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Highlights from a 2023 bright spot for building supply dealers.

FEBRUARY 2023 Volume 49 No. 2

Efficient Service, Dedicated Operators


Our Fleet, Our Drivers

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4 February 2023 HARDWARE + BUILDING SUPPLY DEALER HBSDealer.com Hardware + Building Supply Dealer (ISSN 2376-5852) is published monthly, except for July/August and November/December, which are double issues, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $110 one year; $200 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $130 one year; $235 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $150 one year; $285 two year; $16 single issue copy; in all other countries (air mail only). Digital Subscription: $75 one year; $140 two year. Periodical postage paid at Chicago, IL., and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to HBSD, Circulation Fulfillment Director, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Copyright © 2023 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. 02.23 COVER STORY 16 Decking and Demand in 2023 Despite slower home sales, there is still sales potential for this major outdoor category. 26 Guest column: Deckorators’ Michelle Hendricks on outdoor trends. FROM THE EDITOR 8 Simmer down on kitchen appliance bans. NEWS & ANALYSIS 10 US LBM CEO adds color to a major transaction. 10 Here’s how housing starts ended the year. 12 News Map INDEPENDENT PROFILE 14 Aubuchon Company: Past and present 16 E-COMMERCE 28 Leaders of the increasingly important online space share insights and tactics. TOP WOMEN PROFILE SERIES 30 Sprinting into opportunities with Olivia Martinelli of Lumbermen’s Inc. CITY OF HOPE 32 A Q&A with Marvin Ellison: The Lowe’s CEO celebrates the ‘Spirit of Life.’ PLUS 31 Regulatory News 33 People News 34 Quikrete Industry Dashboard 14 28 32 On the Cover Photo courtesy of Deckorators decking, a division of UFP Industries

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The survey says …

Poll questions on pressing topics of the day are a regular feature on HBSDealer’s daily e-newsletter. Among the recent topics: the resistance movement

QIs home-improvement spending recession-resistant?

57% Yes, a little

Connect with us @HBSDealer
Source: HBSDealer poll (n=175)
No 10% Yes, a lot
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From the Editor

Someone’s in the kitchen with Dynamite

It’s not entirely accurate to say gas stove tops are under attack. But the heat is on, at least in new construction. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety commissioner recently suggested a ban might be in order to reduce indoor air pollution, and thwart a potential cause of asthma in children.

San Francisco and New York City have already banned natural gas hookups in new building construction. And New York’s governor has a plan to ban gas stoves in new home and commercial construction by 2030.

It’s those old homes (he prefers the term “used homes”) that are the problem.

“Yet, they’re continuing to layer regulation on regulation that are going to make it more expensive to build houses,” he said.

Scrutiny is focused on 15% of the home market when, “it should be focused on the used homes, because that’s where the carbon footprint is the problem,” Lord said. “That’s where the efficiencies are the issue. But [regulators] don’t want to go and tackle that monster, because it’s a monster.”

He added: “We already build a really great home and we’re going to focus on the things that the consumers are going to value, and we’re going to try to resist the things that don’t make any sense, like electric stoves.”

What can I add to the electric-stove-top-vs.-gas-stovetop debate? Just a painful anecdote from childhood.

[Remember the Inflation Reduction Act? It includes a provision to incent a switch from a gas stove to an electric one through a rebate of up to $840 through — and up to $500 to help cover the costs of converting to electric.]

But let’s simmer down for a minute.

“A ban on gas cooking appliances would remove an affordable and preferred technology used in more than 40% of homes across the country,” Jill Notini, of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, told CNN.

Phillippe Lord, CEO of Meritage Homes said most homebuilders today, driven by consumer demand, are “already building homes in a very sustainable and energy efficient way.”

Too short to reach the upper cabinets, I had to perform a little vault maneuver whereby I pushed my hands onto the countertop and swung my body up into a position to reach the Mikesells potato chips and Hostess Ding Dongs.

Then one day, after someone had been cooking, I performed the vault directly on top of what appeared to be a resting electric burner. It was actually a blazing hot burner, disguised as a room-temperature burner. Tears and anguish ensued.

I’ve mistrusted those treacherous electric stove tops ever since. And like millions, I much prefer the superior control of the gas-stove-top.

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Levi Smith, CEO, Franklin Building Supply

Steve Sallah, CEO, LBM Advantage

Tom Cost, owner, Killingworth True Value

Brad McDaniel, owner, McDaniel’s Do it Center

Joe Kallen, CEO, Busy Beaver Building Centers

Permissions: No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Ken Clark Editor in Chief Gas burners are feeling the heat.
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US LBM CEO: full-speed ahead

US LBM last month dropped a significant announcement on the fast-consolidating LBM industry: it would sell three of its operating divisions to ABC Supply’s L&W Supply business.

After more than a decade of steady announcements of acquisitions, the move marked the first significant US LBM announcement of a divestiture — 42 locations in 12 states. But US LBM CEO LT Gibson, via e-mail, told HBSDealer the deal won’t change the company’s drive to build the best “full-line distributor in the industry.”

US LBM and ABC Supply announced Jan. 23 a deal that would bring Feldman Lumber (New York metro); Wallboard Supply (New England) and Rosen Materials (Florida and beyond) under the L&W Supply umbrella.

“With heavy volumes of interior products, including wallboard, acoustical ceilings and steel framing, these three divisions are unique within our portfolio and closely

Here’s how starts ended

align with the product mix offered by L&W Supply,” Gibson said. He added that US LBM received several unsolicited officers regarding Feldman, Wallboard Supply and Rosen over the past several months.

Gibson said: “Wallboard remains an important product in our portfolio mix and will continue to be available at other US LBM divisions after closing.”

US LBM executed the deal with fast-growing ABC Supply from a position of financial strength, Gibson said, pointing to a record year in 2022 in terms of sales, EBITDA and cash flows.

