If you can reinvent yourself at age 73 (certainly celebrity-singer Madonna has plans), you might just be worth checking out. Looks like the National Hardware Show is still evolving.
“This year’s show, our 73rd edition, begins a new era,” said Rich Russo, vice president of NHS. “For years, we have served the industry as a way for hardware & home improvement professionals to connect face-to-face. While that won’t change, in addition to an all-new logo and look, we’re enhancing the show experience with new interactive exhibits, new ways to showcase trends, enhanced NRHA All-Industry Conference, new participation from retail leaders, and much more. Our new logo incorporates an abstract representation of a bolt, where everything around us is held together by this streamlined piece of hardware—illustrating how NHS truly is ‘the tool that powers your business.’”
As The Paint Dealer says every year—don’t miss it, and this year, just like in years past…we mean it.
The National Hardware Show, if you’re new to this paint world, is an annual gathering for retailers, manufacturers, and media to explore the latest trends shaping the future of the home improvement industry in products, retail business, innovation and more.
There will be over 2,500 interactive exhibits across more than 15 product categories, new experiential product displays, special events and, of course…more! Attendee badge registration grants you access to the NRHA All-Industry Conference, personalized exhibitor and product recommendations, the NHS Mobile App, and other planning features to help you get the most out of the event.
Imagine a Reimagination
The show organizers let us in on this year’s highlights, which oddly enough do not include the brain-taco stand down the street from the convention center.
• NHS has a brand-new look and a new approach for empowering retailers. Serving the home improvement industry for nearly 75 years, the show continues to grow and expand its categories and offerings to keep customers in the know and ahead of their competition. The updated branding (new logo) communicates this evolution.
• With 15+ major product categories spanning everything from hardware and tools to eco-friendly items, goods proudly made in the USA, and more building materials than ever before, attendees will get a firsthand look today at the products customers will be asking for tomorrow. For a full scope of National Hardware Show product categories, visit nhs18.com/productcategories.
• The Reimagine Retail program returns this year. This program asks retaliers to submit a business improvement plan on how they plan to invest in technology to improve their stores. A panel of judges will review the submissions and will award the winning retailer $100,000 to make their idea a reality (see photo, below left. Learn more details about this year’s program at nhs18.com/reimagineretail.
Enter the Interactive
You’ll hear the word “interactive” a lot at the show, and here are three new features to make good on that.
• The Smart Home Virtual Reality experience will give you an immersive look at the home of the future and what you can do to become go-to destinations for customers in this category. Take a virtual tour of the products, accessories and whole-home integrations customers will be asking for in the years ahead.
• It’s not paint, but who doesn’t like a good BBQ? Ultimate Backyard in Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ presents the latest and greatest in grilling, outdoor living and more.
• Operation Tiny Home will offer an exclusive look at the tiny home building process and the products specially made for these homes. Operation Tiny Home will be hosting a three-day Tiny Home Building Workshop with the host of Tiny Home Nation, Zach Giffin, where veterans will become proficient with tiny home construction practices and general carpentry skills. You can hang out and watch the building process from start to finish!
As in the past several years, Lancaster Distributing’s Las Vegas show will co-locate with NHS, this time the walk is even shorter, as Lancaster in the Convention Center itself in Central Hall Rooms N101, N102 and N103. It’s a smaller show than NHS, with some crossover exhibitors but also many companies that are only exhibiting at Lancaster.
For over 60 years, Lancaster has demonstrated innovative leadership in the paint sundry industry. With the corporate office located in Spartanburg, South Carolina Lancaster originally served just a small portion of the Carolinas. Today, it has expanded its market area to include all of North America, The Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America.
With the acquisition of Dynamic Paint Products based out of Toronto, Canada in 2014, Lancaster has expanded to seven distribution centers throughout the United States and Canada. “This network of distribution centers enables us to provide dependable time-sensitive deliveries to customers throughout our service area,” says the company. “We have a motivated team of more than 270 associates, including 60+ sales representatives committed to reliably providing our customers the products, price and service they deserve.” Stop by to visit the Lancaster folks and get some great deals on paint and sundries!
Just like products themselves, trade shows have features and benefits. Here’s what you get with Lancaster:
Networking: The show will allow you to meet face to face with manufacturers and see new and exciting products hitting the market.
Cash Spiffs: Many exhibitors will offer cash spiffs as an additional incentive, giving you the opportunity to leave with cash in hand.
Deep Discounts: Lancaster’s Buying Show will be offering tremendous deals to give you a competitive edge to grow your business in the coming year.
Delayed Shipping & Extended Payment Terms: Not only will you receive the deepest discounts of the year, you can receive up to net 90 days to pay after delivery, giving you the ability to stock up on key items for the spring but the advantage of not having to pay until summer.
Dealer Reception: Take a break from your wheeling and dealing on May 9, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, poolside at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, just a short walk from the show itself.
Some always-popular departments of NHS are the new product and invention sections. You never know what’s going to take off that got its start at a booth at the National Hardware Show. Take a look around and be the first of your block to stock these new products!
If you see any products or concepts that really catch you, please let us know so we can share your thoughts with our readers. And just like there’s always “more” to a show, there’s “more” to this article: click on our booth highlights article so find out about some products and promotions at the show.
Brands and Companies at the Lancaster Show.
Acme Sponge & Chamois
Advanced Protective Products
Dumond (Peel Away)
HANDy Paint Products
Henkel (Loctite, Polyseamseal)
Intertape Polymer Group
Linzer Products Corp.
