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n ’s io ry at st lic du ub In P e ad Th Re t os M


Peter Gow, Gow’s Home Hardware, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia


POWER For three generations spanning three centuries, the Gow family of Bridgewater, N.S. has delivered the goods

ALSO INSIDE: Canadian Home Improvement Show redux Selling low-VOC paints More cool Vegas products

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11-09-14 9:22 AM

Rely on Windsor® Salt’s complete line-up of high performance ice melters for firm winter sales figures! Windsor® melts away the snow and ice with ice melt products for your different needs. Convenient ergonomic jugs are easy to hold and store and are made from recycled materials. Count on our winning product line and dependable nationwide distribution service when the going gets tough this winter!

For winning profits go with Windsor ! ®


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There has been a member of the Gow family helping hardware/home improvement customers get what they need in Bridgewater, N.S. since not long after Canada became a country. We look at how their award-winning hardware store continues to thrive in the face of modern big box competition




Cover Photo: Dan Callis Photography

Hardware Merchandising sits down to talk with LBMAO president Dave Campbell about the new fall Canadian Home Improvement Show and other issues facing the Canadian hardware/home improvement retailing industry

September/October 2011

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11-09-07 8:34 AM



retail news 15

RONA has a very busy month; International hardware association planning networking events

16 Briefly: COMBI, Groupe BMR, KBC Tools & Machinery, Moen, TIM-BR MARTS Ltd., Delta Faucet, Home Hardware

departments 9

Editor’s Comment Warding off the double dip


New Products Moen Canada, Makita, Jeld-Wen, TASK Tools, Omega Plastics, BOSCH, MidWest Glove & Gear, Trex, Milwaukee, Delta Faucet


How cool is that? More weird and wonderful products from the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas: NASCAR beer coolers; crystal skull doorknobs





35 Contractor Sales What you, and your customers, need to know about lowand no-VOC paint 38 Retro Hardware Port Coquitlam, B.C. 1921 – Fourth-generation family business Poco Building Supplies celebrates 90 years of success 4

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September/October 2011

11-09-07 8:35 AM

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11-09-06 11:37 AM

Free Subscription

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September/October 2011

11-09-07 12:01 PM

Make this the year to join us at the 16th Annual

Hardlines Conference


Learn • How the “shop local” movement is taking the country by storm. • The latest changes that are rocking the retail world. • How – and why – Castle is forging alliances with U.S. wholesaler Orgill. • How urban hardware stores are surviving in this era of big Boxes. • Why independent dealers are focusing on “better” and “best” assortments and leave the entry level products to Walmart. • How global economic issues and effects of economic, demographic, and social trends will affect you.

Early Bird Special on now Special pricing for SAVE ALMOST hardware & building centre dealers!


October 27-28, 2011 Sheraton Toronto Airport

Hotel & Conference Centre


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“After examining every option in the marketplace, Home Hardware was the best fit overall. We converted to a banner that offers all the products, programs and service we need, plus they keep a keen focus on profitability and competitiveness. And Home is exposing us to new opportunities so we can keep on growing. We’re a retail co-operative, and all our Member-Owners are very happy we made the switch.” David MacDonald Cheticamp Co-Op Home Hardware Building Centre Cheticamp NS

To find out how you can benefit by joining Home, visit - or talk to one of us. Dunc Wilson, National, 519.498.1302 Georgette Carriere, Ontario, 519.501.5988 Luc Martin, Quebec, 819.357.0203 Andrew Parkhill, Western Canada, 604.751.3853 Kevin MacDonald, Atlantic Canada, 902.368.1620

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11-09-06 11:39 AM 11-07-26 3:20 PM

Editor’s comment

This hand up is not a handout Sometimes government needs a push to give the economy a push Even if you are a person who likes the occasional rollercoaster ride—as I do—there isn’t much to like about the state of the economy these days. Just when we thought we were finally out of the financial trough that was the Great Recession, now it looks like we just might be teetering on the edge of another hair-raising dip in the global economy. (For your own safety, please keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times.) According to a report released in late August by TD Bank, growth in the Canadian economy ground to a halt in the second quarter of the year, ended June 30. If that stagnation persists through the third quarter of 2011, it would mean that the Canadian economy has slipped back into recession; economists define a recession as two successive quarters of zero or negative growth in real gross domestic product. And with growth still sputtering for our largest trading partner, the United States, the possibility of Canada dipping back into recession before the end of this year seems all the more likely. The Canadian economy last fell into negative growth territory in the fourth quarter of 2008, in the wake of the global financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession. We would not emerge from recession until the end of the second quarter of 2009, and during that dark period Canada’s real GDP shrank by 3.3 per cent. As bad as that was, we actually faired slightly better than the U.S. and many countries in Europe, which saw their economies contract by 3.7 per cent and more. Based on its assessment of the current economic conditions, the TD Bank seems to be betting that things are likely to get worse before they get better. A weakening housing market, poor consumer and business confidence and persistently high unemployment, especially in the U.S., prompted the bank in June to lower its growth estimate for the Canadian economy in 2011 from 2.8 per cent to 2.3 per cent. And for next year, TD has downgraded its growth estimate for the year to 2.0 per cent from 2.5 per cent. The last time we fell into recession, the crisis that caused the downturn came out of the blue for most people, although a number of economists had been waving red flags over the lax banking regulations and Wall Street gambling that were leading us all over the edge. This time things are different; we can see the signs of a slowing economy and have time to take preemptive action to head the next downturn off. And since the private sector is either unable or unwilling (with corporations currently sitting on more than $1-trillion in cash reserves, unwilling is probably more accurate) to give the economy a boost through hiring and business investment, it falls to government, once again, to provide the stimulus needed to stave off the double dip. In early 2009, as part of its efforts to get the economy back on track after the global financial meltdown, the federal govSeptember/October 2011

Editorial.indd 9

ernment introduced the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC). Marketed by the Feds as “temporary, timely and targeted,” the HRTC gave homeowners a non-refundable tax break of 15 per cent on home renovation expenses of between $1,000 and $10,000 incurred between January 27, 2009 and February 1, 2010. The program was a hit among homeowners, contractors and home improvement retailers alike. But in spite of vigorous lobbying efforts by a variety of industry associations, the government opted not to extend the HRTC program in its 2010 budget. By early 2010, the Canadian economy seemed to be rebounding nicely from the Great Recession, so continued stimulus via the tax break, according to the federal government, was no longer necessary. According to the TD Bank, however, the situation has clearly changed. This fall, as it does every year, the government’s Standing Committee on Finance will be considering recommendations from a variety of groups regarding the 2012 budget. One of those groups is the Canadian Retail Building Supply Council (CRBSC), an umbrella organization representing the five regional and provincial building supply retailer associations from across the country. As it did in 2010 and 2011, the CRBSC will be lobbying the government for the reinstatement of the HRTC as a means of encouraging homeowners to invest in improving their homes, thus boosting economic activity in a number of key sectors. Given the ominous tone of the TD Bank’s recent report on Canada’s economic outlook, the HRTC could offer a ready-made response to the dreaded double dip. In truth, it is hard to see why the federal government would reject a second round of the HRTC in 2012. The program is revenue neutral in that the additional renovation expenditures it generates offset the cost in lost revenue to the government through the tax break. Not only that, but it drives contracting work above ground that might otherwise occur “under the table”, generating still more tax revenue. Even more importantly, the increased demand for contracting work, home improvement products and building supplies generated by the incentive creates jobs in the construction, manufacturing and retail sectors. If your business could benefit from a renewal of the HRTC, or a program like it, in the next federal budget, and you would rather avoid seeing the country slip into a double-dip recession, it would be worth taking the time in the coming months to contact your local MP to show your support for the CRBSC’s budget recommendations. If enough people get behind the idea, it just might be the push the government needs.

