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April/May 2015


Also in this issue:

The Art of Negotiation Part II EXPO & Wisconsin Convention Recaps

Apr/May 2015

BPC STAFF Publisher Cody Nuernberg Executive Editor Beth Stoll Advertising Sales Erica Nelson (763) 497-1778 NLA STAFF President Cody Nuernberg Field Service Representative Jerry Bartell Event Coordinator Olivia Darr Financial & Membership Assistant Abbie Diekmann Director of Conventions and Tours Jodie Fleck, CMP Communications Coordinator Melanie Hultman Director of Professional Development Connie Johnson Field Service Representative Joel Spindler

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Daryl Lundberg Rob Treml John Bates Mike Simon

Toll Free: 800.237.5161 Phone: 701.237.5161

The Building Products Connection is published bi-monthly by the Northwestern Lumber Association, 5905 Golden Valley Road, Suite 110, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55422, (763) 544-6822. It is the official publication of the Northwestern Lumber Association (NLA). Copyright ©2015 by the NLA. Materials may not be reproduced without written permission. Annual subscription fee is $30. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Building Products Connection 5905 Golden Valley Road, Suite 110 Minneapolis, MN 55422

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Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015




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Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


2015 nLA bOARD CHAIRMAN — Trent Peabody Lumber Mart West Grand Forks, North Dakota 1st VICE CHAIRMAN — Bill Wood Fennimore Lumber Co. Fennimore, Wisconsin 2nd VICE CHAIRMAN — Daryl Lundberg Northwoods Lumber Blackduck, Minnesota TREASURER — Ron Enter wRight Lumber & Millwork, Inc. Buffalo, Minnesota PAST CHAIRMAN — Jeff Reinhardt Interstate Building Supply Cannon Falls, Minnesota NLA PRESIDENT/SECRETARY Cody Nuernberg Minneapolis, Minnesota ILA CHAIRMAN — Jim Johnson Consumers Lumber Co. Spencer, Iowa NLDA CHAIRMAN — Mike Skillstad Farm & Ranch Building Supply Norfolk, Nebraska WRLA CHAIRMAN — Jim Kohlenberg Jim’s Building Center Fennimore, Wisconsin

CHANGE CAN BE A GOOD THING Convention season has officially come to a close, and boy does it feel good to be home! Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend any of our four conventions. It is always nice to catch up with all of you and recharge our collective batteries. We already are looking ahead to next year’s events. The NLA Board(s) and the Convention staff have worked ahead to secure space, and we hope this proves beneficial as you begin looking at your schedules. At this time we would like to briefly address one of the common questions we hear regarding the new venue for the 2016 Northwestern Building Products Expo.

Directors Brad Kranz 2012-2015 Salem Lumber Co. Salem, South Dakota Stephen McCarron 2012-2015 McCarron’s Building Center, Inc. Forest Lake, Minnesota Brad Spelts 2013-2015 Spelts Lumber Co. Burwell, Nebraska Mike Bertrand 2013-2016 Lloyd Lumber Co. North Mankato, Minnesota Jennifer Leachman 2013-2016 Leachman Lumber Co. Des Moines, Iowa Garry Mertz 2013-2016 Mertz Lumber & Supply Ellendale, North Dakota Craig VandenHouten 2014-2016 Van’s Lumber & Custom Bldrs. Luxemburg, WI Bill Brotherton 2014-2017 Wall Lake Lumber Co. Wall Lake, Iowa Bryan Jensen 2014-2017 Central Valley Ag Elgin, Nebraska Eric Halvorsen 2014-2017 Halvorsen Lumber Co. Arcadia, Wisconsin Brandon Seppala 2014-2017 Pohaki Lumber Co. Virginia, Minnesota Associate Directors Dave Charpentier 2012-2015 Midwest Lumber Minnesota, Inc. Stillwater, Minnesota Aaron Lambrecht 2013-2016 Shelter Products, Inc. New Ulm, Minnesota Cedar Rapids, Iowa NLBMDA REPRESENTATIVE John Bates Builders Select Cedar Falls, Iowa

As many of you know, the Expo has taken place in St. Cloud, Minnesota for the past three years. The Rivers Edge Convention Center and the Best Western Kelly Inn have proven to be an ideal spot for the annual event. However, in 2016 the Expo will be moving to the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota — and here’s why we made this apparently controversial decision to move. First and foremost, the Rivers Edge sold our week to another group without giving us first option on the space. This is not hotel protocol for returning groups, and we were disappointed with the news. In an effort to not conflict our event with other state and national events (such as IBS and other vendor shows), we felt it was appropriate to keep the week but change venues. Second, there are a number of member dealers who do not attend the Expo in St. Cloud as the distance is just too far. Accommondating all members geographically remains a constant challenge, but sometimes a change in venue makes the event accessible to a wider group of members. After an in-depth site inspection, we are excited for the move. Many of you remember the facility as the “old” Radisson South. It may be the same building, but the look and feel are completely different. And what better way to celebrate the finale for our 125th Anniversary than to return to one of the more popular Expo venues of our past! Again, we thank you for your continued support of NLA and the conventions. We are honored to put on these events each year and are excited for the 2016 program. If you have any questions or ideas for upcoming conventions, please give us a call. Continual improvement is our ultimate goal.

