PRO Group conference met with enthusiasm
Distributors and manufacturers convened at this year’s Group Merchandising Conference, held June 17-19 at the Embassy Suites Atlanta/Centennial Olympic Park.
With attendance hovering around 150, PRO Group and Val-Test distributors met with manufacturers during 962 private 30-minute appointments aimed at strengthening relationships and previewing new products.
According to Steve Synnott, CEO and owner of PRO Group, one-third of manufacturers at the conference were first-time attendees, a promising sign for sales and two-step distribution.
"This conference is more informal than many of the conferences we attend, and it affords us more direct interaction that is vendor-oriented and item-oriented," said Michael Brady, director of purchasing for Long-Lewis Hardware Co. "We also meet with vendors we may have never even heard of before."
To cap off the event, PRO Group informally celebrated its 60th anniversary at the conference, though the official celebration will take place in August with a nationwide circular event.
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Fortune Brands acquires WoodCrafters Home Products
Fortune Brands Home & Security has made a strategic move to strengthen its position as the self-titled industry leader in cabinetry through its acquisition of WoodCrafters Home Products, completed on Thursday, June 20.
WoodCrafters, a privately owned manufacturer of bathroom vanities and bathroom sink tops with annual sales of $230 million, will become part of Fortune’s Kitchen & Bath Cabinetry segment as a business unit of MasterBrand Cabinets. WoodCrafters will retain its current management structure, staff, operations and locations.
"We’ve been a leader in kitchen and bath cabinets for years," said Fortune CEO Chris Klein. "WoodCrafter’s strength in vanities and integrated sink basin tops immediately strengthens our offerings for the bathroom, with more products, more control over our supply chain and expanded low-cost North American manufacturing capacity. The cabinet market is in the early stages of recovery. Now is the perfect time to add to our leadership position."
Fortune completed the acquisition for $300 million, the projected equivalent of 7.5 times the annual EBITDA. According to the company, the purchase multiple could shrink to 6 times EBITDA over the next couple of years.
The news comes amid further changes at Fortune, which appointed Terry Horan as the new president of its security and storage business Wednesday. Horan will be replacing incumbent retiree John Heppner and will assume full responsibility on July 8. Horan was most recently president and CEO of Robert Bosch Tool. According to Klein, Horan has a proven track record of creating growth in both brand and product development.
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Summer forecast: 60% of homeowners plan home improvement projects
As summer officially kicks off this Friday, Zillow Digs has released its Summer Home Improvement Trend and Spending Survey, spotlighting the 60% of homeowners who plan home improvement projects this season, with a median budget of $1,200.
According to the company, more homeowners are planning to invest time and resources into their surroundings due to scant housing inventory and trouble with mortgages.
Among the other findings was a strong indication that natural elements and glass features are trending at the moment. Forty percent of survey respondents planned outdoor projects, while 17% planned bathroom renovations. Based on company data, homeowners are leaning toward natural looks (such as stone fireplaces) and open, airy looks in the bathroom (with glass tiles and shower enclosures).
Additionally, the survey found that young homeowners and those with children were significantly more likely to be planning home improvement projects. Seventy-one percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 were planning work this summer, compared with 61% of 35 to 54 year olds. Homes with children were 8% more likely to plan projects.
A separate survey by Harris Interactive found that consumers in the younger age range (18 to 34) were also three times more likely than their older counterparts to hire professional landscaping services. With spending in this area expected to increase among all homeowners by $620, the findings are consistent with the Zillow’s home improvement outlook, which prominently features outdoor renovations.