Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


April 9, 2018

Brand Based On Trust And Experience

Brand is the image customers have of a business and it is tied to trust and customer experience, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says, “If you are like many small business owners, you don’t spend much time thinking about your brand image. That’s a terrible mistake.” He adds that what makes a business unique and more successful than the competition is its brand. It is about the total experience. “Your brand is your promise to your customers and what they should expect every time they visit your business … Build a personal bond with your customer and they will develop a relationship of trust with your brand.” Consumers go out of their way for brands they trust. “You want your customers to become your brand advocate because, as humans, we do business with people we like and trust. And, people influence people. Doing business with those we trust is built into our DNA and part of our evolutionary process.” Jenkins recommends businesses take the time to consider their brand and become obsessed about delivering that brand experience.

Montreal's Residential Real Estate Market Remains Strong

A total of 5,656 residential sales were concluded in March in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), a six per cent increase compared to March of 2017. This was the 37th consecutive increase in sales and the best month of March in eight years, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). While sales of single-family homes remained unchanged, sales of plexes increased by three per cent, registering their best month of March since 2010. However, as has been the case for several months, condominiums stole the spotlight once again with a strong sales increase of 19 per cent in March. The South Shore particularly stood out as condo sales jumped by 37 per cent. The median price of single-family homes across the Montreal CMA stood at $314,900 in March, up five per cent compared to March of last year. The median price of condominiums remained unchanged, as half of all units sold for more than $240,000. Plexes registered the largest increase, as their median price jumped by nine per cent to reach $495,000. There were 26,395 active residential listings in the Centris system in March, a 16 per cent drop compared to one year earlier.

Government To Fund More Home Retrofits

The governments of Canada and Ontario will invest up to $100 million to help the people of Ontario make energy efficient retrofits to the places they reside, including apartments, townhouses, low-income housing, and businesses. The funding will support the province’s GreenON Rebates program, which helps cover the cost of eco-friendly retrofits. The investment is being made through the government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund. As part of its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), Ontario is investing up to $1.7 billion over the coming years into GreenON to support a wide range of programs. The CCAP is a five-year action plan that is making life more affordable for people across the province and making Ontario a leader in the global fight against climate change. Revenues from Ontario's carbon market, which puts a cap on the carbon pollution businesses can emit, are funding this action plan. The government of Canada's Low-Carbon Economy Leadership Fund provides $1.4 billion to provinces and territories that have adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF), to deliver on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today's announcement is part of the almost $420 million Ontario is receiving through the Leadership Fund.

Homebuying Intentions Continue To Rise

Resurging confidence in the economy and employment is boosting homebuying intentions among Canadians to the highest levels since 2010, despite the federal government's new uninsured mortgage ‘stress test,’ says RBC in its annual ‘Home Ownership Poll.’ In fact, one-third of Canadians are very or somewhat likely to buy a home in the next two years, up seven percentage points from last year. Millennials (ages 18 to 34) express the strongest of those homebuying intentions (50 per cent). Thirty-nine per cent of Canadians are aware of the latest Stress Test Guidelines issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) for uninsured mortgages, and over half (55 per cent) indicate that the guidelines are impacting their purchase decisions. This includes making higher down payments (25 per cent), delaying home purchases (19 per cent) or buying a less expensive, smaller home or a less expensive one in a different location (18 per cent respectively). As intention to buy continues to climb in Canada, just over one one-third (35 per cent) of Canadians indicate they have received/will be receiving financial assistance from their family for a down payment while almost an equal number (36 per cent) plan to do it on their own with a dedicated savings account. The poll shows the two top challenges buyers face in buying a home are choosing the right property and deciding how much they can afford.

GMS To Acquire WSB Titan

U.S. wallboard and ceiling system distributor GMS Inc. plans to acquire the equity interests of Toronto, ON-based WSB Titan. Titan is a gypsum specialty dealer (GSD) that serves residential, commercial, and institutional markets with building products such as wallboard, insulation, lumber, roofing, and steel framing. It was founded in 2009 through the partnership of Watson Building Supplies and Shoemaker Drywall Supplies, two wallboard distributors with roots dating back to the 1970s. The company expanded the platform in 2015 through the acquisition of Slegg Building Materials, a family-run wallboard and building supplies distributor formed in 1947. The acquisition will support GMS’ strategy to be the largest wallboard distributor in North America and give it a market-leading position in Canada along with a foundation to support future opportunities while creating opportunities to share best practices across operations.