2015 nLI Officers PRESIDENT — Larry Provance Arrow Building Center Chadron, Nebraska VICE PRESIDENT — Wayne Briggs Crane Johnson Lumber Fargo, North Dakota

Cody Nuernberg, NLA President

Jodie Fleck, Director of Conventions

Treasurer — Bob Egan Lampert Yards St. Paul, Minnesota

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


News & Events Metal Sales hosts FLL meeting The Minnesota-Dakotas Future Lumber Leaders Group met on Friday, January 30 at Metal Sales Manufacturing in Rogers, Minnesota. The group began the day with a discussion and presentation on team management and effective communication. Participants discussed how they currently work with their teams and best practices for improvement. A tour of Metal Sales manufacturing site followed the morning program. The team at Metal Sales showed the group how coils of sheet metal are twisted, bent, turned and molded into the beautiful finished product seen on ag buildings and sheds across the Midwest. Following lunch, the group was entertained by former actor-turned speaker Jack Stahlmann who introduced five and a half things his life as a struggling actor taught him, and how it applied to running a lumber business.

The event will take place at the Wells Fargo Arena (Wellmark Field), located at 730 3rd Street in Des Moines. Ticket prices after April 1 are $60 for NLA members and $75 for non-members. Price includes game ticket and tailgating refreshments. Go to to register or contact Joel at jspindler@ For more information on the Barnstormers, go to

NLBMDA Opposes Proposal to Increase Taxes on Investments and Estates The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) opposes the proposal announced by President Barack Obama during the State of the Union address that would increase the top capital gains tax rate and increase the taxes paid on inherited capital. As part of the proposal, the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends would

Iowa Arena football outing scheduled Bring your spouses, friends, contractors, and key personnel to the Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, April 11 for the NLA 2015 Iowa Arena Football Outing when the Iowa Barnstormers host the Green Bay Blizzard. Join us at 4:00 pm for pre-game activities and tailgating with kickoff at 7:00 pm. 8

In addition to raising the capital gains tax rate, it would eliminate the current “step-up” basis that reduces the capital gains tax on inherited assets. In what amounts to a second death tax, heirs would also have to pay tax on all capital gains which took place before death. The protections for small family-owned businesses are inadequate, and the step-up basis would remain only for assets given to a spouse or charity upon death. “Many lumber yards are small familyowned businesses and increasing the taxes paid by their estates would only make it more difficult for them to pass on the business to the next generation,” said Jonathan Paine, President and CEO of NLBMDA. “Thankfully this proposal is going nowhere in this Congress.” Although improvements to the estate tax have been made in recent years, NLBMDA supports a full and permanent

Calendar of Events

Northwestern Lumber Association would like to thank Jeff Colemer and the team from Metal Sales Manufacturing in Rogers for hosting this event. For more information on Future Lumber Leaders, please contact Cody Nuernberg at or (800) 896-5130.

increase from 24 percent to 28 percent. Prior to 2013, the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends was 15 percent.

april Iowa ARENA FOOTBALL OUTING Wells Fargo Arena Des Moines, Iowa Blueprint reading and material take-off Fargo, North Dakota



may Blueprint reading and material take-off Twin Cities, Minnesota

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


repeal. The proposal by President Obama does not recognize the high asset base of lumber and building material dealers’ businesses or set the exemption level high enough to adequately cover the value of non-cash assets such as land, inventory, and equipment. NLBMDA will continue to be a voice for lumber dealers on this issue to ensure they are able to pass on their businesses to the next generation of dealers.

LBM Delivery and Fleet Safety Program The Delivery & Fleet Safety (DFS) program available through the NLBMDA is an invaluable safety tool that will help you train your employees to be a more safe, productive, and efficient workforce. A DFS trained driver is smarter, achieves better fuel efficiency, lowers maintenance costs, and reduces material damage. The DFS program includes: • Industry-Specific Video, DVD, and Handbook: Demonstrates all aspects of safe and proper loading and transporting of materials from the yard to the job site; provides education on and assistance with OSHA/ FMCSA regulations. Ten handbooks are provided. • Trainer’s Manual: Walks you through the step-by-step process to conduct your own training session with a list of the key concepts to highlight and discuss. • DFS Poster and Certificates: Outlines, in full color, the basic key concepts for a daily visual reminder of lessons presented. Ten certificates recognizing completion of training are also provided. The Delivery & Fleet Safety Training Kit and DVD is available to NLA/NLBMDA members at the rate of $199 and to non-members at the rate of $349. If you would like to order only the Delivery & Fleet Safety DVD, members can purchase it for the rate of $60 and non-members $85. Questions? Contact NLBMDA at

Webinar Part Two: Top OSHA Citations in the Building Material Industry Do you know the top OSHA citations for the building materials industry and what to do if OSHA shows up at your door? Is your yard safe and prepared for an OSHA inspection? Come to Part Two of NLBMDA’s webinar series to learn how OSHA is citing our industry, hear how you can get into compliance, and become prepared for an inspection. Part Two of the webinar will be offered Tuesday, April 14 from noon until 1:00 p.m. CST and Thursday, April 16, 2:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. CST. This is part two of a two part webinar series covering the top 10 citations in the LBM industry, and will cover top citations six through ten. By the end of this exciting 60 minute program, you will be able to:

• Identify the top OSHA citations for the building materials industry. • Determine if you are at risk for those citations based on the work you do and OSHA compliance practices. • Implement compliance best practices to keep your bottom line protected. The instructor, Regina McMichael, CSP, CET is President of The Learning Factory, Inc., an education and training design and delivery company with a focus on safety and risk management. She is the former director of safety for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and has 23 years of safety experience. If you are an owner, supervisor, or manager with safety responsibilities, you should attend this information packed webinar. Learn straight from the experts the next set of information you need to comply with the regulation. (continued on page 10)

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015






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(continued from page 9) Cost is $75* for members and $125 for non-members. *After clicking on the registration link, members must login to receive their discount. If you don’t know your login information, contact Stephen Kendrick at For discounts on groups of 5 or more please contact Stephen Kendrick at stephen@

Sign up for NLBMDA Political Action Committee Newsletter The Lumber Dealers Political Action Committee (LuDPAC), the political action committee of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), wants to share with you the political activities that are done on behalf of the industry. However, federal election law requires that they have your written permission before they can send you the LuDPAC monthly newsletter with information on the candidates the association supports, successful meetings between politicians and NLBMDA members, who in Congress is voting for our bills, and critical updates from the NLBMDA Government Relations team on issues affecting the LBM Industry.


