Minutes of June 13, 1999

Hardlines Conservation Initiative Meeting

All members were asked for further suggestions and recommendations leading to the presentation in August. Please e-mail your comments to hcmi@bogfrog.com Those comments will then be posted on the TWF website at www.bogfrog.com/hcmicomments/.

Meeting Participants:

Karen Baumgaertner, Program Coordinator, Minnesota Waste Wise :    

Kent Dahlquist, Regional Coordinator, Tri County Solid Waste Program:   

Mac Hardin, Director of Minnesota/Dakota Hwd Assoc., Hardware Association:    

Monte Hilleman, The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance:     

Ralph Millard, Exec. Vice President, RBRC:  352-376-9367

David Winkelman, President, The WATER Foundation: 218-764-2321, david@bogfrog.com

Peggy Blean Boots, CommunicationsDirector,

Jim Vopatek, Radio Syndication Director,

Sue Yarusso, CEO, Mercury Technologies of Minnesota, Inc.:

Ray Hite, President,


HCMI Minutes 6/13/99

The HCMI steering committee, met June 12 and 13, 1999 at the WATER Foundation headquarters near Brainerd. The 12th was a day of enjoyment of the beautiful natural resources (fishing, golfing, touring) of the area. On the 13th, the meeting began with a delicious brunch and then moved into The WATER Foundation’s Eco Dome facilities. A short tour of the conservation technologies and building techniques set the stage for a meeting of representatives from various hardlines industry stakeholders.

After introductions, the facilitator, Peggy Blean Boots, explained the premise and objectives for the meeting, as set in the materials sent or handed out earlier. This initial concept meeting showcased a variety of current projects, which were proposed for combination into a new hardlines conservation initiative designed to drive new business, increase profit, and enhance corporate image for HCMI members. The programs and recommendations of this steering committee will be presented to additional stakeholders during a subsequent meeting in Chicago at the August Hardware Show.

David Winkelman, President of the WATER Foundation did the first presentation, giving a brief history of previous hardlines initiatives as well as a brief summary of the need for a new, more profitable initiative as we head into the next century. The focus of the leadership in this new initiative, according to Winkelman, should be primarily on marketing programs to help drive sales and traffic into the stores. With the previous initiatives having been focused on operations, recent surveys show that a large and growing number of hardlines stores now have implemented various types of recycling for waste products and source reduction programs for waste, energy and water into their operations.

Although there is still room to improve the operations of the stores regarding source reduction and recycling, the next frontier in conservation is for the stores to become proactive in their communities. By providing service programs for their community such as recycling batteries, lightbulbs, paint and other materials sold in the stores, the retailers can connect the service programs to sales of new products and in some cases, charge for the recycling services. In other words, with good marketing efforts, retailers can make a profit on both selling and recycling certain items.

Winkelman then presented information on the WATER Foundation’s marketing position and programs that can help facilitate the HCMI. In the course of the overview, he explained that The WATER Foundation has researched three programs, which can be a part of the HCMI: NiCad Battery Recycling, Fluorescent Bulb Recycling, and Paint Recycling. These three programs represent aspects and products of any hardware or home center store. TWF gathered representatives from each program for this meeting so that the steering committee could review them and decide if these programs are ready for the HCMI.

He gave an enthusiastic presentation about Operation H.O.P. (Help Our Planet); a successfully piloted children’s program focused on hardlines products, as a cause related marketing program for HCMI. He proposed Operation HOP as an overall vehicle to integrate and drive conservation programs for retailers, their communities, manufacturers, radio stations, schools, children, and families in the initiative. David illustrated a series of case studies using Operation HOP in hardware retailer’s communities over the past two years, which demonstrated encouraging results. The conclusion proposed, is that children can drive conservation initiatives more effectively than almost any other segment of our society because it is their natural resources we, as adults, are consuming at too rapid a rate.

