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RONA defends environmental policy

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Boucherville, Quebec —based RONA, the Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products, issued a clarification to a document published on Aug. 20 by Greenpeace that criticized RONA and other retailers for using suppliers that chop down trees from endangered areas of Canada’s Boreal Forest.

The Greenpeace document urged RONA to insist that its logging suppliers—Abitibi-Consolidated, Tembec and Domtar—obtain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on all their lumber products.

The same day Greenpeace issued its statement, RONA responded with a defense of its corporate policy of responsible purchasing and sustainable development.

“With respect to forest products, the company does not buy any product derived from endangered species and favors the purchase of products that bear Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) as well as ISO 14001 certifications,” the statement reads.

“Furthermore, RONA ensures that all of the goods it procures, whether forest products or other, have been produced in conditions that respect human rights and the environment. RONA applies these principles in its choice of suppliers, sub-contractors and other business partners. RONA describes itself as the Canadian pioneer of paint recycling, after establishing a program 10 years ago.

As announced in early 2007, RONA is currently conducting a review of its sustainable development practices. This will serve to help the company develop a strategic plan for sustainable development. The main components of the plan will be made public at the end of October.

In recent months, RONA has been in communication with several interest groups, including Greenpeace, to discuss the issue of Canadian forest practices. The company said it has always “promoted dialogue among interest groups, including Greenpeace, and leading stakeholders in the forest industry.”

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Lowe’s execs eye lawn care items, eco-friendly products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs 14th Annual Global Retailing Conference, held today in New York, Patti Price, Lowe’s general merchandise manager for outdoor living, told investors and analysts what she expects will be trends to watch in the coming months.

“Because of drought [in some regions of the country], customers will be renovating their lawns,” Price predicted. Fall cleanup products and lawn care items are being promoted in Lowe’s stores, she said.

“We’ve had some real success in our holiday programs,” Price said. “We brought in John Deere. The merchants are so focused on moving the business ahead … we’re extremely well positioned for the back half of this year.”

Larry Stone, president and COO for Lowe’s, said new products that have been popular in Lowe’s stores include eco-friendly items and composite building materials.

“Something that’s really evolving, in my opinion, is all these composite products,” Stone said. “[There are] a lot of new products that customers want to use because they’re lower priced and lower maintenance.” Those products include composite siding, shutters and solid core composite flooring, he said.

Additionally, Stone said innovations in locksets, including keyless locks, have shown increased popularity in the home improvement market.

Stone spoke further on Lowe’s overall market position in the middle of a housing downturn, saying the company was “not happy with the negative 2.6 (percent) comps that we recorded” in the second quarter. He also said the company has seen weakness in big-ticket items, installed sales and special order sales.

However, Stone was optimistic about the next few years for the nation’s second largest home improvement retailer, adding, “Lowe’s will be well-positioned, once everything turns around, for further growth in the home improvement industry.”

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Dave Heine joins BlueLinx

BY HBSDEALER Staff

BlueLinx, one of the industry’s largest building materials distributors, has hired Dave Heine, the former vp-retail development at Do it Best. BlueLinx confirmed that Heine started this week as a senior national account executive, where he will call on Do it Best accounts and other independent dealers.

“I have worked with [Heine] for over 20 years as a customer and always admired his abilities, leadership style and integrity,” said BlueLinx president and chief operating officer George Judd.

Heine, a 28-year veteran of Do it Best, left in July after serving in a number of positions that included vp-lumber and building materials, vp-building products, vp-purchasing for pro and commercial products and manager of the lumber and commodities division.

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