LUMBERYARDS

Home prices continue upward trend

BY Ken Clark

The S&P/Case Shiller Index, a bellwether for the new housing market, reported that all 20 cities that it tracks on its home-price composites recorded positive monthly changes for the third consecutive month. Excluding a slight dip for Detroit last April, the composites are on a four-month roll for home price increases. 

The average home price in July 2012 grew by 1.5% for the 10-city composite and by 1.6% for the 20-city composite versus June 2012.

Fifteen of the 20 MSAs and both composites posted better annual returns in July as compared with June 2012. Dallas and Washington, D.C., saw no change in their annual rates; and Cleveland, Detroit and New York saw their rates worsen in July, with respective returns of +0.4%, +6.2% and -2.6%. After nine consecutive months of double-digit annual declines, Atlanta finally improved to a single-digit decline of 9.9%.

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Hurd in national spotlight

BY Brae Canlen

Hurd Windows and Doors was featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer in a Sept. 20 feature that highlighted U.S.-based businesses that are making a domestic and global economic impact. The 90-year-old custom window and door manufacturer was recognized for competing on a worldwide basis out of its Midwestern manufacturing facilities in Medford and Merrill, Wisconsin.

As part of the segment, Hurd’s VP product and service Stu Brown cited examples of windows that were being exported to China and Canada. Hurd has exported products to more than 30 countries around the world, including Japan, Turkey, Israel, Philippines, Argentina, Ireland, Poland, India and Thailand.

Hurd nationally markets all wood and wood-clad widows and patio doors through a network of more than 400 distributors serving the residential and light commercial construction markets. Hurd’s sister company, Superseal, markets vinyl replacement and new construction windows that are manufactured in the Merrill facility.

A large group of Hurd’s Medford-based employees were also featured in the piece, showcasing some of the products they helped manufacture. “Our workforce has grown 10% in the last year,” explained Hurd president Dominic Truniger. “In fact, in the past 18 months, we’ve grown our workforce by 25%.”

ABC reported that, for the first time since the 1930s, U.S. manufacturers have the export advantage in the global marketplace. U.S. workers are considered the most productive workers in the world, according to the report, which makes them as much as 45% less expensive than foreign competitors. Energy costs are being lowered by new technologies and previously untapped energy reserves, the segment noted. Shipping from U.S. ports is cheaper than from its international counterparts, according to the report.

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Tax proposal raises ire of West Coast lumber group

BY Ken Clark

The West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association (WCLBMA) board of directors has voted to oppose California’s Proposition 30, on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election. 

“Increasing personal taxes on some taxpayers and increasing the state sales tax for everyone to fund a broken state government is not the answer,” according to the WCLBMA. “The answer is for the state to curb state spending, cut all state-funded programs that are not absolutely essential for public safety, public welfare and public education. More taxes with the state’s weak economy and high unemployment is not the answer.”

Provisions of Proposition 30 include: a raise in California’s sales tax to 7.5% from 7.25%, a 3.45 percentage increase over current law; creation of  four high-income tax brackets for taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $250,000, $300,000, $500,000 and $1,000,000; and a 10.3% tax rate on taxable income over $250,000 but less than $300,000 — a percentage increase of 10.6% over current policy of 9.3%. 

“WCLBMA condemns the tactics of the proposition proponents who are threatening education and basic governmental services if the measure does not pass,” the WCLBMA wrote in a news release. “Their actions are for all intents and purposes blackmail of the citizens of California and are reprehensible.

“The State of California has not only done a dismal job in managing state finances in today’s difficult economic conditions, but has been shown to have failed in generating a truthfully balanced budget using real numbers. The state’s gap between revenue and spending is increasing and counting on questionable revenue generation is absurd.

“California needs the governor and state legislators to take an honest look at what is needed to make the state’s income-producing businesses survive, and perhaps prosper again at some point in the future. Cut the bureaucracy, cut the regulatory chaos, and quit spending. Make the revenue stream to the state more equitable and more predictable.”

 

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