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August 2010

Volume 89  Number 2



THE MERCHANT ON TWITTER TWITTER.COM/MERCHANTMAG CHANGE OF ADDRESS Send address label from recent issue if possible, new address and 9-digit zip to address below. POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Merchant Magazine, 4500 Campus Dr., Ste. 480, Newport Beach, Ca. 92660-1872. The Merchant Magazine (ISSN 7399723) (USPS 796-560) is published monthly at 4500 Campus Dr., Ste. 480, Newport Beach, Ca. 92660-1872 by Cutler Publishing, Inc. Periodicals Postage paid at Newport Beach, Ca., and additional post offices. It is an independently-owned publication for the retail, wholesale and distribution levels of the lumber and building products markets in 13 western states. Copyright®2010 by Cutler Publishing, Inc. Cover and entire contents are fully protected and must not be reproduced in any manner without written permission. All Rights Reserved. It reserves the right to accept or reject any editorial or advertising matter, and assumes no liability for materials furnished to it.

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 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

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TOTALLY Random By Alan Oakes

Forever changed

THINK MANY OF US BUSINESS OWNERS have been forever changed by the recession as to how we are running and will run our businesses in the future. A recent survey of small business owners suggested that two-thirds of us are thinking differently about how we operate. As I wrote last month, we are in a highly interconnected global market where the slightest sneeze anywhere sends a panic signal around the world. Information is pushed out instantly, at the touch of a send button. Much of this information is without commentary, leaving plenty open to interpretation. Most of us have learned that nothing is predictable, and the business models we have used to great success may no longer be valid in today’s revolution of change. For those of us who are surviving, many are different from what we were three years ago when the recession kicked in. We have become leaner and meaner (and meaner maybe not in a good way), pragmatic, cynical, and yet still uncertain of what the future holds, particularly in our industry, which could well be among the last to recover from the effects of the recession. I can well understand the temptation to hunker down and wait for the sun to shine again. Again, as I wrote earlier, at a time when the national and global psyche has changed due to factors out of our individual control, it is difficult to invest in new business opportunities—or even to get capital. But when competition fades and distribution strategies change, one man’s bust is another man’s gain. As someone told me recently, the sooner we all realize and accept that everything has changed, the faster we will look at our opportunities in a different light and the faster we will recover. So accepting that today is a new day and believing in the 80/20 rule (that 80% will not change enough), what do you do to make yourself one of the 20% who will? I remind that you can never be satisfied with what you have achieved one day after you have achieved it. Take a moment to enjoy your achievements, but realize that tomorrow is another day. Sitting still should not be an option. Instilling that thinking throughout your company is not easy, especially when many are burned out from the stresses of the past years and wary of change. As someone who has consulted for other businesses, I have learned that most companies lack a clear understanding of who they are, what they are, and where they are going. Business sort of just happens. When was the last time your company sat down and in a meaningful way rethought its vision and strategy for the future? Each company must understand and restate why it exists. When your firm started, for example in 1982, there was a different reason for doing business than what exists today. Times change, as do the reasons you exist. What do you want to achieve—be a $50-million company, be the No. 1 in your region, or beat out XYZ Co.? Define how you will go about achieving those goals in clear, concise and actionable statements. Next, what values do you expect throughout the organization? Yes, the old standards are still valid (integrity, respect, etc.), but you should also include ways to differentiate your service from everyone else. Lastly, create or recreate your brand by also differentiating your company or products. A brand is not just a logo or ad campaign; it is about creating a platform from which all marketing, communications and actions emanate. Everything you do afterwards either enhances or dilutes the brand. Understand what your customers think of you (something I can guarantee most of us are clueless about) and take actions that strengthen the brand. Identifying what makes us tick provides the ammo to push forward and take us to a better place. There has never been a better time to begin the analysis. Good luck!

Alan Oakes, Publisher


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010




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FEATURE Story High-End vs. Low-End Millwork

High-end vs. low-end The millwork industry goes to extremes


ALK TO A MOULDING and millwork company that’s surviving the recession—or one of the few that’s thriving despite it—and you’ll probably hear one of two seemingly disparate tales: They’ll admit that the housing slump has killed their sales of low-end products typically used in tract homes, but they’re flourishing with high-end products for custom, luxury homes. Or they might say that tough economic times have made low-priced millwork more appealing to cash-strapped do-it-yourselfers, forced to stay in and fix up their old homes. So which is it? Windsor Mill, Cotati, Ca., provides both high-end and low-end products, but growth has come from the former— because those are the customers who have survived. “For the space that we’re in, the quality craftsman and the quality builder have survived over the last five years because of the quality of the wood,” says president Craig Flynn. “They’re our core customer, and we haven’t seen them switch.” On the other hand, notes Dwight Duncan, owner and president of Century Architectural Specialties, Marietta, Ga., “From my viewpoint in the millwork industry, the slump continues with high-end new construction, unless it is large scale project related. For instance, we have had some recent success with commercial installations in


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

upscale, Atlanta hotels that are looking to boost guests through an easy, elegant addition such as crown mouldings.” “Meanwhile,” Duncan continues, “the d-i-y segment seems to be gaining momentum. Homeowners realize the economic situation remains to poor, but the initial shock is gone and people are gaining some confidence again. Many cannot afford to sell their homes, but they can undertake di-y and small remodeling projects to make their homes more comfortable or more competitive, should they decide to sell. Geographically, we have noticed a large upswing in Texas, specifically the Austin area, where the real estate market remains viable in these economic times.” Jim Russell, president and sales manager, Russell Manufacturing, Hubbard, Or., agrees: “During recessions, homeowners elect to do repairs themselves, which boosts the home center business. Door shops and distributors typically purchase material for new homes, which is off maybe 40-50% from previous years, so they’re slow. Banks have tightened money to contractors so it’s harder for them to finance a spec home. Starter homes and multi-family housing has been hit the hardest; a new homeowner finds it difficult to secure a mortgage.” Some high-end business remains—but it already was a small slice of the pie. “People who have luxury homes have the money anyway and see that this is the cheapest time to remodel, as everyone is looking for work, but only maybe 5% of production goes to high-end custom homes,” Russell says. Richard A Ungerbuehler Sr., president, Federal Millwork Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Fl., has seen a recent uptick in demand, but attributes it to the loss of competing custom manufacturers rather than an increase in constrution. “To be sure, in our south Florida marketplace, the construction industry continues to lose jobs every month,” he says. “The overbuilding, coupled with mortgage abuses, foreclosures, the shifting population, business closures adding to the unemployment numbers, and the lack of land for development all add to the malaise in which we all have fallen victim.” He thinks, percentage-wise, high-end may be holding up better than low-end. “The construction we see in the residential market is at the upper end of the construction

nomic scale,” Ungerbuehler shares. “They seem willing to spend because of the stiff competition among builders fighting over contracts, lumberyards and manufacturers offering deep discounts, reduced land costs, and low interest rates.” He sees the trend, however, as dating back even before the recession, as “potential buyers (seemed) more discriminating when it came to profile, species and finish. The buying public was becoming more discerning in their taste for quality over quantity, highend instead of low-end products.” Yet, says Ungerbuehler, “there will always be a place for the low-end product offered to the public. Frankly, that is what the masses can afford. However, with the introduction of synthetics of all types, there seems to be a move to offer the appearance of high-end products at the low-end price. Flooring is a good example. Quality hardwood floors are being replaced with laminated products, both with wood and a form of plastic veneers. A quality hardwood floor will last the life of a home and can be refinished. The synthetics may last a generation, but offer no way to regenerate its appearance or functionality.” Moulding & Millwork, Ferndale, Wa., has been fortunate to have a healthy housing market in its backyard. “In Vancouver, B.C., housing prices have flourished,” says Stuart Cuthbert, national sales manager. Construction “slowed down, there was a bit of a dip, but ever since housing values have shown a constantly upward graph. However, in the last 18 months, there’s been significant pressure to be tight on cost. But that hasn’t necessarily pushed people toward lower end profiles.” Although Dorris Lumber & Moulding Co., Sacramento, Ca., produces only premium solid pine mouldings, c.e.o. Joshua Tyler also sees cost as the key, no matter if one specializes in “high-value or low-value mouldings.” Retailers who squeeze hardest on price are still buying. “I would say that if you sell into Home Depot or Lowe’s, business is better than normal,” Tyler explains. Overall, both scenarios seem true— millwork companies are succeeding by focusing on low- and high-end. Everything’s down, but sellers are improving their chances for serving the demand that remains by knowing their market and specializing in what it wants.

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August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 




Green your operations

the workplace, LBM dealers have a headstart advantage. Most dealers already sell common green building products—from compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and automatic light sensors, to enviro-friendlier caulking and insulation. Greening your own business can be as easy as installing and using products from your own inventory. Going green also means being aware of every product being used in your business. Everything from the copy paper in the office to the toilet paper in the restrooms is available in a greener version. Get your employees involved and look for ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse. Remember that waste isn’t just bad for the environment—it’s also bad for your bottom line. HEN IT COMES TO GREENING

Get a Plan

Overall, the greatest savings relate to energy efficiency—even simple, inexpensive changes can reap big benefits. Higher savings will require more effort, but the payoff can be impressive. The first step is to develop a green-business plan that covers every aspect of your business: energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, transportation, computing, equipment efficiency, and building design. Then you can choose which options can be implemented now, and which can wait for later.

Light Wisely

Artificial lighting accounts for up to 40% of the energy consumed by businesses. Taking advantage of natural light lowers energy costs, boosts retail sales, and improves worker productivity and satisfaction. When natural light is not adequate, install energy-efficient CFLs and LED desk lamps. An LED bulb can last 60,000 hours, while a CFL bulb provides 10,000 hours of light—significantly


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

more than the 1,500 hours provided by most incandescent bulbs. Replace older 1.5” fluorescent tube lighting with newer 1” tubes and solid-state electronic ballasts.

Building Check Up

Plug all leaks in your building’s outer shell with weatherstripping or caulking. Use expandable foam to fill any gaps. Workspace air quality is also crucial. Good ventilation and lowVOC paints and materials (such as furniture and carpet) will keep employees healthy. If you’re building a new commercial space or remodeling an old one, consider environmental and cost-savings options such as solar panels.

Save Water

Instead of personal-size water bottles, provide filtered drinking water to encourage employees and customers to fill their own reusable containers. Better yet, consider a reusable water bottle or coffee mug as a promotional giveaway. Both items tend to be kept and used regularly by recipients, so your company name and logo will get noticed longer. Periodically inspect pipes to make sure there are no leaks, and quickly fix any leaks you do find. When it’s time to spruce up the restrooms, install dual-flush toilets and automatic faucets. These two products can go a long way toward saving water and lowering costs.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and cannot be recycled. When you receive unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines, or junk

mail, request removal from the mailing list before you recycle the item. Recycle paper and refill computer ink cartridges rather than send them to the landfill. When computers and printers stop working, make sure that they are taken to a place that can recycle the parts. Donate unused equipment to a school or nonprofit and qualify for a tax credit.

Energy-Efficient Computing

Computers and peripherals consume a surprising amount of power. During the day, set your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks to cut energy use by 70%. Remember, screen savers don’t save energy. Make it a habit to turn off your system—and the power strip it’s plugged into—when you leave at night or on weekends. Just check with your tech expert first, to make sure it doesn’t need to be on for backups or other maintenance. When it comes time to buy new equipment, invest in energy-saving computers, monitors, and printers, and make sure that old equipment is properly recycled. Consider laptops that consume up to 80% less energy than equivalent desktops. Inkjet printers use up to 75% percent less energy than laser printers.

Reduce Printing

Think before you print: could this be read or stored online instead? All kinds of documents—even employee manuals—can be stored online, rather than copying and filing them. Besides reducing costs for paper and ink, saving documents online makes them easier to retrieve and update. Encourage communications by email, then read and store them online instead of printing. If you need to keep a copy for legal reasons, or for various other reasons, store it online. Reduce fax-related paper waste by using a fax cover sheet only when necessary. Better yet, send, receive, and store faxes online. Many companies offer an electronic alternative to notifications traditionally sent out by mail, especially when it comes to invoicing. Request that all communications be sent via email rather than snail mail to reduce the paper sent to your business.

as comfortable with fans. Install programmable thermostats to automate your HVAC system and save significant amounts of energy.

Cut Costs for Transportation

If your business has company-owned cars or a fleet of vehicles, consider purchasing fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles whenever possible—tax credits and special loan programs are available. Develop a companywide policy to eliminate unnecessary idling of truck engines. Auxiliary power units can heat or cool the truck when stopped, allowing the main engine to be shut down. Look for shippers who belong to the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, which encourages energy efficiency that significantly reduces greenhouse gases and air pollution. Greening your business is an ongoing affair. Once you see cost savings, you’ll be motivated to do more. Getting employees involved will also keep the momentum going, so consider organizing a Green Team to meet monthly and brainstorm new options. And don’t forget to spread the word—let your customers know that going green is a real priority for your business. WHOLESALE ONLY • MILL DIRECT & LCL

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Print Smarter

The average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year. Make it a habit to print on both sides of paper, or use the back of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. Avoid color printing. Buy chlorine-free paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy remanufactured ones.

