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Target faces lawsuit over Web site

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Big-box retailer Target faces a class action lawsuit over its Web site, which plaintiffs in the action say is essentially unusable for the blind.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, plaintiffs have argued the retailer’s Web site violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. They say other companies have adopted technology that makes Web sites accessible to the blind by offering embedded features that vocalize written content.

The federation filed the suit, originally filed in California state court in February 2006 and moved at Target’s request to San Francisco federal court the following month, according to the newspaper. The suit alleged that “due to Target’s failure and refusal to remove access barriers to Target.com, blind individuals have been and are being denied equal access to Target stores.”

Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted the suit class action status this week.

Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told the Wall Street Journal, “All e-commerce businesses should take note of this decision and immediately take steps to open their doors to the blind.”

Target argued that since the original filing of the lawsuit, it has made changes to the Web site to make it more accessible to the blind. Judge Patel ruled against that argument.

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CORRECTED In depth: A sharper focus for BMHC

BY HBSDEALER Staff

[Corrects the first paragraph purchase price] BMC West has pulled out of the western Colorado market, selling its distribution yards in Aspen, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs to a local dealer with two locations. Harbert Lumber, headquartered in Grand Junction,purchased the three locations through its affiliate, West Canyon Investments. The transaction includes a lease in Aspen and real estate assets in Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs. The sales price for the three units was $11.4 million.

Robert Mellor, BMHC’s chairman, president and CEO, explained that the company is shifting away from retail-oriented operations in favor of value-added products and services, including manufacturing and the installation of millwork and structural components.

“We remain focused on ensuring our operating facilities are optimally located and provide the right range of professionally oriented products and services to drive growth and operating efficiencies,” Mellor said. “In a number of instances, this has entailed a shift away from more retail-oriented operations like those located in Aspen and Steamboat Springs. Strategically, this transaction will allow us to concentrate our efforts and resources on expanding in markets that align with our long-term growth plans.”

Earlier this year, BMHC combined some of its facilities and delivery functions in the Denver metro area. Company CFO Bill Smartt told analysts on July 26 to expect even more consolidation.

“We will take advantage of every opportunity we have to consolidate facilities at BMC West,” Smartt said during a conference call.

Ironically, BMC West was the company’s star performer during its second fiscal quarter, gaining market share and protecting its margins despite declines in building permits and lumber prices. BMHC credited the division’s customer base of local and regional builders and remodelers. BMC West tends to serve smaller markets and is not as dependent on production builders as SelectBuild, BMHC’s construction services division.

The Western Slope region of Colorado is dominated by custom builders, particularly Aspen and Steamboat Springs, where the cost of a home easily runs into seven figures. Remodeling jobs also tend to be high end, given the wealthy demographics.

Pro-Build’s Home Lumber serves the area, as does Alpine Lumber, a 15-unit chain that had $189 million in sales last year. BMHC chose to sell its three yards, which generated $40 million in sales in 2006, to Harbert Lumber, a family-owned operation with a lumberyard in Grand Junction and a smaller location in Edwards, Colo. The third generation owners did $16.5 million in sales in 2006, according to Chain Store Guide, a sister publication to Home Channel News. The company also operates a truss plant, an installation division and a door shop.

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Weyerhaeuser to partially shut two mills

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser said it will close parts of two mills in Louisiana and Georgia. Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser said it will close parts of two mills in Louisiana and Georgia.

The company will convert its plywood operation in Dodson, La., to a veneer manufacturing operation effective Oct. 26, and will stop veneer production at its Colbert, Ga., mill within the next 30 days. The Colbert site will continue to be used for beam construction, the company said.

“There’s a shrinking demand for plywood and an increasing availability of alternative products,” said Cathy Slater, vp-veneer technologies. “We made the decision after a thorough review of short-term and long-term demand for our plywood panels and to further integrate dry veneer into our engineered lumber products.”

Weyerhaeuser will release its third-quarter earnings statement on Oct. 31.

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