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May  2002


     Big Box Bulletin

        Torre Brothers Take On Home Depot

When Torre Builders Supply Co. Inc. of Yonkers, N.Y., found out Home Depot Inc. was opening its doors in Yonkers two years ago, they were a little uneasy about competing with the nation's number-one home-improvement retailer, reported Jeanine Prezioso in the Westchester County Business Journal.

What did the Torre Brothersí Frank Jr., Robert, Donald and Albertódo?

According to the article, they trained their employees "to know their two-by-fours from their sheet rock, partner with your customers and keep sniffing." 

"The lumber and building supply company has built a solid community reputation to the tune of $5 million a year on its ability to stay on top of its market and train its employees in the business," said the article.

According to the Torre brothers, after Home Depot opened its doors, all the community needed was a reminder that their business was still open. Business dropped after the first six months that Home Depot opened, but after the Torre family kicked off a big advertising campaign, people were reminded that the company was still there.

Since Home Depot opened, Torre Builders Supply Co. Inc. has increased profits. According to the article, the reason is service. "We've had people working here for 20 years who know their business. Everybody slowly found out that they couldn't get the service and experience that we had. You don't have to look for salespeople in here. You walk in and at least one of my brothers or myself are in here at all times," said Al Torre.

Home Depot to Open Mini-Box Format
According to an article in Do-It-Yourself Retailing, "After earning its reputation as a big-box pioneer, Home Depot will be unveiling its new, downsized vision for the future in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Mill Basin, N.Y."

Home Depot's new, smaller, urban-format store will be approximately 60,000 square feet, said the article. 

The article quoted a Home Depot spokesperson as saying, "The store will stock about 85 percent of the SKUs carried in a traditional Home Depot store, which typically measures about 115,000 square feet."

Wickes Sells Dealership
Wickes of Vernon Hill, Ill., has sold its centers in Harlingen and McAllen, Texas, to Hope Lumber and Supply Co. These facilities generated sales of approximately $24 million in fiscal 2001, according to the company.

According to Wickes chief executive officer, J. Steven Wilson, "This sale follows our strategy to focus on our core markets. While both centers have good operating histories, they are located in a region that falls outside of our strategic plan. The proceeds of the sale will be redirected into our core markets and used to reduce debt."

RONA Selects Retek Inc. to Improve Merchandising Operations
RONA Inc., a leading distributor and retailer of hardware, home improvement and gardening products in Canada, recently selected Retek 10, headquartered in Minneapolis to improve inventory management and decision-making throughout the enterprise.

Operating more than 540 stores with annual sales of approximately $3 billion in 2001, RONA is expanding within the Canadian market rapidly, said the company. With recent acquisitions and aggressive expansion plans, RONA required a proven, scalable solution to improve the management of its retail operations and support its growth strategy.

"We looked for a common technology platform and a single data source across the enterprise," said Linda Michaud, vice president and chief information officer with RONA. "We were data-rich, but information-poor. With our recent acquisitions and aggressive expansion plans, we needed a scalable application to help us manage our data and disseminate it rapidly to our business users. We believe Retek's Data Warehouse solution will help us improve operating efficiency and inventory management."

Ace Hardware Reports Sales Drop
Ace Hardware Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill., recently reported that first quarter 2002 wholesale hardline sales increased 5.24 percent over the same period in 2001. First quarter 2002 revenues were $694.1 million compared to $659.6 million in the first three months of 2001.

"Results were driven by an increase of nearly 6 percent, or $37.6 million, in domestic sales," said David Hodnik, Ace president and chief executive officer. "The upturn appears to coincide with an improving U.S. economy and consumers continued drive to undertake their do-it-yourself projects themselves."

Home Depot and ServiceMaster Team Up
Atlanta-based Home Depot and Memphis-based ServiceMaster have begun a co-branding pilot program that allows customers to arrange for estimates and services with selected ServiceMaster brands at Home Depot stores, according to an article published in the March 1, 2002 issue of the Commercial Appeal. The pilot is running in Memphis, Sacramento, California and Orlando, Fla.

At Home Depot, customers can arrange for estimates with five ServiceMaster brands: Terminix, TruGreen ChemLawn, ServiceMaster Clean, American Home Shield and American Residential Services.

Lowe's Enters Partnership with Maker of Home Decorating Products
According to an article published in the March 4, 2002 issue of High Point Enterprise, Lowe's Home Improvement, headquartered in North Wilkesboro, N.C., will start offering a collection of Waverly home decorating products, including wall coverings, window treatments and drapery hardware.

                    84 Lumber is Back in Las Vegas                            

According to an article published in the April 4, 2002, Las Vegas Review, 84 Lumber re-entered the Las Vegas market in early April with a new store which was formerly Payless Cashways. The Las Vegas location is one of 20 new stores that 84 Lumber opened in a nationwide blitz to dominate as a supplier of building materials to professional contractors, said Maggie Hardy-Magerko, company president. Hardy-Magerko said 84 Lumber had a store in Las Vegas in the early 1980s, before she took over as owner and president of the company, but it was strictly retail, with no accounts receivable.

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