Control Your Temperature

Comfort is a function of temperature, humidity, and air movement. Thermostat settings of 3° to 5° higher can feel

Visit our website:

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August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 



Stop “slack-off summer” syndrome Six ways to keep your company focused



time of year when everything slows down—including your business. Your clients, employees and vendors are on a seemingly constant rotation of vacation time. No one’s ever in when you need them. The easiest thing to do, then, is just accept this state of affairs. After all, there is a gentlemen’s agreement in the business world that operations are supposed to slow down a little in the summer, and since your competition has slowed down, it’s fine if you put on the brakes for a while, too. Right? Wrong, says business strategy expert Tom Hall. In fact, summer is the best possible time to really get focused on what makes your company tick—in large part precisely because your competition is taking it easy during these lazy, hazy, crazy days. “It makes perfect sense,” says Hall, co-author of Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business. “If everyone else is slowing down and losing their focus during the summer months and you do the opposite, then you will be way ahead of the competition when fall rolls around. Plus, losing your collective grip on what you’re supposed to be doing—and why—for three months is just bad for business.” The ability to focus—ruthlessly—is what separates the companies that grow steadily and successfully from the ones that get distracted, trot down the wrong side path, and find themselves lost in the forest, says Hall. “Focus requires complete concentration, which can be difficult to achieve when the joys of summer are distracting you and your employees,” he says. “It’s difficult but not impossible. Take the right steps and you can end the summer in a much better posi-


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

tion than when it began.”

Step 1. Vow to make this the Summer of Strategy. This summer, strive to make your core strategy (the main strategy that drives your business) the focus of everything: meetings, new projects, old projects, communications with clients and prospects—everything. You should be able to describe your core strategy in a couple of crisp sentences. And it should answer two key questions: (1) How are we going to beat the competition? and (2) How are we going to make money? “Every action, every day, moves you and the business forward, especially in the summer,” Hall says. “A clear strategy will help you stay focused and help you stay on track. If you get off track, use that same clear strategy to help you identify what happened and what needs to change. Keep the two key questions in the forefront of everything you do.” One great way to maintain focus during the summer and beyond is to create a stick-to-the-strategy group. Hall explains: “The group should include people from every department. Their main objective should be to make sure the organization as a whole isn’t losing sight of the core strategy. They’ll bring you and the rest of your employees suggestions on how to push forward and get back on track whenever necessary.”

Step 2. Plan the work and work the plan. Sometimes the best way to stay focused during the summer is to put everything you have to do right there in front of you. Create a to-do work list and encourage your employees to do so as well. Carefully manage the

master list so that you are regularly updating it with new tasks and crossing off those that you have already completed. Make sure your employees do the same with their individual lists. The constant focus on these work lists will keep people from slacking off just because it’s summertime. “You’ll be surprised how gratifying it can feel to check a task off of your to-do list,” says Hall. “When you do, it provides you with the encouragement you need to move on to the next task. Making a to-do list might seem like a simple idea, but, trust me, it will have a big payoff. The list will help you see the big picture, and having everything in front of you will be a great way to continuously remind yourself that there is a lot to accomplish this summer.”

Step 3. Don’t let people use their vacation as a get-out-of-workfree card. Speaking of to-do lists, anyone getting ready to go on vacation should be paying close attention to his or hers. A pending vacation should not be an excuse for not getting work done. Rather, it should be a red flag that urges you to be mindful of deadlines, rearrange more flexible projects, and ask for help if you need it. This is the message leaders should be sending to employees: If you are going to be on vacation, know what your deliverables are—and then deliver! “Have a meeting with employees a couple of weeks in advance of their vacations in order to go over their lists,” suggests Hall. “Point out those tasks that absolutely must get done before they go. Obviously, it’s important for everyone to get a break during the summer, but no one—not your employees, not you—should take

three months off just because it’s summer. Not only will getting your work done make for a more enjoyable vacation for you, but it will make things a lot easier on coworkers and employees while you are out. And it will make your return a lot easier, as well.”

Step 4. Update clients once a week.

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Step 6. Look for ways to keep people refreshed.

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Step 5. Leverage the freedom of summer to generate fresh ideas. Summertime is just more fun than any other time of the year. It brings out people’s “inner child” and sparks creative ideas. That’s why summer is a great time to focus on developing fresh ideas at your organization. One way to get people’s creative juices flowing is to hold an organizationwide contest. “Ask everyone to submit their bright idea for the company and a plan for implementation,” he advises. “To motivate them to give you their best effort, offer the winner an extra day of vacation or a Friday off. Another way to inspire is to hold a brainstorming lunch with your staff once a month or so. Ask them to each bring at least one idea, whether it be a way to help a client, a way to save money, or a way to improve the business as a whole. “Finally, get outdoors from time to time,” he adds. “Take everyone to the local park one day. Encourage them to use the time outside the office to brainstorm ways to improve the business or tackle a problem that has been giving them trouble. Not only will people get to spend some fun time together enjoying the weather, they’ll have a chance to clear their heads and do great brainstorming.”


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only ones who are traveling or just MIA. Clients likely will be, too. Knowing they aren’t as available as usual, you might allow yourself to slip into less frequent communication with them. Don’t. “Make yourself provide your clients with an update on what’s going on with their accounts at least once a week,” says Hall. “Doing so is a great way to stay ruthlessly focused on providing them the best service and making sure you are on track to meet your clients’ goals. Providing updates will push you to pay close attention to each of your clients. It forces you to keep the ball moving, constantly thinking about what step should come next, what goal should be reached next, and what you can do to improve your overall service.”

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Staying focused shouldn’t be about drudgery. People need a bit of fun and levity to prevent boredom and burnout. That’s why Hall suggests you look for ways to Backerboard/ infuse the spirit of summer into your organization. Let your Drywall employees enjoy the things that make summer great with1/4" & 1/2" Thicknesses out ever leaving the office. Provide fresh flowers for every3X5 & 4X8 Panels one’s desks. Serve up a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade. Relax SmartSide® Trim &music Siding the dress code (at least one day LP® a week). Pipe beach throughout the office. The possibilities are endless. “Do whatever you can to make work more Trim summer-y,” LP® SmartSide® & Siding products offer the beauty of cedar with the advantages of engineered wo says Hall. “It will create a nice escape from the status consistent boards with noquo knots or voids. An industry-leading warranty that provides a 5-year, 100% lab that will refresh you and your employees and help everyone Commodities feature and a 50-Year Prorated Warranty on the substrate. And our proprietary SmartGuard® p refocus on the work at hand while still getting to enjoy the Limited Lumber – Dimension & Studs – 2x4 thru 6x6 Green & Dry LP SmartSide products resist fungal decay and termite LP SmartSide Trim & Siding. All the ad spirit of summer." Plywood – CDX, CCX, damage. ACX, BBOES OSB – Panels, LP Topnotch SubFloor • Particleboard “It may sound like a great idea to check out for the sumHardboard – Std, Tempered & Punched • MDO (Good 1 side) mer and just pick things back up in September,” he says. Doug Fir Siding – Sound & Premium grades “But in doing so, you leave a lot of great opportunities on Import Dogeared Fencing • Stepping – OSB & Particleboard the table.”

August 2010  The Merchant Magazine


COMPETITIVE Intelligence By Carla Waldemar

Honing your (social) media skills


COTT THOMAS OFFERS a word to the wise (and the not-so had better listen up all the harder). As marketing director of Parksite, a 10-location outfit based in Batavia, Il., he’s a believer in that grand marketing guru’s pronouncement that “The media is the message.” Thus, according to Thomas, spending advertising dollars solely on newsprint ads, direct mail, TV and radio while ignoring faster, more expensive modern tools is living in the past. He’s thinking digital these days. Convinced that digital marketing is the wave of—never mind the future: the world of today—two years ago, he convinced company management of his plan to exploit its potential. Sure, the company already had a website (duh) and Internet messaging (ditto), but how about expanding to include

social media—explicitly, blogs, Twitter and Flickr? The sweet part of obtaining the goahead was this: The campaigns would cost virtually nothing, beyond the expenditure of time on the part of the marketing staff, who were 100% behind the idea. The rest of the organization, not so much: “It’s still an ongoing hurdle,” Thomas concedes. “Many associates still struggle with how to incorporate these new marketing tools into their daily roles and don’t spend time communicating these resources to their customers. But,” he’s convinced, “that will change. As things evolve, companies will realize that those ‘kids with the iPads’ and the always-online mentality will be tomorrow’s customers. Additionally, as younger people come into the building material industry, they will

PARKSITE’S marketing director Scott Thomas is thinking digital these days to promote his company.


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

expect access to modern technology and encourage them to be part of a company’s marketing scheme. “The point is, today, vs. 15 years ago, consumers have access to information from a bunch of different sources, not just print and TV. What dealers and distributors have to understand is that a huge, huge percentage of homeowners do research online before even entering a store. They often know about products before we do, so we’d better join ’em: Get with it, or miss the boat,” he says. “The world moves too fast to rely on wordof-mouth these days. You can’t just wait for something to happen.” Thus, Parksite has embraced marketing efforts via email and social media, such as Twitter, via daily tweets, including product updates, links to helpful blog articles, industry news and trends, and more. On YouTube, it offers videos of, say, Dupont’s Tyvek and Nichiha’s fiber cement panel applications—all aimed, says Thomas, at “relaying information on our products.” But if a YouTube video plays in a forest and no one….? Okay, that’s where email and Twitter come in— ways to alert and encourage potential viewers. Email also serves as an easy “and incredibly inexpensive” way to distribute the company’s newsletters and press releases. Here’s how Thomas has learned to utilize those email alerts: “Our CRM database includes architects, developers, builders, remodelers, lawn & garden people, general contractors and lumberyards, and we use it to drive demand for a product and to support or drive customers.” Customizing a message for each demographic segment of the list is easy. Where the skill comes in is in

REGULARLY UPDATED blog can inform and foster communication with customers.

crafting the subject line—“the most important part of a message,” he instructs: “That will determine if the email even gets opened.” For an industry segment with 10,000 email addresses, Thomas tries out three different subject lines for a press release, sending each to 1,000 people. “We can get instant feedback, so we know right away which one got opened the most. Then we use that subject line for the other 7,000 in our database. You could never achieve that with a newspaper or TV ad,” he declares—“those media are a blind investment. With our CRM database, we reach thousands of people in minutes, and we can control the content and target the audience by industry, title or geography.” Digital content also has a lengthy shelf life. “Your digital information is constantly out there and doesn’t disappear,” Thomas contends. “In fact, it’s picked up by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, which helps your website search engine rankings.”

Best yet, you can track hits to your blog, tweet or video in real time, “so your ROI comes in ASAP. By linking to tracking websites, you can tell the number of viewers that day, that month, whatever. For instance, links to YouTube that we embed in email communications can be tracked on, which shows how often a specific link was opened.” Bonus: “If a YouTube viewer tells his friends to watch it, too, he’s doing your advertising for you, and for free.” Yet, don’t get marketing director Thomas wrong. “Digital is just one component of our overall marketing scheme,” he explains. “Still the most effective element I know is face-toface. That’s how you build trust. Our salespeople—with an average tenure of over 15 years—are very good in communicating with their customers.” They also play their roles as what Parksite calls its building products specialists, meeting with builders, contractors, architects, what have you, to help in ways that range from correct use of a product to designing custom P-O-P displays. Parksite also offers classes that deliver continuing-education credits to contractors and architects. Okay, probably your salespeople are similarly adept at one-on-one customer service. To take that to the next step, it’s time to supplement those efforts with (bite the bullet) the abovementioned digital tools. Thomas offers this advice for beginners: “Start with a website. Then, assemble a good email database, comprised of your customers and potential customers.” Step Three: look for an email marketing service (they’re fairly inexpen-

sive) to help you with design and deliverability. To start reaching the up-and-coming generation, think about a presence on Facebook (your company has a page, certainly?) and Twitter. Finally, says Thomas, “I’m a big fan of two-or three-minute videos, your best marketing piece today. Remarkable! They’re easy to get to and can reach millions of people. And once the message is out, people forward it and do the marketing for you.” Are there pitfalls to steer clear of, Scott? Well, sure. But the good news is, mistakes won’t cost you money. Counsels Thomas, “Don’t start it up and then not stick with it. You’ve got to get people in your company to understand that it’s a team effort that they all need to participate in and promote. And you’ve got to have consistency of content.” Parting words of advice: “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly,” Thomas jokes. “It won’t cost you anything. Just remember: Today’s marketing is about being helpful, not intrusive, and putting constructive information in the places where people go to find it.” And that translates to social media. For inspiration, peek at Parksite’s blog at, tweets at www., or view videos at www.

