In the News . . .
Senate Urges President Bush to Promote Lumber Trade
A bi-partisan resolution recently introduced in the U. S. Senate by Senators Don Nickles (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Bob Graham (D-FL), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Jean Carnahan (D-MO) urges President Bush to pursue discussions with the Canadian Government to “promote open trade between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber, free of trade restraints that harm consumers,” reported American Consumers for Affordable Homes
The World Trade Organization (WTO) found on July 26 that the Department of Commerce action imposing preliminary countervailing duties a year ago on Canadian softwood lumber imports should be overturned, and is in violation of WTO's rules.
The Senate’s recent resolution asks the Administration not to intervene to impede the current challenges by Canada in the WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to determine whether the U.S. countervailing and anti-dumping duties are legal under international trade rules.
The duties are harming U.S. consumers, according to ACAH spokesperson Susan Petniunas. “The final 27 percent countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed last May on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling may increase the average cost of a new home by more than $1,000,” she said. Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that additional $1,000 prevents more than 300,000 families from qualifying for home mortgages.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed the duties in May after the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that there was a potential for a “threat” to U.S. lumber producers from Canadian lumber imports. The ITC also concluded, however, that there was no evidence that Canadian lumber imports had harmed the U.S. industry at that time. The duties have been opposed by a broad-based alliance of consumer groups, trade organizations, and companies that represent more than 95 percent of U.S. softwood lumber consumption, said ACAH.
“The duties amount to a federally imposed 27 percent sales tax on first-time homebuyers,” said Petniunas. “Consumers’ interests should be a major factor considered by the administration, and we appreciate the Senators urging President Bush to do so,” Petniunas said. “These duties hurt our ability to provide affordable housing, and jobs within lumber-consuming industries.”
Because there are not enough trees available to produce framing lumber for home building in the U.S., Canadian lumber imports are absolutely vital for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes in America. The U.S. relies on Canada and other sources for approximately 37 percent of the lumber it needs, said ACAH.
Led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland and southern landowners, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department more than a year ago alleging that domestic lumber producers had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asked for countervailing and anti-dumping duties.
“Since 1983, some of the large U.S. producers and landowners have periodically charged Canada with subsidizing its lumber industry, and they have consistently lost when Canada has appealed preliminary decisions,” Petniunas said. “ The July 26 WTO ruling that there is no illegal subsidy of lumber by Canada continues to show that the U.S. actions are not based on the facts. We believe the Commerce Department will continue to get failing grades from on-going WTO and NAFTA reviews of their actions over the past year.”
Similar resolutions were introduced last year and the year before urging free trade on Canadian lumber. Members of the U.S. House and Senate also have written letters to President Bush over the past three years opposing any trade restrictions on Canadian lumber and indicating their support for free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s time for our trade policy to reflect fairness to all of the stakeholders, including consumers, in discussions about trade in lumber,” said Sen. Nickles.
Bush Administration Proposes Controversial Plan
|The Bush administration has proposed a new forest management plan that calls for clearing more trees from fire-prone forests. “The [current] forest policy of our government is misguided policy. It doesn't work. We need to thin ... We need to understand, if you let kindling build up, and there's a lightning strike, you're going to get yourself a big fire,” said President George W. Bush in front of 4,000 invited guests at the Jackson Country Fairgrounds in Oregon in late August.
“The plan calls for clearing more trees from fire-prone forests. It rests on the controversial premise that too much regulation, too many lawsuits and too little commercial thinning of national forests has produced the catastrophic fires that are raging across the American West this year. And it would require Congress to rewrite a major environmental law adopted 32 years ago,” stated a recent article in the Washington Post by staff writers Amy Goldstein and Rene Sanchez.
Environmental groups are not very happy with the new Bush plan. They believe that the proposal is a “political gift to the timber industry that would undermine a consensus that Western leaders reached in May on treating forests and preventing wildfires,” according to the article.
According to the article, the ten-year strategy advocated clearing small trees and brush on the edges of many forests, but Bush's plan advocates logging trees deep in the forest.
