September  2002

     In the News . . .    


Investor Group Purchases Contact Lumber

Portland, Ore.-based Contact Lumber Co. has been purchased by a private group of investors that include Contact’s senior vice president, Frank Pearson, and four others. The investment group has formed a separate company, Contact Holding Co., and has named Frank Pearson as president. Contact Lumber was founded in 1946 by Leo Donnelly and has passed to its third generation of family ownership before being purchased last week by the private investors.

“Our investors see Contact Lumber’s historical commitment to the innovative use of a wide range of materials, employee training and machine application processes as a growth opportunity,” said Pearson. “Their decision to invest in this organization is a real testament to the investments made in the facilities, all manufacturing strengths of our people and the spirit of innovation needed to compete outside the classic model of the wood products industry.”

In announcing the purchase, Pearson reiterated the business strategy continues to embrace the same commitment to product innovation, development and investment that has helped make Contact successful to this point. “Other than the members of our board, our philosophy has changed very little,” he said. “Our key management team led by Peter McKibbin, vice president of sales/marketing, and Bob Horton, vice president of manufacturing, remains intact. The commitment to employees, customers and the highest standards of product quality remain our priority.”

Chilean Company Sets Up U.S. Office 
Polincay Export, headquartered in Santiago, Chile, recently announced the decision to open Polincay USA Inc., a sales support office located in Atlanta, to increase the company’s service quality.

Raul Perez, who joined the company as a managing partner, will set up the U.S. office.

After the set up is complete, he will return to Chile to take a management position at headquarters.

Fire Destroys Preble Lumber
Despite the efforts of 30 fire fighters, Preble Lumber of West Alexandria, Ohio, was destroyed recently by a fire, reported the Dayton Daily News.

The West Alexandria fire chief estimated the damage to be $800,000. Electrical damage was thought to be the cause of the fire, said the article.

Door Installer Creates Successful Company
Chuck Colton’s San-Bernardino Calif.-based business, OnTrac Overhead Door Co. Inc., was recently ranked as the 18th largest door dealer in the world by the International Door Association. The ranking was based on the company’s 2000 revenues of more than $6 million; this year that figure will be closer to $8 million.

“Such a fast pace of growth is not a common occurrence in the door industry, but Colton took the right approach early on,” said Pat Kelly, a board member of the California Operator & Door Association.

Advertising played a large role in the growth with ads on the radio, cable television, in 20 different telephone books and seven newspapers. There are logos on all company trucks, all the installers wear uniforms and there’s a website:

But the employees are far more important than advertising, said Colton. He recently took a 17-day family vacation and didn’t have to call the office once—a tribute to the employees’ ability to run the business without him, he said.

To show appreciation, there are activities like company picnics, fishing trips and Christmas parties. Colton recently obtained two charter buses for an all-expenses-paid two-night stay in Laughlin, Nev., for employees and their spouses.

“We just do things to keep it fun. I think more than money, that’s what people want. They want to feel appreciated and that they belong. This company’s not necessarily just about garage doors—it’s about people.”

Building Codes
NAHB Withdraws from NFPA Building Code Development
According to a report in the International Code Council’s (ICC) June 2002 newsletter, the National Association of Homebuilders withdrew from development of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 5000 Building Code on April 17. In a letter to NFPA president and chief executive officer George Miller, NAHB “questioned the benefit to public health and safety of developing a second set of national building codes to compete directly with the ICC’s family of codes,” said the newsletter.

The ICC added that the NAHB letter noted that its policy “supports the concept of a single coordinated set of national model building codes that includes housing affordability as a major determinant in its development.”

Although the NAHB withdrew its involvement in the NFPA technical committees responsible for developing NFPA 5000, it plans to continue its participation in other NFPA codes and standards.

New Trends
Builders to Sell Fix-It, Maintenance Services
These days, Fieldstone Communities bills itself as more than just a builder. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based company wants to sell extended-service plans, annual maintenance checkups and handyman services—not just to customers but to homeowners throughout its territory.

The venture will give the company a new source of income and a way to spot customers’ problems before they erupt into lawsuits.

The Fieldstone initiative is a break with industry tradition. Homebuilders generally do repairs during the first year of ownership, when houses are under warranty, but that’s it. “Most builders have never thought about it. But if they have, they probably said, ‘Is it worth the effort? Can you really generate enough revenue?’” said Frank Foster, the company’s chief executive. “We think you can.”

Fieldstone, which is private, expects to sell 800 homes this year, making it a mid-size builder in a field increasingly dominated by far larger, publicly-traded companies.

The company is pitching a trio of products to people who buy its homes—extended-service plans that function something like warranties, yearly maintenance checkups and handyman services.

DWM Magazine Named “Best New Publication” of the Year
dwmcover1 SHELTER’s sister publication, Door & Window Maker (DWM) magazine, was recently presented with the prestigious American Society of Business Publication Editors’ (ASBPE) award for Best New Publication at the regional awards dinner in Boston on June 10, 2002.

“We are so pleased to receive this award,” said Tara Taffera, publisher of Door & Window Maker. “Our whole staff put a great deal of work into this venture so it is nice to see our efforts recognized.”

The ASBPE awards program has honored the hard work and commitment to excellence by trade publication editors for more than 20 years.

DWM is targeted specifically toward manufacturers of windows, doors and related products. Launched in November 2000, DWM has grown to be a highly respected publication with a circulation of more than 11,000 subscribers.


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