10 products seen at the National Hardware Show


The home improvement industry called Las Vegas home for three days in May. That’s when the National Hardware Show was in town, kicking off with a marching band and confetti explosion on Tuesday morning May 6.

The National Hardware Show cleverly promoted itself as 15 shows in 1 in 2014, with new areas of emphasis — emergency preparedness and energy efficiency among them. The event’s popular Tailgate section, which has grown steadily over the years, was back with more activities, and a soon-to-be announced Tailgate product of the year.

The following products were part of the discussion. And in this case, what happens in Vegas will continue to impact retailers and manufacturers throughout the year.


1. Black + Decker 20V MAX Drill/Driver with AutoSense Technology

“Go big or go home” seems to be the prevailing ethic at this year’s National Hardware Show, though going big and going home seems more appropriate for the pinnacle event of the hardware retailing industry. In this particular case, “going big” entails big, heavyweight brands like Black + Decker, which may very well command the spotlight in 2014.

Black + Decker is notable this year for a couple of reasons: It just finished rebranding itself for 2014, and it’s also in the process of generating buzz for a few new cordless power tools, which feature a 20V MAX lithium-ion battery for extended runtime.

To absorb the full meaning of these happenings at Black + Decker, be sure to check out the 20V MAX Driller/Driver with AutoSense Technology, which minimizes stripped screws and work-surface damage by using an electronic clutch that knows to stop when a screw is in place. It also touts other smart features, such as an LED work light and a battery status indicator.


2. Energetic Lighting Big E Bulb

If you’re not completely up to date on the law of the land — particularly where light bulbs are concerned — expect to have someone fill you in on the final phaseout of the incandescent, which went into effect on Jan. 1.

In light of the manufacturing ban, retailers are focusing their attention on the wide knowledge gap among consumers, many of whom are uninformed about the law and the available alternatives.

Innovative LED bulbs like this one from Energetic Lighting are a hot topic for the reasons above; for retailers, there’s an opportunity to impress customers with energy-efficient alternatives that are significantly more advanced than the LEDs and CFLs they thought they knew.

The Big E Bulb works as a replacement for 400-watt metal halide bulbs, using only 200 watts and boasting higher lumen maintenance, instant-on/restrike and cooler running temperature, which reduces heating and air conditioning bills.


3. Crescent Switchblade

Securing another point for the multi-function family is the Crescent Switchblade, a compound-action cutting tool with interchangeable blades.

Two quick-change pins make it possible to easily snap in (and snap out) one’s blade of choice.

It also comes with a handy storage pouch, making it the tool of choice for jobs that might take one far away from the toolbox.

The blades (and possibilities) include a standard multi-purpose blade, a cable cutter, a plier head and a straight blade for cutting through sheet metal and ductwork. The multi-purpose blade is capable of cutting rope, shingles, vinyl tiles and sidings, as well as plastics — it also includes a bottle opener, wire cutter and bender.


4. Carlson Pet Products Design Studio Pet Gate

Pet will be huge in 2014. But don’t take our word for it — make some time to visit one of several pet exhibitors on the show floor this year.

If we had to pick just one, we’d pick Carlson Pet Products for its highly specialized line of pet gates. The company’s story began when it realized how many people were still using baby gates for their pets; thus, a better solution was born.

Its all-steel, lead-free and non-toxic materials stand up well to the chew test, and the product assortment is wide enough to accommodate varying heights and openings. There’s even a solution that allows cats to come and go with ease while keeping larger dogs at bay.

The Design Studio series takes looks into consideration with its premium decor wood construction, but doesn’t skimp on any of its more utilitarian features. This extra-wide model covers openings ranging from 40 ins. to 70 ins. wide and functions as a freestanding or pressure-mount gate.


5. Zippo Outdoor Utility Lighter

It’s true — Zippo is expanding its wares to make its mark on the outdoor and camping equipment market.

In case you missed it, the collection launched last spring, but it’ll be here in full force at the 2014 National Hardware Show.

Perhaps best representing the iconic brand’s entry into the camping aisle is the Zippo Outdoor Utility Lighter, which does what Zippo does best, only with an additional layer of functionality added on.

The wind-resistant dual flame is built to handle rugged outdoor conditions. An adjustable flame dial, child-resistant safety button and metal construction complete the package.

Other items in the Outdoor collection include a lantern, hand warmers, torch, hand saw, grill implements and more.


6. Weber Summit S-670

If you miss your chance to secure a place at the prominent Tailgating section on the show floor, Weber will be one of the vicinity’s can’t-miss exhibitors among attendees who can only swing by for a drink or two.

High on its list of premier offerings this year is the Summit S-670, which features six stainless-steel burners, 60,000 BTU-per-hour input and 769 square inches of total cooking space.

But beyond its generous proportions, Weber is touting the stainless steel S-670 as a high-quality implement that’s built to last.

Among its other hardy features are cast-aluminum endcaps, 9mm stainless steel rod cooking grates for heat retention and crisp grill marks, and an individual burner ignition system for added control.


7. Base Brands Reduce SteelMate Trash Can

It’s 2014, which means that the popularity of the “stainless steel look” is hardly breaking news at this junction.

