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Armstrong acquires Simplex Ceilings

BY HBSDealer Staff

Lancaster, Pa.-based Armstrong World Industries has acquired Intalite Inc., operating under the name Simplex. The acquisition will strengthen Armstrong’s capabilities in the North American specialty ceiling market and supports the company’s growth strategy, including the expansion of its global leadership and manufacturing presence in targeted markets.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Simplex will become part of the Armstrong Building Products division.

"The acquisition of Simplex expands our technical capabilities, broadens our extensive specialty ceilings portfolio and improves our service and lead times for customers in North America,” said Mike Shirk, VP of Armstrong Architectural Specialties Worldwide. “Simplex is a respected company in specialty metal ceilings with a strong team that understands the importance of responsiveness and practical design solutions. That’s what our customers are telling us they need. Simply put, our strategy is to offer the broadest set of innovative ceiling solutions with market-leading service and quality. Simplex is a great fit."

Montreal, Quebec-based Simplex designs, develops and manufactures specialty metal ceiling systems for a variety of market segments and applications, with sales primarily in the United States and Canada.

Armstrong World Industries designs and manufactures floors, ceilings and cabinets. In 2010, the company’s consolidated net sales were about $2.8 billion.

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Next up in the digital sweepstakes: MyLowes.com

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The race for the winning e-commerce formula continues. The latest effort comes from Mooresville, N.C., where the nation’s second-largest home improvement retailer is taking a holistic approach to engaging customers across channels.

Lowe’s launched its MyLowes Web-based tool last month and described it as a digital effort to help consumers maintain, manage and dream about home improvement.

“Customers expect to be engaged and in control throughout the entire home improvement experience — from inspiration to enjoyment,” said Tom Lamb, Lowe’s senior VP marketing and advertising. “MyLowes will enable our customers to track and manage their homes all in one place, and it will allow Lowe’s employees to be better equipped to help meet the needs of our customers.”

One key feature of the “integrated online experience” is its ability to allow customers to automatically track and store their purchases along with their customer profile online.

The company said customers can expect additions to the tool. It already offers features such as:

• A MyLowes card or key fob to track in-store purchases online;


• Home profile to create rooms and store floor dimensions, product details and notes;


• Folders and lists to organize products, projects and ideas;


• Purchase history from all purchase points;
and

• Paint formula tracking after checkout.

The MyLowes tool follows on the heels of the company’s new marketing slogan: “Never stop improving.”

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Reading between the data, optimism at home summit

BY HBSDealer Staff

Chicago — Mixed macroeconomic signals lurked behind many of the charts displayed at the Home Improvement Research Institute’s (HIRI’s) Industry Summit last month. But presenter J. Walker Smith stressed that the fault lies in ourselves, not the economy. He pointed to several companies outside the home improvement industry that have shown amazing growth — Apple, Hyundai and Zappos, for instance. “These companies have shown unprecedented success during the third-worst downturn in U.S. economic history,” said Smith, executive chairman of The Futures Co. He described innovation as the best antidote for sustained down markets.

Relative optimism for the home improvement market continued from an unlikely source: Zelman & Associates, a firm made famous by bearish and accurate outlooks on home builders before the downturn.

“Just like we were early on in the bust, the data supported the bust,” said Dennis McGill, director of research for Zelman & Associates. “And we feel the data today supports something more optimistic.”

“At some point, we have to get up to 1.3 million [starts],” McGill said.

The two-day event coincided with the release of the Commerce Department’s residential construction report, which showed a 15% increase in starts, countered by a 5% decline in permits, he said. “The housing starts numbers were good,” said presenter Joshua Rosenbaum, director of the Global Industrial Group at UBS. “Whether it’s real — we’ll find out next month.”

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