Smart Tiles

Smart Tiles guarantees stickiness

BY HBSDealer Staff

Smart Tiles, a manufacturer of peel-and-stick tiles, is promoting its products as 100% guaranteed to stick.

A specialist in adhesive wall tiles since 1999, the company offers collections of classic contemporary and modern tiles to help renovate kitchens, bathrooms or other rooms

In addition to its stickiness guarantee, the products promise installation with no specialty tools or glue. They are easy to clean with a sponge or damp cloth, and easy to cut with a box cutter.

The company promotes “high-quality Canadian manufacturing.”

New in 2018, is an international influence — tiles with the flavor of design from North Africa, Portugal and Italy.


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What is the biggest challenge facing your company?
Labor Savers — White Lightning

Labor Savers: It sounds fast. It is fast.

BY HBSDealer Staff

In a tight labor market, efficiency can be a game changer.

The following article is the part of a series of interviews with companies offering solutions designed for speed and efficiency at or near the job site. The series ran as “Labor Savers” in the March 2018 issue of HBSDealer.

The name “White Lighting” seems tailor-made for today’s time-sensitive contractor, but it’s actually a brand that’s close to 100 years old. In recent times, the line of caulk and sealants has certainly embraced the concept of job-site speed, along with the closely related concept of ease-of-use. Faster is better. Hence the brand’s slogan: “Finish in a Flash.” HBSDealer spoke to Keith Krese, senior product manager for caulk and sealants for Cleveland-based White Lightning.

White Lightning might be the fastest-sounding product in home improvement. Was that always the idea?

The brand tees up pretty well for any discussion of speed on the job site. But we go back a long way — almost 100 years. The connotation over the years has changed. It started out really as a painter’s caulk, and that’s our heritage.

What are you seeing on the job sites?

We’re well aware of the challenges of the labor shortages, the aging contractor base and the lack of younger folks entering the trades. So, one of our new product strategies focuses on speed of project completion. We’ve even begun using the tagline: “White Lightning: Finish in a flash.” And that’s something we really want to commit to.

What are the specific products in this area?

The first one is our 3006 Quick Dry. The 3006 has been a flagship product for many years, and its well known by pros. If a painter uses an air sprayer, he can apply paint immediately. Or, you can paint over with a brush after 20 minutes, under normal drying conditions. Other products, you might have to wait one or two hours more before you can paint it and avoid cracks. So that’s been a big win for us.

What else is in the line?

Our Speed Grip product is an all-purpose construction adhesive. The big advantage here is that it offers instant grab on most surfaces, and cures faster than most products in its category. So, whether you’re putting up some chair rails or doing some repair work, maybe on some tile, you won’t have to stand there holding it in place and waiting for the adhesive to set up.

After responding to the need for speed, how would you describe the market reaction?

With these products, you don’t have to wait all day to come back and put a coat of paint over it, and that has been met with a great deal of acceptance. And what we’re also seeing is people trading up from those opening-price-point items or general-purpose items. With these products, they see something that really delivers on a need, and they are willing to invest in a product that gets the job done right and will save them time. There’s a premium for the attribute of being easier to work with and giving you some of your day back.

Can you sum it all up quickly in a go-to-market strategy?

We really focus on being able to deliver maximum productivity for both professional and DIY users. We introduce innovative products that enhance the speed of work and allow you to finish the project faster and allow you to do it right the first time.

Catch Up: HBSDealer published one Q&A every day this week with someone from each of the following companies regarding its labor-saving products: Hyphen SolutionsWhite LightningGeorgia-PacificEpicor and E-Z Gutter.


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What is the biggest challenge facing your company?
Regulatory Wrap-Up

Regulatory Wrap-Up: Wage theft in California, Massachusetts

BY HBSDealer Staff


U.S. House: Democrats introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from retaining any tips regardless of internal pooling policies and mandate that all tips would be considered the property of the employee and not the employer. The bill has the verbal support of Labor Secretary Acosta and other key Republicans but still likely faces a long road to passage.

Connecticut: The governor announced his support for a slate of “fair workplace” bills that include an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, an expansion of the state’s paid leave program, an anti-harassment training mandate and a ban on asking salary history questions.

New York: Two of the regional public hearings on Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to increase the statewide tipped wage level has been rescheduled. The Syracuse hearing was delayed from March 12 to April 30 and the Buffalo hearing was delayed from March 21 to May 8. The proposal calls for an increase in the tipped wage for upstate workers from its current $7.50 per hour to $10.30 per hour.

Washington, D.C.: The Board of Elections certified a ballot initiative that would increase the tipped wage from the current $3.33 per hour to $15 per hour by 2026, ultimately eliminating the tip credit altogether. The minimum wage would continue to rise with inflation. The initiative will appear on the June 19 primary ballot.

Target: The retailer announced an increase in their minimum hourly pay to $12 per hour nationwide. The announcement follows an increase to $11 per hour last fall and a promise to increase further to $15 per hour by 2020.


Wage Theft

California: The Labor Commissioner’s office issued an $8.3 million fine to the Chino-based fitness chain, Camp Bootcamp Inc., for failure to pay their employees for their travel time between chain locations, overtime and other alleged wage violations.

Worcester, Mass.: The council is considering an ordinance that would empower the city to review and revoke property tax incentive deals for companies found to be in violation of wage laws. The proposal is under legal review and has unanimous support on the council.


