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Readers Respond

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Crime and punishment, redux
The following is a letter in response to “Illinois contractor gets 10-year sentence for asbestos violation.”

“Ten years is absolutely ludicrous. A violation of this sort warrants a fine, not a jail term. Child abuse, rape, murder, multi-billion dollar mortgage/bank frauds warrant jail time. How could a justice system give a contractor jail time, while bank executives who basically trashed the entire American financial system are not even taken to court? That’s right — they got bailouts instead of jail time.”
— Chuck Crocker
Winnipeg, Canada

Remembering Joe Gardiner
The following refers to “84 Lumber executive perishes in boating accident.”

“Joe Gardiner was one of the best field people to ever come out of the old Payless Cashways organization. He will be missed by 84 Lumber, by the industry and by me personally.”
— Frank Chambers

Lowe’s second-quarter results
The following is a response to Lowe’s and Home Depot’s financial results.

“There is a difference between Home Depot and Lowe’s. Retail is tough and somehow, Home Depot has the mojo to come back from chaos under [Robert] Nardelli, and to get the focus back where it belongs. The market can certainly handle two strong competitors. Where there are three, it might not be possible. Now, the challenge is for Lowe’s to figure out what it needs to do to get the customers back in the stores.”
— Posted online by “Dick W” 

“I think the reason why the home improvement industry does so well is because it is designed to weather all kinds of markets. When the economy is good, more people buy houses, and thus contribute to the demand for home improvement. When the economy is down, instead of buying new houses, homeowners decide to improve on their existing houses, hiring services like cavity wall closers or renovators. Thus, the industry can weather all kinds of economies quite well.”
— Posted online by “AlexCavity”

Flying on the company’s dime
The following refer to an article about Tractor Supply Co. CEO Jim Wright’s recent declaration that he always flies coach.

“We have never flown first class unless we were bumped up. Never paid for it in 41 years.”
— George A. Pattee
Chairman and CEO
Parksite

“At Bostwick-Braun, we ALWAYS fly coach.”
— William R. Bollin
Chairman and CEO
The Bostwick-Braun Co.

“My strategies regarding air travel is not to fly whenever possible. It’s a royal pain.”
— Bruce Currie

The danger of antidumping laws

“Disputes over dumping — selling products in the U.S. market at prices below the cost of production or for less than what the products are sold in the home market — are a major thorn in the side of companies wanting to do business internationally. The United States enacted the antidumping law to protect U.S. manufacturers from ‘unfair’ imports, but the real impact is to bankrupt legitimate U.S. companies and destroy U.S. jobs.

“Antidumping actions have spread to cover imported home-building material products, especially from China, ranging from wood flooring, steel nails, steel sinks and solar cells to ironing tables, just to name a few.

“People may argue that the antidumping law is protecting U.S. industries from unfairly dumped imports. To win an antidumping case, a U.S. industry — which can be a single company — needs to convince the U.S. Commerce Department that foreign exporters are dumping, and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that the practice has injured the U.S. industry.

“But the Commerce Department finds dumping in 95% of cases. With 30 years of work in this area since 1980, first in the government and later in private practice, I can count on one hand the number of times the Commerce Department has made a no-dumping determination and stopped the case. Since antidumping cases against China represent more than 90% of U.S. cases, it is important to understand that pursuant to the Commerce Department’s methodology, almost all Chinese companies are considered to be dumping with no evidence they are doing so.

“The real damage of an antidumping action, however, is not to foreign/Chinese companies, but to U.S. companies — importers, distributors and downstream producers. Chinese companies do not pay antidumping duties. U.S. import companies by law are liable for antidumping duties, and the importers can be retroactively liable if those antidumping duties go up in subsequent review investigations, which they often do.

“More importantly, antidumping cases do not help U.S. companies injured by imports. Importers simply go to another country, such as Vietnam.”
— William E. Perry is an international trade law partner at Dorsey & Whitney. From 1980 to 1987, Perry was an attorney in the antidumping area at the ITC and the Commerce Department.
Click here for his full commentary. 

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Four million jobs, one at a time

BY Ken Clark

When Ace Hardware injects a motivational speaker into its general session, that’s news.

Roy Spence is the “S” of Austin, Texas-based advertising agency GSD&M, whose client list includes Southwest Airlines, The PGA Tour, Popeyes and Ace Hardware.

Spence stepped onto the stage at the McCormick Place theater in Chicago and talked unscripted about America’s entrepreneurial spirit. Then he hit on an incredibly radical idea that touched on recovery and the power of human resources to shape the country.

Here’s what he said: If every small business in America hired one more person, then America would have 4 million new jobs.

Quick story: Years ago, Spence traveled to Bentonville, Ark., to pitch his young agency’s services to Sam Walton. The Wal-Mart team asked where the rest of Spence’s team was. Reflexively, Spence shot out the old Texas slogan: “One riot, one ranger. Now what’s your problem?”

He got the business.

It’s that kind of audacity and optimism that helps explain his 4 million jobs idea. Listening to Spence made it sound possible.

Regardless, people who are paid to think about their business pay attention to human resources. They pay attention to hiring and retaining and getting the most out of their employees.

ENAP CEO Steve Sallah recently brought our attention to an article from Jack Welch about the real job of HR. “What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted or moved out the door?” Welch wrote.

To ask the question is to answer it.

True Value Co. CEO Lyle Heidemann tendered the following human resource advice in the plumbing aisle of a store in Mount Prospect, Ill.: “It’s easier to teach someone who likes people what they need to know in the plumbing aisle, than to find someone who knows the plumbing aisle and teach them to like people.”

It’s hard to argue with that logic.

The list of the 20 most-viewed news stories from the past three months shows two human resources-related headlines provided from our partners at the Society for Human Resource Management. The readership stats for “Sarcastic emails are asking for trouble,” and “Pay top reason for key employees to quit,” and other stories like them tell us that Home Channel News readers are thinking about human resource-related questions.

It also tells us there’s a need for ToolkitHR, the online resource and live consultation service offered by SHRM and HCN. You can check it out online at ToolkitHR.com. You can learn more on page 28. SHRM is the undisputed leader in human resources education, and they’re helping to spread the word on HR best practices, and we’re proud to help them.

A journey of 4 million jobs begins with a single hire. It’s time for boldness in the HR department.

[email protected]

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The Depot delta extends another quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Of all the Home Depot metrics that were reported in its second quarter — including double-digit earnings gains — the comparable-store sales metric of positive 2.1% doesn’t jump off the page.

But the figure marks the continuation of an exceptional competitive streak: In each of the last seven quarters, Home Depot’s comps have beat its rival Lowe’s by at least 2 percentage points. This “delta” peaked at 4 percentage points in the second quarter of 2011.

The last time Lowe’s comps outperformed Depot was the first quarter of 2009.

Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock, during his company’s earnings call, described Lowe’s as a company in transition and a company that expects some level of disruption. Initiatives include multichannel seamless, mobile technology, flexible fulfillment and MyLowe’s, the company’s Web tool. “The team is making progress on these initiatives, but frankly, the benefits are accruing at a slower rate than I had expected.”

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