May  2002

     In the News . . .

Commerce Department Upholds 
Lumber Tariffs

The U.S. government officially ruled in early May that duties on softwood lumber imports from Canada will remain 27 percent. 

The International Trade Commission (ITC) oversees decisions by the U.S. Commerce Department, which imposed tariffs and “anti-dumping” penalties totaling 29 percent on Canadian lumber suppliers on March 22. The Commerce Department later lowered these duties to 27 percent.

The tariffs will go into effect when the ruling is published officially, which was expected sometime in late May. However, the ITC ruled that U.S. suppliers have not been “injured” by Canadian imports to date, thereby canceling a year’s worth of retroactive penalties and duties levied by the Commerce Department. (See related article in April SHELTER 2002, page 22.)


Western Lumber Products to Ease Slightly in 2002
According to a lumber forecast released by Western Wood Products Association (WWPA), overall Western lumber products are expected to dip slightly in 2002 due to a temporary lull in new construction.

The strength of the housing market during 2001’s economic slump has created little pent-up demand normally associated with recessions, said the WWPA. Consequently, new single-family home starts are forecast to remain about even with 2001, at 1.25 million units, while multifamily housing starts are expected to decline 6 percent in 2002. Lumber usage in the repair and remodeling and non-residential sectors are also expected to decline modestly in 2002.

Despite the slowdown in housing, production at Western lumber mills is expected to ease just 1 percent to 16.6 billion board feet in 2002. Coast production will increase modestly to 9.1 billion board feet while Inland mills will see production dip to 6.4 billion board feet. Production in the California Redwood region is forecast to fall significantly. Overall U.S. lumber production is anticipated to decline 1.5 percent to 34.4 billion board feet, said WWPA.


Consumer Group Upset about Tariffs
A consumer group said the recent decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which found a “threat of injury” to U.S. forest producers from Canadian softwood lumber imports, is wrong, and cannot be sustained under NAFTA and World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

“It is very sad that a segment of U.S. lumber producers and landowners have been able to get our government to impose such a preposterous level of duties on American consumers,” said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 18 national organizations and companies that has been fighting the trade action.

Bobby Rayburn, a homebuilder from Jackson, Miss., and vice president and treasurer of the National Association of Home Builders, agreed. “Over the past 20 years, independent review panels have evaluated Canada’s timber pricing on three separate occasions,” he said. “In each case in which it was taken to a final decision, it was ultimately determined that the Canadian government did not provide unfair subsidies to its timber industry.”

More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President George W. Bush over the past year, indicating their support for free trade in lumber and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers.

Alliances, Acquisitions & Mergers
Gossen Corp. and Vi-Lux Plastics Form Alliance
The Gossen Corp. of Milwaukee has announced that it has formed a strategic alliance with Vi-Lux Plastics of Napanee, Ontario. 

The alliance will include sales and marketing agreements, production agreements and licensing agreements. Arkadi Bykhovsky, president of Vi-Lux, and Jeff Butterfield, president of Gossen, said that by working together, Gossen and Vi-Lux would have one of the largest cellular PVC profile extrusion manufacturing capacities in North America with plants in Georgia, Wisconsin and Ontario.

Cleveland Investment Firm Buys EAGLE Window & Door
Linsalata Capital Partners, a Cleveland-based private-equity investment firm, has purchased EAGLE Window & Door Inc. of Dubuque, Iowa, according to EAGLE president David Beeken.

Beeken called the sale “excellent news” for EAGLE and its employees. “With the new ownership, we will be able to focus on what we do best—building quality windows and providing unparalleled service and support,” he said.

Pro Glass and Westar Plan Merger
Pro Glass Technologies Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, recently announced it has signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire Westar USA Inc., a private timber sawmill company in Venezuela.

Ricky Smith, president of Westar, said, “The merger with Pro Glass gives us access to capital through the public markets as well as the opportunity to acquire additional sawmills throughout Venezuela and South America. Ours is a fragmented market rich in the opportunity for consolidation.”

Georgia-Pacific Makes Comeback
Georgia-Pacific Corp. of Atlanta recently said first-quarter results swung to a profit from a loss, as strong earnings from its consumer products unit helped offset low pulp and paper prices, reported Nichola Groom of Reuters.

“Results were also buoyed by improvement in the company’s building products unit, which reported an operating profit versus a year-ago loss and is expected to continue to turn around in the coming quarters as construction and remodeling pick up during the summer months,” reported Groom.

The company reported first-quarter earnings after special items of $61 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with a loss of $136 million, or 60 cents per share, a year ago, said the article.

Weyerhaeuser Profits Fell
Weyerhaeuser, headquartered in Federal Way, Wash., recently reported that its first-quarter profits fell 71 percent, hurt by weak demand and charges for its takeover of Willamette Industries Inc. and plant closures.

“Weyerhaeuser, whose $6.2 billion acquisition of Willamette closed in March, reported net earnings of $30 million or 14 cents per share, ending a 14-month-long hostile takeover battle during which the initial offer was raised four times,” reported Nichola Groom of Reuters.

