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News

July 18, 2018

June Home Sales Activity Improves

National home sales rose 4.1 per cent in June compared to May, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). While this marks the first substantive month-over-month increase this year, sales remain well down from monthly levels recorded over the past five years. More than 60 per cent of all local housing markets reported increased sales activity in June compared to May, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario. By contrast, sales in British Columbia continue to moderate. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down almost 11 per cent compared to June 2017. Sales were at a five-year low and stood almost seven per cent below the 10-year average for the month of June. Activity came in below year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local markets, led overwhelmingly by those in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Across Canada, the number of newly-listed homes retreated 1.8 per cent in June and also stood below levels for the month in recent years. New listings declined in a number of large urban markets. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 54.3 per cent in June compared to 51.2 per cent in May. The June reading was within short reach of the long-term average of 53.4 per cent.


Beacon Acquires Atlas Supply

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. has acquired Atlas Supply, Inc. a U.S. distributor of sealants, coatings, adhesives, and related waterproofing products. Founded in Seattle, WA, in 1917, Atlas has six locations in the Pacific Northwest. Beacon says the acquisition is a strategic fit of the compatibility of the two companies and Atlas will strengthen its sealant, coatings, and waterproofing business in the area.


Spectrum Brands, HRG Group Complete Merger

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. has completed the merger between Spectrum Brands and HRG Group, Inc. Following the closing, Spectrum Brands continues as the successor to HRG Group under the name Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. The combination creates an independent company with a more widely distributed shareholder base, meaningfully increased trading liquidity in its common stock, and an independent governance structure. The combined company's headquarters will remain in Middleton, WI, and the current Spectrum Brands management team will lead the combined company.


SANIFLO Announces Cambridge Location

Macerating and grinding toilet company SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, is expanding its operations and moving to a new location in Cambridge, ON. The new, 9,500-square-foot facility, now open, will allow the company to meet growing demand for its products. The move comes at a significant time for SANIFLO as this year marks the company’s 30-year anniversary in Canada.


Barrault Joins TIMBER MART

Gary Barrault is commodity trader with the lumber-trading team in the Prairies at TIMBER MART. He has more than 25 years of experience in the building material industry, where he has held a variety of operations and retail management positions within various organizations, including North American Lumber.


July 17, 2018

Renoworks Opens Platform To Third Parties

Renoworks Software Inc. now has third-party visualization integration capabilities by opening its home design ecosystem to manufacturers' independently developed visual product configurators. Previously, manufacturer integration with Renoworks visualizer platform required Renoworks' specific product library format. With new third-party integration, manufacturers can now embed their existing configurators into the Renoworks visualization platform, thereby creating a seamless experience for end-users to customize products such as doors and windows, and transition to a home design project within Renoworks. As additional benefits to this integration, manufacturers not only gain branding and product exposure within the Renoworks network of lumber and building material suppliers, retailers, contractors, remodelers, builders, and homeowners, they also decrease deployment time, streamline library maintenance and increase speed and efficiency in their product go-to-market strategies.


Bullers To Acquire Superior Cabinets

Saskatoon, SK-based Superior Cabinets has made a purchase agreement to sell the company. Superior was founded in 1980 and sells through their retail stores as well as through a network of 75 dealers in western Canada. The new owners will be the Buller family of Winnipeg, MB, who have a long history and track record in the kitchen cabinet industry. In 2003 Mark Buller, together with his family and senior management, acquired Norcraft Cabinets from the then existing unitholders. They took Norcraft Companies Inc. public in 2013, built it up into a $376 million dollar company and sold it to Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. in 2015, owners of MasterBrand Cabinets. The Buller family has a long legacy in the kitchen cabinet industry, as Mark's father, Herb Buller and several partners founded Kitchen Craft in 1971 which was acquired by Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. in 2002. Superior Cabinets will remain business as usual, with expansion plans into new markets in Canada and the U.S. as a top priority going forward.


