Look who’s into concrete

BY HBSDealer Staff

Who’s getting involved in concrete projects? You’d be surprised.

The marketing team at Quikrete noticed a tremendous variety of affinity groups beating a digital path to the Quikrete website. Among them: technophiles, celebrity news junkies and travel buffs exploring concrete projects.

“We’d expect home décor enthusiast and do-it-yourselfers to be heavy users of our website, but not necessarily art aficionados, cooking enthusiast, comic fans or some of the other surprising affinity groups in our top 100,” said Frank Owens, VP of marketing for The Quikrete Companies.

“We’re committed to helping people from a broad range backgrounds and skill levels with projects, which is why we recommend Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete for beginners. Literally, there is no experience mixing, pouring or finishing concrete needed for a variety of entry level projects using this proven concrete mix.”

Quikrete’s Top 20 Affinity Groups:

1. Home Decor Enthusiasts
2. Movie Lovers
3. TV Lovers
4. Technophiles
5. Entertainment/Celebrity News Junkies
6. Shoppers/Shopaholics
7. News Junkies
8. Do-It-Yourselfers
9. Travel Buffs
10. Auto Enthusiasts
11. Shutterbugs
12. Outdoor Enthusiasts
13. Political News Junkies
14. Music Lovers
15. Aspiring Chefs
16. Cooking Enthusiasts
17. Mobile Enthusiasts
18. Health & Fitness Buffs
19. Sports Fans
20. Football Fans

Meanwhile, the company is making it fast and easy for anyone to successfully complete a concrete project with new Fast-Setting Concrete Mix Bonus Bags, which contain 60-pounds or 20 percent more material in each bag.

Designed to require no mixing, harden in 20-40 minutes and gain enough strength to build on in two hours, the mix is ideal for setting a variety of posts including fences, decks, mailboxes, trellis and basketball goals.

It’s also recommended for pouring sidewalks, patios, driveways and other concrete surfaces that need to reopen for foot or vehicle traffic quickly. The new Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix Bonus Bags are available nationwide starting on March 31 as part of Spring Black Friday, which is the annual promotion of home improvement by retailers.


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How concerned are you that a trade war could hurt your business?

Ken’s Blog: Women Who Mean Business


During an interview with Ace Hardware Corp. CEO John Venhuizen, it was learned that the co-op had hired an executive in charge of product innovation.

“Really?” a reporter asked. “I’d like to see all the cool stuff in his office.”


The name of the executive in question is Maya Schultz, and she is the co-op’s new product innovation lead.

I should have known better than to assume an executive’s gender, especially because our team is already working on a special report to appear in the June issue of HBSDealer: “Women Who Mean Business.”

There are no statistics readily available; only anecdotal observations and executive photos (largely of men in suits) in the back pages of annual reports. But few will argue that the hardware and building supply industry gets lower than average marks for diversity. That’s not for a lack of role models. Maggie Hardy Magerko is pushing the envelope at 84 Lumber. Jennifer Scanlon sits in the top spot at blue blood building product giant USG. And around the country, women who mean business are visible leaders in stores and lumberyards.

We’ve asked several of them for advice to women starting out, and we’ve already received several great answers.

Cally Fromme is VP of business development for Kodiak Building Partners. And she’s also a former chairman of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association. “Keep your eyes and ears open, and you will learn something every day. Keep a sense of humor, and always, always take the high road.”

Jean Niemi is True Value’s VP of communications, who previously held an executive post at the world’s largest home improvement retailer. “I’ve had a front row seat, both at Home Depot and True Value, to see women make their dreams a reality as they opened their own stores or moved up in the executive ranks. My advice to women who are starting out in the hardware and building supply industry is that you have to believe everything is possible. There are no limits.”

Gina Schaefer is owner and chief localist at A Few Cool Hardware Stores in and around the nation’s capital: “Do not approach the building supply industry any differently than you would any other industry. Businesses need well-rounded leaders who understand people and number management as much as product knowledge.”

And here’s advice from Schultz: “Be an agile learner. New experiences bring challenges and the greatest learning opportunities. You will experience successes and failures. What matters is how you apply those lessons learned to future situations.”