Merit Décor & Flooring
My Wood Wall
ProLuxe Wood Finish
Rust-Oleum (XIM, Zinsser)
Saint Gobain Abrasives
Seymour of Sycamore
May 8: 9-5
May 9: 9-5
May 10: 9-1
May 8: 9-5
May 9: 9-3
Both Shows Located in the Las Vegas Convention Center
Stop by to get a look at these products and tell them you saw it in The Paint Dealer!
Information provided by the manufacturers.
Pour On the Floor Lindar is a plastics thermoforming company, specializing in plastic paint trays, plastic paint tray liners and plastic wallpaper water trays since 1993. We offer a broad range of services from product/tool design, thin gauge thermoforming, high capacity manufacturing, secondary operations, labeling, fabricating, and assembly. New at the show are 18″ and 9″ plastic floor paint trays.
Board Meeting Howard Products will have several products on display including its newest: Howard Cutting Board Cleaner, specially designed for cleaning wooden cutting boards, butcher blocks, wooden utensils, and countertops. Even the most dedicated painter needs to eat, and a DIYer doubly so! Now the entire cleaning, oiling, and conditioning process can be completed with products made from the same trusted manufacturer—Howard Products! Selling Howard Cutting Board Cleaner alongside our Cutting Board Oil and Butcher Block Conditioner gives your customers confidence that all three products will work together perfectly to provide a great way to take care of all wooden cutting surfaces. Stop by to see our complete product line, or to just say hello!
Coming To America Premier Paint Roller will feature its new “Made in U.S.A.” professional paint brush line. Our Montauk™ paint brush is a blend of firm solid round tapered DuPont™ Tynex® and Orel® filament. This nylon/polyester blend is perfect for all interior or exterior painting projects and works with all water or oil based paints, stains and primers.
The Riverdale™ brush is an extra firm blend of DuPont Chinex® filament. It is perfect for lower VOC paints due to its maximum paint pickup and release and easy cleanup. It can be used with oil based paints, water based paints, stains, primers and polyurethanes.Our new CT Polyester Brushes are designed with soft filaments to allow paint to flow smoothly, leaving a fine finish. This polyester brush can be used with all water based paints, stains and primers. All brushes have hardwood handle and stainless steel ferrules. Available in all standard flat and angle sash sizes, hand chiseled for cutting in straight lines.
Roll With the Best ArroWorthy will display a full line of Professional & DIY applicators brushes, rollers & accessories. Finultra, Red Frost, Rembrandt, Pro Tradesman & Tradesman series brushes. We will be featuring our new Professional ORO Brush series along with our new Barracuda Mini-Roller Jumbo Cage Program.
Blue Dolphin, Green Tape Blue Dolphin will display a full line of abrasives and tapes. In abrasives we will be featuring our new Multi-Hole Fast Cutting & Non-Clogging Barracuda Hook n Loop Discs. In tapes we will introducing our new 7-day Green Masking Tape along with our new Barracuda Stucco Tape.
Main Squeeze Linzer will display a full line of paint applicators brushes, rollers & accessories. We will be featuring our new professional packaging along with new Pro Edge Pad Painter Tools with Squeeze Release Technology.
The Razor’s Edge Allway Tools, founded in 1935, takes pride in its innovative and func tion-focused product offerings and is confident its tools will enable your customers to work like a pro. Allway products are available through all major paint and hardware wholesalers. Come visit our booth to view our new items such as the BC5 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool and SEB100AD Single Edge Razor Blade Dispenser.
Harness the Energy
The Forearm Forklift Harness from A.A.C. Forearm Forklift is a must have for painters who have to move furniture and appliances to the middle or out of a room before interior walls can be painted. The contents of this product’s retail pack are two harnesses and two center straps that are adjustable so you can move furnishings of all sizes, no problem! On exterior work, Forearm Forklift Harness is great for moving hot tubs, sheds, etc.
This super-strong strap system encourages proper lifting techniques and employs leverage which makes the pieces you carry seem much, much lighter than they are. This tool saves floors from scratches, dents, scuffs and scrapes that dollies and hand trucks can leave behind. It also reduces back injuries typically associated with heavy and/or repetitive lifting. This strap system also comes in the color orange.
This year marks Mr. LongArm’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary and we are proud to celebrate 60 years of helping customers finish up fast! We offer the largest selection of extension poles, attachments, and accessories including the award-winning Woodmates® stain applicator program. Designed specifically for wood staining, the Woodmates spectrum of tools can tackle all types of wooden surfaces the home pro may encounter. Woodmates’ tear-resistant foam pads hold and release more stain than other pads and remove easily via a hook and loop system, making clean-up a breeze. It’s wood staining…made simple. Stop by and help us celebrate serving you for sixty years!
Wisdom to Dispense Santint, a manufacturer of paint mixers and dispensers, will feature its A+ 600/900 – 100% Recirculation Automatic Simultaneous Dispenser. It is the world’s first purge free simultaneous dispenser with up to 900 ml/minute/canister and a future machine for zero VOC colorants.
Take it to Extremes T-Rex® brand products from Shurtape will exhibit two new “ferociously strong” products: T-Rex Extreme Tread Tape and T-Rex Waterproof Tape.
T-Rex Extreme Tread Tape is an extreme, industrial-grade, non-slip tread tape that improves surface traction to help prevent slips and accidents. Made with a multi-layer grit embedding process, the tape offers long-lasting grit and exceeds OSHA and ADA federal recommendations. In addition, the aggressive, long-lasting adhesive is weather resistant, with a performance temperature range of -40°F to +220°F., This makes it ideal for ladders, steps, walkways, and more.