GE Appliances Invests In Fridge Plant

GE Appliances, a Haier company, will invest $115 million to expand its Decatur Refrigerator Plant in Decatur, AL. The investment — made in partnership with the state of Alabama, the Morgan County Economic Development Association, and the Tennessee Valley Authority — will help GE Appliances increase production to meet increasing demand for its top-freezer refrigerators. The expansion of the Decatur plant is the most recent investment made by the business since becoming part of Haier two years ago. In 2018 alone, GE Appliances’ major investments have included an investment in its distribution center in northern Georgia; the expansion and enhancement of a ‘smart’ distribution center in Dallas, TX; and a plant expansion in Selmer, TN. The investment will significantly expand the Decatur plant and boost production capacity by 25 per cent.


Demand Continues For Outdoor Kitchen Equipment

Demand for outdoor kitchen cooking fixtures is projected to climb 5.4 per cent annually to $325 million in 2022, says the Freedonia Group. Gains will be driven by ongoing development of high-end grills (with feature such as infrared heating elements, integrated smoker boxes) and LED-illuminated controls supporting pricing growth and value gains. An increasing interest in artisanal grilling is also encouraging the use of high-end specialty fixtures like kamados and pellet grills. As well, rising interest in installing multiple cooking fixtures – including lower-cost add-ons like side burners and other peripherals – to enhance an outdoor kitchen’s functionality will drive sales. In general, outdoor kitchen cooking fixtures tend to be high-value, supporting significant gains as installations steadily increase. Since these are permanent fixtures, they tend to feature substantial cooking area and power, durable materials, and extensive warranties, and most consumers installing an amenity as high-value as an outdoor kitchen are willing to invest in high-quality fixtures.


July 16, 2018

Record Building Permits Issues In May

In the residential sector, municipalities issued $5.5 billion worth of permits in May, up 7.7 per cent from April, says Statistics Canada. This was the second-highest value on record, following the $5.7 billion worth of permits issued in October 2016. Five provinces posted increases, with Ontario and British Columbia reporting the largest gains. The multi-family dwelling component reached a record high in May, with municipalities issuing $3.1 billion worth of building permits. The increase was the result of higher construction intentions in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta. The value of single-family dwelling permits also rose in May, up 6.2 per cent from the previous month to $2.5 billion. This was the first increase following four consecutive monthly declines. Ontario led the seven provinces that registered increases.


Amazon To Build Eighth Canadian Fulfillment Centre

Amazon is building a fulfillment centre in the Orleans suburb of Ottawa, ON. The one-million-square-foot customer fulfillment facility is Amazon's fifth in Ontario and eighth in Canada. Associates at this facility will pick, pack, and ship large items like household decor, sporting equipment, and gardening tools.


Tafisa Launches Perfect Match HPL

Tafisa is adding a complete matching line of high pressure laminates (HPL) to its Sommet and Prelude TFL Series. Made from the same texture plates and printed décors, the Perfect Match will have the same look and feel of Tafisa’s TFL and HPL. As well, Tafisa’s synchronized texture (EIR) program within the Sommet Series will now be available in both TFL and HPL across all décors. Branded Surforma, Tafisa’s 5x9 HPL line is manufactured by its sister company, Sonae Indústria de Revestimentos, SA (SIR) in Portugal. The full Surforma line will be stocked in Canada and offered with deliveries of TFL panels and HPL sheets.


Contest Helps SMEs Reduce GHG Emissions

The Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, ON, has launched a contest on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Climate CoLab platform to solicit a broad range of possible solutions to help small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ontario reduce their direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while helping them thrive. The winning proposals may be eligible to receive a share of $425,000 plus other supports to pilot their solutions in Ontario over eight months, starting November. Many SMEs face barriers to lowering their emissions, from lacking the technical expertise to assess options for reducing emissions to not being able to afford the upfront costs of a low-carbon technology. However, once the right technologies or practices are implemented, the savings and other benefits to SMEs can be substantial. The contest, now sourcing proposals on the MIT Climate CoLab platform, allows members of the public to provide feedback to proposal authors, and to cast votes for the ‘People's Choice Winner.’ A panel of judges will select three to five winning proposals based on their desirability, feasibility, scalability, and impact to potentially be piloted in Ontario. The contest is open to proposal submissions until August 3. Proposals submitted prior to July 11 will be reviewed by the judges and given feedback before the contest deadline.


