San Diego builders organize protest
San Diego — A coalition of San Diego home builders, angry over mounting foreclosures and frozen credit lines, demonstrated in front of three downtown banks on Jan. 14. Carrying signs that said, “Where’s the bailout?” and “Stop hurting small businesses,” builders and construction workers protested lending practices that they claim have forced them to halt construction projects.
The protest, reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, was organized by Michael Pattison, president of Barratt American. Pattison, whose San Diego-based home-building firm was forced into Chapter 11 after a dispute with Bank of America, has formed the Building Industry Coalition for Economic Recovery. The coalition now counts 165 members, many of them builders from California and other parts of the country.
Pattison told the Union-Tribune that the banks targeted by the protest have a history of halting home-construction projects. Two of the three banks issued statements saying they have not abandoned the building industry and are working to modify loans for distressed home builders.
Sears extends layaway into 2009
Sears announced it will offer its layaway program — popularized during the 2008 holiday season — throughout the year. Through the program, customers can reserve Sears merchandise, pay in installments and pick up the items within 90 days.
“The response to Sears offering layaway over the holidays was quite positive, and as a result, we decided to extend into 2009,” said Don Hamblen, Sears’ chief marketing officer. “By offering great values and an affordable way to pay for their purchases with layaway, we are confident that customers will be able to continue to give their families the things they want and deserve in the New Year.”
Merchandise — from a wide selection of Craftsman tools, to storage, to lawn and garden equipment and patio furniture for spring and summer — is now eligible for layaway. Also on the list are the Lands’ End and Ty Pennington lines, along with jewelry and fitness equipment.
Among the merchandise that cannot be put on layaway are the following: home electronics, home appliances, automotive merchandise, consumables, licensed goods, gift cards, beer and wine, food and other perishables, chemicals, paint thinner, live plants and pool chemicals.
The Sears 2009 layaway program does not affect the existing Fine Jewelry program. Sears layaway is available in Sears Full Line, Sears Hardware, Sears Grands and Sears Essential Stores (not available in Automotive, Dealer, Outlet Stores or on Sears.com).
NLBMDA outlines policy agenda
The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) kick-started the new year with a 16-page document that spells out the trade group’s position on a number of issues affecting lumber dealers across the nation. Called the “NLBMDA 2009 National Policy Agenda,” the document addresses a variety of topics: the housing industry, immigration reform, free trade, affordable health care, the estate tax, green building mandates, union balloting and safety standards in the workplace, to name just a few.
“Simply put, the [agenda] will lay out in a clear and concise manner the issues of importance to the LBM industry in Washington and the principles we will use going forward to evaluate whether we will support or oppose an issue,” said NLBMDA president and CEO Michael O’Brien in a prepared statement. “Public policy makers will know exactly where we stand as an industry.”
Under development since September 2008, several NLBMDA committees, along with the board of directors, worked on the policy agenda.
Copies of the document will be distributed to members of Congress and key administration officials, the trade group said, as well as to elected representatives in lumber dealers’ home districts and states. The agenda will also be used during the NLBMDA members’ annual visit to Capitol Hill, scheduled for March 16 to 19, 2009.