Huttig posts Q4 loss
Huttig Building Products reported fourth quarter 2017 net sales from continuing operations were $179.2 million, about 9% higher than net sales from continuing operations of $164.4 million in the same period a year ago.
The St. Louis-based distributor reported that millwork sales increased 2% to $92.8 million during the fourth quarter, building product sales increased 16% to $69.6 million (primarily due to the expansion of the Huttig-Grip product line) and wood product sales increased 29% to $16.8 million.
For the year, net sales increased about 6% to $753.2 million in 2017 from net sales of $713.9 million in 2016. Huttig said the increase was driven by higher levels of construction activity, the expansion of the Huttig-Grip product line and a full year’s results from the acquisition of BenBilt, completed on April 4, 2016.
However, Huttig reported a net loss of $9.8 million for the quarter compared to net earnings of $200,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016. For the year, the company posted a net loss of $7.1 million. In 2016 Huttig reported net earnings of $16.3 million.
A number of factors impacted Huttig’s profits for the quarter and the year including continued investments in infrastructure, employees and technology, according to Huttig president and CEO Jon Vrabely.
Huttig’s operation expenses increased $8.6 million or 25% to $42.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, to $33.8 million, or 20.6% of net sales, in the fourth quarter 2016. Personnel costs increased $4.7 million during the quarter while non-personnel costs increased $3.9 million during the period.
“While these investments have negatively impacted our financial results in 2017, including the most recent quarter, we continue to believe that the investments made in operating expenses and capital will accelerate our growth and diversify our business, which will improve operating leverage and increase the value of the company over the intermediate term,” Vrabely said.
Vrabely has also been serving as interim CFO of Huttig since last month’s departure of Oscar Martinez, who had served as CFO since April 2016.
Regulatory Wrap-Up: Labor policy, CEO pay take the spotlight
Massachusetts: A poll released this week shows that nearly two-thirds of voters support a $15 per hour minimum wage initiative that will appear on the November ballot. The high level of public support significantly reduces the likelihood that the legislature will pass a compromise bill and avoid sending the issue to the voters.
Utah: Legislation to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and increase the tip wage to $3.13 per hour was defeated in the house and will not advance this session.
Minneapolis, Minn.: A Hennepin District Court judge ruled that the city minimum wage law is valid and the city is within its authority. Only one company remained as a plaintiff after the city’s chamber dropped out of the case last year. The decision will provide momentum for advocates in the ongoing debate over a $15 per hour ordinance in other cities like St. Paul.
Hawaii: A second house committee unanimously approved a paid leave bill, sending it to the house floor. The bill requires employers with fewer than fifty workers to provide paid sick leave accruing at a rate of one hour per every 40 hours worked to care for themselves or a family member. The bill was amended to include an exemption for employers who already offer a more generous paid leave policy or pay workers at least $1.65 in more than the minimum wage starting in 2019, escalating thereafter.
Indiana: The senate passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a paid leave study committee to explore the feasibility and cost of an employer mandate. An agreement was reached last session to establish a similar committee, but no action was taken.
Austin, Texas: The city council posted the final version of the recently-passed paid leave bill which will go into effect Oct. 1. Originally, the law applied to all businesses in the city but it was amended to require employers with fewer than 15 employees provide 48 hours of leave. Larger employers must offer 64 hours of leave per year. A statewide preemption bill is expected to be introduced when the legislature convenes in 2019.
Missouri: A bill to prohibit localities from enacting scheduling legislation passed its second house committee and will likely advance to the floor.
NLRB: The inspector general concluded that member William Emanuel should have recused himself from the recent Hy-Brand decision that overturned the 2015 Browning-Ferris joint employer standard. The Board subsequently announced that the Hy-Brand decision has been vacated and the Browning-Ferris standard has been re-established as a result.
Hawaii: A bill unanimously passed the house and now moves to the senate that would direct state agencies to publish an annual report of the 50 employers in the state with the highest number of employees receiving public assistance.
Virginia: The senate passed a bill codifying that neither a franchisee nor a franchisee’s employees shall be considered employees of the franchisor. The bill passed the house in January and will advance to the governor’s desk.
New York City, N.Y.: The city council has introduced legislation which would mandate that employers provide 80 hours of sexual harassment training to employees per year.
New Hampshire: A bill that would have limited private companies from paying their highest-paid worker more than 43 times the lowest-paid worker died in committee.
Federal: The American Truckers Association announced their public support for an increase in the gas tax to pay for infrastructure projects. The plan, in which the ATA refers to the tax as a “fuel user fee,” would add 20 cents to the fuel tax now and then 5 cents/year increase over the next four years. The plan would also impose the tax at the wholesale level, not at point of sale.
