DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Wallace Hardware lands a new deck partner

BY HBSDealer Staff

Morristown, Tennessee-based Wallace Hardware Company, a distributor of lumber and building materials, has teamed with DuraLife Decking & Railing Systems.

“We are looking to DuraLife to foster the next stage of our growth,” says Brian Cain, Wallace Hardware’s LBM manager. “Our goal is to become the market’s premier supplier of high-quality materials. DuraLife’s decking and railing products are among the finest available today." he said the product "fits nicely into our value-added selling initiative that emphasizes business growth."

Wallace Hardware is making the product availiable to hundreds of dealers across 13 states and within a 250-mile radius of its Morristown headquarters.

DuraLife specializes in durable decking & railing systems that blend color and performance with value, according to the company.

In addition, DuraLife’s low-maintenance polypropylene and hardwood composite decking is recognized for its high resistance to spills, staining, fading, mold and mildew, while retaining a vibrant finish over time. Each deck board is also designed to minimize sagging and flex between joints as well as improve overall aesthetics and structural integrity.

“Wallace Hardware is a highly-respected distributor with a 100-year-old history of meeting market needs with quality materials,” says Jim Poulin, the national sales manager for DuraLife Decking and Railing. “We are proud to work with them to supply their customers with decking, railing and related products proven to outperform other forms of wood and composite decking.”

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Dealers Choice Distribution joins NLBMDA

BY HBSDealer Staff

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) has welcomed a new member.

Dealers Choice Distribution has joined the association's Manufacturers and Services Council (MSC), which is comprised of other building material manufacturers and service providers serving the LBM industry.

"The Dealers Choice team is excited to partner with the NLBMDA and support its membership base by joining the Manufacturers and Services Council," said Todd Skaggs, national VP. "The success of lumber and building materials dealers nationwide is vital to our business. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with this industry-leading association and the dealer members and supporting the building products industry."

Dealers Choice is a fast-growing direct to dealer distributor of roofing, siding, gypsum, millwork, building insulation and accessories.

Dealers Choice maintains distribution centers across the U.S. and serves building supply dealers, lumber yards and home centers.

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Nurturing the next generation

BY Ken Clark

At strategy meetings, retail conventions, in memos and tweets, the hardware and building supply industry has repeatedly asked: where is the next generation of leaders?

The question is even more pressing for independents, where many aging owners are looking to solve their secession challenges and continue the family business.

The short answer is: we don't know. But there is no shortage of groups aimed at nurturing and developing today's younger participants in the hardware and building supply industry.

Ken Dunham, executive director of the West Coast Lumber and Building Material Association, takes pride in the association’s “Second Growth” movement.

"We are very aware that this group of people will be the industry leaders in the years to come and most see the lumber and building materials industry as their lifelong career,” Dunham said. "If we can facilitate their learning, contacts and professionalism, we’ve succeeded as an organization.”

Tracking the average age of industry leaders is a tricky business. An executive who is the titular head of a business may not be the person actually calling the shots day to day. Still, a reasonable figure for the hardware business is in the high 50s.

At Oak Brook, Illinois-based Ace Hardware, the co-op has seen the average age of its store owners trickle down from 57. According to John Venhuizen, CEO of the co-op, the decline isn’t happening fast enough.

“The average age of hardware retailer is slowly coming down, a little,” Venhuizen said. “The industry is getting more diverse, and that’s beautiful for our industry and it’s beautiful for Ace. But we have work to do. No one is planting a flag and saying, ‘we got that one.’”

The co-op’s Progressive Ace Leaders is doing “encouraging” work toward the goal of exciting and mobilizing young store leaders, he said.

Similar groups are common in the industry. True Value has its Young Retailers Network. The Northeastern Retail Lumber Association has its Northeastern Young Lumber Execs. Do it Best Corp. has its MOB, which stands for Move Over Boomers.

Dustin Kaehr, territory manager for Do it Best, helps organize the Do it Best youth group. In about five years, it has grown from a handful of participants to an organization that hosts events that regularly bring together future leaders from more than 20 stores around the country.

The MOB isn’t organized with officers under Robert’s Rules of Order. Kaehr describes meetings as free flowing dialogs.

“We usually host a store tour and store evaluation and share feedback,” Kaehr said. “And we’ll build a discussion around, for instance, three things that are being done in your business. That alone is usually a two-and-a-half hour conversation.”

As far as discussion points that are unique to the next generation, Kaehr pointed to human resources issues. There’s the old school of “my way or the highway.” And then there’s the new school. When it comes to termination of employees — “these guys think along the lines of ‘How can I work with this guy?’” Kaehr said.

“Of course there are times of firing employees when you have to,” he said. “But when our guys get in that spot, they want to do the right thing, and they want to have everyone included.”

At the NRLA, the Northeastern Young Lumber Execs will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. During that time it has grown to 97 dues-paying members, split up equally between retailers and vendors or suppliers.

Jordan Russin of Russin Lumber is serving his one-year term as president of the group. On deck as first vice president is Mike Duval of Huber Engineered Woods.

Russin, 38, describes himself as a “grizzled veteran” of the group designed for industry execs under 40. 

“We really do believe that the future of the LBM industry is with us,” Russin said. “One of the things I stress when I’m asked to talk about the industry is that if you’re running an LBM business and you’re not actively talking about filling the seats of the 55-and-over crowd, you’re kidding yourself.”

Along with the mission of motivation and recruitment, education is a big part of every youth movement. One of the highlights of the Second Growth group on the West Coast is the semi-annual Mill Tour.

“I think it is especially valuable for those younger sales people to attend, because they now have an appreciation into the whole lumber process — from the logging to the finished product coming to their stores,” Dunham said. “You aren’t going to get this kind of education from a sales manual.”

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