“It's perplexing that Bush's first action in the name of what we came up with is to undertake something that wasn't part of it—namely, the suspension of environmental laws,” said Greg Aplet, an ecologist for the Wilderness Society, was quoted as saying.
What is the next step for Bush’s plan? According to an article in the Oregonian by staff writers Tom Detzel and Michelle Cole, “The president offered no new details about his plan. Neither did Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman or other administration officials [at the fairgrounds].”
The article did state that Bush was unclear about “which environmental rules might be suspended under an emergency declaration. But he cited legislation recently authored by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) that exempted some timber harvests in his state from appeals.”
Environmentalists are uneasy due to the lack of details about Bush's plan. “We're not hearing any detail and that's what's worrying us,” said Dominick DellaSala of the World Wildlife Fund's Klamath-Siskiyou office in the Oregonian. “We fear they're working behind the scenes to get provisions of environmental laws.”
|Mergers & Acquisitions
Beasley International Acquires Welsh Forest Products
|Beasley International Co. of Memphis, Tenn., recently announced its acquisition of Welsh Forest Products of Memphis, Tenn., an importer of finished lumber products. Executive officers Tom Welsh and Ron Elder will remain with the company in their respective capacities. T. Tarry Beasley III will be joining the company as operations manager; Beasley previously worked for Federal Express.
The company hopes to expand its business through new products as well as to increase its number of customers in wholesale import activities.
Labor Grant Helps Give Young Offenders Second Chance
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao awarded a competitive grant of more than $1.5 million to the Home Builders Institute as part of an ongoing demonstration project designed to provide young offenders, gang members and at-risk youth with the preparation and training they need to secure long-term employment and become positive forces within their communities. The Home Builders Institute was one of only 29 grantees nationwide to be awarded funds to support their youth offender programs.
“The president and I are committed to ensuring that no one is left behind in our country, and that includes young people who may have made poor choices early in life,” Chao said. “The Home Builders Institute’s work to help young people get a second chance in life is inspiring to see. We hope young people will find good jobs and become valuable citizens in their communities as a result of this $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.”
Crystal Creates New Jersey Subsidiary
Crystal Window and Door Systems of Flushing, N.Y., has created a manufacturing subsidiary—Frontier Building Products—in New Jersey. The new company will expand Crystal’s manufacturing and fabrication capabilities for building products beyond its current product of vinyl and aluminum windows.
“The initial focus for Frontier will be on fiberglass residential entrance doors, which will capitalize on our proprietary design,” said James Hu, general manager of Frontier.
Sunrise Windows Expands Facility and Product Offering
Sunrise Windows Ltd. of Temperance, Mich., recently completed a 36,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing facility. The company will also begin manufacturing a premium line of sliding patio doors.
“Our company continues to see growing demand for all of our products, and this expansion was necessary to not only meet that demand but to also allow us to continue to improve every aspect of our company’s performance,” said Gary Delman, president of Sunrise Windows.
Foreign Building Materials Enter Chinese Market
There has been a recent influx of famous overseas construction material producers to China, reported Asiaport Daily News. “After many building-material chain stores were established in Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian and Hangzhou—Bai’anju, the biggest building-material manufacturer in the world will start its chain store in Shenzhen. Bai’anju plans to enter the whole Southern China market with Shenzhen as a center,” stated the article. Meanwhile, Qupeide, a big building-materials producer and second largest in Europe, plans to accelerate its occupation of the Guangzhou market after Wuxi and Shanghai. The Home Depot also plans to expand into the Southern-China and Northern-China markets, according to the article.
Builders Depot Sales Increases 300 Percent
Builders Depot Inc. of Valley Center, Calif., recently announced that its sales have doubled every month this year, and its number of customers has also increased more than 300 percent. The company sells more than 50,000 home improvement and building products to building professionals and consumers. The company also works with its 600 suppliers to offer its customers the latest products and fast delivery to the project site. Most major name brands are available from the company, and products span from power tools to kitchen products to building materials to appliances.
“We are very excited about the trend we are experiencing,” said Zak Zacharia, chief executive officer. “We have added many new products—some not available from any store in the USA. This a humble beginning as the numbers are still small,” he said.
