At Eastman, full speed ahead for LBM
Las Vegas — While Eastman discontinued its decking entrant called Perennial Wood, the company says it’s in full-steam-ahead mode in the building and construction material industry.
A visit to the company’s booth here at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas showcased some of the products leading the parade. Eastman brands LLumar window film, Heat Mirror insulating glass, EnerLogic film and Finished Elegance molding and trim were highlighted at the booth. The last product is powered by Eastman Cerfis (pronounced "surface") technology designed to bring durability, precision and quality to coated products.
According to Tim Dell, VP innovation, marketing and strategic sales, said the company’s sales are about 15% of the chemical company’s overall sales, or about $1.5 billion of business.
Energy efficiency is one of the home trends driving innovation at Eastman, which says it is embracing "cleaner, greener and easier-to-use building products." The company promoted the use of its Heat Mirror product as part of the retrofit of the 6,514 windows in the Empire State Building in New York City.
“We are dedicated to the building and construction industry, especially in the development of innovative material solutions that solve the market’s most challenging problems,” said Dell. “Our businesses at the Builders’ Show provide just a snapshot into the exceptional performance, quality and durability for which Eastman products are known.”
Regarding the discontinuation of Eastman’s Perennial Wood, introduced to the building market two years ago here in Las Vegas, Dell described the decision to pull the product as difficult. The company will continue to honor warranties and service existing customers.
"The choice to exit the business was a financial decision," he said, adding that Eastman appreciated the efforts of distributors Boston Cedar and Snavely Forest Products. However, he added: "The decking category is a very crowded category."
Meanwhile, Snavely Forest Products announced that it will contine to market Perennial Wood as it works with other developers to build on the momentum of acetylated wood, the technical and generic term for Eastman’s Perennial Wood product. Acetylated wood gets its name from the process that removes acid during a "modification" process.
Phil Kean named NAHB Custom Builder of the Year
Phil Kean, president of Phil Kean Design Group in Winter Park, Fla., has been named the Custom Builder of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The award was presented at a luncheon in Las Vegas during the International Builders’ Show.
Kean was nominated by the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, Fla. In 2012, Kean’s company designed and built The New American Home, the annual show home for IBS.
“Because of his status as a leader in the custom building industry, many awards and recognitions, and his generosity and genuine personality, I believe Phil deserves to be recognized as NAHB’s 2013 Custom Builder of the Year,” said Metro Florida executive officer Scott Merritt.
Phil Kean Design Group builds about a dozen projects a year, specializing in modern custom homes of all architectural styles, including Spanish, traditional and French West-Indies. The company specialized in indoor/outdoor living spaces and green certified homes.
Kean is on the HBA board of directors, and the company has been part of the HBA Remodeler/Design Council, Sales & Marketing Council and Green Building and Parade of Homes committees.
Phil Kean Design Group experienced growth during the recession and increased its employee count from eight to 24.
Weyerhaeuser’s Simons says innovation will win
Las Vegas — Weyerhaeuser CEO Doyle Simons says he’s encouraged by the recovery in the home-building and LBM industries. But it’s too early celebrate.
In an interview with HCN in the Weyerhaeuser booth at the International Builders’ Show here, Simons also talked about the importance of product innovation and market education.
After a year in which housing starts fell just shy of the million mark, the Weyerhaeuser internal forecast calls for about 1.1 million starts in 2014.
"It is encouraging to have a supportive market in place," Simons said. "I still think we have a lot of runway in front of us. If you look at long-term average of 1.5 million, 1.6 million, 1.7 million — 1.1 million feels a lot better than we were four or five years ago, but I still think we have a lot of runway ahead of us."
Simons, who came to Weyerhaeuser from Temple-Inland, said the topic of LBM product scarcity in the face of a potential rising demand is a valid concern, but Weyerhaeuser is doing what it can to mitigate potential problems. "I can tell you we’re making sure that we’re spending the capital and we’re focused on reliability in our mills, so that we’re running our mills better," he said. "That will result in more product."
The company also began the process of restarting operations at its Evergreen, Ala., mill, which was closed during the downturn. "By May, we think we’ll be making product out of that mill."
On the topic of new product innovation, Simons says its part of the company’s core value.
"We spend a lot of time and effort and resources on research and development," he said. "And I think one of the key competitive advantages that Weyerhaeuser has is innovation and the ability to make new products."
Getting the market to accept innovation is made easier.
"It always takes a little longer than you think it would," he said. "But I’m convinced that if you make a product that either makes housing better or the builder’s life easier, and if you educate customers, they’re going to do what’s ultimately in their best interest. But it does take time. It does take effort. It does take resources."