T-Rex Waterproof Tape (photo, below) is the ideal high-performance tape for stopping active leaks, holding to wet surfaces, and even applying underwater. Utilizing innovative R-FLEX Technology™, the tape features a rubberized backing that allows it to stretch around tough bends and corners or be pushed into cracks and seams—ultimately creating extreme adhesion and a superior seal. Whether fixing a leaky drain pipe, patching a leak in a pool or other waterproofing repairs, T-Rex Waterproof Tape offers an aggressive high-tack adhesive and excellent all-weather performance—even in temperatures from -70°F to +200°F.
You can also examine other products in this line including T-Rex Tape, Clear Repair Tape, Packaging Tape and Mounting Tape.
Don’t forget to check out the ShurTech’s FrogTape brand products while you’re there!
Drop On In PXpro™, from World and Main, will show a new line of tarps it is adding to its existing line of paint tools and accessories.These products feature superior quality paired with great value. The line includes standard (3 mil), medium (5 mil), and heavy (10 mil) duty thickness in a variety of sizes, making these ideal for many general-purpose applications. The sizes will range from 6′ x 8′ up to 20′ x 40′.
The assortment of tarps is manufactured with quality in mind and features the benefits consumers and pros demand: UV protection, aluminum grommets on the standard and medium duty, and polycarbonate grommets on the heavy duty, plastic reinforced corners (5 and 10 Mil), double laminated coating, mold/mildew resistance, and more. Each tarp is designed to provide you with Results You Can Count On! MSRP: $4.00-$65.00.
Take a Shelfie Cashel, LLC, makers of a utility sink line, has a product that allows paint contractors to create an instant work station. The Shelfie™ is a portable, already assembled, easy to install, instant shelf that simply attaches to the utility sink. It is made from heavy-duty, waterproof and stain resistant polypropylene. Suggests retail $49.99; comes in a beautiful full-color retail-ready box.
Seams to be Ideal Ames’ Research Laboratories, Inc. is a manufacturer elastomeric and waterproof coatings. “Make it the best you can,” has been the Ames’ family motto since the days of Ames’ Tool Company in 1774. Ames is proud to announce that it new innovative products are now available in quarts. These smaller cans are perfect for small building projects, a quick patch and repair, or arts and crafts.
Quarts are available for all Ames’® products such as Blue Max®, Maximum-Stretch®, Blue Max Trowel Grade, Super Elasto-Barrier®, Ames’ Iron Coat®, Block & Wall® Liquid Rubber, Safe-T-Deck®, and Liquid Granite®. In addition to quarts, Ames is introducing new sizes of its Peel & Stick™ Seam Tape. 10′. and 25′ long rolls are now available to complement its existing 50′ rolls, making it ideal for any project, big or small.
A media day at a PPG facility played a little trick on some of us magazine folks. They showed us various paint rollouts and asked which we thought was the best paint of the bunch. There was some differing of opinion, but some of the paint looked decidedly cheap. Turned out it was all the same paint—only the rollers were different, yet there was a huge variation in the final look of the product. It really drove home the point that rollers make a difference, and the wrong roller can set back even the best coat of paint.
Rollers were developed for various special purposes earlier in the 20th century, but credit for inventing the modern tool goes to Norman Breakey of Toronto, ON, who put together this “why didn’t
they think of this 1,000 years sooner?” product in 1940. He didn’t have the funds to get production underway, and worse for him, he didn’t patent. Others tweaked and improved upon Breakey’s breakthrough and the first U.S. Patent was awarded to Richard Croxton Adams, an employee of Sherwin-Williams and a descendant of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. It’s a well-known history that some painters and painters unions fought against these tools, and resistance was still rolling into the 1950s.Still, compared to a brush, it’s less expensive, and many may think it’s more of a commodity—you can use a brush for many (many, many) paint jobs, whereas a roller, not so much. So why pay more?
Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to show customers that rollers are not one-size-fits-most. How? The usual. Know the benefits of your products and show how a premium quality roller makes a home into a better place to live.
“A better quality roller sleeve always helps,” said Ben Waksman, president of Tampa-based Corona Brushes. “We have seen a move to using better quality synthetic roller covers, whether the woven white covers for fine gloss enamel work, or eggshell on walls, or our high production covers. Painters have become more sophisticated in roller selection because they are looking for better production and a better finish.”
You can get your DIY and pro customers to take rollers seriously by having a serious selection, he continues. “Make sure to offer and promote good quality covers,” Waksman urged. “Painters are smart guys. They will learn the difference quickly.”
Are You as Smart as a Painter?
Painters are smart, it’s true, and DIYers are getting smarter every year. But they aren’t pros and they still might think “a roller’s a roller, so I’ll get this bottom feeder…and save!”
“Professional roller covers make all the difference in the world on the quality of the paint job,” says Carl Rumpf, VP sales at Premier Paint Roller. While you know this, they might not. Most likely they won’t think it’s the roller’s fault even if it is—so they’ll make this same mistake coat after coat and wonder why you can’t sell them a good pot of paint. “When consumers come back to complain about the result, they always blame the paint, not the applicator,” said Carl. “Upselling to better roller covers eliminates many problems, such as shedding and poor coverage.”
It comes back to educating your consumer—before they come back with some spicy language about your second-rate paint. “I believe most consumers will listen to paint store professionals once they take the time to explain the difference in the products,” said Rumpf. “Where retailers run into problems is when they let the customer choose the cheapest roller on the shelf without telling them that they are buying premium paint so they should use premium applicators as well.”
While applicators shouldn’t be viewed as commodities, Mark Francazio, category director, paint & paint sundries, World and Main, says that in many instances this is already happening. “I think rollers and brushes are both becoming more commoditized in the industry,” he observed. “This creates challenges, but it also forces companies like us to look at better ways to service our customers. Whether that be through better innovation, design, branding, service levels, or other factors, it’s important that we find ways to break from the norm,” he said.