— Frank condron, editor HARDWARE MERCHANDISING


11-09-06 3:54 PM

New Products



3. Milwaukee

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation has introduced the new 5/8� SDS Plus Rotary Hammer (model 5263-21). At 10.9� long and weighing 4.6 lbs., Milwaukee is marketing this products as the lightest and most compact tool in its class, ideal for drilling overhead and in tight spaces, yet powerful enough to drill the majority of holes commonly drilled by the professional trades. According to the company, the model 5263-21 rotary hammer provides up to 65 per cent faster drilling with 1.5 ft.-lbs. of impact energy and 0-3,700 rpm. Visit

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September/October 2011

11-09-06 3:58 PM


1. Delta Faucet

Delta Faucet recently made its Lahara and Addison lavatory faucets available with hands-free technology, allowing the faucets to be operated with less mess and using less water. Similar to Delta’s popular hands-free kitchen faucet line, the new no-touch lavatory faucets should be especially attractive for parents of small children, who are more motivated to wash and brush using the hands-free faucets. Plus, hands-free technology saves up to nine gallons of water every day for the average family. Visit

2. Omega Plastics

According to the company, the Omega Christmas Tree Stand, manufactured by Midland, Ont.-based Omega Plastics Inc., is the safest, most stable and easiest-to-install tree stand on the market. The stand’s innovative clamping system makes the use of screws unnecessary, and its unique “pinch-and-release” function means that it takes less than a minute to set the stand on the trunk. The system firmly secures the trunk like a safety collar. Visit

4. Jeld-wen 9. Task Tools

Delta, B.C.-based TASK Tools has launched a new line of striking tools that includes sledges, mauls, axes, pickaxes, tampers, wedges and bars. This line features double injected fiberglass handles, which are guaranteed to be unbreakable when used as intended. According to TASK, these handles significantly reduce vibration transmission, have overstrike protection and integrated rubber grips that won’t twist or slip under pressure. To complete the line, TASK also has an assortment of splitting wedges, striking bars and pry bars for heavy duty conttruction. Visit

10. Midwest glove & gear

MidWest Glove & Gear has introduced new Ladies Garden “Comfort Clogs” that are designed to keep the wearers feet dry and comfortable when gardening. The super lightweight design is molded in advanced EVA material and are available in blue and green in ladies sizes 7-9. Removable insoles provide added comfort and the clogs can be cleaned off with a garden hose and left to dry. Visit

JELD-WEN Windows & Doors has extended the launch of its new Classic Collection line of wood windows and patio doors across Canada. Made with JELD-WEN’s proprietary AuraLast treated wood, the Classic Collection is designed to be both durable and energy efficient while enhancing the beauty of the home. Available in pine, alder or Douglas Fir, and in a variety of shapes and styles. Visit

5. Trex

Trex, manufacturer of composite decking, steel deck framing and deck lighting, has launched an integrated system of porch components and accessories. The Trex Transcend Porch Flooring and Railing System includes virtually gap-free floor boards with universal hidden fasteners, coordinating post and railing options and Trex Trim beadboard and mouldings. This system is designed to allow the consumer to construct a complete porch setting with eco-friendly, low-maintenance materials. Visit

6. Mikita

Makita has introduced the 18V LXT Lithium-ion Cordless ½-inch Driver-Drill (model LXFD01). This tools is powered by a four-pole motor that delivers 480 in.lbs. of max torque and 290 in.lbs. of PTI torque. The model LXFD01 drill/driver is 7-9/16-inches long and weighs only 3.8 lbs. Its 16 clutch settings and two-speed all-metal transmission allow for a wide range of applications while a new rubberized grip delivers increased comfort on the job. Visit

7. Moen

The new Flushmount body sprays from Moen Canada are designed to create the optimum shower or vertical spa experience. Fitting cleanly against the wall, these body spray fixtures blend in with tile, slate or other premium shower surround materials. The adjustable spray face allows the water flow to pivot up to 20 degrees in any direction. An adjustable mounting bracket helps ensure quick and easy alignment with adjacent body sprays. Visit


BOSCH recently introduced the model BSH180 Band Saw. Designed to replace traditional hacksaws and awkward reciprocating saws, the cordless BSH180 can execute precise cuts to a variety of materials, including metal, copper pipe and electrical cables and is small and light enough (7.7 lbs.) for use in tight spaces. The tool is powered by an 18-volt fat or slim battery pack that allows for more than 150 cuts per charge. Visit

September/October 2011

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11-09-06 3:59 PM

Vegas Report

How cool is that?!! This past May, the Hardware Merchandising team made its annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show (NHS), the largest show in North America devoted to the hardware/home improvement market. Anyone who has ever attended the NHS knows that it is possible to wander the aisles for hours checking out all the vendor booths showcasing every product imaginable for the home. And one of the best things about that process is knowing that, sooner or later, you are going to come across some interesting product that you have never seen before. Here are a couple of the unique products we discovered at this year’s show:

Product: NASCAR coolers Cool Works Cup Atlanta, GA There isn’t a NASCAR fanatic in the world who could live without one of these coolers once they see one. Instead of just slapping a logo on a standard cooler, Cool Works Cup has taken the licensed product category one step further by parking a NASCAR racer right in the middle of the tailgate party. Molded to look just like the front end of a race car, these coolers come in a 10-quart “Grandstand” size (holds 12 x 12-oz. cans) and a massive 100-quart “Infield” size (holds 96 x 12-oz. cans) and come in a wide range of driver/team designs.

Product: Crystal door knobs Krystal Touch of New York Inc. Freeport, N.Y. Crystal door knobs are certainly nothing new, but Krystal Touch of New York has put an interesting twist on this standard product category. These door knobs come in a variety of interesting designs that allow the consumer to personalize their space— basketball, soccer ball, globe, golf ball, even a crystal skull. And an internal battery and touch sensor in the door knob hardware activates an LED light that illuminates the knob. The interchangeable knobs are made of durable (K-9) crystal and the door hardware fits all standard door sizes (1-3/8 or 1-3/4).



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September/October 2011

11-09-06 4:00 PM

Introducing a new line of ice melters from the name that needs no introduction.



Safer for people, pets and lawns.



Fast acting. Maximum melting power.


Simple. Proven. Effective.

Available in various packaging sizes and formats, including jugs and pails. For more information call 1-800-387-8580 or visit

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11-07-11 2:41 PM

Landscape Ad Hardware Merch_Layout 1 7/29/11 8:06 AM Page 1

The landscape is changing True Value is now TRU, a truly Canadian network of independent retailers. Same great people. With more freedom of choice and product selection than ever before. • • • •

No long-term contracts No restrictions or must carry products Over 60,000 skus to choose from Largest field support team in Canada

When it’s TRU, it’s real.

Call us toll free 1.800.665.5085

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11-09-06 8:59 AM

retailnews expand by 15,000 sq. ft. at a cost of more than $4-million. The expanded store will include 91,000 sq. ft. of retail space, as well as a 10,000-sq.-ft. garden centre and a 25,000-sq.-ft. outdoor lumberyard with car service. The Gauthier family have owned and operated the business since 2004, along with six other RONA stores in Quebec. Finally, on August 23, broke ground on a new 15,000-sq.-ft. RONA store in Saint-Raymond, Que. that will replace a smaller existing store. The new store, being built at a cost of $2.8 million, is scheduled for completion in December of this year.

Hardware group planning international events

RONA has busy month

Boucherville, Que. – RONA Inc., Canada’s largest home improvement retailer, put in a very busy few weeks in Eastern Canada in August, extending their brand and expanding their dealer network. Early in the month, RONA announced that it would be renovating and renaming three former Piercey’s stores in the Halifax area. In June RONA purchased five Piercey’s stores and a lumberyard from the Bragg Group for an undisclosed sum. A local retail icon, the Piercey’s chain sold hardware and building supplies in Nova Scotia for more than 95 years before being acquired by the Quebec-based retail giant. Piercey’s operated stores in Halifax, Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, Tantallon and Elmsdale and has one of the largest delivery fleets in N.S. RONA spent close to $4-million to renovate and rebrand the stores in Tantallon, Elmsdale and Cole Harbour. All three locations now feature RONA’s signature paint boutique, its privatelabel brands and enhanced product selections. Prior to the Piercey’s acquisition, RONA operated one big box location in Halifax. In addition to the changes in Nova Scotia, RONA was also active in New Brunswick and Quebec In early August, the company opened the new 6,000-sq.-ft. RONA Materiaux Parent in the town of Kedgwick, N.B. The new outlet belongs to the co-owners of the Materiaux Parent hardware store in the town of Saint-Quentin and represents an investment in the community of $1.3-million. On August 17, RONA officially opened a new 13,000-sq.ft. store in Granby, Que. Owned by the Hebert, Gagnon and Lamarche families, the new store will be a branch of the same franchised dealer-owner’s RONA L’entrepot in Granby and represents an investment in the community of $2-million. On August 22, RONA announced the expansion of the RONA Le Regional store in the town of Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Que. When completed, in early 2012, the existing retail outlet will September/October 2011

