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Toro to help design fuel celled utility vehicles

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bloomington, Mich.-based Toro announced it has been selected to help design and build two fuel cell-powered utility vehicles with advanced hydrogen storage technology.

Toro was selected to partner with Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based ATK, an aerospace and defense company, which was awarded the contract by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, which is collaborating with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to coordinate hydrogen storage development efforts for the U.S. Department of Energy, the company said.

Toro recently completed a three-year demonstration of its new hydrogen-powered Workman utility vehicles for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Workman was used at various sites, including Niagara Falls State Park, Bethpage State Park and Rockefeller Plaza Government Center. The vehicles were shown to operate reliably in shuttling workers and grounds equipment, hauling turf materials and assisting with refuse removal, the company said.

Toro’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology (CATT) will assist ATK in designing two operational machines based on the Toro Workman chassis. The group will also provide technical expertise on end-use applications.

“We’re excited to partner on this project to leverage our field experience and further our efforts in the development of alternative fuel solutions,” said Dana Lonn, director of Toro’s CATT Group. “Our motivation in alternative energy is to reduce emissions, hydraulic leaks and noise levels for our customers. Therefore, we need to remain aggressive in identifying the best technologies to deliver these results at a competitive price.”

The fuel cell utility vehicles, powered by a solid hydrogen storage system, are scheduled for delivery later this fall to the DLA for a 12-month operational demonstration.

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Support the NLBMDA

BY Ken Clark

Lampert Yards is doing it.

Ferguson Lumber is doing it.

Zarsky Lumber is doing it.

They’re supporting the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA). We should all be doing it.

Speaking at the 2010 ProDealer Industry Summit—co-hosted by the NLBMDA and Home Channel News—Lampert Yards CEO Dan Fesler did the math.

There are 24 words in the Pythagorean theorem, he pointed out.

There are 179 words in the Ten Commandments.

And there are 26,911 words in the U.S. government regulations on the sale of cabbage.

“That’s why we need an organization like the NLBMDA,” Fesler said. “All legislation is bad, and what we really do is work to make it better. You’re either at the table having a discussion, or you’re what’s for dinner.”

During the NLBMDA’s transition ceremony, incoming chairman Joe Collings of Indiana-based Ferguson Lumber accepted the ceremonial gavel. Then, in a smooth radio voice—the kind of voice a politician would give his right arm for—Collings delivered the definitive argument for a strong, national association of lumberyards.

“The NLBMDA was founded to give dealers a national presence, clout with lawmakers and advocacy with regulatory agencies on a federal level,” he said. “To be the voice as well as the muscle needed to professionally represent membership in the unique environment of national government.”

Cases in point:

The NLBMDA pushed for and won exceptions to OSHA rules governing articulating boom trucks—exceptions that will save dealers, on average, thousands of dollars each.

The NLBMDA has taken legal action to support dealer interests against a woefully inept EPA lead remediation program.

The NLBMDA continues to push for Innocent Sellers Fairness Act. (And to show the need for a national voice on this topic, see “Toxic Drywall: Building a case”.)

“During the following year, you will see the association continue to build upon its unwavering founding principals, by continuing to be a first-class advocate for its members in governmental affairs,” Collings said.

Next year, Cally Coleman Fromme, of Victoria, Texas-based Zarsky Lumber, will take the gavel from Collings. She already has advice for LBM dealers: “Come to the table. Contribute. Be a part of the conversation to make a difference,” she said. “Let your voice be heard.”

Of course, the regional associations are the backbone of the lumber industry, providing guidance, networking, knowledge and support on the local level, where the rubber meets the road.

There exists a shining example of a successful organization composed of regional bodies, connected by a strong national federation. It’s called the United States of America. More than two centuries of peaceful power transfers and hundreds of millions of people enjoying the blessings of liberty and democracy through a combination of state and national organizations.

Support the NLBMDA. It’s the American thing to do.

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Good news on the remodeling front

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Remodeling contractors are feeling much more positive about future home improvement activity, according to Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

“Low financing costs and a wave of previously foreclosed homes coming back on the market and in need of renovation are expected to generate healthy growth over the next several quarters,” he said.

After a three-year decline, the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity chart expects a double-digit increase through the first half of 2011—though spending is forecast to remain below its 2007 peak.

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