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For Lumber Liquidators, a ‘60 Minutes’ Moment

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lumber Liquidators executives were braced for the "60 Minutes" episode. They had warned investors before the March 1 airing that an “unfavorable light” was going to shine on their business with regard to sourcing and product quality.

How bad was the impact? The company’s shares tumbled on March 2, down more than 25%, with more bleeding the following day.

The segment highlighted the retailer’s alleged practice of using Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring containing high levels of formaldehyde, violating United States health and safety codes. Undercover reporters were shown talking to factory managers who bluntly said certain flooring products did not meet U.S. regulations.

Lumber Liquidators released a defiant statement defending its practices. “These attacks are driven by a small group of short-selling investors who are working together for the sole purpose of making money by lowering our stock price,” the statement reads in part.

Indeed, the episode relied heavily on the comments of a short seller. But it also included a gotcha moment with Anderson Cooper showing to Lumber Liquidator chairman Tom Sullivan a video from inside a Chinese mill. The segment ended on the following exchange:

Cooper: “It certainly calls into question not just these mills, but it calls into question your oversight of these mills.”

Sullivan: “It could, yes.”

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Mr. and Mrs. Rogers’ Neighborhood

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Rogers Hardware Do it Center has served the village of Sparta, Michigan, since 1928. And when the store’s fourth-generation owners Paul and Becky Rogers considered a move to the suburbs, they had the good business sense to ask their customers what they thought.

The answer was overwhelming.

“We had property on the outside of town,” said Becky Rogers, co-owner with her husband Paul, great-grandson of the founder. “But when we surveyed our customers, 89% of the responses that we got back wanted us to stay where we are.”

The Rogers — our March issue cover models — listened to the voice of the customer. Additionally, the family felt a loyalty to the downtown that supported the business for almost 90 years. The village was important to the hardware store, and the hardware store was important to the village.

Thus came the renovation.

In one sense, the ability of the store to remain a downtown fixture stands as a victory for independent hardware stores everywhere. In another and more accurate sense, it was a victory for Rogers Hardware Do it Center.

In the months after renovations, sales growth is running in the double digits, up to as high as 25% year-over-year.

“Customers say they’re very happy that we made the change,” Becky said. “In addition to the new building, we added 30% to 40% more inventory. Because of the expansion, we’re in the forefront of home improvement. Now, people will try Rogers first, instead of trying Rogers last.”

Once they try it, it’s up to the people inside to close the deal, a task at which they’ve proven successful.

One of the lessons learned from the Rogers transformation: “It’s definitely worth freshening up your store,” she said. “We’re fourth-generation, and we used some components that Do it Best made available to help us celebrate the history, and also brought us up to date. The new look definitely helps.”

The Village of Sparta has a slogan: “What a neighborhood should be.” It is the official position of Hardware + Building Supply Dealer that every neighborhood should have a hardware store.

Congratulations to the village of Sparta for getting to keep theirs.

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Wanted: Hardware Show memories

BY HBSDealer Staff

The National Hardware Show, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, wants to know about your memories and experiences at past shows.

If you have an old photo, even better.

"As we celebrate 70 years of the National Hardware Show, we continue to look ahead to the future of the home improvement industry," said Richard Russo, VP of the National Hardware Show. "However, we'd also like to take some time to look back and reflect on the memories of years past and see how far we've come and how much things have changed."

The National Hardware Show, which will be held May 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will also be celebrating a milestone: its 70th anniversary.

To promote the event, organizers are asking past attendees and exhibitors to submit memories of innovative products they first saw at the Show, stories of relationships they built or connections they made and photos from past years. Submissions will be compiled and shared before the Show on social media, the National Hardware Show website and more.

The first National Hardware Show was held in New York City in 1945, just as the post-war housing boom began. It was created by Abe Rosenburg, founder of General Hardware Manufacturing Co. (today General Tools & Instruments) and Charlie Snitow, legal counsel for the company. Reed Exhibitions acquired Snitow's trade show business in the early 1960s, and in 1975, the Show moved to Chicago. It was held there each year until 2004, when it moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas.

For the past 70 years, retailers have been attending the Show for a variety of reasons.

"I attend the National Hardware Show each year to see the hottest new products about to hit the market," said Adam Busscher, owner of Picton Home Hardware in Picton, Ontario. "It is the one place where vendors from all over the world attend, and independent retailers like me can access all of their product offerings. I also find the educational seminars at the NRHA All-Industry Conference to be a valuable learning experience that I carry back to the store with me. I have the opportunity to network with fellow independent home improvement retailers from all over North America, and I gather great ideas and best practices that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to collect."

Submit photos or stories online by visiting nationalhardwareshow.com/70th.

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