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Net gains across the industry

BY Ken Clark

HCN editors have looked over a lot of lumberyard websites in the past several months. The professional surfing was part of the quality-control process that helped create the 2013 Top 200 Pro Dealer Scoreboard.

Much of what we saw helped us confirm or adjust our estimates. But there was a lot of information we gathered that didn’t fit into the special section that begins on page 29 — but it was too good for the cutting room floor.

For instance. Did you know that 84 Lumber runs 84 Travel, described as "your business and pleasure full-service travel agency?" There’s a link at 84Lumber.com. How about the fact that two Parr Lumber employees are the stars of "Weekend Warriors Home Improvement Show," with Tony and Cory. You can access the archive at Parr.com.

A lot of people have heard of My Lowe’s, the digital effort put forth by the Mooresville, N.C., retail giant. But how about My McCoy’s, a similar sign-up-and-maintain-a-record-of-your-past purchases by our Texas-based 2009 Pro Dealer of the Year McCoy’s Building Supply. Details at Mccoys.com.

A different spin on interactivity is on tap at Meeks.com, where a Meeks Lumber expert responds to builder and DIY questions through an Ask the Expert page. (We asked for caulking tips. You can read the reply at homechannelnews.com.)

All kinds of dealers are promoting all kinds of causes. At YBConline, the loud-and-clear message is Your Building Centers’ 100% employee ownership. It starts with the slogan: "We care, because we own it." And it extends to a Web page explaining, "the person you are dealing with is part owner."

A quick look at srsicorp.com shows SRS Distribution’s emphasis on the SRS Raise the Roof Foundation. Less than a year old, the foundation carries a three-word mission, according to the website: "and give back." A blog tells the story of the foundation’s $25,000 gift to the devastated city of West, Texas. Another blog post describes how SRS vendors, along with the Raise the Roof Foundation, contributed a $57,500 education fund to the family of injured Army veteran Travis Mills.

You can learn a lot about this industry surfing. Eerie Materials is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Gulfeagle Supply is soon to introduce its first tool catalog. Ganahl Lumber is recruiting customers to appear in its 2014 catalog, and it’s dangling $500 gift cards as a lure. An ABC Supply-sponsored racecar won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

It all shows that the power of the Web is in the details. For instance, the Stock Building Supply site links to homechannelnews.com among its "industry websites" page. (Why don’t more companies do this?)

Drop us an email, and let us know how your company is bolstering its Web presence.

[email protected]

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Wood association names new president

BY HBSDealer Staff

Ed Elias has been elected to serve as president of APA — The Engineered Wood Association, following the retirement of Dennis Hardman later this year. 

Elias is a 35-year APA veteran, having worked in APA’s technical, international marketing and financial divisions. He is currently the association’s VP and corporate secretary.

The APA is formerly known as the American Plywood Association 

Elias earned his bachelor’s degree in Forest Management and Wood Science from Stephen Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a master’s degree in Wood Science from Colorado State University.

“The APA board undertook an extensive and diligent search process for this position. The search validated the fact that there is tremendous strength and talent on the APA staff, and we’re pleased to promote an internal candidate to follow Dennis as APA president,” said Mary Jo Nyblad, APA chairman and plywood sales and marketing manager for Boise Cascade. 

“With our recent membership gains, the voice of APA is stronger than ever, and that strong voice will create new challenges and opportunities for the association in the years ahead. We’re confident that Ed has the skills and experience to lead us into this new era,” she added. 

Hardman has been the APA president since November 2005. He will turn over the reins at the association’s annual meeting in Huntington Beach, Calif., Nov. 2-5.

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Consumer confidence dips 1.8 points

BY HBSDealer Staff

In a slight reversal from its positive June outlook, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index dipped 1.8 points to 80.3 in July, down from last month’s 82.1.

Meanwhile, the Present Situation Index increased to 73.6 from 68.7, with more consumers vetting business conditions as "good" in July, and fewer delivering a "bad" vote. Still, those viewing conditions as "good" remain in the slight minority (20.9% versus 24.9%). Current job availability sentiment reflected a similar pattern, with the gap between "plentiful" and "hard to get" narrowing slightly in July. However, there’s still a vast lead in the latter category, with 35.5% claiming jobs are "hard to get" and 12.2% claiming the opposite.

The Expectations Index decreased from last month’s 91.1 to 84.7, with fewer consumers expecting the short-term business outlook to improve over the next six months, though the amount of people expecting it to worsen remained stagnant. Consumers’ expectations for jobs availability decreased, with fewer expecting a salary increase, though the amount of consumers expecting a decrease also declined.

In a broader sense, where year-ago levels are concerned, the Index continues to point to a strong market recovery. 

“Consumer Confidence fell slightly in July, precipitated by a weakening in consumers’ economic and job expectations," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "However, confidence remains well above the levels of a year ago. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions continues to gain ground and expectations remain in expansionary territory despite the July retreat. Overall, indications are that the economy is strengthening and may even gain some momentum in the months ahead.”

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