Universal Forest Products making moves in Florida
Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFP) reported that it has closed on the sale and lease-back of a 35-acre site in Medley, Fla. that hosts once of the company’s larger operations.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based wood products and composites manufacturer said the move is part of a strategy to create efficiencies and advantages not possible with the current facility. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
UFP said it plans to optimize the capacity of its other three Florida operations, including two it acquired from Robbins Manufacturing in 2017, and adding a state-of-the-art facility in southern Florida. The Company will lease back the Medley, Fla., facility as it executes its long-term plan for Florida and the Southeast region.
“We have an exciting opportunity to sell a valuable piece of property and structure our business in a way that will enhance our logistics, create operational efficiencies and create opportunity for growth in the region that we couldn’t realize with our existing operational structure and facilities,” said CEO Matthew Missad. “Our focus on return on investment has us constantly evaluating our assets to deploy them in the most efficient manner, and the sale of the Medley location enables us to be a better, more efficient manufacturer and supplier.”
UFP also said it has “great opportunity for growth in South Florida in each of its markets — retail, construction and industrial.” The company will continue to serve its Caribbean customers from its Florida and Puerto Rico operations.
The Aljoma Lumber affiliate, which UFPI acquired in 2007 and operates out of the Medley facility, will continue to operate out of the current location until a new site is identified.
Regulatory Wrap-Up: Minimum wage increase gains ground in New Jersey
New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders are “not anywhere close” to aligning on the details of a $15 per hour minimum wage bill. Some Democratic leaders favor exemptions; however, Murphy campaigned on a “clean” bill without carve-outs for certain workers. The timing and phasing in of a wage increase are also in question and currently being negotiated. Once Democratic leaders agree on a compromise, expect the bill to move quickly.
Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing an update to the state’s overtime salary threshold. The proposal would raise the state’s overtime eligibility threshold above the federal minimum rate ($455 per week, or $23,660 per year) to $610 per week. or $31,720 per year in 2020. The overtime threshold would further increase to $39,832 per year in 2021 and to $47,892 per year by 2022. The proposed regulation would need approval from a five-member board that has a 3-2 Democratic majority. The approval process could take more than a year, meaning that Wolf, who is seeking a second term in November’s election, must get re-elected to ensure the process continues.
Virginia: The slate of proposed minimum wage bills died in a senate committee early in the state’s relatively short legislative session. As a result, the general assembly is not likely to take up the wage issue but is still expected to debate paid leave and other employment issues.
Maryland: Late last Friday, the legislature voted to override the governor’s veto of paid leave legislation that passed both chambers during the 2017 session. The bill is slated to become law 30 days from passage. Business groups are lobbying for an extension of an additional 60 to 90 days to allow for more time to comply. The law requires employers with 15 or more workers to provide five days of paid leave a year and applies to full, part time and seasonal employees. The bill contains no preemption language so localities in the state could still pass more generous proposals which happened in Montgomery County.
Washington: An equal pay bill passed the house. It would mandate that employers pay workers, performing similar tasks relative to difficulty and responsibility, the same amount regardless of gender. Previous iterations have passed the house and died in the senate, but because the upper chamber has now shifted to a Democratic control, the bill has a better chance of final passage.
California: A Los Angeles Superior Court has given class action certification to a lawsuit charging 17 restaurants with price fixing. The restaurants included a healthcare surcharge on customer’s bills. The claim is that the restaurants named in the complaint colluded in establishing the surcharge in violation of state antitrust laws. Surcharges, such as this, have become popular in some areas of the country and a number have faced legal challenges. 539e
Taco Bell: Over five hundred employees of a Michigan-based franchisee are pursuing a class action claim for alleged wage and overtime violations. Workers claim that the franchisee engaged in systematic wage theft by “doctoring” employees’ hours. The case is expected to go to trial in 2019.
McDonald’s: The NLRB is looking to settle a high-profile lawsuit against McDonald’s USA. NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb asked an administrative law judge to pause the case against McDonald’s and various franchisees so they can discuss a “global” settlement of “all pending charges.” Board attorneys under the previous administration said that McDonald’s USA should be on the hook for possible labor violations by franchisee restaurant owners. This case has been closely watched as a potential precedent-setting joint employer case.