The LuDPAC prior approval form is now online and only takes a couple minutes to complete. Completing the online prior approval form does not obligate you to ever contribute to LuDPAC, and is only so that NLBMDA can communicate directly with you on critical legislative topics impacting the LBM industry. Two minutes is all it will take, and your action will ensure you are fullyinformed on how LuDPAC advances the interests of lumber and building material industry. To register, go to custom.asp?page=PriorApproval. For more information, contact Ben Gann, NLBMDA vice president of legislative and poltical affairs at

Green Building Trends to Look Out For in 2015 This year’s emerging and growing green building trends include net-zero energy homes, healthful homes, affordable green construction, passive construction, and water conservation. The demand for net-zero homes using alternative sources of energy such as photovoltaic cells will grow and consumers will have the assurance of Office of Energy Efficiency and

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

Renewable Energy certification when purchasing a certified net-zero home. Continued high demand is expected for aesthetically appealing, healthful homes built with natural materials such as stone and local lumber, or green features such as living roofs. Last year, micro homes and homes made with salvaged materials such as pallets and crates made green homes attainable for every budget. The affordable green home trend continues with modular, pre-designed homes, as well as retrofitting old housing stock. Passive design will become more popular as builders rely more on siting, design, landscaping, and insulation to make buildings energy efficient. Water conservation also continues to be a major concern, especially throughout the drought-stricken southwestern U.S., spurring the use of xeriscaping, waterconserving fixtures, and graywater and stormwater runoff-reduction systems.

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Business Matters by Brent Gwatney

TO CAP OR NOT TO CAP Insights for dealers on the latest trend in composite decking As a building pro, have you ever wondered why some composite decking manufacturers turned to capped boards, and then discontinued their non-capped products? In many cases, the answer is the same reason men wear toupees — to cover up something. Dealers and contractors are well aware of the many lawsuits brought against various composite decking brands over the years. Litigation has addressed field failures including cracking, flaking and other deterioration. Because many of these problems result from moisture absorption into exposed wood fibers, one of the prime reasons for a cap is to keep water away from the composite core. But, just as a toupee doesn’t really give the wearer hair, a cap doesn’t really make composite boards watertight.

Why a cap alone isn’t sufficient As a wood-based product, the key to durability in composite decking is protecting the wood fibers from absorbing moisture. On the surface, it seems a waterresistant plastic cap would be the ideal solution. But that’s the issue, it’s only a surface fix. The cap itself might not absorb moisture, but if the core is susceptible to absorbing water, caps fall short in fully protecting boards in several ways: 1. Caps often only cover the tops and sides of boards. Although water from rain, lawn sprinklers or waves drips off the bottoms of boards, frequent exposure can still lead to unacceptable moisture absorption. Uncapped board bottoms also can absorb water that pools on the tops of joists, and can wick moisture from wetted joists. 2. The ends of boards remain exposed in cap stock decking. On a 1-inch x 6-inch nominal profile board, that means 5.4 square inches of unprotected area on each board end. 3. Screws and nails break through the cap when attaching deck boards using face fasteners. This creates entry points for water every place a board crosses a joist.

High-performance composites To adequately protect composite decking and railing against moisture, the wood fibers must be fully encapsulated in water-resistant plastic. Such products, like MoistureShield’s Vantage Collection, do not require a cap, and can be installed on the ground, in the ground or underwater. They are well-suited for demanding applications, ranging from wet or humid climates, to areas with frequent water exposure, including pool and hot tub surrounds and docks. Cutting, drilling and fastening this decking does not compromise its moisture resistance, as the wood fibers are fully protected throughout the board.

Caps as supplemental protection New for 2015 are decking boards that combine the added durability of a cap with the moisture defense of composite cores that have fully encapsulated wood fibers. In this case, the plastic cap is not meant as a water barrier, but to enhance resistance to staining, fading and scratching. This allows these boards to perform well in any demanding environment.

Conclusion When evaluating composite decking, it’s important to remember that what’s inside the board counts. Ask the manufacturer the tough questions, including any history the company has of product failures. It is especially important to look closely at capped products, including whether the core itself resists moisture. Otherwise, in a few short years homeowners might discover the cap on their deck boards is nothing more than a plastic toupee.

Brent Gwatney is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for MoistureShield composite decking, and serves on the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) board of directors. www., (866) 729-2378.

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


EXPO The 2015 Northwestern Building Products Expo wrapped up on Tuesday, January 13, following two busy days at the Rivers Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. More than 700 lumber yard dealers, building product suppliers and guests attended a very active convention with a full schedule of meetings, seminars, exhibits and receptions. This year marks Northwestern Lumber Association’s 125th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than to hand out more than $1000 in cash prizes throughout the show. Congratulations to the 10 lucky individuals who each collected $125 cash during the show! Sandie Balduzzi from Balduzzi Lumber in Onalaska was the winner of the Photo with a Sponsor drawing and walked away with $50 in her pocket. Jack Nicholson made an appearance at the Membership Meeting and Lunch via celebrity impersonator John Geenan. Geenan was the keynote speaker and motivated attendees to “Jack Up Your Thinking” by changing your prospective. Josh Meiller with Alexander Lumber was awarded 2014 Dealer of the Year Award for his dedication and contribution to the building materials industry. Due to a scheduling conflict with the Rivers Edge Convention Center next year, the 2016 Northwestern Building Products Expo will move to the DoubleTree Hotel & Convention Center in Bloomington, Minnesota on January 11-12. More to see, more to do. Hope to see you there!

