November 2005

Wall Bracing a Hot Topic at ICC Hearings
An code provision sponsored by APA – The Engineered Wood Association that would allow builders to use site-built narrow wall techniques in raised floor applications was presented at the International Code Council Final Action Hearings in Detroit on Sept. 30.

The proposed code provision was based on a series of full-scale cyclic wall tests conducted at APA’s research laboratory in Tacoma, Wash., and would have complemented previously approved APA narrow wall bracing methods. APA withdrew support of the provision after it became apparent that confusion and contentiousness over the test protocols used by APA suggest the need for a consensus-based test protocol development process.

"The result of the code hearing points out how easily proprietary interests can generate confusion and raise questions of safety,” said Zeno Martin, P.E., APA technical services division. "Denying an additional bracing solution that can only be used on houses that are continuously sheathed with wood structural panels, known to give superior performance, makes little sense when one acknowledges that the current code allows foam sheathed walls braced with let-in bracing. America’s builders are not well-served by fractious proprietary systems and recommendations.”

APA is now working to bring together all interested parties to establish consensus-based test protocols in order to facilitate acceptance of simple, site-built wall bracing solutions.

Over the years, builders and code officials have asked APA to develop a simple and economical bracing solution for vulnerable narrow walls. The first solution, which appeared in the 2004 IRC Supplement (and will appear in the 2006 IRC), may be used in one-story, or the first-story of two-story structures. The application does not require the use of hold-down devices and is limited to the sides of garage doors, Seismic Design Categories A-C, and only in conjunction with continuous wood structural panel bracing. This alternate bracing method has proven very popular across the country because it is easy to build on-site using common materials and techniques. It can only be used in homes with the strongest conventionally built walls—those continuously sheathed with wood structural panels.

Based on the strength of wood structural panel walls, the IRC offers builders yet another bracing option for walls as narrow as 24 inches wide on any story of a three-story home in all Seismic Design Categories in accordance with IRC provisions. This option, known as the continuously sheathed method, has been in the IRC since 2000 and complements the garage bracing method now in the code.

APA has full confidence in the extensive laboratory testing that its narrow bracing methods are based upon. They represent economical alternative bracing solutions, which provide builders and designers greater flexibility to properly brace today’s challenging home designs.

Code officials, builders and designers seeking further technical information should contact APA at 253.565.6600 or help@apawood.org. For test data visit www.apawood.org/bracing and download Technical Report 2004-38, "Portal Frame Design on Raised Wood Floors for Use as Bracing in Fully Sheathed Structures.”

Revised Evaluation Report Issued
ICC Evaluation Service Inc. Evaluation Report ESR-1338, sponsored by the Gypsum Association, has been revised and reissued by ICC-ES with an effective date of Sept. 1, 2005. The reissued report supersedes the June 2004 edition.

The new document reflects a total technical review of the information contained in the report and also incorporates the provisions contained in a parallel report sponsored by the association, Evaluation Report ESR-1046. In 2003, a complete internal association review of both reports revealed a moderate amount of duplicative information between the documents. Working closely with ICC-ES staff, the association recast the two reports into a single document while simultaneously reviewing and reconfirming the technical product information.

"We also noticed that some provisions in both reports had, over the years, found their way into the model codes,” says Michael Gardner, executive director of the Gypsum Association. "While it is helpful to have the code information repeated in an evaluation report, it really serves little purpose to do so. Having the information in both the code and the evaluation report also creates a situation where the information can change in one document and not change in the other document, thus causing confusion for product users and installers. We wanted to minimize the potential for that circumstance to occur, so we also removed some sections from the report that were identical to the language in the International Building Code and the International Residential Code.”

The association will be petitioning ICC-ES to eliminate the ESR-1046 report from circulation.

Copies of the new report may be obtained from www.gypsum.org.

1,000+ Jobs for Katrina Victims
Within a week of launching, jobs4katrina.com has more than a thousand positions posted by companies across the country.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the response from companies and the media,” Chandler Hill Partners chief executive officer Sarah Hightower Hill said. "As of [Sept. 15] more than 900 companies have posted more than 1,300 jobs.”

