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Cabinet satisfaction on the rise

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Warranty and replacement services rank first on the list of factors leading to builder and remodeler satisfaction with cabinet manufacturers, according to a recent J.D. Power survey. The survey also found overall builder satisfaction is rising.

Duncanville, Texas-based Quality Cabinets ranked highest among cabinet brands in satisfying new-home builders and remodelers, according to the survey.

Strober Building Products in Mahopak, N.Y., for example, has carried the Quality Cabinets brand for more than 10 years. “We’re very satisfied with them,” said Elke Crane, showroom manager. “They’re an outstanding company, their customer service is good, they’re very dependable, and for what they do in cabinets they are very good.”

The J.D. Power and Associates/McGraw-Hill Construction 2008 Builder and Remodeler Cabinet Satisfaction Study found builder satisfaction was based on performance in eight areas (in order of importance): warranty and replacement service (18 percent); customer service and support (14 percent); product installation and durability (14 percent); price (12 percent); delivery (11 percent); ordering process (11 percent); product features (11 percent); and credit/billing process (9 percent).

Quality Cabinets performed particularly well in four of the eight factors: product installation and durability; price; product features; and credit/billing process. Ranking second was Winchester, Va.-based American Woodmark, which scored high in the customer service and support, delivery and ordering process areas. Also high on the list was Eagan, Minn.-based Mid Continent Cabinetry.

“For those builders and remodelers that have problems with their orders, good warranty and replacement service from a manufacturer can help salvage a builder’s schedule and minimize costly delays,” said Burleigh Morton, senior director of research and analytics at McGraw-Hill Construction. “When a problem does happen, builders appreciate a cabinet vendor that will quickly make things right.”

Jim Howland, senior director of the real estate and construction practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said as the overall quality of cabinets has risen — from 730 in 2007 to 753 in 2008, based on a 1,000-point scale — firms “have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by focusing on service-related aspects of the customer experience since cabinet durability and features tend to be rather similar across manufacturers.”

Eighty-three percent of builders and remodelers said they received their products on time and as ordered when considering their most recent experience with a cabinet brand — an increase of 13 percent since 2007.

The 2008 Builder and Remodeler Cabinet Satisfaction Study is based on 1,356 evaluations from more than 1,100 new-home builders and remodelers who ordered and purchased cabinets within the previous 12 months.

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Honda lawn mowers recalled

BY HBSDEALER Staff

American Honda Motor Corp. is recalling about 20,500 Honda Lawn Mowers, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Arear shield attached to the lawnmower can break off and be thrown at the operator, posing a laceration risk. The company has received one report of this incident, but no injuries have been reported.

The recall includes HRX walk-behind lawn mowers, and the items were sold from Oct. 27, 2007, through June 2008.

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Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac woes could lead to Fed takeover

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Following a slew of funding problems for government-sponsored mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal government is considering taking over the two organizations, according to a report by the New York Times.

The two mortgage companies, which are government-sponsored entities (GSEs), have had difficulty raising funds in the face of the housing market downturn.

According to the report, a plan is under consideration by the Fed to place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship, which means losses on home loans under their names would be paid by taxpayers. The newspaper cited individuals briefed with the government’s plan, although the sources also said no action is imminent.

Congress created Fannie Mae during the Great Depression and created Freddie Mac in the 1970s. Later, legislators eased some restrictions on the two organizations to help spur growth, allowing them to cash in on the slew of jumbo mortgages that eventually entered the market. Like many other mortgage companies, the two groups were deeply hurt by fallout in the housing market. But unlike other mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collectively hold huge relative chunk of the outstanding mortgages in the United States.

Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to slide further today, after plunging throughout the week. If the government were to take over the companies, their stock would be worth “little or nothing,” according to the New York Times.

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