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Ace CEO says it’s time to move forward

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Dallas Ace Hardware president and CEO Ray Griffith kicked off the co-op’s spring market in Dallas March 6 with a straightforward message: it’s time to leave the accounting issue behind and move forward toward increasing market share, gaining customers and advancing the Ace brand.

“Admittedly, we’ve had our hands full, but I’m very optimistic about our future,” Griffith said to members during the General Session at the Dallas Convention Center. “That chapter is quickly coming to a close. Many of you want to move forward, so let’s do that.”

The chapter he was referring to was the discovery in August of an accounting error that put Ace’s equity — previously reported at $320 million — at $168 million. Griffith said that 2007 financials are expected to be reported on time (by the end of April), and that the projection is an $85 million bottom line. This means Ace will be able to restore $70 million in equity — or 40 percent of the missing amount – according to Griffith.

Ace members were also presented with the slate of four board of director nominees, endorsed by corporate, and were encouraged to fill out their proxy cards before leaving the General Session.

Meanwhile, a group of co-op members, who called themselves “Concerned Ace Owners,” arranged a meeting at the Golf Club of Dallas March 7 to discuss an alternate slate of Ace owners to fill the four open board spots that will be voted on in June.

Vicki Peterson, general partner at Alpine Hardware of Colorado, said the majority of Ace members would like to move past this accounting issue. “There are some people with issues and concerns, but they’re a vocal minority,” she said.

The Ace spring market will run through March 9.

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ProBuild acquires truss manufacturers

BY HBSDEALER Staff

ProBuild Holdings, continuing to ride a wave of recent acquisitions, has purchased the assets of Northeast Panel & Truss and Collins Truss Systems, manufacturers of roof and floor trusses and wall panels.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kingston, N.Y.-based Northeast Panel & Truss is a full service manufacturer of truss and wall panels. Founded in 2000, the company has built a distribution network into the Hudson Valley, a market ProBuild currently serves from 10 locations.  

“This acquisition allows ProBuild to extend our truss capabilities to national and regional builders in our Hudson Valley markets,” explained Buddy Ables, president of ProBuild’s East region.

“Our people are looking forward to becoming an important extension of the Hudson Valley ProBuild team, an organization that will provide our employees with long-term growth opportunities,” added Ed Collins, owner of Northeast Panel & Truss and Collins Truss Systems.

ProBuild Holdings currently operates more than 560 lumber and building product distribution, manufacturing and assembly centers in 41 states.

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BMHC posts $331.3 million loss

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Building Materials Holding Corp. (BMHC), the industry’s fourth largest pro dealer, reported a loss of $331.3 million for its fourth fiscal quarter, which ended on Dec. 31, 2007. This compares to net income of $4.5 million for the same quarter a year ago.

Sales for the San Francisco-based company were $419 million for the fourth quarter, a 30 percent decrease from $597 million in the corresponding period of 2006.

Net loss for the year was $312.7 million, compared to net income of $102.1 million for fiscal 2006. Annual sales declined 29 percent, from $3.2 billion in 2006 to $2.3 billion in 2007.

In a prepared statement, the company announced two “major programs” to consolidate and streamline its business. Both divisions of the company, BMC West and SelectBuild, “are under review, and specific market realignment plans are being prepared for execution in the coming weeks and months,” the statement said. “We are proceeding quickly to close unnecessary facilities and eliminate unneeded assets.”

BMHC stopped short of saying that SelectBuild, its construction services division, will be absorbed back into the company. But the announcement’s second realignment program made reference to “flattening SelectBuild’s management structure” and “accelerated centralization and integration of SelectBuild.”

Newly appointed president and COO Stanley Wilson, who served as president and CEO of BMC West, will now oversee both divisions.

Investors had been anxiously awaiting BMHC’s fourth-quarter results, which were released later than usual. The company did not schedule the customary conference call with analysts to discuss its earnings.

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