LBM merger in Maine: Viking and Rhoades
Two pro dealers along the Eastern Coast of Maine are planning to combine operations and form a 10-unit LBM chain.
Viking Lumber, a five-location dealer based in Belfast, Maine, will combine with Rhoades Building Products, which also operates five locations in East-Central Maine, effective Jan. 1. The Rhoades units will be rebranded as Viking Lumber, but the company will be jointly owned by the Flanagan family, who own Viking Lumber, and Chris Rhoades, CEO of Rhoades Lumber.
The merger allows the new company, which will employ 200 workers, to expand its building materials products to customers in Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot, Waldo and Washington counties.
Founded in 1944, Viking Lumber has five lumberyards in Belfast, Hancock, Lincolnville, Vinalhaven and Warren, as well as a stone division called Viking Hardscapes. Rhoades Building Products has expanded through acquisitions in 2004 and 2007, in addition to opening a window and door showroom in 2006. It now has locations in Blue Hill, Ellsworth, Holden, Machias and Milbridge.
Kleer Lumber gains distribution through iLevel
iLevel by Weyerhaeuser is now distributing Kleer Cellular PVC Trimboard, sheet goods and other Kleer cellular PVC building products from its Baltimore, Md., and Easton, Pa., distribution centers.
iLevel is a new partner for Kleer as the company serves the key building markets of New Jersey, metropolitan New York and other Mid-Atlantic regions including Eastern Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
“iLevel is an ideal partner for Kleer Lumber because of its strong brand name, the products it represents in the marketplace and its commitment to outstanding service,” said Walt Valentine, president of Westfield, Mass.-based Kleer Lumber. “iLevel’s renewed commitment to focus on specialty product groups aligns perfectly with the core product development strategy at Kleer Lumber.”
Construction industry loses more jobs
The construction unemployment rate rose to 18.8% in November as the sector lost another 5,000 jobs since October, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, which just released an analysis of new federal employment data. The analysis indicates that the construction sector has been the hardest hit of any industry during the economic downturn, association officials said.
The industry’s 18.8% unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was the highest of any industry and roughly double the overall unemployment rate. The construction industry has lost 2.1 million jobs since employment in the sector peaked in August 2006, according to the association. Since November 2009, the industry has lost 117,000 jobs, while the private sector added 1,088,000 jobs.
“The unemployment report shows construction still has not broken free of the recession that has gripped the industry since 2006,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Other than the stimulus and other temporary federal programs, it has been a pretty bleak four yours for the industry.”
The only construction segment to add jobs in the past years has been heavy and civil engineering construction, which has benefited from federal stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane-prevention projects, Simonson observed. Meanwhile, residential construction has lost 79,000 jobs over the past 12 months, while nonresidential specialty trade contractors and nonresidential building — the other two segments in the nonresidential category — have lost 62,000 jobs.
Association officials cautioned that the stimulus and other temporary federal programs would begin winding down in 2011, most likely before private, state or local demand for construction picks up. They urged Congress and the Obama Administration to act on a series of long-delayed legislative bills for water, transportation and other infrastructure programs.