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Building supply dealer Meek’s tapped for massive Pensmore project

BY Ken Ryan

Meek’s Lumber and Hardware has been involved in some really big jobs in its 93 years, but its work with the Pensmore Estate in Springfield, Mo. — which, at 72,000 sq. ft. will be the fourth-largest structure in the United States when completed — is the granddaddy of them all.

Meek’s, which will supply Andersen windows, roof LVL beams, shingles and other supplies, was chosen in part because of its reputation in building supply materials in Missouri, as well as the relationship it has forged with Joe Huff, owner of Huff Construction, and the brother of Pensmore owner Steve Huff.

“I’ve lived in the Springfield area most of the time since the mid-1970s and have had many business dealings with Meek’s, all favorable,” Joe Huff said. “Meek’s has the resources to invest a great deal of time sourcing many uncommon building products that can be hard to find.”

Tom Buckner, district manager for Meek’s, added: “Pensmore was looking for one company that could source the vast majority of building materials that it needed for the project, and we are known for that one-stop shop.”

Huff’s primary business dealings have been with Tom Maher, who works in Meek’s Nixa, Mo., yard. “Tom has been a very valuable asset in the construction of Pensmore,” Huff said.

The Pensmore Estate, slated for completion in 2013, is constructed largely of three ultra-strong building materials — Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs); steel beams; and Boise Cascade Versa-Lam engineered wood beams and joists, which are manufactured at the right moisture content to eliminate twisting, shrinking and splitting, according to Denny Huston, VP sales at Boise Cascade Engineered Wood Products.

The concrete structure contains millions of additional reinforcing agents, tiny “Helix” steel spirals produced by PolyTorx of Ann Arbor, Mich. The twist-shaped fibers interconnect the concrete throughout and make the building much stronger and more durable.

The site of the Pensmore Estate is 90 miles from Joplin, Mo., scene of the horrific category 5 tornado in May 2011. Pensmore had been in the planning stages long before the Joplin tornado, but is designed to withstand a storm of that magnitude, Joe Huff said.

 

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At LMC, a billion-dollar campaign

BY HBSDEALER Staff

It’s an age-old fact of business: Small companies will promote the many virtues of being small. Large companies will promote the many virtues of being large.

A new marketing campaign from Wayne, Pa.-based Lumbermens Merchandising Corp. (LMC) represents a noteworthy recent attempt to appeal to both ends of the spectrum. The effort is rooted in four words: “billion dollar buying power.”

The LBM co-op, which ranked 2nd on the HCN Top 100 Distributors Scoreboard with total two-step sales of $2.79 billion, is emphasizing its collective buying power. “LMC has always held that the dealer’s name is most important in their local market,” the company said. “’The ‘Billion Dollar Buying Power’ kit supports the dealer’s marketing efforts with tools that inform customers they are doing business with a local independent that is also a competitive force with national buying power through LMC.”

According to LMC, its 1,200-plus dealers combine for more than $8 billion in annual retail sales.

The co-op is spreading the “billion dollar” word on the sides of trucks, on brochures and anywhere the local dealer has a contact with a customer. From the new lmcbuyingpower.com website: “LMC Dealers’ Buying Power provides the quality products professionals seek at a competitive price. For quality and price, builders, remodelers and tradesmen find more value for their business with LMC dealers’ yard than at a big box.”

 

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Lowe’s and RONA: Deal still on?

BY Brae Canlen

The unexpected departure of Robert Dutton, CEO of RONA for the last 20 years, has breathed new life into the possibility that Lowe’s will finally get its hands on Canada’s largest home improvement chain. Dutton stepped down on Nov.  9, two months after he and his board of directors fended off a takeover by Lowe’s. Dutton said he had new initiatives in store for the Boucherville, Quebec-based RONA, which put in a poor performance in its last quarter. While revenues held steady, profits fell to $5.1 million, from $47.8 million in the third quarter last year.

Dutton never got a chance to implement his strategic plan. While no reason was given for his sudden exodus, Montreal’s La Presse reported that Dutton resigned because RONA’s board was entertaining a new and better offer from Lowe’s: $15 per share, up from its original $14.50 offer.

Five days after Dutton left, Invesco Canada announced in a brief release that it plans “to requisition a meeting of shareholders of RONA Inc. for the purpose of removing RONA’s current directors and electing new directors in their place.” RONA has already scheduled a shareholders’ meeting in May 2013. Invesco owns about one-tenth of RONA, making it the company’s second largest institutional shareholder.

Although Dutton is gone, RONA’s acting CEO, Dominique Boies, is fighting back. On Dec. 6, he announced a proposal to streamline the company by reviewing all its formats and eliminating “non-core assets.” And in a press conference, Boies said that Lowe’s first acquisition offer to Dutton, made in 2011, was met with a counter offer: RONA could buy Lowe’s Canada instead.

Lowe’s already has 31 stores in Canada, and finding new sites to expand has proven to be difficult. But taking over RONA — a conglomeration of retailers, wholesalers, corporate and franchise stores operating under different banners and formats — will prove to be no cakewalk. RONA’s dealers and affiliated employee unions have already expressed opposition to a merger with Lowe’s. The Quebec government could also block the purchase.

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