Carla Waldemar

August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


INDUSTRY Trends By Gary Zauner, Crow’s Weekly Market Report/RISI

End of credit, rising imports hammer lumber prices


retreat to lows for the year, calls for production to again conform to current demand levels are growing. This is reminiscent of 2008 and 2009, when the long slog to bring production and consumption into balance was occurring. Eventually, in the latter half of 2009, a balance was restored. Now that the housing stimulus in the form of homebuyers tax credits ended April 30, demand is wavering. The pace of housing starts and permits has the appearance of slowing, builders are less confident about what the future holds, and the real estate industry is forecasting a two to three month period in which home sales will decline. Within the wood products industry, reports of a downturn in the business climate surfaced early in the second quarter. As to whether the homebuilder tax credit worked, it would be hard to argue against its success in the short term. Home construction was stimulated, certainly more than what the industry expected. Due in large part to the stimulus, lumber consumption increased and so, too, did lumber prices, giving producers and the distribution chain a long-awaited dose of price volatility and profitability. It is also within reason to argue that results from the tax credit, estimated at around $35 billion, fell short of the cost. For example, the National Association of Realtors estimates that out of the 4.4 million homes purchased during the stimulus period, only 1 million were purchased because of the stimulus. In other words, $27 billion was spent on sales that would have occurred without the stimulus. It is widely believed that the tax credit helped limit inventories of unsold houses in the market, which helped stabilize home prices. A stabilization of home prices in turn limited the loss of equity in homes. Some estimates show the stimulus saving $2 S LUMBER PRICES


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

trillion in homeowner equity, equating to an average of about $21,000 per homeowner. As for home construction, it appears the market has stalled, despite affordability figures that are quite favorable. Future buying and construction was likely pushed forward by the tax credits, giving the appearance of a sustainable upward trend. For instance, new home sales in May totaled just 300,000 units on an annualized basis—32.7% below the April Census Bureau figure of 446,000. Within the industry, signs of a troubled economy, even while housing starts increased, were evident in the western red cedar market. Even after significant cutbacks in production over the last couple of years, demand has lagged. Not as strongly tied to housing starts as other species, consumer spending on deck and other outdoor projects remains limited. In southern pine treated lumber, sales have stagnated since May, a time when buying is usually in full swing. Treaters report that their sales in May and June were down 10-20% compared to the same months last year. Disappointing treated wood sales played a large role in the steep and extended downturn in southern pine lumber prices. Even sales surrounding the Memorial Day holiday, typically a big weekend for big box store sales, were below expectations for treaters. The slower pace of consumption is not the only factor driving down fram-

ing lumber prices. Traders are pointing to June’s increase in Canadian lumber exports into the U.S. as a contributing factor. Their premise is not only are buyers seeing more imports ship into the states in June, they also expected in May that imports from Canada would multiply this month. Therefore, it is the well-founded stance of traders that even the perception of greater supplies available in June helped stifle demand in May. Actually, a strong connection exists between two of the largest factors influencing lumber prices over the past few months: the U.S. government’s housing stimulus and increased imports from Canada. Simply put, the homebuyer tax credit helped stimulate demand beyond production levels, pushing lumber prices higher. Elevated prices led to the elimination of duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports for June. Canadian exporters, taking advantage of the suspension of export taxes, are now shipping at a pace of nearly 1.0 billion bd. ft. into the U.S. for the month, far exceeding the pace set in either April or May. Again, it is a widely held perception within the industry that those volumes entering the U.S. from Canada are now having a negative influence on pricing. The big question from here forward is whether the housing market can stand on its own two feet without the crutch of more government spending. Whether the tax credit was successful is certainly debatable, but it is clear that the underlying economy was not strong enough to gather much momentum from the stimulus.

– Gary Zauner is editor of Crow’s Weekly Market Report, the longest-running source of prices in the North American lumber and panel industry. Reach him at or sign up for a free trial subscription at www.

Piedmont Parts with Last Yard

Piedmont Lumber auctioned off trucks, office equipment, and fittings at its closed yard in Pittsburg, Ca., and sold its last operational store, in Lakeport, Ca., to four-unit Mendo Mill & Lumber, Ukiah, Ca. “As soon as possible, we’ll reopen,” said Mike Mayfield, Mendo’s president and c.e.o. “Our goal is to retain as many staff as possible.” Just five months ago, Piedmont was operating five locations. Then on March 1, its lender, Umpqua Bank, filed judicial foreclosure actions against the company’s properties. Less than two weeks later, a fire destroyed its yard in Walnut Creek, Ca. The blaze is still being investigated. A week later, Piedmont sold its Oakland yard to Economy Lumber, Oakland. Its truss plant in Calpella, Ca., closed March 31, with its equipment auctioned off Aug. 12. Piedmont retains its properties in Walnut Creek as well as in Pittsburg, which has been used as the company’s headquarters since the yard was damaged by fire last summer. A Piedmont spokesperson said that former owner Bill Myer Jr., son of the founder, is in discussions with his insurance carrier and the city about rebuilding a home center in Walnut Creek.

Universal Truss Pulling out of Southern California

Universal Forest Products is closing its Universal Truss plant in Fontana, Ca., and will no longer provide trusses to the Southern California market. The facility will be retained “for possible future business.” “Based on market and economic conditions in Southern California that we believe will prevail in that region for a while, we made the difficult decision to temporarily close our

Fontana operations,” said Lynn Afendoulis, director of corporate communications. “Our intent is to close down by mid-September.” Universal acquired the plant from Gang-Nail Components in 2000. Some personnel are expected to transfer to UFPI’s facility in Riverside, Ca. UFPI will continue supplying trusses to Northern California from its facility in Riverbank, Ca.

Mid-Columbia Goes Bigger

Mid-Columbia Lumber Products, Madras, Or., has acquired a former boat manufacturing plant in Culver, Or. After renovation, all production will move to the 200,000-sq. ft. mill. “We needed to look at all our options to most efficiently operate and provide value and logistical access to our customers,” said Tim Stovall, president and general manager. A $204,084 matching grant helped fund improvements to its rail spur and siding to allow shipment of finished products.

Blaze Hits Utah Yard

Roof repair work at Colonial Building Supply, Centerville, Ut., sparked a July 26 fire that destroyed the main building and offices. Quick response from firefighters saved the warehouse, and no one was injured. A passerby spotted the flames at approximately 6 p.m., called 911, and alerted two Colonial employees who were closing up the store. Within an hour, the store was roaring with flames and fire crews battled the blaze through the night. By the next morning, employees were cleaning up the mess and handling orders from temporary offices in the parking lot. Owner Fred Hale plans to rebuild as soon as possible.


Sutherland Lumber Co. is liquidating its 38-year-old yard in Boulder, Co. The 5.6-acre site is site is located in an area being rezoned by the city to accommodate new office, retail and residential development, so the 14,000sq. ft. building likely will be converted into office space.

Friedman’s Home Improvement tentatively agreed to build an 80,000-sq. ft. store with drive-thru lumberyard and 20,000-sq. ft. garden center in Petaluma, Ca.

Irvine Ace Hardware, Irvine, Ca., is closing after 29 years, 18 at the current location. Owner Scott Thoele has been offered a job at Woodward’s Ace Hardware, Santa Ana, Ca. Home Depot is still waiting for right-of-way and easement appraisals for a planned store in Grants Pass, Or.

Lowe’s opened a new 103,000sq. ft. home center June 25 in NW Las Vegas, Nv.; hopes to complete a 117,000-sq. ft. store with 32,900-sq. ft. garden center in Oxnard, Ca., in 1st quarter 2012, and has begun building a 117,000-sq. ft. store in Iwilei (Oahu), Hi., next to a Home Depot. Lowe’s is buying a site in Rohnert Park, Ca., to start construction in the spring; received the planning commission’s blessing to build a 153,974-sq. ft. store on 16.65 acres in Carlsbad, Ca., and is still awaiting approval to build on old airport property in Clearlake, Ca. Pinal Lumber & Hardware, Globe, Az., was named Business of the Year by the local Chamber of Commerce.

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August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


Explosion Rips Alaska Mill

Icy Straits Lumber & Milling, Hoonah, Ak., is looking to rebuild on a smaller scale after a July 22 fire and explosion destroyed its primary milling operations. Investigators linked the major damage to “dust explosions from sawdust material that had accumulated in the mill structural elements.” They are unsure what caused the dust to ignite, but said an ember could have been smoldering undetected for up to two days before igniting. Secondary manufacturing operations, including dry kilns, moulder and planer, were spared.

Codes Undo Green Supplier

Building code violations are forcing an environmental-minded building supplier to find a new home. Over the past 12 years, Whole House Building Supply & Salvage, East Palo Alto, Ca., has accumulated a diverse inventory of salvaged doors, cabinets, roofing, lighting, plywood, bathroom fixtures, slabs of granite, and more. There’s also a compost pile, vegetable garden, and gallery of progressive political posters and fliers. But owner Paul Gardner now has to pack them all up, blaming building and fire officials for cracking down on long-time code violations. He said it would cost $200,000 to $250,000 to make the required improvements, including installing seismic safety upgrades, fire prevention equipment, and a permanent bathroom. “It’s true that their job is to be concerned about the code,” said Gardner.

“But it’s a particularly bad time with the economy to demand that your local green business make these extremely costly upgrades. We certainly don’t have the money to do it now.” Gardner has given his landlord notice that he will vacate by September and is negotiating to possibly lease a new site in Redwood City, Ca.

Oregon Bookkeeper Pinched

A bookkeeper was sentenced to four years of prison followed by eight years of supervision for embezzling nearly $500,000 from Marine Lumber, Tualatin, Or., over a three-year period. Faye Louise Clemens, 65, allegedly wrote company checks for cash and pocketed the money. During the trial, her attorney blamed her behavior on a gambling problem.

Labor Board Hits Loweʼs DC

National Labor Relations Board investigators have uncovered evidence suggesting that Lowe’s DC in Perris, Ca., may have threatened and fired three employees in 2007 and 2008 because they were interested in joining the Teamsters union. Lowe’s is also accused of interrogating workers about their union activities and searching lockers and lunch pails for union-related materials. However, investigators found insufficient evidence of almost 20 other accusations of labor law violations. Employees at the warehouse rejected union membership in 2006 by a vote of 450 to 325. Of the company’s 238,000 total employees, none are union members.


Sierra Pacific Industries , Anderson, Ca., will reopen its main sawmill in Standard, Ca., in May 2011, reviving 130 jobs. In July, SPI began converting the near-century-old plant, closed since last August, to handle small logs.

Boise Cascade’s former mill in Yakima, Wa., lost two buildings in a June 21 fire caused by exploding propane tanks. Boise closed the facility in 2003 and two years later sold it to Melvin and Norman McDougal, timberland and mill owners in Eugene, Or. They leased it to Yakima Resources.

BlueLinx Holdings is evaluating a proposed $49.6-million offer by Cerberus to buy all outstanding shares of its common stock. The private equity firm already owns 55.4% of the distributor.

Georgia-Pacific’s Philomath, Or., planer mill was briefly evacuated June 29 when smoke appeared in part of the plant. A small fire, likely caused by a piece of wood that became lodged in the planer, was quickly doused by automatic sprinklers and workers with hand-held extinguishers.

International Barrier Technology, Watkins, Mn., has acquired from Pyrotite Corp., Seattle, Wa., all of Pyrotite’s interest in its Integrally Treated Oriented Strand Board technology used in creating fire-resistant OSB panels.

Fiberon is expanding manufacturing capacity at its facilities in Meridian, Id., and New London, N.C., due to growing demand for its Horizon Decking. Production capacity has already grown by 300% since January.

Roseburg, Roseburg, Or., is now exclusive supplier of Duramine thermally fused melamine panels for California Closets’ Lago collection for the West Coast.

iLevel by Weyerhaeuser is now distributing Versatex PVC trim products from Wolfpac Technologies, Pittsburgh, Pa. Dealers can now order smaller quantities of Versatex trimboard in one skid and still receive a bulk discount. 18

 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

[NAWLA 2010]

New networks and training help reposition wholesalers


WELL - KNOWN SAYING that became popular during the recent recession is that “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” What that economist meant, among other things, was that during a time of uncertainty and change, companies have the opportunity and leeway to reposition in a way they wouldn’t during good times. Over the last two years, markets have shrunk or disappeared, production has decreased, and the industry has consolidated. The companies that have made it through are in a unique position to redefine themselves through better networks, workforce development, and crucial industry information. Companies can take advantage of the many programs offered by the North American Wholesale Lumber Association to assist them.