News Briefly.indd 15

Thousands of independent hardware and DIY retailers around the world will soon be enjoying new opportunities to share ideas with fellow retailers and to gain insights into how to increase and improve their businesses or better compete with giant competitors. It’s being made possible because the International Federation of Hardware & Housewares Associations (IHA) is launching new, expanded membership service programs to help them. Comprised of 14 national associations of independent retailers located from England to Japan, the IHA is now being managed by Bill Lee, president and CEO of the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), one of its members. As the newly appointed Secretary-General, Lee is harnessing the talents of NRHA’s large staff and putting them to work in serving the needs of IHA members and member associations around the world. A new monthly newsletter to member associations has already been launched which highlights important retailing and merchandising trends and is suitable for local distribution by member associations. Next up is the first of a series of new regional IHA meetings. The first such meeting is scheduled for Sept. 21 in Shanghai, in conjunction with the China International Hardware Show there Sept. 21-23. Next March, another meeting will take place during the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany. Already the world’s largest international trade show, its attendance will be increased as independent retailers journey to Cologne for the IHA meeting as well as the show. Lee says IHA’s expanded goal, worldwide, is to bring together the various segments of the hardware/DIY industry and to foster greater understanding and cooperation between them. To encourage such cooperation, IHA is now offering associate memberships to industry trade shows and publications, as well as to manufacturers and distributors serving and supplying independent, privately owned retailers. Regular membership also is available to other national associations representing independent, privately owned retail hardware or DIY firms. Visit for more information. —Bob Vereen HARDWARE MERCHANDISING


11-09-07 8:40 AM

retailnews »»»»»»»»»»»»»» briefly «««««««««««««« COMBI Montreal-based Combi Inc., a sales and marketing agency specializing in the Canadian hardware retail, wholesale and distribution market, recently made a new addition to its sales team. Dave Mayhew has joined the company in the position of Account Manager. Before joining Combi, Mayhew was a national account manager for Globe Electric. Prior to that, he worked for Reebok Canada as a sales representative and then director of sales. Combi Inc. represents leading manufacturers including Amertac, Canada Wire, WD-40 Company, Dimplex North America and Westinghouse Lighting.

GroupE BMR Boucherville, Que.-based Groupe BMR recently made a new addition to its management team. Al Holton has joined the

buying group in the position of Ontario Business Development Manager, where he will use his extensive retail experience to help Groupe BMR member-dealers in that province to grow their businesses. Groupe BMR represents more than 180 independent hardware/home improvement dealers in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

KBC Tools & Machinery Michigan-based KBC Tools & Machinery recently appointed its first-ever Director of Canadian Operations: Karen Neath, branch manager at KBC’s Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. In her new role, Neath will continue in her duties as Mississauga branch manager while expanding her mandate to include overseeing and coordinating activities at the company’s other Canadian locations, in Oldcastle, Ont. and Delta, B.C. A longtime employee of KBC, Neath has experience in every aspect of company operations, having managed the credit department and warehouse before being promoted to branch manager. Founded in 1965, KBC operates five locations in the U.S. and three in Canada. The company specializes in providing tools, machinery and accessories for the North American maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) industry.

Moen Canada 18105_HardMerch_Bellerive_QP_EN Docket/Job: 18105 Client: Home Hardware

Moen Canada recently made two additions to its sales department in Western Canada.

RONA appoints new CFO

Trim: 3.375" (w) x 4.875" (h) Publication: N/A Live: Insertion Date: Bleed: Colours: CMYK

Boucherville, Que.— RONA Inc., Canada’s largest home improvement retailer, has appointed Dominique Boies to the position of Executive VicePresident and Chief Financial Officer of the company. Reporting directly to company President and CEO Robert Dutton, Boies will be responsible for RONA’s financial orientation and will be in charge of investor relations, accounting, financing, treasury and legal affairs. M. Boies will begin his new duties by the end of September. For the past five years, M. Boies has held various positions at the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, including Senior Vice-President of Investments of the Corporate Debt and Investment Funds groups. He also worked for 11 years at the Royal Bank of Canada where he held several executive positions.

Art Director: Mark Copywriter: Rick Mac Artist: Ross

Proof printed at 100 %



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11-06-15 3:36 PM

September/October 2011

11-09-06 4:17 PM

Truly Canadian

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retailnews »»»»»»»»»»»»»» briefly «««««««««««««« Andrew Cordy-Simpson has joined the company in the position of Senior Territory Manager, Wholesale. In his new role, Cordy-Simpson will execute strategies to develop and expand the wholesale plumbing market in the Vancouver area, as well as build and maintain strong customer relationships with wholesalers, plumbing contractors, builders, kitchen and bath dealers, designers and engineers. Prior to joining Moen, Cordy-Simpson held a variety of managerial positions with Pfizer Inc. Also based in Vancouver, Stephen Sutch has joined Moen Canada in the position of Showroom Consultant for the Wholesales Sales Department. Sutch brings more than 25 years of design industry experience Moen. Prior to joining Moen, Sutch was manager of UpCountry, a high-end design store in Toronto, and was the owner/operator of Koolhaus Design in Vancouver. As a Showroom Consultant, Sutch will develop

In Memoriam With great sadness, staff and dealers at Home Hardware Stores Limited mourn the recent passing of their friend and colleague, Don Kirck. As Vice-President, Distribution and Manufacturing, Don was dedicated, focused and always demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Home Hardware, its culture and history. Don began his career at Home Hardware in 1976. Through the 1980s, Don was involved in the establishment and management of the distribution centres in Debert, N.S., and Wetaskiwin, Alta. He returned to Home Hardware’s main distribution centre in St. Jacobs, Ont., in 1990 to oversee the retrofit and expansion of that facilitiy, where he was promoted to Director of National Distribution in 2000, and then Vice-President of Distribution & Manufacturing in 2005. Don’s enthusiasm for the company and his devotion to help wherever possible was contagious, and he readily gained the trust and respect of co-workers, dealers and vendors alike. He will be greatly missed by his loving family and all who knew him.



News Briefly.indd 18

strong customer relationships with major interior design firms in Vancouver who specialize in the single and multi-family marketplace. He will also be responsible for showroom display merchandising for new and existing builders, dealers and wholesale showrooms and participate in industry associations and trade shows on behalf of Moen.

TIM-BR MARTS LTD. TIM-BR MARTS LTD., a Calgary-based LBM buying group representing more than 740 member-dealers across Canada, recently made a major addition to its executive ranks. The group has appointed Barb Hopper to the position of Chief Strategy Officer and Acting CFO. As an accomplished business leader with a broad functional background and strong strategic focus, Ms. Hopper has worked with several large public companies and entrepreneurial organizations. She has completed and participated in mergers and acquisitions, integrations, financing, restructuring, new technology implementations and developed and executed growth strategies. Ms. Hopper’s experience spans retail, manufacturing, distribution and banking, and includes international postings as well. She is a chartered accountant and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

DELTA DELTA Power Equipment Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of portable, stationary and benchtop woodworking machinery and equipment, recently added two independent sales representatives and four independent sales organizations to its Canadian sales operations. Sam Purdy, based in Cambridge, Ont., will oversee the independent reps and organizations in Canada and will be responsible for the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Bob Weber, based in Burlington, Ont., will be responsible for the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Peninsula and Eastern and Northern Ontario. Tizzard Marketing & Management, based in Caledon Village, Ont., will be responsible for Southwestern Ontario. BD&M Marketing, based in Lac du Bonnet, Man., will be responsible for Manitoba-west, including Thunder Bay. Agences Roger Boutin Inc., based in St. Bruno, Que., will be responsible for Quebec. F.H. Flinn Ltd., based in Halifax, will be responsible for the Atlantic Provinces. HM September/October 2011

11-09-06 4:17 PM

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11-07-11 2:39 PM 11-06-13 10:16 AM

Built to

LAST Now operating in its third century, the hardware business that would ultimately become Gow’s Home Hardware has been serving the people of Bridgewater, N.S. since long before Confederation.

