LUMBERYARDS

U.S. Concrete CEO resigns

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Michael W. Harlan, president and CEO of U.S. Concrete, will step down in 2011 after leading the company for the past four years, according to a March 29 announcement.

Harlan is a founding director of the Houston company and served as its CFO from May 1999 until November 2004. Beginning in April 2003, he assumed additional responsibility as executive VP and chief operating officer until he was named president and CEO in 2007. Harlan was instrumental in the strategic growth of the company and recently led U.S. Concrete through the most severe recession the construction industry has faced since the Depression, the announcement said.

"After having successfully completed the restructuring of U.S. Concrete’s balance sheet in August 2010, I am very confident that the company is well positioned for the next stage of its growth,” Harlan said. “I appreciate the support this board of directors has given me as I make this transition in my career." 

The board of directors has engaged Russell Reynolds Associates to assist in the search for a new CEO and named director Kurt Cellar to head the search committee.

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Wood — all wood — promoted as green by USDA

BY Brae Canlen

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, officially launching the International Year of the Forests on March 30, announced the USDA’s strategy to promote the use of wood as a green building material.

"Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials. Forest Service studies show that wood compares favorably with competing materials," said Vilsack, who laid out a three-part plan to address current green building practices. These strategies will include: 

1. The U.S. Forest Service will actively look for opportunities to demonstrate the innovative use of wood as a green building material for all new structures of 10,000 sq. ft. or more, using recognized green building standards such as LEED, Green Globes or the National Green Building Standard.

2. The U.S. Forest Service will preferentially select wood in new building construction, while maintaining its commitment to certified green building standards. The USDA will also make a commitment to using wood and other agricultural products as it fulfills President Obama’s executive order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.

3. The Secretary has asked the U.S. Forest Service to examine ways to increase its already strong commitment to green building by reporting to him on ways to enhance the research and development being done around green building materials.  

In carrying out this initiative, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell issued a directive to all units this week, calling for increased use of locally milled timber in all new agency buildings and facilities. Secretary Vilsack also directed the heads of all other USDA agencies to incorporate the Forest Service policy of using domestic sustainable wood products as the preferred green building material for all USDA facilities and buildings.

"Our country has the resources, the work force and the innovative spirit to reintroduce wood products into all aspects of the next generation of buildings," Tidwell said. "As we move forward with restoring America’s forests, we are getting smarter and more efficient in how we use wood products as both an energy and green building source, which will help maintain rural jobs."

A recent Forest Service lifecycle analysis found that harvesting, transporting, manufacturing and using wood in lumber and panel products in building yields fewer air emissions — including greenhouse gases — than resource extraction, manufacturing and using other commonly used building materials. In fact, wood-based wall systems can require significantly less total energy for manufacturing than thermally comparable houses using other common material systems.

Research arms of the U.S. Forest Service are also experimenting with new and innovative ways to use smaller diameter timber and leftover branches and limbs for wood products, which includes nanotechnology advancements and the use of laminate technologies, according to the announcement. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) applauded Secretary Vilsack’s announcement.

“SFI has invested an enormous amount of energy into constructively raising awareness of the need for green-building rating tools to recognize the contribution of wood as a natural and environmentally responsible renewable resource,” said SFI president and CEO Kathy Abusow. 

“We thank Secretary Vilsack for his leadership and for sending a message that the administration is serious about the role wood can play in supporting green-building initiatives, rural communities and the overall sustainability of the forest sector. The USDA strategy makes it clear that opportunities for wood and choice in green-building rating tools are part of the solution.” 

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S.ARLUCK says:
Apr-04-2011 08:36 pm

Does the Secretary have any
Does the Secretary have any thoughts on returning timber harvest to the National Forests, or are they still the wood equivalent of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge? Our industry will sorely miss former Ag Undersecretary Mark Rey. Seth Arluck New Hampton Lumber Co. New Hampton, NY

T.Calistro says:
Apr-01-2011 06:11 pm

10,000 Sq Ft or more? Is that
10,000 Sq Ft or more? Is that correct?

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Editor’s Notebook: The NLBMDA goes to Washington

BY HBSDEALER Staff

One of the lessons of legislative lobbying is this: If you’re not in front of lawmakers with your message, somebody else is. 


Operating under that theory, and armed with position papers and talking points, lumberyard executives and members of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) descended on the halls of power in Washington, D.C., last month for the group’s annual Legislative Conference, parts of which were co-hosted with the Windows and Doors Manufacturers Association (WDMA). 


Here’s a blow-by-blow account of a busy day — Tuesday, March 15 — inside the Beltway.


7:00 a.m. The classic animated musical Schoolhouse Rock episode “I’m Just a Bill” is playing on the wall of a Washington Marriott conference room, as dealers file in for a session called “Lobbying 101.”


