Commercial building shows signs of slowing
Commercial starts in the United States grew in 2007 by 11.2 percent, but the year ended with curtailment of building activity in the last three months, according to Reed Construction Data.
Retail and office construction both experienced strong gains in December, increasing 37 percent and 29 percent, respectively, over the previous month. Industrial building starts grew by 10 percent, mostly due to new hospitals. Financing holdups during October and November may have delayed starts and boosted December’s numbers, Reed analysts said.
Highway work fell 26 percent during December, and heavy engineering construction declined 23 percent.
The final quarter of 2007 recorded a 17.6 percent drop in construction activity compared to the previous three months. This decline was attributed to more than the usual winter slowdown.
Looking forward, Reed Construction predicts that starts of commercial buildings in 2008 will be restrained by higher financing costs, tighter credit standards and a slowdown in the economy.
Lowe’s: now in 50 states
Lowe’s officially opened the doors yesterday of its first Vermont store,in the city of Burlington, marking the retailer’s entry into all 50 U.S. states.
Spokeswoman Maureen Rich told the local newspaper Burlington Free Press that the retailer planned to hold off on a proper grand opening celebration until the spring, because of winter weather. “We’re very excited with this expansion. This is a milestone for Lowe’s,” she told the newspaper. Calls to Lowe’s for a follow-up comment were not immediately returned.
Preceding the formal opening, the store held a soft opening for commercial customers only. The Lowe’s store had been in the works for several years, having been delayed by stormwater runoff concerns and other permit issues, according to news reports.
The Burlington store will not remain the only Lowe’s store in the state for long. The retailer is seeking permits for further stores in Essex, Vt., and St. Albans Town, Vt.
Home Depot has a larger presence in Vermont — currently, the retailer has four locations in the state.
Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s operates more than 1,450 stores in the United States and Canada.
Rust-Oleum acquires fire protection business
Rust-Oleum has announced that its subsidiary, Tor Coatings, has acquired certain assets of Bollom, a maker of fire retardant coatings and varnishes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Bollom business includes brand names Fireshield, Intusteel, Fireguard, Flamebar and Intuclear. The products are primarily sold in the United Kingdom.
“The Bollom fire protection brands are an excellent fit with our current business,” said Colin Carter, CEO of Tor Coatings. “In addition to expanding our technology offering to existing customers, these added brands will take Tor to new markets and applications.”
Vernon Hills, Ill.-based Rust-Oleum acquired Tor Coatings in March 2007. Rust-Oleum’s other brands include Painter’s Touch, American Accents, EpoxyShield and Varathane.