Photos: Dan Callis Photography

By Brynna Leslie



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September/October 2011

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Photo: Pierre Charbonneau

n the age of big box stores and mega-malls, Gow’s Home Hardware in Bridgewater, N. S. is a throwback—a familyoriented business targeted to Main Street shoppers. The town has grown over the years, but third-generation owner Peter Gow has steadfastly resisted the lure of the ‘burbs, maintaining the store’s downtown presence, albeit with a large amount of retail space. And, believe it or not, Gow’s is still closed on Sundays—except for the six Sundays before Christmas. It isn’t easy to carve out a slice of the retail market these days, no matter what your specialty. Since the early 1990s when Walmart first introduced its low-price, retailer-of-everything model north of the 49th parallel, everyone from grocery stores to clothing outlets has wanted a piece of the hardware market. As these corporate giants shifted their strategic focus, from loyalty rewards programs, to making stores more female friendly, to offering the most competitive price on everything from lawnmowers to milk, they’ve forgotten the one thing that is central to the business: the customer. And with services increasingly offloaded to the consumer—think online banking, Second Cup coffee, and self-serve gas—customers are practically begging for a little TLC. Call it a marketing strategy or call it old-fashioned, but at Gow’s Home Hardware customer service is their business. “There’s no real magic formula to what we do,” says Gow. “We just try to treat everybody the way we’d want to be treated.” It may sound cheesy, superficial, or even false, but talk to anyone in Nova Scotia’s South Shore region, 100 kilometres southwest of Halifax, and you’ll soon realize that just may be the most authentic business strategy you’ve heard in a while. There are some very good reasons why Gow’s Home Hardware was named Hardware Merchandising’s Outstanding Hardware Retailer in 2010, for the second time, prompting local MLA Gary Ramey to put forward a resolution in the Nova Scotia legislature acknowledging the achievement. The official Hansard proceedings of the province note the retailer’s history of outstanding contributions to the community. “The Gows have been nothing but sweet people forever,” says Ramey. “They’re not in the business to see how fast and furious they can make money, turn people over, or chew them up and spit them out. They’re the antithesis of Walmart, and their method is actually working.” HARDWARE MERCHANDISING


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coverstory | Gow’s Home Hardware

Competing with the big boxes

Gow’s Home Hardware Fast facts Ownership: The Gow family Location: Bridgewater, N.S. Year founded: 1848, by Robert Dawson; taken over by Walter Gow in 1929 (grandfather of current owner Peter Gow) Retail Square Footage: 26,000 sq. ft. retail space with 8,000 sq. ft. storage Staff: 48 full-time, 15 part-time Market: Town of Bridgewater, 8,000; total trading area, 35,000 Notable achievements: No. 1 Home Hardware paint retailer in Canada; oldest operating business in Bridgewater, N.S.; 2010 Hardware Merchandising Outstanding Hardware Store



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For Gow’s Home Hardware, competing with the Walmarts and Canadian Tires of the world has become a stark reality in recent years. The Town of Bridgewater is the South Shore’s main commercial centre. With a population of 8,000—and an estimated trade area of 35,000—it is the only region in Nova Scotia outside the Halifax Census Metropolitan Area that is growing. But as the population has expanded so have the retail options, and an increasing number of shoppers are now avoiding the downtown core, opting for the convenience of big box stores on the edge of the highway. In the last six years, Bridgewater’s Canadian Tire has nearly doubled in size, expanding to 50,000-sq.-ft. with its signature clothing retailer—and Canada’s No.1 men’s retailer—Mark’s Work Warehouse, attached. Walmart, meanwhile, has built a 90,000-sq,-ft. store in a new commercial development on the outskirts of town. “It’s a tougher market, that’s for sure,” says Gow. “With 140,000 square feet of additional retail in the last six years, the pie has to be sliced a little thinner. And people don’t come to the downtown area anymore.” If any business is prepared to meet this challenge, it’s Gow’s. In fact, the store has been through more economic cycles than the Canada itself. Founded in 1848 by Robert Dawson, the hardware business that would ultimately become Gow’s predates Confederation, and holds the distinction of being the oldest operating business in Bridgewater. Peter Gow’s grandfather, Walter, became an employee at Dawson’s store as a young teenager in the 1880s and eventually purchased the business in 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression. September/October 2011

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coverstory | Gow’s Home Hardware

“We never talked too much about how he survived that time,” says Gow. “But my father, Frank, who took over the store with his brothers in 1945, was my mentor, and he always used to say ‘look for the next day; it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday.’ My father passed away in 2008, but I think a lot about that when things get tough.” In 1966, Gow’s became one of the first hardware stores in Atlantic Canada to join the St. Jacobs, Ont.-based Home Hardware cooperative, looking to the national brand as a means of providing more efficient distribution and marketing. “Under the constitution, any money made within Home Hardware is returned to the dealers, as opposed to outside shareholders, to help owners improve their stores,” says Gow. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a big store or a small store, you each get one vote. My father saw this as a pretty good concept, and it beat looking after some stranger on a beach in Hawaii.” Peter has owned the store since the mid-1970s and has already seen the business through three periods of major growth. In 1989, he oversaw the construction of the current location on LeHave Street. At the time, the new 34,000-sq.-ft. facility was one of the biggest in town. It seemed over-indulgent, but proved to be a prophetic move. The expansion occurred just a few years before the arrival of Home Depot, Walmart, and other American big box stores north of the border. “Since this explosion in 1992, more than 300 big box stores have emerged in Canada, and each one is doing a minimum of $30 million in sales per year,” says Bill Ferguson, director of dealer support for Home Hardware. “And there’s a false perception among consumers that the size of a facility dictates price.



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We are competitive pricewise. At last count there were 1080 Home Hardware stores from coast-to-coast-to-coast with a buying power of over $5 billion. But at the end of the day, you can’t compete with perception. Our brand is really our dealers, the homeowners helping homeowners.” Home Hardware’s president emeritus Walter Hachborn was famous for telling retailers in seminars that, ‘the best thing that ever happened to Home Hardware is Canadian Tire because competition always makes you better.’ In spite of, or perhaps because of, the increased competition, both Gow’s, and Home Hardware nationally, have chosen to differentiate themselves by something other than size. “I go into these other stores and you can walk around quite a bit without anyone coming up to you and approaching you,” says Gow. “I don’t like to downgrade the competition; they’re very successful. But where we’re able to offer an edge is by having knowledgeable, experienced people who have been here a long time.”

It’s all about the customers By focusing on exceptional customer service, Gow’s has managed to maintain a solid portion of the local market share, in spite of the giants next door. Population growth aside, the people in Bridgewater, as in communities across Canada, are ageing. Many are baby boomers, who, now that their children have grown, are looking to make improvements to their largest investment: their home. They’ve got money to spend and the time to do the projects themselves, but they need a little guidance. “Gow’s is the kind of place you go to if you’ve ripped someSeptember/October 2011

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There’s something for everyone Wednesday evening at the Welcome Reception. An evening of networking, casino games and musical entertainment by Kenny Munshaw, renowned pianist, singersongwriter! This night promises to be lively fun with its “throw-back” theme. Get ready for an old school party and a night of bringing back what once was so cool!

Jumpstart your Thursday morning with the Hardlines All-Industry Breakfast Conference. This hot breakfast is a great place to expand your knowledge of industry trends and gain tips from industry professionals, to help you grow your business.

Thursday night get ready to LOL at the second annual LBMAO Laugh Out Loud Comedy Dinner. A three course dinner followed by three all-star comedians, plus MC Mike Bullard. The LBMAO will also be hosting a seasonal edition of the Canadian Home Improvement Show Merchandising Awards, CHIMA-lite.

BUNDLE UP TODAY TO SAVE $$$ Don’t miss your opportunity to network with industry colleagues, retailers and exhibitors. Act fast because, for a limited time only, we will reward you for getting social with our bundle packages. Bundle up by October 15th to receive this incredible offer! Visit us online for more information on our Hyper-Social and Socia-Lite bundles.

DON’T THINK TWICE. REGISTER TODAY! November 17 & 18, 2011 Toronto Congress Centre – South Building

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coverstory | Gow’s Home Hardware

Top Challenges for small retailers Big box stores: Independent retailers have difficulty competing with low prices offered by outlets with large purchasing power. Aligning with a buying group or cooperative can help keep prices low. Perception: Regardless of how competitive your pricing, consumers often believe that big box stores can offer better prices. If expanding floor space is not an option, select feature items to promote in store flyers and windows that exhibit your ability to match or beat price. Growth of the ‘burbs: Location is often said to be the No.1 rule in real estate. As Canada’s population ages, municipalities across the country are engaging in revitalization projects to promote activity in the downtown core. Supporting local parks and recreation projects now may preserve your business in future. Stocking the goods that consumers want: If your warehouse and display space is marginal, it may be better to find a specialization so customers associate you with niche products.



