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Burning issues include lead-mitigation opt-out

BY Ken Clark

Washington, D.C. — Lumberyard owners and suppliers focused on three wide-ranging front-burner regulatory and legislative issues during the 2013 Legislative Conference here in the nation’s capitol.

Reform of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead paint rule was among the three high-priority items, along with preservation of the mortgage interest deduction and creation of online sales tax parity. 

The talking points emerged as NLBMDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ben Gann briefed lumberyard owners and their suppliers on some of the major regulatory and legislative issues facing the industry. A detailed overview of the issues preceded an afternoon of lobbying on Capitol Hill.

The NLBMDA has a long history of objections to the EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP). It was introduced in 2010 and requires remodeling and renovation firms that perform work on pre-1978 housing to be EPA-certified. And the firms must keep records of the project for three years. 

The NLBMDA supports the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act, which has two key provisions: 1.) It restores an opt-out provision for homeowners in households with no pregnant women and no children; and 2.) It creates a time frame for the EPA to develop a test kit that is commercially available and meets the EPA’s own standard for false positives. 

In addition to adhering to good common sense, reinstatement of the opt-out rule, according to the EPA’s estimate, would save $336 million, Gann said.

Another common-sense move for the housing industry is the preservation of the mortgage interest deduction, Gann said. "In many ways this is a critical piece to our housing policy."    

Gann said misperceptions linger over the deduction: "It’s not millionaires living on vacation homes in the beach. Two-thirds of the benefits are claimed by those making $200,000 or less." Even the deduction for mortgage interest of second homes plays an important role for local economies, he said.

The third high-priority issue dealt with a level playing field for retailers and online merchants. According to the NLBMDA, far too many online-only retailers are not collecting sales tax at the point of purchase, putting local retailers at a competitive disadvantage.

The NLBMDA supports the Marketplace Fairness Act, but Gann said it’s important to understand that support of the bill is not an endorsement of a new tax.

"This tax already exists," Gann said. "It’s a tax that is already owed. It just allows states to go and get that tax money.

"What the MFA is trying to do is fix the system," he added. "If we don’t do something, it’s just going to get worse. Online transactions keep going up. This is revenue that the states are owed but they are not getting."

Before the dealers took some of those talking points message to their representatives on Capitol Hill, he offered the following lobbying advice: "Be firm but polite. Obviously not everyone is going to agree with us on every position."

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Weber-Stephen Products names CEO

BY HBSDealer Staff

Weber-Stephen Products, a manufacturer of charcoal and gas grills, has appointed Thomas Koos as CEO, effective April 1, 2013. Current Weber-Stephen president and CEO Jim Stephen will become executive chairman of the company.

"Tom’s global business experience, passion for building brands and deep knowledge of our distribution channels makes him a great fit for Weber," said Stephen. "I look forward to working with Tom and our team at Weber as we continue to expand and promote our strong brand around the world."

Koos has more than 20 years of marketing and management experience with consumer durable products, most recently at Jacuzzi Brands, where he served as president and CEO. Prior to his work at Jacuzzi, he held senior positions at Black & Decker and Newell Rubbermaid.

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Employers, new employees question hiring decisions

BY Theresa Minton-Eversole

Half of new employees surveyed reported they are experiencing buyer’s remorse after accepting a recent job offer, according to global research findings about hiring trends published by Pittsburgh-based management consulting firm Development Dimensions International (DDI).

And they are not alone: With one in eight new workers employed during a 12-month period having proved to be a bad hire, many employers that DDI surveyed also are questioning whether they have made wise hiring decisions, according to the study.

“There is a great paradox in that both unemployment and the number of open positions hover at uncomfortably high levels — and simultaneously, organizations and candidates are shaky about the decisions they made in staffing and accepting roles this year,” said Scott Erker, Ph.D., senior VP for DDI’s Selection Solutions.

DDI’s Global Selection Forecast 2012 research, conducted December 2011 through March 2012, is its first forecast report completed postrecession and uncovers data about missed opportunities throughout the hiring process that affect confidence in newly hired people and their fit for the job. Conducted with Oracle, the study includes responses from more than 250 staffing directors and 2,000 new hires from companies representing 33 industries in 28 countries.

Staffing directors were asked what the top reasons were for hiring mistakes. Nearly one-third of respondents blamed overreliance on hiring-manager evaluations, while 21% pointed to candidates overselling their skills.

“An unpleasant surprise after a candidate becomes an employee is that the new hire just is not cut out for the job,” said Erker, co-author of the study. “The shame of it all is that information about candidates goes undiscovered in the selection process. Hiring managers need to go farther below the surface to really get to the truth about an employee’s fit for the job.”

The research shows that about half (48%) of all responding organizations rated their hiring process as highly effective. This is a very painful look in the mirror for hiring managers and the staffing directors they support, especially considering that organizations said that 14% of their new hires were failures in the past 12 months.

Unrealistic job expectations

The research also revealed that only 51% of new hires are confident in their decision to accept a new job. Part of the reason for this uncertainty is the failure of the hiring process to paint a realistic picture of the job, department and company. Not surprisingly, the research also found that organizations that do a better job of giving candidates a realistic job preview yielded hires who were more confident in their decision, highly engaged and less likely to get right to scanning the job boards.

“One way to avoid quick quits is to be real in describing what it will be like on days 5, 50 and 150 for that candidate during the interviewing process,” Erker said. “Painting a rosy picture or pulling a bait-and-switch once they’re on the job will just mean you’ll fill that position again in six to 12 months.”

Bad interviews do even more harm. Interviews remain the hardest-working selection tool to predict new-hire performance and resulting business impact, according to the research. The only catch: They have to be done correctly.

Only one in three staffing directors said his or her hiring managers are skilled at conducting high-quality interviews. The same number is satisfied with the company’s training program for interviewers.

Additional findings:

• Staffing directors outside of the U.S. were 10% more likely to rate their selection system as effective when it comes to the ability to identify the right people (56% for other countries versus 46% for the U.S.). One reason for this difference may be that non-U.S. companies report using more pre-employment assessment tools to make their hiring decisions.

• About half (48%) of staffing directors rated “retaining new hires” as a top priority; it was actually the third highest priority for the majority of respondents.

• Less than two-thirds of staffing directors reported that their interview guides are based on an identified set of competencies for the role they’re hiring for. 

“Organizations that make evidence-based hiring decisions gather a tremendous amount of data to improve workforce performance and to have a significant impact on the business,” wrote the authors. “Unfortunately, they are not consistently using this information during the selection process for greater purposes, such as providing individualized development and workforce training, identifying gaps in the workforce, improving onboarding programs or evaluating the selection system’s effectiveness.”

The report cites several steps organizations can take to improve the odds of a good hire, including:

• Do your homework, and know what you’re looking for when hiring.

• Ensure that the company’s selection system is meeting all of the requirements (that is, high-quality hires plus legal defensibility plus efficiency plus brand representation plus integration).

• Use a variety of tools to arm hiring managers with the information they need to identify the best person for the job.

• Provide candidates with the information they need, including realistic job previews, to make the right decision about whether to accept an offer.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

©2013 SHRM. All rights reserved.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, aToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 

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