In the changing world of home improvement retailing, LumberMart, a locally owned family business, will drastically change its look, products and layouts at their two metro locations by late spring.
One of the last truly locally owned and operated home improvement businesses, LumberMart has just secured the coveted "ACE Hardware" brand for HRM. A big move for both sides, this relationship is a win-win for LumberMart and ACE. The stores will be brought up to date and be made more customer friendly and ACE will have a strong partner on the East Coast of Canada to further expand its brand.
First opening in 1984 from a 1,500 sq.ft. building in Spryfield, LumberMart is still run by Fred and Lynn O'Hearn, their staff and their son Jason. This will be their second major transformation since opening the company's Burnside Park location in 2001.
"The marriage between LumberMart and ACE Canada has wins on so many fronts," Fred says. "It was truly a no brainer to go forward with the re-branding. In addition to vastly expanded product lines available through the ACE program, we will also be using their marketing tools, professional store layout services, signage and exceptional ongoing staff training opportunities. These are all things we tried to do on our own before."
The good news for loyal LumberMart customers is they will still have the same ownership, staff and unique aggressive marketing that have set them apart from the Big Box stores. Customers will see improved product selection, cleaner brighter stores, more promotional items and the same famous deals. Both Lumbermart locations will carry new ACE branded items, such as tools, hardware, paint and accessories, plumbing, electrical, seasonal and much more. All ACE Branded items carry the "No Quibble" Guarantee, which allows over-the-counter-exchange if there's a problem.
LumberMart will continue to do all the things it does now. Estimates, installed sales, contractor service, handyman service, deliveries, garages, windows and doors, decks, sheds, home shows, local charity support and participation in many local service organizations.
"We're not only locally owned, we live here and spend time in our businesses every day, hands on. The buck will continue to stop here!" Fred says.
As ACE Canada aggressively seeks out other dealer-owned stores across Canada, the O'Hearn family will look at potential expansion sites in HRM.
LumberMart has always been community driven and locally involved. The O'Hearns still reside in the Spryfield area. They would like to bring this new experience to other communities and neighborhoods as well.
"We had a real eye opener during a summer promotion when we did a ‘Rink Sale' at the Halifax Forum," Jason says. "The neighborhood came out in droves; the number of customers we saw from peninsular Halifax was unbelievable! While we didn't have a location close to them, we developed lots of new relationships and often wondered how we could get closer to them. ACE may now provide that answer."
Once the two current stores are up and running, the O'Hearns will be scouting out other community opportunities. With this new partnership between ACE and LumberMart, the combined experience and resources will pull it together nicely. ACE has store concepts from 2,500 sq ft to 100,000 sq ft. It has opened urban stores in Montreal and plans to do the same in downtown Toronto, as well as several U.S. cities... so why not Quinpool Road or the Woodside/Eastern Passage area? Other areas, such as Cole Harbour, Bayer's Lake, Bedford or Sackville may make sense too.
Fred has been in the building supply game for almost 35 years and has seen most of the truly locally owned stores close. Giants in their day - such as Halliday's, Builder's Market, McCulloch's, Lockhart's, NS Building Supplies, Piercey's, Mom's and Eastern Discount - either closed or were taken over by national chains.
With the bloom coming off of the Box Store concept and the increased popularity and support for the ‘buy local' philosophy, the O'Hearns believe they have a niche in the home improvement business in this market. Being mindful of the dangers of growing too quickly, the O'Hearns will do as they've always done: Slow and steady wins the race.
Considering they're one of only two locally owned home improvement outlets left in metro, they're confident they have the formula to grow what 28 years of hard work has taught them.