“We continue to have strong balancesheet flexibility and remain optimistic

about the long-term housing market given the low levels of inventory that exist across the country,” he said. “Proceeds realized from this sale, when completed, will only help to strengthen our already-strong financial position to ultimately execute on our go forward strategies, which include continued strategic acquisitions and greenfield expansions.”

The ABC Supply transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023.

US LBM appeared in the number four spot of the latest HBSDealer Top 200 ProDealer Scoreboard, with 2021 sales of $9.22 billion, and 441 units.

“We will continue our approach of capitalizing on the strong relationships of our local divisions and our national network and support teams to provide customers the best service and brands of specialty building products,” Gibson said.

Unadjusted Figures

of 1,382,000 housing starts. But the actual, unadjusted number of starts from 2022 (not counting the inevitable adjustment of preliminary data) was 1,553,300, down 3 percent from 2021.

While the pace fell considerably in the second half of the year (see chart), residential construction still saw the second-highest starts figure since 2006 (1.8 million).

News + Analysis
The month of December generated a seasonally adjusted annual rate
J F M A M J J A S O N D 170 150 130 110 90 70 50 2021 2022 Source: Commerce Department
Total housings starts (thousands), through December
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News Map: Openings, Closings & Acquisitions

Illustration of retailers and dealers in various stages of coming and going. For more retail news, visit HBSDealer.com

OREGON Klamath Falls

Expanding its reach into the Northwest, Kodiak Building Partners acquired the Southern Oregonbased Diamond Home Improvement Center, with locations in Klamath Falls and Grants Pass. DHI was founded in 2000 by Tim Steiner, who died in October, and his brother Jay.


Wisconsin-based Bliffert Lumber & Hardware made a pair of Milwaukee acquisitions in late 2022. The company acquired Fillinger Millwork, shortly after closing a deal to acquire Milwaukee Cabinetry. A 115-year Wisconsin family business, Bliffert, a Do it Best member, operates 10 locations.

MARYLAND Burtonsville

The owners of Zimmerman’s Hardware in Burtonsville, Maryland, agreed to sell the hardware store business to the Aubuchon Company. Zimmerman’s, founded in 1978 by Roy Zimmerman in Silver Spring, Md., will continue to operate under. The Zimmerman’s banner. Including this deal, the Aubuchon Company operates 111 stores in nine states.


Westlake Ace Hardware has plans to open two more Southern California locations by the end of the year – in Simi Valley and Glendale — with soft openings anticipated, respectively, in November and December of 2023. The new stores will join five other California stores in the 150-store chain’s fleet.


Gillman Ace Hardware is ending its run of nearly 80 years in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Owner Alan Gillman told the Block Club Chicago web site that the installation of a bike lane on the business’s street was a major factor in the demise of the store, along with rising costs and competition.


A new Koopman Lumber location is expected to open here in April in the former Antique Center of Cape Cod. The location, Koopman’s 12th, will feature an 8,759 foot store including a window and door showroom, as well as retail space for standard and seasonal hardware; a drive-through lumber yard with auto stack racking; and two warehouse buildings. The family business was founded in 1939.


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Independent Profile

Aubuchon: Past and present


The Aubuchon Holster Phone circa. early 1990s. Nobody saw cell phones coming in the decade prior.

William E. Aubuchon

Company has noted a lot of similarities between business today and business in the old days. “My great-grandfather started our company in 1908, and I’m always amazed at all the familiar things I see in our historical photos,” he said.

Still changes are coming. One change is in the form of millennials. There has never been a larger generation than the millennial generation in modern American history, which is a reason to be bullish about hardware retailing in 2030 as millennials enter their prime earning and home ownership years.

“Looking out further, assuming immigration remains constant, the reality is that declining birth rates and rising aging will result in declining population growth which will eventually create a structural headwind,” said Aubuchon.

The result of this headwind on the local hardware store, he said, will be less customer count, and the need for ever greater average

and decision-making. The decline of print, like newspapers and the Yellow Pages, has been staggering.”

He related that far and away the most humorous and memorable story about technology at the Aubuchon Company was their founder’s decision to eliminate phones from their stores in 1934.

The decision was rooted in the belief that phones worked more against you than for you.

“We stuck to this policy for close to 60 years, only adding phones with listed phone numbers to our stores in 1992,” he said.

“When we did add phones, we were an early adopter of wireless phones, which we called Holster Phones, allowing managers and assistant managers to more easily multi-task between helping customers in the store and those calling in,” said Aubuchon.

And since we’re talking about the hardware business, people will always be part the future.

Aubuchon said they will continue investing in family-sustaining wages and career

more in stores that are easier to run.”

He sees productivity initiatives playing a role, such as, “eliminating every possible second required to ring up an average POS transaction.”

Aubuchon also sees connecting frontline employees to each other and the company via hardware and technology. This includes apps on handheld devices, Theatro voice-enabled systems, and eventually augmented reality (AR) glasses that could quickly identify top stock and backroom stock that should be prioritized by simply walking through an aisle or back room.

He also pointed to a mobile POS solution that would streamline the friction of “outside transactions” like propane, live goods, rental and U-Haul; along with merchandising aids like Flexroller to help reduce flushing time.

There will be self-checkout options to maintain or increase throughput with fewer cashiers, he said, along with “either roaming robots or fixed cameras with computer vision to eliminate the need for manually identifying ‘outs’ and robots for routine floor care maintenance.”

The Aubuchon Company CEO predicts some trends will accelerate.

“Customers will expect more digital shopping options, such as self-pickup with no employee assistance; 24/7 self-pickup via lockers; as well as delivery by store employees and by third parties like Uber, Door Dash and others,” he said.

tickets in the form of new products, services, and more B2B and commercial sales.

For insights into the future, it’s helpful to look backwards. Aubuchon said the most surprising changes from the last couple of decades have been the digital transformation of retail and the rise of mobile smartphones.

