Friday, May 17, 2013
NWFA Holds First of 2013 Summer Workshop
The NWFA held the first of its summer workshops at its headquarters in St. Louis May 16-18. Students were instructed on Moisture Identification/Mitigation, Subfloor Preparation and Intermediate Installation.
Classes were led by NWFA’s Director of Certification and Education Brett Miller, along with these volunteer instructors:
- Cort Dunlap (Delmhorst Instrument Co.)
- Roger Barker (Fortifiber Building Systems Group)
- Wayne Lee (Middle Tennessee Lumber)
- Todd McDonald (Infinity Wood Floors)
- Bob Sweezey (Stauf USA LLC)
- Kris Day (Schönox)
- Shane Henson (Schönox)
These students completed the school, earning credits toward an NWFA degree:
- Dino Bagatelas (Smith and Fong Company)
- Marcel Bedard (Expert Flooring Inc.)
- Travis Bjorkman (Weyerhaeuser Company)
- Andy Burk (Brookens Wood Floors Inc.)
- Patrick Burke Sr (Burke Floor Inspections and Consulting)
- Chuck Burkhart (GIG Hardwood Flooring LLC)
- Mark Earley (Rowan Hardwood Floors)
- Mark Milliece (Atlas Floors)
- Paul Reinhart (Reinhart Wood Floors LLC/Allgeier Flooring Co. LLC)
- Tom Skowron (Atlas Floors)
- Andy Spielberg (CCA Global Partners)
- Drew Uffendell (Star Lumber & Supply Co. Inc.)
- Bill Walz (Mansion Hill Custom Floors)
These companies served as Partners in Education for the school, contributing product, equipment and instruction:
- Delmhorst Intrument Co. (Towaco, N.J.)
- Fortifiber Building Systems Group (Fernley, Nev.)
- Infinity Wood Floors (Crandon, Wis.)
- M.T.E. North America Inc. (New York, N.Y.)
- Middle Tennessee Lumber (Burns, Tenn.)
- Miller and Company (Selma, Ala.)
- Stauf USA LLC (Arlington, Tenn.)
- Schönox (Florence, Ala.)
- Wagner Meters (Rogue River, Ore.)
- Weyerhaeuser Company (Federal Way, Wash.)
Cambodia, Thailand Cooperating to Stop Cross-Border Crimes
The defense ministries of Cambodia and Thailand released a joint statement today saying that the two countries will work together to fight all forms of illegal cross-border activities, including illegal logging.
"Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation to prevent and crack down on illegal activities along the border such as drug trafficking, illegal logging and illegal border crossing," said a joint statement released by the Cambodian defense ministry. "Moreover, the two ministers vowed to release only accurate and positive information in regard to border issues in order to strengthen mutual trust and respect."
Tempers flared during border talks in February when Cambodia claimed Thai forces often resorted to violence against Cambodian loggers who were after now-protected Siamese rosewood. The Phnom Penh Post reported at the time that 45 Cambodian loggers had been shot and killed inside Thailand in 2012.
Many of the logging conflicts occurred in the disputed territory around Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Thailand claims the scrubby forest adjacent to the temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Last month, both countries delivered statements to the World Court in the Netherlands, which is expected to issue a decision on who owns the disputed land around the temple later this year.
This promise of international cooperation in addition to recent calls for China to decrease its demand for Siamese rosewood and the inclusion of the species on the CITES endangered list could ensure the survival of the tree and decreased violence in the region.
Hardwood Manufacturers Association Regional Meeting to be Held June 12-13
The Hardwood Manufacturers Association (HMA) will hold its central regional meeting on June 12-13 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The meeting will feature tours of Cumberland Lumber Manufacturing, Mayfield Lumber, Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., Brown-Forman Cooperage Stave Mill and Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales. There will also be a reception dinner on Wednesday evening. The association is also hosting an optional Tennessee distillery tour and dinner on Tuesday, June 11, for an additional $65.
Members of HMA and the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) as well as 2013 National Conference sponsors can participate for the reduced rate of $195. The cost for non-members is $350.
More information on the event is available here.
Olde Wood Ltd. Breaks Ground on New Manufacturing Site
Olde Wood Ltd., based in Malvern, Ohio, broke ground on a new 30,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility in Magnolia, Ohio, Tuesday. Set for completion on October 1, the facility will house an expanded showroom and recently purchased, state-of-the-art production equipment.
Olde Wood announced plans to double its 35-person workforce and to add more than 100 jobs in the next three to five years.
FSC Experiments with Satellite Forest Auditing Technology
With the help of the European Space Agency, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has initiated its TransparentForests study, using satellite systems to monitor certified forests for FSC-compliance.
Using Earth Observation (EO) satellite mapping systems, global positioning systems (GPS) and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) in a web-based geographic information system (GIS), TransparentForests will provide a source of independent, up-to-date and spatially accurate data with which certification bodies can plan and execute audits. The data will also be useful to forest communities and non-governmental organizations, allowing them to monitor forest assets.
The project has also established a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) forum, which established a formal link with all the CABs undertaking FSC forest management certifications.
More information on the project is available here.
