Reading the thermostat
Depending on whom you talk to, we’re either officially entering the age of the smart thermostat, or we’re a few degrees short of actual heat. But as it turns out, we’ve been in this holding stage for quite some time.
More than 30 years ago, National Home Center News (the forerunner of HBSDealer) published a Dec. 7, 1981, article on the Honeywell T800, the “$200 electronic digital thermostat” that promised a revolution in thermostats and energy savings. Then, just as now, the advent of the product raised immediate issues related to sticker shock and ease of use.
Today, these concerns persist for products like the Nest Learning Thermostat, and the majority (52%) of readers, polled in early March regarding whether smart thermostats were a hit among customers, said “there’s some interest in them, but only among early adopter types.” Another 32% said “they’re collecting dust,” and only 15% said “they’re flying off the shelves.”
Again, it depends on whom you ask. Robbie Kaplan, merchandise mix master for Ace chain A Few Cool Hardware Stores in the Washington, D.C., metro area has mostly good things to say about Nest’s performance in her stores.
This is partially because of the company’s partnership with Ace. The retailer program offers helpful merchandising options and an associate training program, allowing staff to communicate effectively to customers regarding features and installation.
In addition, Kaplan says the stores carry the Ring Video Doorbell, app-controlled light timers, and app-controlled LED string lights, which sold well during the holidays and continuing into the outdoor entertainment season.
“We know we have only dipped our toes in the water of the smart home category,” Kaplan said. “We haven’t felt quite ready to fully jump in the pool since, as is always the challenge, technology advances so quickly. We are also listening to the customers to hear what they are looking for and waiting for.”
Kevin Day, heating merchandise manager for Do it Best, wagers that the category is finally taking off, but really only in the last year or so. According to Day, the products are more popular in big urban areas, partially owing to their larger share of millennial homeowners.
Though Day says thermostats are pretty flat as a category overall, Wi-Fi-enabled products are where the growth is actually happening, particularly in new home construction, or when homeowners swap out their existing HVAC systems.
The main challenge? Getting people to notice them. “I don’t think it’s top of mind for the consumer yet,” he said. “That’s why advertising is so important.”
Communicating value is the other big component. “A couple big questions in the consumer’s mind are: ‘Will that work in my house? Will that work in my system? And can I install that myself?’” he added.
A couple additional pointers from Kaplan: have smart home products on display, as well as linked to associates’ or in-store smartphones.
“This allows staff and customers to get real life experience with the products,” she said. “Watching a training video is one thing, but when an associate uses their own phone to change the temperature, see who is at their door, or turn on Christmas tree lights from across the room, their eyes light up and suddenly they are showing off the product to their teammates. There is no doubt that everyone on our team is excited about smart home products and looks forward to growing the category.”
DeWalt introduces a Breakaway saw blade
DeWalt unveiled Breakaway Reciprocating Saw Blades, described as an innovative 2-blades-in-1 design.
Users of the product are able to break away the used section of the blade, and then reinsert the unused blade section back into the saw. The feature allows for maximum blade use, without compromising performance, the company says.
The Reciprocating Saw Blades come in two lengths, 6 inch and 9 inch.
Common applications for DeWalt Breakaway Reciprocating Saw Blades include cutting galvanized pipe, copper pipe, conduit, metal studs, EMT, and other metals. The blades are designed for the user who is tired of throwing away half-used blades.
Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 7, 2017.
Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.
Crow's Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: The upcoming April 24 announcement regarding what CVD duties might be put in place dramatically affected the SPF lumber market. Interest among buyers picked up markedly Thursday morning. With mill order files extending into the week of April 24, a determination was made by one producer Thursday to raise quotes for lumber to be shipped in May $90-100 higher than established market levels. Many producers exited the market early Thursday to assess their approaches to future sales. Solid sales activity continued to propel Southern Pine dimension prices higher. Field demand remained good despite bouts of inclement weather in the Southeast and areas further north. Coastal species prices, edging higher early in the week, received a shove Thursday in response to an SPF market trying to figure out its next move. That push provided more momentum for both sales activity and appreciating prices. What had been strong demand for Inland lumber over the two weeks prior burgeoned this week into a solid rush of activity. North American stud prices continued to move higher, propelled by demand and a tightening of available supplies later in the week. Ample supplies of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr have kept that market quite stable, but the lack of available Shop lumber is causing problems for that portion of the market. The tightness of available material for mill sales has kept pressure on Ponderosa Pine industrials in recent weeks, particularly in #3 Shop. As in previous weeks, both #3 and #4 Common boards have been very active, but with an expanding market, #2 Commons are stronger, as well. Idaho White Pine is essentially a non-event, with very little stock available from mills. ESLP 4/4 boards reflect significant changes. Log supplies were once again a primary concern in the Western Red Cedar market – on both sides of the border.
Panels: OSB markets ran strong, building on a few weeks of price increases and increasingly bullish behavior. Buying has been conservative for a long while, and light inventory positions seem to have caught up to dealers who are now facing an active spring market. Southern Pine plywood producers experienced enough demand from customers to maintain price levels for most items. In some instances, moderate rated sheathing discounts were used to maintain fluidity. In others, slight price gains were achieved. Western Fir plywood producers received a bump in demand in the latter half of the week that empowered them to boost prices through the week’s end. Strong OSB sales and increased lumber demand in the latter half of the week were credited for the increase in plywood purchases. Canadian plywood demand lurched forward this week. Order files moved into May 1 and May 8 at all mills. Buyers are reportedly chasing orders, trying to get earlier shipments. Prices jumped three points from last Friday. Spotty increases in demand for particleboard were noted. Buyers continued to find significant MDF imports to choose from.