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Ace lays off 20 corporate employees

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware confirmed Feb. 19 that it has laid off 20 corporate employees from various support areas of the company, effective immediately.

“This action was taken to help bring corporate expenditures in line with Ace’s revised bottom line operating expenses, which is compounded by the continued slowdown of both wholesale and retail sales due to the current soft economy and lackluster housing market,” the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said in a statement to Home Channel News.

“While we regret that these few select positions were eliminated, it will not impact our ability as a company to service our Ace retailers and, in turn, their customers,” the statement said. Although Ace did not specify which positions had been affected, HCN has learned that some of those laid off were field representatives.

One of the former employees who was informed of his termination on Monday said he was told the cuts were related to the company’s effort to return equity to $320 million, the co-op’s equity level before its $152 million accounting error. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said various field representative positions were among the cuts.

The announcement comes six months after Ace discovered the shortfall in its accounting books, which the company recently confirmed was the result of discrepancies between its general ledger and inventory records. Ace made no comment about whether the layoffs were related to the shortfall.

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Sherwin-Williams buys Ohio-based paint maker

BY HBSDEALER Staff

United States paint giant Sherwin-Williams has acquired Grove City, Ohio-based Becker Powder Coatings, according to Business First of Columbus, Ohio. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Becker Powder Coatings is a division of Sweden-based AB Wilh. The company makes powder paints for appliances, decor items, electronics and furnishings. Becker had 2007 sales of approximately $14 million.

In turn, AB Wilh will buy the Chicago-based coil coatings business of Sherwin-Williams. Terms of that deal also were not disclosed.

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ProDealer Conference and NLBMDA Industry Summit merge

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Washington, D.C The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and the ProDealer Conference (presented by Home Channel News) announced the merger of their two annual industry conferences: the HCN ProDealer Conference and the NLBMDA Industry Summit.

The new combined conference, renamed the ProDealer Industry Summit, will be held Oct. 1 to 4, 2008, at the Westfield Marriott Resort in Chantilly, Va., and will be jointly run by both organizations.

“We are excited to bring together two great conferences for the overall benefit of the industry,” said Diane Swenson, new president of the NLBMDA.

“Both conferences have served the industry quite well,” said Jeff Arlen, publisher of Home Channel News. “The ProDealer Conference has grown significantly over its 11 years, and the NLBMDA Industry Summit has been a success for more than 21 years.”

“We will now be able to offer to the industry a single event, combining all of the benefits of each conference, while delivering more value to the vendors and manufacturers who support these events,” said Jim Reynolds, managing director of the ProDealer Conference.

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