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Walmart offers free shipping for online holiday purchases

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Walmart is offering its online shoppers free shipping — with no minimum purchase — for more than 60,000 items starting this week and ending Dec. 20, according to an article in the New York Times.

“It’s the most competitive offer out there, and we’re pretty excited about it,” Steve Nave, senior VP and general manager of Walmart.com, told the newspaper. Many of the SKUs chosen for free shipping are electronics and toys, and Nave said an important consideration was whether the item might become a gift.

“We looked at the areas we felt were going to be popular in gift-giving this holiday, and went from there,” he said.

Walmart said it will not raise prices to offset shipping and will not press shippers, like UPS and FedEx, to absorb the costs.

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Lumber Liquidators reports Q3 income down

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toano, Va.-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidator posted third-quarter net income of $4.3 million, down 44.8% from $7.8 million as reported for the same quarter last year.

Sales for the quarter ended Sept. 30 were $147.2 million, up 4.7% from $140.5 million reported for the same quarter of 2009.

During the quarter, the company implemented an integrated business solution from SAP, including an enhanced point-of-sale solution, a warehouse management and inventory control system, an integrated merchandising and product allocation system, and related management reporting functionality. According to the company, the new systems impacted the third quarter by reducing productivity, primarily across store and warehouse operations, including less effective conversion of customer demand into invoiced sales, less efficient product allocation and distribution, and the general need for additional resources to operate the business.

“While we are confident that over the longer term the implementation of our new SAP system will significantly benefit the business, our performance in the third quarter reflects declines in productivity both at the store-level and in the flow of product through our warehouse following implementation,” said Jeffrey Griffiths, president and CEO.

“We experienced a significant build in customer deposits on open orders over the course of the quarter which, by the end of the quarter, grew to be almost double the level we recorded at the end of the third quarter last year.”

Griffiths added that the company was less effective in fulfilling customer orders than initially hoped during the transition, and more resources were invested than expected to improve productivity.

Looking forward, the company expects a 10% to 15% increase in the fourth quarter over the same period in 2009 for a range of $151 million to $157 million, with total net sales for 2010 to be $618 million to $624 million. The company also expects to open 11 new stores in the fourth quarter.

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Forge Lumber keeps building

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The owners of Forge Lumber were on the sidelines during the height of the building boom, having sold their Cincinnati operation to Builders FirstSource in 2000. But after their non-compete agreements expired, the management group jumped back in.

And they wasted little time establishing their two-location operation — one yard on each side of the Ohio River in Kentucky and Ohio — as a force in their market.

In 2009, Forge Lumber rode market share gains to a 27% sales increase and a No. 282 ranking on the Pro Dealer Industry Scoreboard. For its success and commitment to service and growth, the company earned the 2010 Independent Pro Dealer of the Year award. That sales success, in a year when the vast majority of companies on the Scoreboard showed declines, was the result of a focus on the customer and a focus on quality.

“We want to have the most professional lumber operation in the country,” said Eric Steinman, EVP. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that begins with putting the right people in the right positions.

“When we bought two smaller lumber organizations to form Forge Lumber, those purchases were focused on people,” he said. “Many of them we knew and respected and felt like they would help form a great team.”

Forge’s strong 2009 was aided by the withdrawal of some major players, opening the door for local knowledge to win business. One key to the team is David Luecke (pronounced “lucky”), VP sales and marketing. Luecke brings 35 years of experience in the LBM business, including a role as president and CEO of Riemeier Lumber, which was once the dominant commercial project supplier in Cincinnati.”

“We have a significant edge in our markets because of who we have on our team, and our depth of experience in the industry,” said Luecke.

Another key member of the management team is John Steinman IV, son of Forge Lumber president John Steinman. Steinman the younger is heading up information technology and purchasing, which management believes will prove critical to future success.

“We know we have work to do, and we always have work to do; but right now, we’ve completed some difficult upgrades, and we’re about to put the foot on the gas pedal,” Eric Steinman said.

Building on its 2009 performance — $23 million in sales and 27% growth — will require a commitment to customers, he added. The company is built to partner with builders. It emphasizes expertise in commercial, residential, construction services and mill services — along with the basics of same-day delivery, accurate estimating and accurate billing. Another strategic advantage is the ability to expand business through its sister companies — Moellering Industries, which sells cabinets and countertops for commercial projects; and Sims-Lohman, offering kitchen and bath showrooms in Indiana and Ohio.

Forge Lumber has also engaged customers by embracing green building practices and receiving chain-of-custody certification through the Scientific Certification Systems to handle Forest Stewardship Council-approved products.

The name of “Forge” came about as the result of “non-scientific pondering,” Eric said. But it seems to fit, as the family business pounds away and forges ahead on customer service.

“We’re very honored to receive this award,” Eric said. “It reflects the strong work ethic of all of our team members. And we’re also very optimistic that we can continue to grow with our customers.”

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