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This plumber can really hit the slopes

BY HBSDEALER Staff

He's a plumber. He's a world-class snowboarder. And now, Jonathan Cheever is an American Standard Athlete.

Cheever, 32 — a U.S. Snowboard Team member since 2005 — is an elite level athlete in snowboard cross. This high-speed sport combines the skills of snowboarding on a downhill ski racing course similar to the design used for motorcycle motocross. As an “American Standard Athlete”, Cheever will promote the brand’s sponsorship across his social media channels and will use a custom-designed American Standard branded helmet and board at snowboard cross competitions this winter. 

In the off-season, Cheever works for his father’s company, Mark Cheever Plumbing and Heating, in Saugus, Mass., as a vocation to support his passion for snowboarding. He has been a licensed journeyman plumber since 2004 and a user of American Standard plumbing products.

In September, Cheever earned third place at the first World Cup of the season, qualifying him to compete on the world’s biggest stage. Throughout December, Cheever will race in three additional World Cup events to solidify his spot on the roster. He has ten FIS World Cup podiums, earned four national championships, and participated in ten Winter X-Games, an annual extreme sports competition for winter sport athletes.

“The plumbing trade is underrated as a profession. Personally, I’ve found this challenging and specialized line of work to be truly satisfying,” explained Cheever. “My plumbing career offers me the flexibility and financial freedom I need to support my passion for snowboard cross, and I’m excited to have American Standard join me on this journey.”

In addition to fitting conveniently into Cheever’s seasonal snowboarding schedule, plumbing work presents other benefits, as well. Compared to the costs of a four-year college degree, the education and training required to become a plumber is far less of an investment, so Cheever can focus on paying his training, competition, and coaches instead of student loans. 

“Jonathan Cheever’s successes in the challenging sport of snowboard cross, combined with his rewarding profession as a journeyman plumber, demonstrates that there is more than one way to approach a career in the skilled trades,” said Steven Delarge, president and CEO of LIXIL Americas. “We are all very excited about this inspiring new partnership and wish Jonathan all the best as he races toward the finish line this winter.”

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Fraudulent retail activity increased in 2017

BY Andy Carlo

Every dollar of fraud cost merchants $2.77, up from $2.40 a year ago, according to the LexisNexis Risk Solutions 2017 "True Cost of Fraud" report.

The report includes the LexisNexis Fraud Multiplier, which estimates the total amount of loss a merchant incurs based on the actual dollar value of a fraudulent transaction. For merchants with digital and physical goods, the LexisNexis Fraud Multiplier has increased 63% since last year, rising from $2.18 to $3.56.

The overall report is based on a survey of more than 650 risk and fraud executives in multichannel retail organizations while detailing current fraud trends. The volume of fraud has risen from a monthly average of 206 successful fraudulent transactions to 238 per month while prevented fraudulent transactions increased from 236 to 257, according to the report. The level of fraud as a percentage of transactions is also up to 1.58% from 1.47% a year ago.

LexisNexis says fraud is growing through online channels and sales of digital goods, particularly via online transactions. New access channels and payment methods, including mobile wallets, the U.S. EMV rollout, and digital channel applications have all made the regulatory and payment landscape more challenging for merchants, the report says.

"With online fraud outpacing reported growth in e-commerce sales volume, we can point to EMV implementation at physical retail stores as a cause. Also in the digital space, botnet fraud also has risen dramatically, which correlates with the rise in e-gift card volume and fraud," said Paul Bjerke, LexisNexis Risk Solutions vice president of fraud and identify management strategy.

With e-commerce and m-commerce merchants, a slight drop has been reported debit-card fraud, likely the result of chip/pin use, LexisNexis said. However, credit card fraud remains high, with debit card fraud remaining high among merchants selling both physical and digital goods.

"Merchants selling physical and digital goods often apply a one-size-fits-all program to fight fraud, and they use a limited set of solutions,” said Kimberly Sutherland, senior director, fraud and identity management strategy for LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “These less advanced and less sophisticated legacy solutions do not appear to be working, given the sharp rise in costs and volume of successful fraud attempts."

Headquartered in metro-Atlanta, LexisNexis Risk Solutions serves customers in more than 100 countries and is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. This is the eighth annual comprehensive study of U.S. merchant fraud conducted by Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions, the company said. 

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Dec. 8, 2017.

Western: regional species perimeter foundation
Southern: regional species slab construction

Crow's Market Recap: A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.

Lumber

SPF sales activity remained lackluster, leading to lower prices and quotes. Producers in eastern Canada approached the market more aggressively than mills in the West, but some smaller western producers were not exempt from listening to deep counters. The announcement Thursday that the US International Trade Commission had voted unanimously in favor of the Department of Commerce’s final duty determination elicited muted responses from traders.        

  • Any strength in several key Southern Pine items ebbed while mills tried to balance production with demand levels they expect for the remainder of the year. Demand at distribution and retail yards remained good, forcing buyers to replenish, but those replenishment volumes were kept in check.
  • Trends in Coastal species lumber continued, with green Doug pricing steady to higher and dry pricing susceptible to more discounting. Dry production continued to outpace demand despite log issues.
  • In Inland lumber, prices of both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir fluttered down a bit, spurred on by aggressive Canadian sellers intent on moving cash wood before duties go into effect.
  • Weak stud prices outnumbered those items able to make gains, consequently, nearly all reported prices were flat to lower. Seasonal demand continued to trail production, although some regional anomalies did exist.
  • Radiata Pine industrial lumber was reported available but with no price changes. The focus of the industrial\
  • Ponderosa Pine market is on Shop. All grades are in demand, and all grades showed price gains. In boards, Ponderosa Pine availability was reported down slightly; demand was up. The result was a sharp jump in the prices of both C&Btr and D Selects; most Commons were stable, with the exception of 1×6, which was generally weaker.
  • Interest among buyers to purchase Western Red Cedar for January deliveries increased. More of them seemed less resistant to prices and more concerned with supplies for the coming year. Still, buyers are cautious in response to high prices currently in the market.

Panels

Activity picked up in OSB markets, with scattered volume purchases reported amid an overall improved tone. The impending holidays served to temper purchasing, while producers made deals to push order files out past the end of the year.           

  • After sales activity improved the week prior, the Southern Pine plywood market picked up momentum, halting rated sheathing price declines that took place over the prior several weeks. For the most part, mill order files extended into the weeks of Dec. 18 and 25.
  • Although certainly not robust, the Western Fir plywood market continued to show improvement after a slight increase in activity the prior week. Mills managed to fill out order files up to and around scheduled shutdowns around the holidays, selling some volumes for shipment during the first week of January.
  • Canadian plywood markets have a steady feel, though are slowing pre-holiday. Producers have order files into the weeks of January 1-8, with limited volumes available Dec. 18-25.
  • Particleboard and MDF sales activity lacked vigor as the market would down for the year. Supplies outweighed year-end demand levels, allowing yards to receive volumes in a relatively short period of time.

For more on RISI, click here.

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