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Louisiana-Pacific settles in OSB suits

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Louisiana-Pacific has become the latest wood products company to settle in an ongoing series of oriented strand board class action litigation.

LP is the fifth company to come to a settlement in the antitrust case, filed in 2006, which alleges that OSB manufacturers began conspiring together in 2002 to artificially reduce the supply and inflate the prices of OSB.

Four of the defendants have reached settlements so far: Potlatch, Huber Engineered Woods, Ainsworth and Georgia-Pacific.

All the companies have denied the accusations as part of their settlements, including LP, which wrote in a statement that it came to the settlements “in order to limit the risks and costs associated with at least two lengthy jury trials.”

“LP has vigorously contested the plaintiffs’ allegations and vehemently denies that it violated any U.S. antitrust law or any other law,” the company said in a statement.

LP agreed to put $44.5 million into an escrow account for the benefit of a group of direct buyers of OSB who are named in the suits. The company also said it would pay $2.3 million into an escrow account for another group of indirect purchasers of OSB.

“We were prepared to continue to vigorously defend this matter and believe we would have prevailed. However, because of the unpredictable nature of the judicial process and the inherent risks surrounding a jury trial, a positive verdict could not be guaranteed,” said LP CEO Rick Frost in a statement.

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Pier 1 introduces green cleaning products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Starting this month, Pier 1 will be the exclusive U.S. and Canadian distributor of an environmentally friendly line of cleaning products by Isabella Smith.

The Maison Belle line is non-toxic, biodegradable and uses recyclable packaging. The products are fragranced with 100 percent essential oils and don’t contain synthetic perfume.

Pier 1 will sell three of the fragrances — lemon vanilla, lavender mint and grapefruit bergamot — in the glass cleaner, counter top cleaner and dish soap. The products will be available in about 500 Pier 1 Imports locations across the country.

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Roofing demand expected to climb

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The demand for roofing materials, which contracted sharply in 2006 and 2007 primarily due to the downturn in new residential construction, is expected to grow nearly 2 percent per year through 2012, according to a study by Cleveland-based research firm the Freedonia Group.

The recovery of the residential construction market and an increase in commercial construction will both provide growth, along with residential reroofing, the study said. Through 2012, demand for roofing in nonresidential construction markets is projected to increase more than 1 percent per year, in line with its pace from 2002 to 2007. The office and commercial construction market will provide the greatest growth, driven by increased demand in new construction applications.

While new roofing applications are expected to grow faster through 2012, the majority of demand will continue to come from reroofing applications. In 2012, reroofing will account for three-quarters of total roofing, according to the researchers.

However, reroofing demand is expected to weaken through 2012, due to past construction cycles that reduced the number of buildings requiring routine reroofing over the forecast period.

Roofing tile and plastic roofing are anticipated to see the fastest gains through 2012. Demand for roofing tile will be driven by the recovery of the residential market, especially in the South and West, where roofing tile demand is greatest, according to the study. Demand for plastic roofing (such as thermoplastic polyolefin, PVC and spray polyurethane foam), which is primarily used in nonresidential construction, will increase as plastic materials supplant bituminous low-slope roofing products.

Asphalt shingles will remain the most popular roofing product, owing to their dominant position in the large residential roofing market. Demand for asphalt shingles is expected to accelerate markedly through 2012 as the new residential market recovers. Asphalt shingles are forecast to account for more than 80 percent of residential roofing demand through 2012.

On a regional basis, the West will provide the best prospects for roofing demand through 2012. The West experienced one of the sharpest declines in housing construction in 2006 and 2007 and will benefit the greatest from its recovery. Growth will be led by the Mountain subregion, which is expected to outpace the average in terms of growth in population and economic output.

The Freedonia study, available at  www.freedoniagroup.com, also contains profiles of the roofing industry’s manufacturers and an analysis of their market shares.

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