LUMBERYARDS

Moynihan Lumber worker retires after 57 years

BY Brae Canlen

Harry Barton, a worker at Knight Lumber in Beverly, Mass., retired last week on his 82nd birthday. It was his second attempt at retirement; the first one, at age 65, lasted less than a day. “I was bored,” Barton recalled.

Barton started at Knight Lumber, which was later purchased by Moynihan Lumber, fresh out of the U.S. Army at age 25. He first worked as a "lumper," unloading lumber from freight cars across the street. He moved up to driving a pickup truck, then a 14-ft. truck, then a trailer truck. Barton was later promoted to yard foreman, then moved inside to work the sales counter. For the last 15 years, Barton was the “shack man” in the entrance to the lumberyard, checking contractors in and out.

Barton said he plans to spend more time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandson. Company owners Gerald, Michael and Jack Moynihan presented Barton with a flat-screen TV as a retirement gift.

"He will be missed by all of us as well as his customer fan base — many of whom stopped in to say goodbye to him on his special day," said Jack Moynihan.

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Chinese LBM supplier to expand

BY Brae Canlen

Beijing New Building Material (Group) Co. (BNBM), China’s largest new home and building materials manufacturer, is planning to open 10 new production facilities overseas by the year 2015, according to an article in China Daily

The Chengdu-based company exports its new building-material houses to 25 countries and regions, including the United States, Russia and New Zealand, through a subsidiary called BNBD Homes. In mid-March, BNBM signed a housing-export contract worth more than 600 million yuan (US$92.5 million) with the government of Zambia. Under the contract, BNBM Homes will design and construct 4,000 units of public housing in Zambia. 

BNBM Homes generated some 100 million yuan (US$15.4 million) in sales last year, about half of which was from overseas business. The company hopes to further expand its overseas markets to 60% of its revenues. 

BNBD recently won the first round of bidding for a 30-million-yuan (US$4.6 million) project for the post-earthquake reconstruction in Japan. The company will build 250 earthquake-resistant houses in the first phase of the project, executives said, using expertise it developed building earthquake-proof houses in China after the 2008 Sichuan and the 2010 Qinghai earthquakes. 

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Multi-family housing trend gains strength

BY Brae Canlen

Improvement in the multi-family housing market continues, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which compiles a quarterly Multifamily Production Index (MPI). The index recorded its third consecutive increase in the first three months of 2011, according to the NAHB, moving from 40.8 in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 41.7 in the first quarter of 2011.

The MPI tracks multi-family housing industry sentiment on a scale of 0 to 100.

The index is based on three key elements: construction of low-rent units, construction of market-rate-rent units and construction of "for sale" units. The index and all of its components are scaled so that any number over 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse.

"Multi-family continues to be one of the brighter spots in housing," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "Not only is the overall index on the rise, the market-rate rental component has improved dramatically. In the first quarter, the market-rate rental component was 60.5, the highest level in more than five years."

Although the increase is cause for optimism, the multi-family market still faces significant challenges, Crowe said. "There is considerable pent-up demand, but the ongoing crisis in funding for new construction means that developers are limited in their ability to meet that demand."

The Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI), which measures the multi-family housing industry’s perception of vacancies, increased slightly from 33.3 in the fourth quarter of last year to 35.0 in the first quarter of 2011. With the MVI, lower numbers indicate fewer vacancies.

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