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WCI declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bonita Springs, Fla.-based WCI Communities, a national home builder with operations in seven states, has announced 130 of its wholly-owned subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Chapter 11 petitions were filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington.

The company noted that excluded from the filing are the company’s Watermark real estate brokerage, which does business as Prudential Florida WCI Realty; and its WCI Mortgage business and “certain other joint ventures in which WCI is a partner.”

Investor Carl Icahn, chairman of WCI’s board of directors, said the company tried to avoid a bankruptcy filing, but the company capitulated after a “recent failed effort to obtain financing and the recognition that the company’s entire $1.8 billion of debt may soon be in default.” Additionally, the company missed an Aug. 5 deadline for restructuring $125 million in convertible bonds.

The company also announced that Jerry Starkey would step down from the company as CEO, due to a need for “new leadership at the CEO level,” according to a statement from the company.

The home builder appointed David Fry as interim president and CEO, pending the selection of a permanent CEO.

The company’s stock had fallen to $.66 per share on Tuesday, a huge drop from an original offer Icahn made for the company last year of $22 for share. He purchased a stake in the company at a cost of $19 per share in 2007. Icahn was named chairman of the company after a long proxy battle, during which WCI Communities took itself off the market and rejected Icahn’s takeover bid.

WCI Communities builds homes in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland.

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Stihl named John Deere preferred supplier

BY HBSDEALER Staff

John Deere’s Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division has announced Stihl Inc. and Stihl Ltd. as the preferred supplier of gas powered and corded handheld power equipment in the United States and Canada.

Existing John Deere branded handheld power equipment will soon be substituted with Stihl brand products at qualifying John Deere servicing dealers across North America, said Bob Barbour, group director, marketing operations and customer support for John Deere.

“This decision will enable us to better support growth strategies and offer our customers an industry leading brand of property owner and commercial grade portable power products,” Barbour said.

The companies plan a joint marketing strategy as part of the deal. According to Stihl president Fred Whyte, Stihl products currently are sold through more than 500 John Deere dealers in the United States and Canada, “so this is a natural extension of our business model.”

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Stanley holds ‘holiday preview’ in New York

BY HBSDEALER Staff

New York — Stanley Tools held its annual mid-summer “holiday preview” here last week, introducing a number of new products that will be geared toward the holiday gift-buying season.

The offerings include some new products but mostly innovations to existing tools in four categories.

In the currently difficult climate for home improvement retailers, vp-marketing Jay Drummond said Stanley has still managed to capture some market share in its DIY categories. “Brand awareness is paramount in this business because brand drives sales,” Drummond said. “The Stanley name has always been associated with the pro, and we fill a lot of needs with these products.”

Drummond added that he believes new products will help drive a strong end-of-year for the manufacturer.

In all, parent company Stanley Works saw net earnings fall 6.7 percent in the second quarter to $79.6 million, compared with $85.3 million in the same period last year. Net sales were up 4.5 percent to $1.15 billion from $1.1 billion in the same period last year. Earnings in the company’s construction and DIY segment rose 4 percent compared with the year-ago period, while sales also rose 4 percent to $452 million.

At the New York event, Stanley introduced a new three-in-one LED flashlight that can be mounted on a tripod. Marketed for camping or other outdoor night activities, the flashlight features 120-degree multi-directional rotating heads. The device, which uses 3.5-watt high brightness LEDs, can be combined into one high-powered flashlight when mounted to the tripod. The item is slated for a September launch in Lowe’s and Target stores.

Stanley also displayed knives under its FatMax brand — a fixed utility knife designed for repetitive cutting applications, a snap-off knife that features a continuous sharp edge and a patent-pending blade wiper that removes excess debris.

In its assembly and demolition group, Stanley introduced an FSC-certified premium beech wood chisel, and in its cutting and clamping segment, Stanley introduced a FatMax saw designed for repetitive heavy duty cutting applications. Stanley also showed a FatMax Clip-N-Grip multibit screwdriver, and a post level, also under the FatMax brand. The FatMax Post Level folds for easy storage and prevents the level vials from breaking.

Stanley also introduced several products in its “storage solutions” category — a FatMax “Stock and Carry” organizer that can be carried vertically and includes a slide cover; a sortmaster organizer that features removable dividers to allow for different organization configurations; a mobile workcenter with a large bin for power tools; and a 23-inch structural foam toolbox.

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