A grab bag of home channel merchandise
BISSELL PowerFresh Steam Mop
BISSELL Homecare’s BISSELL PowerFresh Steam Mop features the Easy Scrubber brush to break up tough messes. The brush is located on the head of the mop and, when lowered, effectively scrubs out gummy substances, such as chocolate syrup, orange juice, soda and grape jelly. The mop’s SmartSet Steam Control allows consumers to steam at three levels: from low for delicate flooring to high for wet and tacky messes. It also removes 99% of germs and bacteria when used as directed and offers the user the option to leave behind a Spring Breeze scent as he or she cleans. (bissell.com)
DAP Products has introduced the newly formulated DAP 3.0 line, which is paintable and water-resistant in 30 minutes. It is low odor, VOC-compliant and backed by a lifetime guarantee. Designed to address a wide range of sealing applications in kitchens and baths, around windows, doors, trim and siding, and on concrete and masonry surfaces, the new line of project-oriented sealants includes several formulations: DAP 3.0 Kitchen, Bath & Plumbing Sealants; DAP 3.0 Window, Door, Trim & Siding Sealants; and DAP 3.0 Self-Leveling Concrete & Masonry Sealant. (dap.com)
Grip-Rite’s PROLOK is a new line of rebar and mesh chairs, which features patented locking heads. No tie wire or bar ties are required since it locks automatically, saving money and time. Three new products are available: High Chair, Tilt-Up Chair and Sandplate Base. The lightweight products are stackable for multi-layer grids, reflective for low-light projects and contribute to earning LEED points. PROLOK Rebar + Mesh Chairs are suitable for a variety of construction applications, including commercial and residential, parking lots, parking garages and patios. (primesourcebp.com)
Energizer MAX brand batteries with Power Seal Technology
Energizer has introduced its Energizer MAX brand batteries with Power Seal Technology to the United States. Power Seal Technology was first launched in Asia in 2009. Power Seal Technology gives these batteries better power retention to hold power longer. Improvements include a stepped can construction to improve clamping effectiveness, a sealant application, nylon ring seal insertion, and improved storage and drying processes to reinforce the sealing effect before packing. Several months ago, Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries got a power boost with a re-tooled formula, including improved materials and construction. (energizer.com)
Indow Windows are custom-fit window inserts that provide insulation and the energy savings of double-paned windows at one-half to one-fifth the cost. Indow Windows are now available nationally for home-performance contractors and others in the residential and commercial remodeling sector. The initial dealer installation is fast, clean and simple, with no need to install an interior frame or bracket. Once installed, the inserts provide a tight seal against cold winter drafts and hot summer air, reducing energy costs and increasing homeowner comfort. They are composed of sheets of light and strong acrylic glazing edged with the company’s patented compression tubing. After being installed by an authorized Indow Window Dealer, homeowners can remove the thermal window inserts and press them back inside their window frames. (indowwindows.com)
Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 5-in. Random Orbit Sander
Makita has expanded its lineup of 18V Lithium-Ion cordless tools with the new 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 5-in. Random Orbit Sander, model LXOB01. It has three speed settings (7,000/9,500/11,000 OPM) that are changed with a one-touch electronic control switch. The large 1/8-in. random orbit action is engineered for efficient sanding, fast material removal and a swirl-free finish. The pad brake reduces free-spin, and a control system regulates pad speed at start-up. The LXOB01 will run up to 40 minutes at the low speed setting and up to 20 minutes on high speed on a single battery charge. Other features include an ergonomically designed body and grip that weighs 3.6 lbs. The through-the-pad dust collection system helps provide a cleaner work surface. The dust-sealed switch and oversized sealed ball-bearing construction are engineered for longer tool life. (makita.com)
Rockler Reusable Silicone Glue Application Kit
Rockler unveiled its 3-Piece Silicone Glue Application Kit, a brush, spreader and tray set made of flexible silicone material that make the tools easy to clean and re-use. The silicone rinses clean of wet glue with warm water, and dried glue cracks and peels off. The kit is useful in a wide variety of glue application tasks, from joinery to edging. The brush is 7 in. long and features the brush on one end with flexible silicone bristles and a tapered paddle on the opposite end for detail work. The spreader is 2-1/2 in. tall by 4 in. long, and the tray is 3-in. wide by 5-1/2 in. long. (rockler.com)
RotoZip has introduced its new Spiral+ tool, RotoSaw+, optimized for more power, control and versatility. RotoSaw+ offers maximum performance in a variety of building materials, including hard wood, rebar and granite. It eliminates the need for multiple tools by doing the work of several in one. It can be used as a cutout tool, a cutoff grinder, a flush-cut saw and a hole saw. When paired with the appropriate attachment and accessory, RotoSaw+ replaces such tools as tile-cutting wet saws, jigsaws or power shears (for sheet metal). Its 6.0A motor powers through dense, difficult materials, while variable speed enables users to quickly slow the tool down from 30,000 RPM to 15,000 RPM. Soft-grip housing and an upfront ON/OFF switch provide additional support, while helping reduce user fatigue. (rotozip.com)
New players on the farm
Among the top 10 companies on the 2012 Home Channel News Industry Scoreboard, none grew faster than Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply. The farm-and-ranch lifestyle provider showed a 16.3% sales increase and an overall ranking of seventh on the Top 300 retailer list.