However, with products like the Reduce SteelMate Trash Can, hardware store retailers can get in on some of the action that building materials companies have been enjoying for so long.

Beyond its obvious, sleek visual appeal — which can be marketed as a complementary crowning touch to an existing stainless steel kitchen scheme — the SteelMate has a fitted lid that’s designed to hide any evidence of unsightly trash bags. Its touch-and-toss technology is also a boon for the functional-efficiency-minded.

Additionally, its intuitive nested stacking structure makes it easy for retailers to create appealing (and compact) in-store displays.


8. 3-in-One Multi-Purpose Oil

Here’s a rule of thumb to keep handy as you walk the show floor in Las Vegas: the smarter the product, the more it’s likely to do.

The 3-in-One Multi-Purpose Oil is no one-trick pony: It cleans, lubricates and it penetrates through rust. And it’s been doing so since 1894.

It also features a telescoping spout that opens up a world of access to all kinds of hard-to-reach places — but only when it’s needed.

Additional smart features include a clear product fill indicator that helps alert the user when the oil is running low.


9. Benjamin Moore Natura No-VOC Paint

The paint category in recent years has proved to be fertile ground for innovation and product development, and not just with fancy names of new colors.

Here’s the Natura brand from industry giant Benjamin Moore. The name suggests an environmentally friendly product, and the paint backs it up with zero VOCs, virtual odorlessness and lower total emissions. It even has the Green Good Housekeeping Seal.

But the key is the combination of the sustainability and environmental friendliness with high performance, hence the slogan, “Green Without Compromise.”


10. Champ Survival Sidekick 10-in-1 Multi-Tool

At the intersection of two trends of note is the Champ Survival Sidekick, which blends multi-functionality with emergency preparedness and about 10 other useful functions.

The Survival Sidekick features an AM/FM/Weather Radio that transmits emergency weather information when other sources are off-line.

It’s also a glass breaker and seatbelt cutter when it needs to be, as well as a hand-crank mobile device charger, 3 LED flashlight, distress light, magnetic base and compass.


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How much credit should be given to the co-op business model for the success of the independent hardware and building supply dealer over the last half century?

Fricklas earns lifetime award from roofing group


Richard Fricklas, FRCI, of Centennial, Colorado, received RCI’s Lifetime Achievement Award during its 29th International Convention and Trade Show in Anaheim, California.

Fricklas was honored for his lifetime of contributions to the education of three generations of roofing professionals.

Richard "Dick" Fricklas is a researcher, author, journalist and educator. He retired as director of the Roofing Industry Educational Institute (RIEI) in 1996, but continued to lecture and publish frequently. He is coauthor of the "Manual of Low-slope Roof Systems," now in its fourth edition, and has been a contributing columnist for RCI Interface, RSI and Buildings magazines. In addition, Fricklas helped develop RCI curriculum and taught roofing seminars at the University of Wisconsin.

Fricklas earned a master’s degree in physical chemistry from Rutgers University, and was a research and development chemist for Johns-Manville (JM) and Riegel Paper Corp., as well as director for JM’s Built-up Roofing Systems Institute (BURSI). He received a patent for a fire-rated vapor retarder system, codeveloped other patented product lines, and has worked with FM Global and UL on fire- and wind-rated roof systems.

At the RCI convention, Fricklas was also named a "Fellow" of RCI’s esteemed Jury of Fellows, an honorary title bestowed upon individuals who have demonstrated meritorious service. Other awards Fricklas has previously received from RCI include the Outstanding Educator Award and the William C. Correll Award.

RCI is an international association of building envelope consultants, whose members specialize in design, investigation, repair, and management of roofing, exterior wall and waterproofing systems. RCI regularly hosts education programs designed to demystify and explain the application of roofing, waterproofing and exterior wall technologies.


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How much credit should be given to the co-op business model for the success of the independent hardware and building supply dealer over the last half century?

NRF sees ‘made in USA,’ even in imports


A new report (titled "Rethinking Made in America in the 21st Century") from the National Retail Federation suggests that imports may contain more U.S. components than the label reveals.

That includes all imported products sold in the U.S., and the components could include any number of parts or content that support American jobs.

The reason why? Federal law provides that products can’t bear the "Made in America" or "Made in USA" stamp unless American workers manufacture the product and "all or virtually all" of the parts are made on home turf.

"This report looks at retailers’ worldwide sourcing of merchandise not just as a global supply chain but as a global value chain,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “It shows the value added at each step along the way, not just in manufacturing but from the initial concept to the finished product. Even in a product that says ‘Made in China,’ much of what goes into that product is ‘Made in America.’ That means millions of American jobs for American workers regardless of what the label might say.”

Among the study’s findings are some fairly staggering figures — apparel products contain over 70% U.S. value on average, and some foreign-brand automobiles contain up to 95% U.S. content, even though there are no U.S. cars with more than 75% U.S. content.

The iPod, as another example, has $162 in American content and $4 in Chinese content, though it’s labeled "Made in China."

Additionally, 11.2% of U.S. employment was sustained by global supply chains in 2008.

The report was prepared by Laura M. Baughman, a Washington economist specializing in international trade as well as president of The Trade Partnership.


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How much credit should be given to the co-op business model for the success of the independent hardware and building supply dealer over the last half century?