“Amazon has gone from zero to $470 billion in just 2.4 decades, and Home Depot’s online sales percent went from zero to 14% in just 2.2 decades,” he said.

Mobile technology will continue to power this growth, said Aubuchon, “as the consumer continues to turn to his or her smart screen for entertainment, news, research,

opportunities while also adding new benefits like scholarships for employees and family members of employees.

He said, “we also plan to continue becoming more diverse at every level of the organization and will become more purposeful in reducing our carbon footprint.”


It’s 2030 now. We’ve time traveled. Are in-store robots now common? Have stores become completely self-checkout?

Aubuchon said wage growth will continue to outpace sales growth. On a relative basis, he said, the goal must be, “fewer people paid

In 2030, Aubuchon feels equipment will be even greener and more sustainable.

“Look for more solar panels on store roofs; EV charging stations in parking lots; electric delivery vans; and ‘smart store’ controls and sensors for lighting, HVAC and security.”

Aubuchon forecasts a strategic long-term data strategy where the goal is to “leverage data at scale with artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

He also hopes one day to centralize all communications so their team can provide an even better experience, including 24/7 video support to better assist with customer questions at home.

“AR could also be helpful with more quickly building effective displays like endcaps and other merchandising tasks like visually identifying fast-moving items that should be double-faced.”
—William E. Aubuchon IV, Aubuchon Company
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Despite slower housing sales, there is still potential for driving deck revenue.

The surge in decking and outdoor living product sales seen through the pandemic period, when money was diverted to home living projects from other options, has slowed significantly through the end of 2022. And the trend is expected to progress in the next 12 to 18 months, the North American Decking and Railing Association (NADRA) told HBSDealer.

“2023 through 2024 has the potential to be a challenging one for most industries, not least

the outdoor living and decking ones,” says Sir Barry John Davis, NADRA International Ambassador.

The rapid increase in fuel and other costs in the past year has resulted in free money once driven to decking and outdoor living projects drying up sharply as the focus shifts swiftly to the basics of living.

“In many ways, we can expect to see the volume of decks fall back towards the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 but with some normal adjustments for natural growth,” Barry says.

As housing starts and home sales have primarily


retreated, remodeling growth is expected to grow this year but at a much slower pace.

Annual gains of home renovation and maintenance spending is expected to decelerate from 16.3% at the close of 2022 to just 2.6% by year-end 2023, according to the latest Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released in January by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University. But the size of the overall remodeling and repair market has grown.

“While the pace of expenditures is expected to slow substantially this year, we’ve raised our projection for the remodeling market size in 2023 by about $45 billion, or 10.2% to $485 billion,” said Abbe Will said, associate project director for the remodeling futures program at the JCHS. Previously, the LIRA projected a homeowner improvement and repair market size of $429 billion in 2022 with spending growing to $440 billion in 2023.

“Overall sentiment for the building industry is apprehensive, especially around new home

Construction,” Bret Martz, vice president of North American professional sales at Trex Company, told HBSDealer. “However, we at Trex feel cautiously optimistic that the subset of repair and remodel, and ultimately the decking industry is poised to outperform the broader category.”

While housing sales slowed down from the pace of two years ago, they are still selling. And existing-home sales, along with the remodeling activity involved in aging housing stock, remain sweet spots for the decking industry.

“The repair and remodel segment of the decking market continues to be the predominant opportunity,” Martz says. “Although we have seen increased takeaway in the new home construction arena, most Trex applications are after-market or replacing existing wood decks”

Looking ahead, Martz notes that Trex sees older housing stock as an opportunity to replace existing wood decks and a big avenue for growth.

Of the 50.2 million residential decks in use across the United States, nearly 70% are over 15 years old while more than 51% have been in use for 25 years or more, according to NADRA.

“Short to medium-term, the market will tighten but the latent demand available in the market is significant enough for no one to need to panic,” Davis says.


Deckorators Vista Composite Decking features vertical grain variegation with enhanced traction and slip resistance. Available in 4 colors — Ironwood, Driftwood, Silverwood, and Dunewood — in 12’, 16’, and 20’ lengths in solidand grooved-edge profiles, the Vista line offers ultimate design flexibility, including the option to effortlessly mix-and-match two or more colors to create a custom outdoor space. Deckorators is also offering 2 new colors — Saltwater, a warm smokey-taupe, and Sandbar, a classic medium-brown — with its new Venture Decking product line. For 2023, Venture Decking offers a maintenance-free option for aspiring DIYers and pro deck builders who are ready to own the highest quality decking at a reasonable price. All backed by a 25-year structural, stain and fade, removal and replacement limited warranties, the brand’s latest line of wood plastic composite decking offers an unmatched combination of value and performance for outdoor living projects. Rapid Rail pairs ease-of-installation with quality powder-coated aluminum in a stylish textured-black and an over-all contemporary design that will work seamlessly with a variety of home styles for a cohesive final project that will stand the test of time.

Regal ideas has produced its latest offering in accent lighting. Yardlite offers a series of high-performance accent lighting for your outdoor projects. Use them to light up areas to ensure and improve safety, create an ambiance, or accent that perfect outdoor masterpiece. The lights are easy to install and plug directly into the Regal ideas and Crystal Rail systems. The LED’s are offered in three color options: White, Gold, and Blue. Regaideas.com

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MoistureShield has introduced the Solid Core Composite Series Railing Compass Series Aluminum Railing that adds a contemporary, sophisticated look to any deck design. Made in the USA, Mois tureShield’s Solid Core Composite Railings are designed for durability and will not rot, splinter, warp, or stain. The series includes:

Traverse Series Composite Railing — a traditional T-Rail profile with a smooth, glossy finish in White, Clay, and Gray can be paired with Square Composite or Round Aluminum infill options to match any outdoor aesthetic.