Metropolitan Hardwood Floors East Wins Industry Award of Excellence
Metropolitan Hardwood Floors’ Eastern division earned the Floorcovering Institute of Ontario’s Industry Award of Excellence in the manufacturer/distributor category. According to FIO, the award is given to a business that shows exceptional leadership, customer service, values and practices within the industry. Nominees for the Awards of Excellence are selected and voted on by FIO members.
The FIO is a non-profit association of flooring manufacturers, distributors, retailers, installers and specialized service providers doing business in Ontario.
Heather Wegge and Dana Rogers Join NWFA Staff
Heather Wegge has been named director of expositions and conventions for the National Wood Flooring Association. Wegge oversaw the Wood Flooring Expo in the early 2000s, and she will oversee the development of the Wood Flooring Expo and promote the NWFA’s presences at Surfaces and Domotex. Wegge can be contacted at email@example.com.
Also at NWFA, Dana Rogers has been named senior accountant. Rogers brings her extensive background in accounting and auditing to the association. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housing Starts Down 16.5% in April
Compared with March, April’s privately owned housing starts were down 16.5 percent to 853,000, and single-family starts were down 2.1 percent to 610,000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Both figures showed year-over-year improvement, the total increasing 13.1 percent and single-family alone increasing 20.8 percent. Starts for housing with five units or more dropped 37.8 percent from March and 2.5 percent from April 2012 after what the National Association of Home Builders called an unsustainably high level of production.
Total housing completions in April were at an adjusted rate of 689,000, down 14.3 percent from March. Single-family completions were down 9.8 percent to 536,000. The number of total housing units authorized by building permits were at a rate of 1,017,000, which is 14.3 above the revised rate in March. Single-family authorizations were up 3 percent from March to 617,000.
"The big decline in April housing production was mostly on the multifamily side, which recorded a similarly dramatic increase in the previous month," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a statement. "Meanwhile, overall permits for new construction surpassed the million-unit mark and the number of yet-to-be-used permits rose in April, which is a good indicator that the dip in building activity was likely a temporary pause due partly to unseasonably poor weather conditions."
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
HF Briefs: Philadelphia Floor Store Launches Rewards Program; Alan Blake Seeks Job
Philadelphia Floor Store Inc. (Conshohocken, Pa.) recently launched Philly Floor Rewards, which allows member customers to earn a point for every dollar they spend on qualified purchases. Points, which will be awarded retroactively to January 1 of this year, can be redeemed for thousands of brand name products and even travel. Points never expire and bonus points will be available during special promotions. More information is available here.
Alan Blake, with experience in a variety of aspects of the wood flooring industry, is seeking full-time or consultative work; for more information see the HF Classifieds.
EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Proposed Expansion of RRP Lead Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting concerning the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rules on June 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
This meeting is part of the EPA’s work to determine if the rules, which currently regulate how renovations are done on homes that are likely to contain lead, need to be expanded to regulate all public and commercial buildings in addition to homes and child-occupied facilities. Members of the public and interested stakeholders can submit additional data for consideration.
The proposed expansion comes after several lawsuits were filed challenging the original rule, asserting, among other
things, that EPA violated TSCA section 402(c)(3) by failing to address
renovation activities in public and commercial buildings.
The meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., at the EPA’s East Building. Requests to participate in the meeting must be received before June 3, and all comments on the subject must be received by July 12. More information on how to participate in the meeting is available here.
Edited 4 p.m. May 15, 2013 to add third paragraph.
Falling Home Inventory Increases Builder Confidence in May
Builder confidence in the new, single-family home market is up to 44 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. This is up two points from April.
"Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies," noted NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C., in a statement. "This is definitely an encouraging sign even amidst rising challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor."
Based on builders’ perception of current sales conditions, sales expectations and buyer traffic, an index number below 50 indicates more negative responses than positive regarding the state of the market. However, all three components saw gains this month, and expected sales hit its highest point since February 2007, with 53.
IndoTeak Receives Rain Forest Alliance Sustainable Standard Setter Award
Frank and Amy Ragen of IndoTeak Designs (San Diego, Calif.) will receive a 2013 Rain Forest Alliance Sustainable Standard Setter Award at a gala event today at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The award honors businesses and individuals that champion conservation, protect the environment and support local communities. IndoTeak reclaims teak from historic buildings slated for demolition in Indonesia, crafting the rescued wood into 100 percent teak engineered flooring and providing jobs to Indonesian workers.
More information on the awards event can be found here.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
North Carolina Bill Would Ban LEED Requirements
The North Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill that would bar public projects from using the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
House Bill 628, Protect/Promote NC Lumber, says projects may use "a nationally recognized high-performance environmental building rating system” if that green building program doesn’t use a credit system “disadvantaging materials or products manufactured or produced” in North Carolina.
This would block the LEED rating system, which awards credits for use of Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber—a policy that places North Carolina products at a disadvantage as very few of the state’s forests have been certified under that system, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.
However, representatives from USGBC-North Carolina are upset about the bill.