Paid Leave

Hawaii: A paid leave bill requiring employers with fewer than fifty workers to provide paid sick leave accruing at a rate of one hour per every 40 hours worked passed the house and heads to the senate. The bill includes an exemption for employers who already offer a more generous paid leave policy or pay workers at a rate of $1.65 per hour in excess in the minimum wage in 2019, escalating thereafter. Another bill which requires the state labor department to establish a paid leave program for all workers by 2023 and appropriates $1.5 million to a family leave fund passed the senate.

Utah: A bill that allows companies that offer paid family and medical leave to take tax credits passed the house and heads to the senate.

Dallas: A city councilmember has expressed interest in passing paid leave legislation similar to the recently-passed ordinance in Austin, Texas. It is unclear at this stage how much support such a measure would have in the council and state legislators have announced their intent to pass statewide preemption legislation when the legislature convenes in 2019.

Dollar General: The discount retailer announced a significant expansion to its paid leave program that will go into effect April 1. All eligible full and part-time employees will be granted two weeks of paid time off and four weeks will be provided to birth mothers. The company will also offer up to $4,000 in adoption assistance.



Connecticut: A senate committee held a hearing on a bill to prohibit the use of “on-call” scheduling by mandating that all employers provide no less than 24 hrs notice of shift schedules.

South Carolina: A bill to prohibit localities from mandating scheduling laws was introduced in the senate. The state already preempts local mandates on wage and paid leave.

Philadelphia, Pa.: The Committee on Youth and Children heard testimony from retail and restaurant workers as well as healthcare professionals and union leaders regarding the need for legislation to mandate citywide scheduling practices. Legislation has yet to be introduced, although it is expected soon and will likely mirror other proposals from San Francisco and Seattle. Representatives from the restaurant, retail and hotel industries continue to meet with council members and the mayor’s office to discuss industry scheduling policies.


Equal Pay

Massachusetts: An updated equal pay law will go into effect July 1 providing more clarity as to what constitutes unlawful wage discrimination and adding protections to ensure greater fairness and equity in the workplace. The attorney general’s office recently issued guidance and online resources to assist employers in complying with the law.


Labor Policy

NLRB: In a letter to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, five Democratic senators requested that the board abandon settlement talks with McDonald’s in the long-running case regarding worker claims that they were retaliated against for going on strike. The case is at the center of the ongoing debate around joint employer liability. The letter follows the board’s decision to vacate the recent Hy-Brand case. That decision re-established the joint employer standard promulgated during the Obama Administration. Meanwhile, lawyers for Hy-Brand will ask the NLRB to reconsider that case. The company intends to argue that Board members wrongly excluded their colleague William Emanuel from the decision-making process.

Idaho: The house passed a bill codifying that neither a franchisee nor a franchisee’s employees shall be considered employees of the franchisor. The bill now moves to the senate for consideration.



Hawaii: A bill that establishes that retailers with more than $100,000 in annual sales are considered “to be engaged in business in the state” and subject to sales tax collection requirements passed the senate and now heads to the house. The bill also establishes that internet marketplace providers are considered the seller of the property for tax collection purposes for all applicable third-party sales.


Retail Crime

Virginia: A bill that increases the felony theft level from $200 to $500 has passed both the house and senate and now heads to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.


Data Security

Arizona: A bill expanding the existing law governing data breaches passed the house and heads to the senate. The bill, which is supported by the attorney general, strengthens notification requirements and expands the definition of personal information to include fingerprints, electronic signatures and email addresses. The bill was amended to ensure that a breach must still result in “substantial economic loss” to trigger notification requirements.


Health Care

Federal: Seventeen attorneys general submitted joint comments to the Labor Department opposing regulations that would allow for association health care plans to operate outside of the mandates of the ACA. The group requested that the rule be rejected as it would negatively impact ACA’s individual and small group health markets.



California: A bill was introduced to tax corporate income based on a publicly-traded company’s CEO pay ratio relative to their median employee wage level as determined by the SEC pay ratio rule. Currently, non-financial institutions pay a tax rate of 8.84%. Under the proposed draft, that rate could increase to as much as 13% depending on their published ratio.


Key Takeaways

  • President Trump’s official enactment of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has brought condemnation from affected countries and potential retaliation. The exemption of both Canada and Mexico has given some trading partners, such as the EU, hope that they will receive similar treatment. However, countries like Brazil, the second largest exporter of steel to the U.S. and the largest importer of coal from the U.S., has indicated it is considering other sources of coal in response to the tariff. Operators need to prepare for overall increases in the costs of consumer goods as well as the impact retaliation would have on major imported products such as like agricultural commodities and apparel.
  • The CEO pay issue continues to gain attention. As more publicly-traded brands release pay ratio data over the coming weeks and months, policymakers will be increasingly adding those data points to their public statements. The introduction of the bill in California that links corporate tax rates to published ratios is a stark example of the combining of the response by many blue states to federal tax reform with the rising pay equity issue. Even though the bill may have an uphill climb, the issue will continue to gain momentum as more ratio data becomes public.
  • Employers may want to consider a close examination of the Labor Department’s new wage theft pilot program to identify the scope and strength of any potential safe harbor provisions. Additionally, since we expect state regulators in many big states like California and New York to become increasingly aggressive on enforcement, participation in the program may provide some level of good faith protection from zealous enforcement agents.


Legislature Status for Week of 3/12/18

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Thirty-six state legislatures are meeting actively this week: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.



Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.


The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.



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What is the biggest challenge facing your company?