Ron Beal on the box
When Orgill brings its Fall Market to New Orleans Aug. 27-29, most dealers will need to adjust to the music, the food and the French. Amid the market excitement, there will be at least one familiar tradition: Ron Beal will be shaking hands and talking shop on the market floor. Orgill’s president and CEO (and 2014 Home Channel Hall of Fame inductee), Beal, spoke with HBSDealer about the changes, challenges and future of hardware retailing.
HBSDealer: Which of the three is the biggest threat to the independent home improvement retailer: Amazon.com, Home Depot or Walmart?
Beal: All of the above, these and others. There are plenty of successful retail companies out there that compete with independents, and that’s always been true. Thirty years ago, this list would have been different, but we still would have had a list. And probably 10 years form now, I have no doubt the list will be different still.
HBSDealer: How confident are you in the future of the independent dealer?
Beal: I’m very confident. And the good news is this: A well-run independent hardware store can not only survive, but grow and prosper. And there are thousands of successful entrepreneurial home improvement retailers out there, and they have found ways to creatively and effectively service their local markets.
HBSDealer: We’ll see some new ideas in New Orleans at your model stores. Where do the ideas come from?
Beal: They literally come from all over. We get a lot of them from customers, we get some from suppliers, and we do a great deal of market research — walking stores is a big part of that. We also have a 250,000-sq.-ft. retail concept center that is located not far from our home office that we use to develop these ideas into a final format. And we use it all the time, because it’s very effective in helping us go from the idea stage to the finished product in developing a lot of these formats.
HBSDealer: And what about the challenges simply moving merchandise from point A to B, with fuel prices, labor shortage regulations and other challenges?
Beal: Well, it’s never been easy. It certainly isn’t getting any less challenging.
Another thing is the condition of our highway infrastructure. Over capacity as well as poor maintenance create delays every day, and unfortunately this is the norm in many parts of our country. There is a real need for us as a country to address these issues. And any of us involved in transportation and distribution has a real concern about it.
HBSDealer: We see you in urban areas, rural areas and internationally. What’s your next frontier?
Beal: All of the above. We view ourselves as being in the business of supporting the home improvement industry, and all of these are very viable segments of the industry. We’re committed to responding to the needs of our customers, however, whenever and wherever the home improvement industry and retailing in general evolve.
AWC releases deck guide in Spanish
The American Wood Council (AWC) has released a Spanish translation of the Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide: DCA 6 – 2012 IRC Version.
“We’ve always encouraged anyone in the United States contemplating a deck design to refer to this document because it’s so important to safety,” said John “Buddy” Showalter, AWC VP technology transfer. “There is a large market for information on good deck design in other countries as well, so we’re expanding its availability to Central and South America and the Caribbean basin."
He added that offering the DCA 6 in Spanish here in the U.S. will make it even more widely accessible, as many in U.S. design and construction speak English as a second language.”
DCA 6 was specifically developed to promote good, code-compliant deck design and construction for safe outdoor structures.
Click here for the free download.
Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 21, 2015
*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: A combination of greater urgency among SPF producers and futures gains brought prices in the two markets closer together, sparking more interest among buyers at midweek. More attractive pricing at western mills sent buyers into the market to replenish depleted inventories. Abundant availability in the Southern Pine market was at the top of the list of concerns among traders. Weak pricing and a strong housing starts report of 1.2 million for two consecutive months often clashed with regard to traders’ expectations. Coastal species mills continued to lower prices to a variety of levels early in an attempt to keep volumes moving. Sales improved as the week progressed, and producers reported heightened demand Wednesday and Thursday. The firming effect in Inland species prices that appeared imminent early seems to have been delayed. If anything, a further slight softening took place in several widths in Hem-Fir and Fir-Larch #2&Btr. Stud prices continued their same pattern overall. More aggressive moves by some mills generated a range of prices in several items. Radiata Pine blanks have weakened further. The gap between Ponderosa Pine and Radiata Pine in #2 Shop has clearly affected the price of Radiata, reducing it by $25-50 in 5/4 and slightly less so in 6/4. Mldg&Btr has remained tight and very firmly priced, however, with neither Ponderosa nor Radiata showing change. Producers of Ponderosa Pine 4/4 boards report “no real changes” in the marketing pace of their products. However, some notable changes have occurred in prices, creating a picture of vulnerability for several items. ESLP 4/4 boards have been less subject to price instability, and they remain relatively stable this week Western Red Cedar producers reported what they perceived to be an “August lull” but suggested customers were likely just cycling through their inventory before stepping in to make more purchases. Holes in yard inventories continued to develop, propelling buyers to purchase at a moderate rate.
Panels: OSB markets made a strong run last week, with price increases in all regions. Though this week was quieter, sources remained enthusiastic about direction, and prices again moved up in every quarter. Trading activity increased in the Southern Pine plywood market as the week progressed and reached a crescendo Thursday, allowing producers to raise rated sheathing prices and extend order files into early to mid September. Sales activity was decent to begin the week in the Western Fir plywood market and then improved markedly by the week’s end. A combination of low inventory levels and the threat of potential log shortages at mills generated more urgency within the market. Canadian plywood activity was subdued this week, with a lot of the country still on vacation and Quebec still not fully in the game. Pricing slid two points last week and ended this week sideways. Both particleboard and MDF mills reported steady sales and order file strength. Buyers continued to replenish inventories at a solid rate, especially for August.
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