Photos (top right, counterclockwise): Keynote speaker John Geenan; New NLA signage made from native woods; One of ten $125 drawing winners; EXPO trade floor was busy both days; Josh Meiller accepts 2014 Dealer of the Year Award.


Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

convention recaps

WISCONSIN The 2015 Wisconsin Lumber Dealers Convention kicked off in Stevens Point with dealers from throughout Wisconsin visiting more than 30 exhibiting suppliers on the trade show floor, while also attending seminars designed to teach dealers how to “sell value” and manage inventory. Larry McCarren, voice of the Green Bay Packers, shared a riveting message with the crowd at the Membership Meeting and Breakfast. Two building products professionals were honored for their dedication and contribution to our industry. Joel Fleischman of Drexel Building Supply was awarded the WRLA 2014 Dealer of the Year Award and John Manion with Manions Wholesale Building Supplies was awarded the Supplier Representative of the Year Award. Four lucky attendees walked away with an extra $125 in their pocket from random drawings taking place on the trade show floor in celebration of the association’s 125th anniversary. Details on the dates and location for the 2016 Wisconsin Lumber Dealers Convention will be announced in the next few months.

Photos (top right, clockwise): Dealers had plenty of opportunity to “face-time” with suppliers; Ken Hager was thanked for his years of service on the WRLA board; Seminars emphasized selling value as well as advice on inventory management; Joel Fleischman accepted the 2014 WRLA Dealer of the Year Award.

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015




of negoti

In the last issue of Building Products CONNECTION, we covered the basics of BATNA — your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. In review, remember that in negotiation, power comes from alternatives. One of the first things a skilled negotiator explores is what course she will take if the deal being worked on completely falls apart. If I can’t make this arrangement with this person work out at all, what will I do instead? Answering this question leads you to your BATNA and lays the foundation for increasing negotiating strength. And greater strength presents the potential for increased control, influence, and authority. The beauty of your BATNA is that it provides you a powerful floor to support your negotiation effort. You will never accept a deal unless it is better than your BATNA. It forms a minimum acceptable level for you. What does BATNA look like in practice? Let’s take a look at a tale of two negotiations — one where the participant had a strong BATNA and one where the participant didn’t. Sam and Sara decide that they’re going to go to their boss in a week and demand a 10 percent raise. Sam uses the week to get his nerve up. But Sara, on the other hand, spends the seven days trying to get an offer from a competing employer. Sara succeeds in getting a job offer at a salary 4 percent above her current pay level. The following week, each of them goes in and requests the raise. The boss tells them both that it is simply not possible. Not having strengthened his BATNA, Sam hasn’t given himself any room for negotiation. He simply thanks his boss for his consideration and goes back to his cubicle. But Sara tells her boss that she has a problem and wants the boss’s help. She tells him that she’s received an offer from a competitor and she must decide whether to stay in her current job or leave for this new one. Not wanting to lose Sara, her boss asks how much salary she has been offered. She replies, “While they demanded confidentiality, I can tell you it is more than I am currently making.”

Life is nothing but a series of negotiations. If you aren’t thinking about it that way, it’s quite likely you’re missing out on opportunities to make big impro In the Sam and boss situation, Sam has a problem he doesn’t know how to solve. In the Sara and boss situation, the boss has a problem. Sara gets a raise. Don’t settle for win-win. As you begin to hone your negotiating skills, you might be tempted to seek out “win-win” solutions. Doing so might seem like a great way to keep your relationship with your negotiating partner positive, but the approach can actually backfire, causing you both to settle for the first plausible solution that improves everyone’s position. For example, Randy the Realtor was trying to get her client (the buyer) and the other side (seller) to agree on a price. The buyer was moving from a “low tax” town to a more heavily taxed one whose wealthy school district could better serve a child with special needs. The two sides were only $600 apart. Eventually, Randy teamed with the other side’s (continued on page 16) 14

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

iation by Steven G. Blum

Part Two of a Two Part Series


Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


continued from page 16) agent and said, “In exchange for signing this deal right now, we’ve agreed to cut our commissions by $150 each. We want each of you to compromise your price demand by $150 each. That will total the entire $600 in dispute and everyone will share the burden of compromise equally.” The deal closed, and later the two agents toasted each other for coming up with a very “win-win” solution. But Randy had failed to notice the value that was being left on the table. The client was going to need a real estate

partners own a retail store together. Bob is 62 and beginning to think about retirement. Jane is 36 and hopes to expand the store to increase profits over the long run. Bob wants to increase the store’s current valuation by cutting costs and minimizing investment. Jane wants to take out a loan and invest in an expansion that she estimates will take five to seven years to become profitable. If Bob just gives in to Jane, he fears that when he’s ready to “cash out” he won’t be able to leave with enough to fund a long and comfortable retirement. If Jane lets Bob make the decision, she is worried that the business will never meet its potential.

Just as you should avoid the grocery store when you are very hungry, you should not negotiate important deals when you are in a got-to-have-it state of mind. agent to sell their old property. Randy might have worked that into the bargain by aiming higher than “win-win.” “Many negotiators breathe a sigh of relief when they get what they expected,” notes Blum. “Great negotiators know, however, that expectations are the lowest acceptable result and that you should raise the bar by pushing to achieve a well-thought-out goal.” Make sure your interests come first, but make sure others’ interests are served, too. Good negotiators pay a great deal of attention to underlying interests. They seek a deal that meets their own interests very well, satisfies the interests of other parties sufficiently, and adequately addresses those of all important players who are not part of the actual negotiation. To do otherwise is a mistake. For example, let’s say two business


Each of the partners needs to pursue his or her own goals with the interests of the other partner in mind.

