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Masco donates in support of veterans

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Masco Corp. and its Foundation have partnered to award more than $1 million in support of its veteran initiative, "America’s Heroes: A Million Thanks."

Among the 50 veteran-focused organizations receiving awards, 11 are based in Michigan, home of the company’s headquarters. The organizations will receive funding to support active military personnel and reservists, post-9/11 veterans, as well as their families.

"Masco values the service and sacrifice of our U.S. veterans, military troops, and their families, and is committed to supporting their successful transition from soldier to civilian status,” said Timothy Wadhams, president and CEO, Masco. “We are especially proud to support the organizations in the communities where we live, work and do business.”

Donations are being made to veterans’ organizations that provide affordable and physically accessible housing; education, job training and employment initiatives; and related military support services (e.g., overseas support packages, benefit procurement, health care, reintegration activities, etc.).

The selected organizations in Michigan include: Accounting Aid Society, American Veterans (AMVETS), Communities of Hope Inc., Michigan Freedom Center, Growing Hope, Michigan Colleges Foundation, Motor City Blight Busters, Piquette Square for Veterans, Sphinx, Volunteers of America and Washtenaw Community College Veterans Center.

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Arun Rajan joins One Kings Lane

BY HBSDEALER Staff

San Francisco-based One Kings Lane, an online destination for the home, has appointed Arun Rajan as chief technology officer. In his new role, Rajan will lead end-to-end technology delivery, data infrastructure and site operations to support the growth and evolution of One Kings Lane. 

Rajan joins alongside chief product officer David Yu, who joined One Kings Lane in mid-2013. 

"As One Kings Lane continues to grow at rapid pace, Arun is the ideal person to lead our technology strategy and help us achieve our vision of becoming the leading lifestyle brand for the home," said Doug Mack, CEO of One Kings Lane. "Arun brings an extensive background in transactional consumer web businesses and his customer-centric approach to technology makes him a perfect fit for our culture built on delivering great experiences to our shoppers every day." 

Previously, Rajan spent more than four years as CTO at Zappos.com, where he led the creation and execution of a technology strategy and roadmap that enabled rapid business growth and scalability.

One Kings Lane “connects daily design inspiration with a fresh collection of select home goods, designer and vintage items,” according to a company release.

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Growth picture is mixed with challenges

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Las Vegas — One speaker at the President’s Council Advisory Board meeting here during the International Builders’ Show explained that "we’re not in full panic mode," anymore. Another pointed to a 32% increased in single-family home starts for 2014. 

But what are the challenges that might slow the industry’s growth trajectory?

Robert Dietz, VP tax and market analysis for the National Association of Home Builders, focused on that question during his presentation at the President’s Council event.

Home affordability — as expressed by the NAHB’s housing opportunity index — is in good shape, he said. "The percentage of households that can afford to buy a home is taking a dip but still high," he said.

Credit availability, however, is a possible growth inhibitor. So is labor availability. "We have the highest unfilled construction jobs opening rate in five years right now," he said. 

That may seem like a disconnect given the nation’s high unemployment, but what’s happening is a "skills mismatch" between the type of work needed and the type of worker available.

Several policy issues also cloud the topic of growth. Dietz pointed to several during his presentation: housing finance reform, possible tax reform affecting the mortgage interest deduction, immigration reform, as well as fiscal and monetary policy unknowns. 

Through all that though, the forecast for single-family starts shows a recovery in progress. From 621,000 in 2013, single-family starts are expected to hit 822,000 in 2014, according to the NAHB’s tally. That’s an increase of 32%. In 2015, the forecast is for 1.159 million single-family starts.

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