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Minnesota warns of possible emerald ash borer in Lowe’s planters

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has released a statement warning of a possible emerald ash borer infestation in certain planters sold in that state. The “Nature’s Own Planters” by Lawson Products have not shown signs of an ash borer infestation, according to a statement from the group, but the warning is being issued as a precautionary measure.

“The products apparently were distributed to Lowe’s stores in Minnesota,” said a statement from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Last week, MDA learned that a manufacturer in Indiana allegedly had mislabeled the planter boxes and shipped them into other states during the summer and fall of 2007 without the proper compliance agreement. MDA officials continue to investigate the situation along with their federal counterparts.”

Although Minnesota has not had an infestation of the emerald ash borer, the agriculture department said the insect can move to new areas in infested firewood or other ash material. The emerald ash borer has been blamed for killing 20 million ash trees throughout the Midwest, in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

“We’ve received great cooperation from the retail stores, and now we’re hoping to get help from individual consumers who may have bought these planter boxes,” said Geir Friisoe, MDA plant protection division director. Friisoe said none of the planter boxes inspected by MDA showed signs of emerald ash borer.

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New professional group focuses on building products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Construction Specifications Institute, an Alexandria, Va.-based organization of specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors and building material suppliers, has announced the formation of the Building Product Manufacturers Alliance (BPMA). This new group, which will meet for the first time on March 3 to 5 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, will share common issues, challenges and best practices to meet the needs of the changing marketplace.

“Today’s construction market increasingly calls for high-performance buildings, environmentally friendly materials and practices and technologically advanced components,” said Walter Marlowe, executive director and CEO of the Construction Specifications Institute.

The Construction Specifications Institute is a national organization dedicated to creating standards and formats to improve construction documents and project delivery. It has 146 chapters across the United States. For more information about the BPMA and its inaugural conference, visit www.csinet.org/bpma.

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Sears Holdings unveils shake-up

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sears Holdings plans a major reorganization of its internal structure, moving toward an interconnected group of independent businesses with more autonomy than is currently in place.

“We are introducing an organizational structure that provides operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy,” read a statement from the parent of Sears and Kmart stores. The company said its various operating businesses will be given a “designated leader and an advisory group comprised of senior Sears Holdings executives to provide direction and oversee the business unit’s performance.”

Sears representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The move comes after the retailer announced weak holiday results and a melancholy outlook for the fourth quarter.

Earlier this month, Sears Holdings announced declines in comparable-store sales for both its Sears and Kmart stores for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 5 and offered sober guidance for the upcoming quarter.

Sears domestic saw a 2.8 percent decline during the months of November and December, while Kmart’s comparable-store sales declined 4.2 percent for the period. Total domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.5 percent for the nine-week period, the company said. The most notable declines occurred in the Sears apparel and tools categories and the Kmart seasonal categories.

The company attributed the declines to increased competition and the negative impact of unfavorable economic conditions.

Sears Holdings also announced its fourth-quarter projections. The company expects net income for the quarter to be in the range of $350 million to $470 million, or $2.59 to $3.48 per share — down from earlier analyst estimates of $4.43 per share.

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