Warning: This editorial may contain substance
Readers in California are angry.
In the past, their letters to the editors would explain in a tone of amused alarm the state-imposed hurdles to business. But that alarm has turned to full-blown anger.
Here’s an example: “We have regulatory agencies running amok,” wrote one Californian. “No wonder this state is going down the tubes.”
The writer above was incensed at a new twist from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which added “wood dust” to the long list of compounds and substances on its Proposition 65 list of carcinogens. That means if a lumberyard or hardware store or any business has “wood dust,” they must warn customers or face the penalties.
So here we are. In California, people need to be warned that they might run into sawdust at a lumberyard. It would be comical, if it weren’t such a threat to business from a legal standpoint. (Oh, by the way, marijuana smoke is also on the list. Seriously.)
“It is a farce,” said Ken Dunham, executive director of the Lumber Association of California & Nevada. “There are already dust standards from the health department and the EPA, but this is just added on to 800 other items—it’s just overkill.”
Dunham is one of many who deserve a lot of credit for promoting common sense in California. Over the years, he has seen quite a few initiatives and overzealous enforcement. For instance, twice in his career with the LACN he has run into field agents from the California Bureau of Weights and Measures (an agency which Dunham says has shown an admirable willingness to cooperate with business) who failed to comprehend that a 2×4 is not going to measure two inches by four inches.
But today, things are heating up even by California standards.
“I have never been busier in my life than I have been in the last two months,” he told Home Channel News. “I just think that we are at the front end of doing good for these people.”
Case in point was the late February LACN Government Affairs Day 2010. A group of about 35 LACN members met in Sacramento to discuss business, including the key California agencies that affect the LBM industry even more than the state legislature.
There’s certainly frustration in the ranks, but there’s also a commitment to keep up the fight. There have been some successes, such as a seminar series designed to educate inspectors as to the difference between nominal and actual wood product dimensions. The LACN fought successfully to keep the word LEED out of both states’ green building codes. And members and others are receiving signs to comply with the dreaded Proposition 65.
But obviously, plenty of challenges remain. A recent study: “Cost of State Regulations on California Small Businesses,” by a Cal State Sacramento professor, found that the total cost of regulation to the State of California is just over $492 billion. That’s almost five times the state’s general fund budget, and almost a third of the state’s gross product.
The study measured the impact on employment and found regulation results in an employment loss of 3.8 million jobs.
Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do in the Golden State. And luckily, there are people like Dunham.
“I love it here,” he said. “I’m not burned out yet.”
ProBuild to add units in Utah, Virginia
ProBuild Holdings has announced the opening of new locations in Orem, Utah, and Winchester, Va.
The Orem location, aformer Capital Building Supply location that had vacated the property earlier this year, will open with nine employees. It is ProBuild’s fourth in the state of Utah, joining Heber City, Midvale (Salt Lake City) and Ogden. The Orem facility will contain a millwork shop and has already been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
The Winchester location, formerly operated as Glaize Components, will extend ProBuild’s capabilities to serve the Washington, D.C./Baltimore markets. Winchester will manufacture components including roof trusses, floor trusses and wall panels. The 18-acre site will also feature a full-service lumberyard.
“We continue to see opportunities where we can expand into new markets to better serve our customers,” said ProBuild senior VP corporate development Michael Mahre, who just joined the company this week. “These new locations are great instances where we can bring the market-leading value of ProBuild’s products and services to serve strong and growing markets.”
ProBuild is the nation’s largest LBM chain, with more than 470 locations serving 42 states.
Stock names new VP sales
Stock Building Supply, an affiliate of The Gores Group, has hired Nigel Stobart as VP sales. Stobart will lead Stock’s sales teams, as well as sales-related initiatives.
Stobart has been serving as strategic adviser to Raleigh, N.C.-based Stock in connection with its process improvement initiatives.
“I am very excited to join Stock at such an important and exciting point in its history,” Stobart said in a prepared statement. “Every sale starts with fulfilling a customer’s need. I have been impressed with the significant efforts Stock has taken in the sales arena and look forward to further sharpening the company’s focus. I have dedicated a significant portion of my career to supporting the sales process and know that our efforts will strengthen our position as an independent, stand-alone company with a sound strategy.”
Stobart most recently served as senior VP and chief operating officer for Wire One Communications in Pennsylvania. In this role, he led restructuring initiatives and managed the service and product operations, as well as the human resources team.
Prior to Wire One, he served as senior director of sales operations for the professional business group at Gateway. Before that, he was with Bain & Co., advising his clients on mission-critical projects. Stobart holds a bachelor of economics and a law degree from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, as well as an MBA from the University of Chicago. Before attending business school, Stobart held positions with law firms in Melbourne and London.
“He brings tremendous experience, and we are fortunate to have him lead this critical function,” said Stock CEO Joe Appelmann.