May 2003

In the News . . . 


U.S. Commerce Department Places 
29-Percent Tariff on Canadian Lumber

The U.S. Commerce Department instituted average tariffs of 29 percent on Canadian softwood lumber on Friday, March 21, after several months of debate about the issue. The tariffs were to take effect in mid-May and were instituted after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that Canadian softwood lumber imports are unfairly subsidized. The ITC issued its preliminary ruling against Canada in May of 2001.

The tariffs, known as countervailing duties, will average 19.34 percent to the imports. In addition, a dumping penalty of 9.6 percent will be applied to punish Canada for selling its softwood lumber at prices "below fair market value." Together, the penalties will average 29 percent, according to Mary Crawford, chief spokesperson for the Commerce Department.

According to the Commerce Department’s study of the issue, the United States imported $5.6 billion in softwood lumber from Canada in 2001. The tariffs have been assessed based on a “scientific formula,” according to Crawford. 

The Canadian lumber tariffs will remain in place until the United States and Canada negotiate a new trade pact on softwood lumber.

“We’ve been working alongside the United States Trade Representatives to find a permanent solution to this long-running problem,” Crawford said. “That effort will not stop.”
The International Trade Commission issued its original preliminary ruling against Canada last May 18. The Commerce Department followed with its own ruling against Canadian imports on October 30 and issued a preliminary tariff of 19.3 percent on Canadian imports.
The department estimates that Canadian softwood lumber imports this year will total $4.7 billion, down $1 billion from 2002 due to these recently instated Canadian softwood lumber tariffs.

Is Mold a Myth?
The myth of mold-related health risks has tainted America’s legal system and insurance market with million-dollar lawsuits and paranoia over exposure to a harmless substance found throughout the environment, according to a recent press release distributed by the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) of Chicago. The association says that science shows that most mold found in buildings is a simple by-product of water and modern construction materials that is easily contained and generally harmless.

“In spite of the three-ring-circus treatment it gets in the media, mold is just mold,” said Dave Golden, direct of commercial lines for NAII, speaking at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) winter meeting in Chicago. “[Mold] has been around forever; it’s easily remediated, and its health threat has been exaggerated greatly and virtually unproven by scientific fact.”

The insurance industry has treated the coverage of mold on a case-by-case basis. Because 
insurance provides financial protection against fortuitous events-which are sudden, accidental and unexpected-a policy could cover mold clean-up if the mold resulted from flooding or a ruptured pipe. 

“But the insurance policy is not a maintenance contract,” Golden said. “Simple home upkeep is not covered, and many mold cases arise from long-standing water exposures, not fortuitous events.”

Golden said that more needs to be done. 

“Education is key to debunking the mold myth,” he said. “Everyone from homeowners to legislators and regulators need to separate the facts from the hype.”

Among other sources, Golden cited a recent study by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), which holds that “current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins (mold) in home, school or office environments.”

(See related articles in November/December SHELTER 2002, page 16, and January/February SHELTER 2003, page 20.)

Bosch Offers Service Program for Its Tools
Bosch Power Tools & Accessories of Chicago recently announced the newest service offering for its cordless tools, the PROVANTAGE™ cordless service programs, which the company says is designed to maximize uptime on the jobsite for all professionals.

The program includes three main features: a three-year cordless tool protection plan; an 18-month battery life guarantee; and a one-call resolution hotline.

Pella Listed in Fortune Top 100
The Pella Corp., which is based in Pella, Iowa, has been named to Fortune magazine’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” listing. The company is ranked number 12 on the list, up from 39 in 2002. The company said it was chosen based on its benefits, development opportunities and its quality work environment.

“At Pella Corp., we know that our people are our greatest asset, and we’re proud of the accomplishments of our 6,900 team members who are known for their focus and dedication to excellence in satisfying our customers,” said Mel Haught, president and chief executive officer.

Sierra Pine Recognized for Environmental Efforts
The California Integrated Waste Management Board, which is a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, has recognized Roseville, Calif.-based Sierra Pine Ltd. The company was named a winner in the 2002 Waste Reduction Awards Program during the observance of National Pollution Prevention Week. The awards honor businesses for cutting the amount of trash they produce, conserving resources and reducing waste disposal in landfills.