Planners Praise “Green” Buildings
Portland State University, located in Portland, Ore., conducted a study last year that estimated that Oregon and Washington states alone could save $100 million a year by retrofitting older buildings and incorporating “green” designs into new construction.
Portland and New York, along with Austin, Texas, have become the national leaders of the “green building” movement—an effort to stretch beyond simple improvements in energy efficiency and make everything from skyscrapers to county courthouses better places to live and work. The changes also must blend seamlessly with the environment.
The first replacement building at the World Trade Center site in New York will feature the latest in green design, said Craig Kneeland, chief of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
“The architects and the engineers made it clear they wanted a green building,” he said.
The movement was organized formally in 1993 when the U.S. Green Building Council was founded to take a broader approach to design and construction. That included improvements in lighting, water consumption, insulation, windows, ventilation systems, electric motors for air conditioning and elevators, landscaping, new building materials and even reducing the amount of pavement for parking lots.
“It’s all those things in an integrated package that’s the power behind green buildings,” said Christine Ervin, the council’s president. “and I say the power of green buildings because it has so much potential impact.”
New York has become the first state to approve a statewide tax credit program to encourage green building design and construction.
“We’re seeing that we can make buildings 35 percent more efficient than our energy code requires for less than 1 percent in construction cost,” Kneeland said. “That’s upstate, downstate, big buildings, small buildings—the savings are there, and you don’t have to squeeze that hard.”
US Metal Products Firm to Leave Beijing After Gang Attack
Beijing Taico Industrial Metal Products Co., located in Beijing, China, is relocating to Qingdao after a gang tried to destroy the factory and offices so a luxury apartment complex could be built on the land, reported the Asian Wall Street Journal, citing Taico’s operations director Frank Tierney Ko.
“The company can no longer meet orders to its customers, which include Home Depot Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., after it was forced to halt,” said Ko.
ECMD Distribution Opens West Coast Distribution Center
North Wilkesboro, N.C.-based ECMD Distribution has expanded its capabilities to the West Coast with the opening of a new distribution center in California.
ECMD Distribution’s new distribution center will produce distribution and services for a wide range of building products, including stair parts and interior and exterior mouldings, to California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, serving the major markets of San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and Albuquerque.
“ECMD Inc.’s strategy is to expand its integrated global supply pipeline by combining low-cost offshore supply with an increment of more reliable domestic production,” said Ed Sturdivant, executive vice president. “ECMD sees expansion of distribution to key markets in the Western United States as an essential step in meeting the needs of its customers who operate nationwide.”
Simonton Windows of Parkersburg, W.Va., recently introduced the company’s new, comprehensive website at http://www.simonton.com. The recently improved site features sections dedicated to contractors, distributors, architects and homeowners, said the company … L.B. Plastics of Mooresville, N.C., and Industrias Metalicas Marva of Puerto Rico supplied PVC windows and sliding doors to the newly-designed Embassy Suites Hotel Dorado del Mar Beach & Golf Resort in Dorado, Puerto Rico … American Weather-Seal of Orrville, Ohio, announced its new company website: http://www.americanweatherseal.com … Trimline® Building Products of New Hope, Minn., recently completed a new product video featuring the Trimline shingle-over ridge vents and related products … Therma-Tru Doors of Maumee, Ohio, has revamped its website: http://www.thermatru.com. The website now offers streamlined navigation, allowing users to quickly find the information they need and incorporates new information for builders and homeowners, said the company … The Hardwood Council of Oakmont, Pa., also overhauled its website: http://www.hardwoodcouncil.com. The highlight of the website is the species and stains section, which allows web visitors to view 21 major American hardwood species in light, medium and dark stains … USG Corp. of Chicago and SkillsUSA-VICA are continuing their successful partnership and again hosting an innovative training program for carpentry and construction teachers called “Train-the-Trainers.” USG launched the program in 2001 as part of the company’s efforts to help solve the building and construction industry’s widespread labor shortage … Home Guard Industries has relocated from Fort Wayne, Ind., to Grabill. Brian Barbieri, president, says that the new 190,000-square-foot facility has allowed for more efficient manufacturing as well as access to a better labor pool.
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