March starts sit just below the million mark
At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, housing starts failed to break the million mark again in March, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
March’s rate is 2.8% above the upwardly revised February estimate of 920,000 — a 1.9% rise instead of the initially reported 0.2% decline — but 5.9% below year-ago levels of 1,005,000.
Single-family housing starts came in at a rate of 635,000, which is 6.0% above the revised February estimate of 599,000.
Building permits presented a slightly rosier picture, with the rate for March weighing in at 990,000. That’s 2.4% below February’s 1,014,000 permits but 11.2% better than last year’s estimate.
March’s housing starts are below the expectations of many economists, who have attributed the recent weakness in the housing market to harsh winter weather conditions, labor and lot shortages, and cost of materials.
Spectrum CEO named to Husqvarna board
David R. Lumley, president and CEO of Spectrum Brands Holdings, has been elected to a one-year term on the nine-member board of directors of Husqvarna, the outdoor power products supplier.
Lumley, 59, has served as president and CEO of Spectrum Brands, a global and diversified consumer products company, since April 2010 and as a director since June 2010. He previously served as co-chief operating officer from January 2007 to April 2010. He was appointed president of the global batteries and personal care businesses in January 2007, and in October 2008 his responsibilities were expanded to include the home and garden business. Prior to that time, he was President, North America since joining Spectrum Brands in January 2006.
Lumley joined Spectrum Brands from Newell Rubbermaid where he had served as president, Rubbermaid Home Products North America since January 2004.
Lumley has previously served on the board of directors of Outboard Marine Corporation, EAS, Inc., Naked Juice Company, and Botanic Oil Innovations, Inc. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from Western Illinois University, a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Mystery men of research: contractors
The home improvement marketing industry may think it knows contractors. And opinions differ on the best ways to study their purchasing habits.
But one thing is clear according to a presentation here at the Home Improvement Research Institute Spring Conference: contractors are a difficult group to research.
Mark Delaney, VP of Client Service for Media, Pa.-based SSRS, listed the challenges faced by researchers reaching out to contractors, who account for about 30% of sales at big box retailers.
“Contractors by their very nature are not tethered to an office,” said Delaney, in a presentation titled “Knowing Your Market: Options for Representative Research.”
It’s not only the nature of their office (a pickup truck) and their jobsite demands. Delaney also pointed to the language barrier. The U.S. Department of Labor projects Spanish-speaking contractors will outnumber English-speaking contractors by the year 2025. And not only that, it’s not enough to simply describe a purchaser as “Hispanic.”
“Consider that terming your audience as Hispanic is akin to talking about the home improvement industry as one industry,” he said. Major differences exist between Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba – just as they exist in tools, flooring and outdoor power equipment.
“A well-crafted, data-driven strategy is the first step in reaching the Hispanic marketplace,” he said.
The HIRI conference, "Paths to Knowing Home Improvement, "included several research-oriented presentations. For more, visit HIRI.org.