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Three days in October

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reached the podium to a standing ovation. He assessed his audience for a moment. “This is a very intense, serious looking group,” he said.

The group in question consisted of the prodealers and suppliers gathered for the 2008 ProDealer Industry Summit, the first ever conference that resulted from the merger of the NLBMDA’s Industry Summit and Home Channel News’ ProDealer Conference. The organizers of the event did a great job predicting that the first three days of October would be an electrifying time in the nation’s capital.

And the group had every right to look serious and intense.

Here’s the picture of Monday, Oct. 1, when most of the 240 or so attendees began filing into the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Va.:

Congress was working in overdrive on a contentious $700 billion financial bailout plan;

Attendees were planning ahead to Tuesday’s highly anticipated vice presidential showdown; and

Newt Gingrich, his “Platform for America” in hand, was walking around the hotel.

I felt like a witness to great events.

Even though we were just outside the beltway in Chantilly, the political gravity was intense. Political junkies attending the conference—and there were many—were basking in the situation. And those who couldn’t care less—well, there weren’t any of those.

On Wednesday, in the middle of a panel discussion on “The Supply Chain Revolution,” the word came. The House had passed the Paulson plan! Cheering erupted. And the show went back to business.

Based on the length of the line to take a picture with the “Speaker,” Gingrich’s address was a highlight of the event, largely because it promoted the spirit of American democracy.

There were other highlights and other spirits.

Spirit of diversity. When out going NLBMDA chairman Harold Baalmann of B&B Lumber introduced incoming chairman Paul Hylbert of Pro Build, the companies represented ran the spectrum from massive to modest. But the mutual respect expressed by both dealers was about equal.

Spirit of togetherness. The hotel theater was packed and pro-Palin during the vice presidential debate. But my biggest takeaway was that so many chose to watch together.

Spirit of humility. The ProDealer of the Year dinner recognized Keim Lumber as Independent ProDealer of the Year and Curtis Lumber as Multi-Unit ProDealer of the Year. Both companies showed double-digit growth on the 2008 HCN Top 350 Scoreboard. And both companies, when addressing the audience, pointed to all the employees back home for their success. The standing ovations were much deserved.

The industry is living the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” The PDIS may not solve the housing market’s woes or the credit crisis, but it served the industry by bringing competitors and partners together for mutual improvement.

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Around the Web: Obama tackles housing market

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Barack Obama administration started a temporary program to boost state and local housing finance agencies (HFAs). The purpose of the program is to spur lending and buying in a depressed housing market.

“Through this initiative, the administration aims to help HFAs jumpstart new lending to borrowers who might not otherwise be served and to better support the financing costs of their current programs,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a prepared statement.

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True Value fall market held in Atlanta

BY HBSDEALER Staff

When True Value president and CEO Lyle Heidemann addressed co-op members at the opening session of the 2008 fall market Oct. 17 in Atlanta, he stressed the importance of Destination True Value — encouraging retailers to adopt the new, more consumer friendly store format in one form or another.

“Much of our future is centered on Destination True Value, both for our existing stores as well as our growth with new ones,” Heidemann told the group assembled at the Georgia World Congress Center. “This year we will open, expand, relocate, convert or remodel more than 100 stores to the new format. In addition, another 75 stores will implement the DTV decor package.”

The point hit home with show attendees Kurt and Kathie Stringham, owners of Stringham’s True Value in Santaquin, Utah, which will undergo a DTV remodel starting next month. “Our sales are down this quarter, but we’re not pessimistic,” Kathie Stringham said. “I’m not sure about the economy, but for hardware stores, if you’re wise you can still do well.”

Carol Wentworth, vp-marketing, also addressed members at the opening session, trying to drive home the importance of national and local advertising in these tough economic times. She said stores that participated in three spring circular programs saw a 7 percent increase in sales and an average of $45,000 more in revenue during the spring season than stores that didn’t use the promotions.

“I think those numbers tell a pretty compelling story about using circulars to help you get ready for the spring selling season,” Wentworth said.

More than 1,000 vendors are introducing new items and offering market-only deals on merchandise from every major product category. Retailers attending the market will also have an opportunity to attend educational classes on everything from merchandising and marketing best practices to the True Value Rewards program and leveraging point-of-sale technology. 

The market is open through Oct. 20.

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