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thing out and you don’t know what the heck you’re doing – which can happen if you’re not a handyman,” says MLA Ramey, with a laugh. “You take this bolt in and ask someone to help you; well the person will tell you there are four different kinds of those and they’ll take you there and reach in the bin and get it for you. And you can walk out of there and know it’s right, that you haven’t screwed it up.” Internal marketing data suggests ninety per cent of Gow’s customers are involved in DIY projects. “We’re set up to help that DIY person who needs a can of paint, a package of hooks, sporting goods, housewares, plumbing and electrical,” says Gow. Gow’s employs sixty staff, including 48 floor staff to cover its 26,000 sq. ft. of retail space, ensuring there’s a high ratio of employees-to-customers at all times. The store is overstaffed at times, admits Randy Eisnor, the assistant manager, who has been with Gow’s for 34 years and is responsible for hiring, training and scheduling employees. “We usually have four people at the nail counter all the time, five in paint,” says Eisnor. “We want to make sure when someone comes into the store they’ll find someone to help them. And it does help us drive sales: We’ve been number one for paint sales in Canada for years, and not by accident.” While Eisnor says “there’s not a whole lot of training” that goes on, he does put staff on paid rotations so they can participate in monthly training DVDs provided by Home Hardware’s SBTV. And despite a lack of formality about the orientation process, new employees are partnered with more experienced ones who mentor them in specific departments. “We also try to send our full-time staff to Home Hardware seminars in the winter,” says Eisnor. “They do a lot of hands-on September/October 2011

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coverstory | Gow’s Home Hardware

things, whether it’s plumbing or soldering. It’s a lot easier for them to sell something if they’ve used it themselves.”

Top employer Most of Gow’s employees have been with the company for more than a decade. “We have 13 staff that have been here over 25 years,” says Eisnor. “Twenty that have been here over 15 years. Normally if someone comes in, they stay for a while. Having long-term staff means they have a lot of experience and knowledge of our products.”

What makes Gow’s an Outstanding Retailer? Service: Gow’s maintains a high employee-to-customer ratio. Customers come into the store knowing they will get help immediately. Finding their niche: Gow’s has the highest paint sales of any Home Hardware retailer in Canada. They have invested the time to train staff to be knowledgeable on paint products while focusing on paint as a key niche segment. Investing in the community: The store creates room for charitable organizations to raise money adjacent to their checkouts, donates to local sports’ teams and partners with schools and community organizations to support training and development of marginalized people in the community. Investing in staff: Gow’s takes advantage of training sessions and DVDs offered by Home Hardware. And while Peter Gow may be considered “too soft” by some employees, most appreciate his willingness to share profits in the form of twice-yearly staff bonuses, as well as his generosity in granting leave, vacation time and time off for special occasions. They also like the luxury of having every Sunday off.



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Amanda Fancy started at the store in 1997 as a summer high school student. She went away to university and returned ten years later to become the store’s inventory and information systems manager. “They really care about every employee individually,” says Fancy “You’re not just a number, which I think is the case in a lot of retail businesses. If you’ve got something going on in your life, maybe bad or good, everyone shares in the excitement or asks if they can do something to help.” Gow’s offers a number of incentives to maintain employee loyalty, including twice-annual cash bonuses, a week’s pay for Christmas Day, and time off on birthdays. “I can’t say there’s a better place to work,” says Fancy. “While you’ve got new faces and different products, the basic principles and philosophies and the way the store is run, the values that the Gows have, it never changes.” One of the longest-serving employees is Leo Henderson. Now in his seventies, Henderson first started at Gow’s when the store was under the ownership of Peter’s father, Frank. So far, he’s opted out of retirement. “Leo’s always got a million projects on the go,” says Fancy. “He comes here on his day off. But even if he’s just here on his own time, customers will see him and ask him questions, and he’ll always take the time out of his day to take them down the aisle and give them customer service.”

The right products Along with great customer service, Gow’s Home Hardware has had to become selective about how to grow and supply departments in the store. A few years ago, they decided to get out of the bike business, unable to compete with the price points offered by their competitors. In its place, they expanded stock in garden and lawn tools and household project materials, and made sure employees were fully trained on these products to help them sell. “Gow’s has been able to continually grow the business because they understood they had to create ways to distinguish themselves from the competition,” says Ferguson. “Gow’s and their staff have done that by specializing in certain areas—in wood stoves, hunting and fishing—and they’re one of the largest paint dealers in Atlantic Canada.” Assistant manager Eisnor agrees. The store could have the best customer service in the industry he says, but without a good selection of well-priced items in stock, business would be lost. “If someone comes in looking for something and you don’t have it, they’re going to go somewhere else. It’s that simple,” says Eisnor. The store expansion 30 years ago has been integral to their success today. “People’s expectations have changed,” says Ferguson. “When I was growing up you might have a selection of ten faucets, including kitchen and bathroom; now there’s 200 to choose from. The whole DIY industry has exploded, and stores have had to beSeptember/October 2011

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come a lot larger to store and display the wide selection of items. With the size of their space, Gow’s are able to project a healthy price image and a hefty image of stock as well.”

Community focus Not surprisingly, Gow’s has given a lot back to the community of Bridgewater. The store regularly donates money and prizes to sports teams and churches and allows community groups to set up fundraising booths inside the store. Gow’s also has a reputation for reaching out to marginalized people in the community to give them opportunities that they may not otherwise have. “They hire people that others may not have taken a chance on. It makes them unique and it benefits the community now and into the future,” says Carroll Publicover, the mayor of Bridgewater. In partnership with Peter’s Place, a home for adults with disabilities, Gow’s employs an adult who is both physically and developmentally disabled. He volunteers in the store twice a week, stocking shelves, and participates in the annual Christmas parade float. The employee was recently awarded with his 15-year service pin. In addition, Gow’s currently has eight volunteer firefighters



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on staff, who get paid leave in the case of an emergency. Peter Gow was a firefighter for more than 20 years, influenced by his father and grandfather, who had longstanding ties to the Bridgewater Fire Department. “My grandfather, Walter, was the fire chief in Bridgewater for about 31 years, and my dad, Frank, was fire chief for nine years,” says Gow. “We have a strong affiliation with the local fire departments. I think it’s the kind of thing that’s been passed down through the generations. You can’t help it if you’ve seen your dad running out in the middle of the night or in the middle of the work day to serve his community.”

What’s next? As is the case with all traditional retailers, Gow’s faces a challenging future, as competitors continue to move in and grow both in town and on the outskirts. In the face of those pressures, it remains to be seen whether or not Gow’s can continue to resist modern-day pressures to move to more part-time, casual staff, or to open seven days a week. “Sunday right now is as busy as any other day,” says Eisnor. “ForWRLA thePSmoment, Peter’s holding 1onto that, as AM long as 2012 - 1 - Hardware 6/21/2011 6:41:34 the rest of the week is okay for business. He knows it’s sort

of commonplace for those of us in the store to see Sundays as a day off.” Bridgewater is in the midst of a downtown revitalization project, including the construction of parks and walking trails along the LeHave River, and more parking, which city planners hope will draw more business to retailers in the town centre. “We’re hoping to get people off the highway by providing some unique areas along the river that will urge them to come downtown and shop,” says Mayor Publicover. “I think Gow’s would be able to maintain its market share in any event because of their unique way of dealing with people.” Gow’s, says Publicover, is an icon in the Town of Bridgewater, and a shining example of how entrepreneurs in retail standout in their industries and make a difference in their communities. “When you build from a very small beginning to a team of more than 50 people, who offer a broad smile and a good product and make people happy when they leave, that’s old-fashioned business,” says Publicover. “The team at Gow’s is known as ethical, honest, caring community people and certainly in our neck of the woods that goes a long way to leading economic success and longevity and they’ve proven that. They’re going to survive whatever comes their way.” HM

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January 19-20, 2012 Saskatoon, SK September/October 2011

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WRLA Inc. Email: or 800-661-0253 ext 3.



