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Friendly Batman or Dark Knight? Man arrested at big box

BY Brae Canlen

A man wearing a Batman-like mask cape and body armor was arrested outside a Mansfield, N.J.-area Home Depot after scaring a number of shoppers by approaching them to ask if he could help in any way.

According to an article in the Express Times, Matthew Argintar, 23, is part of a members-only group called Real Life Super Heroes (Reallifesuperheroes.org) that provides content on crime fighting, equipment and police scanner feeds.

Several Home Depot customers called 911 after Argintar began waving at children and offering assistance to people entering or exiting the store. Police speculated that last month’s movie theater shooting on the opening night of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Denver may have helped cause the panic.

Argintar told reporters at the scene that he normally only comes out in costume at night; this was his first public venture during daylight hours. His mission, he said, is to “inspire hope.”

Police charged Argintar with being disorderly and unlawful possession of handcuffs. He was taken to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation and was then released, pending an appearance Aug. 21 in Mansfield Township Municipal Court.

Mansfield Township police Lt. Michael Reilly said the charges were justified.

"The officers on scene determined why there were charges based on his behavior," Reilly told the newspaper. "He scared the heck out of the citizens."

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 3, 2012

*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.

Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.

Lumber: Good demand throughout the distribution chain kept upward pressure on SPF prices, particularly narrow widths. Yards reported selling healthy volumes, while wholesalers continued to purchase and sell at a consistent pace. Limited volumes shown by mills kept upward pressure on Southern Pine prices. Buyers again noted broken tallies at mills. Truss manufacturers have been instrumental in the market’s current upswing, while treaters have participated, but notably less than in the spring. Coastal species lumber prices continued to tilt upward, as demand outpaced production and mills maintained solid order files of two weeks and sometimes longer. Frustration with finding good random tallies was still prevalent with Inland species lumber buyers. Mill offerings continued to be bits and pieces, unless buyers were willing to book orders several weeks out. Business remained steady for Eastern White Pine, and producers’ order files were out two weeks or more on some items. Light volumes of Idaho White Pine were sold at current price levels. Activity for Ponderosa Pine boards remained quiet. Producers reported light but steady sales of #3 and #4, but #2&Btr was a struggle. Ponderosa Pine industrial lumber producers continued to struggle to find a home for the upper grades of Shop. The few sales that were made came with counters in the $15 to $25 range. Activity was a little better for #3 and P99. Sales of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr remained steady, and suppliers were able to maintain good order files. Steady to slower was how most Western Red Cedar traders described sales activity. The sluggish market left producers with little opportunity to raise prices. Orders often consisted of several items.

Panels: Order files and moderate demand propelled OSB prices upward. Decent sales activity in all regions strengthened the perception that the market still had wood to buy. Several Eastern Canadian producers went off the market towards week’s end. Lean inventories and better demand than what yards expected during the summer contributed to escalating prices in the Southern Pine plywood market. Adverse to those high prices, buyers are purchasing conservatively, subsequently forcing them to step back in to the market to purchase on a consistent basis. Western Fir plywood sales continued at a strong pace, elevating prices in some instances to levels not seen since October 2005. After a healthy run in the Canadian plywood market last week, the pace was subdued until midweek, when producers reported an increase in activity for both standard and selects. Particleboard and MDF sales were steady and prices were stable. Some mills carried MDF order files well into September. Others had lead times into the latter half of August. Particleboard order files were usually two weeks out.

For more on RISI, click here

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Like manager, like employee

BY Jathan Janove

The responsibility of full engagement does not fall solely on employees. An employee may be engaged in one organization or department and disengaged in another environment. Or, the employee may start off engaged and then slowly move into the disengaged, or transactional, category. Managers often hold the keys to whether employees are engaged or transactional because employees’ level of engagement often depends on the manager’s.

The transactional manager reduces the employer-employee relationship to a simple exchange: “I do my job. You pay me.”

The problem is revealed through the self-centered emphasis in the statement “I do my job.” Without understanding how his performance affects others, the transactional manager goes through the motions, doing what is minimally required to collect the paycheck. The transactional manager is territorial, reminding everyone what his job is and, more important, what it isn’t. He resists accountability by throwing blame to others. He will point out others’ mistakes to make himself look better. When a transactional manager says, “I’m sorry,” he undermines the apology by adding the word “but …”

By contrast, an engaged manager is “you-focused.” He will speak and act in ways that suggest employees’ success or failure is his success or failure. It’s the way a lawyer represents her client as if the lawyer’s freedom is on the line or the way a financial advisor gives advice as if his money is at risk.

Engaged managers ask, “What are your goals, needs and priorities? What problems can I help solve? How can I best use my skills to help you? Where can I add value?”

From transactional to engaged

To move your employees from transactional to engaged, start with yourself. Five keys separate an engaged manager from a transactional one:

Why, not how. Transactional managers tell employees what to do and how to do it. Engaged managers focus on why and trust employees with what needs to be done and how to do it. Engaged managers create a big-picture context for work responsibilities. They convey why the employee’s work is important to the company. When that message is received, the employee believes and performs as if the work is worth more than a paycheck. It becomes a mission rather than a job.

Open information flow. Many managers take a transactional approach to providing information, taking the attitude “I’ll tell them what they need to know when they need to know it.” Translation for employees? “Our manager tells us the minimum amount of information necessary because he doesn’t trust us.” Transactional managers usually don’t seek information from employees, either. In both directions, information flows in a trickle.

Engaged managers know that an open information flow helps employees do their jobs effectively and adds to their sense of belonging. And, engaged managers use information from employees to inform how they do their jobs.

When appropriate, engaged managers use a consultative decision-making approach. The manager asks the employee what he or she would do. If the recommendation is adopted, the manager gives credit. If not, the manager explains why and thanks the employee for the suggestion.

Direct recognition. Transactional managers are I-centered. Common sentiments include “My bosses never praised me, so why should I praise my employees? I knew I was doing my job well because I still had one. Your recognition is your paycheck.”

Engaged managers have wisely learned that giving direct recognition of a behavior worth repeating tends to increase the likelihood of such behavior.

Direct recognition is when the supervisor communicates directly to the employee, pointing out a behavior, acknowledging its value and thanking the employee.

Forward-focused. Engaged managers look forward. Instead of looking at who’s to blame, they ask what can be learned from mistakes and how to improve.

Engaged managers give “forward feedback.” They use the past as a springboard. These coaches dispense advice to maximize opportunities for employees.

Discipline and discharge. Transactional managers deal with transactional employees in a vacuum, not comprehending how their behavior affects overall productivity. The truth is, your workforce will never meet its engaged potential unless you’re willing to get rid of your transactional employees.

It comes down to the right fit. If you follow the first four keys and the employee is still mired in transactional behavior, he is miserable. Termination is not so much a “firing” as mutual recognition that the employer and employee will be better off once the latter transitions to employment that better suits him.

Transformation

Practicing the keys of engagement will turn you into an engaged manager of an engaged workforce. Engaged employees will become more highly engaged under your transformation. Transactional employees willing to transform will move into the engaged category. The rest will either transition to employment better suited for them or drag down someone else’s workforce.

Jathan Janove is a shareholder with Ogletree Deakins in Portland, Ore., and author of The Star Profile: A Management Tool to Unleash Employee Potential (Davies-Black Publishing, 2008).

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, at ToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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