Content about In this Issue

January 29, 2014

Whether we’re in a boom or a bust economy, there’s no shortage of luxury items in the home channel — and in fact, brand equity for many of the nation’s high-end companies has only improved in recent years, with well-heeled customers virtually shielded from the squeeze of the recession.

Then again, when it comes to home improvement retailing, luxury can mean anything ranging from prohibitively expensive building materials to upscale flashlights that may only retail for a little under $200 — attainable enough for many middle-class Americans.

December 19, 2013

Roswell, Ga.-based Xlyem Group, maker of a variety of bath products for the home, named John Weinstein VP sales and marketing for the Xylem brand. 

"We're pleased to have someone with John's diverse industry background, as well as his keen sense of product design and sales experience with premium brands," said Xylem Group president Hal Weinstein, John's brother.

December 12, 2013

Beloit, Wis.-based ABC Supply, operator of 450 branches in 45 states, named Tony Vaden as chief information officer.

Vaden replaces Kathy Hendricks, who moved to a newly created post as executive director of customer connectivity for ABC Supply.

Vaden is an award-winning veteran of the information technology industry, and he will oversee all aspects of the information technology systems that support the company’s computing needs. 

December 10, 2013

The proliferation of the Sears Appliance & Hardware brand had been largely at a standstill for the past decade. That’s how long it had been since a new location had been built.

December 10, 2013

Have you been to a movie lately? After you buy your large tub of buttered popcorn, your tray of pretzels, cheese dip and Diet Coke (you wouldn’t want regular Coke with all its calories), the ponytailed 16-year-old behind the counter asks if you want a receipt. After you fill your tank, the pump asks: “Receipt? Yes or No.” Ditto for your ATM.

Someone, somewhere has wondered, “How much do we spend on these rolls of receipt tape?”

December 10, 2013

When Mansfield, Mass.-based Boston Cedar announced the kickoff for its new lineup of decking, railing and trim products, the moves were described collectively as a “Game Changer.”

The building products distributor brought in hockey legend Bobby Orr to help spread the word about its new suppliers: RDI, KOMA Building Products and Trex Co.

December 10, 2013

It’s still optimism, but it’s the kind of optimism that appears to be heading back to earth.

December 10, 2013

What does a humanitarian mission in Bangladesh have to do with the growth of an iconic American brand, or a new color scheme for American Standard?

Actually, a lot. And the connection between the three — and several other initiatives at Piscataway, N.J.-based American Standard Brands — revolves around relatively new CEO Jay Gould.

December 10, 2013

Weather typically becomes a greater consideration around this time of the year in wood products markets. From snowfall in the Northeast and Midwest to rains in the Southeast, their impact on both production and demand can be significant. The following is what some weather forecasters are expecting this winter.

December 10, 2013

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Like most of us, Alan Clark worries about the direction of legislation and politics. Like few of us, he got himself elected to the Arkansas state senate.

Clark, the VP and chief operating officer of two-unit Clark Lumber Co. in Hot Springs, Ark., is also the state’s senator for the 13th district. He was part of a wave of recent Republican party victories in Bill Clinton’s backyard. Clark’s legislative class has the first Republican majority in the Arkansas state legislature in 138 years.

December 10, 2013

The stakes are high for the nation’s independent retailers. And the competition is fierce. Stores around the country are fighting for their share of the housingmarket recovery in a highly promotional shopping environment.

December 10, 2013

Not everyone has the opportunity to work with their spouse. Pat and Susan Thorne have found a way to make it successful.

The two co-owners of three-unit Pat Thorne Lumber of Chillicothe, Mo., have discovered some ground rules that promote a healthy business.

December 10, 2013

Why is it taking so long for the Commerce Department to estimate housing starts?

Here we are in December, and the latest available stats date all the way back to August, when the Bureau’s estimate for total housing starts came in at a disappointing seasonally adjusted annual rate of 883,000.

