84 Lumber closes Minnesota stores
Citing a dearth of building activity in the St. Paul and Minneapolis region, 84 Lumber closed its two locations in that metro area. Employees were informed yesterday, said Jeff Nobers, vp-corporate communications.
“Building activity is almost non-existent in some of these markets,” Nobers said.
The two locations are Hugo, 17 miles northeast of St. Paul, and Lakeville, 19 miles south of Minneapolis. Combined, the lumberyards employed 34 people.
With $3.7 billion in sales reported for 2006, 84 Lumber ranked third on HCN’s Pro Dealer Top 350 list.
Other national pro dealers are also scaling back their locations and personnel to cope with the continued downturn. Pro-Build Holdings has closed 20 locations in previous months, and Stock Building Supply has shuttered 22 stores and cut 20 percent of its work force, or approximately 3,500 people.
During an analyst conference call in July, Builders FirstSource revealed it had reduced its work force by 18 percent — as measured by “full-time equivalent employees” — during the second quarter of 2007
Builder confidence hits all-time low
The builder confidence index, released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo, fell two points to 18 last month, its lowest level since the index first was released in 1985.
“Builders in the field are reporting that, while their special sales incentives are attracting interest among consumers, many potential buyers are either holding out for even better deals or hesitating due to concerns about negative and confusing media reports on home values,” said NAHB president Brian Catalde.
The index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as either “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The NAHB noted builder expectations for sales conditions in the next six months held steady at 26.
“Builders believe they are taking the right steps to reduce inventories and position themselves for the market recovery that lies ahead,” said NAHB chief economist David Seiders.
Two out of three component indexes declined in October. The index gauging current single-family home sales and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers each declined two points, to 18 and 15, respectively, while the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months remained unchanged at 26.
Regionally, the West accounted for a substantial portion of the decline in builder confidence this month, with a four-point reduction to 14. The Northeast and South each reported one-point declines to 26 and 21, respectively, while the Midwest posted a two-point gain to 15.
California governor shoots down ‘green building’ laws
In a vote of support for the lumber industry in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed three legislative bills on Oct. 14, saying they went too far in their effort to promote sustainable building practices.
Schwarzenegger opposed two laws that would have required state buildings to meet, at a minimum, a LEED gold rating or its equivalent in design, construction and/or operation.
“I support the development of green building standards, [but] provisions in [these bills] would create a bias for certain building materials over others without a clear benefit,” Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. In particular, he pointed out that green standards discourage the use of domestic lumber as a building material in favor of foreign grown bamboo and wheatgrass.
The third bill, also passed by California’s Democratic-controlled legislature, would have directed a state agency, in consultation with others, to develop green building standards for residential occupancy. Schwarzenegger opposed using mandates to achieve these goals. He also voiced concerns over how certain green building standards might conflict with California’s seismic and fire safety codes.
The Lumber Association of California and Nevada (LACN) and other representatives of the wood products industry had opposed the three bills, urging the governor and the state legislature not to “micro manage” green building efforts.