Revenue Rises For Residential Lighting Controls

Global annual residential lighting controls revenue will grow from $963 million in 2018 to $1.5 billion in 2027, says a report from Navigant Research. It shows the residential market for connected LED lighting lamps, luminaires, and controls is growing. Increased interest in the smart home and desire for home automation is spurring global adoption of connected LED lighting. However, despite the added value of connected LEDs, overall market penetration of these products is still small. This is partly due to consumers’ lack of understanding of the value and use cases of connected lighting products. Lighting manufacturers are turning toward lighting controls and connected products to continue adding value for customers. Controls and connected LED products also provide manufacturers a new or increased revenue stream as revenue for residential lamps declines. This is due to declining LED prices and the replacement of legacy lighting products with longer lasting LEDs. However, even with the increased number of available controls products, demand for controls in the residential sector is still not strong.


July 13, 2018

Flexible Structural Sheathing Claims Unsafe

Manufacturers of flexible structural sheathing overstate their lateral load resistance values by as much as 42 per cent, finds a report by laboratories at Clemson University, University of Oklahoma, and APA – The Engineered Wood Association. The laboratories studied five flexible structural sheathing materials available in the marketplace and tested them for wind and seismic lateral load (shear wall) performance. The evaluations were based on two shear wall test standards listed in each manufacturer’s product evaluation report, ASTM E564 and ASTM E2126. Some of the products tested were as thin as 0.078-inch but claimed shear wall values that were higher than those for 15/32-inch-thick wood structural panels. These overstated lateral load design properties published by the manufacturers raise a question to the safety and reliability of a structure designed with these products, says the report. APA published the results in its ‘Product Advisory: Performance of Flexible Structural Sheathing.’


Lowe’s Canada Bikes For Kids

Lowe’s Canada has donated $1,225,000 to the Fondation Charles-Bruneau, a funder of pediatric hematology and oncology research in Quebec. The donation amount was revealed July 6 at the finish line of the Tour CIBC Charles-Bruneau. For its first year as a Diamond Partner of the tour, Lowe's Canada brought together a team of more than 90 cyclists made up of employees from the Boucherville head office and from RONA and Reno-Depot stores across Quebec, in addition to suppliers. Members of the Lowe's Canada team took part in one of the four proposed treks ranging from 50 km to 600 km, raising $283,446. The rest of the amount given to the Fondation Charles-Bruneau comes from a corporate donation made by Lowe's Canada and a fundraising campaign held in Quebec's corporate RONA and Reno-Depot stores.


Electric Screwdriver Sales To Remain Strong

Sales of electric screwdrivers are forecast to expand 5.1 per cent annually to $340 million by 2022, representing a deceleration from the advances of the 2012 to 2017 period, says the Freedonia Group. Continued increases in construction spending will provide the greatest impetus for growth. In addition, consumer purchases of electric screwdrivers for DIY activities or as part of a household toolbox for simple repair tasks will contribute to advances. The general ease of use of electric screwdrivers relative to manual types will cause many consumers and professionals to supplement their existing screwdrivers with electric models. However, because of the generally low cost of these tools compared to other electric power tools, domestic firms face more intense pricing competition from imported screwdrivers than other products, especially those from China and Mexico. In addition, cordless units manufactured in China benefit from the proximity of suppliers of the necessary battery units, further promoting sales from this nation.