Working together, they can find ways to structure a deal. Some examples might be Jane’s arranging to buy Bob out in three years at a price that reflects the changes Bob wanted to make (without actually making them), creating a contract that gives Bob and his heirs a percentage of the gains Jane anticipates over the long term, or giving Bob more of the current profits in exchange for Jane’s receiving a bigger share of the business later. Insist on both a fair process and a fair outcome. Good negotiators refuse to be part of a process, or outcome, that is anything less than fair. You should do the same. Just as a skilled negotiator will never agree to a deal that does not do a good job of meeting her interests or that is not better than her best alternative, so, too, she should decline one that is observably unfair.

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

Pay attention to power dynamics. Consider the extremely important matter of personal power dynamics. In most human interactions, one person is given or takes more of the authority and control over the interaction. In some cases, this is the result of social structures: When you are introduced to the president or the queen, you automatically act deferentially. There are many situations, though, where the question of power gets resolved by one party simply being aggressive and seizing control. “Where accepted power dynamics lead to best outcomes, it’s okay to observe and follow them,” explains Blum. “On the other hand, the world is also full of power dynamics put in place to serve less admirable goals or simply to advance one person’s or organization’s agenda. In such circumstances, passive acceptance is a mistake. Good negotiators are well advised to ask whether the power structures and processes in current use are the best ones to advance their goal of reaching a best possible outcome. Don’t trust imprudently. The mere fact that you have insisted on forthrightness, and unwaveringly offered it, does not mean you should entirely trust the other parties. After all, how many times have you observed someone you deal with often lying to another person? How often have you seen a colleague act in a shady manner toward another party? Blum points out that if that is how they deal with others, they may well treat you in the same manner. So don’t just accept that this is how the game is played. “Some negotiators believe that a certain amount of puffery, bluffing, and misleading is acceptable as long as all bargainers are aware of and playing by the same rules,” he says. “Although such a process is common and can work, it’s probably better to establish right up front the expectation of reliability and honest communication.

Be mindful of each “little agreement” step. A series of smaller commitments is very often the way that leads to a big agreement. In international relations, these are often referred to as confidencebuilding measures. The concept applies to small negotiations as well as big ones. Who hasn’t laid out a chain of such agreements when bargaining with a child? If you will eat your spinach, we will go to the ice cream stand. If you are good on the trip, you can get sprinkles. After the ice cream, we are going to brush our teeth and get ready for bed… and so on. “The negotiation process is made up of a series of little agreements,” says Blum. “Pay attention to them not only as they affect you, but also with an eye toward their impact on your negotiating partners. At every stage, there are forks in the road that require decisions about whether and how much to be bound.” Ask lots of questions. A much-cited study found that skilled negotiators spend almost 40 percent of their time acquiring information (asking questions) and clarifying information (restating and reframing what they’ve heard to verify that they’ve understood correctly). Average negotiators spend about 18 percent of their time on the same behaviors. In other words, average negotiators ask half as many questions as skilled negotiators. “It’s critical to listen and absorb with discernment,” he adds. “The information you receive will not all be accurate. There is usually an incentive for the other parties to misrepresent certain needs or interests. You can preempt bluffing with hard factual questions; it is psychologically much harder to falsify numbers than it is to mislead about the severity of a situation or the importance of an issue. Plus, there is usually a way to check up on factual information.” Create scarcity. Just as a shortage

of something drives up its price in economic terms, so, too, it increases how badly most people want it. Simply put, humans place a higher value on a thing that is scarce and a lower value on something plentiful. Among the situations that create such an effect are time, popularity, and the risk of loss. Thus, negotiators respond to what is referred to as a closing window of opportunity, i.e., making an offer that is good for only a limited amount of time. When a proposal or offer is structured to end at a certain time, the scarcity effect adds pressure. Another factor that causes scarcity is competition. When everyone else wants something, there is a tendency for us to want it more, too. We see this all over the commercial sectors of our world, particularly in marketing campaigns. Making it clear that everyone wants the item for sale can make even those with little use for it determined to buy it. Nobody wants to be left out. Be patient. One of the best things you can do in the closing and commitment stage of a negotiation is to be patient. Try hard not to be in a hurry. The negotiator who is not rushed has a favorable position and is free to work for the best possible deal. She is much less vulnerable to the pressures that necessarily grind down someone who needs the agreement to happen right now. Some methods to help make this attitude possible include starting early, not procrastinating, and avoiding negotiating when you are in a needy state of mind.

Time is going to work to someone’s advantage in most negotiation situations; work hard to make sure that the person is you.”

“Just as you should avoid the grocery store when you are very hungry, you should not negotiate important deals when you are in a got-to-have-it state of mind,” advises Blum. “The best attitude in the world, where possible, is to be able to say, ‘I have all the time in the world to find the very best possible solution.’

Steven G. Blum, author of Negotiating Your Investments: Use Proven Negotiation Methods to Enrich Your Financial Life, holds two law degrees and has been guiding clients through all aspects of their financial lives for more than 30 years. For more information, visit

“Negotiating is a part of life,” says Blum. “When you pay close attention to this fact, you can make yourself much better off. You can come to better financial decisions. You can get more bang for your buck. You can make relationshipimproving decisions. You can protect yourself against unfair business practices. Improving your negotiating skills is an effort worth making.”

