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At Issues Summit, lessons in supplier relations

BY HBSDEALER Staff

New York — Speaking to an audience of more than 100 retail leaders, Ace Hardware general merchandise manager Ken Goodgame offered thoughts on inventory management and social networking during the 12th annual Drug Store News Issues Summit at the New York Athletic Club, Nov. 30.

One of the key retailing issues was inventory management in a down economy, which has caused many retailers to make more conservative buying decisions.

According to Goodgame, Ace reacted by reducing the number of promotional SKUs throughout the year down to 40 from the previous year’s 250 — but also increasing the available inventory in its distribution centers by approximately 15,000 SKUs.

The move helped its co-op members who were holding back their working capital.

“We literally gave store owners fewer SKUs to choose from, and we had much better compliance,” he said.

Goodgame commented that the co-op’s online initiatives are still in their infancy, but it has already made its 100,000 SKUs available to customers through ace.com, and built a following of 2.5 million fans on facebook.com.

“We’re really pushing this envelope as quickly as we can given the constraints of operating in a cooperative,” he said.

Private label, SKU rationalization and store execution were among the hot button issues discussed among the panelists.

Panelist Craig Norman of H-E-B, spoke on in-store execution: “As far as execution on programs, it is important for suppliers to understand the business that they are dealing with,” he said.

This year’s event also featured guest speaker Larry Kudlow, CNBC anchor of “The Kudlow Report,” who discussed his optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy. He advocated for deficit reduction, deregulation and a strong dollar to promote economic growth while criticizing economic stimulus measures, such as the Obama administration’s stimulus package and the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policies, as well as the Bush administration’s bailout of the banking system. He also emphasized sectors of the economy that he said would help lead the economic recovery, including energy, manufacturing and health care.

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Obituary: William Cowling, Dixieline president

BY HBSDEALER Staff

William Cowling Jr., the former president of Dixieline Lumber, died of Parkinson’s disease on Nov. 27. He was 81 years old.

Known to most people as simply “Cowling,” the retired lumberman began working at Dixie Lumber in San Diego while his father, William Cowling Sr., was one of the owners. After a merger and a name change, the Cowling family sold Dixieline Lumber to Weyerhaeuser in 1979. Fifteen years later, in 1994, the family regained control of the company.

In 2003, the 90-year-old lumberyard chain was sold to Lanoga Corp. By then it had grown to a company with 10 locations serving most of Southern California, including a truss and component plant, a lumber distribution facility and a lumber shipping facility on the Columbia River in Oregon. Annual revenues were $230 million. 

Cowling stayed on as a consultant for several years at Dixieline, which later became part of ProBuild. During his retirement, Cowling became active in law enforcement, becoming a reserve officer for the San Diego Police Department as well as the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Cowling is survived by his wife Ovie, of 47 years, seven children, and 12 grandchildren.

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NAWLA releases attendance figures for Chicago event

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) saw attendance increase 3.5% at its NAWLA Traders Market in Chicago.

Overall attendance at the Nov. 3-5 event held in Chicago was 1,148, made up of almost equal parts producers and wholesalers, according to the group. (Click here for the complete attendee list.) Attendees represented nine countries.

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