To learn more about what’s on her desk, click here.


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How concerned are you that a trade war could hurt your business?

Celebrating independents in Las Vegas

BY HBSDealer Staff

The 2017 National Hardware Show is set for Tuesday, May 9, to Thursday, May 11, in Las Vegas, and organizers are driven by a few simple and powerful ideas: More is better, new is better and a $100,000 award can go a long way to help an independent dealer.

Let’s start with that last concept first. Through the National Hardware Show’s new Reimagine Retail Program, the show is awarding $100,000 to one independent home improvement retailer to use for funding a business improvement project — for the future of a retail store or stores.

How it works: Retailers submit a 500-word description highlighting what they would do to improve their business with $100,000. Winner takes it.

Judges will be looking for projects that focus on four key business improvement areas: store design, technology, employees (training, retaining or recruiting, for instance) and products. Together with the National Retail Hardware Association and a panel of industry professionals, the National Hardware Show will review the entries and determine which project is most worthy of winning the $100,000 award.

Finalists will be provided transportation to the National Hardware Show, and the winner will be announced during the show on May 10. For more information, visit

When the curtain opens on the National Hardware Show, applause and the occasional standing ovation will echo throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center as leaders of the industry are honored for service and dedication, and products are recognized for quality and innovation.

The show’s awards range from the NRHA Top Gun Awards to the Made in USA — American Manufacturing Awards to the Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living Awards.

“In addition to bringing the industry together to unveil those new products, new companies and inventions, the National Hardware Show is proud to honor some of the best and brightest ideas and new products coming to market each year,” said Rich Russo, industry vice president of the National Hardware Show.

This year is marked by quantity as well as quality, organizers say. The show floor will feature more than 750 new exhibitors, more than 150 inventors, and more than 150 Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ exhibitors featured outside the convention center.

In what will at times take on the appearance of the city’s largest outdoor party, the tailgate, backyard and BBQ area will once again set up in the parking lot near the main entrance of the show. This area has grown about 30% from previous years, according to show organizers, as the offering has expanded into outdoor sporting goods and games, homebrew hobbyist kits and the latest in BBQ technology.

This area is seeing interest among independents not only because of the continued growth of the outdoor living trend, but also for economic forces that led to the demise of Sport Chalet and bankruptcy of Sports Authority.

“As more large sporting goods retailers close their doors, hardware retailers are seeing this opportunity and going after it,” Russo said.

Also on the list of emerging categories is the growing sphere of smart home technology and integrated product solutions. And another growing area that helps homeowners enjoy their home: homebrew kits.

Meanwhile, the National Hardware Show is continuing efforts to match retailers with the most relevant products.

The “Match Me” personalized product recommendation program was launched in 2016 to help attendees more easily discover exhibitors that meet the retailer’s needs. The results were positive. In fact, 90% of attendees at last year’s show reported finding a new exhibitor to do business with.

“What’s best about the recommendations we provide is that they are based solely on the information attendees and exhibitors are sharing with us — these recommendations aren’t sponsored or ads,” Russo said.

New for this year: The show will connect independent retailers with those exhibitors who are ready to sell to them. Exhibitors are once again being asked to check off whether or not they sell to independents, and those that do will be served up to those looking for their specific product types.

Attendees can once again access their personalized exhibitor and product recommendations after they register for the show through the My Show online planning tool, the 2017 National Hardware Show mobile app, via emails sent during the show at Match Me stations throughout the show floor.

In addition to the above independent-focused programs, the 2017 show will embrace independent dealers in several other ways:

  • Once again, the show will be producing the handy Independent Retailer guidebook, which provides a quick guide to exhibitors that sell to independents and recommends events;
  • The 2017 show presents more buying opportunities and exclusive specials offered only at the show;
  • The mobile app will feature an “Exclusive Independent Retailer” section featuring a list of exhibitors selling to independents, education sessions and more; and
  • The show is focused on educating exhibitors on how to work with the independent retailer.

“These are all important, especially during the show, so vendors can truly understand the value, benefits and buying power of the independent retailer,” Russo said.


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How concerned are you that a trade war could hurt your business?