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And the (outdoor) living is easy

BY HBSDEALER Staff

As winter approaches, manufacturers are on the move bringing lawn, garden and outdoor living products to their distributors in time for spring. The outdoor category continues to be one that performs, even in inclement economies. In a recession, customers still want new and innovative or functional products to enhance their outdoor experience. Here’s a list of products—with their corresponding sales pitches and MSRPs—that look to do just that.

The Product: Toland Solar Art Glass Bell

The Pitch: During the day, it’s a stylish landscape accessory, according to Port Townsend, Wash.-based Toland. At night the solar-charged LED softly illuminates lawns, flowerbeds, potted plants, gardens and walkways. The unit features a sturdy, tri-pronged stake, stylish art glass and a weather-resistant brown finish.

The Price: $22

The Product: Outdoor Interiors 7-piece Eucalyptus Hardwood Fold & Store Table Set

The Pitch: Rolling Meadows, Ill.- based Outdoor Interiors’ Fold & Store table set ships fully assembled in one carton and includes wheels for quick storage along with seat cushions and table cover. This set is billed as the ultimate in convertibility and storage solutions. The optional granite inlay version provides the ultimate luxury for the set that does and has everything.

The Price: $799

The Product: GutterStuff

The Pitch: GutterStuff fits completely inside any 5-in. K style gutter, the most common style and size on the market, according to its makers. The Milwaukee-based company’s product comes in 4-ft. sections made from polyether outdoor durable foam. This lightweight insert won’t crumble, dent, bend or cave in. As an added benefit, it also prevents mosquitoes from breeding in the gutter. The foam’s main structure includes UV stabilizer, a germicide and a fire retardant.

The Price: $11.99

The Product: Char-Broil Patio Bistro Electric Infrared Grill

The Pitch: While other grills heat the air, which dries the food as it cooks, Char-Broil infrared grills heat the food directly, locking in natural juices and flavors. That’s the pitch from Columbus, Ga.-based Char-Broil, which introduced the Electric Patio Bistro, CSA-Listed for multi-unit dwellings. The small, lightweight, outdoor cooking unit meets International Fire Codes and plugs into any standard 120-volt electric outlet. This grill packs big grill features into a sleek, apartment-friendly design. The exclusive and patented Infrared Cooking system sears in flavor, according to the company.

The Price: $179

The Product: Centurion Folding Spade

The Pitch: Atlanta-based Centurion’s folding spade is part of the company’s space-saving and hard-working shovels that are strong and stain-resistant. This little powerhouse folds down to just over 9 inches by 6 inches. It might not be the biggest spade in the shed, but when extended this workhorse can dig like a pro, the company said. It is strong enough to get through rocky soil, and the serrated blade helps cut through roots and speed up the task at hand.

The Price: $19.99

The Product: Bayou Classic Cypress Grill

The Pitch: Borrowing techniques from the ancient masters of grilling, the Bayou Classic Cypress Grill is the latest innovation from Brandon, Miss.-based Bayou Classic. The Cypress uses the ancient art of Kamado grilling—domed, earthenware style. Not only has Bayou Classic made the Cypress Grill affordable and accessible for most budgets, it has a low-heat exterior surface and a spring-loaded lid lift. Several Cypress Grill accessories are also available. The Bayou Classic Cypress Grill is weather-resistant and built to last.

The Price: $699

The Product: BirdBrain Delmar Firepots

The Pitch: BirdBrain’s Fire Pot Gel Burners are a unique twist to traditional Vietnamese lacquer-ware. The Ypsilanti, Mich.-based company’s Delmar collection features eggshell and mother of pearl. The functional and attractive firepots can be used both indoors and out. Bird Brain’s proprietary heat-release technology prevents damage to the finish, while the open flame adds a beautiful design to any tabletop or landscape.

The Price: $85.00

The Product: Weber Fireplace

The Pitch: Palatine, Ill.-based Weber’s new outdoor fireplace features a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl, a heavy-gauge steel construction and a no-rust aluminum heat shield. The product features two wooden handles and four steel support legs. The fireplace has a 29.5-in. diameter base, and is 32 inches high, 31 inches wide and 28 inches deep.

The Price: $149

The Product: North Cape International’s Malibu Collection

The Pitch: Bedford Park, Ill.-based NCI’s Malibu collection is highlighted by a modular sectional that can be configured to fit any area. The outdoor furniture features UV protected durable Java Flat Weave resin on an aluminum frame. The Malibu collection has many dining and conversational pieces to offer an array of solutions to add tranquil ambiance to an indoor/outdoor room.

The Price: $300-$2,500

The Product: Grill Pad’s Gas Grill Splatter Mat

The Pitch: Duluth, Ga.-based Grill Pad’s Gas Grill Splatter Mat is a 30-in. by 48-in. flexible pad, composed of two non-woven fiber materials separated by a patented barrier media that protects surfaces from grease and sauce drippings. Grunge associated with everyday grilling can be cleaned from The Gas Grill Splatter Mat. What’s more, if necessary, it can be turned over to extend its life span.

The Price: $17.99

The Product: Teton Grill Co. Master Grilling Apron

The Pitch: Teton Grill Co. of Shakopee, Minn., wants your customers to BBQ in style. Load up this high-end Grilling Apron with all the accessories needed to cook up a char-grilled dinner. Seasoning and grill utensils can be kept in two oversized front pockets. A genuine leather Teton Grill Co. patch doubles as a towel loop to dab your brow or clean up a saucy mess. Extra-heavy-duty 16-ounce duck canvas is built to withstand heat and keep chefs as close to the grill as possible without becoming an entree. The rest: fully adjustable neck and side straps, solid brass fittings with reinforced clasps and pockets, and extra width and length for the man with meat on his bones.

The Price: $29.99

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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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