7:01 a.m. The NLBMDA’s Jeremy Stine and Frank Ward explain the ins and outs of communicating with legislators and their aides. “Make sure you press hard on 1099 reform,” Stine said. “The House has already passed it, so thank them. But on the Senate side, it’s very important to urge the Senators to take a vote.” 


7:10 a.m. Ward braces the NLMBDA members for the realities of lobbying. “The staffers are younger than the people in this room,” he said confidently. “Don’t be put off by that.” Meetings with actual legislators can be difficult. And he added that some of the legislative office buildings seem designed to confuse visitors. “If you can get 20 minutes, that’s a good meeting,” he said. 


8:11 a.m. NLBMDA chairman and Ferguson Lumber president Joe Collings, from Avon, Ind., introduces the morning’s speaker: fellow Hoosier Mike Pence. Pence reveals an aw-shucks Hoosier style by thanking the NLBMDA, the WDMA, as well as “the BMOC and the BYOB.” 


8:40 a.m. After rallying his audience for fiscal responsibility, limited government and an appeal for a flat tax, Pence is presented with the “NLBMDA Legislator of the Year” award.


8:53 a.m. The NLBMDA’s Colleen Levine and Stine spell out the three key talking points for dealers to bring to their representatives: 1) Repeal the 1099 “paperwork mandate,” buried in the healthcare legislation; 2) continue work to limit the scope of the new EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule; and 3) press for sponsors of the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act.


9:52 a.m. After honoring Chris Yenrick of Smith Phillips Building Supply of Winston-Salem, N.C., as Grassroots Dealer of the Year, Collings introduces keynote speaker Bret Baier, the host of Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Immediately, Baier wins over the audience by explaining his speaking fees are donated to the Children’s National Medical Center, which has treated his son Daniel. 


10:31 a.m. For the next 15 minutes, Baier fields arguably the toughest questions facing civilization today, including post-tsunami nuclear radiation in Japan and practical responses to civil unrest in Pakistan, Egypt and Libya. Like most TV anchormen, he doesn’t fluster easily.


12:28 p.m. Dealers head to the Hill for meetings with lawmakers. HCN joins a Texas delegation, including Chuck Pool of Main Street Lumber, Cally Fromme of Zarsky Lumber and Roger Dankel of Simpson Strong-Tie. As the car passes the George Washington Monument, Pool recounts the time in 1963 when it was closed temporarily to allow him and a friend to race to the top and back. 


12:46 p.m. Waiting inside Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office.


1:04 p.m. In an endearing Texas drawl, Pool begins the introductions and sets the stage for Fromme’s launch into the main messages. The aide — very youthful looking despite being a veteran from the Bush Administration — nods in agreement with each point. Lead rule, check. Innocent Sellers, check. Form 1099 repeal, check. 


1:35 p.m. The delegation moves on, crossing in front of the Capitol, an awe-inspiring building, on the way to the office of Ron Paul, Texas legislator, renowned conservative and perennial presidential candidate. 


1:51 p.m. Fromme talks her way into an unscheduled meeting with a staffer, who seems interested in learning more about the NLBMDA’s lead-paint efforts. Speaking quickly, she promises to get a letter to the congressman that he can circulate. The group agrees the exchange shows progress.


2:07 p.m. The delegation moves on to the office of freshman Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas. An aide joins the group in the entrance area. In the middle of Fromme’s message about the EPA’s lead-paint regulations, the aide stops the meeting. “Wait,” she said. “I could use this for a speech.” It turns out, she’s preparing a speech on federal red tape for the congressman’s remarks on the House floor. The delegation leaves the office encouraged by the prospect of appearing in the Congressional Record.


2:48 p.m. Crossing the aisle, the delegation visits the office of Henry Cuellar, a 28th District Texas Democrat. An intern — even younger than the youthful aides — cheerfully explains to Fromme that his grandfather used to work at Zarsky Lumber. Legislative Fellow Monica Tomutsa patiently and supportively listens to Fromme’s major points, which, at this point in the day, are polished to a shine.


3:43 p.m. Resting outside, Fromme reflects on a day of lobbying. “I like it that it’s such a small world that I can come here to Washington and run into someone whose grandfather worked at Zarsky Lumber,” she said. 


4:01 p.m. 
Back at the office of Representative Farenthold for an open house, the Texas lumber delegation rubs elbows with guests, including a bank industry lobbyist (wearing a “proud to be a banker,” button), Texas Republican Pete Sessions, a former Bush administration aide (a different one), and a Texas family with two young children. 


5:15 p.m. The lobbying winds down. Due to prodding from members, the NLBMDA Legislative Conference reception begins 15 minutes ahead of time. In a symbol of the progress made throughout the day, Fromme and Dankel receive an email from Representative Cuellar’s office: “Thank you for coming in today. Please be assured that I will share your concerns with Congressman Cuellar. Don’t hesitate to contact me in the future if there is anything else I can do to assist.”

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