On Sept. 7 Chandler Hill Partners, a national career advancement and job search firm, launched Jobs4Katrina.com.

"We are so grateful to the media and government organizations for helping us get the message out to the victims as well,” Hightower Hill said. "We have about 300 resumes posted from victims.”

Jobs4Katrina.com allows jobseekers to place resumes in a searchable database for employers. The site also allows companies to post jobs at no charge. The site is entirely free of charge and is for the sole use of Katrina victims and employers wanting to interview or hire them.

Within days of the hurricane, the Dallas Morning News asked Tucson-based Chandler Hill Partners to participate in a career fair dedicated to the displaced hurricane workers who were relocated to Dallas. It was quickly determined that due to the volume of the displaced workers, an organized method to help create resumes and a forum in which to display them was critical.

Chandler Hill Partners began development on the Web site immediately. Thousands of employers across the country have been contacted by e-mail and fax and asked to post open jobs into the database. The process is simple and takes a few minutes per job.

Chandler Hill Partners asks that all media and organizations continue to assist in getting the Web site populated with jobs.

The Web site also offers resources and job search tips for users. In addition to the job search resources jobs4katrina.com provides message boards for employers who have been impacted by the hurricane and may need to get information out to their employees.

Construction Industry Continues Hurricane Relief
Last month we reported how several industry companies were helping aid the victims of Hurricane Rita. At the time, the press releases had just started arriving at AWCI headquarters. Here, now, are what some other companies are doing to help:

Foster® brand has launched a special Web site at www.fosterproducts.com to support hurricane cleanup and provide quick access to information about mold treatment and prevention, plus links to relief agencies, mold remediation associations/contractors and distributors of the company’s products.

Leica Geosystems is actively supporting government agencies and disaster relief organizations responding to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Several Leica Geosystems’ employees have responded to the catastrophe by working with state, local, federal and nonprofit organizations to provide spatial expertise and humanitarian support. These individuals have provided training to state disaster management agencies, support to federal departments, and assistance to international organizations. Atlanta-based employees of Leica Geosystems have additionally participated in a local charity drive to collect school supplies for the evacuees that are now enrolled in metropolitan Atlanta schools.

Leica Geosystems’ equipment, personnel, temporary software licenses, training and technical support, and other assistance are available for any organization with geospatial information needs while participating in the relief effort.

When news of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina upon residents of the Gulf Coast reached Senco’s headquarters in Cincinnati, company officials and employees sprung into action. Without waiting to be asked, the tool and fastener manufacturer began procuring bottled water that they would deliver to the disaster area. Less than two days after the storm had made landfall, Senco’s trucks were en route to Mississippi and Louisiana carrying more than 14,000 gallons of clean water for victims of the hurricane.

Only hours after the water trucks departed, a third truck was pulled aside and opened up for donations of clothing, canned food items, toys and other needed supplies. As Senco employees were still loading that truck, officials announced that the company had launched a matching gifts program to recognize employees’ financial contributions to the Salvation Army to assist the relief effort.

Barely three weeks into the fundraising appeal, Senco employees had contributed more than $19,000 in financial support. Coupled with Senco’s corporate match, the final gift to the Salvation Army totaled more than $38,000.

Senco has been working with building products dealers and builders throughout the southern United States since the storm hit the coast to re-direct its fastener and tool distribution chains. In addition, Senco is working closely with companies in the manufactured housing industry to make sure they have enough fasteners and tools to keep up with the need for temporary housing during the reconstruction period. In some cases, companies are producing manufactured housing or mobile homes at three times their normal rates to meet demand.

Looking ahead, Senco will next host an employee blood drive to help replenish donor blood supplies depleted by storm-related injuries or damaged by the storm.