Your way around this, he notes, is to ask a few questions of your customers to make sure they get the roller they need. Remember, as coatings change, so do rollers, so that 10-year-old product in your customers’ tool box might not be the best idea any longer.
“With the improvement in coatings, retailers are seeing the need to offer and sell the best covers for the job,” said Francazio. And it might be taking hold. “We’re seeing selling prices for both brushes and rollers increase year over year, which tells us that there’s an increased demand for improved products in both categories.”
Not a Cheap Dip
As paints increase in price—upwards of $50 a gallon—you might have an easier time matching the premium roller to the premium paint. Given that price point on the paint, an investment of a high-quality roller cover is relatively small. “Explaining that will make it easier for consumers to understand that roller cover selection is just as important as brushes,” said Francazio.
Finally, he adds, you might incorporate some roller demos during workshops or other customer events, and show them the differences in product quality. “Scheduling workshops or demos during high traffic times adds value without the complexity of executing demos on a consistent basis,” he said. You’ll learn a lot about your customers as well, he points out, and know better how to market and sell, which will help them make a better purchase decision.
Growing up, when my grandparents didn’t want you to know what they were saying they would speak Yiddish! In a room crowded with people, they had all the privacy they wanted, When my daughter is home from school, she has the same desire for privacy that my grandparents had. As you can imagine though, her Yiddish skills are not as sharp as our European progenitors. Fortunately for her and her friends, they don’t really speak the same English I do anyway. If you’re saying: “hundy pee, that’s lit! If you don’t sip your tea that savage will leave you salty!” there’s a pretty great chance that I’m not going to understand you anyway. So, she can also speak freely: in Yiddish or whatever that is she’s speaking!
As an independent paint retailer, I prefer a little more clarity in the words when “peeps hit up my digits!”
How many car commercials have you heard where the company claims that they make the safest cars? They can’t all be right, can they? Well if no one is saying anything too specific, I guess they can!
There are several companies (or divisions of companies) that claim to be the friend of independent paint retailers. Many claim that they have programs designed specifically for us. I think that’s great! We are a vibrant channel of entrepreneurs responsible for billions of dollars in coatings and sundry sales. Manufacturers should be courting us individually and as a group. But claiming you’re a friend to independents or have programs to help independents is a bit like claiming you’ve got the safest car or largest burger: give me the deets as my daughter would say. “Where’s the beef?” is what us old folks ask.
If you say to me that you have programs designed to help an independent dealer grow with your brand, do have evidence of that you can share? I want to see case studies of dealers who have used your brand and programs to add sales and market share. I want to see evidence of dealers that have successfully added stores because your brand created an environment for them where that could happen. And I want to see the specifics of the program that allowed them to do those things! Did you help them find a location, build it out, fund the start-up in some other way, give subsidies to offset risk for the first years, help identify available personnel, share thin client POS software to save expense?
I am sure that all paint manufacturers have stories of dealers that opened stores with their brand and had success, that doesn’t mean that the manufacturer caused that success in any way. Unless we see evidence of programs that created success, it’s more likely that the entrepreneur dealer created that success than a brand. So lets be specific: if you are causing success for independent paint retailers, HOW? What programs that are available to all your customers show that you will be part of my success?
I spend a lot of time in these pages talking about my daughter and the nutty things she says and does. For a change of pace, I thought I would talk about myself for a second. I spent last week at the ALLPRO show. I am always surprised, flattered and truly grateful when anyone approaches me and says that they read or enjoy my writing. I have spent my entire life surrounded by paint dealers. Three of the finest people I have ever known: my father, grandfather, and great-grandmother were all paint dealers. I have enormous respect and affection for paint dealers and I am honored and humbled that I may have reached or touched any of you in some way.
At the shows, I’m always flattered to see how many of you that seems to be. Some share that they read my column and enjoy it. Others of you have shared that I seem to read your mind as I write. It’s not true that I read minds, but we are all traveling down the same road. It’s true I do a lot of writing and consulting, but I am still a paint dealer first and foremost and rarely a day goes by when I am not wearing my dealer hat.
To those that read my efforts here, whether you agree with my point of view always or never: thank you for reading. I’m grateful that you give my writing your time. Please always feel free to approach me and share what’s on your mind. If you don’t attend ALLPRO or the NHS (this May in Vegas), email or call me and share what you’re going through. I believe that sharing ideas makes us all stronger and I’m glad to play a small part in doing that. Often when I write about a topic, I am blending experiences that I have had with those shared by others. So please, I need you to keep your thoughts coming, and I’ll keep writing them down! And thank you so much for sharing with me that my writing matters to you.
Mark Lipton is the 4th generation owner of Tremont Paint in New York City as well as a consultant to the coatings industry. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Let’s go get some sandpaper!” You wouldn’t think that people say that often, but it happens more than you might think—just that they’re not that excited about it. Usually it’s because someone at home forgot, or worse, the store forgot to ask about it; but a trip dedicated to sandpaper alone is often not in the original plans. “I would say this happens more often than not,” said Mike Bush, director of product marketing at Festool. “
Abrasives don’t really come to mind when people are shopping for and picking up other painting supplies like brushes, rollers, and of course, paint.” Could be they just didn’t realize they needed it until they got started, but you can imagine how much fun painting becomes when they have to make a trip back to the store—and who says they’ll come back to their same paint dealer?Roland Kolilias, president at Blue Dolphin Sundries, agrees that a lot of folks only pick up their abrasives on the second go-round. “The user makes the purchase of paint and applicators, then as the project unfolds the need for additional products arises,” he’s seen time and time again. “To complete the project correctly they frequently travel back to the store for additional supplies: sandpaper, scrapers, drop cloths, and others.”Bush had an idea to pass on to your pro contractors—have someone keep track. “The best practice here is to be organized, know what they use, and if they have a crew, create a reporting system to monitor consumables like abrasives so they never run out of what they need,” he said.