Expanded Networks

Companies have joined NAWLA for decades for the networking opportunities membership provides. These opportunities exist on a national and regional level, for both networking and education. The NAWLA Traders Market was started in 1996 with the primary purpose of connecting the producer to the wholesale distributor. In those 15 years, the show has grown to average over the last few years 570 wholesale buyer attendees, 510 manufacturing representatives, and 260 exhibiting companies. With a program geared towards creating network events, it is known as a work-focused tradeshow. “Traders Market is a unique tradeshow because it focuses almost entirely on the sale and distribution of lumber products. Because the exhibitors are primarily manufacturers and the attendees are primarily

wholesale buyers, Traders Market provides a very business focused atmosphere,” says Gary Vitale, president of NAWLA. “As companies continue to reposition themselves and search for new customers during the economic recovery, no other venue can provide this affordability and value.” While some companies need to constantly address their national networks to thrive, some only need to focus on regional networks to expand their customer base. Lumber wholesalers whose procurement and distribution networks are located near to their business have the chance to be more active in regional meetings conducted by NAWLA. Each NAWLA regional meeting is customized for that area. Some are morning seminars with an industry expert speaking on a timely topic

while others are evening receptions with panel discussions. With attendance ranging from 40 to 120, they can be a productive and manageable networking and educational tool.

Workforce Training

Almost every company has had to cut back on its workforce lately. With employees being asked to perform more duties while also being more productive, companies have looked at developing the workforce they have. They also have to ensure that any new hires learn the ropes in less time than previously. The Wood Basics Course provides a comprehensive overview of the forest products industry, covering everything from seed to tree and from production to sales. Companies looking to train their employees and invest in their future have the option of sending August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


The NAWLA Traders Market is the premier tradeshow devoted to the sale and distribution of lumber and related products, both softwoods and hardwoods. The Traders Market Advantage: s%XCEPTIONAL6ALUEAND!FFORDABILITY s5NLIMITED.ETWORKING Opportunities s%XCELLENT!CCESSTOTHE %NTIRE3UPPLY#HAIN New this year: s.EW0RODUCT3HOWCASE s%NHANCEDGLOBALPROGRAMMING s+EYNOTE3PEAKER Jim â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Rookieâ&#x20AC;? Morris s3ALES4RAININGBY$AVID+AHLE #OMPLETEINFORMATIONAND REGISTRATIONAVAILABLEAT

new or veteran employees to the course. Since 1981, almost 1,500 people have attended. For many in the industry, the class establishes their initial industry networks. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These new friendships have the potential to benefit our company far into the futureâ&#x20AC;?, says Mark Kasper, president and c.e.o. of Amerhart Ltd., Green Bay, Wi. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It shows our staff that we are making a real commitment to their education and advancement in their careers.â&#x20AC;? The next Wood Basics Course will be held Sept. 13-16 in Corvallis, Or. In addition, NAWLA is considering holding a course in the Southeast in spring 2011. As the economy continues to recover, the ability to make the sale will become increasingly important. Companies will specifically need to train their sales force to differentiate itself from its competitors. Here again, NAWLA provides a special sales training class during the 2010 Traders Market. David Kahle, of the DaCo Corp., will present his Top Gun Survival School during Traders Market. Companies have the chance to send their mid-level professionals to learn how to prioritize markets, create new customers, and make the close. With so many companies cutting travel budgets, however, some are looking for online training. Technology now allows workforce training to be delivered directly to the office. NAWLA has hosted more than 40 webinars since the first in 2004. Webinars enable companies to invest in their workforce with little commitment. Multiple employees can attend without leaving the facility. Usually lasting a little over an hour, they cover topics ranging from chain of custody certification to marketing green products. NAWLA will host a webinar on Sept. 16 on credit management presented by credit managers from various wood products companies. Companies today must work harder to make sure they have a competitive edge over other businesses. The industry and the market have changed dramatically since the recession begun and possibly no other industry has been more affected. Companies looking for the advantage of more networks, a better trained workforce, and timely information should consider the various benefits of NAWLAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s programs.

â&#x20AC;&#x201C; More detailed information on the services and programs offered by the North American Wholesale Lumber Association, including membership possibilities, can be found at



 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

[NAWLA 2010]

RISI economists:

Housing stock and vacancy


By Bob Berg, RISI

HE TIMING OF THE HOUSING recovery hinges on two critical factors: the size of the inventory of vacant homes and the pace at which households are being formed. If we know these data, then we could develop solid estimates of how long it will take to absorb the excess inventory of vacant homes. In past cycles, the market was not saddled with the level of vacant homes we currently have at the beginning of this recovery. In addition, solid recovery in the economy prevented household formations from straying far from the trend levels. Consequently, demand for new homes (additions to the housing stock) was quickly realized as the recovery unfolded. In the current market, after more than a decade of excess production, we are saddled with a significant volume of vacant homes and the slow pace of economic recovery (which is in part due to the absence of a rebound in housing) is stifling job creation and putting downward pressure on household formations. Focusing here on the vacancy issue, our inability to generate a solid estimate for vacancies arises from the inherent errors in the reported data and the difficulty in differentiating between total housing stock and economically viable housing stock. Errors in the reported data are due to the facts that the data are only updated once every 10 years during the Census and that in the interim years they are based on estimates that at the time seem quite confusing.


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

As a stock concept, housing stock at the end of a year is equal to housing stock at the end of the previous year plus additions (housing completions and mobile homes) minus subtractions (demolitions) during the year. The table on page 26 contains the U.S. Census housing stock estimate from 2002 (when the data was last updated with the results of the 2000 census) through 2009 along with the housing completions (reported by the U.S. Census) and mobile home production (reported by The Institute for Building Technology & Safety). Given the housing stock and additions data (completions and mobile homes), one can calculate the demolitions used in developing the housing stock data. These demolition data are presented at the top of the table. The confusing part of these data is the fact that the demolitions are negative in 2006-2008. Over this period, in effect, 1.44 million housing units were added to the inventory as a result of â&#x20AC;&#x153;demolition.â&#x20AC;? During the very strong peak demand years in the 1970s, we experienced this same phenomenon as alternative buildings (i.e., old factories) were converted into housing faster than the rate at which houses were lost to natural and intentional demolition. However, during the period 2006-2008, demand turned lower and it became increasingly evident that excess housing inventory was built. Consequently, one has to question whether the apparent net additions (rather than removals) reported under the demolitions category actually occurred. Then in 2009, apparent demolitions shot up to just over 1.0 million units, which was almost three times the average demolition pace in 2002-2005. The average demolition rate in 2006-2009 was 0.01% of the housing stock, which compares to a rate of 0.3% per year in previous years. The table also contains the housing stock estimated by holding the demolition rate at 0.3% for the entire period, the observed average in 2000-2005. Using this demolition assumption, the housing stock at the end of 2009 would be fully 1.70 million units fewer than reported by the U.S. Census. The analysis gets even more interesting because there are reports of increased intentional demolition (i.e., Detroit and some of the central valley homes in southern California). If you boost the demolition rate to just 0.5% in 2008 and 2009, the difference between the inventory level

calculated here and the one reported by the Census increases to 2.39 million homes. Meanwhile, rough calculations of vacancy using the U.S. Census Bureau’s data on vacant for sale and for rent data puts the “excess” vacancy at around 1.75 million units. This is arrived at by calculating the average share of housing stock that is vacant for sale and for rent prior to the run-up in the last decade (about 3.6% of housing stock) and subtracting this from the actual in the last available quarter (4.9%) and applying the difference to the total housing stock. This estimate of excess inventory of houses falls within the adjusted range of homes that may have been lost to demolition (1.70-2.39 million). And then there is the “economic” housing inventory, which is near impossible to estimate. In areas of the country where the population and economy are contracting, much of the excess housing stock will never be filled. Hence the logic behind razing empty homes in Detroit. On a recent trip through the northern-most port towns of Maine, close to the New Brunswick border, the number of “for sale” signs in each town was spooky. (Very unscientific estimate at speeds of 25 to 35 mph

from the seat of a motorcycle put the portion of homes for sale at a minimum of 30%). The local economy has been in decline for years, in conjunction with deteriorating commercial fishing and forest industries. Yet it is clear that the housing stock in the waterfront port towns had been maintained (“quaint”). These towns are hard to get to from major metropolitan areas, but the drive to secure second homes on the ocean at a reasonable price was most likely the primary cause for the apparent investment in the housing stock in these communities. Consequently, these vacant housing units are not economically viable stock in the current market. Similarly, developments in the central valley of California that are hours from major economic centers will not be economically viable for many years. It is near impossible to estimate what share of the housing stock at this point in time is not economically viable. Most likely, the economically unviable share of the housing stock is higher than “normal,” which adds to the apparent vacancy rate. So what is the real vacancy number? To get a more certain count, we will have to wait until the results of the 2010 census are published (proba-

bly in late 2011/early 2012). In the meantime, we continue to use current Census data to develop our housing forecast, but we are skeptical about the accuracy of the analyses of excess housing inventory and we are keeping a weather eye on housing developments that could lead to a faster and stronger recovery in housing than bearish assessments of inventory would allow. Regarding the economically viable stock, only when housing production turns up significantly will we know when we have hit the limits of the economical housing stock. This will most likely be sooner than when vacancy rates reach their “normal” pace. In combination, these factors provide a glimmer of hope that housing will recover sooner and stronger than our basic analysis indicates. Nevertheless, prudence requires the wood products industry to plan conservatively, but to hope for a betterthan-consensus outcome.

– Bob Berg, is principal economist for North American lumber at RISI, a leading information provider for the global forest products industry. RISI works with clients in the wood products, timber, pulp and paper, tissue and nonwovens industries to help them make better decisions. Visit RISI at

U.S. Housing Stock Estimates (thousands)


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

[NAWLA 2010]


The value of a wholesaler

for lumber and building materials can be long and complex, with many variables. Think about it. The production process alone includes timber, lumber production, transportation, secondary manufacturing, distribution, retail, and installation. That doesn’t even include the supporting services such as credit, inventory, taxes, regulatory compliance, and marketing. Making sure a product finds a market can be daunting. Wholesale lumber distributors HE SUPPLY CHAIN

play a vital role providing suppliers and users the value everyone needs to succeed. As the central link of the supply chain, wholesale distributors have a part in supply meeting demand. In today’s fast-moving economy, wholesalers can help lower procurement costs, broaden product selection, and add value to products. The last few decades have seen a significant shift to just-in-time delivery of products becoming the industry

standard. Each company has to run lean to even consider making a profit. Wholesale distributors offer this ability in quantities ranging from multiple rail cars down to individual pieces. By working with a wholesaler, a buyer can have faster inventory turnover to lower costs and free up much needed cash for further investment. A major benefit of wholesale distribution is the wide product selection that a buyer would otherwise have to receive from multiple sources. Instead,



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 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

it can be done with one-stop shopping. Because wholesalers are buying from many different producers, buyers can tailor their products and species to the needs of their clients at a much lower cost. In addition to offering a wide range of products, wholesalers can also provide unique value-added services, such as packaging, remanufacturing, and treatments. Buyers can often receive innovative product training and services to help sell products. Wholesalers donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just bring value to the buyer; they also can help a producer succeed. Manufacturers often have to spend years establishing new distribution networks or adapting existing ones. Wholesalers have a

long history of knowing buyers and the markets. By working with a wholesale distributor, a producer can focus on its core business model. As niche markets increase in importance and profitability, producers and suppliers need expertise and experience to create customization, branding, and marketing for products. Wholesalers can often remanufacture a product in response to market changes and also have experience in creating promotional campaigns. Wholesalers function as a crucial link between the manufacturer and the retailer, adding value along the supply chain. They can help ensure that the right product meets the right market at the right time.

[NAWLA 2010]

Technology helps LBM businesses weather economic storm


business leaders have been forced to make some tough decisions in the current recession. Although a natural instinct is to cut spending across all departUILDING MATERIAL

By Jim Hassenstab, DMSi

ments, it’s not always the best one. Technology investments can actually help your business weather through the current economic storm.

LUMBER WHOLESALERS are cutting costs by employing the latest logistics technology, such as Appian Logistics’ Direct Route, which creates the most economical delivery routes given layover times, multiple day time-windows, DOT drive time regulations, and other factors.


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

Increase productivity while reducing costs

Information systems streamline business operations and help you do more with less. By investing in new technologies and automating business processes, you can run your business more efficiently. It may even be a good time to consider moving your systems “into the clouds.” Cloud computing, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), is the future of technology. It’s a viable option for many companies to reduce costs and eliminate many of the issues that can accompany traditional software models. With a minimal investment, customers can access software over the Internet and never have to worry about investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. “I first saw software hosted through the Internet at a NAWLA tradeshow and its potential was obvious to me,” says David Zappone, general manager of Timber Trading Group, Worcester,

Ma. “The SaaS program allows everyone in our office to be more mobile, more productive, and offer customers realtime answers when out of the office.”

Gain competitive advantage and customer loyalty

With both businesses and consumers strictly evaluating their budgets and spending, it is more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the competition. While your competitors are cutting their technology budgets, you have the opportunity to expand market share. By leveraging technology, you can create innovative products and services or implement a new business approach to increase customer loyalty. Optimizing the transportation process is one of the most impactful ways to reduce overhead. A centralized dispatch solution can significantly cut transportation costs and maximize profitability of sales. In addition, these solutions improve customer service by reducing wait time and eliminating backorders. “We feel that our ODT (order delivery tracking) software gives us the real-time information we need to make sound financial and customer service decisions that are so critical to our business, especially in the current economic environment,” says Alan Harwood, c.f.o. of Epperson Specialty Woods, Statesville, N.C. “ODT has become a critical component within our daily operation, as well as a contributor to the long-term profitability of our business.”

