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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Nation/World

Home Depot Turns Up The Heat In Tough Home Improvement Market

By Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revi

As manager of the latest discounter to enter an already overcrowded home improvement market, Tom Raynor has his work cut out for him.

But the head man in Spokane for America’s largest home center is up to the challenge. “I love competition,” says Raynor. “It’s the American way.”

It most assuredly is the way of Home Depot, which is sometimes called the “Wal-Mart” of the home improvement industry and which Fortune magazine has named the nation’s “most admired” retailer four years in a row.

With 545 warehouse-style centers in 40 states and three provinces, Home Depot is shooting for 1,000 stores by the year 2000. The Atlanta-based retailer, whose annual sales surpass $20 billion, is an aggressive competitor. So Raynor, who comes from Federal Way, should feel right at home in Spokane.

Raynor joined Home Depot in San Diego nine years ago.

Work is progressing on a Spokane store with 130,000 square feet of warehouse and garden center space - bigger than a lot of neighborhood shopping centers. Home Depot began taking applications Tuesday in a trailer that last weekend was towed onto the construction site at Sprague and Fancher.

The store is scheduled to open in October, Raynor says. Construction of a North Side store is scheduled to begin in November.

Each store will create nearly 150 jobs. Many positions will be filled by former contractors with extensive experience in home remodeling, construction, and home maintenance, Raynor says.

Sales “associates” are hired, he says, for their knowledge, then immersed in the company’s culture and style, to encourage growth. The company also “invests” in its personnel to maximize their potential. Before the store opens, he says, each associate receives three to four weeks of training. This includes 20 hours of operational training and 20 hours of product knowledge training.

After opening, store employees have the opportunity to continue their education with an additional hour of training per week.

The emphasis on education is in line with a new survey by Glamour magazine that asked 1,100 women what they consider to be good service. Topping the responses were: Staffers who are courteous and respectful, staffers who are knowledgable about merchandise, staffers who know when to leave a shopper alone, and hassle-free returns.

Upscale hotels enjoy strong rebound

Restoration and reopening of the landmark Davenport Hotel couldn’t be better timed from an economic and marketing standpoint, trends in the lodging industry suggest.

“All the big national hotel people are eagerly looking at properties like ours to add to their reservations and franchising systems,” says Jeffrey Ng, Davenport executive director. “They realize that no other hotel around can match the Davenport’s elegance.”

Following a decade of surplus, the supply of existing fine hotels is very tight, analysts report. With bargains in existing properties becoming increasingly hard to find and investors clamoring for growth, industry sources say hotel companies are laying plans to build upscale establishments again.

Other entrepreneurs aren’t waiting around.

The historic St. Moritz Hotel is under renovation in Miami Beach’s Art Deco district, and a new 650-room hotel tower is being added to the celebrated landmark. The redeveloper, Loews Corp., also is converting a former office tower in Philadelphia into a 500-room hotel. In addition, Loews is constructing a new luxury hotel in Orlando and one in Universal City.

A $73 million new upscale hotel is under way in downtown San Francisco. Several more reportedly are on drawing boards across the country.

Profits for upscale hotels in surplus supply only a couple of years ago are now rising faster than for other types of properties, as demand outpaces supply, analysts report.

Meantime, bids on full-scale restoration of Spokane’s grand old Davenport are due day after tomorrow. “We’ll begin interviewing the bidders next week,” said Ng. “Physical construction will start at the beginning of next year.”

United Security losses covered

United Security Bancorporation of Spokane announced it has received an insurance payment of $637,000 as reimbursement for losses from a previously-disclosed embezzlement.

The funds, equal to about $420,000 or 11 cents per share after tax, will be credited to third-quarter earnings.

“The prompt payment of this insurance claim confirms management’s belief that our operating systems and controls are sound, and that our team responded quickly and responsibly,” said William C. Dashiell, president and chief executive officer. “Depositors have not lost a penny throughout this period because we fully reimbursed our customers’ principal and interest.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is continuing to investigate, Dashiell said. The embezzlement resulted in an after-tax adjustment to 1996 earnings of $530,000, reducing net income from $3.7 million to $3.2 million, or $.86 per share.

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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