Drywall distributor offers $53 million settlement
Banner Supply Co., the Miami-based drywall distributor, has agreed to pay $53 million to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming it sold defective drywall imported from China. The settlement offer, which is still subject to court approval, will be deposited into an escrow account for plaintiffs who claim their houses need remedial work after being built with toxic drywall.
Banner and its insurers deny any wrongdoing, pointing out that the company never manufactured the drywall it sold or delivered.
The settlement was reached before in the New Orleans court of U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, where many of the Chinese drywall cases have been consolidated.
A final approval hearing is set for Feb. 3, 2012, in New Orleans.
ENAP names president, CEO
The board of directors of ENAP, an LBM co-op based in New Windsor, N.Y., has named Stephen Sallah as president and CEO.
Sallah, the organization’s chief financial officer since 2008, has served as ENAP’s acting CEO since the departure of Russ Kennedy at the end of 2010. Prior to his service with ENAP, Sallah spent 16 years at IBM as division controller and in other marketing and operational roles. He started his career with the U.S. Navy and served for nine years in active duty as a submarine officer and is a retired Commander in the Naval Reserves.
In a telephone interview with Home Channel News, Sallah said the buying group, which ranked in 11th place on the HCN Top 100 Distributors Scoreboard, is in the midst of formulating its next growth strategy.
“We picked up eight new members in this year alone,” Sallah said. Although the board also did an outside search for a new CEO, Sallah believes he was chosen because ENAP’s employees have been so successful.
“That’s what I told the employees yesterday,” Sallah said. “I’m only in this job because they’re doing so well.”
NAHB releases new “market recovery” index
The National Association of Home Builders has released a new monthly index that examines metropolitan areas that have shown sustained economic improvement. Called the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), the new index measures three key economic areas — housing permits, employment and housing prices — during a six-month or more period.
The list of metro areas on the IMI’s inaugural list include:
• Alexandria, La.
• Anchorage, Alaska
• Bangor, Maine
• Bismarck, N.D.
• Casper, Wyo.
• Fairbanks, Alaska
• Fayetteville, N.C.
• Houma, La.
• Midland, Texas
• New Orleans
• Waco, Texas
"Despite the challenging conditions in the national economy and housing sector, there are areas throughout the country where we are seeing pockets of improvement," said Bob Nielsen, NAHB chairman and a home builder from Reno, Nev. "Housing conditions are local and do not always reflect the national picture. We created this new index to shine a light on those housing markets across the country that have stabilized and have begun to show signs of recovery."
"By examining key indicators of home prices, employment and housing permits data, we are using a comprehensive, but conservative method in determining which markets are improving," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "Last year at this time, there was not a single market that showed improvement using these criteria, and now we can point to 12 examples of growth.
"It’s not surprising that many of the states represented are energy-rich areas," Crowe continued. "Those are the regions still experiencing relatively strong employment, supporting housing demand."
The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. A metro area must see improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate the list of improving markets.