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


Finishes for Wood Decks By Chris Ermides

Weather wreaks havoc on unprotected wood, even pressure-treated pine, tropical hardwoods, cedar, redwood, and others that are resistant to rot and insect damage. Moisture, whether from rain, snow, or humidity, causes problems like raised grain, cupping, and splitting. What’s more, UV radiation from the sun breaks down the lignin that holds the wood’s cellulose fibers together. This causes the wood’s natural color to gray - which doesn’t impact longevity but isn’t always the desired look. Referred to variously as sealers, coatings, protectors, and stains, finishes penetrate the wood’s surface to slow down its ability to absorb moisture, prolonging the life of the decking and maintaining its appearance. The choices are many. Solid stains, with distinct, grain-hiding colors, look more like a layer of paint; they offer the ultimate protection. Clear sealers limit the wood’s ability to absorb moisture, and they allow the wood to gray naturally from sunlight. Toners and semi-transparent stains also protect wood against moisture while offering some protection against the sun’s rays. What makes choosing among them more complex is that they are all available in water-based, oil, and oil-modified versions. Most manufacturers offer water- and solventbased lines, typically for around the same price. Oil-based finishes penetrate better than the water-based finishes, whereas water-based versions offer more coverage than oil-based lines — because they don’t penetrate as much — and clean up with soap and water. Oil-modified products — finishes that penetrate like a traditional oil product but clean up with soap and water — offer the best of both. No matter what product is used, refinishing will be necessary every one to three years, depending on the exposure to sun and the elements. (continued on page 20)


Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

Environmental regulations and homeowner preferences are driving product innovation

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


(continued from page 18)

Sun Damage In a study conducted by the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, now-retired scientist Sam Williams documented the effects of sunlight on wood. His research showed that the longer unprotected wood sat in the sun, the more damage UV radiation did to the lignin, in a process called photochemical degradation. When lignin is damaged, it can no longer bind wood fibers, which are then released from the wood surface. As the fibers loosen and detach, any colored pigments - like semi-transparent and solid stains - that are clinging to them also fall away. The result is a failed finish and an unhappy customer. Williams found that the key factor in getting the most longevity out of any surface finish — whether stain or paint — is to seal the wood before the sun ever hits the surface. The pigments protect the lignins, and thereby help prevent fibers from being released from the wood. In Williams’ study, wood that had been painted before being exposed to UV maintained its integrity for well over 20 years. Realistically, the wood you use may have already been exposed to UV radiation. Some stain manufacturers even recommend letting the wood weather before staining, to improve stain absorption, but this comes at the expense of surface damage. In these cases, sanding the wood prior to finishing it will release damaged lignin and loose wood fibers and provide a better base for finishes to cling to, making them last longer. Lignin damage is also what causes wood to gray, an issue for homeowners who want to preserve the original color of the wood on their deck. Exotic hardwoods like ipe, as well as domestic woods like cedar, are seeing increased use - for good reason. They’re naturally resistant to termites, rot, and 20

decay. And, let’s face it, they are beautiful to look at. Many homeowners like the rich, furniture-like look and feel of hardwood decking, and want it to always look as it does the day it is installed. Now that manufacturers of pressuretreated wood are offering boards with less of a green tint, some homeowners are wanting to preserve the natural look of pressure-treated wood. The problem with maintaining the original color on either hardwoods or pressure-treated woods is that no existing clear deck finish can protect wood from UV damage and the resulting change in color to gray. So for now, that leaves the options of staining the wood, or applying a clear finish and letting the wood gray.

Not High School Chemistry Made with acrylic-based resins, today’s water-based finishes have gained a respectable place in the finishing market. Much of the impetus for their development might be the Environmental Protection Agency’s ever-tightening VOC guidelines. Aimed at limiting the VOCs that solvent-based products can emit into the air, these regulations are pushing manufacturers to provide alternatives that have the desirable characteristics once found only in oil-based options; that is, to create penetrating and durable water-based finishes that won’t peel. Advocates of oil-based sealers like them for the way they wear over time. Because they penetrate the wood, they tend to fade rather than peel or chip, as older water-based products used to. But water-based products have changed. At one time, the main criticism of water-based products was that they were film-forming and weren’t readily absorbed into the wood. These days, manufacturers point out that their water-based products do in fact make their way deeply into the wood. And this is, for the most part, thanks to nanoparticles.

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

Water-based products also tend to dry faster than oil-based products, which some deck finishers like, for obvious reasons. And because water-based products clean up with soap and water rather than paint thinner, they are sometimes marketed as a greener product. No solvents means lower VOC emissions and fewer toxic chemicals to dispose of - better for our lungs and our environment. There is middle ground between traditional oil finishes and water-based products. According to the manufacturers of the so-called oil-modified formulations, their coverage is similar to that of traditional water-based products, while at the same time they are easily absorbed into the wood. Perhaps most important from the user’s point of view, they clean up with soap and water like a water-based finish.

Oil-Based Finishes Haven’t Gone Away Most manufacturers of pure solventbased finishes say they plan to keep producing them as long as they can. However, VOC regulations are becoming more and more stringent, particularly in densely populated areas. Because manufacturers have to adhere to these regulations, the products that you are able to buy in your area will comply. Laws also limit how manufacturers make their products available. Even if you buy online, you may not be able to get the product you want if it doesn’t comply with your state’s regulations. Manufacturers are responding to environmental regulations and the market’s demand for greener products by developing low-VOC finishes. If the phrase low-VOC is on the container, it generally means that the finish emits fewer volatile compounds into the air than is allowed by the EPA. While some finishers, like Leahy, find that clients are much more concerned about durability than VOCs, manufacturers are still working to get low-VOC finishes

on the market, for a variety of reasons - staying ahead of regulations, gaining a marketing edge, countering the rising cost of petroleum, and being honestly concerned for the environment.

