Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


September 10, 2019

Vancouver Home Sales Back To Normal Levels

Home buyer activity increased to more typical levels in Metro Vancouver, BC, throughout the summer months, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential home sales in the region totalled 2,231 in August, a 15.7 per cent increase from the 1,929 sales recorded in August 2018 and a 12.7 per cent decrease from the 2,557 homes sold in July. Sales were 9.2 per cent below the 10-year August sales average. In August, there were 3,747 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in Metro Vancouver. This represents a 3.5 per cent decrease compared to the 3,881 homes listed in August 2018 and an 18.8 per cent decrease compared to July when 4,613 homes were listed. The total number of homes listed for sale in August was 13,396, a 13.3 per cent increase compared to the same period a year ago, and a 5.9 per cent decrease compared to July.

NL Store Chooses Castle

Roddickton, NL-based NRO is the newest member of Castle Building Centres Group Limited. The picturesque community located on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland is well-known for its fishing and logging industries and is also the shopping hub of the area. Owners Randy and Phyllis Randell already operate two businesses and have served the community for many years. Their newest venture will offer a complete line of paint, hardware, plumbing, electrical, tools, and seasonal products. The Randells chose Castle because other family members own a Castle Building Centre and they knew the buying group was the right choice for them. The long-term plan is to continue to grow the business into a full-service building supply store over the next five years including a large lumber yard and storage facility. NRO will hold a special grand opening celebration in the fall.

Ace Hardware Acquires Handyman Franchise

Ace Hardware Corporation has completed the acquisition of Handyman Matters, a U.S. franchisor of home repair, maintenance, and improvement services. Handyman Matters will become Ace Handyman Services and operate as a stand-alone, subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation. Handyman Matters is a franchise organization comprised of locally owned and operated and company-owned locations that offer professional and multi-skilled craftsmen and women trained to handle homeowners' small or larger projects. On-site services to consumers and small businesses include carpentry, plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, and flooring. The franchisor currently has 57 franchisees who collectively employ approximately 250 handymen and women in 121 territories across 23 states. The acquisition provides a platform from which Ace can expand its presence in the growing do-it-for-me (DIFM) segment, says John Venhuizen, president and CEO.

Uniboard Launches Digital Designs

Composite wood panel manufacturer Uniboard has launched Studio, a collection of 20 digital designs. These colours will be available through the company's authorized melamine distributors. Inspired by the arts and creative expression, Studio is comprised of 20 designs offered in a vellum finish on a particleboard or MDF core. This line is mainly aimed at the architectural, commercial, and institutional segments. The colours are also available on HPL (high pressure laminates).

West Fraser To Reduce Production

West Fraser will introduce variable operating schedules at five of its British Columbia sawmills that will result in an estimated decrease of production in the range of 15 to 25 per cent of current B.C. lumber production. The operating schedules at these sawmills will vary and be adjusted from time to time depending on market conditions. The potential effect of the revised operating schedules could be an aggregate reduction by up to an estimated 100 million board feet through to the end of the year. The company will also curtail B.C. plywood production for two weeks reducing output by approximately nine million board feet. These production reductions and curtailments are a result of sustained weak markets, pricing in wood product markets, and high log costs. West Fraser anticipates continuing the variable operating schedules at its B.C. sawmills until market and economic conditions support a return to full production.

Montreal Port Partner Gets Funding       

The government of Quebec is providing $1.4 million of support to LOGISTEC Corporation for Termont Montreal, a LOGISTEC joint-venture, to convert 57 terminal tractors into diesel-electric hybrid vehicles equipped with automatic stop-start technology. With this financial support, Termont will become the first port operator in the world to convert its entire fleet into hybrid vehicles and will help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the Port of Montreal. Termont is a key partner in the supply chain at the Port of Montreal and in Quebec.

May To Lead Deere & Co.

John C. May will be chief executive officer of the Deere & Company, effective November 4. He has been with the company since 1997, currently in the roles of president and chief operating officer.