Discovery Series Composite Railing — a traditional bread loaf profile with a smooth glossy finish in White, Clay, and Gray with color-matched infills as well as black. Optional adapters enable a flat cocktail rail for style and functionality.

Navigator Series Composite Railing — a premium composite railing in Capital, Contempo and Graspable Stair top rail styles with an elegant acrylic satin white finish and look and feel of natural wood. Infill options include Square Composite, Black Round Aluminum, and Cable for endless design creativity.

MoistureShield has also introduced the new Catalina to its Meridian capped composite decking line. Catalina is a soft “greige” shade reminiscent of aged shiplap, to easily match today’s architectural styles. Greige is a combination of gray and beige, which has become popular in recent years for interiors and named a color of the year by leading decor brands. MoistureShield.com

Acre Decking from Modern Mill offers a sustainable alternative to wood decking that doesn’t sacrifice performance. Made from upcycled rice hulls, ACRE looks like real wood and feels just as comfortable under your feet, even in the hot sun. But ACRE stands up to the elements—including UV, fire, water, salt, chlorine, insects and fungus. It’s guaranteed not to crack, splinter, swell, or rot, and it keeps looking good year after year. ACRE is a groundbreaking new building material made from upcycled rice hulls in a zero-waste environment, offering the warmth and beauty of real wood with all the conveniences of traditional composites. Modern-mill.com

Trex has expanded its line of Trascend Lineage decking with new hues. Transcend Lineage builds upon the pedigree of Trex Transcend decking with boards that feature the same high-performance and low-maintenance benefits with refined aesthetics that deliver an unmatched natural appearance. Initially launched in two colors, the lineup now includes four luxurious, on-trend hues inspired by some of the most picturesque locales in the United States:

Carmel — a creamy taupe that embodies the glow of white sands and Cyprus-covered cliffs, integrating a toasty brown shade with grey undertones

Jasper — a deep shade of mocha reminiscent of old-growth forests and rocky mountainsides, incorporating a rich umber hue and delicate streaking Biscayne — a light coastal brown that captures the beauty of mangroves and sandy coasts with light honey hues and a natural grain pattern

Rainier — an airy, mountain grey that mirrors white-capped mountains and wooded sounds with its soft silver tones and delicate graining

In addition to their elevated design, Lineage boards are Trex’s coolest of all — literally. Heat-mitigating properties engineered into the shell reflect the sun and keep boards cooler than other composite decking offerings of a similar color. Trex.com


The Perfect Partnership


Westbury VertiCable aluminum railing from DSI Digger Specialties Inc. (DSI) makes any deck or porch beautiful and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.  Featuring thin vertical stainless-steel cables rather than larger bulky infills, VertiCable railing is stylishly designed to provide unobstructed clear views from any deck or porch making it ideal for residential and multi-family installations. In addition to offering low maintenance performance, VertiCable railing is engineered to provide a safe enclosure for children and small pets due to its unique design. As opposed to most horizontal railing systems that are a combination of pieces and parts, Westbury VertiCable railing comes in pre-assembled sections for fast installation. Available in an industry leading twelve standard colors and textures, VertiCable railing is powder coated with DSI’s meticulous 10- step powder coating process to provide low maintenance and a long lasting finish. The components are lightweight and engineered for easy installation. VertiCable railing can be installed in up to 60% less time than horizontal cable railing systems. Diggerspecialties.com

Feeney has introduced Stainless Steel Intermediate Pickets for DesignRail. Offering a sleek alternative to square, powder-coated pickets, the new pickets provide an even lower profile alternative for DesignRail with CableRail infill where posts are spaced more than three feet apart. Available in three configurations, including 36” Level, 42” Level and Universal Stair, the 5/8” diameter 316 stainless steel tubes are available pre-drilled for 1/8” diameter cable at three-inch spacing, and are field trimmable – for quick, efficient installation. The Stainless Steel Intermediate Pickets are compatible with all DesignRail rail heights, all Top Rail profiles and all mounting options, including fascia mount, and can be used on frames with or without a bottom rail. They have no visible fasteners for a clean, streamlined aesthetic. Feeneyinc.com

Grad Concept USA has launched the Grad Rooftop Decking System. The thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO)-friendly system makes installation simpler, easier, and up to 50% faster than conventional decking, while requiring fewer people to do the job. Utilizing screw-adjustable pedestals, the waterproof system raises the deck floor off the TPO as high as 15”. The subdeck remains easily accessible since boards can be individually removed no matter where they are located. The Grad system comes with clips that are already pre-fastened into place and cannot be moved. When specially profiled boards are snapped onto the clips, they are always straight and gaps are even, therefore eliminating the need for control checks. Boards can be removed, replaced, and updated at any time. The modular system is easy to move around, adjust, and remove, if necessary, which is not typically possible with traditional decking. Grad’s attachment components are virtually maintenance-free, offering maximum resistance to rot. The polypropylene pedestals, which meet ASTM D1929 and D635 standards, provide a stable, durable, and stiff infrastructure for attachment, while the polyoxymethylene fasteners (which are not exposed to direct UV light) offer strength and flexibility. US.Gradconcept.com

Influenced by the harmony of beautiful outdoor landscapes, the Fiberon Concordia Astir Collection features three fresh, nature-inspired colors: Mountain Ash, Seaside Mist and Prairie Wheat. The boards feature a rustic cathedral grain with four-sided embossing. The Concordia Symmetry and Horizon Collections have been a staple in the market for many years, providing unique colors and high performance, and the Astir Collection expands Concordia’s aesthetic offering. The three new colors update the classics with on-trend looks in the premium PE product tier. Fiberon.com