Nguyen Promoted To Director Of Marketing

Salyna Nguyen has been promoted to director of marketing of Liteline Corporation. She joined Liteline in 2017 as channel marketing manager - C&I North America. Prior to joining Liteline, she spent close to a decade as marketing manager for Allied Technical Solutions.


WD-40 Company Sales Rise

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $107 million for the third quarter of its 2018 fiscal year. This is a nine per cent increase over total net sales in the third quarter of its 2017 year. Net income for the quarter was $16.1 million, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the prior year quarter. Gross margin was 54.8 per cent compared to 55.3 per cent. Net sales of maintenance products, which are considered the primary growth focus for the company, increased 11 per cent. Net sales of homecare and cleaning products decreased 12 per cent.


July 12, 2018

Jenkins: Don’t Limit Your Dreams

Don’t be intimidated by dreaming about the unattainable because how do we know what is unattainable? asks Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says, “It’s important when creating your vision that you don’t limit yourself by what you believe is feasible today.” Everything changes, and “by stretching your thinking you can stretch your goals.” Jenkins says too often entrepreneurs get caught up in the day-to-day and stop dreaming and honouring their vision. “As an entrepreneur, you need to spend your time developing your vision and the strategy to achieve it.” He recommends business owners spend 15 or 25 minutes a day to set goals and strategize. In 2008, the team at Castle looked at the big-picture of the company and its business model. Today, the group has developed a new model that includes a progressive and professional relationship with vendors, something that may have seemed infeasible 10 years ago. To turn the goal into reality, the team had to make some tactical and strategic changes. “This was not a daily, weekly, or even annual goal. It could only be achieved by taking a big-picture approach and using it as a guiding principle for all business objectives. And it worked.”


Tariffs Will Drive Up U.S. Prices

The U.S. tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods will do nothing to protect U.S. jobs, but they will undermine the benefits of tax reform and drive up prices for a wide range of products as diverse as tool sets, batteries, remote controls, flash drives, and thermostats, says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the U.S.-based National Retail Federation. Shay says the tariffs will destroy thousands of American jobs and raise prices on virtually everything. “Reining in China’s abusive trade policies is a goal shared by many countries, but a strategy based on unilateral tariffs is the wrong approach and it has to stop,” he says.


VELUX Launches Skylight Automation System

VELUX Skylights has launched a skylight automation system that aims to improve indoor air quality and create a comfortable living environment. VELUX ACTIVE with NETATMO is a smart skylight system that connects with Apple HomeKit, allowing homeowners to manage indoor climate control at home or remotely across all Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. The system can be controlled using Siri, Apple's voice-controlled intelligent assistant, or with the touch of a button on the Apple Home app. Users can control their VELUX Skylights by opening or closing them or adjusting the blinds to bring in or block natural light. As well, smart sensor technology monitors CO2, humidity levels, and temperature in the home and data from local weather stations to automatically open the skylights if fresh air is needed. The system can also automate skylight blinds.


Stensson Announces Retirement

Over the past several months, Sheridan Nurseries’ board of directors have conducted an extensive search to find a president and chief executive officer for the company to replace Karl Stensson, who has announced his retirement. Stensson first worked at the nursery during summer breaks when he was in high school and university. He returned in 1976 as wholesale sales manager and, after roles with increasing responsibility, was named president and CEO in 2015. Stensson is a staunch industry supporter who served on many boards and received many awards. He will continue at the company in a reduced capacity as vice-executive chairman and director of brand integrity.


Fastenal Has Strong Quarter

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,267.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, a 13.1 per cent increase over net sales of $1,121.5 million for the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $617.7 million, an increase of 10.6 per cent over gross profit of $558.5 million a year ago. Profit as a percentage of sales was 48.7 per cent versus 49.8 per cent. Operating income was $269 million for the quarter, a 13.3 per cent increase over $237.5 million in 2017. EBIT was $265.9 million, a 13 per cent increase year-over-year and net earnings were $211.2 million, up 41.9 per cent.


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