BMHC Increases Net Sales
Building Materials Holding Corp. of San Francisco had net sales of $247.1 million for the first quarter of 2002, a 10.7-percent increase from sales of $223.1 million for the first quarter 2001.

The company’s sales of construction services and manufactured building components for the first quarter of 2002 increased 32.2 percent to $133.5 million compared to $101.0 million in the same period as a year ago.

International Markets
Louisiana-Pacific to Leave European Market
Louisiana-Pacific, based in Portland, Ore., recently reported that it divested its 65-percent ownership in Louisiana-Pacific Coillte Ireland Ltd. Coillte, the Irish state forestry company that owned the remaining 35 percent, purchased L-P’s interest for an undisclosed sum.

“L-P’s investment in Ireland was to be the first of several to build a position in Europe,” said Keith Matheney, vice president of engineered wood products for L-P. “We have not found expansion in Europe to be attractive for us, so we have taken this step.”

Building-Materials Market Promises Great Potential in China
According to Xinhua Economic News, China’s building-materials industry is forecast to achieve a growth three to four percentage points higher than that of the national economy in the coming decade or beyond, according to a report issued by the China Research Society of Building Materials Industrial Economy.

The report forecasts that the industry will generate more than 1,000 billion yuan in output value by 2010 to become an important powerhouse of national economic growth. The bright prospects are extremely attractive to the world’s building-materials businesses, said the article.

Product Expansions
Heritage Sign Unveils Glass Beveling Technology
Heritage Sign & Display of Nesquehoning, Pa., recently unveiled what it says is a revolutionary new glass beveling technology at its facility in the Green Acres Industrial Park. According to the company, the new automated glass-beveling machine is the first of its kind in the industry, enabling Heritage to produce custom straight and wave bevels with a single piece of equipment.

According to Heritage, the Wave 2000 beveller is the first and only machine of its kind. Designed by Samtech, a Korean company specializing in glass-cutting machinery, and built in Italy by Delta Machinery, the Wave 2000 is the only beveller to combine wave and straight beveling in a single process, performing all the edge grinding and polishing in one digitally-controlled operation.

Triad Ruvo Unveils Wall Panel Production Equipment
Triad Ruvo of Alda, Neb., recently unveiled its complete system for wall panel production—the Smart Wall System. The system was unveiled during Triad’s annual production showcase and open house April 10-11, 2002.

According to Triad Ruvo, the Smart Wall System was engineered with customer input to meet needs in the industry. The new system incorporates fully automated and semi-automated components to make a hybrid line streamlined with efficiencies and with production in mind.

Style Solutions Participates in “Habitat at 25”
When families move into the homes created for them as part of the “Habitat at 25” build project coordinated at the 2002 International Builders’ Show, they’ll discover low-maintenance products from Style Solutions™ Inc. were used on the exterior of their houses. 

Styles Solutions, headquartered in Archbold, Ohio, has a long history of supporting Habitat for Humanity. The company donated a multitude of products to the construction of Habitat’s international headquarters in Americus, Ga., several years ago, and also made cash donations in excess of $25,000 to Habitat to mark the company’s 25th anniversary in 1999. 
For the Habitat at 25 project in Atlanta, Style Solutions management team members helped build the houses and assisted with the installation of exterior balustrade systems, entryway and window trim pieces and louvers on four of the homes.

“Our products will provide the Habitat homeowners with years of worry-free maintenance on the exteriors of their homes,” said Mike Reed, director of marketing for Style Solutions. “We’re proud to participate in this exceptionally worthwhile program. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cost-conscious project like Habitat at 25 or a high-end custom home—builders, remodelers and homeowners have discovered over the years that urethane products are the ideal accent for every style and size of home.”

Simonton Windows Marks Third Anniversary as ENGERGY STAR Partner
Simonton Windows® of Parkersburg, W.Va., is celebrating its third anniversary as a partner in the ENERGY STAR® program. Since becoming an ENERGY STAR partner in 1999, Simonton Windows has sold more than 1.6 million windows and doors that are ENERGY STAR-compliant.

According to ENERGY STAR, Americans have saved more than $5 billion on their energy bills by using products in the ENERGY STAR certification. The Department of Energy, which introduced the program, says ENERGY STAR-labeled windows can keep homes more comfortable and help save homeowners money on their utility bills. The ENERGY STAR program estimates that an average household spends more than 40 percent of its annual budget on heating and cooling the home, and up to 15 percent of this amount can be saved by installing ENERGY STAR-qualified windows
“Simonton windows bearing the ENERGY STAR label are a clear indication to builders, remodelers and homeowners of a top-rated product that saves on future energy bills,” said Chris Monroe, director of corporate marketing for Simonton Windows.

Las Vegas Neighborhood Displays Kroy Fencing
Carina Homes in Las Vegas recently chose Las Vegas-based Kroy Building Products’ line of privacy fencing for its lamplight neighborhoods, said Carina’s general manager Rick McCarty.


“We really liked how clean it looked,” he said after viewing the vinyl fencing being installed by Champion Masonry and Vinyl Products. “With today’s higher densities where the properties are so compact, doing traditional block work becomes a major challenge in terms of how much room it takes,” McCarty explained. “We looked at this product as being a great alternative for us.” 


© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.