EPA seeks input on new formaldehyde regs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is forming an “advocacy review panel” of small business owners to focus on formaldehyde in the wood products industry. The advisory panel will help the agency prepare for the implementation of the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, enacted in July 2010. The new standards will establish formaldehyde limits for composite wood products (hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard and particleboard) so these products meet emission standards.
Formaldehyde is a known eye, nose and throat irritant, and in 1991, the EPA classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen. Formaldehyde-based resins are sometimes used as adhesives in composite wood products.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires the EPA to establish a federal panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small organizations. The panel will include representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, and the EPA. The panel will also ask a selected group of small entity representatives (SERs) to provide advice and recommendations on behalf of their company, community or organization to inform the panel on impacts of the proposed rule.
The EPA seeks self-nominations directly from the small organizations that may be subject to the rule requirements to facilitate the selection of SERs. Self-nominations may be submitted through epa.gov/sbrefa/formaldehyde.htm and must be received by Nov. 2, 2010.
IHA Design event shows off innovation
The International Housewares Association (IHA) recently hosted a Discover Design media event in New York City Oct. 21 aimed at showing off exciting new housewares products coming out soon with a focus on design.
Twenty-seven companies featured their latest and greatest in the Rhinelander Ballroom of the Hilton New York.
“At this time of year, I find that a lot of the companies that are here are focused on design,” said Lisa Casey Weiss, Lifestyles consultant for the IHA.
Weiss said that while many companies offer functional products that meet consumer needs, interesting and compelling designs can often give products a definitive edge.
“The product itself is functional. That’s the idea when you purchase a housewares product — it’s supposed to do something for you. Design is the added benefit. It differentiates products from others, it differentiates yourself from your competitors, and it catches the consumer’s eye on the sales floor,” she said.
Weiss also emphasized the importance of the housewares category in the hardware and hardlines retail environment, which can often create a one-stop shopping experience for consumers.
“There is a market for consumers when they go to a hardware store. They’re also looking for housewares items. It’s a natural mix between the two items. People are working inside and outside the home,” she said.
Norwood, Mass.-based Boston Warehouse, whose slogan is “putting the Fun in functional,” featured its new line of garden tools called Garden Goddess. The stainless steel and aluminum construction tool collection features a set of garden shears, fork, trowel and a watering can, each sporting a colorful floral design.
“They’re garden tools, but they’re really well designed. They have a little bit of a flare to them, they’re whimsical, they’re fun,” said Weiss.
Charleston, S.C.-based AM Conservation Group was also on hand to showcase its latest energy-saving plug and outlet covers. Focused on energy conservation, the Plug Guard Wall Plate Cover is designed to upgrade outlet covers to a new clean design that saves energy. The plate cover not only insulates and seals out drafts, it keeps unoccupied outlets covered for added child safety with spring-activated doors that shut automatically. The company’s Universal Wall Plate Thermometer also features built-in insulation and includes a built-in thermometer to help homeowners keep their homes within energy-saving temperature ranges. The thermometer fits both toggle- and decora-type switches and features a 360-degree swiveling thermometer to display Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures.
Congers, N.Y-based Casabella showcased its latest designs in cleaning supplies. The company featured the Moon Mop, so named because of its crescent moon-shaped cleaning head, which combines a 360-degree swivel action to get into corners, around legs and behind toilets with ease. The mopping surface has a washable and reusable micro fiber sponge head with easy glide technology, allowing for a water-only, chemical-free cleaning solution.
Israel-based Epilady, known for personal grooming products, showcased a new flea removal device for pets called the Flea Zapper. Designed to replace chemical and toxic colors and gels, the Flea Zapper detects and destroys fleas on contact simply by combing it through dry hair. When the electronic comb touches fleas, they get zapped, die and are combed out of the hair.
Wisconsin-based La Crosse Technology featured its new line of The Weather Channel-branded weather gauges, like the Lollipop Garden Thermometer and Cascading Ice Cube Rain Gauge. The company also featured a line of wireless gauges, including a wireless digital rain gauge with a self-emptying rain bucket.
The preview show was just a warmup to the IHA’s upcoming 2011 Housewares Design Awards, which will take place Feb. 2.
Cerberus ends takeover bid for BlueLinx
An affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management dropped its tender offer for BlueLinx Holdings today after the private investment firm was unable to gather enough shares to make the deal work.
Cerberus ABP Investors (CAI), the affiliate, was already a majority shareholder in BlueLinx when it launched its takeover bid last July. At the time, Cerberus owned 55.4% of the outstanding common stock of BlueLinx; it offered $3.40, later upped to $4 per share for any outstanding stock, a deal valued at $58 million.
The tender offer was conditioned upon several things, including ownership of at least 90% of the outstanding BlueLinx common stock by the final deadline, which was Oct. 18. Cerberus chose not to raise its offer or extend the timeline for the bid.
Approximately 6.7 million shares have been tendered since the initial offer, according to Cerberus, but this was not enough to meet the 90% threshold. “CAI and Cerberus have instructed the depositary for the amended offer to promptly return all shares tendered,” the company said in a prepared statement.
Headquartered in Atlanta, BlueLinx is a leading distributor of building products throughout North America, offering more than 10,000 products from over 750 suppliers.