Coatings manufacturer makes another acquisition
RPM International, the maker of Zinsser, Rust-Oleum, DAP, Varathane, and other specialty coatings and adhesives, has signed an agreement to acquire Legend Brands, a provider of equipment and solutions for water and fire damage restoration, professional cleaning and environmental control. Based in Burlington, Wash., Legend Brands has annual sales of more than $70 million. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Legend Brands is comprised of three companies: Dri-Eaz Products, a provider of tools for water damage restoration and environmental control; ProRestore Products, providing odor, smoke and microbial control applications; and Sapphire Scientific, a provider of advanced carpet cleaning chemicals, tools and equipment.
Legend Brands has distribution in 15 countries and customers in 20 countries. It will remain a stand-alone operation within RPM2 and will continue to be led by its existing management team, headed by CEO Bill Bruders.
“Many of the products and services within the RPM portfolio of companies have traditionally focused on protecting the built environment from harmful and corrosive elements," said Frank Sullivan, RPM chairman and CEO. "Legend Brands will extend our reach a step further – to the restoration of property when the elements do infiltrate a structure. We will continue to seek acquisitions, like Legend Brands, that are in adjacent categories to our traditional markets, but still fit strategically."
Last month, RPM acquired an Italian flooring and deck coating business.
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Remodeling continues to soar
Residential remodeling activity hit a new high in July 2011, rising 24% in year-over-year comparisons, according to an index compiled by BuildFax, a national database of building permit data. It was the 21st straight month of increases and the highest level of remodeling activity since the index was introduced in 2004.
Most regions of the country reported gains in July. The West showed a 3% increase, while remodeling activity in the Midwest grew 5% in month-over-month gains. In the South, gains registered 3%, while the Northeast saw a 3.4% decline. On a positive note, the Northeast was up half a point (.7%) from July of 2010, as was the West (26%), the South (7%), and the Midwest (5.6%).
There has been an upswing in the sales of building materials and the number of renovations greater than $10,000, according to BuildFax, indicating that homeowners are staying put rather than move to new homes in these uncertain times.
"As millions of Americans believe that they will not be able to secure a new home due to a variety of factors including tight credit, limited buyers and challenging job prospects, they are more and more turning to renovating and remodeling their current properties, sending remodeling activity to record levels," said Joe Emison, VP of research and development at BuildFax. "However, this remodeling boom is leaving many of these properties under-insured, as the value of these renovations are often not being captured by the homeowners’ insurance companies."
Based in Austin, Texas, BuildFAX derives its remodeling index on monthly building permit activity filed with local building departments across the country.
Joe Emison will be speaking at the ProDealer Industry Summit on Oct. 27 in San Antonio, Texas. His topic will be “The demise of the ROI remodel and the rise of the “comfort” remodel.” For more information, visit www.prodealer.com
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Bleak long-term forecast for housing prices
Housing prices will remain depressed for the next several years and may get even worse, according to a just-released survey of economists, analysts, investors and housing experts. The survey was conducted by MacroMarkets, a firm founded by Yale University professor Robert Shiller.
The study found that although some local real estate markets are stable or strong, more broadly, fundamentals in the U.S. housing market remain very weak despite record-low interest rates. The MacroMarkets home price expectations survey said that that home prices will grow at a mere 1.1%, on average, through 2015. “Expectations for home price performance in 2011 have become somewhat less negative,” Shiller said. “Unfortunately, the average projection is somewhat more negative for each of the following four years.”
The survey polled a diverse group of 111 of economists, real estate experts, investment and market strategists. Not all were in agreement about what should be done — if anything — to correct the market. Almost three-quarters (73%) of the respondents think that further policy action is "highly likely" or "likely," while more than half (57%) said such action is undesirable, and almost half (49%) said additional government action is unnecessary.
“This data suggests that regardless of when and how housing recovers, controversy will persist regarding the role of government in the market,” said Terry Loebs, founder of Pulsenomics, the firm that conducts the survey for MacroMarkets. “More than half of panel members who indicated that more policy action is desirable or necessary suggested specific measures the government might focus on,” Loebs said. “We received a variety of constructive proposals. Several panelists clearly want or expect the government to be a catalyst for more effective mortgage refinancing and modification initiatives, as well as rental and other home equity conversion programs.”
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