September 2018 | vol. i, #1
Welcome the first-ever issue of our newest publication, Hardlines Dealer News. This monthly newsletter will bring you news, tips and trends for running your store better. We look forward to bringing you valuable content each monthand welcome your feedback. Please feel free to email me directly with your thoughts about Hardlines Dealer News! Michael McLarney, President, Hardlines Inc.
DO YOUR COMMERCIAL SALES MEASURE UP?
Selling to commercial contractors isn’t for everyoneit’s a different kind of business in every way. But the risks can also pay off.
Patene Building Supplies, with 14 locations in Ontario and Manitoba, generates between 35 and 40 percent of annual revenue from contractors doing light commercial projects such as multi-family apartments, medical office buildings and strip malls.
More home improvement dealers have been eyeing commercial lately as demand for rental apartments and offices booms. “I know a lot of my competitors pooh-pooh this side of the business and say it’s too difficult,” says Andrew Payzant, owner of Payzant Home Hardware Building Centre in Halifax, N.S. “But the housing market has changed, and if you don’t sell into multi-family, you’re walking away from a lot of business.”
But commercial sales aren’t for everyone. “It’s definitely a different business,” observes Patene’s owner and general manager Joe George, in terms of products, credit risk, delivery and “who you are interacting with.” Patene has a separate sales force for commercial roofing, and specialists for products like masonry and house wrap.
Succeeding at commercial sales requires a certain volume level to compensate for lower margins. Fraser’s Pro Home Centre is a TIMBERT MART dealer with five locations in rural Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Its markets total only around 90,000 residents, so opportunities to supply commercial projects are limited, says General Manager Paul Parsons.
While competition for commercial jobs can be stiff, the payoff can be big. As single-family housing continues to decline, even in smaller communities, selling to commercial contractors is a good way to spread your risk.
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HOMETOWN HEROES MAKE SMALL HARDWARE STORE A COMMUNITY FOCAL POINT
Frances and Larry Sologuks Home Hardware store in Osoyoos, B.C., is a textbook example of how a business can become highly successful by meeting the unique needs of its local marketplace.
Since the couple bought the store in 1985, the Sologuks have provided this small town of 5,000 in the Okanagan Valley with what Frances Sologuk describes as an “old-fashioned shopping experience.”
Larry Sologuk retired several years ago, and the store is now run by Frances, along with their son, daughter and son-in-law. The 8,000-square-foot building was erected in 1939 and has been in continuous operation as a hardware store since 1942, making it the oldest business in town. The interior features two floors, five sets of stairs and loads of merchandise piled high and hanging from hooks on the walls. There is even a model train track suspended from the ceiling.
Says Sologuk: “We use every inch of space; it’s the exact opposite of a big box.”
Osoyoos Home Hardware carries all the products you’d expect to find in a typical small-town hardware store, like basic electrical and plumbing supplies, paint and housewares, but that just scratches the surface. The store also has a specialty gourmet food section stocked with cooking and baking supplies as well as a wide variety of barbecue sauces and hard-to-find spices. There is also an extensive selection of linens, towels, t-shirts, and hats, as well as souvenirs and pet supplies.
“That’s the way community hardware stores used to be years ago,” Sologuk explains. “You have a little bit of everything; it’s more like a traditional mercantile store in that way than a typical modern home improvement store.”
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WHY THIS BUYING GROUP HELD AN OUTDOOR LIVING SHOW FOR ITS DEALERS
Groupe BMR hosted a new show last month focused entirely on seasonal products. The wholesaler and buying group already holds an annual dealer show in November in Quebec City. But the creation of a separate show reflects the growing popularity of the seasonal category, and the fact that most groups rely heavily on their own Asian-sourced import programs for products such as outdoor furniture and accessories.
BMR is not alone: Home Hardware, Lowe’s and Federated Co-operatives are among the other groups finding growth in this category, relying on import programs of their own. As seasons become warmer, people are looking for ways to spend more time outside, driving sales of everything from patio furniture to barbecues and outdoor décor.
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