Wind-lock®, Leesport, Pa., donated two skids, containing 144,000 screws, to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Rebuilding Campaign. The 144,000 screws that Wind-lock donated to the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Leesport, Pa., were delivered, along with other building materials donated by area residents and businesses, to the Gulf Coast on a 60-foot trailer on Oct. 14.

"When we heard that a local church near our office was trying to round up new building supplies for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, we wanted to help,” said Carter Benjamin, director of marketing and product development for Wind-lock. "We believe that we can give hope to the people of Alabama, Mississippi and the Louisiana Gulf Coast by giving them the tools and materials they need to rebuild,” said Benjamin.

People & Companies in the News
Joe Lee has joined Indianapolis-based Sonny Scaffolds, Inc., as a sales representative. Lee comes to Sonny from Dick’s Sporting Goods, where he was one of the national chain’s top sales associates. He also has served as an inside sales representative and risk manager for Assembly Systems, Inc., as risk manager and claims adjustor for Indianapolis’ IndyGo transit system, and as transportation manager for the 2001 World Police & Fire Games, a competition hosted by Indianapolis involving several thousand police and fire personnel from around the globe.

Marino\Ware has opened a manufacturing facility in East Chicago, Ind. This plant produces Marino\Ware’s complete line of cold formed steel construction products.

Marino\Ware has purchased a 279,000 square foot facility to serve Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and eastern Colorado. Leading the sales and operations at the plant are Michael Fenbert, vice president of sales, and Dave Hernandez, operations manager.

Johns Manville, Denver, is expanding its Formaldehyde-free™ fiber glass insulation capacity with the addition of a new loose-fill line at its manufacturing plant in Richmond, Ind. Construction of the new line will be complete by mid-2006.

Premier Industries, Tacoma, Wash., has named Steve Wing as vice president of Premier Industries and president of its Insulfoam division. A veteran of the building products industry, including gypsum, roofing and insulation, Wing brings a quarter century of business management and marketing expertise to Premier, and will lead the growth strategy for Insulfoam.

Charles F. White has joined Expanded Solutions, L.L.C., Oklahoma City, Okla. White will serve as business manager in the Wewoka, Okla., manufacturing facility and will assist with procedure writing, hiring and office practices.

Demand Products, Alpharetta, Ga., announces the appointment of Craig Barnaby as vice president to head up its EIFS division. Barnaby was formerly with Circle Supply as operations manager and architectural rep-resentative for the Carolinas and has more than 27 years of construction related experience. He is the co-founder of the Carolina Lath and Plastering Association, and is an AIA CLU credited presenter.

Kevin Rush has joined Degussa Wall Systems as a district sales manager for the North Central/Midwest area. As a district sales manager, Rush will be responsible for distribution and sales of Degussa Wall Systems’ products in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

BtoB Magazine’s annual "10 Great Web Sites” issue included www.boschtools.com. Bosch was bestowed this honor along side many of the world’s elite brands, such as Nextel®, IBM®, American Express® and Staples® for the sites approach toward making customer’s lives easier, presenting detailed information in an easy-to-navigate format, and embodying the brand essence in an uncluttered design.

Former USG Corporation CEO Eugene B. Connolly Passes Away
Eugene B. Connolly, former chairman and chief executive officer of USG Corporation, passed away on Sept. 18 at the age of 73. Connolly served as chairman and CEO of the Chicago-based corporation from 1990 to 1996, guiding the building materials leader through a recession and a corporate restructuring.

Connolly was born in New York and received a bachelor’s degree in management in 1954 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1964, both from Hofstra University. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1990. Connolly served as lieutenant in the United States Navy from 1955 to 1958.

Connolly joined United States Gypsum Company in May 1958 as a sales correspondent. He worked in sales and marketing management and served in a number of executive positions, including president and chief operating officer, U.S. Gypsum Company; president and chief executive, DAP Inc.; president and chief executive officer, USG Interiors, Inc.; executive vice president, USG Corporation; and president and chief executive officer, USG Corporation. He retired April 1, 1996.

