCommerce revenue grew 53 per cent compared to revenue for the 2016 holiday period, while conversion rates (CVR) grew 14.43 per cent year-over-year. As well, the Canadian average order value (AOV) was higher than the U.S. AOV and mobile transactions doubled over 2016 representing almost half of all eCommerce traffic. “Most retailers in the index had their biggest eCommerce holiday season ever in 2017 and have adjusted their 2018 and 2019 targets for continued growth,” says Charles Desjardins, partner and executive vice-president at Absolunet. “It is difficult for Canadian retailers to find realistic and credible benchmarks against which they can measure their performance which is why we created the index.”

Strong Home Sales Continue In Montreal

There were 4,081 residential home sales in February in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was a five per cent increase compared to February of last year. As well, this was the 36th straight increase and the best month of February since 2012. Five of the six main areas of the Montréal CMA registered an increase in sales in February, Laval being the sole exception with a three per cent decrease. Condominiums registered the largest increase in sales, jumping by 14 per cent in February. Single-family homes and plexes posted small increases of one per cent and three per cent, respectively. The number of active residential listings was down 17 per cent compared to last year.

IKO Opens Texas Facility

IKO, a North American manufacturer of residential and commercial roofing products, has opened its newest production facility in Hillsboro, TX. The 250,000 square foot production and warehouse facility is historic for IKO as it completes the company's manufacturing footprint in the United States, allowing it to better serve and build upon the customer and homeowner base in the southwest. IKO opened its first U.S. asphalt shingle plant in Wilmington, DE, in 1981. The new plant began producing product in late December. Local dignitaries and IKO customers will be invited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour the plant during its official grand opening celebration March 22nd. Plans are already underway for the construction of a new facility west of Toronto, ON, modernizing IKO's first plant in eastern Canada, built in 1958.

Marketplace Events Acquires Montreal Shows

Home show producer Marketplace Events has acquired the Montréal National Home Show and the Montréal HomeExpo. Expo Media, which already produces the Montreal National Home Show for Marketplace Events, will now also produce the Home Expo on its behalf. Expo Media also produces three Ottawa, ON, shows for the company. The Montreal National Home Show takes place March 9 to 18 and the HomeExpo takes place October 18 to 21 at Place Bonaventure.

Lynch Joins Financeit

Chris Lynch is chief financial officer with Financeit, a point-of-sale payment plan provider. Previously, he was chief financial officer at Alarmforce Industries Inc. Dante Tamburro is general counsel and chief compliance officer.

Tax Cuts Affect Boise Income

Boise Cascade Company had a net income of $19.1 million for the fourth quarter, a 367 per cent increase over net income of $4.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Income was impacted by the effects of the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ among other factors. Sales for the quarter were $1.1 billion, an increase of 19 per cent over sales of $919 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $44 million versus $17 million, an increase of 166 per cent. The wood product segment sales increased 14 per cent and the building materials distribution segment sales increased 21 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period.

March 7, 2018

Ottawa Leads Ontario Real Estate Performance

Ottawa has the growth, diversity, and strength required to lead Ontario in real estate performance over the next five-year period, says the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) in its ‘Top 10 Ontario Cities’ report. REIN studies 36 economic and market factors to identify Ontario real estate markets that are poised to outperform over the rest of the province. The report also analyzes where each market is positioned in the real estate cycle and what to expect as the cycle continues. In order of potential for housing market strength over the coming five-year period, are Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Hamilton, Barrie, Brampton, Durham Region, Toronto, Kingston, Orillia, and Grimsby and St. Catharines. Milton, Niagara Region, London, Thunder Bay, Vaughan, and Chatham also received honourable mentions, in no particular order.

Gender Parity Improves Many Indicators

Teams managed by a balanced mix of men and women are more successful across a range of measurements, says a study by Sodexo. Operating margins, client satisfaction, and employee retention, among other key performance indicators, were all higher among gender-balanced teams, meaning a ratio between 40 to 60 per cent women to men. The report shows that operating margins significantly increased among more gender-balanced teams than other teams. As well, gender-balanced entities had an average employee retention rate that was eight percentage points higher than other entities and an average client retention rate that was nine percentage points higher. Engagement also increased and accidents decreased. Sodexo says 87 per cent of management teams in Canada are gender-balanced. The full study is available here

SANIFLO Celebrates World Plumbing Day

SANIFLO Canada is celebrating ‘World Plumbing Day’ by recognizing the work of plumbers and reaffirming its own commitment to water-related humanitarian actions around the world. Through its ‘Preferred Installer Program,’ the company supports the education and training of qualified installers in the plumbing industry. Since its inception five years ago, the program has certified hundreds of plumbing professionals to install and service SANIFLO products. The day, established in 2010 by the World Plumbing Council, is celebrated on March 11 by more than 100-member organizations in 23 countries. It aims to bring attention to the work that plumbers do and invites all plumbing professionals to celebrate the importance of safe water and sanitation. This World Plumbing Day, SANIFLO will continue its commitment to the Gbatopé Project in the Togolese Republic (Togo) of West Africa to support sanitation project development.

Lowe’s Expands Sherwin-Williams Partnership

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has expanded its partnership with the Sherwin-Williams Company. In the U.S., Lowe’s will become the only nationwide home centre to offer Minwax, Cabot, and Thompson’s Water Seal, as well as Purdy and Krylon. The retailer will introduce the Krylon paint in its fiscal first quarter and add others over the course of the year. Additionally, Sherwin-Williams will become the only nationwide supplier to Lowe’s U.S. retail outlets for interior and exterior paints, including Valspar and HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams brands. The expanded partnership builds on the strong, long-standing relationship between Lowe’s and the Valspar Corporation since 1971, which launched the Valspar paint brand at Lowe’s in 2007. Lowe’s and Sherwin-Williams launched HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams at Lowe’s in 2015.

STELPRO Launches Smart Thermostat

STELPRO, a Canadian manufacturer of integrated heating solutions, has launched MAESTRO, a smart thermostat compatible with zoned electrical equipment. This product includes customization features such as geo-fencing, anticipated start, personalized activities, and grouping of rooms into zones. This allows homeowners to manage and personalize home heating and reduce energy costs. MAESTRO controls the thermostats of a connected house and is compatible with all electric heaters such as baseboards, convectors, and fan heaters. It takes into account the outside temperature by advancing or delaying heating to reach the desired temperature at the appropriate time. This product is designed and manufactured in Canada.

Shopify Shuffles C-suite Roles

Amy Shapero is chief financial officer of Shopify Inc., effective April 2. Previously, she was chief financial officer of Betterment, an online wealth management service. She will succeed Russ Jones who will remain a strategic advisor to the company as he prepares for retirement. Jeff Weiser is chief marketing officer. Prior to joining the company, he was chief marketing officer at Shutterstock. Craig Miller, its former chief marketing officer, will now focus exclusively on his role as chief product officer.

Armstrong Sales Grow

Armstrong World Industries had net sales of $214.3 million for the fourth quarter, a nine per cent increase over net sales for the fourth quarter of 2016, with both mineral fibre and architectural specialties contributing to growth. Operating income from continuing operations was $51.7 million for the quarter, an increase of 28 per cent year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was up nine per cent, driven by higher volume and average unit values.

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