Rural King Supply of Mattoon, Ill., moved up the list from 25th to 22nd. Also moving up the rankings were Atwood Ranch & Home of Enid, Okla., and Bomgaars Supply of Sioux City, Iowa.
One group of interested participants is Wall Street investors. They’ve pushed the prices of Tractor Supply shares (ticker symbol TSCO) steadily upward, from under $40 two years ago to $94.50.
And they’re not the only ones taking notice of the sales opportunities in the farm-and-ranch market.
“It’s clearly a trend that we see on the rise in the industry,” said Sonya Ruff Jarvis, VP attendee programs for the National Hardware Show. As a result, there will be some noticeable changes in this regard at the May 7 to 9 event in Las Vegas.
“Many retailers and distributors are looking to expand — or have already expanded — their product offerings to include farm and ranch,” said Ruff Jarvis. “And the National Hardware Show wants to make sure that we supply these buyers with more of these types of products.”
Based on the market research, the event is creating for the first time a distinct farm-and-ranch area on the show floor. It will be located in the Lawn & Garden Outdoor Living area. A Farm & Ranch icon (carrying the iconic images of a barn, silo and fence) has been added to the show’s collection of category icons that include “Hardware & Tools,” “Homewares” and Plumbing & Electrical.”
While definitions of farm and ranch vary slightly across the business, the National Hardware Show will feature products, including animal/pet health, fencing, farm hardware and tools, and the classic feed and seed.
In Salt Lake City, another example of increased emphasis on the farm generated some show-floor excitement at the True Value Fall Market in the form of dogs, chicks and Peaches and Cream, a mother-daughter miniature horse family.
Kevin Rewerts is divisional VP merchandising for automotive-pet-farm and ranch for the Chicago-based co-op and the architect of True Value’s expansion into farm.
True Value believes that its distribution expertise has been underused in this area, and it sees its 12 distribution centers as the foundation for growth in this category.
“We’ve been telling our stores that the secret to our business is we have the products that they want, and they can buy them when they want it, and in the quantities that they want,” Rewerts said. “They can buy one piece or a thousand pieces, and we can meet their needs.”
Rewerts, who came to True Value from farm-and-ranch supplier Central Garden & Pet, said not every retailer should jump on the ranch bandwagon. But he added that it’s not a stretch to suggest that every retailer should have some representation of the broader category of pet and automotive.
“We’ve always said: ‘Don’t just get into [farm and ranch] just because we’re getting into it,’ ” Rewerts said. “If you’re not in it now, there’s probably a reason. But if there’s an opportunity for you, let us guide you.”
True Value, in turn, has been guided by a retail advisory council, representing a total of about 150 locations. Among the feedback was the suggestion that equine grooming could be scaled back.
Larger trends include backyard birding, an industry term for raising chickens, and the grow-your-own-food trend inside and outside cities.
“It’s the rural lifestyle,” Rewerts said. “The lifestyle typically has one or two dogs and two to four cats. They tend to do a lot of their own auto and car repairs. That’s the lifestyle.
“And what we’re providing here is category management, which is so needed in this industry.”
In upstate New York near the Vermont border, True Value member John Rieger operates Country Living Center in Greenwich, N.Y.
“People are reverting to gardening, and we all have pets,” Rieger said. “Things are changing. Twenty years ago, did you hear of llamas? Did you hear of emus? They’re not so rare anymore.”
A potential big change for Country Living Center is the recent opening of a nearby Tractor Supply store.
“Tractor Supply will force the independent dealer like us to do our job better,” Rieger said. “They do a great job of marketing. They have beaucoup bucks behind them. But they don’t have the people we have in the store. When people spend their hard-earned money, they want to feel like they’re getting a value for that money. The personal touch is so important.”