11-09-06 4:03 PM

A few words with:

Dave Campbell With a double-dip recession looming and a second trade show to organize in less than nine months, LBMAO president Dave Campbell has got a lot on his mind these days. By Frank Condron


ack in 2008, the Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario (LBMAO) took a big step when it decided to move its winter buying show, traditionally held in early February, from London, Ont. to the Toronto Congress Centre. The goal at that time, according to LBMAO president Dave Campbell, was to attract more dealers from central and northern Ontario. Along with the move, the association also undertook a complete re-branding of the event, which became the Canadian Home Improvement Show (CHIS). Now four shows in, the CHIS has been fairly well attended, especially when compared to its days in London. However, the CHIS has had its share of obstacles to overcome in its short existence, in the form of uncooperative weather, scheduling conflicts with buying group events and competition from similar shows. And now the CHIS is changing again. This past spring, the LBMAO announced that it was moving the show once more, this time to a new late fall time slot—November 17-18, 2011 at the Toronto Congress Centre. Hardware Merchandising talked with Dave Campbell recently about the move, and about other issues facing the Canadian hardware/home improvement retailing industry. Hardware Merchandising: What prompted the LBMAO to move the Canadian Home Improvement Show to November from its traditional time in early February, and was it a difficult decision to make? Dave Campbell: In the 80’s and 90’s the LBMAO did host its own show in November with great success, but then joint-ventured with the now defunct Canadian Retail Hardware Association show in the late 90’s. That show was a national show, however; competing regional shows such as the Prairie Showcase in Saskatoon and the ABSDA show in Moncton were more cost effective for retailers to attend to network with their regional suppliers. As well, national franchise programs were hosting their own national shows, so the regional association show concept was proving to be more of interest for both retailers and suppliers. In 2004 the LBMAO board had made the decision to move towards hosting our own show that was focused on the building supply sector and specific to the Ontario marketplace, and that show was held in London, Ont. in February. Initially this time



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slot worked fine, but since then we have had challenges with competing events such as buying group trips, other regional shows and the introduction of buying group shows that are private shows and specific to their customer base. We felt that going back to our traditional time frame in November provided a better value proposition for both our retailers and exhibitors. HW: What are the advantages to staging the show in November rather than February? Weather has been a factor impacting the show in the past. DC: Weather in February in Ontario is always a factor and can have, and has had, an effect on our show due to inclement weather. November traditionally has better weather conditions but that is not the only reason for moving the show, as previously mentioned. Our members have strong allegiances to their buying group and franchise programs. We, as associations, respect that relationship and do not wish to compete with them but wish to complement their events with regional buying shows that can provide a broader range of products and services. The retailers who attend our shows are truly independent and entrepreneurial and continually try to improve their sales, margins and service to their customers. We can offer them an opportunity to see a broader range of products and services as well as new products. Our exhibitors also tell us that they like the format of the regional association shows for that very same reason. HW: What kind of response have you received from your members and potential exhibitors regarding the move? Was there much opposition to the idea? DC: We have been pleasantly surprised at the positive response from both our supplier and retail members. They too have had challenges in the February time slot for the same reasons as mentioned before. They wish to maintain their presence at the February show but constraints on manning booths and having to juggle attendance at shows, trips and winter holidays always proved to be a challenge in February. We had a few indicate they were opposed to the change in time frame, primarily due to budgetary constraints with two LBMAO shows in the same calendar year, but overall, it’s been positive. September/October 2011

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HM: How will the November show differ from the CHIS held in February? Are you planning any changes to the format that you hope to carry forward? DC: Our show surveys tell us that attendee’s wish to see a broader selection of product in areas such as paint, flooring and outdoor living. We are moving forward to expand these categories and will have stronger presence of exhibitors in these sectors. As well, new products are something that the surveys tell us the attendee’s wish to see more of. Towards that end, we will be putting a stronger emphasis on displaying and promoting new products. HM: How is the show shaping up in terms of size compared to February? DC: I expect that the show will be similar in size to the previous year. New exhibitors who have committed to the show are up from the previous show and that’s a good indicator that we should be able to meet our goals for exhibitor attendee’s. HM: In its spring budget, the federal government set aside $400 million to extend the ecoENERGY Retrofit program for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 (after canceling the program suddenly in March 2010). Have your members felt the impact of this program extension on sales so far this year and do you believe consumers are even aware of it? DC: Over the course of the summer I have had the opportunity to talk to many of our retail customers regarding business conditions, including the affect of the introduction of the ecoENERGY program. The results would be mixed about the impact of this program. As with most federal government programs, by the time everyone is aware of the processes for qualifying and applying for it, it will be gone. We would encourage the federal government to make it a permanent program as it certainly provides incentives for consumers to upgrade to more energy efficient products. HM: Were your members aware that the ecoENERGY Retrofit program would be extended, or was the building supply retailing industry surprised by the move? If so, do you believe retailers, and homeowners, will be able to take full advantage of the extension before the program expires again in the spring? DC: We were aware that the Conservative government was contemplating a reintroduction of the ecoENERGY program as indicated in their budget. The election gave them a majority in parliament so we expect to see more business friendly incentives from this government that provide reasonable stimulus to the economy but not at the risk of increasing the budget deficit. As mentioned previously, the ecoENERGY program needs to be extended to provide its full benefit to the economy as well as reductions in energy consumption. HM: In your capacity as Chair of the Canadian Retail Building Supply Council’s (CRBSC) Government Relations Committee you will be making recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance for next year’s federal budget. What will the CRBSC’s key recommendations be? September/October 2011

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DC: We have recently made a submission to the Standing Committee on Finance on behalf of our members asking that we have the opportunity to appear before the committee in the fall. The submission was based upon responses to surveys sent out to all members of the five regional associations and the key recommendations of the submission are: — Re-introduce and make permanent the Home Renovation Tax Credit. — Seek opportunities for Canadians to make temporary use of their RRSP savings to finance home improvements, using the model of repayment provisions in the First-Time Homebuyers Program. — The Government of Canada should be seeking additional opportunities to use financial incentives and education/information to emulate the success of the ENERGY STAR program with other programs designed to facilitate environmentally responsible consumer behavior. HM: Do you believe the Canadian hardware/home improvement and building supply retailing industry needs more permanent incentive programs for homeowners—like ecoENERGY Retrofit and the Home Renovation Tax Credit—to remain strong, or can it continue to grow without incentives? DC: Financial incentives provided by the government to encourage consumers to conserve energy are helpful but should be used within a combination of tools such as educating the public on how and why they should be conserving our energy and natural resources. The home improvement industry has been robust in the last several years, with many of those years not having the incentive programs recently introduced to reduce energy consumption and provide economic stimulus. If governments wish to keep these programs in place, it has to make sense and not contribute to increasing the debt. One could argue that energy costs to consumers are rising in part because governments at all levels are providing fewer subsidies, thus forcing consumers to pay the actual cost. This prompts consumers to move more readily towards more efficient ways of conserving energy. The home improvement and renovation market certainly enjoy the benefits of conservation incentives but economic uncertainly will be a bigger factor in sales and margins in the foreseeable future. HM: A strong housing market is also essential to the success of the building supply industry. What steps could, or should, the government take to ensure the growth and stability of the Canadian housing market? DC: There is no question that the housing and renovation market is an economic driver in Canada and the housing boom in the past three years has been very much driven by historically low interest rates. Within our submission to the Standing Committee on Finance we encourage the government to be cautious on increasing rates too fast. Recognizing that the Canadian Government may not have the ability to control interest rates or consumer confidence in the current global economic conditions, they do have the ability to use stimulus tools such as the three recommendations we proposed in our budget submission. HM H A R D WA R E M E R C H A N D I S I N G


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Canadians have been given a second chance to save money on home renovations and energy costs.

One in twenty homeowners* have taken advantage of grants worth up to $5,000 provided by the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program since its introduction in April 2007 until the announcement of its withdrawal in March 2010. As such, the news that the reinstatement of the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program has been approved should come as a welcome relief to Canadians looking to make their homes more energy efficient and more comfortable this winter. “With over seven million under insulated attics in Canada, Owens Corning is delighted that the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program has been extended,” says Ric McFadden, Vice President of Building Materials at Owens Corning Canada. “We know the grants made available to homeowners will encourage Canadians to make the necessary improvements to their homes, allowing them to save both money and energy over time.” Using energy efficient products for renovations, such as EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® Insulation batts and/or AttiCat® Expanding Blown-In Insulation System can make homes eligible for the ecoENERGY Retrofit grants, enabling homeowners to save up to 28%‡‡ on their heating and cooling costs. “Attic re-insulation in particular is an easy project.” says David Flood, insulation expert at Owens Corning. “It can be done in a matter of hours with AttiCat® Expanding Blown-In Insulation System, for maximum energy efficiency (R-50) top up attic to 18 ½”. Or top up to 15” with EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® Insulation batts.” Attic re-insulation can also help protect the environment. An attic insulated to the recommended standard R-50 will

save a half-ton of greenhouse gas emissions every year, year after year**, and it’s quick and easy to do (entire attic coverage in less than 2 hours††). It is also easy to clean and has virtually no settling, keeping its energy saving R-value over time. EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® Insulation is made from 99% natural∆ materials and over 70‡ percent recycled content, the highest amount of recycled content in the industry – 3rd party SCS certified, and is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality CertifiedSM and verified to be formaldehyde-free. The ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program also offers grants to low-rise residential property owners, including owners of single detached and attached homes (e.g. row housing, duplexes and triplexes), small multi-unit residential buildings, four-season cottages, mobile homes on a permanent foundation and permanently-moored floating homes.

