A convention for a growing LBM Advantage
Purchasing power and economic forces were among the topics tackled by the LBM Advantage buying group at its Forest Products Conference in Baltimore. The event marked the group’s first conference since the acquisition of IBSA of Smithfield, N.C.
IBSA brings 225 Southeastern locations to LBM Advantage – for a total of 1,100 retail locations — and the increased footprint was celebrated at the event. “We carry a lot of clout with the manufacturers these days” notes Duncan Facey, VP of forest products. “The addition of the IBSA membership creates more geography and even bigger numbers that the mills are eager to compete for.”
Additionally, Mark Porter, president of Seattle-based Hampton Lumber Company, a longtime supplier and featured guest speaker at the event, addressed the crowd on topics of national fiber demand, environmental issues, and the high market prices that were the top story of 2017. “These prices just might be the new normal” continued Porter, citing export demand in an economy that has not yet realized the anticipated 1.4 million or more housing starts.
LBM Advantage will continue its dealer education series at their upcoming Annual Meeting and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 19-21. That event will officially celebrate and welcome the IBSA members, the co-op said.
Marketing 101: Change is good
Independent retailers are getting the message loud and clear: It’s time to adjust your message.
At two recent co-op markets, executives stressed the importance of upgrading, personalizing and localizing their marketing efforts.
In Chicago, True Value Company’s CEO John Hartmann described a shift in marketing strategy as the clear headline of the co-op’s proceedings. And in Indianapolis, Do it Best Corp. dealers heard that if they haven’t changed their marketing strategy lately, they’re probably doing something wrong.
True Value’s SVP of marketing David Elliott shared some background behind the co-op’s new marketing approach. There are tens of millions of people in the United States that have never had a relationship with a cable company. Plus, there are another 22 million people this year who cut the cord for cable or pay TV. At the same time, people are spending an average of three hours a day on their mobile devices. And consumers of all generations have their purchase decisions influenced by at least one digital touch point.
It’s no wonder, then, that Elliott, a New Zealander who worked with True Value CEO John Hartmann at Kiwi hardware co-op Mitre 10, believes that television is becoming increasingly less effective as a marketing medium. And it’s no wonder he’s a big believer in the power of digital tools.
“We’re shifting our marketing spend to a more localized and a more digital approach,” he told True Value dealers during the co-op’s General Session. “It will now be possible to customize promotions to greatly relevant products and components.”
Another big change, and one that generated spontaneous applause at the True Value General Session, was the announcement that the co-op plans to eliminate its national ad fees, which amounted to about 1.4% of each retailer’s warehouse purchases.
In Indianapolis, Do it Best VP of marketing Rich Lynch pointed to a national retail landscape facing upheaval and disruption like never before. Lynch identified a lesson that independent hardware stores would be wise to recognize.
“The thrivers and survivors have adapted to change and have adjusted their marketing strategies,” Lynch said during the Kick-Off presentation. “The others haven’t done that.”
Lynch also encouraged dealers to lean on the marketing data generated by rewards programs: “Intelligence is going to be the key to marketing going forward. The thrivers are going to gather it, embrace it, and use it to make wise decisions.”
Throwback Thursday: The ‘Q’ Program at work
The Feb. 8, 1988 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported a new store-design program from Portland, Maine-based Emery-Waterhouse. It was called The Golder Rule “Q” or “Quality” store program.
What made it stand out from a crowded field of other store design programs was its emphasis on the contractor customer.
Here’s how Emery-Waterhouse’s fixtures and fittings manager Ron Johnson described the idea behind the distributor’s design concept: “It’s of paramount importance to address the contractor business as well as enhancing the DIY,” he said.
Looking at the photo of the program’s first convert – Timbermart, an independent dealer in New Hampshire — one sees warm colors, a racetrack layout and tall fixtures. The dealer pointed to sales gains of 24% since the opening of the new 40,000 sq. ft. store.
Today, there is little trace of Timbermart of New Hampshire to be found online. Emery-Waterhouse, of course, was acquired by Ace Hardware Corp. in 2014.
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BONUS Throwback: Just under the photo of the Timbermart story on the front page of the 1988 issue, a Newsbreakers section reported the following headline: “Black & Decker bids $1.8 billion for American Standard.” American Standard successfully fought off a subsequent Black & Decker bid with a poison-pill anti-takeover strategy