January/February 2004

Big Box Bulletin

Little League Gets New Sponsor

Ace Hardware Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill., was named the Official Hardware Store of Little League Baseball when it became a national sponsor of the world’s largest youth sports organization.

The sponsorship will provide support for teams, organizations and participants throughout the year and activities at regional tournaments and at the Little League World Series. In doing so, Ace received exclusive rights and license for the use of Little League marks and logos, branding on all Little League collateral materials, advertising space in the Little League magazine, rights to distribute special offers to Little League families and presence on the official Little League website,

“Ace stores personify community service, home and family—ideals that complement the mission of our organization. And, we know the Little League extended family of parents, friends and volunteers will benefit from Ace’s support in 2004,” said Stephen Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League.
Info circle card #135.

Competing Against the Big Boys

Editor’s Note: In SHELTER’s 2004 issues, we will be calling on distributors and asking them how they compete against the big-box stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, as well as the larger retailers and building product distributors.

No Need for Red Tape

Deford’s Millwork, a family-owned company since 1964 serving the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, only dealt with lumber until 8 years ago, at which point it expanded to include millwork. To set itself apart from companies like BMC West, BuildersFirst and Carolina Source, Deford’s calls strictly on homebuilders, according to Steve Linn, general manager, who has been with the company for six years.

“We’ve been able to be successful because we employ top-quality, very experienced outside salespeople and are predicated on service—that’s what we’re all about … The biggest advantages we have against large corporate competitors is that we can react quicker. We don’t have levels of management to go through, not a lot of meetings,” Linn said.

“We’re a common-sense company; we don’t let corporate red tape get in the way. The bigger companies fall into that trap of politics, management—we don’t have that here. We’re all about taking care of the customer’s needs. What we’ve found is that it’s a breath of fresh air in this market; it allows us to gain market share. People call us and get a real person, not an automated system. They can talk to anyone at any level of the company, any time they need to, and we respond,” he said. 

Linn says his company’s millwork section has grown from $300,000 a month (roughly $3.6 million a year) to more than $15 million a year—all because the company went back to basics. 

“Anyone who grows at a rapid rate has the challenge of staying focused on what you’re all about and not falling into the trap of management and red 
tape ... obviously you have to make changes as you get larger, but we still stay focused. We have meetings if we need to, but we stay in contact with each other every day,” Linn said.

If you would like to share how your company is holding its own against bigger competitors, please e-mail editor Samantha Carpenter at

The Home Depot and Tembec Team Up to Offer “Environmentally Friendly” Lumber
The Home Depot, based in Atlanta, and Tembec, one of the largest softwood lumber producers in Canada, announced recently that they have reached an agreement allowing The Home Depot to offer its customers larger amounts of FSC-certified spruce pine fir (SPF) lumber. 

In 1999, The Home Depot issued its wood purchasing policy to help protect forests and ensure that there will be timber for future generations. The company’s policy gives preferential treatment to those suppliers that offer certified wood products. 

“Today we sell more FSC-certified wood than anyone in North America,” said merchandising vice president Ron Jarvis. “Tembec’s commitment to sustainable forestry and this endorsement by the FSC creates a strong partnership and solidifies our commitment.” 

For Jim Lopez, president of the Tembec Forest Products Group, the agreement reached with The Home Depot will strengthen the two companies’ business relationship and enhance the market penetration of FSC-certified products. 

“Tembec and The Home Depot are both committed to good forest management practices and FSC certification,” Lopez said. “Today, more than 25 percent of Tembec’s Canadian forest operations are FSC-certified. By 2005 we intend to obtain certification for all 32 million acres of Canadian forest under our management. In doing so, the company is going beyond regulatory requirements and making a significant contribution toward protected spaces and the advancement of forest management practices.” 

Jim McCarthy, executive director of the Forest Stewardship Council Canada, stated, “The agreement between The Home Depot and Tembec is a major step in the right direction. North-American consumers are more and more concerned about environmental issues. They are increasingly making environmentally friendly choices to minimize their environmental footprint. FSC is committed to assisting manufacturers and retailers in any way we can to get them to join in and commit themselves as Tembec and The Home Depot did. In the end, we all win with this kind of commitment”.
Info circle card #136.

More Demand Means Higher Prices
According to a September 2, 2003 article in USA Today, the government’s purchase of plywood panels destined for Iraq is increasing the price of wood products.

More than 20 million feet of plywood sheeting was bought by the Defense Logistics Agency, the military’s prime supplier. The plywood is for U.S. forces’ base camps, guard posts and other projects, according to spokesperson Dawn Dearden.

wanted to see for what price big-box retailers are selling 15/32-inch pieces of plywood around the country. The mean for a 15/32-inch piece of plywood of the seven big-box stores polled was $18.89, and the median was $17.99.

Plywood Prices
Shop Location                     Price
Miami                                 $17.75
Savannah, Ga.                     $16.99
Pittsburgh                            $17.99
Kansas City, Mo.                $17.44
Phoenix                               $21.57
Sacramento, Calif.               $19.99
Las Vegas                           $20.49


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