Know your business

In the modern business world, knowledge is the single most important factor that can make or break a company. A good business intelligence system will help monitor various data, such as sales, profits, amounts lost in small transaction fees, and amounts paid originally. By pinpointing exactly where costs need to be cut or new systems put in place, your company is poised to increase profitability. Viewing and interacting with data is now easier than ever before when using business intelligence applications. Information that used to take hours to compile is now just a few clicks away, allowing business owners to make key decisions quickly. Business intelligence applications allow users to interactively zero in on answers to business performance questions, instantly detect trends, and respond to the ever-changing events occurring in distribution. “Before, if someone called asking for information, I ran to the cabinet to pull their file,” says Mike Finn, vice president of SEEMAC Inc., Carmel, In. “A report was only upto-date the day it was printed. Today, I tap into the computer to retrieve real-time information. If everyone is doing their job, the information is always current.”

Invest in the future

The economy will rebound eventually, and you need to be ready to hit the ground running when it does. While business has slowed and workloads have decreased, it is a perfect time to plan and implement IT infrastructure improvements. This way, when business does pick up, you will be better prepared and able to respond to growth. In business, as in nature, the strong survive. Rather than trying to coast through the down economy, building material companies should consider ways to strengthen, improve, and grow business. This will better your chances of “survival” and enhance the future of your company.

– Jim Hassenstab is c.e.o. of Distribution Management Systems Inc., Omaha, Ne. He can be reached at (800) 347-6720 or

WHAT YOU WANT. WHEN YOU NEED IT. Dimension Lumber Treated Products Domestic

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Manke Lumber Company is familyowned and has been serving the needs of the lumber industry since 1953. We take pride in milling and stocking quality lumber in a full range of commodity sizes and larger dimension timbers. We also answer your market needs for a wide variety of treated lumber products. Our forest products are milled from carefully harvested Northwest trees ready for distribution to you—on time and at the right price. Located in the Port of Tacoma, we have ready access to deep water shipping, rail heads or trucking terminals for longer haul loads. Manke operates its own fleet of trucks and is at your service for straight or mixed loads by truck, rail or sea. We manufacture primarily Douglas fir and western hemlock, including • 2x4 thru 2x12, Lengths 8-20’ • 3x4 thru 3x12, Lengths 8-26’ • 4x4 and wider, Lengths 8-26’ • 6x6 and wider, Lengths 8-26’ • 8x8 and wider, Lengths 8-26’ • Timber sizes up to 12x12

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Fax 253-383-2489 August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


[NAWLA 2010]

Stop the bleeding!


Why an uneducated sales force is the biggest single drain on corporate profits

plays over and over again in every one of your sales territories every day. And it costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. I was working with one of my client’s salespeople. The client was an HVAC commercial contractor. The salesman had an appointment with a prospect who had called and requested a visit. As we introduced ourselves, the prospect said, “We added on office space to our building a couple years ago, but we never expanded the air conditioning capacity. We’d like to get an idea of what it would cost to do so now.” The salesman asked to see the space. There, he took out a tape measure and note pad, dutifully measured the space, and outlined it in the notebook. Then he asked to see the existing unit. The prospect took us up into the attic and pointed out the unit, resting on a platform off to one corner. HE FOLLOWING SCENARIO

By Dave Kahle, DaCo Corp.

The salesman gingerly worked his way over to it, inspected it carefully, took some more notes, and slowly worked his way back to where we stood. “I have everything I need,” he said. “Can I fax you a detailed quote in the next 24 hours?” “Sure,” said the prospect. The salesperson prepared to leave, intent on going back to the office, working out the detailed quote, and then faxing it to the prospect. I felt the need to intervene. “Can I ask a question?” “Sure,” said the prospect. “If you like the quote, what is the prospect of you placing an order in the next few weeks?” “Oh, none at all,” he said. “The boss just wants to get an estimate. If it’s within reason, he’ll put it on the budget and do it sometime next year.” “So,” I said, “you really don’t need a detailed proposal at this point, do you?”

“Not really. I just need a ballpark to give to the boss.” I turned to the salesman. “What’s a ballpark price?” “$3,500,” he said. The prospect thanked us, and we were on our way. Let’s consider what happened. The salesperson had never been trained in the basic sales competencies of asking good questions and qualifying the opportunity. Instead, he considered himself to be “a problem solver.” He

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 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

looked for a problem and intended to solve it by creating a detailed quote. Of course, the prospect didn’t want or need that quote. If I had not intervened, the salesperson would have gone back to the office and spent several hours preparing the quote. He would have faxed it to the customer and considered himself to have done a fine job. At the end of the day, he would have thought of himself as a competent salesperson, having put in a good day’s effort. His manager would have seen the quote, added it to the list of potential business, and also considered it to be a good job, well done. The truth was, of course, that the salesperson didn’t have a clue. While he thought he was doing a good job, he totally misread and mishandled the situation. He didn’t even know what he didn’t know. His view of his competency was based on a standard that was irrelevant. The unvarnished truth is that particular salesperson would have cost the company hundreds of dollars that day in time misapplied—a couple of hours spent in the office preparing a quote for an opportunity that didn’t really exist. Not only would there be direct costs of the salesperson’s time misapplied, but also the opportunity costs of other real opportunities that could not be generated by the salesperson wasting his time in the office. But those costs were invisible, hidden not only from his eyes, but also from his company’s management and executives. They saw a quote uncovered and delivered, instead of a sales opportunity misinterpreted and mishandled. In this example, the salesperson had never been trained to qualify the opportunity. That’s just one example of the lack of appropriate training. Similar costs are routinely incurred in almost every sales call by untrained salespeople. Consider the cold calls on prospective customers that are mishandled. Or the opportunities with current customers that are never fully understood. On and on it goes. This is the greatest single cost to your profitability. Multiply that one invisible mishandled sales call times the number of calls each salesperson makes a day, times the number of salespeople in your organization, times the number of days in the year, and you begin to get a picture of the enormity of the cost. And it’s not just time misapplied, as in this example. Imagine the costs of deals that should have been gained and were not due to a lack of sales competencies. Multiply that times the same variables as above and see what kind of number that brings you. Clearly, uneducated, untrained salespeople are bleeding the profits from your business. It’s not their fault. In this case, for example, the salesperson learned his job by trial and error, and he naturally defaulted to a role with which he was comfortable. Since he was a technical person by nature, he chose to see every sales situation as a technical problem to solve. Naturally. He just didn’t know any better. And the reason he didn’t know any better is that no one taught him. Far too many companies hope their salespeople will somehow figure out how to do their jobs effectively on their own. Unfortunately that hope is misplaced, serving as a rationale to justify a lack of investment in their salespeople or ignorance about how to do so. If that describes you, stop the bleeding before it’s too late. Educate your sales force in basic sales competencies.

– A presenter at the upcoming NAWLA Traders Market, Dave Kahle is an author, consultant and trainer who helps his clients improve their sales productivity. Reach him at the DaCo Corp., Comstock Park, Mi., (800) 331-1287,

August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


[NAWLA 2010]


NAWLA Traders Market plans show #15


MARKET DIFFERENTIATES itself by having a business-only focus, which companies often look for during tough economic times. Networking opportunities remain the focus, as does the production and distribution part of the supply chain, but companies will see some changes at the 2010 show Nov. 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago, Il. “Traders Market has been very successful, but we continue to increase the value of it,” says NAWLA president Gary Vitale. “This year, we have added the New Product Showcase area, and the Spotlight on Exhibitors will return in an improved format. We are also planning an outreach campaign to attract a broader attendee base and to increase the program for global trade.” Traders Market started in 1996 with 100 exhibitors. Since then, the industry has evolved and so has Traders Market. The 2010 tradeshow portion will be held Thursday and Friday. To save companies money on travel costs and allow more networking time, NAWLA has decreased the number of education seminars presented in the days preced-

REVAMPED NAWLA Traders Market makes a return engagement this fall at Chicago’s famed Hyatt Regency.

ing the show and instead will offer just one—an eight-hour sales training seminar by David Kahle. NAWLA also wanted the 2010 show to have programming for more of the supply chain and had discussed having an AIA-approved continuing education course at the

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 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

show for local architects. The topic of the course will be the environmental benefit of using wood in construction. Another addition is a New Product Showcase. This area will be located in the middle of the tradeshow floor and will give companies the opportunity to showcase new or rebranded products to buyers and distributors. Openings are limited to companies that are also exhibitors. NAWLA has also revamped the Magellan Network breakfast during Traders Market. A special program within the membership of NAWLA, the Magellan Network focuses on global trade issues for both exporters and importers. This year’s speaker luncheon year will feature a wellknown keynoter—Jim Morris, the real-life inspiration for the Disney movie The Rookie. Many people may remember the story of a 30-something high school coach whose players urge him to try out for Major League Baseball. Jim did just that, and he made it to “The Show.” He will talk about overcoming enormous odds to succeed, something far too many lumber companies have had to do the last few years. “Sometimes the word ‘inspirational’ is overused, but Jim personifies the importance of having a dream and the desire to reach it,” says Vitale. “Making the majors at any time is nearly impossible. Jim did it while also juggling the responsibilities of a family and a career.” The Traders Market show continues to be a supply and distribution show with a business focus, but NAWLA is evolving the show to meet the changing needs of its members and the industry. This year, they have opened full online registration for the first time, giving companies the chance to have an all-in-one shopping experience with the ability to pay by credit card. – More info can be found at

August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


[NAWLA 2010]


What’s a NAWLA?

N ORTH A MERICAN W HOLESALE Lumber Association is comprised of 500 companies dedicated to efficient distribution of lumber products and the responsible stewardship of forest resources. The group represents wholesalers, manufacturers, and service provider companies throughout the distribution supply chain. Founded in 1893, it is one of the oldest lumber associations in North America. It all began on a Boston-bound train with a chance encounter between John Clark of J.S.H. Clark & Co., Newark, N.J., and two New York lumber wholesalers. The three men discovered that they had a common errand—the collection of past due invoices from the same customer. As a result of this chance meeting, Clark started contacting New York and New Jersey wholesalers about forming an association. Its purpose would be information sharing—not just in the area of collections, but also exchanging ideas on all aspects of a lumber wholesaler’s business. During preliminary planning sessions, 15 wholesalers approved Clark’s proposal for a confederation of wholeHE


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

salers, as well as his proposed nomenclature of National Wholesaler Lumber Dealers Association. An invitation was then sent to all “legitimate lumber wholesalers” in the region to attend a meeting at New York City’s Imperial Hotel. Fifty members attended the first annual meeting on May 15, 1893, during which a constitution was adopted and Clark was elected as the group’s first president. John Clark and the two New York travelers, whose names are lost to us today, began a remarkable legacy of bringing together wholesalers, manufacturers and affiliates for a common goal, laying the foundation for a global network of channel partners in the LBM industry. NAWLA has continued to grow and learn, serving as an educator and counselor on issues within the industry and supplying publications, learning tools, networking events, and industry information to help members remain informed and better understand current trends and opportunities. – For more info on the association, call (800) 527-8258 or visit

Remodeling to Pick Up in ʼ11

Remodeling spending is expected to increase on an annual basis by the end of the year. Harvard’s latest Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity points to growth accelerating to double-digits in first quarter 2011. “Absent a reversal of recent economic progress, there should be a healthy upturn in home improvement activity by year-end and into next year,” says Harvard’s Eric S. Belsky.

wood residuals was readily available, and more trees could be planted, to produce more renewable energy without disrupting the biomass supply used by the forest products industry— which supports far more jobs than stand-alone energy production. “Our economy and our environ-

New Research Supports Pro-Forestry Energy Policies

Two new American Forest & Paper Association-commissioned studies show that federal energy policies can be designed to conserve the high-paying forest products industry jobs that are so critical to rural communities, while increasing the supply of woody biomass to help meet renewable energy production goals. “It is crucial that policymakers consider how best to utilize America’s forest resource to both support good jobs and produce more renewable energy,” said AF&PA president/c.e.o. Donna Harman. “These studies show that if designed carefully, national energy policies can both sustain the significant job-sustaining capacity of the forest products industry while expanding renewable energy.” The first study, “Jobs Creation in Pulp & Paper Industry & Energy Alternative in the U.S.” by RISI, found that for a given volume of wood, the forest products industry sustains nine times as many jobs as standalone biomass energy production. The second, “Availability & Sustainability of Wood Resources for Energy Generation in the U.S.” by Forisk Consulting, found that approximately 50 million dry tons of underutilized logging residues and urban

IN Memoriam

Albert Slendebroek, 64, retired owner of The Lumber Baron, Albany, Ca., died July 14 in Healdsburg, Ca. At age 7, Mr. Slendebroek emigrated from Holland with his family and later served as a medic in Vietnam. In 1978, he started his own lumber company, which is now operated by his son, Max.

