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Sales, income fall at Trex

BY Brae Canlen

Composite deck maker Trex announced net sales for the second quarter of 2011 of $78.4 million, compared with net sales of $115.5 million for the 2010 second quarter. Net income for the quarter, which ended June 30, 2011, was $2.1 million, compared with $4.8 million a year ago. The Winchester, Va., company reported $13.3 million of non-cash charges during the 2010 period, which included a $9.0 million increase to its warranty reserve, a $1.9 million charge related to supply contracts and a $2.4 million charge related to its joint venture for recycling waste polyethylene in Spain. Without these one-time charges, net income for the second quarter of 2010 was $18.0 million.

In a prepared statement, chairman, president and CEO Ronald Kaplan said: "As previously announced, second-quarter sales were less than expected due to poor weather in much of the country and, to a lesser extent, the challenging macroeconomic environment. The severe winter storms that impacted many parts of the U.S. through April were followed by heavier-than-normal precipitation during most of May, delaying the start of the deck-building season and negatively affecting the sell-through of our products.”

Kaplan added that Trex is focusing on dealer conversions in an effort to take more market share, as well as expanding its product portfolio to include products such as porch flooring and Trex trim and molding. 

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AHMA measure of industry confidence climbs slightly

BY Ken Clark

The American Hardware Manufacturers Association’s AHMA Home Improvement Industry Confidence Index’s Current Situation Index improved in September to 237.5 from 229.2 in August (October 2008 = 100), while the Future Expectations Index declined slightly to 187.9 from 193.1. 

In comparing current sales levels with year-ago levels, 57% of respondents said sales were higher in September versus year-ago levels, up from 55% in August. For September, 21% reported sales were even, and 21% said sales were below year-ago levels. 

“September marks the third consecutive month wherein our members have reported higher sales than the preceding month," said Timothy Farrell, president and CEO of the Schaumburg, Ill.-based AHMA. "However, it also marks the third consecutive month where they have forecast future sales to be either flat or even with current levels." 

Looking forward six months, 50% of September respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, up from 48% in August. In September, 46% of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months and 4% expect sales to be below current levels.

Looking forward one year, 59% of respondents project sales will be higher, down from 64% who felt that way in August. Forty-one percent of September respondents project sales will be even one year from now and 0% project sales will be below current levels.

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Home centers tackle “Big Data”

BY HBSDEALER Staff

San Diego — “Big Data,” and what to do with it, was a recurring topic at the Teradata Partners User Group Conference, held here from Oct. 2 to 5.  Retailers, insurance companies, telecom firms, banks and others looking for best practices in data warehousing and optimization were among the 3,500 attendees at the San Diego Convention Center. With so many challenges facing IT professionals –everything from geomarketing to capturing tweets inside a data warehouse — participants focused on collaboration and learning from each other’s mistakes and successes. 

In a session called Mastering Metadata Management, Kathryn DioQuino of Lowe’s explained how her team built bridges between various departments in order to implement a program that would give easy, shared access to the data warehouse. Her 12-person team, which included members from data, research and analytics, had 12 weeks to accomplish their mission. They succeeded, with some back-up from the infrastructure and network security team.  

To hear DioQuino explain it, they did the project on a shoestring. “We hated to use IT resources,” she said. Lowe’s already owned MDS software so the company only needed to pay for some Teradata services. Although the project was run by “data scientists,” as they jokingly renamed themselves, the push came from Lowe’s business side.  

The payoff, DioQuino said, is that the company now has data stored from multiple sources in one place. And Lowe’s has much more flexibility in searching and finding customer data, opening up new business intelligence opportunities.

Home Depot representatives led several sessions, including one about data warehouse management and another involving sales lost to stock-outs because there’s not enough inventory on the shelves. A number of attendees checked back in with Clay Barrineau of Home Depot, who gave a session at last year’s conference on Home Depot’s ongoing rollout of its new mobile devices. 

“Store Walk Mobility” now goes by a sexier name — “Tactical Reporting” — and all 2,000 of Home Depot’s U.S. stores have 15 to 20 of the handheld devices. Stores associates can check inventory for a particular item, or see if a neighboring store has one in stock. These are just two of the types of questions that flow into Home Depot’s data warehouse, which fields 300 to 400 distinct queries from the devices on a typical Monday.

Barrineau and his team have to make sure the system delivers a timely response without riding roughshod over the needs of every other database user. Using query banding and putting throttles in place, they have been able to keep query response time to less than five seconds while not overwhelming the system. “At the end of the day, you’re going to have to find out your individual sweet spot for the workload you want to run on your system,” Barrineau told the audience.

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