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Cylinders blaze new trail at retail

BY HBSDEALER Staff

About two months after announcing a plan to bring its hand torch cylinders direct to retail and wholesale channels, Worthington Cylinders has signed deals with 10 North American retailers and co-ops, including several of the home channel’s biggest names.

United States retail outlets slated to carry the product include Blain’s Farm & Fleet, Do It Best, Lowe’s, Menards, Mills Fleet Farm, Sears, True Value and Wal-Mart. In Canada, the line will be carried by Canac-Marquis Grenier and Home Hardware.

The Worthington Cylinders-branded line of hand torch cylinders contain MAPP gas, propane, oxygen, or propylene, and offer compatibility with commonly used hand torches around the world. The hand torch cylinders are typically used by plumbing and refrigeration repair professionals and DIY specialists.

For more than 43 years, Worthington’s Chilton, Wis., facility has manufactured hand torch cylinders, which will now be branded with the Worthington Cylinders label. Recently, the cylinders have been sold under the Bernzomatic brand name, through a contract-manufacturer arrangement. The decision to introduce a direct-from-manufacturer brand was “a natural progression” for the company, according to Dusty McClintock, vp-sales for Worthington Cylinders. Worthington has offered other cylinder products direct to retail for more than two decades.

In the hand torch category, there’s no substitute for safety and experience, according to McClintock. “The key to making a pressure vessel—is safety,” he said. “We are carrying hazardous material, flammable material and under pressure, stored indoors. Good quality safe manufacturing is very important.”

This specialized product category of hand torches has seen a spurt of growth in the last six or seven years. “I’ll attribute that to the infatuation with home improvement,” he said. “These torches are making their way into the hands of the consumers.”

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Lowe’s execs eye lawn care items, eco-friendly products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs 14th Annual Global Retailing Conference, held today in New York, Patti Price, Lowe’s general merchandise manager for outdoor living, told investors and analysts what she expects will be trends to watch in the coming months.

“Because of drought [in some regions of the country], customers will be renovating their lawns,” Price predicted. Fall cleanup products and lawn care items are being promoted in Lowe’s stores, she said.

“We’ve had some real success in our holiday programs,” Price said. “We brought in John Deere. The merchants are so focused on moving the business ahead … we’re extremely well positioned for the back half of this year.”

Larry Stone, president and COO for Lowe’s, said new products that have been popular in Lowe’s stores include eco-friendly items and composite building materials.

“Something that’s really evolving, in my opinion, is all these composite products,” Stone said. “[There are] a lot of new products that customers want to use because they’re lower priced and lower maintenance.” Those products include composite siding, shutters and solid core composite flooring, he said.

Additionally, Stone said innovations in locksets, including keyless locks, have shown increased popularity in the home improvement market.

Stone spoke further on Lowe’s overall market position in the middle of a housing downturn, saying the company was “not happy with the negative 2.6 (percent) comps that we recorded” in the second quarter. He also said the company has seen weakness in big-ticket items, installed sales and special order sales.

However, Stone was optimistic about the next few years for the nation’s second largest home improvement retailer, adding, “Lowe’s will be well-positioned, once everything turns around, for further growth in the home improvement industry.”

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Dave Heine joins BlueLinx

BY HBSDEALER Staff

BlueLinx, one of the industry’s largest building materials distributors, has hired Dave Heine, the former vp-retail development at Do it Best. BlueLinx confirmed that Heine started this week as a senior national account executive, where he will call on Do it Best accounts and other independent dealers.

“I have worked with [Heine] for over 20 years as a customer and always admired his abilities, leadership style and integrity,” said BlueLinx president and chief operating officer George Judd.

Heine, a 28-year veteran of Do it Best, left in July after serving in a number of positions that included vp-lumber and building materials, vp-building products, vp-purchasing for pro and commercial products and manager of the lumber and commodities division.

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