Under his leadership, USG successfully completed a financial restructuring in 1993 that dramatically reduced its debt, which had been incurred to fight off a hostile takeover, and positioned the corporation for solid future growth. Connolly also was instrumental in the formation of several of the corporation’s subsidiaries, including USG Interiors.

"Gene Connolly was a gifted leader—inspiring, caring, tough when he had to be, the epitome of grace under pressure,” said William C. Foote, chairman, chief executive officer and president, USG Corporation. "He embodied our organization’s core values, and he will be deeply missed by his friends at USG, in the industry and here in Chicago.”

Over the years, Connolly served on the boards of directors of The Pepper Companies, Inc., LaSalle National Bank, Chicago Stock Exchange, U.S. Can Corporation, Zenith Electronics Corporation, Good Shepherd Hospital and Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He was a member of the advisory boards of Hofstra University, Indiana University Kelly School of Business and Northwestern University J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Connolly, who resides in Barrington, Ill., sisters Regina Greco and Ann Lorenz, daughters Kathleen Connolly, Jennifer Connolly and Amy Johnson, sons Patrick (Lynne) Connolly, Michael (Mia) Connolly and Daniel (Amy) Connolly, and 10 grandchildren.

Demand for Gypsum Products in North America to Near 50 Million Metric Tons in 2009
Demand for gypsum products in North America is forecast to advance 1.7 percent per year through 2009 to 50 million metric tons. Gains as measured in dollar value will rise 3.7 percent per year to $4.9 billion, an acceleration from the 1999–2004 period which saw gypsum board prices fall significantly. Growth in gypsum product value will be stimulated by a recovery in gypsum board pricing to the levels of the late 1990s. These and other trends are presented in Gypsum Products in North America, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Prospects for the North American gypsum industry are closely tied to the fortunes of the construction industry. The residential market plays a particularly important role, responsible for 60 percent of demand for gypsum products. Accordingly, the weak outlook through 2009 for the construction of new homes in the United States and Canada will result in a slowdown in demand for gypsum and gypsum products. This deceleration will be offset somewhat by an upswing in new nonresidential construction spending.

Gypsum board is the dominant gypsum product sold in North America, accounting for nearly three-quarters of total tonnage in 2004. Demand for gypsum board is expected to advance 1.5 percent per year to 41 billion square feet by 2009. In addition to gypsum board, other gypsum products include building and industrial plasters, gypsum used as a cement additive, agricultural gypsum and gypsum fillers. Gypsum used as an additive for cement is expected to lead gains. Growth in cement markets will be supported by a rebound in nonresidential construction in the United States, as well as by continued efforts to rebuild infrastructure in Mexico.

Manufacturers of gypsum products continue to increasingly rely on synthetic gypsum—as opposed to mined gypsum—as a raw material. In 1994, synthetic gypsum accounted for only 6 percent of all gypsum consumed in North America. By 2004, synthetic gypsum had increased to 29 percent, and by 2009 the share of synthetic gypsum is expected to rise to 38 percent. Most of the synthetic gypsum used in North America is supplied by coal-burning utilities that create the gypsum as a byproduct of the flue gas desulfurization process. The use of FGD gypsum is particularly common in the gypsum board segment, with virtually all gypsum board plants built since 1998 using synthetic gypsum to fulfill all or part of their raw material requirements.

Gypsum Products in North America (published 09/2005, 276 pages) is available for $4,200 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For further details, contact Corinne Gangloff by phone 440.684.9600, fax 440.646.0484 or e-mail pr@freedoniagroup.com. Information may also be obtained through www.freedoniagroup.com.

August Construction Advances 2 Percent
At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $667.6 billion, new construction starts in August increased 2 percent compared to the previous month, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The upward push came from nonresidential building, which continued to strengthen after its weak volume earlier in the year. The construction industry’s other two major sectors, residential building and nonbuilding construction, were essentially unchanged in August.

During the first eight months of 2005, total construction on an unadjusted basis was reported at $434.4 billion, a 7 percent gain versus the same period a year ago.

