HARDWARE STORES

Hardware store owners killed in auto wreck

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ted and Karen Nichols, owners of Nichols Hardware in Purcellville, Va., were killed in a car crash on Sept. 5 after their SUV ran off a highway and hit a tree, according to an article in the Washington Post. The couple, along with five other relatives, were returning from an apple-picking outing to celebrate the 90th birthday of Doris Louer, Karen Nichols’s mother. Louer also died in the single-car accident.

The driver, Robert Louer, 65, of Florida, ran his Chevy Suburban off the side of Highway 55, over-corrected and drove over an embankment into a tree, according to Virginia State Police.

All of the vehicle’s passengers were taken to the hospital with injuries. Two of the fatalities, Ted Nichols, 64, and Karen Nichols, 63, operated the 100-year-old hardware store in downtown Purcellville, Va., which had been in their family for three generations.

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Swedish company acquires Michigan distributor

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Stockholm, Sweden-based Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems has agreed to buy the sales and marketing operation of its distributor, Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Kramer Air Tool.

The agreement gives Atlas the rights to sales and service of Atlas Copco’s industrial tools in the state of Michigan. The acquisition price was not disclosed.

“We are very pleased to integrate the Kramer distributor network into Atlas Copco sales organization and thereby offer our customers an even wider range of sophisticated products, services and accessories. This will bring us closer to our customers” said Mats Rahmstrom, business area president of Atlas Copco Industrial Technique.

Kramer, founded in 1984, employs approximately 50 people and had a 2009 turnover rate of $17 million.

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AMHA Confidence Index declines again in August

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The American Hardware Manufacturers Association’s AHMA Home Improvement Industry Confidence Index’s Current Situation Index declined August to 191.7 from 241.7 in July (October 2008 = 100), while the Future Expectations Index also fell to 193.1 from 229.3 a month earlier.

In comparing current sales levels with year-ago levels, 46% of respondents said sales were higher in August versus year-ago levels, down from 58% in July. For August, 29% reported sales were even, and 24% said sales were below year-ago levels.

Looking forward six months, 44% of August respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, down from 56% in July. In August, 32% of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months, and 24% expect sales to be below current levels.

Looking forward one year, 68% of respondents project sales will be higher, down from 77% who felt that way in July. Twenty-four percent of August respondents project sales will be even one year from now, and 7% project sales will be below current levels.

“Our members’ declining confidence in August reflects on the very difficult macroeconomic environment prevalent in the country today,” said Timothy Farrell, president and CEO of the American Hardware Manufacturers Association. “Recent reports of a downwardly revised GDP for the second quarter and an increase in the unemployment rate for August to 9.6% are further indications that we still have a long way to go before robust growth can be expected for most American businesses.”

The July Confidence Index survey asked two supplemental questions of AHMA members. Of the first, “Do you approve of the construction of the Ground Zero mosque in lower Manhattan?” 17% responded “Yes,” 14% responded “Not Sure,” and 69% responded “No.”

To the second question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the Obama administration’s moratorium on new deepwater offshore drilling?” 8% responded “Approve,” 19% responded “Not Sure,” and 73% responded “Disapprove.”

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