Sanding Claus is Coming to Town
This certainly speaks well to having that checklist of sundries posted where you, your staff, and your customers can see it. It’ll save you from chasing your clients in the parking lot shouting “wait, you forgot the abrasives, and they’re even new and improved!” After you make the list, check it twice—it would be really naughty and not very nice if you didn’t have the items you’re encouraging customers to purchase. Plus if they already made a trip back, they’re going to shout, they’re going to cry, and we just told you why.
Your job? Make it easy for them to find what they need. “In today’s fast-paced world, with many options, the consumer is best served when their needs can be met with the least hassle,” said Bush. “Nothing quite beats instant when it comes to having the most commonly used abrasives in stock at all times. Having a wide variety of abrasive types to tackle all of the jobsite’s needs helps to differentiate any retail location, especially those that have greater control over what they stock.”
Treating your abrasives and their habitat with respect can make you a sandpaper destination for years to come! “The paint retailer needs to have trained sales clerks that will ask questions in regards to the project,” Kolilias advised; this is particularly important for customers who want to pass over steps 1-150 and go right to the final step of painting. “Most people want to do the painting but forget about the additional supplies that are needed. They become frustrated when they need to return to the store for supplies to complete the project correctly,” he said. You can keep them happy by asking them if they need this on their first trip, plus keep your abrasives area clean and well stocked, so it’s easy to navigate. “Place it facing the counter so the clerk behind it can point out exactly what is needed,” said Roland.
“Look, here’s a cheap one, we’re already spent enough money so let’s get it and get out of here!” Well, OK but…that just means they’ll spend a lot more time in rough-handed sanding, not a great afternoon for either a marriage or painting crew. If someone hasn’t opened a pack of sandpaper in 10 years, they’ll be pleasantly surprised if you can show them the significant improvements and new types and shapes of abrasives. “Experienced contractors know the benefits of higher quality abrasives and normally purchase higher end products,” said Kolilias. “The DIY buyer will usually opt for the cheaper products, so the manufacturer and the dealer need to offer them a reason to purchase higher quality products. Point of sale and better labels can assist in this area.”
Bush agreed: Professionals know a good product, and the DIY crowd might not. Why do they have to find out the hard way? “The message here, for any retailer, is to have the best options for the best results and you’ll never have to apologize for a job gone awry.”
The Dusty Road Ahead
There are some phone calls you don’t like to make; one is to tell your anxious supplier that their products are clinging to your shelves like scared puppies and won’t go out the door. Bush suggests discussing expectations for your abrasives program before you dive in. Then, if your display isn’t meeting those expectations, you can discuss with your supplier why that might be. It could even be because the product…works! “A product may not move as quickly as another similar product, but it may yield higher customer satisfaction (due to factors such as longer life) and it may yield higher margins and overall profit,” he said. “It is possible something may not turn as quickly, but it be more profitable for the retailer and more effective for the end user. There are other questions to ask to gauge the situation, such as merchandising, product placement, and understanding the value proposition. Your manufacturer’s representative should be equipped to help on all of those matters to ensure a successful program that meets expectations and is profitable.”
If your abrasive display is dustier than your copy of The Catcher in the Rye, you might need to spruce up your display a bit, or even relocate it for a more in your face approach. “Is the product merchandised properly, is the area neat and clean, is the area front and center for customers to see?” asks Roland Kolilias. “Abrasives are the often-forgotten supply in any painting project and they need to be readily visible and available.”
They’ll Take it for Granat
While Festool is a pioneer in powered equipment for dust free sanding, it has recently been busy cheering up a line of hand sanding products as well. Bush noted that Festool’s Granat line of abrasives can help your customers choose quickly and correctly. “Festool has simplified the sanding process for painters by offering one main abrasive name for all the applications; what we call Granat,” he said. “Granat paper is available for Festool power sanders, but also available in sheet, sponge, and other types of media. It is designed to prevent some of the issues that are common to abrasives not designed for use with coatings, such as loading, clogging, or premature dulling. Granat is optimized to provide fast removal with minimal wear and when coupled with our sanders and dust extraction system, a clean removal process.”
Also, remember that one grit does not fit all. “A good ‘best practice’ for sanding is to use good grit progression; i.e., to follow the sequence of grits from coarse to fine without skipping over grits. This helps to provide a consistent smooth surface,” said Bush.
A specialty from Blue Dolphin is its Anti-Clogging/No Load Series features P-Graded Aluminum Oxide and the company’s unique open coat anti-clog technology. Resin bonded to heavy duty C-weight backing, this series is durable, easy-to-use and yields excellent results on multiple surfaces. For power sanding, Hook & Loop Anti-Clogging/No Load discs are available in a wide variety of grits. Features and benefits on this line include:
• Durable, sharp, longer lasting aluminum oxide.
• Unique open-coat technology prevents clogging.
• Resin bonded to flexible high quality C-wt paper for superior workability .
• Available in sheets and discs in a wide variety of grits. Blue Dolphin’s Dust Hugger, pictures above, helps minimize dust on the job by placing a sanding sponge inside
As much as you love your customers, they’ll love you most if you fill their bag with the right stuff on the first trip. DolphinSundries.com; Festool.com
“It seems that some nice deep moss greens have been trending lately.”