But don’t panic. Manufacturers are spending a lot of time and money developing modified-oil- and latex-based products that penetrate and wear like oil-based finishes.

Lowering the VOC content in solventbased coatings is a tricky process. The resins and the solvents in traditional oil coatings are petroleum-based. These solvents are the main component that off-gasses VOCs. Reducing or even eliminating VOCs means reducing the amount of petroleum used or eliminating it altogether and replacing it with something else. In many cases, as with Penofin’s Verde system, petroleum is replaced with a vegetable ester solvent and other plant-based resins.

Match the Product With the Substrate

Some in the industry contend that straight solvent-based finishes will become less common as the EPA continues to tighten VOC regulations.

Before you choose a finish, it’s important to understand the properties of the substrate you plan to coat. Woods like ipe that are naturally resistant to bugs and rot don’t typically come treated with a wood preservative. Some manufacturers, like Thompson’s, discourage the use of certain products on ipe and other hardwoods like it, because the finishes aren’t formulated to penetrate such dense wood. Sealing pressure-treated decking is another matter entirely. According to Arch Chemical’s DeVenzio, some

pressure-treated decking has a wax already built into it (Figure 6). Deck material of this sort isn’t going to take a penetrating finish or stain very well, no matter how good the finish is. In some cases, this information might be on the decking label. It’s a good idea to check the pressure-treatment company’s website for finishing guidelines - on what types of finishes to use as well as when to apply coatings. Experts agree that you’ll get the best results on kiln-dried products. The moisture content in kiln-dried wood is the same across each board, so it’s more stable than air-dried or wet wood. Because of that, kiln-dried wood reacts to weather conditions in a more consistent manner, and takes finishes more evenly. That’s one of the reasons John Paulin, owner of Tailor Decks in Atlanta, uses kiln-dried lumber (continued on page 22)

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Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


(continued from page 21) exclusively (he also appreciates the stability of the product from a building perspective). He has found that when finishes take to the wood more evenly, they wear more evenly as well. When kiln-dried wood isn’t an option and you use air-dried or wet lumber, sealing all sides of the board is recommended. Softer woods, like pressure-treated pine and cedar, absorb finishes more easily than exotics such as ipe, which are a whole other story. The very things that make hardwoods so appealing to homeowners and deck professionals present challenges when it comes to finishing them. Hardwoods are denser, for one, which on the plus side makes them less prone to absorbing moisture and less likely to get surface scratches or dings from lawn furniture and beer cans. But that density also makes it harder for manufacturers of stains and wood coatings to create products that penetrate the surface rather than forming a film over it. Wood chemistry is different for all species, which makes formulating a stain even more challenging. Manufacturers who have wood chemists on their product-development staffs understand the nuances between different species and are more likely to tune their products to match the properties of particular woods. When a manufacturer touts a line specifically designed for ipe or mahogany, for instance, it’s probably worth taking a closer look.

Film-forming finishes, like paint, create a shell or protective coating. Refinishing a deck with a non-film finish is usually a matter of cleaning, doing minor repairs, and then recoating. A film finish may require removing the old finish or other extensive work before refinishing. Leahy cautions people to not over-apply finishes, particularly semi-transparent or solid stains. A misconception exists that exterior deck stains act like interior stains - but they don’t. While both types of stains penetrate the wood, the similarity stops there. Adding extra coats to achieve a darker color is a bad idea with deck stains because they can form a film-like coat over the surface of the board. His advice: Read the label carefully and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some explicitly limit the number of coats you should use, and offer guidance on when to recoat. Layering multiple coats of a finish can have a disastrous effect. Depending upon the product, even two coats of a solid stain can quickly become an oil-based paint. While that might not seem like such a bad thing, consider that stains aren’t formulated to act like paint. The pigments in the stain won’t stick to each other as they do in paints, causing the stain to fail. Generally, after too many coats the finish isn’t absorbed evenly, and the layers start to peel. The surface will look blotchy and in some cases shiny.

Fear of Film-Forming Tips on Finishing Finishes Because they tended to be more difficult to refinish, film-forming finishes used to scare people. That isn’t necessarily the case these days. A big difference between straight oil finishes and modified-oil (or alkyds) and latex finishes is that oil finishes don’t form a film on the surface. They penetrate deeply into the wood, protecting it from the inside out. 22

Whether you’re refinishing boards that have already been coated or starting from scratch, a clean, open-pored surface is the key to getting the most protection and life out of any finish. Best practices include using kiln-dried wood and coating every exposed surface of the board. Sealing all parts of the board reduces the potential for cupping,

Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

especially on surfaces where snow and water will sit for long periods of time. Use a mild detergent to clean wood that has already been sealed. Deck cleaners offered by finish companies are formulated to be gentle on the wood’s lignin, which bleach and water will damage. Remove any existing stain with a stripper. Depending on the level of grayness, brightener may restore the wood’s original color. Lightly sand to remove mill glaze from new wood and UV-damaged fibers from old wood. Apply finish to clean, dry wood that’s free of dirt, mildew, and debris. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for surface and air temperature. Be sure that the product you’re using is appropriate for the substrate. Hardwoods often require a penetrating finish. When sealing new pressure-treated wood, follow the wood preserver’s guidelines. Some pressure-treated wood contains water repellent and may need exposure to the elements before it will take a finish. Most finishes can be applied by brush, pad, or sprayer. Professional finishers often spray and then either back brush or use a sponge pad. Spraying provides even coverage, and back-brushing works the finish into the grain. Sponge-pad applicators push the product even deeper into the wood. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Some products are explicitly formulated to be applied only as a single coat, others require two coats. Applying more coats than recommended will create a film that is likely to peel. Also follow the product guidelines for drying time between coats; a second coat applied too soon won’t penetrate evenly and may not dry at all. Chris Ermides is a freelance writer from Beacon, N.Y.

