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Nonresidential construction slowing, survey says

BY Brae Canlen

Uncertainty in the market and difficulties of getting projects approved are putting the brakes on non-residential construction, according to a survey just released by FMI, a leading provider of management consulting and investment banking to the engineering and construction industry. 

The firm’s Nonresidential Construction Index (NRCI) slipped from 58.6 to a still positive 52.4 for the third quarter of 2011. Although the survey closed the week before the stock market slide, the uncertainty in the markets is reflected in the panelists’ responses, the company noted.

Most components of the NRCI are down this quarter as backlogs slipped again from nine months back to just eight months. After setting the question aside for two quarters, the survey asked again about cancellations and delays due to owner financing difficulties. The response was similar to that received at the end of 2010, except panelists noted delays weren’t caused as much by lack of financing now as uncertainty in the market and difficulties of getting projects approved and off the ground. Another factor mentioned was contractors taking more care to assure project financing was in place before the project got started.

The NRCI survey also questioned participants about the current connection between residential construction and nonresidential construction, as well as expected changes in infrastructure construction due to expected government budget cuts. Most panelists said there is still a bond between nonresidential construction activity and residential, but the ties might be weaker than in the past. Nonetheless, few expect there to be a strong recovery for nonresidential construction until residential gets more traction, especially for commercial construction.

Infrastructure construction is expected to pull back in all levels of government. Many panelists noted that this was probably necessary, but also amounted to lack of governments to recognize the job potential benefits of good infrastructure projects on both the economy and overall employment. If there was one concern reflected in the results this quarter, it was the government’s uncertainty and lack of direction, which stifles owners’ decisions to invest in capital improvements and infrastructure.

 

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DeWalt launches new line laser

BY HBSDEALER Staff

DeWalt has launched its new Line Laser, which features multiple design enhancements to improve productivity on the jobsite. 

The DW089K is for professionals tasked with residential and commercial applications, such as installing cabinets, drop ceilings, chair rails or doors and windows. The Line Laser can also be used when installing floor and wall tile or mapping wall layout.

“Contractors are increasingly using lasers to improve their productivity, and according to our research, many professionals want a line laser that assists with layout work,” said Ward Smith, product manager, DeWalt. “The third vertical beam that our new unit offers, aids in layout applications to solve many of the common frustrations our users experienced. This feature coupled with several other key advancements is sure to make the DW089K a leading line laser in the marketplace.”

The DW089K features a second plumb line that forms a 90-degree intersecting line on the floor and ceiling. This third vertical beam allows contractors to use the tool for layout applications without the need for a second laser, saving time and allowing users to be as productive as possible.

The product is expected to retail for approximately $329.00, and it will come with a kit box and four AA batteries that will provide a minimum of 30 hours of runtime.

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A. O. Smith names scholarship winners

BY HBSDealer Staff

Falls Church, Va.-based A. O. Smith announced the winners of two $2,500 scholarships for students pursuing plumbing-heating-cooling related studies.

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Educational Foundation administers the scholarship program and is responsible for selecting the award winners. The scholarship program is designed to attract the new talent essential to the future of the plumbing and HVAC industry.

The 2011 scholarship recipients are Katie Burns of Social Circle, Ga., a student at the University of Georgia; and Megan Schroeder of Maple Grove, Minn., a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“For eight consecutive years, A. O. Smith has supported the future leaders of the PHCC industry with annual collegiate scholarships. We are proud to sponsor these qualified and talented students in their pursuit of a career within our industry,” said A. O. Smith brand manager David Chisolm.

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