TW Perry thinks beyond “green”
Gaithersburg, Md.-based pro dealer TW Perry is promoting understanding of green building and environmentally friendly materials with a back-to-basics educational program.
The six-unit TW Perry has received chain-of-custody certification by both the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and it recently hosted its third annual Green Building Workshop. According to CEO Michael Cassidy, as the company’s green education programs grow, they will focus on product application.
"We have done a lot of education on green," said Cassidy. "The next step is how to actually use the materials correctly."
According to Cassidy, good building technique and installation knowledge are bigger parts of the total green equation than the actual materials used.
"It’s not wind turbines, and it’s not solar panels, and it’s not collected rain water. It’s not fuel cells," he said. "It’s good basic building technique. Because an incredibly well recycled, super-environmental product that’s installed the wrong way will have a negative effect."
TW Perry’s Mike Moore, VP materials management, said the green education is a service to its customers — and an important service. "It’s educating our customers about positioning themselves to survive," he said. "The codes are changing, and they have to adapt. Green education is about using new materials that are coming out in the right way, and it’s positioning them to be a leader in their market."
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Water features, decorative lighting to lead L&G rebound
Demand for landscaping products in the United States is projected to increase 7.6% per year through 2015, according to a study just released by the Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based market research firm. Part of the rebound will be the result of a strong improvement from depressed sales following the 2007-to-2009 recession. Overall growth in landscaping products demand will also get a boost from the recovery in U.S. housing activity, including new construction and existing single-family home sales, the study said.
Gains in demand for decorative products, the largest segment with 44% of the market in 2010, will benefit from rapidly increasing interest in water features (e.g., ponds and fountains), as more property owners look to these items as a way of masking unwanted nearby noise and promoting tranquility. Decorative lighting will benefit from product developments featuring easy installation and energy-saving technology. This category is expected to grow by double digits through 2015, as decorative lights are used to accent pathways, statuary, green goods and water features.
Hardscapes will experience the fastest growth — 10% — through 2015, as consumers make upgrades to their outdoor living spaces. Concrete products will continue to account for the largest share of the hardscapes segment. Among concrete products, pavers are forecast to achieve double-digit annual growth, a result of the recovering housing market, as well as greater penetration of permeable types in ecologically sensitive locations. Pavers, as well as stones and boulders, are considered attractive and durable materials for constructing patios, walkways and surrounds for outdoor fireplaces, ponds and in-ground swimming pools. Despite many opportunities, hardscapes will continue to face competition from alternative products and structures, such as wood decking.
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A new approach to appliances at Kmart
The market on Friday cheered a move by Kmart parent company Sears Holdings to cut 700 positions from the appliance departments at 225 stores. Shares of Sears Holding advanced $2.67 on Friday to close at $74.03 after news of the layoffs was reported Friday morning by the Wall Street Journal.
Kmart spokesman Chris Brathwaite was quoted as saying the move will allow customers to check out appliances at any register rather than going to a dedicated register for appliances. But there also won’t be any specialized appliance-only staff people on hand near appliances. Instead, all Kmart staffers are being trained to answer questions about appliances, according to Brathwaite. There will also be a 1-800 number customers can call for help.
That is hardly the type of customer service appliance shoppers are used to experiencing at such other leading appliance retailers as full-line Sears stores, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy or HH Gregg. The move makes sense for Kmart though, since its stores are hardly a destination for appliances, other than the type that fit on kitchen counters. These days, shoppers in the market for large appliances have done considerable online research and made up their mind about what model to buy before they set foot in the store. So the opportunity for a sales associate with minimal training at a Kmart store to influence a shopper’s purchase was quite low and therefore not worth the company’s investment in labor.
Kmart had expanded the number of stores with appliance departments to 1,300 stores from 270 stores in February.
Another blow to customer
Another blow to customer service in a store already suffering from below expectiation customer service.