Tractor Supply, sitting at the No. 7 spot of the Home Channel News Scoreboard, is the de facto standard for the retail category.
At Tractor Supply, executives point to a success driven by strong consumer demand for products that promote the farm-and-ranch lifestyle. But the company’s growth to a large extent depends on its ability to manage change and adapt quickly.
During the company’s second-quarter report, Greg Sandfort, who will replace Jim Wright as CEO on Jan. 1, described the company’s operations and execution this way:
“In the past few years, Tractor Supply has operated more effectively than at any time in its history,” Sandfort said. “This is best demonstrated by the fact that we’ve had 17 consecutive comp-transaction count increases, 14 consecutive quarters of double-digit EPS growth, 11 consecutive quarters of comp-sales increases, and 10 consecutive quarters of expense leverage.”
One-on-one with STAFDA executive director Georgia Foley
Georgia Foley has been the executive director of the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA) since 2000, but her involvement with the trade organization dates to when she was barely a teenager, when she helped her father — founder Morrie Halvorsen — run the operation out of the family basement.
Through the years, Foley has seen membership grow in numbers and stature even though STAFDA has maintained the same dues rates it first established in 1977.
Home Channel News recently spoke to Foley in advance of the 2012 STAFDA Convention & Trade Show, Nov. 4 to 6, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
What excites you about this year’s STAFDA convention?
There are a lot of things that excite me every year about our Convention & Trade Show. First, it provides the best opportunity for members to exchange ideas with not only companies from North America, but globally, while having the chance to attend an 800-booth trade show, where our manufacturers are showcasing their latest product line. We cram a lot into three days — including top business experts presenting educational workshops — giving attendees plenty of take-home value with minimal time out of the office.
If I am a distributor who is not sure whether to attend or not, why should I attend?
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked from distributors is: ‘What are you hearing from distributors in other parts of the country?’ One of the intangible benefits to a distributor who attends our convention is that he realizes he’s not alone. It doesn’t matter where he’s from, but by visiting with peers from non-competing markets, he has the opportunity to pick up an idea from another distributor, talk products or common business issues, or even commiserate on the economy. Plus, there is a good chance the majority of his vendors are at the STAFDA show, so that alone should encourage a distributor to attend.
How did you get involved in the industry?
My father, Morrie Halvorsen, used to be the VP sales and marketing for Milwaukee Electric Tool and also with ITT Phillips Red Head. He started STAFDA in 1977, along with 18 of his distributor customers. STAFDA began in our basement. He put me to work for him when I was 13, and I helped him make the initial prospect mailing. I worked for him while in junior high and high school, and even during college. After I graduated, I managed an exhibit and trade show industry association for seven years. That outside experience prepped me well to join STAFDA full time in 1994 as member services director. I became executive director in 2000 when my father retired from STAFDA.
What are some of the personal or association achievements that you are most proud of?
It’s personally rewarding to be involved with an organization that started with 18 members in ’77 and now has more than 2,500 internationally. Our membership dues are the same now as they were in ’77 ($350, less than $1/day) and our convention registration fee is the lowest in the industry ($190). We continue to add new services and programs, while dropping those that no longer serve us well. STAFDA is always evolving, and it’s exciting to be part of a dynamic organization serving a great group of people.
How has your industry been able to survive, or in some cases thrive, during this long downturn?
I think ‘thrive’ might be too optimistic of an adjective for the construction industry. During the recession, our members, like other businesses, made tough decisions on what to cut, who to cut and took the necessary steps to eliminate any overhead. The stimulus promoted infrastructure work, which helped our members through the worst of the recession, while others turned their attention to utilities, solar energy and other non-typical STAFDA markets. Those now involved in fracking and alternative energy sources are doing well. Mergers/acquisitions have impacted our industry, but STAFDA members are resilient, flexible, tenacious entrepreneurs who know how to compete.
What does the future look like for STAFDA and the industry it represents?
I believe the biggest driver for STAFDA and the construction industry is technology. It’s changed how we all do business. In a very short window, salespeople have gone from hauling catalogs to sales calls, to laptops and now iPads. Selling online has gone from being a threat to just another component of the sales process. For the construction industry, contractors have more product information, training and a greater assortment of vendors to choose from. Product technology has completely revolutionized our industry. Everything is faster, lighter, safer and easier to use.
But for all of today’s technological advancements, the one thing I don’t foresee changing in the construction industry is the value and importance of personal relationships and the hands-on demoing of new tools. That’s what built our industry and will carry us into the future.