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M/I Homes sees a first-quarter loss

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Columbus, Ohio-based M/I Homes recorded $20.15 million in losses in the first quarter, swinging from $2.07 million in earnings last year. The national home builder saw revenues drop 28 percent to $156.1 million from $216.6 million a year earlier.

“Looking ahead, we will remain focused on a predominantly defensive operating strategy aimed at further reducing inventories and expense levels as well as continuing to improve and strengthen our balance sheet,” said Robert Schottenstein, president and CEO of M/I Homes.

New contracts for the first quarter of 2008 were 554 compared with new contracts of 931 in the first quarter of 2007. The company’s backlog of homes had an average sales price of $297,000, compared with $323,000 in the same period last year.

M/I Homes builds in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

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Ace receives $10,000 for eco initiatives

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware will receive a $10,000 grant from the Sacremento, Calif.-area Placer County Air Pollution District to help fund continued testing of pallet trucks powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells.

The trucks are based out of Ace’s Retail Support Center in Sacremento. The 1,028,000-square-foot facility represents the co-op’s second largest distribution center in size and volume. Testing for the initiative began in February, according to a press release issued by Placer County. Initial testing consisted of replacing lead-acid batteries with hydrogen fuel cells.

“We’re encouraged by the initial findings and anxious to see the complete test results to determine the viability of expanding the use of this hydrogen fuel cell technology in this and other facilities,” said Bill Bauman, vp-retail support for Ace Hardware.

In 2005, Ace began testing biodiesel fuel — an 80/20 mix of vegetable oil and diesel fuel — in several tractors in its Midwestern fleet. Today, Ace uses biodiesel in the entire fleet for its Retail Support Center located in Princeton, Ill., and has plans to roll it out to several other distribution centers across the country.

Other environmental initiatives by Ace have included installing energy-efficient T5 lighting in the majority of its distribution centers and reducing volatile organic compounds in private-label paint products sold at retail.

Also on the consumer side, Ace developed “Helpful Earth Choices,” a labeling program meant to help customers identify environmentally friendly products and sustainable items.

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Sales up 25 percent at Lumber Liquidators

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lumber Liquidators, the specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, saw net income nearly double to $4.3 million from $2.23 million in the first quarter. Sales rose 25 percent to $114.55 million from $92 million in the same period last year.

“We are very pleased with our strong results in the first quarter and our ability to maintain the positive momentum we experienced in the second half of last year,” said Jeffrey Griffiths, president and CEO. “We are pleased with the strong contributions of new stores that we have opened in the last year as their results are exceeding our expectations.”

So far this year, Lumber Liquidators has opened 15 new stores — one each in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas; and two each in Illinois and Pennsylvania. The Toano, Va.-based company said it maintains plans to open 30 to 40 new stores in 2008.

The company currently operates more than 130 stores in the United States.

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