News Map: Spanning the country
1. Emerging Salem, Ore.-based Western Tool Supply emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company’s reorganization plan took effect June 29, 2010, according to Kevin Kiker, president of Western Tool. The streamlined company will operate with 20 remaining stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah. At its peak in 2008, the company ran 76 stores, including locations in Canada and the United Kingdom. The pro-focused company started in 1982, and sells power tools, hand tools, fasteners and related items.
2. Forecasting The California Building Industry Association reported state housing production in July increased from a year ago, but declined compared with June. The stats from the Construction Industry Research Board showed permits were pulled for 4,165 total housing units in July, up 35% from July 2009, but down 10% from June. The CIRB’s updated forecast calls for 47,500 units to be built in 2010, up 30% from 2009’s record low.
3. Expanding In Eden Prairie, Minn., Menards is on-pace to open a 236,000-sq.-ft. mega store this spring. The two-story Menards will replace an older Eden Prairie store. At the latest count, Menards operates 255 stores, all in the Midwest.
4. Distributing In Prichard, W.Va., House-Hasson Hardware is adding 100,000 sq. ft. to its Prichard, W.Va., warehouse. The approximately $2 million addition will bring the West Virginia warehouse to 300,000 sq. ft., the company said. Construction is scheduled for completion in January 2011. House-Hasson recently completed a $1 million, 50,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters warehouse. Don Hasson, House-Hasson Hardware president, said the company’s 2009 acquisition of distribution company Moore-Handley and customer service are the principal reasons for the expansion. “This is a direct result of the Moore-Handley acquisition, which has had the universally positive effect on our company that we had anticipated,” Hasson said.
5. Exchanging In downtown Baltimore, The Great Maryland Lawn Mower Exchange of 2010 took place Aug. 13, allowing hundreds of green-minded homeowners to trade in their gas-powered lawn mowers for battery-powered mowers. Sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment and Clean Air Partners, the event offered steep discounts for lime-green Neuton Mowers to Maryland residents who exchanged their gas-powered mower, whether it worked or not. The event marked the 101st such exchange for Neuton, the Vermont-based direct-to-consumer manufacturer, which has exchanged more than 40,000 mowers over the years. It also showcased some green-focused stats. The EPA estimated 5% of all air pollution in the United States is the result of gas mowers.
Deere sells wind energy business
Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co. has signed an agreement to sell John Deere Renewables, its wind energy business, to Exelon Generation Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon Corp. Deere expects the transaction will close in 2010.
John Deere Renewables includes 36 completed projects in eight states with an operational capacity of 735 megawatts. The agreement includes the completed projects plus others in development.
“As Deere sharpens its own strategic focus, we have concluded that the company’s resources are best invested in growing our core equipment businesses around the world,” said Samuel R. Allen, Deere & Co. chairman and CEO. “We have chosen to place the wind portfolio with Exelon in part due to its demonstrated leadership in the energy industry.”
Deere said the $900 million sale, including earn-out provisions, will result in an after-tax charge of about $25 million in its fourth-quarter results.
Consumer Confidence bounces slightly in August
The Consumer Confidence Index increased slightly to 53.5 in August, up from 51.0 in July, but down from 54.1 in August 2009.
The Conference Board’s index (1985=100) increased with the short-term outlook, according to director Lynn Franco. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, however, was less favorable as employment concerns continue to weigh heavily on consumers’ attitudes. Expectations about future business and labor market conditions have brightened somewhat, but overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future. All in all, consumers are about as confident today as they were a year ago.”
The Present Situation Index decreased to 24.9 from 26.4. The Expectations Index increased to 72.5 from 67.5 last month.
Consumers were also less pessimistic about future job prospects. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 14.6% from 14.2%, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 19.4% from 20.9%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes held steady at 10.6%.