Tantimber, distributed in the United States by G Wood Pro, is manufactured using a new and innovative production technique, utilizing the most up-to-date Thermowood Technology. This process refines and modifies wood to transform its structure into its most stable and durable configuration. Tantimber produces a variety of decking and siding products using a thermal process that meets International Thermowood Association standards. Because of the thermal modification process, G Wood’s thermally modified wood decking products are extremely durable and suitable of outdoor and wet-area applications of all kinds. They are available in a wide range of sizes and cross-section profiles. Tantimber ThermoWood is an alternative to endangered South American hardwoods, environmentally damaging petroleum-based wood imitations (WPC, synthetic/composite) and hybrid products. Suitable for various exterior and interior applications, Tantimber ThermoWood products are available in many unique profiles and different species, including Ash, Pine, Poplar, Iroko, and Ayous. GWoodPro.com




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Fairway Railing from Envision

Outdoor Living Products comprises one of the most extensive lineups of deck and porch railings on the market, blending design versatility, precise craftsmanship, and the highest safety standards. The railing collection includes aluminum, composite, steel, or vinyl PVC railings, an array of infill options, and multiple colors and finishes. The railings come in convenient kit packaging for fast and easy installation.  Envision’s Fairway composite railing is engineered for durability and strength while delivering the look and feel of real wood. Designed to withstand extreme weather conditions in any climate, there’s no worry of twisting, rotting, or splintering, and the railings’ low-maintenance design means lasting quality and color with no refinishing required.

Environmentally friendly modified wood manufacturer Kebony offers the Kebony Deck Board, a decking product that accommodates four different varieties of fasteners.Kebony Deck Board’s  profile accommodates the following fasteners/installation methods: Step-Clip for Kebony, which uses easy to install strips to minimize the time and labor spent fastening the deck. The Step-Clip reduces deck surface installation time by up to 50% and ensures proper spacing, protects the joist from water damage, and makes it easy to replace a board in the future if necessary. Hidden fastener clips secure the deck without screwing into the board’s face. Kebony Deck Board is compatible with the Fastenator Hidden Fastening system by DuraLife. If the positive lateral connection of fastening through the face is preferred along with a smooth, uniform surface, then using the Pro Plug® System with Kebony wood plugs is the best option. The Pro Plug System by Starborn is the fastest plug option on the market today, and Kebony wood plugs are designed to work seamlessly with the system. US.Kebony.com

Envision Outdoor Living Products has added two new unique, earthy colors— Sandstone and Alpine Fog—to its budget-friendly Ridge Premium collection of capped composite decking. Emulating cooler mountain tones, Sandstone is a light, natural brown, offering a beautiful balance of sandy and honey hues, while Alpine Fog is a blend of cool silver tones in an on- trend light gray. Both boast softly blended, variegated color and Envision’s non-repeating grain for an authentic appearance. The decking is made with Envision’s proprietary Compress Technology, which uses tremendous heat and pressure to squeeze out air pockets, physically bond the cap and EverGrain Core™ together, and press its signature non-repeating grain into the cap. The result is a board that’s both strong and stunningly beautiful. Ridge Premium boards are fluted, providing for a lower cost and lighter weight, but have a wider bottom edge for easier installation than other fluted profile boards. Ridge Premium is available in 16- and 20-foot grooved-edge and 12-, 16-, and 20-foot square-edge board profiles. Envisionoutdoorliving.com

TimberTech has joined forces with Yardzen, a premier online landscape design platform, to simplify the process for homeowners looking to design a custom outdoor oasis. Homeowners can now use Yardzen’s online tools to design the yard of their dreams, incorporating TimberTech’s sustainable, wood-aesthetic decking products to build beautiful, low maintenance outdoor spaces. Users can choose from a series of inspirational design categories such as “curb appeal” or “outdoor transformations,” or build their dream retreat from scratch. TimberTech brings the style and versatility of indoor wood-grain patterns outside, but gives people more time to enjoy their decks, not maintain them. TimberTech’s engineered materials, which are made from up to 80% recycled material, offer beauty without compromise, mimicking the look of real wood without harming the environment. Yardzen.com and TimberTech.com




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For the 2023 outdoor living season, shifts in how homeowners are choosing to invest in their outdoor spaces as areas for gathering and entertaining as well as everyday activities are influencing design trends and features dominating the market.

Increased demand for themes of escapism and relaxation will continue to drive design aesthetics with smart and seamless design choices that balance color, texture, and material choices, with purposeful, added features.

We continue to see demand for unique, customized outdoor spaces using rustic and durable finishes to create functional living spaces that will stand the test of time and empower homeowners to imagine their lives outside. With outdoor spaces fulfilling multiple functions throughout the seasons, another important aspect of trends for 2023 is how designs can be adaptable.

Every moment leading up to when homeowners can finally relax and enjoy their deck counts, which is why at Deckorators we are always thinking about innovations that make that transition as smooth and effortless as possible.

As we start this year’s outdoor living season, these are the trends we see dominating the marketplace in 2023.

Warmer Neutrals: One dominant trend we’ve noticed is a return to natural and rustic neutrals. Embracing the natural warmth and rustic texture of wood helps balance other more-contemporary elements. Instead of opting for a monotone gray and black color scheme, more designers and homeowners are choosing to balance stark, black, or slate accents with warmer brown and beige tones. The shift to more natural neutrals also speaks to more people wanting to embrace the natural environment around them to create a space of calm and relaxation.

Seamless Features: Additionally, homeowners are looking to create spaces that are uniquely theirs. With the number of materials and features on the market, there are more opportunities than ever to create a space, unlike any other house on the block. With the number of options available, attention to detail is key. More than just function, features need to flow with the overall aesthetic of the space through cohesive use of materials and smart solutions that can disappear when not in use.

The demand for custom amenities and features throughout outdoor spaces is only going to continue to grow. Homeowners are interested in adding livable value to their decks and patios through integrated storage, des ignated entertainment areas, full outdoor kitchens, and even custom features like built-in ice coolers. Accent walls are another smart and seamless solution to provide hidden storage and act as entertainment centers.

