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Industry Dashboard for Aug. 22, 2011

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Compared with a year ago, the existing-home sales dial is favorable for July, but the stocks are struggling compared with a month ago.  

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In California, pernicious regulation rides again

BY Ken Clark

The California State Water Resources Control Board is proposing new regulations on stormwater runoff and containment that the Lumber Association of California & Nevada (LACN) has called "controversial, costly and unfair."

According to Ken Dunham, LACN executive director, the regulations affect lumberyards and any business with a physical outside yard. LACN Government Affairs Chair and LACN Second VP Augie Venezia presented his views and those of the LACN at an Aug. 17 workshop organized by the Water Resources Control Board.

"The irresponsible, arbitrary, unscientific and flawed proposed storm water runoff regulations could well be the final straw for many California businesses," said Venezia, president of Fairfax Lumber & Hardware Co., located in Fairfax, Calif. 

Read Venezia’s full statement here.

Dunham further objected to the rules on the grounds that they were arbitrary, unproven and unsound. 

"It is interesting to see the number of California municipal governments that are telling the board much the same as private business — that the rules are too costly, not clearly drafted and without clear benefits," Dunham told members in the LACN’s newsletter. "It was disconcerting to see the chair of the Water Board and one member, whom you would assume are listening objectively to the comments, make statements that they didn’t care about the cost and they ‘intend to move forward’ on the rules. So much for objectivity."

 

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Lowe’s takes heat for store closings

BY Brae Canlen

Lowe’s announcement on Aug. 15 that it was closing seven stores around the country has brought some swift reactions from politicians, community leaders and local media outlets.

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski issued a press release the same day saying: "I was disappointed to hear that Lowe’s decided late Sunday evening to close their retail store in Kenai, one of four stores they operate in Alaska. It is my understanding that the store’s employees, the City of Kenai and the community had very little notice of the company’s action.”

In its second-quarter earnings report, Lowe’s described the stores in question as “underperforming.” The locations were also not disclosed. The company’s public relations team subsequently answered media inquiries about the rationale and choices of stores, but some communities were still outraged.

In the case of the Lowe’s store in Ticonderoga, N.Y., the Press-Republican noted that the store had only been open since February 2009, took years of planning and zoning discussions, and enjoyed a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that gave it reduced taxes for 10 years. 

But the newspaper seemed just as bothered by the way Lowe’s handled the layoffs. “After the workday ended Sunday, the 86 employees of the store were gathered together and told that Lowe’s would not be opening the next morning — or ever again for that matter… You don’t call in 86 people and tell them they are out of a job as of that moment. That is heartless.”

In Riverdale, Ga., WSBTV interviewed former Lowe’s employees who had been informed of the store’s closing Sunday night and then escorted from the building. 

A Lowe’s spokeswoman told Home Channel News that all the employees will continue to receive pay and benefits for 90 days and are able to apply for open positions in other Lowe’s stores.

Lowe’s closed seven stores, which it mentioned in its financial results but did not elaborate on. But Lowe’s spokeswoman Julie Yenichek identified the locations as Meriden, Conn.; Riverdale, Ga.; Elgin and Schaumburg, Ill.; Kenai, Alaska.; Cambridge, Minn.; and Ticonderoga N.Y.

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