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Lampert Yards receives FSC certification

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lampert Yards, the St. Paul, Minn.-based chain of lumberyards, has earned the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody certification through the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program. The 34-unit pro dealer, with locations in five upper Midwest states, received its certification at the end of August but made the announcement on Dec. 20.

Jon Wigen, the company’s lumber buyer, told HCN that the certification process took approximately 90 days for all of Lampert’s locations. The effort was well worth it, Wigen said.

“I’m amazed at the number of sales we’ve gotten since we got our certification number,” he said. Lampert’s salespeople can now bid on commercial projects seeking a LEED designation, and knowledge of green building materials is a selling point with many customers.

“It’s been a great calling card for us, [especially] with new builders we haven’t done business with before,” Wigen said.

Lampert Yards currently has FSC-certified wood products in stock at four locations, with the ability to transfer the materials to any of its lumberyards.

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Platinum Equity terminates PPG auto glass agreement

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Platinum Equity notified Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries of its intention to terminate its contract to purchase PPG’s automotive glass and services businesses as of Dec 31, 2007.

PPG said that Platinum Equity also filed suit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, alleging the Platinum group is not obliged to consummate the agreement.

While the company did not comment on the specifics of the litigation, PPG said it intends to enforce its rights under the agreement with Platinum Equity.

PPG said that in the event the transaction does not close with the Platinum group, it would continue to explore other strategic alternatives for the automotive and services businesses with the goal of maximizing shareholder value.

PPG is a global supplier of paints, coatings, chemicals, optical products, specialty materials, glass and fiberglass.

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Former hardware store owner charged with fraud

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has charged Erik Joseph, the former owner of Seaport Hardware in South Boston, of larceny and fraud in a scheme involving his customer’s credit card numbers. The 46-count indictment, announced on Dec. 19, involves $290,894 in fraudulent charges. The investigation is ongoing.

“The amount of evidence was so massive that the sitting grand jury only had time to hear testimony regarding American Express transactions,” the announcement said. “Visa, MasterCard and debit transactions will be heard by another grand jury.”

According to the district attorney’s office, Joseph began the scam in 2001 and continued it for the next six years. Prosecutors believe he set up dozens of shell businesses, each with its own credit card merchant number, bank account routing number and mailing address. Using the credit card numbers of his hardware store’s customers, Joseph would then key in transactions that billed unsuspecting cardholders for multiple sales that were just under $200, according to the charges.

At the beginning of the scheme, Joseph would wait four to six months before billing the victims, the indictment said. In 2006 and 2007, the time delay disappeared and accounts were being maxed out within days of the cardholders’ visits to Seaport Hardware. Once the credit card company had transferred funds to the bank account linked to the transaction, Joseph would drain the account and leave the victims unable to reclaim the money, according to the charges.

Joseph was arrested on Nov. 27 at his home. His arraignment is set for Jan. 15.

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