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Newell Rubbermaid builds Design Center

BY Ken Clark

Newell Rubbermaid says it will create a state-of-the-art Design Center to accelerate growth through enhanced capabilities in design and innovation.

The new center of excellence is expected to open by early 2014 in Kalamazoo, Mich., an area rich in talented designers, the company said.  

This will enable Newell Rubbermaid to add depth in new design specialties; join a strong local presence of design-led companies including Herman Miller, Steelcase, Whirlpool, Stryker and Wolverine; and participate in a growing educational community that includes Western Michigan University.

"Great design and creativity is the difference between a standard product and one that is beautiful in every way and drives consumer preference," said Chuck Jones, Newell Rubbermaid’s chief design and research and development officer. "Our new Design Center will be a best-in-class facility that enables us to attract the best international design talent to work on a wonderful portfolio of leading brands."

The new 40,000-sq.-ft. facility will employ up to 100 design professionals, and has been carefully planned to foster creativity and maximize the sharing of ideas and technologies among the company’s brands.  

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Pending home sales slip in February

BY Ken Clark

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, slipped 0.4% to 104.8 in February from a downwardly revised 105.2 in January. The index is 8.4% higher than February 2012 when it was 96.6.

The metric remained, however, at the second highest level in nearly three years; and contract activity has been above year-ago levels for the past 22 months.

Before January, the last time the index showed a higher reading was in April 2010, shortly before the deadline for the home-buyer tax credit.

Buyers faced limied inventory in February, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Only new-home construction can genuinely help relieve the inventory shortage, and housing starts need to rise at least 50% from current levels," he said. "Most local home builders are small businesses and simply don’t have access to capital on Wall Street. Clearer regulatory rules, applied to construction loans for smaller community banks and credit unions, could bring many small-sized builders back into the market." 

The national median existing-home price is forecast to rise nearly 7% this year, while mortgage interest rates should remain historically low.

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Rafferty Wholesale Building Materials distributes CAMO

BY Ken Clark

National Nail Corp. announced Rafferty Wholesale Building Materials as a new distribution partner for its CAMO Hidden Deck Fastening System. CAMO product is currently available from Rafferty’s headquarters in Sterling, Mass.

Rafferty serves retail lumberyards, hardware stores, mason yards and hardscape yards throughout New England, New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

"When I was approached by National Nail Corp. to sell their CAMO Hidden Deck Fastening System, I jumped at the opportunity; I had just seen the product line at a national trade show and was impressed,” said Sean Lorden, president of Rafferty Wholesale. “The low-cost fastening system provides the ease of installation for a homeowner, as well as the quality and performance demanded by contractors."

The CAMO Hidden Deck Fastening System is a hidden deck fastening system designed for both professional deck builders and homeowners.

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