April 6, 2018

Canadian Tire, Dollarama Most Admired

Canadian Tire and Dollarama are among the most admired companies in Canada, says the ‘2018 Corporation Reputation Study’ by Leger and NATIONAL Public Relations. Canadian Tire ranked third in the most admired companies in Canada (eighth among Millennials) while Dollarama ranked seventh (fourth among Millennials). The companies are judged on their ability to respond to a crisis and how they treat their employees and customer base. Google ranked first place for the sixth year in a row and Tim Hortons dropped to 50th place from fourth in 2017. Tim Hortons received significant backlash with its reduction to employee benefits. Samsung had the biggest increase, pulling itself up from 24th place last year to fifth position overall. Bombardier and Sears Canada also took big hits to their reputations and fell down on the list.

Alberta RONA Transforms To New Store Model

RONA Leduc is the first RONA store to adopt the new RONA building centre store model in Alberta. The Lowe’s Canada banner store underwent a $2.5 million transformation to better meet the needs of today’s consumers, says the company. The store is brighter, less compartmentalized, and has redesigned racking that is not as tall, except on the perimeter of the store, allowing customers to have a 360-degree view of the store. As well, seasonal products have been moved near the entrance and household appliances are near the kitchen project section. The Leduc store now also offers special orders and services including design consulting, 3D renderings, and installations. Contractors also have an enhanced selection of services including a reserved parking area, a dedicated entrance, business hours to fit their schedules, a special fleet of trucks, a 15,000-square-foot drive-through lumberyard, and charge-account services. By the end of 2018, more than 10 stores across the country will be transformed to the new RONA building centre store model.

Home Depot Supports Youth Homelessness

The Home Depot Canada Foundation awarded $25,000 to seven Canadian charities through its ‘Orange Door Awards’ program in its effort to prevent and end youth homelessness. The company engaged youth advisors who were once homeless themselves to help determine where the grants would make the greatest impact. This years' recipients are L'Adoberge Chaudiere-Appalaches in Saint-Jean-Chrysostome, QC; Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc. in Saskatoon, SK; Threshold Housing Society in Victoria, BC; Covenant House Toronto in Toronto, ON; Kingston Home Base Non-Profit Housing Inc. in Kingston, ON; Orillia Youth Centre in Orillia, ON; and Kennedy House Youth Services Inc. in Scarborough, ON. The ‘Orange Door Awards’ program is one of three grants The Home Depot Canada Foundation offers to support organizations working with homeless and at-risk youth across the country.

GE Canada Partners With Holmes Group

GE Appliances Canada has partnered with the Holmes Group. Mike Holmes, along with his son Mike Jr. and his daughter Sherry, will work as spokespeople and ambassadors for the appliance brand throughout 2018. The all-encompassing partnership, which will include GE Appliances' full suite of kitchen and laundry products, will be featured as in-store point-of-purchase displays, digital content, and social media and PR activities. GE Appliances will also be seen on Holmes' television program.

Richelieu Hardware Posts Gains

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. had consolidated sales of $222 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 13.3 per cent compared to consolidated sales of $195.9 million for the first quarter of 2017. Sales were $183.4 million in the manufacturers market for the quarter, an 11.3 per cent increase over sales of $164.8 million. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores were $38.6 million, up 24.1 per cent over the first quarter of 2017. EBITDA increased eight per cent to $19.8 million and net earnings grew 5.6 per cent. In Canada, Richelieu had sales of $143.7 million, an increase of 14.4 per cent year-over-year. Sales to manufacturers in Canada were $113.6 million compared with $98.5 million, an increase of 15.3 per cent. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores in Canada were $30.2 million, up 11.4 per cent year-over-year.

April 5, 2018

Home Sales Drop

There were 7,228 residential transactions in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in March, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This was down 39.5 per cent compared to a record 11,954 sales in March 2017 and down 17.6 per cent relative to average March sales for the previous 10 years. The number of new listings on the MLS System was 14,866, a 12.4 per cent decrease compared to March 2017 and a three per cent decrease compared to the average for the previous 10 years. TREB says the effects of the Fair Housing Plan, the OSFI-mandated stress test, and generally higher borrowing costs have prompted some buyers to put their purchasing decisions on hold. It also says home sales are expected to be up relative to 2017 in the second half of this year.