Peggy Blean presented more detailed information on Operation H.O.P. and explained the current materials available for revision to work with the initiative (see enclosures). The offer made by TWF to supply the Operation H.O.P. program includes a Bog Frog character licensure, with accompanying artwork, voice, and animations at no charge (except costs of materials) for the HCMI.

Jim Vopatek explained how The WATER Foundation’s affiliated radio stations could implement the program utilizing their local sales force. Currently, TWF has access to the sales forces of radio stations covering approximately 90% of the United States. In metro markets, dealer groups could work together or separately, depending on their proximity to specific area schools. Once they are trained by TWF, the radio station staff would make Operation HOP a turnkey program for local retailers and other community stakeholders. Each HOP conservation program is directly related to Bog Frog programs being broadcast simultaneously on local radio stations. This creates an ongoing advertising opportunity for national retailers and manufacturers through TWF and the HCMI association. Vopatek explained that advertising and marketing revenues would fund the HCMI, on both a national and a local level.

Ralph Millard, Executive Vice President of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) outlined their program, which covers the United States, Canada, and some parts of Mexico. He demonstrated that the RBRC has a turnkey program for recycling rechargeable batteries that costs the store nothing and is proven to drive traffic and sales for participants. RBRC ties in with national retailers, manufacturers, celebrity endorsements (Al the Tool Man: Richard Karn) and national television, radio and print advertising. Ralph expressed the willingness of RBRC to be part of this initiative and enthusiasm for Operation H.O.P. since RBRC is just launching a school curriculum. The RBRC now has 285 manufacturers and thousands of retail locations participating in their successful program. Accompanying information explains how the RBRC program works. The steering committee unanimously agreed that the RBRC program is deliverable to the whole hardlines industry and a bigger push could start this August.

Sue Yarusso, CEO, and Ray Hite, President, of Mercury Technologies of Minnesota, Inc., operate a ten-year-old business, which recycles fluorescent tubes and other mercury products through hardlines stores. They have Ace, TruServ, Do-It-Best and other retail stores working with them now and are able to host nationwide collection. Their unique national program allows revenue-generating opportunities for local stores by charging for bulb recycling, combined with financial incentives from area power companies. They work with local and regional stores to persuade power companies to help offset the recycling charge. Stores and power companies also offer incentive coupons to recyclers for purchases of new tubes. It has been a successful and profitable program for over 1000 stores to date (see enclosures). The steering committee concluded that tube/bulb recycling needs to develop its infrastructure for collection in order to be a profitable and deliverable program for the HCMI. Back hauling of tubes by national retailers could make this money making program in the near future. The committee will query the key players such as ACE , TruServ, Sears, Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and others for possibility of back hauling. Other collection avenues are being developed also, so this program could become a nationwide reality in the next two years.

Information and statistics on a pilot program on paint recycling which has been successfully operating for the past nine years, was presented by Kent Dahlquist, the Region Coordinator for the Tri-County Solid Waste Program located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The program started a storefront which accepts partially full paint cans from consumers, checks them for viability, sells or gives away those which can be used and sends the remainder to be disposed of properly as a hazardous waste and recycles the metal cans. At a disposal cost of $20/can of latex paint, this program both saves dollars and serves a community need through re-use. In 1998, the program had 2573 participants who delivered 9871 gallons of paint, of which 38.7% of the latex paint was reused rather than needing disposal.

There was a great deal of discussion on paint collection processes, reusing processes, recycling processes and disposal processes too lengthy for these minutes. A copy of the videotape of the meeting is available through TWF for any interested parties. Enclosed materials will highlight several more programs and resources under way or currently being studied.

Monte Hillman and Karen Baumgaertner represented the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance. Baumgartner coordinates the Minnesota Waste Wise program for the state. They explained the work and the resources the government is directing at old paint (enclosures), which was encouraging. Mac Hardin asked about the proposed legislation on paint, which he understood would force the stores to pay for disposal. Hillman explained that the proposal calls for all involved to pay a portion; consumers, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers alike.

