Throwback Thursday: Tool Fair at Ganahl
The July 1, 1985 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported on the effort of a successful Southern California lumber dealer to boost its reach with DIYers.
Ganahl Lumber, which was a four-unit chain at the time, erected a yellow and white tent in the front of its main entrance in Anaheim, and hosted vendors representing hand tools, power tools, door and window systems, stains and fasteners, among other products
The strategy behind the Tool Fair, according to the article, was to “Boost recognition of the independent’s ability to serve the building-materials, project-oriented DIYer.”
In the article, Ganahl President Peter Ganahl said the special event “makes our registers ring.”
The year 1985 also marked the entry of Home Depot into Orange County. Ganahl Lumber was able to not only survive the invasion of Home Depot, but also thrive against competitors including HomeClub, Builders Emporium and National Lumber. Today, the company operates nine California locations, and plans to open a South Bay unit in July.
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A.H. Harris names new CEO
A.H. Harris, a West Hartford, Connecticut-based distributor of construction supplies and equipment, named Brendan Deely as President and CEO.
Deely is a seasoned Construction Supply executive with 28 years of experience driving sales, marketing and operational efficiency in the industrial distribution sector. Since 2016 he has been a key member on the A.H. Harris Board of Directors. Prior to joining the board, Brendan was CEO of L&W Supply for 10 years. While at L&W Supply, he grew the business from $800 million to $2.5 billion at 250 locations in 40 states through a combination of strong organic growth and strategic acquisitions.
"It is a distinct privilege and honor to lead the A.H. Harris team into our next phase of growth and prosperity," Deely said.
Joe Eichelberger, A.H. Harris chairman of the board credited Deely with a anability to translate strategy into implementation. "His track record of success combined with his construction supply distribution background knowledge make him uniquely qualified," Eichelberger said.
Stihl Hardware All Stars: New Jersey
Lambertville, N.J. — The hardware and building supply industry is not a beauty contest. But if it were, Niece Lumber — on the banks of the Delaware River in historic Lambertville — would be a leading contender in the building materials competition.
“There’s not a better looking yard in the country,” said Marc Currie, who represents the fourth generation of family ownership, and the fifth generation of yard workers. “And not a cleaner one, either.”
Bold statements? Yes. Biased? Perhaps. But they’re also hard to disprove.
The yard is located in the “Antiques Capital of the Garden State,” amid a wealth of stately Victorian homes and federal townhouses. Visitors to Niece Lumber are greeted by gables and a porch that match the architectural integrity of the town. The appearance benefits from a culture of cleanliness that was passed down from Currie’s grandfather, Harry Blair, who instilled an obsession with cleanliness throughout the ranks.
The obsession remains (as do two current employees who worked for Blair). And behind the postcard-perfect setting is a lumberyard dedicated to high standards.
“We’re very fortunate to serve in this area,” Currie said. “We go to Bucks County and Hunterdon County and Princeton, [New Jersey], and there’s a ton of quality builders in these communities. And that matches what we’re trying to sell, high end products and services.”
A focus on the custom home builders and remodelers also means the yard is well versed in historic mouldings and custom windows.
The yard, which describes its business as a 70-30 split between pro and DIY, underwent a store redesign through the Do it Best co-op’s program about a year and a half ago. That move reflects the company’s constant-improvement mentality. Currently, the store is building a 1,000-sq.-ft. outdoor deck display. It also unveiled a new partnership with a high-end local cabinet manufacturer from Bucks County.
Niece Lumber builds community ties through its service, as well as contractor showcase nights and other events. Most recently, a ladies night attracted a crowd of 50 or 60, and with plans to repeat.
Another benefit along the Delaware River in Lambertville is that the area is naturally a fortress built by nature against big retailers. The Delaware River, the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the absence of a major highway keep national competition at bay — though you can find big boxes in Flemington some 12 miles away.
“We’re fairly isolated from the big boxes, which is unusual in New Jersey,” Currie said.
And the best thing about Niece Lumber: It runs itself. “I don’t have to worry about anything, and that’s a tribute to the people we have here. When I’m off on a Saturday, I know everything will get done,” Currie said.