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Amazon’s new, smart-home investment

BY HBSDealer Staff

Seattle-based Amazon has expanded its position in the smart-home accessories market with the acquisition of Blink, an Andover, Mass.-based tech startup that specializes in wireless home-security cameras and doorbells.

Blink, around since 2016, broke the news through a short statement on its web site. “If you own one of our systems, nothing changes for now. We’ll continue to operate under the Amazon umbrella selling and supporting the same great products you know and love,” Blink said in a statement.

The move positions Amazon to do battle other smart-home brands including Nest, a subsidiary of Google.

This past fall Amazon introduced its own Cloud Cam security system. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has also launched a new Amazon Key service in limited U.S. markets, allowing customers to unlock their door for package deliveries when not at home. 

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Helping Hands initiative works magic in S.C.

BY HBSDealer Staff

As part of AZEK Building Product’s Helping Hands initiative, the decking and trim manufacturer surprised a teacher at Beaufort High School with a new dock.

The Helping Hands initiative was launched last year to provide deserving families with a new deck or dock following the damage on the Southeast Atlantic coast following Hurricane Matthew.

According to AZEK, Heather Doray received news of the surprise in her South Carolina classroom. Her husband Rob Kintz was also on hand for the announcement. AZEK said it received submissions from both her aunt and mother, nominating Doray for her charitable personality and dedication to the community. Heather also nominated her husband Rob since the hurricane was a setback for their family and the new dock would be an unbelievable gift for their family.

Kintz had been renovating their house on St. Helena Island both before and after the hurricane, even after working long hours as an electrician. After all of the devastation they suffered, AZEK Building Products decided that this family deserved a new dock, the Skokie, Ill.-based company said.

"We were finally able to buy a piece of paradise with a dock, and two years later, hurricane Matthew hit and destroyed it. It was devastating the next day to wake up and see the damage from the storm," said Kintz. "We did not have the money to pay a dock builder, so the rebuild process would have been a slow one. Not only did AZEK replace the part that was destroyed, but AZEK replaced the entire dock. It means a lot to us that there are still companies out there like AZEK that give back to people in the community." 

AZEK partnered with Richard Knieriem, owner of Dick's Decks and Docks, to complete the 2,800-square foot dock that features the TimberTech Docksider Collection in Gray.

"We've been using TimberTech since we started the business two years ago because I like using composite," said Knieriem. "We love fixing docks and we love using this product – it's basically the perfect product – and Heather and Rob will really get to enjoy a beautiful, new dock with this material. I am pleased to have been a part of this great initiative. Helping others is what it is all about."

AZEK’s product lines include trim, deck, rail, moulding, porch and pavers, along with capped wood and composite decking and railing under the TimberTech brand.

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Advice: Take charge of your calendar

BY Joe Scarlett

How many times do we hear people exclaim, “I don’t have enough time”? There’s no time to accomplish this or that. I can’t possibly squeeze that trip in now. How can I make both the conference and my kid’s birthday? There’s only one way to avoid falling into this trap: Plan ahead—way ahead. Long-term planning will ensure people with differing agendas don’t sidetrack your life. 

It’s not as hard as it may sound. You’ve simply got to take charge of your calendar. Don’t let other people or unforeseen events control your time. Yes, certain emergencies will crop up, but as counter-intuitive as it sounds, the more planned you are the better you will be able to deal with them. Block off key events in your calendar as early as you can—don’t procrastinate. Also, learn when and how to simply say “no.”

A commanding annual plan will help you achieve the results you value most, and you can start right now. Remember it’s your life and your calendar, so take charge!

1. Company functions – You probably already know when big company events—sales meetings, strategic reviews and even the annual Christmas party—are scheduled. Check those key dates and put them in your calendar today so you don’t accidentally double-book yourself.

2. Industry functions – Most leaders at organizations attend outside functions like trade shows, conferences and professional meetings. These are typically scheduled years in advance so that’s a no-brainer: Book them in your calendar right now.

3. Professional development – We all should set aside meaningful time every year for our personal growth. Figure out what experiences you need to have and what topics you need to learn. Talk to your boss and maybe the HR department for counsel and support. Build a developmental plan and get it on the calendar before it falls through the cracks.

4. Personal time – Some of the most important dates and events lie outside of the professional realm, and it can cause undue stress on relationships when you forget a spouse’s birthday, for example. So, book those personal dates, anniversaries and annual traditions before you have to ask for forgiveness.

5. Family vacation – Last-minute vacations are tough to pull off and can unnerve family members. Give yourself some well-deserved time off—and something everyone can look forward to—by arranging the family vacation now. Make it fun—gather everyone around the calendar and get to work carving out a week of true downtime—before other priorities take the place of family time.

Plan as far in advance as you can. Review professional events with your boss so that your plans are clear; then move on to your personal agenda by proposing ideas and talking to those closest to you. You won’t complete your annual plans all at once, but the sooner you get started the sooner you can make decisions.

Of course we all need to allow for a little leeway—it’s life! But starting with a solid plan will help you stay on target. Set a date to complete your plans for the year. Then sit back and enjoy the surprising freedom that comes with thoughtful planning. 

Joe Scarlett is the retired CEO of Tractor Supply Company. For more on leadership, visit joescarlett.com.

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