Mixed, Natural-looking Materials: One way to create a more cohesive flow throughout an outdoor living space is to be intentional with materials. The diversity of materials helps create visual interest, but without anything connecting them, the eye has nowhere to rest. Versatile materials — like composite decking, concrete, and even turf — can be repeated throughout a space to create continuity while still being low maintenance.

Ease-of-Use: During life’s most chaotic moments, people are looking for peace of mind. From idea to reality, it is important to recognize that every step of the process to creating an outdoor oasis is an opportunity to create a better experience for homeowners and contractors alike.

Seasonal Versatility: From the peak of summer to brisk evenings in fall, one of the biggest trends in outdoor living is the demand for flexible spaces that can serve a variety of functions 365 days a year. Homeowners making the shift from solely using their outdoor space for the rare outdoor BBQ or get-together to everyday use require an intentional design that incorporates features that can be versatile throughout the seasons. Shade structures help beat the heat during summertime’s mid-day sun, and fire features or heaters help maximize time spent outside when temperatures dip.

With each of these considerations, the right materials are key to creating an outdoor oasis that is going to stand the test of time, and with more options available than ever before there is no reason to compromise on style for function.

Deckorators is the decking and railing brand of UFP Retail Solutions, LLC, a UFP Industries company.

“Every moment leading up to when homeowners can finally relax and enjoy their deck counts, which is why at Deckorators we are always thinking about innovations that make that transition as smooth and effortless as possible.”
—Michelle Hendricks, Deckorators

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E-commerce lights up


That glow coming off cell phones and laptops — it’s distinct. It indicates someone is shopping, browsing, buying. Whenever. Wherever. However.

Across the retail industry, merchants and technologists have set their sights on e-commerce success in the form of sales, profits, traffic or any combination of those. While the effort is universal, no two approaches are quite the same. And very few are even remotely the same.

In the hardware and building supply space, there has been a recent push toward fine-tuning of digital shopping platforms to make the online experience better for their customers.

HBSDealer asked leaders in these industries about their latest efforts in e-commerce. Here are some of the insights:

“Do it Best moved to address the major shift in consumer behavior by enhancing and expanding our members’ ability to fulfill customers’ needs in-store and online,” said Dent Johnson, EVP of operations at Do it Best Corp.

The company has introduced a fully integrated point-ofsale, putting customer convenience at the forefront, said the executive vice president.

“Our focus is on enhancing all members’ e-commerce capabilities with an eye for driving online customers into their stores. At a recent market, we debuted a popular automated locker system solution for online orders,” he said.

“We’re supporting all these efforts with a new white glove service for members to help them implement these major technology projects,” said Johnson.

Chris Kempa, CEO at Chicago-based True Value Company, explained some of his company’s recent e-commerce moves.

“The hyperlocal, omnichannel e-commerce platform we rolled out in the past year has been a big success for us and we will continue to invest in it and refine it,” said Kempa.

Bringing together online and instore shopping has driven traffic directly to retailers’ stores, said the

HBSDealer.com E-Commerce
Dent Johnson, EVP of operations Do it Best Corp.

CEO, by utilizing features that allow them to compete with other e-commerce retailers.

“We have made it easier for customers to shop their local independent hardware store while keeping the process simple for the retailers,” said Kempa.

Lowe’s is building an e-commerce powerhouse, emphasized in every quarterly earnings call.

About e-commerce today, Lowe’s said, “we’re on a journey to becoming the world’s most customer-centric omnichannel retailer and we have built a robust tech infrastructure to advance our business.”

This transformation has led to achievements in e-commerce, said the large retailer, “and helps us continuously meet our customers where they are.”

Consumers have vast knowledge when it comes to shopping, especially online.

Lowe’s said it is, “proud of the gains we have made; from improving visibility of our available products, to enhancing our search and overall site functionality, we continue to deliver an integrated customer experience across stores, online and our mobile app.”

At Busy Beaver Building Centers, the e-commerce initiative is growing, including in the garden aisle.

“We will be a destination for all things plants this year,” said Karen Mayer, digital media director for Busy Beaver.

As part of this effort the digital media coordinator said, “we are working to make all our annuals, perennials, veggies, herbs, shrubs and trees available online.

“This will allow customers to browse and plan their shopping day, or they can even order the products online and take advantage of our same day in-store or curbside pickup,” she said.

Also, customers can sign up for emails to be the first to know about their Deal of the Day each day.

This spring, Busy Beaver will be rolling out a new rewards program called Great Deals+, “where our customers will be able to earn rewards with every purchase along with additional customer benefits,” said Mayer.

The building and hardware retail chain continues to focus on engaging with customers, said Mayer, “along with actively working to improve our website to provide customers exactly what they are looking for, when they need it, and how they like to shop.”

E-commerce continues to evolve, so Orgill with it, said Grant Morrow, director of e-commerce at Orgill.

“Our Industry PIM solution has developed to be the lead ing product information database in the independent chan nel, but we are not stopping there,” he said. “Orgill under stands that independent hardware retailers are at all sorts of different levels of maturity with their e-commerce needs.”

This continuing evolution has shown the company that they need to provide “a flexible, value driven platform that can provide different solutions for dealers of all different sizes, but which can still deliver impactful results,” said the e-commerce director.

Orgill previewed its new solution in New Orleans at their Technology Symposium, February 8, with sessions that explained the new program on the Orgill Dealer Market floor February 9-11, said Morrow.

Angie Brown, senior vice president of technology for The Home Depot shared her thoughts on the topic.

“E-commerce is the new front door to the store, which is why Home Depot constantly invests in a seamless, complete digital experience. As online sales soared throughout the year, we continued updating our digital capabilities,” said Brown.

For example, she said, “we unveiled intent search, which identifies the product or service that customers need without a direct, one-toone matching of keywords. Instead, our search algorithms augment basic keywords to yield a more relevant search experience unique for every customer.”

