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Not much change in unemployment

BY Ken Clark

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.7 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.6%, were little changed in March.

Nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.6%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

In February, the unemployment rate stood at 7.7%. A year ago, the rate was 8.2%.

Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care but declined in retail trade, according to the Friday morning report.

Construction employment continued to trend up in March, gaining 18,000. Job growth in this industry picked up this past fall. Since September, the industry has added 169,000 jobs. In March, employment continued to expand among specialty trade contractors, an area that saw an increase of 23,000. 

Employment in specialty trade contractors has increased by 128,000 since September, with the gain about equally split between the residential and nonresidential components.

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Griffith to enter Hall of Fame in May

BY Ken Clark

The Home Channel Hall of Fame will induct Ray Griffith during the Golden Hammer Awards breakfast ceremony May 8 in Las Vegas.

The event coincides with the 2013 National Hardware Show, May 7-9, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

Griffith, the recently retired CEO of Ace Hardware, has worked for the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op in various leadership positions since 1994 before being promoted to CEO in 2005.

As Ace Hardware pointed out in the release late last year announcing his retirement, under Griffith’s tenure, Ace was named by J.D. Power and Associates “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores” for six consecutive years.

“We have witnessed Ray Griffith over the past several years guide Ace in a positive direction and with a steady hand,” said HCN editor Ken Clark. “But more than that, Ray is a great ambassador of the hardware business in general and its twin pillars of service and quality.” 

Griffith has been applauded for his charitable efforts and helped increase community outreach, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Red Cross, while leading Ace.

In a 2011 interview with HCN, Griffith described the experience of bringing treatment to children with life-threatening diseases. “Those memories are unforgettable,” he said. “And they make us better people, and better citizens.” 

In 2012, Griffith was recognized as the City of Hope “Spirit of Life” honoree, and as such he led fundraising efforts for the California cancer research and treatment facility.   

During the most recent Ace Convention, Griffith received a standing ovation when he was awarded the inaugural “Ray A. Griffith Leadership Award,” to be given annually to an Ace retailer and a corporate employee.

"I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working with all of you and helping entrepreneurs achieve success and wealth," Griffith said. "How cool is that — to work for a meaningful company with an honorable purpose?"

The 2013 Hall of Fame induction will take place during the Golden Hammer breakfast ceremony at the Las Vegas Convention Center on May 8.

Past Hall of Fame honorees include Larry Stone (2011), Dave Hodnik (2005), Pat Farrah (2010) and Joe Orgill (2004.)

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Acme brings Scotts and Miracle-Gro garden tools to market

BY Ken Clark

Acme United Corp. and Scotts Miracle-Gro have formed a licensing partnership to create two new lines of innovative lawn and garden tools, which will enter the home and garden market this May: Scotts AirShoc, aimed at lawn care professionals and serious DIYers; and the Miracle-Gro EnviroLine, developed for home gardeners.

The two product lines will be officially unveiled at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, May 7-9, and thereafter made available through multiple retail channels, including specialty and national chains.

The collaboration marks the first time Scotts Miracle-Gro will introduce lawn and garden cutting tools to its repertoire of successful lawn and garden-care products: a full range of tools, including pruners, loppers, hedge shears, snips, floral knives and more.

Through this licensing partnership, Acme, the owner of the Clauss brand of floral cutting tools, will market and sell lawn and garden tools branded Scotts and Miracle-Gro, and powered by Clauss technology.

Rick Constantine, VP marketing with Acme United, said all product design on the new line has been in close collaboration with Scotts Miracle-Gro’s professional staff. Constantine said, "This partnership leverages both of our strengths, combining Scotts Miracle-Gro’s knowledge and presence in lawn and garden with our expertise in cutting tool designs, bonding technologies and manufacturing.”

The tools feature titanium-bonded stainless steel, making them both corrosion-resistant and up to five times harder than untreated stainless steel. Integrated Microban antimicrobial technology helps prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus on both the handles and cutting blades. The Miracle-Gro products and packaging are built from recycled materials.

The AirShoc line also features break-through “Tool-Less Blade Change” technology, allowing the user to change from a bypass blade to an anvil blade to a snip in seconds. This technology provides multiple cutting options while simplifying sharpening and cleaning.

Constantine said that the AirShoc designs have already earned a Good Design Award for Innovation and an IDEA Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America

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