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D.C. Hotline: Boom Town

BY Jeremy Stine

It’s nice to report some good news, for a change.

On Aug. 9, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued its final rule on cranes and derricks in construction. In it, the vast majority of the NLBMDA’s suggested changes were incorporated. The final rule will exempt articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes from the extensive requirements of the rule when building material dealers are delivering materials to job sites and placing them on the ground or hoisting them onto a construction platform when equipped with a properly functioning automatic overload prevention device.

Without this exemption, articulating/knuckle-boom trucks would have been subject to the same requirements as tower cranes, including crane operator certification, training, site assessment and inspections, among others. The rule would have also required an additional signal person on site.

Thanks to this exemption, LBM dealers will likely save thousands of dollars and have one less regulation to keep them up at night.

Jeremy Stine is manager of government and public affairs for the NLBMDA (dealer.org).

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Pending home sales rise modestly in July

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, rose 5.2% to 79.4 based on contracts signed in July from a downwardly revised 75.5 in June, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The index, released Thursday, is 19.1% below June 2009 when it was 98.1. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months, according to the NAR.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, cautioned that there would be a long recovery process. “Home sales will remain soft in the months ahead, but improved affordability conditions should help with a recovery,” he said. “But the recovery looks to be a long process. Home buyers over the past year got a great deal, and buyers for the balance of this year have an edge over sellers. For those who bought at or near the peak several years ago, particularly in markets experiencing big bubbles, it may take over a decade to fully recover lost equity.”

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Suspects stalled by flat tires

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Two men suspected of stealing power tools from a Southern California Home Depot were arrested on Aug. 20 after their getaway vehicle developed two flat tires.

Deputies from the Victorville Police Station, summoned by store personnel, arrived at the Home Depot on Bear Valley Road shortly before noon to find a black SUV leaving the scene. One suspect attempted to drive the car, which had two flat tires, along an adjoining road but soon fled the vehicle on foot. He was arrested by sheriff deputies.

Asecond suspect was detained in the parking lot of the store.

Inside the SUV, law enforcement officers found electric drills valued at more than $2,000 that had been allegedly stolen earlier that day at another Home Depot store in Victorville.

Arrested for commercial burglary were Jose Munoz, 34, and Rolando Martinez, 39, both from Los Angeles. The suspects are known gang members, according to authorities.

Karen Hunt, a spokeswoman for the Victorville Sheriff’s Department, told Home Channel News that the commercial burglary charges stem from the suspects’ “intent to steal,” as opposed to “spur of the moment” shoplifting. As for the flat tires, “They tried to drive over an embankment in order to get away the deputies and loss prevention [personnel],” Hunt said.

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