Additionally, the retailer updated its in-store network with the Aruba software high-speed, Wi-Fi 6 technology — allowing customers and associates to quickly browse digital platforms in-store.

By investing in these technologies, said Brown, “we’ve successfully continued our quest of removing friction for our customers and helping them shop wherever, whenever and however they want.”

Home Depot fields more than 400,000 unique searches per day. E-commerce continues to evolve, said Orgill.

Sprinting into opportunities


The 2022 class of HBSDealer Top Women Rising Stars recognized talented professionals with the potential to make a significant positive difference within their companies and within the industry for years to come.

That’s a good introduction to Olivia Martinelli, special project coordinator for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Lumbermen’s Inc., a building products distributor with a footprint that extends into Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

A recent college graduate, Martinelli has already demonstrated business acumen as she has taken the lead on projects that boost inventory visibility and ordering efficiency. She also has worked to improve the company’s internship program, attracting future teammates from local colleges and universities.

Below, she shares her thoughts on she found this industry, what she likes about it, and sme of the best advice she’s receive along the way.

HBSDealer: How did you get in the business of LBM distribution?

Martinelli: “Networking is a powerful resource. Like most career paths, the right connections at the right time lead to remarkable opportunities. And in this case, multiple connections led to an invite to join the team at Lumbermen’s Inc. With its servant leaders and amazing culture, I’m proud to be part of Lumbermen’s and excited to be a woman in this industry.”

HBSDealer: What do you think will keep you in the business — what do you like about it?

Martinelli: “The building materials industry is upbeat, fast-paced, and relationship driven. It’s also continually evolving. Today we’re becoming more creative; we’re rethinking how we market product and showcase our people our culture, and we’re always asking why: why should someone choose to do business with us or join our team? I love the challenges and opportunities. I love the people and enthusiasm. I love learning every day, and I hope to be considered an asset to our industry and the internal and external customers I serve.”

HBSDealer: What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received for succeeding in this business?

Martinelli: “I’m privileged to work with outstanding men and women who are passionate about leading and helping others succeed. We often hear the phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” As a young female in this industry (who loves to check things off a list and

stay moving) someone shared this modified phrase that resonated with me and prompted a mindset that gave new perspective to being patient: ‘For people who like to keep the ball rolling, it’s really a series of sprints.’ For me, looking at goals, or a time line, as a series of sprints allows me to comfortably keep moving at a pace that fills my cup while continuing to focus on long-term objectives and exercising patience during the process. Perspective is power. Find what motivates you and learn what motivates others and, together, you’ll cross the finish line.”

“For me, looking at goals, or a time line,  as a series of sprints allows me to comfortably keep moving at a pace that fills my cup while continuing to focus on longterm objectives and exercising patience during the process."
—Olivia Martinelli, Special Project Coordinator, Lumberman's Inc.
The 2023 Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply awards and networking event will return to Chicago Nov. 15-16. Check out the sizzle reel from the 2022 event (above) at HBSDealer.com/video.

NLBMDA releases 2023 National Policy Agenda

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) has issued its 2023 National Policy Agenda.

The comprehensive advocacy agenda outlines important policy priorities for the lumber and building material industry that will boost the housing and construction industry and support continued job creation across the U.S. economy.

“NLBMDA members are essential to the national supply chain for building and residential construction,” said Jonathan Paine, president and CEO of NLBMDA. “Our policy agenda highlights areas for Congress and the White House to collaborate and implement meaningful policy that will allow small businesses to thrive while strength-

ening the U.S. economy with new jobs and affordable housing options for Americans in every part of the country.”

The NLBMDA National Policy Agenda is divided into eight policy areas:

Housing & Construction

Tax & Economic Policy

Legal Reform & Consumer Protection

Workforce Policy

Environment, Health & Safety

Product Supply & Trade


Transportation & Fleet Safety

To access the 2023 policy agenda online, visit Dealer.org.

Additionally, the NLBMDA is preparing for its 2023 Spring Meeting and Legislative

Conference in Washington, D.C.

Members are advised to register now to take part in the event, taking place March 28 — March 30 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

“Your willingness to engage in NLBMDA’s policy agenda is an important way to ensure that our policymakers understand the critical role the lumber and building material industry plays in our economy, our communities, and our daily lives,” the NLBMDA said.

HBSDealer.com HARDWARE + BUILDING SUPPLY DEALER February 2023 31 Regulatory news

City of Hope

A Q&A with Marvin Ellison


City of Hope bestowed on Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison the 2023 Spirit of Life Award. As a result, Ellison takes on the chief fundraising role for the National Hardware/Homebuilding industry. In a span of four decades, the group has raised some $170 million for the research and treatment center.

Honored to promote the worldwide impact that City of Hope has had fighting diseases like cancer, Ellison said he’s also eager to celebrate the historic contributions of the hardware and homebuilding community, and also “rally our industry to do more.”

HBSDealer: Lowe’s is involved in many charitable activities. What stands out in your mind over the years?

Marvin Ellison: “I’m very proud to lead a company where service is one of our central values and a key element of our culture. Our priority throughout the pandemic, along with caring for our associates and creating a safe environment for our customers, was ensuring our communities were fully supported. We committed over $150 million to help our communities navigate through the challenges of the pandemic, including grants to provide financial relief to rural, minority-owned and women-owned small businesses. In 2021, we celebrated our centennial by completing community improvement projects in 100 hometowns all across the country. And last year we scaled that by launching a five-year, $100 million commitment to improve more hometowns. I’m incredibly proud to see the impact that the program and Lowe’s associates continue to make as we now start the second year of Lowe’s Hometowns.”

HBSDealer: What can you share about the conversation you had when invited to accept the Spirt of Life Award?

