Education and motivation at the ProDealer Industry Summit
San Antonio — The ProDealer Industry Summit continued yesterday with a full educational program that covered everything from the latest U.S. census data and its impact on residential construction to succession planning for family-owned businesses.
Connie Podesta, a motivational speaker and executive coach, gave a well-received talk that helped audience participants identify their strengths and weaknesses using geometric shapes. David Vandenbroucke, a senior economist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, delivered a dark short-term forecast but a brighter long-term outlook.
“I don’t have much comfort to give right now,” he said, citing the shadow inventory of foreclosed houses and the disproportionate amount of income consumers spend on housing. “We’re going to be seeing what we’re seeing for at least another couple of years.”
But like the Harvard Joint Center for Housing, Vandenbroucke predicted an upswing in housing construction based on growing population needs. “There is a long-term tide that is moving in, [and] it’s going to require building more houses,” he said.
A presentation on remodeling by Joe Emison, the founder of BuildFax, an organization that aggregates building permits from MSAs across the country, focused on the trend toward “comfort” remodels and repair work as opposed to renovations that increase the value of a home.
Jim Schaffer, a former LBM executive (Diamond Lumber, Erb Lumber and Builders Square) who now does consulting work for the industry, addressed the issue of employee compensation. Schaffer cited a Deloitte survey finding that 75% of the U.S. employment work force are either discontented, disengaged or discouraged. He warned the PDIS attendees that once the economy recovers, “It’s going to be your top performers that are visible in the [job] marketplace.” Among Schaffer’s suggestions were to avoid across-the-board salary cuts and hold managers accountable for employee retention.
A dinner banquet honoring TW Perry as Pro Dealer of the Year capped off day two of the conference. The event, which is co-sponsored by the National Lumber & Building Materials Dealers Association and Home Channel News, ends today with a tour of McCoy’s Building Supply in San Antonio.
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Weyerhaeuser distributing Versetta Stone in NE, mid-Atlantic U.S. markets
Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser has announced it is now supplying Versetta Stone panelized stone veneer to northeast and mid-Atlantic U.S. markets.
The product is a lightweight wall finishing material from Boral Stone Products. It has the look of natural stone, but installs faster and easier than traditional masonry. Weyerhaeuser is distributing through its service centers in Baltimore; Easton, Pa.; Richmond, Va.; and Charlotte, N.C.
“Weyerhaeuser has a strong reputation for quality and service, so this is a natural choice for expanding our distribution,” said Troy Ballard, market development leader for Boral Stone Products. “They’ve built strong relationships with remodelers, builders and dealers, and have the network in place to get products to customers fast.”
“We’re continually looking for top-notch products to add to our distribution offerings,” added Roger Gilley, product manager for Weyerhaeuser Distribution. “Versetta Stone panelized stone veneer is one of those innovative materials that helps contractors do their jobs easier. It’s a great companion product to the siding and other finishing materials we supply.”
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PulteGroup Q3 loss narrows
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based PulteGroup posted a third-quarter net loss of $129 million, compared with a 2010 third-quarter net loss of $995 million.
Revenues from home sales totaled $1.1 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, an increase of 7% from prior-year revenue of $1 billion. The company cited a 9% increase in unit closing volumes to 4,198 homes, partially offset by a 1% decrease in the company’s average selling price to $262,000 for the higher revenues.
"I am pleased to report that PulteGroup’s operations, excluding any impact from the goodwill impairment or tax gain in the quarter, returned to profitability for this quarter despite a housing demand environment that remains at historically low levels," said Richard Dugas Jr., PulteGroup chairman, president and CEO.
"Our results were achieved through a combination of higher closings, improved margins and reduced SG&A expenditures. I am particularly pleased with the progress we continue to make in improving our home-building gross margin, along with the tangible results from our efforts to reduce the company’s cost structure and to more effectively allocate capital to projects that generate improved financial returns."
Net new home orders for the third quarter were 3,564 homes, flat compared with the prior year. PulteGroup’s quarter-end backlog was 5,143 homes valued at $1.4 billion, compared with a prior-year backlog of 5,345 homes valued at $1.4 billion.
For the nine months ended Sept. 30, PulteGroup reported a net loss of $224 million, compared with a net loss of $931 million in the prior-year period. Revenues from home sales for the period were $2.8 billion, compared with prior-year revenues of $3.3 billion. Lower revenues for the period were driven by a 14% decrease in the number of homes closed and a 1% decrease in average selling price to $254,000.
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