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Getting smarter in tough times

Not all advice is created equal.

There is generic advice. (“Do the right thing.”)

There is deflected advice. (“Ask your mother.”)

There is conflicting advice. (“Take risks, but be careful.”)

And then, there’s practical, constructive advice.

Now more than ever, that last kind of advice can be worth its weight in gold.

And that’s the reason we put together a special section: “Get Smart: Business tools of the Trade,” which begins on page 49. The editors of Home Channel News talked to retailers, pro dealers and home center operators (and assorted others) about strategies, tactics and keys to success. The results are in, and our “Get Smart” section features real-world ideas from people engaged in guiding their companies through what CEOs call “the current market headwinds.”

In other words, we’ve dedicated a dozen pages to practical, constructive advice—a collection of business tools for the trade, from the trade.

At the Pinnacle Technology Conference in Boston last month, Johan van Tilburg, the president and CEO of Tindell’s Building Materials in Knoxville, Tenn., sounded the bell for strategic thinking when he advised his colleagues in the industry to look at everything they are doing. “Ask yourself, ‘does it really add value,’ or are you doing it just for the sake of doing it. If it doesn’t add value, quit doing it.”

He and other panelists went on to point to efficiency-building tactics, from health care to head count; from technology to target marketing.

While there are dozens of real life business ideas in the pages of this issue, there will be thousands of real life business ideas on display at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas May 6 to 8.

One of the maxims in our editorial office holds that new products are the lifeblood of the home improvement industry. The Las Vegas show will have them in spades. Another of our maxims: companies that engage in the industry tend to succeed in it. That means, what happens in Vegas—from a business-building standpoint—will not stay in Vegas.

The economy will certainly be a key topic of discussion on the show floor at the show (Our cover story begins on page 17). But as companies sit down and figure out their next steps, one long-term macroeconomic fact must not be forgotten and can’t be stressed too often: for every downside of a cyclical business, there’s an upside.

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