As I write this piece on the plane home after spending St. Patrick’s day in Dublin, Ireland, the Color of the Month has never been so fitting. I have temporary tattoos of shamrocks all over my body and a suitcase full of green souvenirs to take home. I have been surrounded by so much green for the past week that I think I am starting to see out of a green-tinted lens. I feel like I could go on about this color forever! It seems that I am not the only one who feels this way; green has been trending in places other than Ireland.
Sara McLean, color expert from Dunn-Edwards, describes the trend in green as shifting from deep to bright shades. “Green in deep values is prevalent this year, elevating its status as a key color,” said Mclean. “With a nod to our 2018 Color of the Year, The Green Hour (DET544), the evolution of greens from these deep values to brighter greens like kelly green and warmer greens such as olive, cements its trend status this year.”
Mainly used for interiors, McLean suggested that The Green Hour may be used to paint an entire room. Although bold, coating both the ceiling and walls with this color can create quite a stunning effect. “With the right balance of design elements, this color will envelope the room and create a sophisticated, bespoke, inspired space,” she said. Some other Dunn-Edwards greens she specifically highlighted in addition to its Color of the Year are Refined Green (DEA181), Teal Waters DEA131), Mow the Lawn (DET520), and Sprig of Mint (DE5675).
I guess “Shamrock Green” was not considered an official color! Oh well, maybe next month.
Don’t Roll Those Stones!
We want to gather some moss! Kristin Summer, a Massachusetts-based color consultant through her company Colors with Kristin, recognizes the wide variety of greens that are trending this year. “I’ve seen a lot the last few years with pale, pastel and turquoise greens,” she observed, “but it seems that some nice deep moss greens have been trending lately as well.” She said that mixing up a variety of these shades into one room can look amazing when done carefully. (This might be a great time to set your customer up with a trusted designer!)
Summer indicated that these deep moss greens have been popular in the past when combined with cream colors; especially on home exteriors. Now however, these greens are being used more interiorly. Instead of a specific color combination, she said, they can be most powerful interiorly when used against a wooden background. Since this shade of green can be recognized as an earthy color to begin with, the energy it gives off when combined with wood can make the space feel even more nature-based and relaxing. “Green represents life, so it can bring in the element of life without a lot of plants or greenery,” said Summer.
Bold, All Told
Jim Ladner, marketing and creative manager at Richard’s Paint, takes a different approach. He emphasized how bold colors complement green, as they offer dramatic choices for homes in which customers can express themselves by desigining a home that better resembles their personality.
For these types of combinations, he recommends gold or pink tones. For something less dramatic that still offers a fitting complement to green, he suggests bright whites, cream, navy, and brown tones.
It is also possible to find a balance between bold and neutrals. “Creating neutral color combinations a
llows the opportunity for bold accents to shine through. There is a balance with whites, soft neutrals, and the added punch of color. The bolder accents symbolize empowerment, technology advances, ethnic awareness, and incorporating natural elements into the palette,” said Ladner.If you are looking for an even bolder accent, I am available to paint customized leprechauns any time!
Sometimes looking at how someone else runs their business can be inspiration in how you run yours—either you want to emulate them or do something entirely different. A visit with Jim Franco, CEO of point of sale programming company Autologue (Buena Park, CA), has him offering suggestions on how to keep both employees and customers happy. And if one group is happy, the other will likely follow. Not only that, but happy employees can be the answer to an issue plaguing many paint dealers—succession.
It’s well known that Queen Elizabeth the First didn’t name a successor until she had about an hour to live, but you might want to take care of that a bit sooner. But who, and how? If your kids, cousins, or nieces and nephews took a look at your business and thought, “nope, not for me,” Franco’s story might give you some hope. Today, Autologue is a multi-million-dollar company with POS programs designed especially for the paint industry among others, but as the name implies, Franco started in the auto parts business. His daughters, after a few years of counting automotive nuts and bolts, moved into their own careers. Jamie became a nurse who eventually managed a large ER facility, and Tiffanie, also in the medical field, managed a unit with over 40 employees.
Jim will tell you one thing they did share with him was a passion for their work and the drive to be successful. Family being family, they changed their tune about Autologue and now have been with him for more than a decade—Tiffanie manages the marketing department while Jamie heads up accounts receivable.
Other family members are also on board, but Franco feels one reason his company has been successful is that he treats employees like family whether he’s related to them or not. It’s paid off, as the company’s 90 team members average a tenure of 14.6 years and combine for 1,800 years of experience. It’s hard to get hired here simply because there aren’t a lot of jobs open. Once people come, they stay, Franco reports.
Employed and Loyal
While every company has its own economics, Franco shared some of the points that he feels keep employees sticking around. From a financial standpoint, this includes an employee stock ownership plan, so everyone can have a stake in the company, along with matching their 401K contributions.
Some other perks are simple: birthdays are a day of paid vacation bonused with spending money equal to $10 per year of employment. Team members get a VISA rewards card that gets loaded with bonuses for above and beyond performance. Franco provides free lunches on specified days, plus bonuses and gifts on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But there’s work to be done as well; team members are challenged to be on the lookout for ways to improve operations, including ideas to bolster customer service (which helps you!), new products (also helps you!), or just making things run smoother at the company (which helps you as well).
Another thing about treating your staff well, he says, is it makes them actually want to show up to work. If you’re all negative with nary a thank you, people will find ways to be sick, or they’ll find new employment. Not only that, he notes, but take some time help them grow both personally and professionally. At that end of the day, people have things they want to do to fulfill themselves, and it might not be selling a can of paint. Support that as well.
