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Earnings rise at Trex

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Earnings at composite decking manufacturer Trex more than tripled in the first quarter to $8.9 million from $2.73 million in the same period last year. Net sales were up 3.1 percent, to $119.5 million from $115.9 million last year.

The company credited expanding distribution for the earnings increase, as well as brand strength, which “enabled us to increase sales revenue despite the weakening economy and continued softness in the building materials industry,” said CEO Ronald Kaplan.

“In addition, our improved gross margin reflects our successful focus on productivity and cost containment initiatives,” he said. “The measures we took in the first quarter — including rightsizing the company, recruiting new management, controlling costs and enhancing operating and financial controls — have established a solid foundation for delivering improved financial results.”

Still, recent poor weather has delayed many outdoor building projects, according to the company. Additionally, building material dealers are “choosing to operate with depressed inventory levels,” and the economic outlook in the United States is still uncertain, Kaplan said. For those reasons, the company is projecting lower revenue in the second quarter, expected to be down 23 percent to 33 percent compared with last year’s second quarter.

Based in Winchester, Va., Trex is a manufacturer of composite decking, railing and fencing products.

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Golden Hammer Awards presented at National Hardware Show

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Las Vegas The home improvement industry’s top retailers and suppliers were honored at the 24th Annual Golden Hammer Awards, held here in conjunction with the National Hardware Show. The May 6 ceremony at the Las Vegas Convention Center inducted Howard Elsberry, the former president and CEO of Westlake Hardware, as a member of the Home Channel Hall of Fame. Elsberry retired last year after a 40-year career as a hardware retailer.

Golden Hammer awards given to retail companies included Lowe’s as Retail Partner of the Year; ToolKing.com as Specialty Retailer of the Year; and Hanneke Hardware as Innovative Retailer of the Year. Tony Miller, accepting the award for Hanneke Hardware, said the St. Louis dealer has continually adapted its three stores to serve a shifting clientele of landlords, industrial users, builders, contractors and homeowners. “As all of you know, it’s easier to grow business with existing customers than to find new ones,” Miller said.

In the vendor category, Weber-Stephen was named 2008 Vendor of the Year. A communication award in the point of purchase category went to Premier Retail Networks for their Ryobi One video ads in Home Depot stores. A packaging award was given to Quickie Manufacturing for their AirWick Fresh Sweep broom. Elmer’s Products received a business-to-business advertising award for their “Elmer’s Rebuilt” campaign. Epoch Design took home the business-to-consumer award for “MailBoss,” their locking security mailbox campaign. The communications award for signage went to M-D Building Products, which created retractable trade show banners for Dupont caulk.

The Golden Hammer Committee, comprised of merchants from Ace Hardware, True Value, Do it Best, Orgill, Orchard Supply Hardware, Westlake Hardware and Elliott’s Hardware, also gave out five “committee choice” awards: Hillman Fasteners for category management; 3M for inventory management; Weber-Stephen for new product innovation; First Alert for quality control; and Andersen Windows for serving the pros.

Thirty-four suppliers also were honored with HCN’s Silver Circle awards. For a complete listing, see the June 16 issue of Home Channel News.

For the full list of winners, go to www.goldenhammerawards.com.

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Potlatch settles OSB lawsuit

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Potlatch has agreed to a $2.7 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against oriented strand board (OSB) producers. The Spokane, Wash., company announced the settlement, in which it admits no wrongdoing, as part of its first-quarter earnings.

In a statement, Potlatch said it settled the case “solely in order to avoid the further expense and burden of the ongoing litigation.”

The 2006 antitrust case alleges that OSB manufacturers began conspiring together in 2002 to artificially reduce the supply and inflate the prices of OSB. Three of the defendants have reached settlements so far: Huber Engineered Woods, Ainsworth and Georgia-Pacific. All have denied the accusations as part of their settlements.

Other companies named in the lawsuit include Weyerhaeuser, Louisiana-Pacific, Norbord Industries, Tolko Industries and Grant Forest Products.

Plaintiffs in the class action suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania, represents lumberyards and millwork shops in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

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