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MakerBot swings into action at Home Depot

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The 3-D printing movement might be the next big thing. It might be the next Betamax.

But one thing for sure is that the world’s largest home improvement retailer has made space in a dozen stores for a high-tech endcap promoting the “power and versatility” of 3-D printing.
 
Simply put, instructions go into the 3-D printer, real plastic objects come out — things like replacement parts, art projects and product prototypes.

“You don’t need 3-D modeling skills to 3-D print,” reads the new end-cap display at the subterranean Home Depot on Third Avenue in Manhattan. That’s because MakerBot, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based 3-D printer manufacturer, is “full of predesigned models that range from simple to complex.”

On display is a fully working adjustable wrench (orange-colored) that prints fully assembled from the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3-D printers, selling for under $3,000.

Other MakerBot endcaps are up and running at Home Depots in Illinois and California. That puts Depot in pretty high-tech company. Microsoft stores have been selling MakerBots for about a year.

“We are continually looking to bring the latest innovation to our customers and are excited to offer Maker-Bot 3-D Printing products in select stores and on Homedepot.com,” said Joe Downey, a merchant for Home Depot. “MakerBot 3-D printers are yet another great technology that can serve particular needs of specific customers.”

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Realtor.com paints picture of pending projects

BY HBSDEALER Staff

For those looking for good news to counter the disappointing June housing starts statistics from the Commerce Department (down 9% from May), consider the following from Realtor.com.

Of more than 1,500 visitors to the real estate website in May, more than two-thirds say they are planning home renovations within the next six months. And these are serious renovations, according to the survey data. The most common budget range is $2,000 to $5,000 with 22%. Not far behind is $20,001 to $50,000 with 14%, and $10,000 to $20,000 with 18%.

The top reasons for the remodeling are greater enjoyment of the home and improved appearance, according to the Home Improvement Survey. And the kitchen and bathroom are expected to receive the lion’s share of attention.

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Postcard from Silicon Valley

BY HBSDEALER Staff

What Silicon Valley company is the reigning “Business of the Year,” as determined by the Campbell, California, Chamber of Commerce?

Is it Netflix? Apple? Google?

The answer (and you can Google it) is Economy Lumber, established in 1936 in neighboring San Jose. Today, when everyone seems to be chasing dot-com gold in an age of disruptive technologies, the Campbell lumberyard is doing things almost the same way it has for generations.

Almost, but not quite.

“We’re always trying to tweak what we’re doing, because there’s always something that can be done better,” said J.D. Saunders, the general manager who represents the third-generation of ownership. “It’s just figuring out what those things are, putting one of those at the top of the stack and executing. That’s the trick.”

At the top of the current stack is a builder’s hardware merchandise re-assortment and expansion to meet the demand for the state’s earthquake-proof construction. Plus, a makeover is in the works for the retail area. A long wooden counter that divides staff from customers will be replaced with a more interactive point of interaction (think Apple Stores).

“There’s an old adage we try to follow: Work on the business, not in the business,” Saunders said. “That’s the challenge.”

Saunders is no stranger to the challenges of running a business in a state that has earned its reputation as regulatory champion. He served as president of the West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association in 2011. (J.D.’s father, John, was president in 2000.)

During a recent yard tour here, Saunders pointed to a “perfectly good truck,” which has fallen victim to the rules of the California Air Resource Board. It will be taken off the road on Jan. 1. (“Now, do we hire a really good salesman, or do we replace the truck?” he asked.)

In lobbying, you win some and you lose some. But giving up is not an option.

J.D.’s support for the lumberyard business will continue as he steps into the role of chairman of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association. The induction ceremony will be one of the highlights of the 2014 ProDealer Industry Summit, Oct. 28-30 in San Diego.

In his role with the NLBMDA, Saunders has an outlet for his passion and advocacy on behalf of the lumberyard business.

“The importance of participation in the NLBMDA or a local association can be illustrated by thinking about how we all strive to run our businesses,” he said. “The top priority tasks — issues like safety and customer service — are not left to a small number of individuals within a company. These things require everyone’s attention.”

And the benefits to joining, he said, “rise and fall based on the level of dealer participation.”

Consider that a personal invitation from a Silicon Valley business leader to get involved.

[email protected]

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