Vernon RONA Adopts New Model Proximity Store

As part of its strategy to make RONA the number one banner in the building centre market (small to medium stores knows as ‘proximity stores’), Lowe’s Canada has transformed the Vernon, BC, store to the new RONA building centre store model. The retailer invested $2.5 million in the store renovation which it says now better meets the needs of today’s consumers. The store features open floor plans, brighter rooms, and outside spaces designed to be natural extensions of the interior. It is a brighter, less compartmentalized store, with racking redesigned so it’s not as tall except on the perimeter of the store. This allows customers to have a 360-degree view of the store which enables them to better navigate the sections.

Leviton Announces Nest Capabilities

Some Leviton products now feature integration with the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Cam, and Nest Protect through the ‘Works with Nest’ program. Through this alignment, Leviton Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology and Nest devices can now be utilized together to automate lights and connected loads throughout the home. Professional installers and end-users can utilize the free ‘My Leviton’ app to link their Nest account for a variety of custom automation actions including IFTTT (if this, then that) within the home. Decora Smart light switches, dimmers, and plug-in modules provide time-based schedules, free remote control from anywhere, and optional integrated voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Muti Moves To Castlefield Design District

Muti Kitchen & Bath has opened a flagship showroom in the Toronto, ON-based Castlefield Design District. The 12,000-square-foot showroom displays custom kitchens and features an extensive Muti-brand collection of products for all areas of the home. The showroom is for all members of the trade industry – architects, interior designers, builders, contractors, and stylists – to source and access the designs. The showroom features fully-equipped custom modern Italian kitchens and Canadian-made transitional kitchens. For the displays, Muti has partnered with companies including Gaggenau, Smeg, AEG, Liebherr, Bosch, DECO Tile, Cambria, Laminam, Ceasarstone, Grohe, TOTO, and Veneto Bath. The family-owned business was previously located in Woodbridge, ON.

Construction To Drive Laminate Tile Market

The global laminate tile market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of six per cent from 2018 to 2023, says data by QYReports. The report says the global flooring market is among the most important building material markets and is highly dynamic and versatile. A rise in construction activity and an increasing trend in home improvement and renovation projects is likely to boost this market substantially over the forthcoming years. The major players investing in this market are in Canada, the UK, the U.S., India, China, and some Asia Pacific countries. As a result, Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe are expected to account for more than half of the total market share over the next few years.

April 4, 2018

Residential Construction To Slow

After posting its strongest growth since 2013 last year, Canada's residential construction industry is forecast to see a small contraction in 2018, says the Conference Board of Canada in its latest outlook for the construction industry. Housing starts are forecast to drop by 2.9 per cent, led in large part by a 4.3 per cent drop in Toronto, ON, and a 6.5 per cent drop in Vancouver, BC. As homeowners become more cautious under new mortgage rules and rate hikes, real expenditures on new housing are expected to slow from 5.8 per cent in 2017 to 3.4 per cent in 2018 and then drop by three per cent in 2019. Renovation activity will perform better, but will also see a deceleration to 1.8 per cent growth in 2018 from 4.5 per cent last year. At the same time, non-residential construction is expected to see a modest turnaround this year. Following two years of contractions, Canada's non-residential construction industry will rebound in 2018. The non-residential construction industry is forecast to grow by 1.9 per cent. The value of new non-residential building permits increased by an estimated 15 per cent last year to reach $35 billion, indicating a healthy number of non-residential projects in the pipeline. Growth in eCommerce continues to drive demand for more warehouse space in the commercial segment while several new mining projects and planned plant expansions will support growth in the industrial segment.

Morissette Spokesperson For Reno-Depot

Dave Morissette, former professional hockey player and a well-known figure in the Quebec media landscape, is spokesperson for Reno-Depot, a banner of Lowe’s Canada. Morissette, a home improvement enthusiast, will star in various advertising campaigns. “Reno-Depot is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and embarking on the next chapter of its history,” says Guy Beaumier, executive vice-president, big box, at Lowe’s Canada. “During this growth phase, we wished to partner with a new spokesperson who is – just like the Reno-Depot brand – accessible, authentic, energetic, and professional.” A native of Baie-Comeau, QC, Morissette played a number of games with the Montréal Canadiens from 1998 to 2000. After his hockey career, he became a sports analyst and a radio and TV host. He now hosts an evening sports roundup show that bears his name.

Lowe’s Launches App AR Feature

Android users with ARCore-enabled devices can now see what certain products will look like in their homes before buying them with Lowe’s latest augmented reality feature called ‘View in Your Space.’ The feature can be accessed within the Lowe’s consumer app. Customers take several weeks to mull over big-ticket purchases like grills and patio furniture, says the retailer. The app feature will enable them to place lifelike, size-accurate items from Lowe’s spring catalogue into their outdoor spaces to see if they fit and match the surroundings. The user will also be able to walk around the product, viewing it in different perspectives, while the item remains scaled-to-size and in place in the app.