“It’s great to see how creative and innovative California businesses can be when it comes to reducing waste,” said Waste Board chair Linda Moulton-Patterson. “On behalf of the board, I am pleased to recognize the outstanding efforts of these organizations to reduce, reuse, recycle and buy recycled content products as part of their environmentally preferable practices.”

Vetter Seeks Entrants
Vetter Windows & Doors of Mosinee, Wis., is seeking entries in its annual national design contest, the Vetter Inspired Project awards (see April 2003 SHELTER, page 16, for related story). The 2003 contest is open to any project completed between January 1, 2002, and June 30, 2003 using Vetter windows and doors. Cash prizes of $1,000 are awarded for each of the following seven categories: custom home more than 8,000 square feet; custom home between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet; custom home between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet; custom home less than 3,000 square feet; best residential renovation; best commercial project (new or renovation); and best log home.

PLIB Celebrates Centennial Anniversary
The Pacific Lumber Inspection Bureau (PLIB) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year as a lumber-grading organization. PLIB serves the entire Pacific Northwest with mills scattered in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Northern California and British Columbia.

Currently, PLIB says is provides inspection services for 33 softwood lumber manufacturers representing 46 mills in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, the organization provides quality control services and heat treat certification to four dry kiln operations, as well as grade marking supervision at 21 solid wood packing manufacturers in the United States.

“We’ve been able to survive past the century mark by continually providing our members the respected and recognized quality mark they need to compete in the lumber marketplace,” said Jeff Fantozzi, the PLIB’s secretary-manager. “Because we’re focused on quality control and grade stamping, we’ve been able to remain the most efficient grading service in North America.”

NANA Recognized for NanaWall™
The Ashley Group has awarded Nana Wall Systems Inc. the silver award in its Home Book Design Excellence Awards, a nationwide competition in the residential luxury home market. Winners were selected based on design aesthetics, detail, uniqueness and functionality.

The NanaWall won the silver award in the windows and doors category for unusual designs. According to the company, the NanaWall resembles a row of floor-to-ceiling windows, but is equipped with a hidden track-and-roller system that allows the entire wall to be opened.

Chesapeake Hardwood Announces Expansion
Chesapeake Hardwood Products Inc. of Chesapeake, Va., will invest $4 million to expand its manufacturing facility. The investment will create 50 new jobs in Chesapeake’s South Norfolk Enterprise Zone.

The company shares its headquarters with Plywood Tropics USA Inc., an importer of hardwood, plywood and lumber to the United States and Canada. The company is a supplier of hardwood plywood, wall paneling and flooring to the building products industry, and a supplier of components to the furniture and cabinet industries. It also imports plywood, hardboard lumber decking, flooring and multi-density fiberboard from Indonesia, Malaysia, China and South America.

FEN-TECH Expands Facility
FEN-TECH Inc. of Superior, Wis., has broken ground for a new 10,000-square-foot warehouse. The new warehouse facility will be adjacent to the current manufacturing facility, allowing FEN-TECH to meet the demand for increased production of vinyl windows and doors.

With increased production capability, the company expects to expand its workforce with an additional eight to ten jobs.

Vinyl Building Opens Logistics Center
Vinyl Building Products of Oakland, N.J., has moved into its new logistics center in Pompton Plains, N.J. The 130,000-square-foot facility is located on a 7-acre lot and contains space for warehousing, lamination and repacking. According to the company, the new facility, which is located 5 miles from its manufacturing plant, enables it to categorize its inventory through barcoding and a radio frequency location system to simply the processing and loading of orders.

“In order to maintain our competitive edge in the area of customer service and logistics, it was important to further invest in our infrastructure,” said Ralph Weiss, president and chief executive officer at Vinyl Building Products.

Executive Door Expands Plant Operation
Executive Door Co. of Phoenix recently announced a major expansion to the company’s environmental, medium-density-fiberboard (MDF) door production.

After five years of development, the company says its new MDF door manufacturing process promises to change the traditional production methods for MDF doors dramatically. Executive Door’s new production line will machine MDF panels on a vertical plane. 


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