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NLBMDA calls for green lumber standard

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association (NLBMDA) is seeking to simplify chain-of-custody issues for its members through a new grade stamp on eco-friendly lumber.

Through its affiliated group, the LBM Institute, association members have asked the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) to adopt an eco-forest management standard, accredit agencies to certify the standard and establish a grade stamp similar to other designations for dryness, size and species.

The request was submitted to the ALSC on Jan. 4. A spokesperson for ALSC, an independent agency that oversees the accreditation of softwood and pressure-treated lumber, told Home Channel News that the proposal is under review and will be discussed at an upcoming meeting.

If adopted, the new grade would identify each piece of lumber that is milled from ecologically managed forests. Lumberyard dealers would no longer have to keep the lumber physically separate all the way to the job site; nor would they need to maintain proof of certification and other paper documentation to prove its eco-lineage. These practices, currently required by some green building designations, add costs to the building supply channel, particularly at the builder and retailer end, according to the proposal.

The LBM Institute is the research and education arm of the NLBMDA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that represents more than 8,000 lumber and building material distributors across the country.

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Earnings fall at Stock, Ferguson

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wolseley, the parent company of Stock Building Supply and Ferguson Enterprises, reported a 10 percent drop in revenues for its North American division during the five-month period ending Dec. 31, 2007. Earnings for the division, which also includes Wolseley’s Canadian operations, fell more than 40 percent.

Stock lost approximately 25 million pounds (US$49.3 million) in the five-month period, compared to a 45 million pound (US$88.7 million) profit in the comparable period a year ago. The Raleigh, N.C.-based pro dealer eliminated 1,500 jobs in the first quarter.

Plumbing wholesaler Ferguson saw a 3 percent rise in revenues due to acquisitions but a 3 percent drop in organic sales growth during the period. Profits were down 3 percent for the Newport News, Va.-based company. Since August 2007, Ferguson’s headcount has been reduced by 1,500.

Stock and Ferguson are no longer obligated to report their financial results to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Wolseley delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, effective Dec. 31, 2007, as a cost-saving measure, according to the company. Wolseley’s shares continue to trade on the over-the-counter market. The company is also listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Headquartered in Reading, England, Wolseley is an international building materials distributor with nearly 5,000 branch operations in 28 countries.

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Minnesota warns of possible emerald ash borer in Lowe’s planters

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has released a statement warning of a possible emerald ash borer infestation in certain planters sold in that state. The “Nature’s Own Planters” by Lawson Products have not shown signs of an ash borer infestation, according to a statement from the group, but the warning is being issued as a precautionary measure.

“The products apparently were distributed to Lowe’s stores in Minnesota,” said a statement from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Last week, MDA learned that a manufacturer in Indiana allegedly had mislabeled the planter boxes and shipped them into other states during the summer and fall of 2007 without the proper compliance agreement. MDA officials continue to investigate the situation along with their federal counterparts.”

Although Minnesota has not had an infestation of the emerald ash borer, the agriculture department said the insect can move to new areas in infested firewood or other ash material. The emerald ash borer has been blamed for killing 20 million ash trees throughout the Midwest, in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

“We’ve received great cooperation from the retail stores, and now we’re hoping to get help from individual consumers who may have bought these planter boxes,” said Geir Friisoe, MDA plant protection division director. Friisoe said none of the planter boxes inspected by MDA showed signs of emerald ash borer.

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