September 9, 2019

August Manufacturing Conditions Worsen

August data revealed a renewed deterioration in business conditions across the Canadian manufacturing sector, following a slight improvement during the previous month. This was highlighted by a fall in the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) to 49.1 in August, from 50.2 in July. The latest PMI reading was the lowest for three months and signaled a modest downturn in overall manufacturing performance. A sharper reduction in new order intakes was a key factor weighing on the headline index in August. New work has now declined for six months running and the latest fall was the sharpest since December 2015. Survey respondents noted that U.S.-China trade tensions, subdued energy sector spending, and greater global economic uncertainty had all acted as a brake on client demand. The PMI also showed that supply chain pressures moderated in August, as signaled by an improvement in vendor performance for the first time since June 2013. Manufacturers noted that reduced demand for inputs had contributed to shorter delivery times from suppliers in August.

Founder Wants To Take Lumber Liquidators Private

Thomas D. Sullivan, founder of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc., is working on a bid to take the company private and is urging stakeholders to consider options for the chain, including a potential sale. Sullivan owns approximately six per cent of the company's shares through his company, F9 Investments LLC. He says he is currently working with private equity companies and banks about a possible bid for the company. If successful, he is considering merging the chain with his other company Cabinets To Go. Lumber Liquidators has 415 locations in North America.

Whirlwind Top GLIDDEN Colour

Whirlwind ‒ a cool grey with a touch of blue ‒ is the colour people will actually use in 2019 and beyond, says GLIDDEN paint. The company chose a popular colour instead of predicting new colours for the coming year. “Greys have been trending for more than a decade,” says Kim Perry, a colour expert at Glidden paint. “Whirlwind was one of our top tinted colours this year, so DIYers can rest easy knowing they can enjoy it for years to come.” She says Whirlwind is an "easy-to-get-along-with colour that's an alternative to basic white or beige."

Bona Celebrates 100 Years

Hardwood floor care product manufacturer Bona celebrates100 years in business this year. The family-owned company started out when founder Wilhelm Edner owned a small grocery store in Sweden where, among other products, he sold bonvax, an agent that would create a polished and protected surface to wood floors. Edner realized the potential of bonvax and incorporated Bona AB in 1919. In the early 1970s, the company removed toxic and hazardous chemicals from the hardwood floor finish and created a water-based finish as a reliable and durable alternative. Today, Bona is present in more than 90 countries with almost 600 employees. While the company's heritage is in hardwood floors, it will soon begin expanding its offerings into other hard surface floor categories.

Hoekstra Has New Role

Brian Hoekstra is vice-president of mergers and acquisitions, a newly-created position at Lawson Products, Inc. He joins the company from W.W. Grainger, where he served as senior director, mergers and acquisitions.

September 6, 2019

Home Sales Up Year-over-year

A total of 7,711 residential sales took place in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) for August, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This was a 13.4 per cent increase over sales in August of last year. On a month-over-month basis, sales were up 0.8 per cent. Sales were up in all major market segments, with annual rates of sales growth strongest for low-rise home types including detached houses. This reflects the fact that demand for more expensive home types was very low in 2018 and has rebounded to a certain degree in 2019, albeit not back to record levels experienced in 2016 and early 2017. Market conditions also became tighter in August compared to a year ago because, while sales were up year-over-year, new listings were down by three per cent over the same time period. Year-to-date, growth in sales has outstripped growth in new listings.

Construction Plastic Market To See Solid Growth

The global construction plastic market is expected to reach US$143.23 billion by 2025 from $82.56 billion in 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.13 per cent during the forecast period, says research by Fior Market Research. The key contributing factors for the growth of construction plastic market are an increase in construction activities in both residential and non-residential sectors. The report says plastics are replacing conventional construction materials due to their superior cost effectiveness, weight-to-strength ratio, and ease of application. Huge construction activities in residential as well non-residential sectors are proving to be a major driving force for the growth of the market. Increasing urbanization and the push for improving and retrofitting existing housing structures, as well as the global emphasis on recycling of plastic materials have also provided positive stimulus to research and develop of new plastic materials for construction purposes.