U.S. Senate: Following a three-day government shutdown over the weekend, Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed to a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Feb. 8. The House is expected to follow suit, sending the short-term funding bill to the President’s desk for signature. The major political impasse has centered around immigration — a solution for DACA recipients combined with increased border security funding. Leader McConnell agreed to hold an open vote on DACA and border funding in the near future, in exchange for Democrat votes on the funding bill.
Federal: The House passed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, which applies temporary tariff cuts to nearly 1,700 imported goods and could result in the elimination of over $1 billion in import tariffs. The Senate is expected to take up the issue later this year.
NAFTA: The sixth round of talks around the potential revamp of the three-country trade agreement began in Montreal this week. Reports indicate growing animosity between the U.S. and Canada as both countries have moved further apart in negotiations on key aspects of the deal. The pending presidential election in Mexico could further erode talks on the more contentious topics.
- The impasse on DACA, the current government shutdown, and the acknowledgement last week by the White House that a border wall is highly unlikely is going to put more political pressure on the Administration to deliver on their immigration promises. This will make additional high-profile workplace raids even more likely as the President works to placate his pro-enforcement base. This is yet another important reason why employers need to take these raids seriously and prepare accordingly.
- The CEO pay conversation is escalating quickly. Just two weeks into most state legislative sessions, numerous states are proposing laws to address the compensation gap between CEOs and frontline workers. Many are considering a tax, just as the one Portland, OR passed in 2016. Due to the new SEC disclosure rule, initial data from public companies will become available early this year while at the same time, numerous states are revising their tax code in response to federal tax reform. In short, the perfect environment exists for this issue to be embedded in those broader conversations and could go mainstream very quickly.
Legislature Status for Week of 1/22/18
- The United States Senate is in session this week
- The United States House is not in session this week, but will reconvene for shutdown vote
- Thirty-seven state legislatures are meeting actively this week: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.
The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.
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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Jan. 19, 2018.
Western: regional species perimeter foundation
Southern: regional species slab construction
Crow's Market Recap: A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.
SPF prices continued to escalate, with 2×4 #2&Btr out of western mills surpassing the previous record high set in November last year. Order files extended out into the weeks of Feb. 5 and 12 also contributed to the more hesitant approach a few traders noted. Railcar availability remained a significant problem as buyers awaited late shipments.
- Sales activity remained strong in the Southern Pine market. Despite another shot of cold temperatures, snow and ice in Southeast, yards continued to report “good sales.” Cold weather forced mills to shut down or operate at a fraction of their capacity, giving no relief to an already tight supply.
- Coastal species producers sold at a strong pace, sending several prices considerably higher. Urgency among buyers to find necessary tallies was met with limited availability at mills. Order files extending into early February often prompted mills to raise prices more aggressively.
- Inland lumber producers reflected the attitude of a colleague, who said, “The beat goes on.” Strong demand, coupled with very tight log supplies, created a market that pushed upward in prices of both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir.
- Stud pricing remained strong, ranging from firm to up sharply. The largest upward price moves existed in 9’, where the least availability existed. Limited log availability remained a barrier to production.
- Radiata Pine remained solid and stable in price.
- Ponderosa Pine industrials continued to reflect good demand in both 5/4 and 6/4 Shop, especially #3 Shop and P99. In boards, demand continued to push upward on prices, particularly in Ponderosa Pine. California and Inland Selects made strong price moves.
- Any changes in the pace of sales activity in the Western Red Cedar market were minimal. Buyers continued to replenish with mixed loads whenever necessary and purchase some items for later in the first quarter or early second quarter delivery. Some producers focused more of their attention on building inventory for spring sales.
OSB markets gathered more momentum this week, as mill and distribution sources noted good activity in most regions. Buying picked up, order files moved out a week or two, and prices moved up slightly at most mill and delivered levels.
- Cold temperatures, snow and ice wreaked havoc with the Southern Pine plywood market. Producers often shut down mills in the middle of the week while the cold slowed production at those that continued running. Nevertheless, demand remained relatively strong, pushing prices higher.
- The pace of sales in the Western Fir plywood market eased a bit from the prior week, but mill order files continued to move out further into February. Mills exited the market at various intervals, trying to assess their positions and keep order files in check.
- Canadian plywood markets were crackling with excitement after activity picked up and ran hard midweek. Prices and order files lurched ahead, driven by log shortages and transportation issues.
- Some particleboard and MDF producers reported marginally improved sales activity. Others described steady sales and no notable increase in demand. This kept order files at a somewhat comfortable distance for producers and their customers. Prices held.
For more on RISI, click here.
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