Michael Louis “Mike” Franceschi, product manager for Redwood Empire, San Jose, Ca., died of cancer July 4 in Gilroy, Ca. From 1979 to 1985, he managed Builders Lumber, Morgan Hill, Ca., then joined Redwood Empire for the last 24 years. He specialized in Douglas fir and plywood sales, particulary in Northern California. Robert N. “Bob” Aiken, 73, retired Oregon lumber broker, died June 18 in Portland, Or. He traded for American International Forest Products, Portland, then joined the Portland office of Honsador Lumber, Kapolei, Hi., before retiring in 1997.

ment will be best served if wood is used in ways that support the most jobs while increasing renewable energy use,” Harman said. “We hope this research will help policymakers design programs to achieve these important goals.”

Lumber, Yreka, Ca., died after a three-year battle with cancer July 3 in Yreka. Before working at Meeks for 11 years, he was employed at Hi Ridge Lumber, Yreka, for more than 25 years.

Delbert Jack Miller, 75, retired Oregon lumber grader, died July 7 in Baker City, Or. He worked for Burnt River Lumber Co., Baker City; Ellingson Lumber Co., Baker City, and Malheur Lumber Co., John Day, before retiring in 2000.

Dale Allen Sommer, 92, longtime grader and supervisor for the Pacific Lumber Inspection Bureau, died May 29 in Woodburn, Or. He worked at PLIB for 34 years, as a lumber grader, inspector and supervisor. After his retirement, he taught lumber grading classes.

Marion Senter, 86, retired mill worker for Oregon Lumber, Baker City, Or., died June 25 in Burns, Or. He joined the lumber industry after working in the Portland shipyards during World War II.

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August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


MOVERS & Shakers

Richard Higgenbottom has stepped down as c.e.o. of Mendocino Redwood Co. and Humboldt Redwood Co., Calpella, Ca., after 10 years, but continues serving the company as a consultant. Chairman Sandy Dean is acting as interim c.e.o. Betty Woods and Dan Cherry, former owner of Colorado Forest Industries, have launched Deep Woods Forest Products, Denver, Co. Paul Cole, president of Rosboro, Springfield, Or., has retired after 60 years with the company. Jim Tolleson, ex-ProBuild, has been named sales & marketing mgr. for Allweather Wood, Washougal, Wa. Greg Reed, ex-Pacific Supply, is a new outside sales rep at Taiga Building Products, Rocklin, Ca. Denny Heil has retired from Jasper Wood Products, Jasper, Or., after 40 years in the industry. Ray Barbee, ex-Roseburg Forest Products, has been named senior v.p. and general mgr. of RISI’s wood products, timber and biomass business areas.

Josh Dean, ex-Western International, is new to western lumber sales at Collins Cos., Portland, Or., replacing Mike Luza, who has retired. Steve Olsen has been named senior v.p.-merchandising for Orchard Supply Hardware, San Jose, Ca. Steve Wilson, ex-HD Supply, is now director of Stock Building Supply’s Coleman Floor business unit. Rita Kahle, executive v.p., Ace Hardware Corp., Oak Brook, Il., retired after 23 years with the co-op. Jeff Benzing has joined Do it Best Corp., Fort Wayne, In., as communications mgr. Corey Hiebert has joined Sawarne Lumber, Richmond, B.C., handling North American sales. Jennifer Phillippi, co-owner, Rough & Ready Lumber, Cave Junction, Or., was recently featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show. Wright M. Off is the new depreciation analyst at Mungus-Fungus Forest Products, Climax, Nv., report co-owners Hugh Mungus and Freddy Fungus.


Monier Group of Germany has sold MonierLifetile LLC , Irvine, Ca., to Boral USA, Roswell, Ga. MonierLifetile joins Boral’s U.S. Tile clay roof tile business as part of its U.S. Boral Roofing division.

Simpson Manufacturing , Pleasanton, Ca., has agreed to sell the assets of Simpson Dura-Vent , Vacaville, Ca., to M&G Holding B.V. of the Netherlands. The $20 million deal is expected to close in September. ACH Foam Technologies , Denver, Co., has moved production of Structural Insulated Panels to its larger plant in McCarran, Nv.

RedBuilt , Boise, Id., received Forest Stewardship Council chain-ofcustody certification for engineered wood products manufactured at its Hillsboro, Or., plant. J.H. Baxter & Co., San Mateo, Ca., has redesigned its website at

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 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

OLSEN On Sales By James Olsen


you can keep your head… S


depths of our soul and ask, “Am I ever going to get another order?” or wake in a sweat (hot or cold—sometimes it feels like both) at 3:00 a.m. asking the more profound question, “Do I have what it takes?” Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a Nobel Prize-winning author born in Bombay and educated in England. Among his better known works are The Jungle Book and the poems “Gunga Din” and “If.” “If” is where I turn for inspiration. It is more prayer than poem. I encourage you to read it. Below are some verses and how they apply to sales. “If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” Focus. There are many non-essential-to-sales things pulling at our attention. Focus on staying in front of customers. Stay away from the Internet and the water cooler, angry co-workers and bosses—stay in front of customers.

“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you But make allowances for their doubting, too.” You’ll never sell that guy. You’ll never make it in the sales game. There will always be more people telling us why we can’t than why we can. Always. Listen to Kipling—listen to yourself—and have enough class not to stick it in their face when you do succeed. “If you can dream—and not make dreams your master, If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim.” Give me a moderately smart man of action over the super-intelligent salesperson every time. Thinking, dreaming and strategizing are important, but action is sales.

“If you can look at Triumph and Disaster And treat the two imposters just the same.” Watch pro sellers. They don’t over-celebrate or overbum-out when things are great or miserable. They just churn out sales work every day. “Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.”

Even (especially?) the successful man’s upward career line is jagged. None of us will exit unscathed. Great salespeople reinvent themselves several times in a career. “If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve you long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’” I’ve never met an entrepreneur or true salesperson who didn’t have a little gambler in them. We cannot win big unless we play big. We will never be champions if we are afraid to fail or will not pick ourselves up after failure. The best salespeople receive more no’s per month than the average salesperson hears in a year!

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch” Communication is our skill set. As salespeople we need to communicate with the truck driver, the receptionist, the buyer, and the owner. We may deal with bankers in the morning and an on-line plant manager in the afternoon. We must project confidence without arrogance – a delicate life-long pursuit of the professional salesperson. “If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you but none too much,” It is fine to love our customers, but too many salespeople fall in love with their customers! Wasting time on customers who “used to be” great is a common problem. I talk to grown men who pine after an erstwhile great customer instead of getting on the phone or on the road to find new ones! It is emotionally difficult to let go or reduce contact with a past-great-customer we really like, but we must keep ourselves in front of new people who can and will buy from us. To inspire others, we must be inspired. Look for inspiration in family, spirituality, friends and co-workers. But if you wake up at 3:00 a.m. and could use a prayer, try “If.” James Olsen Reality Sales Training (503) 544-3572 james@reality- August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


GREEN Retailing By Jay Tompt

Oil dependency and the LBM supply chain T

the Gulf of Mexico is a huge environmental calamity, but it should serve as a wake-up call for the LBM supply chain for another reason. Why? The spill will certainly have an impact on local economies and local LBM dealers. But the spill is emblematic of much a bigger issue—the end of cheap oil. And that will shape the future of this industry, bringing tough challenges and green opportunities. Many analysts are pointing out that most, or all, of the world’s easy oil has been extracted and what’s left is vastly more challenging, energy intensive, and expensive to obtain—pumping oil from 5,000 ft. deep on the floor of the Gulf is but one example. Meanwhile, according to a U.S. THE OIL SPILL IN


Cost more? No. Work better? Yes. End of story.

Department of Energy report, new oil discoveries are lagging consumption. Some analysts have pointed out that the point of peak oil production may have been reached, or may be reached soon. Peak oil, as the phenomenon is known, is based on the work of Shell Oil geologist M. King Hubbert, who showed that just as an oil well reaches a peak in production long before the oil deposit runs dry, so too, does an oil producing region have a peak in its production curve. Once the peak is reached, production volumes flatten out, then decline. Add the fact that worldwide demand for oil is growing (car sales in China and India are going through the roof!), and if we are at or near a peak oil situation, then oil prices will surely rise and perhaps very rapidly. The LBM supply chain is predicated on cheap transportation costs. When fuel prices rose dramatically during the summer of 2008, many distributors and dealers took hits to their already small margins. While that price spike was due, at least in part, to Wall Street speculators, it provided a taste of what an expensive oil future will bring— higher transport and commodity costs, and marginal businesses going bust. So, how can you prepare and create resiliency within your organization? First, start shifting your own product mix. Identify those products most vulnerable to rising oil prices and find better alternatives such as local and green products. This will also help you meet the rising demand for such products. Look especially at those solutions that help your customers (or their customers) become more sustainable or self-reliant. Also, find opportunities to supply a greater range of need within your community or operating area. If gas

prices rise dramatically, your customers will be looking for one-stop shopping. Dealers and distributors should also be actively seeking ways to reduce gasoline or diesel use within their own operations. Electric vehicles or diesel trucks that run on locally sourced, recycled cooking oil might be viable options. Increasing drop ships, from manufacturer to dealer or from distributor to end-user, will help, too, but only marginally. Finally, get involved in community efforts to create local resiliency to oil energy shocks. Transition U.S. ( is a new and growing network of groups throughout the country—69 at last count—aiming to find ways within their own communities to reduce their dependence on oil. Groups like these are gaining influence with local policy makers, and their efforts naturally support green building and like-minded local businesses. Your involvement will help you identify emerging opportunities, make important connections within your community, and get support for reducing your own oil dependency. Jay Tompt Managing Partner Wm. Verde & Associates (415) 321-0848

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 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

Better Gutter Covers

Leaf Relief gutter covers from Ply Gem reportedly can drain more than 29” of rainfall an hour. Built of solid aluminum, the covers lay flat and prevent overflowing by keeping debris out of gutters.

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Plug the Deck

Starborn’s Smart-Bit Pro Plug System includes everything needed to install a deck with invisible fasteners. Included are the Pro Plug tool for pre-drilling and counter-boring, stainless or hardened steel fasteners, replacement drill bits, a Titebond glue nozzle, and wood plugs to match a variety of wood species.






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Sansin’s 2-Coat DEC stain uses modified natural oils and a water-borne formulation to protect exterior wood. The product reportedly allows wood to breathe, allowing it to adjust to natural moisture levels. Available in 79 colors, it can be used on old or new wood to repel water and provide protection from UV exposure


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1. 866. F S C . W O O D August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


Plantation Plywood Panels

Lumin plywood from Weyerhaeuser is manufactured from plantation-grown eucalyptus and pine. The all-eucalyptus panel is available in seven grades, including four proprietary grades. The combi-panel is available in three standard grades, pairing the strength of eucalyptus-core veneers with the traditional visual appeal of a pine-face layer. Both are produced in a mill with FSC chain-of-custody and controlled wood certification.


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Easy Underlayment

Elastilon underlayment allows stick-and-peel installation of 5/16” to 1” hardwood flooring. The self-adhesive membrane can be used on concrete, both below and above grade, eliminating the need for subfloor construction or glue and nails.

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Specialists in lumber products for Elegant Outdoor Living


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

Water-Saving Head

Alson’s Fluidics water-amplifying showerhead has earned the EPA’s WaterSense label. The fixture features a series of chambers that control the shape, velocity, and thermal dynamics of water for an invigorating shower experience. Finishes include chrome, satin nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze.