Ellison: “It’s a blessing and an honor to be recognized as this year’s recipient. Many

people who know me know that my Christian faith is the foundation of who I am. I am not a person who likes the limelight, but I am humbled to be asked to be the honoree for the 40th year of our industry’s involvement with City of Hope. I recognize the responsibility and appreciate the opportunity to rally continued support, especially at a time when many need their services more than ever. As the Spirit of Life Award recipient, I am looking forward to leading this year’s fundraising efforts that will contribute to an outstanding cause. The work City of Hope does is driven by compassionate care and service, and gives patients and families the support they really need to tap into their inner resilience and embrace a sense of optimism and hope.”

HBSDealer: When you look at the names of industry leaders who received the Spirit of Life Award, what thoughts do you have?

Ellison: “It’s a privilege to be added to the ranks of the former honorees, including Joe McFarland and Bill Boltz, members of my executive leadership team. I’m proud of the support they have provided and proud to say that Lowe’s has a long history with City of Hope. In fact, the former chairman of our board, Robert Strickland, and Lowe’s

former CEO Leonard Herring were the very first Spirit of Life recipients in 1983. Over 40 years, it’s incredibly gratifying to see so many Hardware and Homebuilding leaders join together in support of this worthy organization. I’m grateful to have the chance continue in that legacy.”

HBSDealer: To what extent would you agree with the idea that giving back to charities or communities is not only good for society, but it’s good for business?

Ellison: “Every day that I am blessed to be the chairman and CEO of Lowe’s, I have three things I’m trying to accomplish. First, I am trying to give the 300,000 current and future associates a great place to work. Number two, I am striving to create a great place to shop for our customers. And number three, I want to invest to make the communities where our associates live and work better. If I can accomplish these three things as a chairman and CEO, we will create sustainable shareholder value.”

HBSDealer: It’s not an exaggeration to say that cancer touches all of us or has touched all of us in some way. What are your thoughts about the mission of City of Hope.

“Each of us has our own story and our own experience with the life-threatening diseases that City of Hope helps to combat. My wife lost her sister and I lost my mother to cancer.  It’s hard to put into words how these two devastating losses impacted our families. So, if there is anything I can do to support the City of Hope to accomplish their mission of transforming the future of cancer care, I am 100% committed to help.”

"I recognize the responsibility and appreciate the opportunity to rally continued support, especially at a time when many need their services more than ever."
—Marvin Ellison, CEO, Lowe's

Marvin named Rick Johnson as the window and door company’s first-ever chief digital officer. Johnson joins the company’s senior leadership team and will oversee the design of Marvin’s future-state enterprise technology and digital strategy, as well as its data and analytics initiatives. Johnson will relinquish his role as a Marvin board member to take on the new post.

Stanley Black & Decker appointed Patrick Hallinan to the role of executive vice president, chief financial officer, effective April 6. Hallinan, who succeeds interim CFO Corbin Walburger, will report to Donald Allan Jr., president and CEO. Hallinan joins Stanley Black & Decker from Fortune Brands Innovations where he served as executive vice president and CFO.

Do it Best has tapped two proven leaders as senior sales directors.

Eric Knox was named the director of business development. Knox moves into his role with more than 20 years of experience in sales,

People In The News

marketing, product development, including experience at Ace Hardware. Mike Melchi, a regional manager since 2019, takes on the role as director of field sales.

Westlake Ace Hardware announced the promotions of Laura Byrne-Harris to vice president of merchandising and marketing, and Jennifer Schadegg  to director of merchandising.

Byrne-Harris joined Westlake Ace in 2011 as director of merchandising for the Core Hardware division. Schadegg was vice president and merchandise manager for The Gerson Companies . Prior to that, she enjoyed an 18-year career at outdoor retailer Cabela’s

Beacon has appointed Dan Worley as vice president, environment, health & safety (EHS). Worley has been in the roofing industry his entire career and has served 32 years with Beacon. His extensive operations experience culminated in his most recent role of regional vice president, Mid Atlantic.

Johnson Knox Byrne-Harris Hallinan Worley Melchi Schadegg
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Residential Construction/Sales

Monthly Retail Sales, not adjusted

months of housing starts and existing-home sales home centers and pro dealers (NAICS 444) and hardware stores (NAICS 44413) NAICS 444 (sales in $ billions) NAICS 44413 (sales in $ billions)

HBSDealer Stock Roundup

percent-change performance of stocks based on Jan. 26 prices


Consumer Watch

34 February 2023 HARDWARE + BUILDING SUPPLY DEALER HBSDealer.com 50 40 30 20 10 0 3.08 3.13 3.37
Consumer confidence indexed to a value of 100 in 1985 Unemployment rate for the entire United States
Gas prices
price per gallon (regular) Current Prior month Prior year Total starts (in thousands, SAAR) Dec.: 1,382,000 140 60 80 100 120 December $5.00 $2.00 $3.00 $4.00 Jan. 26
Single-family starts (in thousands, SAAR) Dec.: 909,000
DJIA (DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE) SOURCE: MONTHLY RETAIL TRADE REPORT FROM THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU 20.0 0.0 2.0 10.0 4.0 6.0 8.0 12.0 14.0 16.0 18.0 December OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER 4 3 2 1 0 2021 2022 2021 2022 SOURCE: COMMERCE DEPARTMENT D J F M A M J J A S O N D 1800 1700 1600 1500 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000 900 Existing-home sales (in millions, SAAR) Dec.: 4,020,000 SOURCE: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 D J F M A M J J A S O N D MONTHLY CHANGE ANNUAL CHANGE -10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 20 10 0 -10 -20 -30 -40 -50 -60 SOURCE: COMMERCE DEPARTMENT D J F M A M J J A S O N D 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000 900 800 700 600 $3.50 108.3 3.5% 43.0 38.5 38.3 39.4 3.48 40.5 39.5 3.16 3.40 WY BECN BLDR DE HD LOW SHW SWK TSCO DJI


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