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Housing markets index shows improvement, reversing trend

BY Brae Canlen

After dropping by four markets last month, the list of U.S. housing markets that showed measurable and sustained improvement grew by 19 markets in September 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). The total number was 99, up from 80 metros that were listed as improving in August. The list includes representatives from 33 states as well as the District of Columbia.

The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Markets added to the list in September include such geographically diverse locations as Tucson, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Springfield, Ill.; Greenville, N.C.; and Bend, Ore.

The final tally — 99 — included 31 new metros, 68 markets that retained their spots, 12 that dropped off the list. 

"Combined with recent positive reports on builder confidence, housing starts and new-home sales, the September IMI adds to the growing consensus that housing is finally moving in the right direction, which in turn is spurring more potential buyers to get off the fence," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman at First American Title Insurance Co.

A complete list of all 99 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in September, is available at nahb.org/imi

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AM Conservation Group rolls out Simply Conserve line

BY Ken Clark

Charleston, S.C.-based AM Conservation Group, a manufacturer and distributor of energy and water conservation products, will roll out its new product line called Simply Conserve, introducing the first-ever cohesive line of both energy- and water-saving products for the home to consumers nationwide.

Providing an assortment of innovative solutions that make conservation simple and affordable, the new Simply Conserve line helps consumers significantly reduce water and energy use, saving hundreds of dollars annually on utility bills. Many of the products have been in use in homes for years through programs that AM Conservation Group has in place with multiple utility companies nationwide. Now, with the introduction of the Simply Conserve brand, consumers can now easily identify and purchase the full line of energy and water saving products at a variety of retailers, as well as online.

“Our products are designed to save consumers energy, water and, consequentially, money,” said Todd Recknagel, CEO of AM Conservation Group. “We have been providing consumers with AM Conservation Group products through our partnerships with utility companies nationwide for more than 20 years. With the launch of our new Simply Conserve line, we are now able to bring these products to the forefront of the retail sector and provide millions of consumers the chance to save on their utility bills.”

The company’s line can save millions of dollars for consumers through a variety of electricity, water and weatherproofing products, the company claims.

Among the products are:

• Furnace Filter Whistle: Improving energy efficiency, the whistle easily attaches to a furnace (air) filter and whistles when the filter becomes 50% clogged reminding consumers to change their filter.

• Toilet Tummy Water Saver: Improving water efficiency, the Toilet Tummy saves more than one-half gallon of water per flush.

• Triple Seal Door Sweep: Premium door sweep covers larger gaps than most (up to three-quarter inch) using three vinyl fins to keep out drafts and save energy in the home.  

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New CFO in place at Newell Rubbermaid

BY Ken Clark

Newell Rubbermaid appointed Doug Martin, 49, as chief financial officer, succeeding Juan Figuereo.

The multi-faceted consumer product company with brands including Irwin, Rubbermaid and Graco describes Martin as a “decisive, results-oriented leader with a strong record of financial operations management across multiple disciplines and geographies.”

With 25 years in the company, he most recently served as deputy chief financial officer, where he is credited with designing a roadmap for streamlining the cost structure of the company and the global finance function.

“We are making good early progress in the execution of our growth game plan by taking an aggressive stance toward reducing structural costs and working capital, and increasing brand investment,” said Michael Polk, Newell Rubbermaid’s president and CEO. “Doug’s strategic leadership, financial expertise and deep company and industry knowledge will be instrumental to helping us realize our growth ambition.” 

In its most recent quarter ended June 30, Newell Rubbermaid posted sales of $1.52 billion, down 1.9% from the previous quarter. Net income for the quarter was $111.8 million, down 23.8%. 

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