 ALSONS.COM (800) 421-0001

the time Ace was selling franchises to appeared the whole thing was going first year. The co-op also allegedly them, it wasfurther trying alleges to convert when we got here. It took us about 45 told the investors that if they built said fire battalion chief Steve Sabo. “It generate positive cash flows in the The lawsuit thatfrom at an owner-cooperative a privately minutes get it under fourco-op stores also at once and contin-the time appeared thetowhole thing control.” was going firstthree year.orThe allegedly Ace was sellingtofranchises to held with offeranpublic Thegotfacility been closed45since toldued dozens along the Interstate when we here. Ithas took us about the with investors that if they built Composite them,corporation it was trying to intent converttofrom stock. GatetoKit record caused the roof to col- three74or corridor and minutes to snowfall get it under control.” four stores at the onceQuad-City and contin-area,owner-cooperative a privately held A new composite gate kit argue from TimberThe with plaintiffs thatpublic Ace was lapse last year. Damage millions of The facility has been closedestimates since ued they with could dozensmake alongtens the of Interstate to offer complements theintent company’s deckTechcorporation trying to increase sales of both franwere not available. dollars. record snowfall caused the roof to col74 corridor and the Quad-City area, ing, stock. railing, and fencing products. to enhance the chises and inventory The plaintiffs claim they repeatedly lapse last year. Damage estimates they could make tens of millions of A lock, Thelatch, plaintiffs argue that Ace was and mounting hardware likelihood of asales publicofoffering. Cautious with Restarts dollars. notified Ace about the poor perfor-trying not available. wereCanfor to increase both franare included. In inventory addition naming Despite higher U.S. lumber prices The mance of their franchises and demandplaintiffs claim they repeatedly chises totoenhance the Ace kits and reportedly are code-compliant The Hardware as a defendant, the and growing demand for its wood in ed assistance, but the corporation notified Ace about the poor perfor- for use Canfor Cautious with Restarts likelihood of a public offering. with swimming pools and second- lawsuit also names two men who sold China, Canfor won’t be restarting its “turned a deaf ear” and demanded Despite higher U.S. lumber prices mance of their franchises and demand- story decks, In addition Ace Ace and availabletoin anaming selection of franchises, as well as several directors four shuttered B.C. sawmills any time they pay back the money it had and growing demand for its wood in ed assistance, but the corporation complementary Hardware as a defendant, the lawsuit colors. and vice presidents of Ace. soon. advanced to them. China, Canfor won’t be restarting its “turned a deaf ear” and demanded also names two men who sold Ace “We areB.C. not going to beany in atime rush to they pay back the money it had  TIMBERTECH.COM four shuttered sawmills franchises, as well as several directors (800) 307-7780 start up a mill because the market has advanced to them. soon. and vice presidents of Ace. spiked has right said to presi“We areas notit going to benow,” in a rush would has have to startdent up aJim millShepard. because“We the market seeassustainable in presithe marspiked it has rightrecovery now,” said would entertain dentkets Jim before Shepard.we“We would have to any up ofrecovery any of our see starting sustainable inoperations.” the marCanfor’s China kets before we 2009 wouldshipments entertaintoany wereupupof40% and now repstarting any over of our2008, operations.” resent 7-8% the company’s Canfor’s 2009 of shipments to Chinatotal lumber production. “The market were up 40% over 2008, and now rep- in China is now starting to recognize resent 7-8% of the company’s total the advantageous qualities of SFPinlumlumber production. “The market ber,” said Shepard. China is now starting to recognize the advantageous qualities of SFP lumStore Owners Sue Ace ber,”Bitter said Shepard. Investors three Ace Geo. M. Huff Lumber Company Crisp, who Easyown Corners Hardware “Vision 21” stores in Bitter Store Owners Sue Ace hasGeo. teamed up with Forest FibaTape composite corner M. Huff Lumber Co.Grove has Illinois have filedown aoflawsuit against the Investors three Ace Geo. M. Huff Lumber Company tape iswho made PVC and coated Lumber to become the exclusive teamed up with Forest Grove co-op,with claiming that larger in stores has teamed up with Forest Grove Hardware “Vision 21”thematrix. stores a tight-fibered Southern Lumber toCalifornia become thestocking exclusive failed to Offered produce profits. Illinois have filed a lawsuit against the50’ inpromised 2-3/8”x25’ and Lumber to become the exclusive distributor of Tru-Dry Timbers. co-op, Stores claiming theinlarger stores the lawsuit are Southern California stocking rolls,included it that reportedly folds quickly Southern California stocking failed to produce promised profits. Silvis Aceadjusts Hardware, Silvis; Hilltop and to any angle for distributor of Tru-Dry Timbers. Stores included in Rock the lawsuit areand Ace straight, Hardware, Island, and distributor of Tru-Dry Timbers. professional corners All FGL Tru-Dry timbers are angles when installing Silvis Ace Hardware, Silvis; drywall. Hilltop All Tru-Dry timbers Ace Hardware, Rock Island, and driedFGL in “HeatWave USA’sare RFV”  FIBATAPE.COM All FGL Tru-Dry timbers are dried in “HeatWave USA’s RFV” kilns, which use clean, renewable (800) 762-6694 kilns, which use clean, renewable dried in “HeatWave RFV” energy and have USA’s zero emissions. energy anduse have zerorenewable emissions. kilns, which clean, Tru-Drytimbers timbers dried comareare dried energyTru-Dry and have zero emissions. pletely and evenly throughout so completely and evenly throughTru-Dry timbers are dried comyousowon’t experience the sticky out you won’t experience the pletely and evenly throughout so problems oftenoften encountered sticky problems encoun- with you won’t experience the sticky Village Ace Hardware, Champaign. beams that are not to the core. tered with beams thatdried are not The first two stores opened in 2006 problems often encountered with dried to the core. Combine selection Village Ace Hardware, and closed earlier thisChampaign. year. The phone beams that are notour dried to theof core. Combine our selection of with our Thewas first recently two storesdisconnected opened in 2006 Douglas fir timbers along at the Combine our selection of and Champaign closed earlierstore, this year. Theopened phone in Douglas fir timbers along which skilled milling staff andwith you’ve got Douglas fir timbers along with our was2007. recently disconnected at the our skilled milling staff and one of the best resources in Champaign store, which opened The plaintiffs allege thatinAce skilled milling staff and you’ve got you’ve got one of the best Stick to Green Floors Southern California. 2007. Hardware Corp., Oak Brook, Il., oneresources of the best in in resources Southern California. DriTac 7500 The plaintiffs that Ace induced them to allege investEco-Urethane millions of dolSouthern California. contains zero Hardware Corp.,adhesive Oakand Brook, Il., lars toflooring purchase land construct and VOCs and zero solvents. induced tonew invest millions of dol-were stockthem the stores—which Easyland to spread, it provides a lars designed to purchase and construct and to compete home permanent bondwith for alarger range of stock the new stores—which were improvement stores such as Home HUFF COMPANY flooring and underlayments. HUFFLUMBER LUMBER COMPANY designed compete and with larger home Depot,toMenards, Lowe’s. SANTA FE SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA SANTA FE SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA improvement stores such as Home  DRITAC.COM According to the lawsuit, Ace 800-347-4833 HUFF LUMBER COMPANY 800-347-4833 Depot, Menards, Lowe’s. (800) 394-9310 promised thatand it had tested and proven SANTA FE SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA According to the lawsuit, Ace the concept and the new stores would 800-347-4833 promised that it had tested and proven August 2010  The Merchant Magazine  43 the concept and the new stores would

Old World Craftsmanship Old In OldWorld WToday’s orldCraftsmanship CrafDesigns tsmanship InInToday’s Today’sDesigns Designs

Tru-Dry T r u D r y Tru-Dry Timbers Timbers Timbers e g r La

n i y r o t n e v n I

k c o St

March 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


ASSOCIATION Update Mountain State Lumber & Building Materials Dealers Association has scheduled its annual Western Slope golf tournament for Sept. 10 at Rifle Creek Golf Course, Rifle, Co. MSLBMDA is staging its annual fall conference Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Sonnenalp Resort, Vail, Co. The agenda features an opening night banquet, buffet breakfasts, lunches, and golf at the resort’s course. Safety webinars will address personal protection equipment Aug. 26 and housekeeping Sept. 14 and Sept. 30.

Lumber Association of California & Nevada’s 2nd Growth 40-and-under group next meets Oct. 7 at Embassy Suites, Brea, Ca. LACN’s annual convention is Oct. 21-22 at HyattFisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, Ca. Activities include an opening reception, tabletop displays, president’s dinner and award program, an LACN board and past-president’s dinner, and a 5K run. Dr. Patrick Moore, Greenspirit, will speak on “Trees Are the Answer.” Mike O’Brien, National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association, will discuss national association business, and Randy Morgan, CSP, will speak on “Against the Grain: High Yield Leadership in a Low Confidence Economy.” Western Wood Products Association’s Lumber Pioneers group will hold its annual meeting, reception, and

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dinner Sept. 17 at Monarch Hotel, Clackamas, Or.

Los Angeles Hardwood Lumberman’s Club gets swinging with its 11th annual benefit golf tournament— dedicated to the late Alan Bohnhoff—Sept. 23 at Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club, Costa Mesa, Ca. First tee-off is 11:30, with dinner and awards at the golf

LOS ANGELES Hardwood Lumberman’s Club elected new officers at its July 8 meeting in Brea, Ca. (Left to right, seated front) are membership chairman Walter Ralston, treasurer Garrison Cox, president Dan Bohannon, and v.p. Charlie Fiala. (Standing, back row) Deonn Deford, Jim Gaither, Marty Fox, Bill Fitzgerald, Charley James, Matt Barrass, Tom Escherich, Alan Arbiso, Paul Pendergast, Nathan Osborne, Dennis Johnston.

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club. Proceeds will benefit the educational efforts of the Hardwood Forest Foundation. Western Wood Preservers Institute has enlisted Dr. Jim Bowyer, director of the responsible materials program at Dovetail Partners, to speak at its annual meeting Oct. 17-20 at Westin La Paloma Resort, Tucson, Az.

Southern California Hoo-Hoo Club will meet Aug. 18 at the Orange County Mining Company, Orange, Ca. The group’s annual Don Gregson Memorial Golf Tournament raised more than $5,000 for the City of Hope, Wounded Warriors, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s teachers tour, and the Gregson Scholarship Fund at Rim of the World High School.

National Hardwood Lumber Association has signed Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker at its Oct. 13-16 annual convention and exhibit showcase at the Hyatt Regency, Vancouver, B.C. NHLA established a new “partner” membership category to recognizes businesses not headquartered in North America.

Western Hardwood Association installed new officers at its recent board meeting. Darrin Hastings, Emerson Hardwood, Portland, Or., is the new president, succeeding Jeff Nuss, GreenWood Resources, Portland. Mike Lipke, Trillium Pacific Millwork, Wilsonville, Or., is v.p., and Lindy Stallard, Rose City Wood Products, Broadbent, Or., treasurer. The association will host an Oct. 15 luncheon during

NHLA’s annual convention in Vancouver, B.C., which will include WHA’s annual meeting and auction, followed by a mini grading class and a preview of its new interactive online grading webpage. National Green Contractors Expo has been rescheduled from September to May 17-18, 2011, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nv.

U.S. SENATE candidate Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard c.e.o., stumped at J&W Lumber, Sorrento Valley (San Diego), Ca., vowing to create more jobs by cutting regulations and taxes. To the right of her podium hung eight J&W Lumber shirts, representing the eight workers the yard has been forced to lay off. Standing behind her at the June 11 event were five local business leaders—(left to right) Sheffield Platters’ Dale Watkins, Barratt Group’s Mick Pattison, J&W’s Clyde Jennings, C-A Botana’s Ursyal Kuster, and Associated Builders & Contractors of California’s Chris Lang.

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LACN 2ND GROWTH Photos by The Merchant Magazine

SUMMER SESSION: Lumber Association of California & Nevadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2nd Growth kicked off its annual summer conference July 15 at Hotel Solamar in San Diegoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s historic gaslamp district. The conference included a San Diego Padres baseball game at Petco Park. [1] Natalie Allen, John Neel. [2] Rex & Jamie Klopfer. [3] Jean Henning, Danny Sosa. [4] Jarrett Deschenes, Ryan Lauterborn, John Allen. [5] Chad Barclay, Heather Gyurina, John Pasqualetto. [6] Jeffrey Hansler, Mike Carey. [7] Mike Caputo, Charmaine Jennings. [8] Pete Ganahl, Shannon Mott. [9] Chris & Stacey Freeman. [10] Holly & Jay McArthur. [11] Fabio Gaipa, Sal Camarda. [12] Adam Armstrong, Valerie DeLean. [13] Jason Sumpter, Dana Redican. [14] Dale Verseput, Peter Jackson. [15] Candy & Larry Christensen. [16] Austin, Scott & Lori Whitman. [17] Scott Walter, Bill Humphrey. [18] Chris Huntington, Chuck Casey. [19] Terry Rasmussen, David Abbott.


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

OLD TIMERS BBQ Photos by Morgan Creek Forest Products

Foster Borges. [7] Bud Chenowith, Jim Lewman. [8] Paul Ward, Fred C. Holmes. [9] Mike White, Ken McCrary. [10] Linda & Denny McEntire, Jim Frodsham. [11] Ellen Rinde, Ken Carter, Steve

Webb. [12] Doug Willis, Barbara McCrary. [13] Dennis Tyrrell, Gary Mattson, Len Viale. [14] Jim Busick. [15] Darlene & Sean Burch. [16] Janet Webb, Andy Ersek.

