Housing starts bounce up 3.5% in May
With seemingly nowhere to go but up, housing starts in May increased 3.5% from the upwardly revised April figure to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000. Single-family starts increased 3.7% to a rate of 419,000.
The figures had easy comparisons from a month ago, when the Commerce Department’s New Residential Construction report posted depressing numbers. While the month-to-month gains are a welcome sign for the industry, year-over-year statistics are negative — total starts were down 3.4%, and single-family starts were down 8.9%.
The May numbers were slightly higher than those of 2009, the slowest year of housing starts on record.
On a regional basis, the West had the best numbers across the board, showing an 18.1% month-to-month gain and a 20.2% year-over-year gain. The West also showed a 15.6% improvement in single-family starts compared with April.
The Northeast struggled the most of the four regions. Year-over-year starts dropped 18.3%, and year-over-year single-family starts dropped 32.1%, according to the data released today.
Building permits, meanwhile, increased to a rate of 612,000 in May, up 8.7% from April, and up 5.2% compared with May 2010.
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Obituary: Tom Leete, 64, LBM industry veteran
Tom Leete, whose career in LBM distribution included positions at Scotty’s, Home Depot, Pelican and, finally, ProBuild, died June 7. He was 64.
Leete’s resume also includes positions as a buyer at Scotty’s and Home Depot. He was senior VP and general merchandise manager at HomeCrafters Warehouse, no longer in existence. At Pelican Cos., he served as VP merchandising.
Paul Hylbert, former CEO of ProBuild, worked with Leete when he was VP of the company’s Central Florida region and later when Leete headed the Denver-based pro dealer’s ProEdge project.
"He was a real intellect with an incredible knowledge of history, music and culture, as well as an outdoorsman of some repute," Hylbert said.
I had the pleasure of working
I had the pleasure of working with Tom for a short time at Builders First Source. He was a great talent, personality and mentor. He will be greatly missed.
Tom has been a friend, mentor
Tom has been a friend, mentor and business partner for over 25 years. As I reflect on the many years of friendship, I am laughing out loud at all of Tom stories. Tom is greatly missed.
I had the pleasure of meeting
I had the pleasure of meeting Tom for the first time last November and was impressed with the level of integrity, depth of knowledge of the industry, and willingness to stick his neck out for what he believed was the right thing to do. I am greatly saddened by this news and will sorely miss him.
I am sorry to hear of Tom's
I am sorry to hear of Tom's passing. He was a true gentlemen. Few knew the industry as well as Tom or had as many friends in it. He will be missed! George MacConnell
Tom was one of the finest
Tom was one of the finest people I know. He had a brilliant mind, a keen eye for the smallest detail, and the desire and ability to connect with people, regardless of their standing in life. He was a mentor and servant to us all. Congratulations, Tom, on a life well-lived. We'll miss you. - Alan Gay
I was surprised and saddened
I was surprised and saddened to read about Tom's death. I had the honor to know Tom both professionally and personally. He was a credit to our industry and a generous and good friend. He will be truly missed. -Mike Morehouse
Moynihan Lumber worker retires after 57 years
Harry Barton, a worker at Knight Lumber in Beverly, Mass., retired last week on his 82nd birthday. It was his second attempt at retirement; the first one, at age 65, lasted less than a day. “I was bored,” Barton recalled.
Barton started at Knight Lumber, which was later purchased by Moynihan Lumber, fresh out of the U.S. Army at age 25. He first worked as a "lumper," unloading lumber from freight cars across the street. He moved up to driving a pickup truck, then a 14-ft. truck, then a trailer truck. Barton was later promoted to yard foreman, then moved inside to work the sales counter. For the last 15 years, Barton was the “shack man” in the entrance to the lumberyard, checking contractors in and out.
Barton said he plans to spend more time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandson. Company owners Gerald, Michael and Jack Moynihan presented Barton with a flat-screen TV as a retirement gift.
"He will be missed by all of us as well as his customer fan base — many of whom stopped in to say goodbye to him on his special day," said Jack Moynihan.
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