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Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015


What’s New Happenings Wisconsin lumberyard Under New Ownership Barker Lumber, located in Delavan, Wisconsin, has been sold to a friendly competitor, as previous owner Ron Kastein steps down after 40 years. The lumberyard will remain at its existing location. The store was originally founded in 1871 by D.T. Barker, who started a lumberyard along the railroad tracks in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The Delavan yard opened 10 years later. The company was sold earlier this year to Chris Hill, owner of Home Lumber in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Kastein believes it was the right time to sell and feels he’s leaving the 144-year-old company in good hands.

Grafton True Value Hardware expands into lumber business Grafton, North Dakota, has a new local lumber store, about 10 months after the community’s lumber yard closed. Grafton True Value Hardware is expanding into the lumber business and changing its name to Grafton True Value Hardware and Lumber, according to owner Kerry Demars.

expanding since the closing of the Simonson store, which also was a True Value hardware franchise. The Simonson store had been in Grafton for 83 years and invested about $2 million into rebuilding after a 1994 fire destroyed the business.

Fire damages lumber yards in Minnesota

The traditional hardware store on Hill Avenue, Grafton’s main downtown business street, will move to the old Simonson Lumber and Hardware location which is about a block away.

A fire caused nearly $100,000 in damages to Lindquist Lumber in Floodwood, Minnesota in early January. Firefighters were able to contain the fire in about an hour and damage was contained to just the corner of the building.

Kerry and Carole Demars have owned the business for the past 11 years. He said they had been thinking about

No one was injured in the blaze, but damages were estimated around $30,000 for the building

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Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

and another $70,000 for materials inside. Officials say the cause of the fire was either electrical or from a woodstove that was close to the electrical equipment. Firefighters responded to a 3-alarm fire at Shaw Stewart Lumber in Minneapolis on March 8 that detroyed a building. No further information was available at the time of this writing.

WESTSIDE LUMBER under new ownership Westside Lumber & Warehouse Outlet in Alexandria, Minnesota was sold to new owners Russ Archer and Chad Getz last December. The name was changed to Alexandria Lumber.

Supplier News Amerhart celebrates 75th Year Anniversary Founded in 1940 as an insulation and Masonite distributor, Amerhart turns 75 as one of the largest independently owned building materials distributors in the Midwest.Headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Amerhart has expanded through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. Operating out of eight locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and Oregon, Amerhart employs over 250 team members and serves a wide variety of customers throughout the building industry. The company credits much of its success to its values driven culture, the support of the communities in which it operates, and a focus on providing long-term employment opportunities to all of its team members.

GMS Acquires Seranno Drywall Supply in Iowa

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Gypsum Management and Supply (GMS), an independent distributor of drywall, ceiling, and specialty building materials, announced it has acquired Seranno Drywall Supply in Iowa City, Iowa. As part of the deal, Seranno Drywall Supply will become a Tamarack Materials branch.

Amerhart LTD.

Jerry Speights, vice president of the Central Division of GMS, said the acquisition “was an easy choice. They have the same cultural values, supported by well-established relationships in Iowa and many years of operational experience. ”

ENAP/PAL Announce Name for Proposed Merged Cooperative The lumber and building material buying cooperatives PAL and ENAP, Inc. announced that the merged cooperative will be called LBM Advantage, Inc. PAL was formed in 1937, and ENAP in 1967. Together, the combined membership will span 33 states and include 447 companies operating 742 lumberyards. LBM Advantage, Inc. plans to operate out of three locations in New Windsor, N.Y., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Monroe, La. The new cooperative will further utilize these locations to provide a national footprint with regional expertise as it continues its geographic expansion. If you have news or information

you would like included in the What’s New section, email Please submit materials for the Jun/July issue no later than April 15.

(800) 236-2211

Biewer Lumber (800) 482-5717

Cedar Creek West Des Moines, IA (800) 671-1660

The Empire Company inc. (800) 253-9000

Forest Products Supply CO. (800) 892-7109

Lake States Lumber (800) 432-3727

Progressive Affiliated Lumbermen, Inc. (800) 748-0089

Rayner & Rinn-Scott, Inc. (800) 221-6953

Viking Forest Products inc. (800) 733-3801

Weekes Forest Products (800) 328-2890

Building Products Connection Feb/Mar 2015



HELP WANTED Outside Contractor Sales : Fullerton Lumber Company has several open positions for Outside Contractor Sales Representatives at locations in Glencoe, MN, Watertown, MN & Ellsworth, WI. These positions could also work out of our main office in Plymouth, MN. Applicants are responsible for developing relationships and growing sales with home builders, remodelers, roofing and siding contractors, specialty contractors, and home owners at an acceptable gross profit margin. Education and experience • Technical school, college education, or experience in the building industry • Ability to read and interpret working drawings and blue prints

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Building Products Connection Apr/May 2015

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Growing Together Looking for ways to plan for the future of his business, Jim Ray, co-owner of Heritage Lumber Company, turned to his longtime Federated Insurance marketing representative Steve Eargle. Together, they set up a plan to help transition Jim’s company to the next generation.

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Building Products CONNECTION April 2015  
Building Products CONNECTION April 2015  

The Building Products CONNECTION is the official publication of the Northwestern Lumber Association, serving independent lumber dealers in M...