Also, he says, trust! The most important lesson he’s learned on the job is not to micro-manage. Hire people who can do the job, then empower them to make good decisions. It was tough for him, but he’s learned to delegate.
Do all this, and you’ll be confident your company will run smoothly, whether you want to take a week off, or be assured that after you retire your name will live on as a trusted store for generations to come.
Customer Service Tips
It’s often been said that if you treat your employees well, you don’t have to worry about how they treat your customers, and many of his customer service tips will transfer from a POS company to a retail paint store. For one, answer the phone! Then answer the customer’s question, or if you can’t, find someone who can.
Help your customers be profitable—if you can show your painters or designers how to make money in their business, it will come back to help you in yours.
Oh, and product. Make sure your company offers top quality products that help your customers achieve their goals. All this goodwill would be meaningless if Autologue couldn’t solve the problems it’s in business to solve. One way to stay on top of problems, rather than be buried by them, is to look out for that’s happening in your industry—read The Paint Dealer and other publications, and attend shows in your area, and see what’s new and improved. Then pass it along to your customers. Franco notes that with technology changing as fast as it does, Autologue keeps a close eye on what’s happening so they can help you grow and change as POS does.
After years in this business, Franco is still excited about coming to work. He sees himself as a race car driver rounding those curves as fast as he can, at his desk in the morning waiting for that green flag. In a business that’s geared to help people become more successful, Franco will tell you that his joy comes from seeing that success. Plus, the better your POS system works, the more time you have to do what you love to do—sell paint.
NCAA’s Basketball Tournament, March Madness, is just that—maddening. Every year, die hard hoops fans flock to their TVs, tablets, laptops, and PCs to watch the games that truly matter. If you have a team in the dance, obviously you are pulling for them. If you don’t have a favorite team, chances are that you are an adrenaline junky who loves the excitement generated by college sports and this tournament, where a #16 seeded team, University of Maryland Baltimore County, can and did beat up on a #1 seed, Virginia, a first for this tournament!
I watched intently as my Sooners fell to Rhode Island in their one and done appearance. I watched, not because OU had much of a chance to advance in the brackets, but because of their freshman phenom, Trey Young, a young wizard with an incredible 3-point shot and an uncanny knack for making amazing no-look passes. Rarely has there been a talent like Young in the NCAA, especially as a freshman! Trey is why I watched OU this year. Now that Trey is one and done with college basketball and has become an NBA lottery pick, I may even start watching the NBA just to see how he progresses.
During Lenten season here in the St. Louis area, Fish Fry Fridays are all the rage. There are literally hundreds of fish frys to choose from; they can be found at churches, VFW halls, schools, a local firehouse, and even at area restaurants. A group of friends and I have formed the Fish Fry Friday Caravan (FFFC), and about 10-20 of us meet up at a different fish fry weekly for the great food and the fellowship. I’d like to say it is all for Lent, but for the majority in our group, it’s about the food and friends. Fried cod fillets, baked salmon, frog legs, catfish bites, hush puppies…it’s the food that draws us from far and near to meet on six Fridays during Lent.
When worlds collide, which they do every year as the NCAA’s Big Dance and part of the Lenten season occur at the same time, our group anguishes over what to do. Some stay home or at their local watering hole to watch the games, others come eat with us and see the games when they get home; still others pull out their big cell phones and watch the live stream of the games while eating their fish dinners. Bars, restaurants, churches, and VFW halls have all made themselves a “destination” for reasons that are not a-typical, but they do reap the rewards.
What can you do at your store to become that talked-about destination that would make people excited to stop at your store? I’m not suggesting having a fish fry, although, hey, why not? Maybe you could sponsor a seminar where a specialty painter could show what products he uses and how he uses them to do what he does, like painting murals, staining furniture, or how to make new products look old or weathered? Maybe hold a gathering for area interior designers and walk them through your various color-matching techniques or school them on the latest trending colors?
Whatever unique event you can throw together that might get folks talking about your store, there isn’t much downside to it. The point is to do something different at your store, to make your store a “destination” as well as differentiating your store from the big boxes.
That way you can score your own “upset” victory…over those boxes.
“You cannot control your expenses unless you know specifically what they are.”
Research shows that the neuronal pathways that cause many types of addiction, such as heroin, are the same ones that cause us to binge watch a TV show. With the volume of Shark Tank I have watched, I think that I am starting to agree! Anytime I want to be reminded how difficult a person’s life can be with me in it, I just need to put on Shark Tank while my daughter or fiancée are home; they’re happy to let me know! I can see myself watching on my phone in the car…but that may be coming.
While the science of the parallels between my Shark Tank addiction and heroin use may be sound, I don’t see nearly the harm from the binge watching—I feel like I’m learning a lot about my own business by watching other people try to sell theirs. Everyone looks at a business differently and as you learn in “The Tank;” one interested shark does not make for a feeding frenzy. I want to be the business that sharks would fight for.
The contestants that make the biggest splash are the ones with something exciting to pique a shark’s interest. They either have exploding sales, a patent that’s worth a ton of money, or a record of success in the shark infested waters of entrepreneurism. Whatever angle an entrepreneur uses to get a shark’s attention, I find they all have one thing in common: they know their business’ numbers!
It’s easy, when we think about our businesses, to get caught up in the top lines of your profit & loss statement. I’m sure we all know what our sales are in a given year and (I hope) the gross profit off those sales. But what about the numbers right below that line? They count too, and more than you might think!