Engineered Stone Countertop Demand Continues

Engineered stone is forecast to be the fastest growing countertop surface material, reaching 152 million square feet in 2022 on yearly advances of 4.5 per cent, says The Freedonia Group. Demand for engineered stone countertops grew 28 per cent per annum during the 2012-2017 period, almost entirely due to significant sales advances in the residential market because of greater availability and the search for alternatives to granite. During this time, demand for engineered stone surpassed that of granite, which was formerly regarded as the primary material in the luxury residential market. Going forward, engineered stone will continue to post healthy gains, driven by its aesthetic properties and superior durability compared to laminates and its advantages relative to natural stone such as colour uniformity and a smoother, nonporous surface that is resistant to biological contaminants.

Fraser Manages Wood Products

Mike Fraser is commodity wood products manager – eastern Canada with Sexton Group Ltd. In this newly-created role, he will be responsible for working with lumber, OSB, and plywood mills to create effective purchasing programs for Sexton members from Ontario to Newfoundland. Previously, he was senior panel and lumber buyer for ALPA Forest Products.

April 3, 2018

Retail Sales Start Slowly

After hitting a 20-year high last year, overall Canadian retail sales growth has eased off in recent months, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending January, total sales were up 5.3 per cent year-over-year. While still quite respectable, this is down from the 6.7 per cent increase recorded for the same period in 2017. He says the underlying 12-month growth trend has now gone flat and is likely to weaken further. As well, the three-month growth trend has been declining since mid-2017. “This pattern is occurring to one extent or another in all the major retail sectors.” While the store merchandise sector is coming back down to earth after hitting some record highs last year, electronics and appliance stores had strong gains with a whopping 18 per cent increase year-over-year. Building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers were also strong at 9.4 per cent. Meanwhile, Canadian eCommerce sales were up 15.1 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending January 2018. This, however, is only half of the 30.8 per cent annual increase recorded for 2017 over 2016, indicating that eCommerce sales growth may be slowing down, says Strapagiel.

Sexton Gets New Members

Tarpin Lumber and Truss, an Innisfil, ON-based building supply company, has joined Sexton Group Ltd. The company has been owned and operated by Dave Pratt and the Pratt family since 1986. Tampa Hall Ltd., a supplier to home builders, has also joined Sexton Group. Tampa Hall, founded in 1960, is a developer of framing construction technology and holds patents for wall assemblies. The company is managed by Jordan Rothwell and located in Ayr, ON.

Lack Of Familiarity Hurdle To Adoption Of Technologies

Consumers often stay with the familiar which may represent a hurdle to the adoption of emerging payment methods, says Visa. In a study of Canadian consumers, the company found that security and convenience remain the most important factors for Canadians when choosing a payment method. The survey shows 71 per cent of Canadians use chip-in-pin cards regularly, which is in line with their view that these cards are very convenient (82 per cent) and very secure (74 per cent). Contactless cards are increasingly a preferred way to pay with 52 per cent of consumers saying they use it regularly. Eighty per cent of Canadians view contactless cards as a very convenient way to pay and 45 per cent view it as very secure. Only 35 per cent of Canadians consider digital wallets very secure, followed by mobile apps (34 per cent), and wearables-based pay (26 per cent). With such low trust, it is not surprising that only nine per cent of consumers regularly use mobile apps to pay, six per cent use digital wallets, and three per cent use wearables. The company expects the use of these payment methods to become more popular as consumers become more familiar with the technologies.

Simpson Strong-Tie Acquires LotSpec App Suite

Simpson Strong-Tie has acquired LotSpec, a suite of software applications designed for construction document and option management solutions. This acquisition, coupled with the 2017 acquisition of CG Visions, is part of Simpson’s goal to strengthen partnerships with builders, architects, and engineers by offering scalable software solutions via key apps for the industry-standard design platforms Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture and Autodesk Revit.

USG Employee Receives Industry Award

Scott Qualls, director of sales and marketing, ceilings division with USG Corporation, was recognized by the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) as its ‘2018 DeGelleke Award’ winner. The DeGelleke Award is CISCA’s highest honour and is presented to a CISCA member who has made significant contributions to the industry and the association. Qualls has more than 40 years of experience in the ceilings industry, including nearly 15 years with USG.

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