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Simpson Strong-Tie encourages construction trade students

BY HBSDealer Staff

Simpson Strong-Tie has partnered with Lincoln High School's Engineering and Construction Academy in Stockton, California in an effort to support students interested in entering the trade.

The Engineering and Construction Academy offers coursework, hands-on training and career guidance for students interested in a building trade and construction vocation.

The Academy has partnered with the company since last year, involving product donations, student field trips, a scholarship program and internships.

“It has been a fantastic partnership between Simpson Strong-Tie and our Academy," said Jeff Wright, director of Lincoln High School Engineering and Construction Academy. "The company has provided incredible opportunities for our students and we are thrilled to have two former students now working at the Stockton facility. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Simpson Strong-Tie in the future."

Simpson Strong-Tie currently maintains offices, a manufacturing facility and training center, along with its Tyrell Gilb Research Lab, 20 minutes away from the Academy.  

“Supporting students in the Academy is a great way to build interest in the trades as well as familiarize potential future customers about our products," said Simpson Strong-Tie VP and Stockton branch manager Bruce Lewis. "We’re excited to be able to help the Academy reach its goal of ‘building a workforce for California’ through hands-on projects and real work experience."

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From the Issue: Industry Scoreboard

BY HBSDealer Staff

The conditions were ripe for growth in 2014 for the industry’s leading home improvement retailers. And the industry took advantage.

A much contemplated economic recovery, a return to seven figures’ worth of housing starts and growing pockets of housing market values served as the growth-oriented backdrop to this year’s Industry Scoreboard, which tracks the Top 300 home improvement retailers.

The list is not without its dramatic gainers — particularly CNRG and US LBM, the former a collection of Orgill-supplied hardware and building supply dealers, the latter a fast-growing network of lumberyards. Both companies continued their torrid pace of expansions into 2015. (Note: the Industry Scoreboard measures metrics from the previous year.)

Still, the Scoreboard can best be described as “steady as she goes” and fueled by a modest recovery. Among the other storylines:

• Rising tide lifts (almost) all boats

For 2014, the U.S. Census estimated sales of building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers — an industry classification that includes the home centers and the mom-and-pops — increased to $318.7 billion. That’s up 5.4% from $302.2 billion in the previous year.

That’s actually a full percentage point higher than the cumulative sales of the top 25 listed on the next page. These companies generated 4.4% total sales growth.

However, omitting Sears Holdings and its double-digit decline yields a collective top 24 growth of 5.8%.

The Census reports NAICS 44413, the hardware stores, outperformed all of the above, with a 2014 sales increase of 8.9%.

• The two-horse race

There wasn’t a lot of relative movement in the rankings. And nowhere is the lock on a position stronger than in the one and two spots. The Home Depot increased its volume lead over its rival Lowe’s to just under $27 billion.
Interesting fact: The year-over-year change in Home Depot’s volume lead over Lowe’s was $1.56 billion — higher than the annual sales of all but the top 12 home improvement retailers on the list.

• More with less

Based on the Industry Scoreboard Survey, retailers are growing their sales faster than they are growing their head count, and much faster than they are growing their store count.

More than 6-in-10 respondents (62%) reported sales increases of 5% or more. However, only 34% described a 5% or more increase in the number of employees. And only 17% described a 5% or more increase in the number of stores, compared with the previous year.

• A service (and people) business

More than half (55.6%) of all survey respondents indicated that the following statement described their attitude: “Our No. 1 competitive advantage is customer service.”

The second most agreed-upon attitude in the survey, at 49.2%, was the following statement: “The biggest challenge we face is hiring good employees.”

THE TOP 300 SCOREBOARD IS ACCESSIBLE HERE.

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Worx recalls electric blower/vacs

BY HBSDealer Staff

Positec Tool is recalling a number of its Worx-brand electric blower/vacs.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the grounded and ungrounded wiring has displayed a tendency to work in reverse, which poses a shock hazard to consumers.

The recall affects approximately 24,300 units in the U.S. and 370 in Canada, though there have been no incidents or injuries reported.

The blower/vacs in question are black and feature a “Worx” logo printed on the side of the motor housing, with model number WG507 and a serial number in one of the following ranges: 201418000134 through 201418018263, 201418018268 through 201418021382, or 201511000379 through 201511001397.

They were sold at Menards and Walmart stores across the U.S. from January 2015 through May 2015.

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