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Worthington buys BernzOmatic

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Worthington Industries, Inc, announced its acquisition of BernzOmatic, a manufacturer and marketer of hand-held torches, solder, and related items, from Irwin Industrial Tool Company. Specifically, the acquisition was made by the Pressure Cylinders segment of Worthington Industries. BernzOmatic manufactures from locations in Medina, N.Y., and Winston-Salem, N.C.

The purchase is expected to benefit Worthington by expanding the company’s range of products, as well as contributing to the already established hand-held torch cylinder business of Worthington Cylinders. Additionally, the purchase of BernzOmatic will offer Worthington access to international markets and to the plumbing wholesale channel. Worthington Industries also expects to benefit from BernzOmatic’s strong brand recognition.

John McConnell, chairman and CEO of Worthington Industries, said, "This acquisition accelerates our growth in the hand torch business with an established retail brand and gives us access to additional international distribution channels.” 

“We can now offer customers the benefit and opportunity to purchase Worthington’s hand torch cylinder and the BernzOmatic hand torch and accessories from the same manufacturer,” said Harry Goussetis, president of Worthington Cylinders. “In addition to its strong brand, BernzOmatic has a history of product innovation. We anticipate enhancing that legacy with our manufacturing capabilities and expertise to grow existing and new product categories.”

— Allison Har-Zvi

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AHMA Survey says: Eliminate red tape

BY Allison Har-Zvi

As part of its June Industry Confidence Index, the American Hardware Manufacturers Association posed two additional “hot topic” survey questions to its members, regarding members’ opinions of the passage of the proposed Jobs and Energy Permitting Act and of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.

The first question asked: “H.R. 2021, The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, proposes to eliminate red tape, bureaucratic delays and prolonged litigation to obtain permits currently common under the Clean Air Act. Specifically, it would allow for the increased development of domestic energy off the coast of Alaska. Do you support passage of this act?” The response from AHMA members was largely positive, with 84% in favor, 16% unsure and 0% against the act. 

Members also responded affirmatively to the second question: “Governmental action on free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea has been postponed at least until July, and perhaps until after the August recess. Are you in favor of enactment of these agreements?” To this question, 52% answered “Yes,” 44% “Not Sure” and 4% “No.”

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Industry veteran offers advice on managing through a downturn

BY HBSDEALER Staff

After the economic crash of 2008-2009, retailers that successfully weathered the storm may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief. However, John B. Heroux, president of Colonial Lumber Management in Bedford, N.H., and 48-year veteran of the wholesale building materials business, warned managers not to let their guard down.

It may seem like the worst is over, but Heroux cautioned against what he calls “‘we made it through the worst, everything’s fine’ syndrome.” Instead, Heroux advised that sales managers continue to evaluate the performance of their salespeople, particularly when it comes to seeking out new businesses off the beaten path. Thinking about ways to keep salespeople motivated, especially those who may be underperforming, is key, according to Heroux: “How many new accounts have your salespeople opened? Do they treat their territory like a series of bus stops, and make the same calls every day? … If so, motivation needed.”

Investing in IT upgrades may not be the first thing on anyone’s mind in these economic times. Still, Heroux suggested that in addition to evaluating and motivating salespeople, it is important to keep in mind the IT system and its ability to provide information about whether all products are being sold.

Above all, Heroux suggested that managers continue to actively ask themselves a number of questions about their company’s performance, and how sales might be improved: “What do you do with the salesperson who can’t sell an account in his/her assigned piece of geography? Is this an account that your firm has never sold? How do you get that customer to at least listen?" 

Failing to ask such questions, and growing complacent when it seems as though things may be looking up, should be avoided at all costs. “We’re not out of the woods yet by any means,” Heroux said. 

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