Frank Blake addresses Virginia Commonwealth University
Home Depot chairman and CEO Frank Blake addressed the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business on Oct. 25, joined by his son, Home Depot district manager Frank Blake Jr., who also serves as an adjunct professor in the School of Business’ Executive M.B.A. Program. The senior Blake spoke as part of the business speaker series at the Charles G. Thalhimer Family Executive-in-Residence program.
Blake talked about the steps to building a workplace culture, using Home Depot as an example. He touched on the now-familiar model of the inverted pyramid, where customers sit at the top, above front-line employees and then field support and the corporate office. The CEO’s office is the foundation — and the bottom level — of the pyramid.
Prior to become the home improvement retailer’s top executive, Blake previously served as deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and prior to that, he worked in a variety of executive roles at General Electric. His public sector experience also includes having served as general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), deputy counsel to Vice President George Bush and law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Pending home sales rose 0.3% in September
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, edged up 0.3% to 99.5 in September from 99.2 in August and is 14.5% above September 2011 when it was 86.9. The data reflect contracts but not closings.
"Home contract activity remains at an elevated level in contrast with recent years, but currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013."
Pending home sales have risen for 17 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. In September, all regions showed double-digit increases in contract activity from a year ago with the exception of the West.
The PHSI in the Northeast rose 1.4% to 79.3 in September and is 26.1% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 5.8% to 89.5 in September but is 19.3% above September 2011. Pending home sales in the South increased 1.0% to an index of 111.5 in September and are 17.6% higher than a year ago. In the West, the index rose 4.3% in September to 106.9, but is only 0.8% above September 2011.
Consumer spending climbs 0.8% on higher incomes
A Monday report by the Commerce Deptartment showed that consumer spending in the U.S. for September rose more than forecast as household incomes climbed.
Household purchases increased 0.8%, the most since February and topping the 0.6% gain expected by Bloomberg. The September rise followed a 0.5% advance in August.
Incomes rose 0.4%, the most since March.
The economy expanded at a 2% annual pace in the third quarter, boosted by the uptick in household purchases.
“We have some positive momentum that we could gradually build on over time,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates, told Bloomberg.
Retail sales in September and August had the best back-to-back showing since late 2010.