Globe Union Acquires NAMCE

Globe Union Industrial Corporation, parent company of Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, has acquired Mexico-based vitreous china manufacturer, NAMCE S. de R.L. de C.V. Vitreous china is a glazing technique that is added to porcelain. It is a glass-based enamel coating that increases durability and shine. The acquisition provides future growth opportunities for the Gerber brands by increasing vitreous china capacity in North America and diversifying the company's supply base. With this partnership, the company will continue to improve the supply of vitreous china products throughout North America. NAMCE’s facility houses advanced manufacturing equipment and allows Gerber to reduce lead time as it provides an established, successful manufacturing plant closer to its core North American market. The extended capabilities will support growth into supplementary segments of the market.

AQMAT Veteran Passes Away

Claude Dagenais, retired sales manager of AQMAT, has passed away at the age of 78. He worked with the organization for 30 years and devoted his career to the hardware industry. He is survived by his wife, Monique Lefebvre Dagenais; his mother, Georgette René; his children, Josée and Francis; and grandchildren. A memorial will be held today at La Maison Darche, Dignity Memorial in Chambly, QC.

McIsaac Named Hilti CEO

Martina McIsaac will be region head and chief executive officer of Hilti North America, effective January 1. She is currently general manager of Hilti Canada and has been with the company since 2013.

September 5, 2019

Millennials To Drive Consumer Trends

Global consumer trends are evolving at an unprecedented pace. In Canada, the population is becoming increasingly heterogeneous with Millennials representing a significant part of the population, says Infiniti Research. Millennials are considered to be extremely dynamic in terms of their shopping habits, making it highly challenging for brands to effectively capture their brand loyalty. One of the most common Millennial consumer trends is the use of smartphones and mobile devices to browse through products and shop. The purchase decisions of Millennial consumers are largely influenced by social media or what they read about a product online. Furthermore, retailers also have to deal with a more diverse set of consumers with a much broader set of needs. Responsible consumerism is a popular consumer trend that will soon go mainstream in Canada. As the ease of buying goods of their choice increases, modern consumers will now favour brands that help them make more responsible and better choices. Other trends include personalized experience and on-demand shopping and an increased focus on health and wellness.

Strong Demand Forecast For LED Table Lamps

The global LED table lamps market size is expected to reach US$13.37 billion by 2025 registering a compound annual growth rate of 15.2 per cent, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Rising demand for energy-efficient lighting systems owing to increasing awareness about global warming is the key factor driving the product sales. In addition, growing popularity of smart homes is propelling product demand. The commercial application segment led the global LED table lamps market in 2018 and will retain its dominant position throughout the forecast years. However, decorative lamps are expected to be the fastest-growing as well as the largest product segment during the forecast years. The offline distribution channel is the largest segment, but the online segment will expand at the maximum growth rate from 2019 to 2025, says the report.

CertainTeed’s Matterhorn Roofing Available In Canada

CertainTeed’s Matterhorn metal roofing is now available throughout Canada. This product utilizes mottling, chiseling, and other techniques to replicate the look of real wood shake, quarried slate, and traditional clay tile roofing, in a deep-drawn steel format that is lightweight, fully recyclable, and energy-efficient. It also features an anti-corrosive proprietary paint coating system and 16 cool roof-rated colours that reflect up to 66 per cent of the sun’s rays. The design features Class 4 impact resistance, Class A fire resistance, and a 130-mph wind rating. As well, CertainTeed offers roofing companies the opportunity to participate in its education-based Metal Roofing Contractor Credential Program, which provides contractors with information and training on how to install Matterhorn to the manufacturer’s specifications.

ARAUCO To Acquire Prime-Line

ARAUCO, a global producer of wood products, has signed an agreement to acquire Prime-Line, Inc., a privately-held manufacturer of medium density fibreboard (MDF) moulding and millwork products. The acquisition will strengthen ARAUCO’s presence in the North American moulding industry with an integrated solution that enhances its ability to provide customers with value-added products. In 2014, Prime-Line expanded and built a state-of-the-art plant on a site adjacent to ARAUCO’s MDF plant in Malvern, PA. The 100,000-square-foot facility includes three fully automated moulding lines with an installed annual capacity of 135,000 m3. ARAUCO has been a long-time partner of Prime-Line and has been its primary supplier of MDF panel for many years.