Like most independent paint retailers, the biggest line items on my profit & loss (P&L) statements are payroll and rent. Together they make up about half of my total expenses with my rent being about 9% of my sales. That is roughly in line with data I have seen on independent paint retailers. But if rent and payroll (by the way, that payroll number should include yourself!) make up fully half of my expenses, that means that all the other services I buy to keep my stores running also add up to half my total expenses. Since I need to sell a ton of gallons to cover half of my total expenses, I like to understand what makes up those numbers.
Though I only have two stores, I spent over $6,000 in 2017 to provide phone and Internet service to both locations. It used to be worse! Thankfully prices in that area have come down. Another $15,000 was spent on utilities and still another $15,000 on a line that I call “office.” Office is kind of a catchall that includes postage, paper, ink, computer repairs, shopping bags, etc. Over $20,000 for insurance, $15,000 in credit card processing fees, my accountant wont work for free despite my protests and over $25,000 per year just for colorant (I hope you’re keeping track of your colorant as an expense)!
How I work to keep these numbers low is a topic for when I’m given more 750 words, but the point is that you cannot control your expenses unless you know specifically what they are. You need to have them presented to you regularly, totaled with like items together! Even if you are a smaller independent who keeps his own checkbook (as I do).
When you’re swimming in the Shark Tank, they will want to know all these numbers so they can assign a value to your business. But even if you don’t get your shot to hook a shark, you’ll want to know these numbers because they are what make up your profit (or explains your loss). If you are a large dealer you likely have someone reporting these numbers to you on a regular basis or you won’t be a large dealer for long. If you are a smaller dealer, report them to yourself or have your accountant do it for you: but no matter what you need to know them.
I’m not sure that my two stores will ever make it onto an episode of Shark Tank, and I don’t see Mark Cuban and Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary fighting for a share of my business anytime soon. But if I’m wrong and I get into a shark fight, I’ll use my numbers as bait to hook the biggest fish!
Mark Lipton is the 4th generation owner of Tremont Paint in New York City as well as a consultant to the coatings industry. email@example.com
It’s long been advised that sample boards of faux finishes, and even how-to seminars to go with them, are a great way to sell those products, in that customers can see what they’re getting and learn how to use it. But you might even benefit from doing this with painter’s tape, says Kacie Baon, Category Manager, FrogTape® Brand Painters Tape. Your goal, she reminds us, is to show customers the advantages of using premium tape, and a sample board might be the way to do it.
Most likely if you are asking someone to pay a higher price for a roll of tape than they are accustomed to, you’ll need some backup! “It is important to understand the advantages of premium tape products and be able to justify to the customer why these products will help save them time and money,” said Baon. “Point of purchase displays should have a clear call to action, list product benefits, and communicate why the customer needs the product. Another tactic is to visually show the customer the end result of using the product.” This can include before/after shots, and even how the tape can be used for creative design or as part of a faux project.
Another way to be a Retail Hero is to only sell a higher priced tape when it’s necessary—if someone is looking at a more expensive roll, make sure they actually need it. Perhaps a $4 roll will do their job rather than an $8. “There are various tape grades offered in the market to meet the unique needs and applications of consumers and contractors,” Baon reminds us. “It’s important for dealers to understand the best applications, as well as limitations, for each grade of tape they sell, so they can recommend the most suitable tape on a job by job basis.” If you talk someone into spending less money, she points out, they’ll be more likely to trust your input on future projects.
More than Surface Deep
ShurTech’s FrogTape brand painter’s tape features two different products—Multi Surface and Delicate Surface, and often one or the other can find some good use around a project. You might send your customers home with both, along with instructions as to when to use each.
“Multi Surface [Green FrogTape] is a medium adhesion premium tape that can be used on a variety of surfaces including cured painted walls, metal, glass and more. This tape can stay on surfaces up to 21 days prior to painting,” Kacie explained.
“Delicate Surface [Yellow FrogTape], on the other hand, is a low adhesion painter’s tape that can be applied to fresh paint (that has been dried for 24 hours), wallpaper, faux finishing and more. It’s also a great option for decorative painting projects—the low adhesion helps prevent surface damage. As opposed to Multi Surface, Delicate Surface can stay on surfaces for up to 60 days prior to painting,” said Baon That’s good for folks who want to take their time picking colors!
Strut Your Stuff
We asked outright, “What does ShurTech do better than anyone else in the tape industry?” There was no loss for words here! “Shurtech Brands, LLC, manufactures premium painting tapes that deliver superior results for our consumers,” Baon said. “ShurTech Brands is dedicated to understanding its end users and adjusting its products to best meet their needs on the job. We are focused on driving innovations and improving our tape technologies. FrogTape brand painter’s tape for example, was the first tape, and remains the only painter’s tape, on the market to be treated with patented PaintBlock® Technology.”
We at Mugler Publications have noticed many advances in painter’s tape by many manufactures—many more surfaces than before have a product designed especially to stick to it and keep the paint in (or out) of the lines. Work continues at ShurTech, noted Kacie, to keep producing tapes that help get the job done better.
For example, just like brush and rollers are developed to keep up with low VOC paints and other new coatings development, so is tape. “The recent trend of the paint industry going ‘green,’ and saturating the market with newer paint options that are designed with lower or zero volatile organic compounds, has encouraged ShurTech Brands to develop new tape formulations, such as ShurTech Brand’s ShurSTICK™ painter’s tape,” she said.
“At ShurTech we are constantly engaging in hands-on experiences with our customers, including contractors, to better understand their needs,” she said. “We know that spending time with our customers and learning from them is what ultimately helps us develop better painting tapes. We take pride in staying ahead of the trends and changes in our industries and the industries that affect our customers.”
Stay tuned, or better yet, stick with us—you can be sure to hear much more about tape from MugPub Inc. in 2018!