Former Sears chief dies at 73
Edward A. Brennan, who served as CEO and chairman of the board for Sears, Roebuck & Co. from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, died at his home in Burr Ridge, Ill., following a brief illness. He was 73.
Brennan became CEO of Sears in 1986, when the company was the nation’s largest retailer and occupied the iconic Sears tower in Chicago. At that time, the retailer also managed big-name ancillary companies, including Coldwell Banker, Dean Witter, Discover and Allstate Insurance. Brennan served as CEO until 1995, through a period that saw Sears’ strong market presence decline in the face of pressures from big-box and discount retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and others.
Prior to his service as CEO, Brennan was named president of Sears Merchandise Group in 1980, then to the post of corporate president and COO in 1984.
Following his tenure at Sears, Brennan served as a director at American Airlines and was named executive chairman and president of American in 2003, after the company’s CEO resigned abruptly. He served as CEO of American Airlines for one year.
Aprivate service was held Dec. 31 in Willowbrook, Ill. Brennan is survived by his wife, Lois, six children and 19 grandchildren.
New home sales plunge in November
New home sales fell 9 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 647,000 — the lowest annual rate in 12 years — according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department.
Economists had forecast November sales at an annual rate of 715,000, which would have represented a 1.8 percent drop. The actual rate of 647,000 was the lowest since 621,000, recorded in April 1995.
Year over year, new home sales were 34.4 percent lower than in November 2006, representing the largest year-to-year decline since January 1991.
New home sales in the Midwest region were particularly weak, falling 27.6 percent to the slowest pace since July 1991. Sales also decreased in the South (6.4 percent) and Northeast (19.3 percent), but rose in the West (4 percent).
In addition, the median price for a new home decreased by 0.4 percent to $239,100. The ratio of new houses for sale to houses sold rose during November to 9.3, from 8.8 in October.
Lampert Yards receives FSC certification
Lampert Yards, the St. Paul, Minn.-based chain of lumberyards, has earned the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody certification through the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program. The 34-unit pro dealer, with locations in five upper Midwest states, received its certification at the end of August but made the announcement on Dec. 20.
Jon Wigen, the company’s lumber buyer, told HCN that the certification process took approximately 90 days for all of Lampert’s locations. The effort was well worth it, Wigen said.
“I’m amazed at the number of sales we’ve gotten since we got our certification number,” he said. Lampert’s salespeople can now bid on commercial projects seeking a LEED designation, and knowledge of green building materials is a selling point with many customers.
“It’s been a great calling card for us, [especially] with new builders we haven’t done business with before,” Wigen said.
Lampert Yards currently has FSC-certified wood products in stock at four locations, with the ability to transfer the materials to any of its lumberyards.