LUMBERYARDS

IBS: Flooring trends from Lumber Liquidators

BY Brae Canlen

Las Vegas — Exotics are still in, but gray is the hottest trend for residential flooring, according to the chief merchandising officer at Lumber Liquidators. In an interview at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) here, Bill Schlegel told HCN that the Toano, Va.-based national flooring retailer is selling hardwood, engineered wood and even laminate wood flooring in various shades of gray.

Tropical woods like acacia and Tigerwood are also more in demand. “As the economy is turning around, more and more people are asking for it,” Schlegel said. Bamboo is still popular because of its eco-friendly profile, “but [consumers] want wider planks, and they want it to look like wood,” he added. Lumber Liquidators has responded with wire brushed bamboo and more strand-like appearance. One variety resembles black-veined oak.

Click technology, which is now available in wood, stone and marble like vinyl flooring, has brought a number of DIYers into the market. ”It’s a huge growth category for us,” Schlegel said.

The three-day IBS event runs through Jan. 24 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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At Builders’ Show, NAHB raises forecast for starts

BY Ken Clark

Las Vegas — The National Association of Home Builders sees the residential construction industry gaining momentum in a larger economy that includes a few wild cards.

At the International Builders’ Show here in Las Vegas, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association updated its 2013 housing starts forecast to 949,000 starts in 2013, up 21.5% from the prior year. At the end of January, the group had forecast 932,000.   

Single-family starts are anticipated to rise 22% from 535,000 last year to 650,000 in 2013, according to NAHB chief economist David Crowe. They are expected to jump an additional 30% in 2014 to 844,000 units.

On the multi-family side, NAHB is anticipating that starts will increase 22% from 246,000 units last year to 299,000 in 2013, and rise an additional 6% to 317,000 units in 2014.

“Nearly every measure of housing market strength — sales, starts, prices, permits and builder confidence — has been trending upward in recent months, and we expect to see gradual but steady growth along these lines in 2013,”  Crowe said.

Among the possible challenges to an increasingly strong recovery are tight mortgage lending conditions, inaccurate appraisals, rising prices of materials and declining inventory of buildable lots, Crowe said.

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Plum Creek invests in natural resource assets

BY HBSDealer Staff

Plum Creek Timber Co. has acquired an interest in about 144 million tons of production at four quarries from Vulcan Materials Co. for $75 million. The quarries are located near the Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., markets.

Beginning in January 2013, Plum Creek expects to receive royalty payments from the production and sale of the crushed stone from the quarries for approximately 25 years.

“This is an attractive, cash-accretive investment in a familiar natural resource asset for Plum Creek,” said Rick Holley, president and CEO of Plum Creek. “The investment adds to our existing construction materials royalty streams, and the quarries will continue to be owned and operated by Vulcan, a leader in the industry. We are optimistic that the favorable growth prospects for aggregate demand in these markets will enhance future earnings potential.” 

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