ABOUT OWENS CORNING Owens Corning (NYSE: OC) is a leading global producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass-fiber reinforcements and engineered materials for composite systems. A Fortune® 500 Company for 56 consecutive years, Owens Corning is committed to driving sustainability by delivering solutions, transforming markets and enhancing lives. Founded in 1938, Owens Corning is a market-leading innovator of glass-fiber technology with sales of $5.0 billion in 2010 and about 15,000 employees in 28 countries on five continents. Additional information is available at


THE PINK PANTHER™ & © 1964-2011 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning. © 2011 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved. *According to**Based on an average attic size of 1700 SF with existing R19 insulation, averaged over seven cities in Canada. ∆Made with a minimum of 99% by weight natural materials consisting of minerals and plant-based compounds. ‡70% recycled content is based on the average recycled glass content in all Owens Corning fiberglass batts, rolls and unbonded loosefill insulation manufactured in Canada. SCS certified. GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM Mark is a registered certification mark used under license through the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. Owens Corning PINK™ insulation is GREENGUARD Certified for indoor air quality, except bonded loosefill products. ††100 m2/1000 ft2 at RSI 8.8/R-50. ‡‡Up to 28% heating and cooling savings based on Hot 2000, Version 8.7 run for a 2 storey 1972 type base house with 1149 sf per floor for an increase from R-8 to R-40 in the attic plus an increase from zero to R-20 in the basement walls in Canadian climates. This product has achieved GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification and is verified to be formaldehyde free. Certified Thermal Insulation Material CCD-016. © 2011 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved.

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contractor sales


explained Are your pro and DIY paint customers aware of what new federal paint manufacturing regulations mean for them? By Bruce MacKinnon


olvents in paints, pastes and coatings are used to transfer them to the substrate they are being applied to. Once they do, the solvents are released into the atmosphere by evaporation. Solvents like varsol, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, alcohol and methyl hydrate (to name a few) are actually 100 per cent volatile organic compounds (VOCs) because they are almost entirely released in to the air as they dry.

Why VOCs Resins, pigments and proprietary additives create the film that becomes the dry paint. If latex paint only relied on evaporation, it would wipe off with a damp rag, no matter how long it was on the wall. Original latex paints had high-VOC coalescence agents in order to make the paint more durable after drying, and glycol was also used as an antifreeze and agent for flow and levelling in latex paint. Glycol has now been eliminated in most highend, zero VOC paints, and today the only thing that can legally add VOCs to paint is the colourants. Universal tinting systems were one of the biggest contributors of VOCs in paint since glycol is the suspension agent for the highly-ground colour pigments. The glycol enabled the colourant to be added to latex or alkyd-based paints. New tinting technology had to be created to eliminate VOCs in the tinting process. Benjamin Moore for example, introduced the Gennx tinting system in 2009, which uses an acrylic resin system instead of glycol to hold the colourant. Now only a tiny amount of VOCs make it into the paint using this method. Until recently, September/October 2011

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VOC Limits Here is a selection of construction materials affected by new paint regulations. For an extensive list go to the federal government’s news site, then click on Part 2: Official Regulations. The VOC limits are in grams per litre. Previous limits vary, but the new limits represent at least a 40 per cent reduction from the previous level for that product. Canadian limits on VOCs are based on the standards set by the American OTC (Ozone Transport Commission). The commission was set up by a group of northeastern American states, but their standard has not yet been universally accepted. Environment Canada adopted the standards before they became mandatory in the U.S.

Architectural Coating Category

VOC Concentration Limit (g/L)

Thermoplastic rubber coating


Bituminous roof primer


Non-bituminous roof coating for sealing purposes


Concrete curing compound


Concrete surface retarder


Dry fog coating


Fire resistant coating




11-09-06 4:06 PM

contractor sales Canada had no rules governing VOCs in paints or construction materials, only voluntary guidelines. That changed on September 9, 2010, when stringent limits for VOC-laden materials came into effect with real penalties for transgressors. Along with paint, everything from adhesives, carpet glue, thermoplastic rubber coating and mastic, bituminous roof primer and coatings, to concrete curing compound and concrete surface retarders were affected. But the new VOC limits affected architectural coatings by far the most. According to federal studies, paint and coatings account for 26 per cent of all VOC emissions in Canada.

Paint changes To comply with the new rules, most classes of paints had to have their VOCs cut by more than 50 per cent from previous levels. Many producers were ahead of the curve, introducing zero-VOC paints to the Canadian market in 2009 (several years behind the U.S.). With the new regulations now in place, most, if not all, manufacturers still put the maximum allowed VOCs in each can of paint. That is why you now see a warning on all solvent-based

products advising consumers not to add anything that might push the product past approved VOC levels—unless they want to break the law. Under the new rules, doing so is punishable by fines of up to $10,000 per gallon. The drive to eliminate VOCs in construction materials and architectural coatings actually started 25 years ago in Southern California when small group of concerned citizens complained about the toxicicity of paints and other coatings. The complaints grew along with the environmental movement, and now most consumers across North America expect safer paints. Environment Canada has been calling for VOC limits since 1990. By 2001, the federal government had quietly encouraged manufacturers to cut VOCs in half. Then, in 2006, the Canadian government decided to adopt the same VOC regulations that already existed in most states in the U.S. Existing stockpiles of manufactured paint have a two-year sellthrough grace period, so September 2012 will be the deadline for the new limits. However, no old-standard materials have been imported or made in Canada since September of last year.


VOCs in paints The largest category of products affected by new VOC regulations is paints. Here is a list of common paint categories and their new limits. This list is courtesy of Benjamin Moore Products. Each category includes both alkyd and latex-based paints. Manufacturers maintain that it is near impossible to produce a quality oil product with VOC limits under 300-400 grams per litre. According to paint industry sources, the coming introduction of water-borne alkyd paints should solve that problem.

Approx Max VOC Canadian VOC Content Before limits as of Regulation 9/9/2010

Flat Non-Flat Non-Flat, High Gloss Floor Paint Primers Rust Preventative Varnish Sanding Sealer Lacquer Interior Wiping Stain Opaque Stain Clear & Semi-transparent Stain Faux Finish Specialty Primer Waterproofing Sealer

350 500 500 400 400 500 800 800 800 n/a n/a n/a 800 600 n/a

100 150 250 250 200 400 350 350 550 250 250 250 350 350 400

® ®


Everyone Benefits From AttiCat Re-Insulation… Even Mother Nature.



THE PINK PANTHER™ & © 1964-2011 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning. © 2011 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved.



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• • •

September/October 2011

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*Vi con



The price impact Customers once dreaded the idea of paying more for low-VOC paint. Now they expect it. Just two years ago, zero- and lowVOC paints were prohibitively expensive. Today, zero- and low VOC- paints are priced competitively. In some cases, they are nearly the same price as high-VOC paints. Until 2009, it was much more expensive to produce low- and no-VOC paints, so producers had to continue to make the common high-VOC brands in Canada for fear of losing market share. Green paint producers simply couldn’t compete. But now that a new comprehensive standard is in place, everyone has to produce to that new standard, so prices will stay competitive and not significantly higher

Tips for painting with zero- or low-VOC paint Zero- or low-VOC paint is going to force professional painters and DIYers to change their application habits. In some ways, it will be harder to apply; in other ways, easier.

