On the value of FSC certification
“It is pay to play. Consumers have bought into the deal. If you fill out forms, pay fees to an offshore entity in Europe, you are good to go.”
— Todd Wilfong M4L Inc.
“I do not know of any customers asking about any wood certification of any kind. If selling FSC lumber were the only way that I could sell lumber, I’d switch to plastic!”
— Seth Arluck
New Hampton Lumber Co.
“I direct the FSC program at American Lumber, a lumber and building materials wholesaler in the Northeast. We keep FSC cedar, pine and fir specialties, hardwood plywood in inventory, as well as (when available) tropical hardwood decking. In this category, there is excellent opportunity for FSC Chain of Custody dealers to identify and satisfy demand.
“What I’ve seen is that there is a lot of demand from architects and municipalities for FSC-certified lumber, but this interest has often ended in disappointment. For years it was true that FSC-certified material might be available only at a 20% premium or higher, plus freight from a remote location, and might not be readily available in the sizes and quantities desired.
“But the state of play has changed a lot from just a couple of years ago. It is now possible to buy an enormous range of cedar and pine (at least) at a very moderate premium and immediately shippable from stock. Our FSC business has been growing at 30% annually over the past two years, and we expect growth to continue. While it does not make good business sense for most dealers to switch over large chunks of their inventory entirely to FSC or to carry dual inventories, with the right supply chain structure it is possible to satisfy architect, homeowner and government interest in FSC wood economically and swiftly.”
— Joshua Kaye
American Lumber Co.
“We have had very little (practically none) inquiry for FSC certification of our wood products. While we sell products from all producing regions in North America, as well as from Chile and Argentina, we are in the South where the mills, if certified at all, favor SFI. As I’ve said many times when asked this same question, the forests in the South are well managed. The volume of production from these forests is greater than it ever was in the virgin timber days. Timber is looked upon as an investment and without proper management, the owners will be out of the timber business.”
— Buddy Klumb
Klumb Lumber Co.
On falling home prices
(The following letters refer to a news story in which Toll Brothers CEO Robert Toll questioned media reports of home-price declines.)
“Certainly the foreclosed properties are influencing home prices, but my larger concern is the Case-Shiller Price Index that everyone looks at as a ‘scientific guide’ for home prices. It is nothing more than an average of prices of homes sold in a given time period. It has no bearing on the value of my home or any other. If mostly foreclosed homes sell this month then that index will be down. If we suddenly sell a bunch of upper-end homes, that index will be up.
“Neither tells me anything about my home value or any other.
“The media needs to qualify the value of this report, or stop using it.”
— Gary Allen
“Obviously, Mr. Toll needs a reality check.
Blended prices are indeed a true representation of real-time pricing of available housing options for buyers.
Certainly Toll Brother’s higher-end ‘new’-home offerings may have bottomed from their perspective, but in every market I can imagine, there are very high-quality options for interested buyers — all at huge discounts, and the market continues to see more homes coming to market. This dynamic will likely be with us for two more years.
Simply check with county tax folks to see what upscale properties are being sold at today versus a year ago, and which are now being reassessed at much lower taxable value.”
— Mike Hatfield
Hardware Store All-Stars
“I would like to thank Home Channel News for its recent list of ‘50 Winning Retailers, State by State.’ Several of my friends and fellow Ace Hardware store owners were mentioned. Although it is not a state, I would like to request that the next time you publish this list you include the District of Columbia. As the owner of five Ace stores in D.C. (and two more in Baltimore), we are often overlooked as a real hardware store location. The District is also home to three fantastic True Value stores. Washington has more than 600,000 residents, and our population swells to more than 1 million with commuters during the day.”
— Gina Schaefer