A general consensus was that although there have been hundreds of successful programs across America for old paint, that there are too many differences in state laws and rules to put together a comprehensive national program at this point. It will continue to be a goal of the HCMI, and hopefully, with the help of all stakeholders, programs will be developed in the next 3-5 years. Since paint represents such a large portion of sales in the hardlines industry, developing a proposal for handling the by-products of paint deserves to be a high priority.

Following the presentations, the steering committee discussed what the basic goals and program options should be. It was recognized that the initiative needed to have the potential of bringing revenue into individual stores to be broadly successful. The question raised was, "How do we drive a conservation initiative so it is an income generator for individual stores."

Five practical, positive programs were agreed upon by consensus of the group. All of these programs are educational in nature and meet the goals of being designed to drive business and sales, have a real conservation benefit, be ongoing and long term, and be connected directly to products sold in hardware and home center stores.

The proposed programs are:

1) Rechargeable Battery Recycling, --this is a turnkey national program, free of charge, backed by national advertising, celebrity endorsements, and connects directly to sales of tools, telephones, toys, and batteries. 285 manufactures support/license this program and the recyclable battery symbol appears on their products. This program will be launched in a more massive way to the hardlines industry starting with the Hardware show in August.

2) Fluorescent Tube Recycling. A growing program of virtually national scope allowing retailers to earn profits on recycling while working cooperatively with area power companies and manufacturers. Some pilot stores have earned more revenue recycling the bulbs than they did initially selling them. This program will be launched in the year 2000, after a more developed infrastructure is achieved.

3) Paint Recycling (also called Paint Drop, Swap, and Shop). Paint programs of this type have been conducted successfully in hundreds of communities. This program needs the most development because of the inconsistency among individual state laws and rules. A primary focus of this initiative is to refine the existing paint recycling programs, and focus on ways which will reduce the concerns of this hazardous waste, such as NO VOC paints.

4) Operation H.O.P. (Kids Program): H.O.P. serves as an overall method of implementing all the other conservation programs into the individual communities. H..O.P. is focused on education, which will drive traffic and sales for the retailers through the coordination of school programs, community service groups, and other community stakeholders. Through Operation H.O.P., children and family involvement will be the primary forces behind the HCMI initiative.

    1. Advertising: Through a combination of broadcast, internet and print advertising
    2. vehicles, HCMI will reach virtually all Americans over the next decade. Initial advertising partners are The WATER Foundation (TWF), the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and the Home Center Institute (HCI). TWF offers a backbone of national advertising conducted through its national radio network, which serves each participating local community through regularly scheduled conservation programs and related advertisements, public service announcements, local promotional programs, and air time for the local retailers to participate in the above conservation programs. Radio station sales people have been and will continue to be sent specific training materials by TWF to implement the conservation programs into the local retailer’s communities. TWF’s syndication people are available to advise stations and help implement the programs. TWF’s website will also host an HCMI section containing consumer tips, a bulletin board for posting comments about the HCMI and advertisements for participants, all of which will be promoted through TWF’s national radio spots. In additional, leading hardlines trade publications, the Do-It-Yourself Retailer and the Hardware Retailer have indicated they are willing to carry regular features about the conservation initiative. The NRHA/HCI will be in discussion with TWF to arrive at a workable program for all. According to the committee, all advertising vehicles should allow manufacturers and national retailers to participate with their own ads or tags.

The steering committee will continue to refine the initiative and is planning to present three deliverable programs (Operation H.O.P., Battery Recycling and Advertising) for retailers by August 1999. These programs will be available at the booths of the National Retail Hardware Association and the Home Center Institute at the August Hardware Show and the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation.

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

All members were asked for further suggestions and recommendations leading to the presentation in August. Please e-mail your comments to hcmi@bogfrog.com Those comments will then be posted on the TWF website at www.bogfrog.com/hcmicomments/.

For corrections to the minutes, contact 1 218 764 2321

Respectively submitted by Peggy Blean Boots 6/16/99

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