SCOTUS: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the landmark Ohio v. American Express Co. case. The question before the court is whether the credit card company’s “anti-steering” rules stifle price competition and ultimately prove anti-competitive. Currently merchants are prevented from offering discounts to encourage the use of competing cards with lower processing fees.
Idaho: A bill that expands the definition of a retailer in the state for sales tax collection purposes passed the house and heads to the senate. The bill models the affiliate language first passed by New York in 2009 and applies to sellers who generate more than $10,000 in sales into the state through an “affiliated” Idaho-based agent.
Iowa: A bill to require out-of-state retailers with more than $100,000 in annual sales or 200 individual sales to collect the state’s sales tax was included in a larger tax reform proposal that passed the senate and now heads to the house.
Federal: President Trump announced broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in an effort to protect domestic producers. The tariffs have yet to be imposed and several countries have threatened trade retaliation which could negatively impact the export market and raise costs for consumers. To jumpstart stalled NAFTA negotiations, the president recently offered exemptions from the proposed tariffs for Canada and Mexico in exchange for a “new and fair” agreement. The linkage of the two issues has many trade experts questioning the central rationale for the aggressive executive action. Either the Trump administration could be focused on a global reset of U.S. trade policy with expansive consequences, or just be using the issue as a negotiating tactic for NAFTA — maybe both.
- Consumer-facing brands are coming under increased pressure from all sides of the gun debate to proactively take steps or issue public statements. If brands reluctantly believe that they need to enter the fray one way or another, catering to public opinion can be tricky. Regardless of the nuances of any particular announcement, brands would be best served by positioning themselves as advocates for and protectors of their employees.
- The proposal in New York City to mandate that all businesses provide 80 hours of sexual harassment prevention training could be an inflection point in the debate. If it passes in anywhere near its current form, it will likely be used as a template across the country. The industry has to be careful not to appear insensitive to the issue and must engage in this conversation in a constructive manner. Our biggest political asset is that we are an industry of opportunity, diversity and inclusion and we need to ensure that any public statements or political positioning by the industry in NYC reinforces, and does not distract, from that fact.
- The NLRB’s vacating of the Hy-Brand decision throws the joint employer issue into limbo. The challenge is that for the remainder of his five-year term, Board Member William Emanuel may have to recuse himself from any joint employer case that could challenge or change the standard established under Browning-Ferris. Once John Ring is confirmed by the Senate, Emanuel’s recusal would create a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans on this issue going forward. Creating further uncertainty, some speculate Ring may have to recuse himself on some cases as well. Unless the makeup of the Board changes through resignation, employers may be forced to seek a Congressional fix since existing terms won’t expire until a potential Trump second term.
Legislature Status for Week of 3/5/18
- The United States Senate is in session this week
- The United States House is in session this week
- Forty-one state legislatures are meeting actively this week: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.
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Roseburg expands north of the border
Roseburg Forest Products reported that it will acquire a medium density fiberboard (MDF) and moulding production facility from Pembroke MDF, Inc.
Located in northeastern Ontario, Canada, this marks Roseburg’s first international purchase. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Roseburg said it expects the deal to close by April 9.
The move continues a busy period for Roseburg. The Springfield, Ore.-based forest products manufacturer is currently building an engineered wood products plant in Chester, S.C., and recently acquired 158,000 acres of timberland in Virginia and North Carolina.
“The Pembroke plant and its employees present untapped potential that can be used to better serve existing and future customers of our innovative and versatile MDF product line,” said Mark Avery, Roseburg senior VP of industrial products and national accounts. “It’s an exciting opportunity for Roseburg to move into the northeastern region and further diversify our operations and meet demand.”
Roseburg currently owns and operates an MDF plant in Medford, Ore., which produces the company’s Arreis, Medite, Medex, Permacore and Fibrlite product lines.
“The addition of the Pembroke MDF plant means Roseburg customers will have access to a broader portfolio of products from a company with a demonstrated, long-term commitment to the industry,” said Jim Buffington, Roseburg business director for industrial products.
Roseburg manufactures softwood and hardwood plywood, lumber, LVL and I-joists. The company owns and sustainably manages more than 600,000 acres of timberland in Oregon, North Carolina and Virginia, as well as an export wood chip terminal facility in Coos Bay, Ore.
“While this deal represents an excellent strategic opportunity for the company, it also offers Pembroke employees and suppliers the promise of stability and consistency provided by Roseburg’s large manufacturing enterprise,” Roseburg president and CEO Grady Mulbery said. “This is a win-win for everyone involved, and we look forward to what the future will bring.”