Single-family housing starts increase in December

BY Ken Clark

According to the Commerce Department’s tally, December’s total housing starts were down from November, but single-family starts were at the highest rate in 21 months.

December housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000, down 4.1% from the November pace of 685,000. But compared with last year, total starts are up 24.9%.

While total starts faltered in December, the single-family numbers gave some optimism for a home improvement and housing industry hungry for growth. On a single-family basis, starts in December were at a rate of 470,000, up 4.4% from November and up 11.6% from December 2010. The December number was the strongest since April 2010.

Building permits were at a rate of 679,000, essentially flat from November but up 7.8% from December 2010.

For the full year, an estimated 606,900 housing units were started in the United States, up 3.4% from the 2010 figure of 586,900. However, single-family starts declined in 2011 to 428,600 for the full year, down 9.0% from 2010. The 2011 single-family figure is the lowest on record.


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CalStar names new CEO

BY Brae Canlen

CalStar Products, a manufacturer of low-energy, low-CO2 masonry products, has hired Joel Rood as its new CEO. Rood has worked in the building products and materials industry for 15 years, most recently as general manager for CertainTeed Canada. He also served as general manager of the southern U.S. division at James Hardie Corp.

Rood’s previous positions also include assignments with Hilti and Schlumberger in the United States and internationally.

CalStar is backed by cleantech investment leaders Foundation Capital, EnerTech Capital, Nth Power and The Westly Group. Under Rood, the company will relocate its headquarters and R&D activity from California to its manufacturing plant in Caledonia, Wis.

CalStar Products develops and manufactures sustainable building products that allow customers to reduce the energy and carbon footprint of their projects and incorporate significant recycled materials. It was founded in Silicon Valley.


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How much credit should be given to the co-op business model for the success of the independent hardware and building supply dealer over the last half century?

BMC builds on sales at second national meeting

BY Ken Clark

The theme was "America’s Homebuilding Recovery Starts With Us." The place was Las Vegas. And the guest speaker was football legend Terry Bradshaw. 

The second annual BMC National Sales Meeting was an all-hands-on-deck affair for the Boise, Idaho-based pro dealer’s sales team and branch operations managers. The Jan. 9 to 12 event also had 140 vendor companies represented, along with about 200 customers. 

"The energy was good because the whole team was there," said BMC CEO Peter Alexander. "Our ‘town-hall’ meetings were very effective and they had good sales work on top of that."

During the event, Terry Bradshaw presented Alexander with a commemorative jersey when the multiple Super Bowl champion quarterback addressed the meeting Monday evening during BMC’s "Sports Night." Referring to a remarkable play from 1972 that led to a touchdown and a playoff victory, Bradshaw said, "When I hear about the BMC story, it reminds me of the immaculate reception. They have a great team and a winning attitude."

During the meeting, Alexander and BMC’s executive team detailed the company’s strategy to their entire sales and management group, plus customers from all of the company’s markets. The event also featured a large vendor trade show with exhibits from the industry’s leading suppliers.

Alexander noted: "This year’s show is larger by almost 300 participants, attended by four times as many vendor partners than last year, and included nearly 200 of our key customers.

"Today we are operating fundamentally well and incrementally better,” he added. “We understand that passion wins the business, but crisp execution keeps the customer."


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How much credit should be given to the co-op business model for the success of the independent hardware and building supply dealer over the last half century?