“House Bill 628 compelled representatives to protect North Carolina’s timber industry without providing evidence that the industry has suffered as a result of LEED certification,” USGBC-NC executive director Emily Scofield told the Journal after the vote. “The USGBC-NC and its supporters worked to present the facts to our representatives that all N.C. forest products can contribute to points toward certification under the regional materials credits of LEED and some can also contribute to the certified wood credit."
The original bill was meant to call for a study investigating the effect of LEED on the state’s economy.
The bill still needs to go through a third and final reading in the House before it will be passed on to the North Carolina Senate.
Housing Affordability Remains High as Mortgage Rates Stay Low
In the first quarter of 2013, national housing affordability fell a little over a point from the quarter before to 73.7 percent on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI). This means 73.7 percent of homes purchased between January and March 2013 were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400.
"Thanks to very favorable mortgage rates and prices, housing affordability has remained quite high over the past four years," observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "The HOI has not slipped below 70 since the end of 2008.”
Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, maintained its position as most affordable market for the third consecutive quarter. The San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. market remained at the bottom of the list, where it fell at the end of 2012.
The full list can be viewed here.
Gerry Mueller Leaves Arboritec USA
After four years with Arboritec USA Inc., Gerry Mueller has left his position as vice president of marketing for his private marketing consulting business, saying in a statement, “The wood flooring industry has been very good to me, and I want to continue to be part of this very exciting business as a consultant and entrepreneur.”
“Gerry’s skills, talent and market knowledge have helped Arboritec establish a very strong position in the U.S. market for hardwood floor finishes. We are grateful for Gerry’s contribution and wish him the best as he moves forward with his other business endeavors,” said Runno Allikivi, CEO and president of Arboritec USA.
Intermountain Wood Flooring to Host Claim Prevention Seminar
On Tuesday May, 21, Intermountain Wood Flooring will host NWFACP-Certified Inspector Scott Taylor, who will lead a discussion on jobsite conditions, moisture’s effect on flooring and claims mitigation. The event costs $25 per person or $50 per company and will be held at the Hampton Inn in Meridian, Idaho, from 3 to 5 p.m. To attend, call Intermountain Wood Flooring at (208) 639-3222.
Ardex to Host IICRC Introduction to Substrate and Subfloor Inspection Class
Ardex Americas of Aliquippa, Pa., will host an Academy of Textiles and Flooring Introduction to Substrate and Subfloor Inspection class on June 6-7, taught by Bruce Newbrough. The two-day course, approved by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC), will be available at a discounted cost of $299, plus the $65 IICRC certification fee. It will be held after Ardex’s free three-day seminar on System One and Moisture Control, June 3-5. More information is available here.
Consumer Digest Calls Armstrong’s Performance Plus Line a Best Buy
Along with two vinyl products, Armstrong Floor Products’ Performance Plus line of engineered hardwood flooring was designated a Consumers Digest Best Buy as a top-rated option for affordable kitchen makeovers. Flooring Best Buys are judged based on quality of construction, range of style options and exclusivity of species or design.
According to Consumers Digest, "No other engineered wood flooring has a wider variety of options than this line does, and it's the only line we found that features a top layer of wood that's infused with acrylic. Independent experts tell us this increases the hardness of the wood and that helps it resist dents and deep scratches."
Monday, May 13, 2013
Upcoming Farm Bill to Include Biopreferred Changes, Biomass Incentives, More
Last week, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee released its recommendations for the Farm Bill. The recommendations contain several points lobbied for by the Hardwood Federation (of which the National Wood Flooring Association is a part), including: incentivizing use of biomass residuals (wood chips) in renewable energy programs, the inclusion of forest products in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s biopreferred program, and continued funding for the Foreign market Development Program and Market Access Program.
To take action on this bill, the Hardwood Federation's website allows visitors to locate their elected officials here.
Forbes: Monopoly in Forest Certification Bad for Environment, Market
In a recent editorial for Forbes magazine’s website, economic analysts Wayne Winegarden and Donald Rieck say that a monopoly, even in forest certification systems, can lead to overpricing and a frustrating lack of innovation.
The authors concede that it is difficult to balance what is best for the forests with market demands. However, without competition, certification systems can either focus too heavily on one side of the equation—as many environmental groups feel the Sustainable Forestry Initiative system does—or develop impractical standards without any pressure to change.
The writers cite the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) more than 30 standards that vary by region as an example of impractical management.
Under the current program, U.S. foresters end up paying more to be FSC-certified than their counterparts in Russia, China and other countries, which are subject to less-strict standards and can more easily obtain FSC recognition. This puts U.S. foresters and manufacturers at a price disadvantage compared with foreign companies, the authors say.
This disadvantage convinces many foresters to forgo certification to keep prices reasonable, but then when public construction projects require FSC-certified products to be used, builders cannot use domestic timber, regardless of the producers’ actual forestry practices.
“Competitive forestry standards avoid this problem by encouraging multiple standards to compete against one another,” the article reads. “Just as market competition forces producers to be more responsive to consumers, competitive forestry standards can ensure that regulations are responsive to current and future needs. As a result, the ability to strike the right balance between the interests of consumers and producers is enhanced, as is the ability to maintain vibrant and healthy global forests.”