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Heat wave in East spurs AC, fan sales

BY HBSDEALER Staff

As record temperatures scorched much of the Mid-Atlantic region over the last several days, home centers and hardware stores scrambled to keep up with the demand for air conditioning units, fans and related products.

Beginning June 7, much of the Eastern Seaboard faced four straight days of temperatures in the mid- to high-90s, although the National Weather Service said the humidity made it feel more like 105 degrees. Consumers started making a mad dash to stock up on air conditioners and fans as early as June 5, catching some store owners by surprise.

“It was a little early in the season for air conditioners, so we weren’t prepared,” said Glenn Rankin, owner of Rankin’s True Value Hardware in Warrenton, Va. “We got a few in on Friday (June 6), and they went out pretty fast. We didn’t have enough. The first heat wave of the season is always the hardest.”

Home Depot spokeswoman Jean Niemi said there has been high demand for cooling units in New York, Massachusetts, Baltimore, Philadelphia and North Carolina, but that Home Depot stores have been receiving continuous shipments of units to restock their shelves. “It is always a good idea for consumers to call ahead to check availability,” she said.

AHome Depot store in South Attleboro, Mass., sold more than 600 air conditioning units over the weekend and another 300 on Monday to pretty much deplete its stock. “We’ve got another 100 units coming in today, so we are replenishing,” said Trish Heim, the store’s operations manager. “It’s been an absolute frenzy – like when you have a snowstorm and people come in and buy you out of shovels and ice melt.”

Ed Dionne, assistant manager of a Home Depot in Rutland, Vt., said the rush started there June 6, as news reports of the impending heat wave began to surface. “We sold a lot of air conditioners on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and yesterday, people couldn’t bear it and were buying anything they could get their hands on,” Dionne said. He said the store was able to replenish with stock from the warehouse as well as stores in other areas that didn’t get hit as hard, adding, “The demand was more of what you would see in July rather than June.”

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Western Forest Products to lay off 2,000 workers

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Western Forest Products, the Vancouver-based forest products company, has announced plans to lay off nearly 2,000 employees, including 1,850 loggers and 100 sawmill workers.

The company cited falling demand for cedar products for the layoffs, as well as soft demand for forest products in the U.S. and Japanese markets, the two primary markets served by the company.

The company will curtail selected timber harvesting operations on Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Sunshine Coast during July and August. “This reduction represents slightly more than half the normal timber harvesting undertaken during this period,” according to the company.

Western also will shut down its Duke Point, B.C., sawmill location during the same two-month period. “This is in addition to the previously announced indefinite shutdown of the Ladysmith, (B.C.) sawmill, and various shorter term curtailments that take place at other mills,” the company said.

Areport in the Vancouver Sun estimated that there currently are more than 12,000 laid-off forest workers in British Columbia.

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Universal Forest Products expands in Oregon

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A subsidiary of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Universal Forest Products has purchased certain assets of D-Stake Mill, in McMinnville, Ore., and Manufacturing Country, in Independence, Ore.

D-Stake and Manufacturing Country manufacture kiln stickers, lath, stakes, decking and pallets and pallet components for a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail and agriculture. In 2007, sales to their customer base, which is concentrated in California, Washington and Oregon, totaled approximately $18.5 million, according to the company. Universal Forest Products Western Division finalized the purchase on June 9.

“We continue to look for opportunities to grow our industrial business, and we’re pleased to add successful operations like D-Stake and Manufacturing Country,” said Universal Forest Products president and CEO Michael B. Glenn. “They know lumber, they know their business and how to serve their customers well, and they know how to run and maintain a profitable operation.”

Sales manager Dan Harris will remain with Universal as general manager of operations. Bob Harris will stay on as a consultant through the transition.

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