The August statistics lifted the Dodge Index to 201 (1996=100), up from a revised 197 for July. In the second quarter of 2005, the Dodge Index averaged 191, while the first quarter averaged 181.

"The early reading for the third quarter showed construction starts still on a rising trend, prior to September and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. "In the near term, that rising trend will be dampened by the disruption caused by Katrina and Rita, as the impacted areas in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama focus on cleanup work. Going into next year, construction activity will get a boost from rebuilding efforts in the Gulf region. However, a major uncertainty for the broader U.S. construction market is what effect the hurricanes will have on the price and availability of building materials.

Nonresidential building in recent months had picked up the pace, following its lackluster performance at the outset of 2005 related to the re-evaluation of projects in the face of higher costs. Further increases in the price of materials will make it more difficult for nonresidential building to maintain the improving trend that seemed to be taking hold during the spring and summer.”

Nonresidential building in August rose 6 percent to $181.5 billion (annual rate). Gains were reported for most of the commercial and industrial structure types. The long-depressed manufacturing plant category soared 192 percent, due in large measure to the start of a $900 million semiconductor fabrication plant in Arizona. If this large project is excluded from the August data, the manufacturing plant category would still be up 24 percent, while total nonresidential building would be unchanged from the previous month (instead of the 6 percent increase).

Hotel construction in August jumped 39 percent, led by the start of a $125 million hotel tower in Las Vegas and a $112 million hotel expansion in Seattle. The office building category registered a 10 percent advance, helped by the August start of the $165 million Federal Reserve Bank building in Kansas City, Mo., and a $60 million corporate headquarters in Dallas. Store construction in August also climbed 10 percent; in contrast, warehouse construction for the month fell 17 percent.

On the institutional side of the nonresidential market, the educational building category grew 3 percent, as August included the start of 11 high school projects valued each at $30 million or greater. The public building category (detention facilities and courthouses) increased 17 percent, while both churches and amusement-related projects posted 3 percent gains. On the negative side, healthcare facilities dropped 27 percent from an exceptionally strong amount in July; even so, August did include the start of four large hospital projects in these locations: Downey, Calif. ($150 million), Cincinnati ($93 million), Toledo, Ohio ($90 million), and Bolingbrook, Ill. ($85 million). New starts for transportation terminals were down 37 percent in August.

Residential building, at $381.2 billion (annual rate), was up 1 percent in August. Multifamily construction jumped 21 percent, aided by the start of several large apartment projects plus the continuation of this year’s boom in condominium development. August included 14 multifamily projects valued at $50 million or greater. Of the fourteen, five were located in New York City, four were located in Florida, two were located in Las Vegas, and the remaining three were located Jersey City, N.J., Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia. Single-family housing in August slipped 3 percent, retreating from a July that was the strongest month so far this year.

Murray stated, "Single-family housing remains on track to establish a new record high in 2005, but this market may now be starting to settle back from the robust activity shown earlier in the year.”

The cost of financing is still supportive: the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 5.8 percent in August, up only slightly from the 5.7 percent for July. "At the same time, the surge in homebuyer demand related to the sharp rise in home prices could now be nearing a peak,” Murray noted, "and demand will likely be dampened by faltering consumer confidence in the face of higher energy costs.”

By region, August showed this pattern for residential building: the Northeast, up 11 percent; the West, up 4 percent; the South Atlantic, up 2 percent; the Midwest, down 5 percent; and the South Central, down 7 percent.

The 7 percent increase for total construction during the first eight months of 2005, compared to last year, was the result of the following performance by major sector: residential building, up 12 percent; nonbuilding construction, up 7 percent; and nonresidential building, down 1 percent. While nonresidential building over the January–August period was still behind last year, the gap in the year-to-date statistics has narrowed considerably during the most recent three months.

By geography, total construction in the January–August period of 2005 reflected this pattern: the South Atlantic, up 10 percent; the West and South Central, each up 9 percent; the Northeast, up 8 percent; and the Midwest, unchanged from last year.