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Northwest: Breaking the mold

BY Brae Canlen

Barry Reid grew up in Eugene, Ore., where mold was considered “normal,” he recalls. But that was long before issues like indoor air quality and moisture control moved to the front burners in the Pacific Northwest.

Now Reid works for Georgia-Pacific as a product development marketing manager for DensArmor, a paperless wallboard that prohibits the growth of mold. He can talk about fungi, of course, and how they don’t like to eat fiberglass. But in interviews, he tends to veer off to other topics like energy efficiency and vapor barriers.

“All these issues are linked,” Reid said. “You just can’t do one thing in a home without affecting other things. If you build a house to be incredibly air tight, you have to have strategies to [maintain] good air quality.”

Manufacturers of insulation, moisture barriers and anti-mold products are learning how to work in tandem, often in public-private groups like the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), an organization that includes, along with home builders and government agencies, representatives from DuPont, Andersen Windows, Armstrong World Industries, CertainTeed, Arxx Building Products, Louisiana-Pacific, Advanced Wall Systems and General Electric.

Two other drywall manufacturers, USG and National Gypsum, have joined together with the Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition. Their mission, according to spokesman Morrie Newell, is to educate builders and contractors about proper flashing techniques, storage of building materials under wet conditions and other ways of preventing water intrusion. “If you control moisture, you control mold,” said Newell. “Everybody has to roll with this.”

That doesn’t mean everyone agrees on which direction to roll, however. The state of Oregon has always been considered progressive when it comes to green building, yet codes require unfaced insulation, excluding vapor barriers that keep heat in but allow moisture out. Both Johns Manville and CertainTeed make fiberglass insulation faced with “smart” barriers that regulate moisture inside wall cavities and impede mold growth.

“We believe that the walls and the ceilings have to breathe,” said Arturo Horta, a product manager for DuPont. Horta works with ThermaWrap, a metalized Tyvek that reflects heat to reduce energy consumption. But moisture from bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms could become trapped inside, causing mold and other problems, so ThermaWrap was designed as a permeable barrier.

“We need to take a whole systems approach to building a home, because when we just do parts and pieces, you get into trouble,” said Mark LaLiberte, a consultant with Building Knowledge. “The rules of physics apply to everybody.”

LaLiberte travels around the country giving seminars on better building practices and residential green building techniques. He said he’s found a particularly receptive audience in the Northwest, where LBM dealers are trying to keep up to date on new products and technologies. On Oct. 31, LaLiberte conducted a workshop for 70 builders in Seattle, and the previous week, a seminar for Stock Lumber in Boise. He said he dreams of the day when most guys behind the lumber counter can freely dispense advice on green building methods.

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Lumber Liquidators closes IPO

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toano, Va.-based specialty hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators has closed its initial public offering.

The company offered 10 million shares of common stock at a price of $11 per share, including 3.8 million shares offered by the company and 6.2 million shares offered by selling stockholders.

The company intends to use the net proceeds of approximately $36.4 million from the offering to repay outstanding debt and support the growth of the business, which includes plans for 25 stores in 2007, followed by 30 to 40 new stores per year until 2011.

Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch acted as joint book-running managers with Lehman Brothers, Banc of America Securities and Piper Jaffray serving as co-managers for the offering.

Lumber Liquidators has seen same-store sales growth of 8.5 percent to 9 percent each quarter this year. According to the company’s S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2006 Lumber Liquidators had sales of $332 million, up 35 percent from sales of $245 million in 2005.

The retailer currently operates 111 small-format stores in the United States. The company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LL.”

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NKT Holdings withdraws initial public offering

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Providence, R.I.-based HVAC company NTK Holdings has canceled its initial public offering according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week.

The company said that the application was withdrawn “due to the unsettled market conditions.” The company had planned to use the IPO proceeds to repay debt.

The announcement was part of Nortek’s third-quarter earnings statement. Nortek, which reported a 4 percent increase in sales, is a subsidiary of NKT.

The company reported net earnings of $37.6 million for the period ended Sept. 29, down 44.9 percent from last year’s earnings of $67.7 million in the same period last year. Nortek also reported net sales of $602 million, up 4 percent from $579 million last year.

NTK Holdings manufactures air conditioning, heating ventilation and home environmental control technology products.

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