Menards, union reach agreement in Ohio
Following a 14-day protest by the Ohio & Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters, Menards Stores agreed to allow union workers from the group to complete remaining work on a new southern Ohio store.
The protest included the appearance of a giant inflatable rat, a familiar sight nationwide at similar protests made by members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The group said the use of out-of-state, non-union contractors was cause for concern at the site, and it received concessions which could change how Menards bids construction projects for its stores state-wide.
Menards spokesman Jeff Abbott told Home Channel News that Menards “made a decision to bid the interior fixture package to union members.”
As for future state projects, Abbott said, “We will be given a list of additional Ohio union general contractors who will have an opportunity to qualify for the bid process on future new construction projects within the state. We will continue to accept bids from both union and non-union general contractors for these projects.”
He added, “We understand that the bid process is often highly competitive and are concerned about issues surrounding any job site including Chillicothe. Our focus remains on creating employment opportunities and economic growth, providing the best in home improvement materials and supplies for homeowners, tenants and business owners.”
The Ohio group confirmed Menards has agreed “to contact the Carpenters Union in advance of all future stores to be built in the state of Ohio for area local contractors to bid future store projects.” The group also said Menards had pledged to commit “all remaining carpenter work…that had not been previously contracted to the carpenters,” at the Chillicothe store to union members, which includes shelving, store fixtures, display and casework.
The carpenters group added that its members were joined by other unions in the protest, including local members of the Paper Workers, Teamsters, Food and Commercial Workers and other building trades.
The Chillicothe store is set to open in late winter 2009.
Menards is expanding at several sites in Ohio, the most easterly state served by the Midwestern home improvement retailer. The company has expanded its presence in the Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, areas; and Menards also announced a new store for the Cincinnati suburbs.
Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards currently has stores in 11 states: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and North Dakota. The company also is planning to enter Wyoming with its first store in the city of Casper later this year.
PRO Group makes key promotions
Denver-based PRO Group has promoted Brendan Sullivan to director of merchandising, a new position, according to the company.
Sullivan is a 21-year industry veteran who has served in various merchandising and business development positions for Servistar/Coast To Coast and True Value prior to joining PRO Group in 2005.
“Brendan Sullivan’s experience and work style makes him ideally suited to a merchandising director role,” said Steve Synnott, president and CEO of PRO Group, in a statement. “Brendan has worked as a buyer and merchandise manager, and since he joined our company three years ago he has taken a leading role in providing progressive ideas and programs on the merchandising side.”
In addition, PRO Group managing director for the PRO Hardware and GardenMaster divisions, Shari Kalbach, has been named managing director for the company’s Farm Mart division, which supplies independent farm supply retailers.
Kalbach joined PRO Group in 1997 and is responsible for all of the Group’s distributor relationships.
“Shari Kalbach has a proven track record as a highly effective executive working with PRO Group distributor members,” Synnott said. “Adding Farm Mart to Shari Kalbach’s scope of work is a natural progression of her role. She excels working closely with our distributor members.”
Design Within Reach narrows losses
Design Within Reach, the San Francisco-based specialty home decor retailer with around 70 locations nationwide, saw net losses of $159 million, narrower than the $575 million in losses recorded in the same period last year.
Net sales for the second quarter decreased 3.7 percent to $47.3 million, compared with $49.1 million recorded in the year-ago period.
Still, the retailer saw an improvement in gross margin, a measurement of earnings that takes production and service costs into consideration — gross margin improved to 46.4 percent in the second quarter, compared with 44.3 percent in the same period last year.
In-store sales were $32.6 million, up 2.2 percent from last year. Sales from phone and the dwr.com Web site decreased 17.5 percent to $10.4 million.
DWR also said it predicted that “in light of the challenging economic environment, the company believes revenue will be flat year over year.”