OLD TIME Lumbermen’s 8th annual BBQ was hosted by Big Creek Lumber July 10 in Davenport, Ca. [1] Big Creek’s Lud McCrary was named Lumberman of the Year—and also demonstrated how to make hand-split redwood shakes. [2] H.T. “Bud” McCrary. [3] Cliff Smoot. [4] John Tallman. [5] Marti & David Cutler. [6] Gary Malfatti, Betty

August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


CLASSIFIED Marketplace Rates: $1.20 per word (25 word min.). Phone number counts as 1 word, address as 6. Centered copy or headline, $9 per line. Border, $9. Private box, $15. Column inch rate: $55 if art furnished “camera-ready” (advertiser sets the type), $65 if we set the type. Send ad to Fax 949-852-0231 or dkoenig@ For more info, call (949) 852-1990. Make checks payable to Cutler Publishing. Deadline:

HELP WANTED GENERAL MANAGER: LAGUNA BEACH The successful applicant for this general manager position must have a record of generating excellent results, developing people, driving positive changes, and must possess the highest level of integrity. Send resume to


HARDWARE DEPT. MANAGER: PASADENA You must have hardware, paint, plumbing, power/hand tools, and electrical knowledge. You will be responsible for supervising a growing staff, merchandising, ordering and inventory control; superior customer service is also key. Send resume to

DOOR & WINDOW SALES MANAGER: PASADENA The responsibilities for this position would include managing the daily activities of the door & window salespeople, recruiting, hiring and implementing processes to help each salesperson reach their highest potential. Send resume to

OPERATIONS MANAGER: PASADENA You will be responsible for receiving, inventory replenishment, load building, maintenance (vehicles, building and yard), and overall operations activities. Send resume to

COUNTER SALES MANAGER: PASADENA If you have a proven track record in sales/sales management and can deliver a superior customer experience over the phone and at the counter, please send resume to CUSTOMER SERVICE MANAGER: PASADENA You must have a record of success and be looking to continue to grow a customer service team to new heights. A commitment to deliver a superior customer experience is required. Send resume to CONTRACTOR SALES MANAGER: ANAHEIM This person’s responsibilities would include managing the daily activities of the contractor salespeople, recruiting and hiring, and implementing processes to help each salesperson reach their highest potential. Send resume to


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

18th of previous month. To reply to ads with private box numbers, send correspondence to box number shown, c/o The Merchant Magazine, 4500 Campus Dr., Ste. 480, Newport Beach, Ca. 92660, or Names of advertisers using a box number cannot be released.


LUMBER TRADER We are a wholesale lumber company looking for an experienced trader. Any species. No restrictions on mills or customers. No relocation. 60% split for trader. Call John at Lakeside Lumber at (623) 566-7100 or email


OFFICE & WAREHOUSE FOR LEASE: Northern California Sacramento region. Approximately 2,000-sq. ft. office attached to 30,000-sq. ft. warehouse. Warehouse clear span height 20 ft. Office & restrooms ADA accessible. Warehouse includes three-man doors with large 20-ft. roll-up door. 220V power available. Fire sprinkler system throughout. Truck shop facilities provided, including minor repair work, oil changes, steam cleaning, etc., at favorable rates. Ample truck parking space in back of facility. If additional space is needed, an option on additional 30,000-sq. ft. warehouse will be available soon. Office & 30,000sq. ft. front warehouse available at .29¢ per sq. ft. Option for rear warehouse .25 per sq. ft. If interested, please call Tom Williams, (530) 742-2168, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Let us quote



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Keep track of the West The Merchant Magazine keeps you up to date on industry issues throughout the West.



Now find out what’s happening on the other side of the Rockies.

Keep track of the Rest Building Products Digest covers the other 37 states, including the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. Subscriptions are just $24 for 12 monthly issues.


Building Products Digest Contact Heather at (949) 852-1990


Listings are often submitted months in advance. Always verify dates and locations with sponsor before making plans to attend.

World Forestry Center – Aug. 11, global forestry issues presentation, Portland, Or.; (503) 228-1367;

Orgill Inc. – Aug. 12-14, fall dealer market, McCormick Place, Chicago, Il.; (901) 754-8850; Southern California Hoo-Hoo Club – Aug. 18, dinner & meeting, Orange County Mining Co., Orange, Ca.; (760) 324-0842.

Remodeling & Decorating Shows – Aug. 21-22, Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, Ca.; Aug. 27-29, South Town Expo Center, Sandy, Ut.; (818) 557-2950; International Woodworking Fair – Aug. 25-28, Atlanta, Ga.; (770) 246-0608;

Black Bart Hoo-Hoo Club – Aug. 27, trap shoot & BBQ, Black Point Sports Club, Petaluma, Ca.; (707) 621-4852.

Portland Wholesale Lumber Association – Sept. 2, meeting, Tigard, Or.;

World Forestry Center – Sept. 8, global forestry issues presentation, Portland, Or.; (503) 228-1367;

Mountain States Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association – Sept. 10, Western Slope golf tournament, Rifle Creek Golf Course, Rifle, Co.; (800) 365-0919;

Hoo-Hoo International – Sept. 10-12, annual convention, Holiday Inn Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; (800) 979-9950;

Horizon Distribution Inc. – Sept. 11-12, annual market, Yakima Convention Center, Yakima, Wa.; (800) 541-8164.

True Value Co. – Sept. 13-15, fall dealer market, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nv.; (773) 695-5000; www.

Wholesale Industrial Lumber



1321 N. Kraemer Blvd. (Box 879), Anaheim, Ca. 92806 Fax 714-630-3190 (714) 632-1988 • (800) 675-REEL 3518 Chicago Ave., Riverside, Ca. 92507

(951) 781-0564

GlassBuild America – Sept. 14-16, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nv.; (703) 442-4890;

Willamette Valley Hoo-Hoo Club – Sept. 15, trap shoot, Sportsman’s Club, Creswell, Or.; (541) 485-5979. DeckExpo – Sept. 15-17, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Md.; (866) 475-6495; Jensen Distribution Services – Sept. 15-17, fall market, Spokane Convention Center, Spokane, Wa.; (509) 624-1321.

Remodeling Show – Sept. 15-17, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Md.; (866) 475-6495; Pacific Logging Congress – Sept. 15-18, In the Woods Show, Longview Timberlands, Clatskanie, Or.; (425) 413-2808;

Western Wood Products Associaton – Sept. 17, Lumber Pioneers annual meeting, Monarch Hotel, Clackamas, Or.; (503) 2243930; Montana Wood Products Assn. – Sept. 21-23, annual convention, Whitefish, Mt.; (406) 443-1566;

Door & Hardware Institute – Sept. 22-23, annual conference & expo, Navy Pier, Chicago, Il.; (703) 222-2010;

Los Angeles Hardwood Lumberman’s Association – Sept. 23, Alan Bohnhoff Memorial Golf Tournament, Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club, Costa Mesa, Ca.; (626) 445-8556. Portland Hoo-Hoo – Sept. 24, fall concat & social, Manzana’s, Lake Oswego, Or.; (503) 675-0040. Building Component Manufacturers Conference – Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, N.C.; (608) 310-6722;

Mountain States Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association – Sept. 30-Oct. 2, fall conference, Sonnenalp Resort, Vail, Co.; (800) 365-0919;


t Reel Lumber Service, we supply domestic and foreign hardwoods. Our products and services include: • Hardwood Lumber & Pine • Hardwood Plywood & Veneers • Melamine Plywood • Hardwood Moulding (alder, cherry, mahogany, MDF, maple, red oak, paint grade, pecan hickory, white oak, walnut, beech) • Milling (moulding profiles, S2S, SLR1E, SLR2E, & resawn lumber) • Woodworking Accessories (appliques, ornaments, butcher blocks, corbels, etc.) • Woodworking Supplies (deft finishes, color putty, adhesives, etc.)


ur products are widely used in interior finish carpentry, furniture, cabinetry and hundreds of industrial and manufacturing applications. We stock a complete line of complementary products to complete virtually any woodworking or millwork project. August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 



Thinking local has allowed a 50-year-old The Anti-Big Box

yard in Vero Beach, Fl., to succeed despite competition from big boxes. “We are a niche business that specializes in stuff that’s different,” said Jack Sturgis Jr., who co-owns Sturgis Lumber & Plywood with his brother Charlie. “The big boxes carry 80% of the things people need. We carry the other 20%.” That means everything a homeowner or business needs, including glass cutting and hard-to-find hardware and lumber, is available—or the Sturgis brothers will find it for you. Founded in 1954 by Jack Sturgis Sr., the business sits on six acres and includes a True Value Hardware store, a lumberyard, and lumber-storage buildings. The family also owns and manages timber hardwood land in Alabama, where the brothers’ great-grandfather worked in the lumber business in the 1830s. “We’re an old-style lumberyard,” said Jack. “We’re heavily into materials for docks and dune crossovers.” Pressure-treated timbers that can survive a Category 5 hurricane are a specialty, as are stainless steel fasteners, nails, screws, and drill parts that can stand up to corrosive sea air. In addition to standard plywood grades, the yard also carries hardwood plywood in teak, cherry, maple, and African mahogany. Other local favorites are 18”x18” beams and decorative pecky cypress boards. “If somebody can’t find something, we’ll hunt it down,” said Jack Sturgis. “I like being able to find things.”

Service Rates Industry Websites

The Construction Marketing Association has rolled out the Construction Brand Internet Index, a comprehensive rating of the Internet presence of top construction brands based on over 50 variables. The rating identifies how effective a specific website domain is relative to other websites. The ratings are based on key search engine data, website meta structure, traffic, social media integration (use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), inbound links, indexed pages, and more. “Overall, the top construction brands rate high due to high volume website traffic and large quantities of links; however, a number of missed opportunities were identified with highly rated websites,” said CMA chairman Neil Brown. “Certainly, the low-scoring websites lacked social media integration, and in one case, even basic meta data. As we evaluate the top construction brands, it is apparent that we (construction) lag other sectors in Internet best practices. Fortunately, the association addresses these opportunities with programs and training.” Top rated industry sites were and CMA’s rating service is free to qualified construction brand websites.


 The Merchant Magazine  August 2010

ADVERTISERS Index For more info on advertisers, call themdirectly or visit their websites [in brackets].

Advantage Trim & Lumber [] .......................47

AERT []...............................................................................7 Ainsworth []...................................................38-39, 44-45

Anfinson Lumber Sales [] ...........................................11

Arch Wood Protection [] ......................Cover I Bear Forest Products []...................................................26

Cal Coast Wholesale Lumber......................................................................17

California Timberline......................................................................................4 C&E Lumber Co. [] .............................................15 Compass Lumber Products Inc. [] ................42

Distribution Management Systems Inc. []........................32

Fiberon LLC [] .....................................................5 Fletcher Wood Solutions []........................................41 Fontana Wholesale Lumber [] .........36

Forest2Market []..................................................31

Huff Lumber Co. ...........................................................................................43

Kelleher Corp. []...................................................Cover II Keller Lumber Co. ........................................................................................18 Krauter Solutions []..........................................33

LP Building Products [] ........................................Cover III

Lumber Products [] .........................................33

Manke Lumber Co. []...........................................29

Mary’s River Lumber [] ................................34 Mill2Market [].......................................................31

Mr. Spindle []..............................................................46 Norman Distribution Inc. [].....................................30

North American Wholesale Lumber Association [] ........20

Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual [] .................Cover III Redwood Empire [] ..............................................25

Reel Lumber Service [] ............................................49 Regal Custom Millwork................................................................................49

RISI []....................................................................28 Roseburg Forest Products []............................................21

Simpson Strong-Tie [] ......................................Cover IV Swanson Group Sales Co. [].......................23

Taiga Building Products Inc........................................................13, Cover III

Thunderbolt Wood Treating [].........35

Van Arsdale-Harris Lumber Co. [] ..................36

Viance [] ...................................................................3

Western Red Cedar Lumber Association []........................9 Wynndel Lumber []...........................................27

8k_bZM_j^EkhIjh[d]j^" 9ekdjEdEkh<_h[H[i_ijWdY[ BF<bWc[8beYaŸ<_h[#HWj[ZEI8I^[Wj^_d] Created by applying a patented, non-combustible Pyrotite® coating to LP® OSB panels, LP® FlameBlock™ Fire-Rated Sheathing is an ICC certified (ESR-1365), PS2-rated structural sheathing with a Class A Flame Spread Rating. It provides extended burn-through resistance, delivering a 20-minute thermal barrier (ASTM E119). LP FlameBlock Sheathing is Exposure-1 rated, durable on the job site and easy to work with. Backed by a 20-Year Transferable Limited Warranty, LP FlameBlock Sheathing is cost effective and available in a variety of PS2-rated thicknesses and lengths, including Struc-1. It’s the panel to count on when every minute matters.

Available Now At Taiga Building Products. For More Information Call: Rocklin (800) 348-1400, Sanger (559) 876-3624











© 2010 Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. All rights reserved. Pyrotite is a registered trademark of Barrier Technology Corp. The UL Mark is a registered trademark of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. All other trademarks are owned by Louisiana-Pacific Corporation.

August 2010  The Merchant Magazine 


Drive Us

anywhere and everywhere

Fasten your tool belts. Simpson Strong-Tie has hit the accelerator with its offering of high-performance fasteners. Our new and extensive line of premium stainless-steel screws and nails offer corrosion resistance and a long life span from frame to finish. Our Quik Drive® collated screws are designed for many different applications, including roofs, subfloors and decks. And our selection of structural fasteners continues to increase with our new Strong-Drive® SD structural-connector screws and stainless-steel SDS screws. For the most complete line of fasteners that you can quickly drive anywhere and everywhere, make sure you stock Simpson Strong-Tie. To see all of our innovative fastener solutions, visit or call 800-999-5099.

© 2010 Simpson

Strong-Tie Company Inc. FASTEN10-D

The Merchant Magazine - August 2010  

August 2010 issue of The Merchant Magazine, the West's best-read monthly in the lumber & building materials industry.

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