Volume 45, Issue 8 - October  2006

In the News

WOOD REGULATIONS

Formaldehyde Regulation Delayed
A broad industry coalition has deferred consideration of a California Air Resources Board (CARB) policy change that could have a devastating impact on both the California state economy and the viability of many companies in the wood industry. According to Dale Silverman, executive vice president of the Association of Woodworking and Furniture Suppliers (AWFS), phase II of the CARB policy in the recently proposed Composite Wood Air Toxic Control Measure mandates what AWFS calls unrealistically low levels of permissible formaldehyde emissions created during various stages of composite wood and MDF manufacturing.

AWFS estimates the proposal will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in the state unless it is revised. The resulting adverse economic impact on the allied industry could reach $1.06 billion per year, according to some estimates.

AWFS says that the recalibration of permissible emissions, as described in Phase II, could threaten local manufacturing and related sales opportunities, resulting in layoffs, business closures and other downturns. AWFS and the coalition are concerned about the balancing of proposed recalibrated emissions ceilings for the manufacture of particleboard and MDF materials and the job impact this is likely to create. The regulation would affect manufacturers and retailers of finished products (no matter where they are produced) that contain any amount of these materials, as well as raw panels manufactured or sold within the state. California and other U.S. companies would be burdened by the proposed ruling, viewed by many experts as technically unreal and unenforceable when it comes to policing offshore products.

“A variety of economic models have been authored and, regardless of the low-to-high values these present, it is clear that passage of Phase II would seriously damage California’s economy and the woodworking industry throughout North America,” said Silverman. “The only people possibly benefiting from this rule are a few companies that have developed costly formaldehyde-free niche products as well as offshore manufacturers that produce their goods in uncontrolled environments and then would sell them in California at lower manufactured cost because there is no viable offshore enforcement plan.”

CARB officials listened to industry criticism and postponed final hearings originally scheduled for August and September. As of press time, CARB’s next public workshop and release of an updated fact sheet and their public board hearing has been postponed.

AWFS’ immediate goal now is to garner member support against this rulemaking proposition. AWFS says that the industry can live with reasonable emissions regulations and it supports all efforts to determine what those appropriate emissions levels may be and to develop an implementation schedule that enables industry to accommodate change without losing market or business opportunities to lower priced and unregulated off-shore products. 

While California-based suppliers understand and admire the intent of these regulations, there is still an abundance of concern that foreign suppliers might obtain an unfair advantage. 

“Our feelings here at Setzer Forest Products, I would assume, are the same shared by anyone manufacturing in the United States. If the CARB regulations are implemented it would give the offshore producers of sheets, boards and millwork an unfair advantage …” explains Mark Setzer, vice president of Setzer Forest Products, a producer of wood products including mouldings, MDF, jambs, frames and veneer in Sacramento, Calif. He simply feels “… the way it is written now is not fair to the American producers of MDF products.”

For more on this issue, see the article, “Unintended Consequences,” on page 22 of the September 2006 issue of SHELTER.

COMPANY NEWS

Railing Dynamics Adds Space
Railing Dynamics Inc. (RDI) of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., has begun renovations at its corporate headquarters to accommodate a 2,000-square-foot distributor training facility. The company also is renovating a newly-acquired 30,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its Millville, N.J., manufacturing facility.

This decision to expand comes shortly after the closure of a distribution location in Fairbluff, N.C., which had been in operation for only a few months.

“When we were posed with the sudden possibility to acquire additional space right in our back yard, we felt it was a great opportunity. We realized that we were able to be much more efficient with all our locations in close proximity,” said Wayne Batchelder, director of operations.

Batchelder states that the Fairbluff facility was set up to service customers in that area more quickly, but once the additional Millville facility was acquired the need for a separate plant was simply unnecessary. RDI has designated this 30,000-square-foot facility as a new shipping facility—freeing up much needed manufacturing and operations space.

The corporate office location is expanding as well. Construction is underway for a new training facility consisting of a hands-on workshop and a state-of-the-art learning in a classroom-type setting. The modern facility “will enable RDI to be more responsive and in touch with our customers while providing added support at the source,” said Dennis McGee, director of marketing. 

The facility is expected to be completed by this winter.

LEGAL

Minnesota Passes Notice to Repair Law
In May, Minnesota passed a law designed to protect both homebuilders and homeowners in the event that a building defect is discovered. The Minnesota notice and opportunity to repair (NOR) law, like similar NOR laws in 30 other states, gives the builder the opportunity to inspect the alleged defect and possibly repair the problem, rather than taking the matter immediately to court. 

The law states that the homeowner “must allow an inspection and opportunity to offer to repair the known loss or damage.” The inspection must be performed, and any offer to repair must be made, in writing to the homeowner within 30 days of the builder’s receipt of the NOR. Upon completion of repairs, the builder must provide the homeowner with a list of the repairs made and a notice that the homeowner may have a right to pursue a warranty claim. 

In addition, the law says that warranties are not affected by the dissolution of the building company. The law also states that “the bankruptcy, insolvency or dissolution of the insured shall not relieve the insurer of any of its obligations under this policy”—meaning that even if the builder is out of business, the insurance company is subject to warranty claims from homeowners. This provision means that homeowners will still have some legal recourse. Builders in Minnesota are required to carry insurance, in order to obtain a license. 

SHELTER
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