Otimo Acquires XCCommerce

Otimo Retail, a Montreal, QC-based private investment firm focused on retail technology, has acquired XCCommerce. XCCommerce provides performant omni-channel promotion and coupon solutions. Otimo Retail also benefited from the funding and strategic support of Desjardins Capital as an institutional investor in the acquisition of XCCommerce. By joining forces and combining the breadth of their expertise, Otimo Retail and XCCommerce now offer retailers the power to optimize their promotional and coupon initiatives within a unified commerce approach.

Wallace Moves Up

Rob Wallace is vice-president, marketing, at Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, he was senior director, marketing.

September 4, 2019

Purchase Prices Affect Retail Lumber Prices

Canadian retail prices for framing lumber rose 34 per cent in 2018 compared to 2016 driven by a confluence of factors in the commodity markets, says Statistics Canada. This increase contributed to higher construction costs for new residential buildings observed in 2018 across many regions. Canadian wholesalers and retailers of lumber largely passed on cost pressures originating from commodity markets to consumers. The retail price increase for lumber was due to rising purchase prices which increased 32 per cent during the same time. From 2013 to 2015, relatively stable selling prices were recorded averaging $3.1 per unit. Selling prices of framing lumber peaked in July of 2018 averaging $4.7 per unit followed by a sharp decline in the latter half of the year. This decrease was mainly due to supply increases in the commodity markets and reduced demand for lumber in the U.S. housing market. Wholesalers also reported similar price trends as retailers. The average wholesale selling price of framing lumber (per thousand board feet) rose 33 per cent in 2018 compared to 2016, consistent with the rise in purchase prices faced by retailers during this period. Wholesalers also experienced rising producer prices and passed the higher costs to retailers. From 2013 to 2018, wholesale gross margins for framing lumber ranged between six and 14 cents of every dollar of sale with peaks in 2013, 2015, and 2018.

Canada To Invest In Wood Plastic Composite Development

The government of Canada and the ministry of natural resources are investing $800,000 for the University of Waterloo to develop a thin structured wood plastic composite for use in construction, automotive, and packing applications. This investment will use recycled plastics, reduce burdens on landfills, and reduce the cost of production, while providing new market opportunities for Canada's forest sector. Converting forestry waste materials into wood-plastic composites can reduce the use of carbon and other rubber components in production, which will provide both energy and cost savings. This project is funded by Natural Resources Canada's Clean Growth Program, which invests in clean technology research and developmental projects in Canada's energy, mining, and forest sectors. The Clean Growth Program also aims to reduce greenhouse gas and air-polluting emissions, while minimizing landscape disturbances and improving waste management practices.

Johnson Controls Launches Retail Anti-theft Solutions Line

Johnson Controls’ global retail solutions portfolio, Sensormatic Solutions, has unveiled a line of Sensormatic Essentials Radio Frequency-based (RF) anti-theft solutions. Building on its Acousto-Magnetic (AM) electronic article surveillance (EAS) technology and RFID-based EAS and LP offerings, the company now provides retailers a single solution regardless of their technology choice and store format. The Sensormatic Essentials RF product portfolio provides a visual deterrent and wide exit coverage to support a variety of storefront entrances. Retailers can also choose from a range of RF sensors and labels to suit a variety of product categories. The RF portfolio will leverage the Google cloud-based sensormatic shrink management as a service (SMaaS) platform for improved equipment uptime and data analytics to help reduce shrink, combat organized retail crime (ORC), and improve sales and staffing.

Square Unveils Portable POS Terminal

Payments and point-of-sale company Square has launched Square Terminal, a portable, all-in-one payments device for Canadian sellers to ring up sales, accept all forms of payment, and print or eMail receipts. Built in-house and in part by hardware engineers in Square’s Toronto, ON, office, Square Terminal is a dedicated payments device for a wide range of sellers who don’t want to use a consumer device such as a smartphone or tablet as a business tool. Battery-powered with both Wi-Fi and Ethernet internet connections, the device can take payments at or beyond a countertop and even works when internet service is temporarily unavailable.

Foltz Promoted To Director

Mark Foltz is director of retail and national accounts with Boral Building Products. In this role, he will execute all sales strategies for retail and national accounts, as well as international accounts and architectural services. He has 28 years of experience in the building products industry.

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