Weyerhaeuser hit with $27 million verdict
Weyerhaeuser has been ordered to pay $27.9 million for unlawfully controlling the supply of alder logs in order to drive smaller competitors out of business. A Portland, Ore., jury handed down the verdict in the class action case on April 28. Under federal antitrust laws, the amount of the award will be tripled.
Weyerhaeuser immediately vowed to appeal the verdict. In a prepared statement, the company’s senior vp and general counsel Sandy McDade said: “We are confident [the verdict] will be reversed on appeal because last year the U.S. Supreme Court decided in our favor a case presenting virtually identical issues. We fully expect that the Court of Appeals will apply that precedent.”
Grown only in western Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, alder is a hardwood used primarily in furniture-making. Smaller alder mills have accused Weyerhaeuser of overpaying for the logs in order to raise the market price.
Weyerhaeuser did settle two earlier lawsuits in 2004 alleging antitrust actions in the alder market. The forest products company agreed to pay $14 million and $34.5 million to several hardwood lumber mills, but admitted no liability as part of the settlements.
Weyerhaeuser has vigorously fought subsequent lawsuits based on the same charges, however. In the U.S. Supreme Court decision, justices ruled 9 to 0 to overturn a $79 million award granted by a different Oregon jury.
Ace receives $10,000 for eco initiatives
Ace Hardware will receive a $10,000 grant from the Sacremento, Calif.-area Placer County Air Pollution District to help fund continued testing of pallet trucks powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells.
The trucks are based out of Ace’s Retail Support Center in Sacremento. The 1,028,000-square-foot facility represents the co-op’s second largest distribution center in size and volume. Testing for the initiative began in February, according to a press release issued by Placer County. Initial testing consisted of replacing lead-acid batteries with hydrogen fuel cells.
“We’re encouraged by the initial findings and anxious to see the complete test results to determine the viability of expanding the use of this hydrogen fuel cell technology in this and other facilities,” said Bill Bauman, vp-retail support for Ace Hardware.
In 2005, Ace began testing biodiesel fuel — an 80/20 mix of vegetable oil and diesel fuel — in several tractors in its Midwestern fleet. Today, Ace uses biodiesel in the entire fleet for its Retail Support Center located in Princeton, Ill., and has plans to roll it out to several other distribution centers across the country.
Other environmental initiatives by Ace have included installing energy-efficient T5 lighting in the majority of its distribution centers and reducing volatile organic compounds in private-label paint products sold at retail.
Also on the consumer side, Ace developed “Helpful Earth Choices,” a labeling program meant to help customers identify environmentally friendly products and sustainable items.
Sales up 25 percent at Lumber Liquidators
Lumber Liquidators, the specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, saw net income nearly double to $4.3 million from $2.23 million in the first quarter. Sales rose 25 percent to $114.55 million from $92 million in the same period last year.
“We are very pleased with our strong results in the first quarter and our ability to maintain the positive momentum we experienced in the second half of last year,” said Jeffrey Griffiths, president and CEO. “We are pleased with the strong contributions of new stores that we have opened in the last year as their results are exceeding our expectations.”
So far this year, Lumber Liquidators has opened 15 new stores — one each in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas; and two each in Illinois and Pennsylvania. The Toano, Va.-based company said it maintains plans to open 30 to 40 new stores in 2008.
The company currently operates more than 130 stores in the United States.