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Ventilation boosts KitchenAid’s new collection

BY HBSDEALER Staff

KitchenAid is beginning the rollout of a new design-minded appliance collection with the introduction of new high-performance ventilation products.

The new perimeter ventilation canopy hoods use a sleek design to draw air through the slots at a high speed, increasing the efficiency by concentrating the airflow.

The hoods are rated for up to 65K BTU output with the added benefit of quiet operation. The perimetric cover reflects noise from the motor back into the ventilation hood.

"Beyond enhancing air quality and overall cleanliness in the kitchen, proper ventilation allows cooks to explore a broad range of cooking techniques, including those involving high levels of heat and steam," said Beth Robinson, senior manager of brand experience for KitchenAid.  "But it's not just what these products remove from the kitchen that matters, it's also what their sophisticated design and high level of craftsmanship can add aesthetically."

The hoods come in 30" and 36" sizes for wall-mount and under-cabinet styles, and 30", 36" and 42" sizes for island-mount style.

They are made with stainless steel and come with LED task lighting and dishwasher-safe grease filters. Some models feature halogen night lights and an Auto Speed Setting that automatically adjusts fan speed to suit actual heat levels.

Other products in the new collection are scheduled to launch in early April.

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LP reflects on a tough quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Fourth-quarter results were not a story of triumph for Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, but the company still found cause to be optimistic about the near future.

“The fourth quarter was a tough quarter for LP as OSB prices drifted downward, log outages affected our siding production and EWP sales slowed as dealers aggressively managed their inventories at year-end,” said Curt Stevens, CEO. “But, there are some positive signs that housing activity will improve including: increase in consumer confidence (lower energy prices); actions by the government to lower the cost and increase the availability of mortgages; lower mortgage rates; and a better outlook for jobs.”

The three-month period ended Dec. 31 yielded net sales of $453.5 million, down 5.5% year-over-year. LP's loss also widened in the fourth quarter to $42.9 million (compared to a loss of $20.4 million in the year-ago period).

As Stevens mentioned, several market segments struggled last quarter, including the OSB segment, which was down 11.6% in sales and includes an indefinitely curtailed facility. EWP suffered slightly less at a decrease of 2.7%.

However, the decreases in OSB were partially offset by a 1.9% net sales increase for the Siding segment.

Total sales for the fiscal year were $1.9 billion, down 7.2% from 2013. Net income moved into red territory at a loss of $75.4 million, compared to net income of $177.1 million in the previous year.

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Crowdfunded cooktop meets goal in a matter of hours

BY HBSDEALER Staff

There's a new cooktop in town that's shaping up to be one of the most promising upstarts in the world of crowdfunded home improvement products.

The Paragon Precision Cooktop, part of GE's FirstBuild program, met its goal of $50,000 just hours after launching on Indiegogo, with over 1,000 units sold on the first day.

Among its distinguishing features is an ability to control temperatures to the degree, which the cooktop then automatically maintains using a wireless temperature sensor that regulates the burner's heat output. This makes it an ideal implement for precision cooking techniques such as sous vide, deep-frying, simmering and more.

“There are several benefits to launching a new product like the Paragon using a crowdfunding platform,” said Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “It gives us immediate insight into what the market acceptance of the product might be, and it allows us to get feedback on improvements we should make to better meet consumer needs. We’ve listened to the feedback we have received and are making adjustments that will be incorporated in the final product.”

What's next for the Paragon? Expanding its funding goals to subsidize new features based on feedback from the initial funders. Among these: an iOS- and Android-enabled mobile app.

GE Appliances launched the FirstBuild program last June in collaboration with MakerBot and TechShop. The co-creation and micromanufacturing community is focused on developing next-generation appliances and concepts.

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