Cutting and rolling

With existing latex, it is best if one painter cuts in (edges) while another rolls so both applications dry and cure together. (If the cutting dries first, a picture-frame look forms around the edges of the walls.) With zero-VOC paints, though painters can still cut and roll together, the paint dries so fast that the roller can’t backroll. If they do, the cut paint may be dry already and peel off with the roller. It is better to wait till the paint is dry to do a second coat. Fortunately, no-VOC paints actually blend a bit better.

Paint protection

Whereas existing latex paints can handle a few freeze/thaw cycles, zero or low-VOC latex paints can’t. If it freezes once, it is useless.

than they were before the new standard was put in force. The consumer may not know exactly what a VOC is, but they know it sounds bad and are happy to use paint that is easier to live with during application. And while they care about their health, they may or may not care if the paint they purchase is good for the environment. Fortunately, it just so happens that using low-VOC paint is also environmentally friendly as well as user-friendly. For general contractors, an important selling feature of the new paints is that it is LEED-compliant and therefore can be used for generating rating points in construction projects. Green Seal certification standards say if your paint contains less than 50 grams per litre, it is good for points toward the LEED standard. HM paints. Producers will simply not be making them anymore. The good news is that manufacturers are racing to develop more durable water-based alkyds.

Painting over existing finishes

Simply painting over high-gloss oil or alkyd paint won’t be possible any more with zero- or low-VOC paint. Now the old paint has to be sanded thoroughly, wiped down with thinner and primed over with an oil primer or a latex-to-oil primer. Then 100-per-cent acrylic paint must be use on top.

Faux finish follys

Imagine the fun faux finish painters are going to have once oil-based glazes are no longer available. Oil glaze has a much longer open time than even the very best latex glazes. New techniques are going to have to be developed to deal with this new reality.

Cabinet coatings

Lacquer-based paints have been the preferred way of finishing cabinets and furniture, but the VOC content in this, the highest VOC paint has also be slashed, making drying times and applications much trickier until updated lacquer paints are made available.

Flooring paints

Old paints

Alkyd and melamine paints have become a thing of the past. And although VOC-compliant alkyd paint will never be anywhere near as durable as old alkyds, and therefore less popular, consumers can say goodbye to their favourite alkyd

Painting cement floors with alkyd paint with only 250g of VOCs per litre (less than half of the old version) means consumers have a choice: use water-based epoxy or 100-per-cent solid epoxy trowelled on. Or they can use junk paint that won’t stay put because it won’t have the durability of older paints. —BM

Visit to learn more and for straightforward video instructions. Benefits to Builders & Contractors

Benefits to Homeowners

Benefits to Mother Nature

• Quick & Easy – Entire attic coverage in less than 2 hours‡ • No Mess – Easy clean up, low dust • Safe, Reliable System – Fully enclosed blowing system • Virtually No Settling – Keeps its energy saving R-value over time

• Up to $5,000 EcoENERGY Grants* available to Homeowners • Save up to 28%** on energy bills • Greater home comfort

• Made from over 70%† recycled content – 3rd party SCS certified • Insulating an attic to R-50 reduces greenhouse gases by ½ a ton∆ per year • GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality CertifiedSM and formaldehyde-free

*Visit for actual grants available in your region. **Up to 28% heating and cooling savings based on Hot 2000, Version 8.7 run for a 2 storey 1972 type base house with 1149 sf per floor for an increase from R-8 to R-40 in the attic plus an increase from zero to R-20 in the basement walls in Canadian climates. †70% recycled content is based on the average recycled glass content in all Owens Corning fiberglass batts, rolls and unbonded loosefill insulation manufactured in Canada. SCS certified. ‡100 m2/1000 ft2 at RSI 8.8/R-50. ∆Based on an average attic size of 1700 SF with existing R19 insulation, averaged over 7 cities in Canada. ©2011 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved.

September/October 2011

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11-09-06 4:06 PM


minute read BY Frank Condron

90 years and counting With nine decades of business in the books, family-run Poco Building Supplies is setting its sights on the century mark


f things had gone a little differently for their great-grandfather, cousins Chris and Jeff Galer might be running a shoe store today. Because things went the way they did, however, today the Galers are running Poco Building Supplies Ltd., a lumber and building materials dealership located in Port Coquitlam, B.C. And not only that, but these fourth-generation owners are celebrating Poco’s 90th year of incorporation as a business this year. “My great-grandfather, R.C. Galer, who was known as “Harry”, came over from England in 1917 and settled in Port Coquitlam, which was a very small town back then,” says Chris. “He actually started selling building materials in 1919, but he didn’t get around to incorporating the business until 1921, so that’s the date we use to celebrate the anniversary of the business.” Interestingly, R.C. Galer’s initial business venture in Canada, a shoe store, was about as far removed from building materials as you can get. But this pioneering entrepreneur obviously knew an opportunity when he saw one. “My great-grandfather owned one of the few trucks in town at the time, and he started making a trip to the port at New Westminster once a week to pick up coal,” says, Chris, recounting the story. “Then he started getting requests from friends and neighbours to pick up things like lumber and building materials when he’d make his trip, and he quickly realized he could do better running freight back and forth in his truck.” Harry Galer abandoned the shoe store soon after and started Port Coquitlam Transfer Co., a cartage business that is also still in operation and run by the Galers. Eventually he set up a retail store and started selling some of the lumber and building materials he’d haul to town in his truck, and Poco Building Supplies was born. Harry Galer had one son, John, who would join his father in the business, which grew steadily through the 1920s and 30s. During WWII, Poco Building Supplies was declared an essential service because of the work it did supplying lumber and building materials to the military training bases in the area. “My grandfather (John) use to tell us about hauling 300 bags of



1MinRead.indd 38

Roger Charles (Harry) Galer

cement, six days a week, to Abbotsford when they were building the airfield during the war,” recalls Chris. John Galer took over the day-to-day operation of the business from his father in 1947, although the founding Galer would stay involved right up until his death in 1967. Poco became a founding member of the TIM-BR MARTS buying group in 1967, an affiliation it retains to this day. John had three children of his own, Joe (Chris’s dad), Bob (Jeff’s dad) and Lynette, who all went into the family business as well, taking over full-time in the early 1980s. Chris, now 35, started sweeping the floors at Poco Building Supplies at 13 and worked there on weekends and during the summers throughout high school and university. Fate, however, eventually led him far away from Port Coquitlam to a marketing job in New York and it was looking like Poco Building Supplies may not make it to its fourth generation of Galers. “In 2008, my dad and my uncle were thinking of retiring and there was an opportunity there,” says Chris. “They thought of selling, but Jeff, who is seven years younger than me, wanted to do it. I was doing OK in New Chris and Jeff Galer York, but it wasn’t my home, so I decided to come back and join my cousin and give it a shot. My grandfather, who was 93 at the time, knew the business was staying in the family and that made him really happy.” Over the course of nine decades in business, Poco Building Supplies has played a huge part in the growth of Port Coquitlam from a quiet town in the country to a thriving suburb of Vancouver with a population of around 60,000. Now in its third location, the business currently operates out of a 10,000-sq.ft. retail store with an adjoining three-acre lumberyard and employs 44 full-time staff. Future plans include additional lumber racking and perhaps a satellite yard, says Chris, “It feels great to get to 90 years; now our next goal is 100.”HM September/October 2011

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PINK specif ications

Introducing the new line of FOAMULAR rigid insulation from Owens Corning.


• Same trusted insulating performance • Outstanding energy efficiency

• Complies with 2010 Montreal Protocol – CFC- and HCFC-Free • Zero ozone depletion potential

• Exceptional moisture • 70% less global warming resistance and durability potential* • Versatile application

• Minimum 20% recycled content

To learn more about how FOAMULAR® insulation can make a positive impact on your business, contact your Owens Corning Area Sales Manager. THE PINK PANTHER™ & © 1964-2011 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. The colour PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning. *The insulation is manufactured with a blowing agent with 70% less global warming potential as compared to Owens Corning previous blowing agents. The GREENGUARD INDOOR AIR QUALITY CERTIFIEDSM Mark is a registered certification mark used under licence through the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. This product has achieved GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification. Owens Corning PINK insulation is GREENGUARD Certified for indoor air quality, except bonded loosefill products. © 2011 Owens Corning. All Rights Reserved.

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11-09-06 11:55 AM

Hardware Merchandising September/October 2011  
Hardware Merchandising September/October 2011  

Hardware Merchandising is Canada's leading business magazine for home improvement retailers. Articles in Hardware Merchandising focus on hel...