Rail shipments of lumber on the increase
Union Pacific Corp. is pulling rail cars from storage for the first time in four years to haul lumber for home builders, according to a Bloomberg report.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that North American rail carloads of lumber and wood products have risen 10% through the end of July when compared with the same period in 2011.
In its latest weekly rail traffic report, dated Aug. 16, the AAR reported that 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with lumber and wood products up 19.8%, outpaced only by petroleum products at a 44.4% increase.
The previous week’s report, on Aug. 9, showed a 29% rise for lumber and wood products compared with the previous year. Petroleum products rose 56.3%.
Warren Buffet’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe hauled 10.7% more lumber and wood products in the first half of this year than a year earlier, according to Bloomberg. The housing-market trend that’s boosted Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC)’s lumber business by 6% is “encouraging,” Donald Seale, chief marketing officer of the Norfolk, Va., company, said in a July 24 conference call with analysts. Clarence Gooden, CSX executive VP sales and marketing, projected a “continued recovery” in building materials on a July 18 earnings call, Bloomberg reported.
Economists speculate that builders may be stockpiling lumber, given the volumes shipped versus the number of housing starts. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president Richard Fisher told reporters on June 28 that the “numbers would tell you we’d have some 700,000-plus homes built this year.” He observed that the recovery process is a slow one, adding: “I do think the housing market has bottomed out.”
ABM Distributors taps Tabor as leader
Portland, Ore.-based Associated Building Material Distributors (ABM) named Garry Tabor as executive VP.
As leader of the ABM, Tabor said he and his team will seek out ways to improve the two-step distribution model.
“I am honored to have been selected by the ABM board of directors to lead this great organization,” said Tabor. “ABM is a diversified conglomerate of world-class distributors. We will deploy new ideas and forward-thinking practices in order to create a new kind of two-step distribution and to enhance the supplier–distributor relationship.”
Prior to coming to ABM, Tabor was the president and CEO of Heico Distribution Group and president and CEO of Building Material Distributors (BMD). Both are based in California.
Founded in 1975, ABM is a network of 45 wholesale distributors located across the United States and in Canada. The collective buying power of this group is in excess of $3 billion.
D.R. Horton acquires home-building assets of Breland Homes
Fort Worth, Texas-based home builder D.R. Horton has acquired the homebuilding operations of Breland Homes, which operates in Huntsville, Mobile and Baldwin County in Alabama and along the gulf coast of Mississippi. The home-building operating assets included about 320 homes in inventory and 1,020 finished lots. D.R. Horton will also control an additional 3,700 lots through option contracts.
In 2011, Breland closed 684 homes ($130 million in revenue). Breland’s average home size is about 2,200 sq. ft. with an average sales price of $200,000.
“Breland Homes has developed an excellent reputation for quality and service, and we welcome Breland to the D.R. Horton family,” said Donald Horton, chairman of the board, D.R. Horton. “We are very excited about the expansion of our operations in Mobile and Baldwin County and our entrance into the Huntsville and Mississippi Gulf Coast markets."
D.R. Horton has operations in 75 markets in 26 states in the East, Midwest, Southeast, South Central, Southwest and West regions of the United States.