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After 22 years, Appelmann leaves Stock

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Back in February 2008, Joe Appelmann delivered a memorable quote to a Home Channel News reporter working on a cover story. Appelmann said: “This is the ninth housing market downturn since World War II.” Pause. “There will be a 10th.”

Unfortunately, that 10th downturn has taken its bitter time to fully materialize. Since our 2008 story, Stock Building Supply has entered and exited bankruptcy, changed ownership and, last month, hired a new chief executive.

Appelmann was a 22-year veteran of Stock who held many key posts, including VP finance, senior VP logistics and chief operating officer. He became CEO in 2007 and led the company through a sale to The Gores Group, a Los Angeles private-equity firm, and a Chapter 11 restructuring.

His parting words hit all the right notes of an outgoing executive: “Stock is an exceptional place to work, with a bright future. I would like to thank every associate for the courtesy and loyalty they extended to me during my tenure. My sincere hope is they will provide the same support to my successor.”

His successor is Jeffrey Rea, a former senior executive at Johns Manville, where he rose to the position of senior VP of the building products group. More recently, Rea was president of Tyco Electronics specialty electronics group. Time will tell if that background will help him energize business in Stock’s 21 markets.

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Kleer Lumber gains distribution through iLevel

BY HBSDEALER Staff

iLevel by Weyerhaeuser is now distributing Kleer Cellular PVC Trimboard, sheet goods and other Kleer cellular PVC building products from its Baltimore, Md., and Easton, Pa., distribution centers.

iLevel is a new partner for Kleer as the company serves the key building markets of New Jersey, metropolitan New York and other Mid-Atlantic regions including Eastern Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

“iLevel is an ideal partner for Kleer Lumber because of its strong brand name, the products it represents in the marketplace and its commitment to outstanding service,” said Walt Valentine, president of Westfield, Mass.-based Kleer Lumber. “iLevel’s renewed commitment to focus on specialty product groups aligns perfectly with the core product development strategy at Kleer Lumber.”

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Construction industry loses more jobs

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The construction unemployment rate rose to 18.8% in November as the sector lost another 5,000 jobs since October, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, which just released an analysis of new federal employment data. The analysis indicates that the construction sector has been the hardest hit of any industry during the economic downturn, association officials said.

The industry’s 18.8% unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was the highest of any industry and roughly double the overall unemployment rate. The construction industry has lost 2.1 million jobs since employment in the sector peaked in August 2006, according to the association. Since November 2009, the industry has lost 117,000 jobs, while the private sector added 1,088,000 jobs.

“The unemployment report shows construction still has not broken free of the recession that has gripped the industry since 2006,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Other than the stimulus and other temporary federal programs, it has been a pretty bleak four yours for the industry.”

The only construction segment to add jobs in the past years has been heavy and civil engineering construction, which has benefited from federal stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane-prevention projects, Simonson observed. Meanwhile, residential construction has lost 79,000 jobs over the past 12 months, while nonresidential specialty trade contractors and nonresidential building — the other two segments in the nonresidential category — have lost 62,000 jobs.

Association officials cautioned that the stimulus and other temporary federal programs would begin winding down in 2011, most likely before private, state or local demand for construction picks up. They urged Congress and the Obama Administration to act on a series of long-delayed legislative bills for water, transportation and other infrastructure programs.

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