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West Fraser acquires Stuart Lake Lumber

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Canadian-based wood products company West Fraser will acquire the shares of Stuart Lake Lumber, which owns a sawmill in Fort St. James, British Colombia, and a forest license. The sawmill, which has been closed since spring 2007, does not currently have any operational employees, and the forest license has not been active since the mill closure. West Fraser has no immediate plans to start up the sawmill.

The transaction is expected to close at the end of October.

West Fraser will evaluate its options over the next several months, according to Wayne Clogg, senior vp. “We expect this acquisition to benefit West Fraser when the current market conditions improve and to enhance the company’s long-term fiber supply in the face of expected Mountain Pine Beetle-related supply effects.”

West Fraser has about 9,000 employees and operations in western Canada and the southern United States.

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Beacon Lumber to close yard

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Beacon Lumber, a family-owned lumber and hardware dealer in New Bedford, Mass., plans to close and auction off its lumber division, according to a report in the local newspaper South Coast Today.

The lumber company plans to keep its paint and hardware store opened, while shutting down its lumberyard and auctioning off materials and equipment on Sept. 20, according to the report.

The closure was due to increased competition, a poor economy and failure of pro customers to pay some debts, the owners said. The yard saw most of its business from contractors.

Because of the struggling housing market, the owners told the newspaper they’ve decided to shift the business’s focus to consumer hardware.

The company was purchased in 1982, by Armand and Steve Brodeur. At its height, Beacon lumber employed about 100 people, down to around five today.

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Survey gives insight into what new-home buyers expect

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The housing market may be slower, but there still are some buyers out there, and a recent J.D. Power and Associates Survey shows how their desires are changing.

The survey, which ranked home builders based on a number of design and consumer preference elements, included insight into what new-home buyers expect in their new purchases, notably on the “green” side of the market.

The study found that 28 percent of new home buyers perceive that their home is environmentally friendly, but a vast majority of these home buyers — 75 percent — say that their home builder did not identify the home as “green.”

The top green features that home buyers believe a new home should include are: energy-efficient heating and air conditioning units, energy-saving appliances, energy-saving lighting and temperature-controlling windows.

Overall satisfaction with new-home design has increased to 782 on a 1,000-point scale in 2008, up 36 points from 2007. Compared with 2007, the importance of the floor plan has increased in 2008. In addition, the flexibility and ability of builders to make non-standard design changes — such as relocation of an interior wall — is a particularly important new component in satisfaction with new-home design.

The study also found that 92 percent of home buyers reported receiving sales incentives. Among home buyers who report receiving incentives when purchasing their home, the average sales incentive totaled more than $16,500.

Also, the percentage of home buyers who report that construction on their new home was finished when they signed the sales contract has increased to 39 percent in 2008 from 32 percent in 2007.

Home quality has remained stable since 2007. The rate of customer-reported problems decreased in 2008 to 1,151 problems per 100 homes from 1,345 per 100 homes in 2007.

J.D. Power reported that the proportion of homes delivered both completely finished and on time has increased to 70 percent in 2008 from 58 percent in 2007.

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