December 10, 2013

During the recession years, a link emerged between rampant renovating and economic stagnation. You didn’t have to look too far to figure out why: More Americans were staying put in their homes, making the most of what they had with landscaping projects, kitchen remodels and redecorating sprees.

Now, with the industry poised on the brink of a housing recovery, yesterday’s home improvement trends continue to inform today’s market opportunities. In other words, America has begun the work of digging the skeletons out of its closet.

December 10, 2013

It’s been a busy summer and fall for HCN: Its editorial staff was taken to many corners of the great United States in pursuit of emerging brands and game-changing products. We were happy to see many industry heavyweights at several of the big trade shows this year, as well as a few hidden gems in the home improvement aisle. From old favorites to promising newcomers, here are a few highlights from the reporter’s notebook.

December 10, 2013

If you were hoping to launch your quick-drying spackle on Kickstarter last fall, you may have been out of luck. Or at least that’s how the story at Lockitron goes: In October 2012, co-founders Cameron Robertson and Paul Gerhardt took to TechCrunch to explain how their smartphone-enabled deadbolt was rejected by the crowdfunding platform for falling under the prohibited category of home improvement.

December 10, 2013

You can’t stop the weather, but you can sell a barrier.

The debate over the necessity of weather barriers is over — they’re necessary. But the question remains: Which barrier is best suited for any given project?

October 18, 2013

ELKIN, N.C. — The Weyerhaeuser mill in Elkin, N.C., is a classic Made-in-the-USA manufacturing story.

Raw material in the form of “stumpage” — the mill executive’s term for “logs”— lines up at one end of the 186 million-sq.-ft. facility. Rolling out at the other end are neatly stacked and wrapped pallets of Weyerhaeuser Edge OSB, as well as Weyerhaeuser Edge Gold (photo 1).

October 18, 2013

Button up your coat.

According to data gathered by Weather Trends International, provider of long-range weather guidance and sales analytics for businesses, much of the United States will trend colder than last year.

Things will likely get much wetter, also, across the South and East, according to the data.

Some temperature trends, meanwhile, are likely to depend on the time of day. Nighttime temperatures in the East are expected to run above normal levels, while daytime temperatures will be closer to normal, or even below normal trends.

October 18, 2013

Without some key elements of the packaging, the Little Big Shot has — in the words of its chief marketer and ambassador David Kurrasch — no shot at winning over the consumer during that all-important, first-impression in the aisle.

About the size of a golf ball, the brass nozzle with a ball-bearing control mechanism benefits from a blister pack that simulates the nozzle in action. The packaging shows one end of the nozzle attached to a hose, while the other end shoots a powerful spray of water.

October 18, 2013

The home automation industry is expanding rapidly. It’s projected to be worth more than $5.5 billion in 2016, according to Companies & Markets — and it’s not just the early adopters who are recognizing the appeal of the technology.

October 18, 2013

Before: If David and John Huntington, owners of Huntington Lumber & Supply Co., had known that their much-needed expansion would eventually bring them daily personal thanks from their customers, they might have gotten around to it much sooner. Despite the fact that the third-generation lumberyard in Hazlehurst, Miss., was overflowing past its 2,000-sq.-ft.

October 18, 2013

 

October 18, 2013

“What’s going on with China?” is a typical question among North American lumber buyers as they try to calculate the next move in their markets, especially in spruce-fir-pine. Wholesalers ask the question because, unlike those times when their customers are obviously looking to replenish stocks, there is no “feel” for when Asian customers will enter the market to purchase additional volumes. It just happens. Subsequently, lumber availability can dry up in a matter of minutes, and prices can leap when they appear most vulnerable.

October 18, 2013

“What’s going on with China?” is a typical question among North American lumber buyers as they try to calculate the next move in their markets, especially in spruce-fir-pine. Wholesalers ask the question because, unlike those times when their customers are obviously looking to replenish stocks, there is no “feel” for when Asian customers will enter the market to purchase additional volumes. It just happens. Subsequently, lumber availability can dry up in a matter of minutes, and prices can leap when they appear most vulnerable.