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Founder of Rickel Home Centers dies at 90

BY Kate Fazzini

Alvin M. Rickel, founder of Rickel Home Centers, died Jan. 15 at the age of 90.

Rickel’s son, Larry, called his father an “innovator” who launched some now-familiar concepts decades ago, such as the 100,000-square-foot all-in-one home improvement store and kitchen and bath showrooms.

“People couldn’t afford to have somebody do it for them, so he encouraged the idea that even for large projects, they could do it themselves,” he said. “My dad always loved doing business, and he was always very involved in the day-to-day business operations at the stores.”

Rickel served in the Army Air Corps. during World War II, where he got his first taste of supply chain management working as a supply sergeant in the South Pacific. After the war, he opened the first Rickel Home Center in Union, N.J. He started the business with his brothers, Bob and Mort, using a G.I. Bill loan.

The chain grew to more than 100 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Rickel Home Centers was purchased in 1969 by Supermarkets General Corp. and thrived for many years. But faced with heavy competition in the 1990s by warehouse stores, the chain’s store count eventually dwindled to around 40, and in 1997, the company’s board of directors decided to close its doors.

Always the businessman, Larry noted that even after his retirement, Rickel served as a consultant to some of the warehouse home improvement chains and later purchased a store in St. Croix, where he and his wife vacationed in retirement. Rickel also remained very active in the community, including serving on the board of trustees for Congregation Bnai Jeshurun in Short Hills, N.J.

Rickel is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ailene; children, Kyle and Tom Einhorn and Stephanie and Larry Rickel; grandchildren, Emily and Lewis Liebert, Joshua, Lindsay and Zachary; brother, Robert; and sister, Miriam.

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CCA Global Partners names co-CEO

BY HBSDEALER Staff

CCA Global Partners, the flooring and home improvement parent of Carpet One and Flooring America, has announced the appointment of Rick Bennet to the role of co-CEO.

Bennet will serve alongside co-CEO and chairman Howard Brodsky.

Bennet formerly served as president and CEO of department store chain Kaufmanns, as well as president and CEO of Famous-Barr department stores in St. Louis, where CCA Global Partners is headquartered. He served with May Department Stores for 27 years.

More recently, Bennet was president and CEO of Direct Holdings Worldwide, an international direct marketing business.

In addition, Bennet is on the board of directors of Drugstore.com and vice chairman of the Glacier National Park Foundation.

“I find Rick to be an outstanding individual and a person I look forward to working with,” Brodsky said. “I have gotten to know Rick very well. He is a strategic thinker, tactical operator and a developer of people.”

CCA Global’s former co-CEO, Alan Greenberg, died in August 2007 after a battle with cancer. He was 64.

Bennet currently lives in St. Louis and will be based out of CCA’s St. Louis headquarters.

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Commercial building shows signs of slowing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Commercial starts in the United States grew in 2007 by 11.2 percent, but the year ended with curtailment of building activity in the last three months, according to Reed Construction Data.

Retail and office construction both experienced strong gains in December, increasing 37 percent and 29 percent, respectively, over the previous month. Industrial building starts grew by 10 percent, mostly due to new hospitals. Financing holdups during October and November may have delayed starts and boosted December’s numbers, Reed analysts said.

Highway work fell 26 percent during December, and heavy engineering construction declined 23 percent.

The final quarter of 2007 recorded a 17.6 percent drop in construction activity compared to the previous three months. This decline was attributed to more than the usual winter slowdown.

Looking forward, Reed Construction predicts that starts of commercial buildings in 2008 will be restrained by higher financing costs, tighter credit standards and a slowdown in the economy.

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