March 2006

Greenguard Announces a New Program to Protect Lenders, Insurers and Building Developers from Mold Risk

Greenguard Environmental Institute announces a mold risk reduction program that for the first time certifies the design, construction and ongoing operations of newly constructed multifamily and commercial properties. Greenguard Mold Protection ProgramTM ensures that buildings use industries’ best practices for safeguarding against the damage and resulting losses caused by mold.

The program is based on a compilation of best practices that GEI has developed and proposed as an American National Standards Institute standard. The proposed standard has been preliminarily reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency and piloted with several building owners. Building consultancies review and assess properties based on the standard; once this is successfully completed, property owners can apply to GEI for certification under the Greenguard Mold Protection Program. Once a property is certified, it can be promoted to lenders, insurers and prospective tenants.

For more information on the Greenguard Mold Protection Program, please call 800.789.0419, ext. 242, or write to mold@greenguard.org.

New Work Platform Standard Approved by ANSI

The Scaffold Industry Association announces approval of a new standard, ANSI/SIA A92.5-2006 Boom-Supported Elevating Work Platforms, by the ANSI Board of Standards Review on Jan. 17, 2006. The SIA serves as an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer for the A92 Aerial Platform series of standards.

"The scaffold and access industry welcomes the approval of this standard. The A92.5 subcommittee members have worked diligently to ensure this standard is updated and addresses the continual evolution of aerial platform safe work practices,” said Linda Tweten, executive vice president of the Scaffold Industry Association. "We are excited to begin the publishing process and expect to have the new standard available to the public no later than Feb. 28, 2006.”

To learn more about the Scaffold Industry Association, the A92 series of publications or other educational items, visit www.scaffold.org or www.sia.org or call 602.257.1144.

U.S. Molding, Trim Demand to Reach $9.8 Billion in 2009

Demand for molding and trim products in the United States is forecast to increase 1.7 percent annually from a strong 2004 base to $9.8 billion in 2009. This represents a significant slowdown from the advances recorded in the 1999–2004 period, reflecting a less robust building construction environment going forward. In the residential construction market, housing completions are expected to fall from their high 2004 levels, primarily due to slowing in the single-family homes segment. Conversely, nonresidential construction is expected to post a strong recovery following a period of extreme weakness. As a result, demand growth for molding and trim products will be stronger in nonresidential construction, while gains in the residential market will be flat. These and other trends are presented in Molding & Trim, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Other findings of the study are these:

Demand for molding products is projected to increase 1.3 percent annually to $4.6 billion in 2009. Moldings, primarily made from wood, are principally utilized in residential building, with the greatest concentration in single-family housing. Declining single family home building will negatively impact molding demand, although opportunities will exist in residential repair and improvement applications, and in both new and aftermarket nonresidential markets.

Demand for stairwork is forecast to advance 1.9 percent per annum to $2.6 billion in 2009. Growth opportunities will be heavily concentrated in the nonresidential market, particularly for metal stairwork products. Demand for other products, which mainly include exterior molding and trim products, is forecast to expand 2.1 percent annually to $2.6 billion in 2009. Growth opportunities will emerge primarily in plastic exterior trim products, particularly for use in nonresidential construction applications. Residential repair and improvement uses will also offer growth potential.

Wood is the primary material used to manufacture molding and trim products, accounting for two-thirds of total demand in 2004. Gains will be primarily concentrated in the nonresidential market, offset by declining use of both molding and stairwork in the new residential market.

Plastic molding and trim products offer the best opportunities for growth, and are forecast to advance 6.2 percent annually to $1.3 billion in 2009. While the greatest gains will occur in the nonresidential market, plastics will continue to make inroads even in residential construction applications, where they are replacing wood products. Metal products will also show strong growth, benefiting from increasing new nonresidential building activity, and both residential and nonresidential repair and improvement activity.

Molding & Trim (published 01/2006, 231 pages) is available for $4,200 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For more 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.

National Gypsum Launches New Spanish Web Site

National Gypsum, Charlotte, N.C., has launched the Spanish version of its award winning Web site. Hispanic construction professionals are now able to find all the information about the company’s products and resources, including Material Safety Data Sheets, submittals, guide specifications and product literature. The Web site can be accessed at www.nationalgypsum.com/espanol or by clicking the link Español on www.nationalgypsum.com.

National Gypsum is the first company in the gypsum industry to offer its users all of its online resources in Spanish. In 1995, National Gypsum was also the first gypsum company to debut a Web site that introduced its products and resources on the Internet. The company enlisted the help of Enventys Latino Market Solutions, a fully integrated product and business development firm, and Vialogix, developers and designers of National Gypsum’s Web site.

The Hispanic portion of the U.S. labor force has increased rapidly over the last decade, particularly in construction, which has a larger share of Hispanic workers than any industry, except agriculture. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 24.2 percent of construction workers are Hispanic. The number of Hispanic construction workers quadrupled in the last two decades.

Pneu-Fast Launches Interactive Web Site

The Pneu-Fast Co., Chicago, has launched an interactive Web site at www.pneufast.com.

In addition to showing the company’s product line in detail, www.pneufast.com helps browsers locate the most convenient distributor and retailer in their geographic area, or allows them to purchase products online.

The Web site is designed to help customers find the most convenient outlet to buy products, ideally through our authorized distributors or retailers. Customers without a nearby outlet or smaller users can buy direct from the factory online.

New Web Site Provides Information About Fighting Mold

USG Corporation, Chicago, introduces a new Web site that provides the latest information about controlling mold in buildings and homes. The site, www.getmoldfacts.com, offers a wealth of knowledge to construction industry professionals, as well as homeowners and other visitors who have an interest in the subject.

The new site’s key message is that by controlling moisture, users can help control mold. It includes a variety of facts about fighting mold, highlights specific mold-resistant USG products and lists useful resources featuring additional information about mold and moisture.

In addition, the site takes visitors through pre-construction care, construction care and recommended maintenance practices. It also discusses where mold-resistant products should be installed for maximum effectiveness.

The Web site incorporates extensive use of animated graphics. It runs automatically to tell the complete story, or users can navigate the site themselves at their own pace.

To help support its mold education efforts, USG Corporation has also provided a grant to form a new organization called the Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition. This coalition will communicate accurate information to both the construction industry and homeowners about effectively controlling moisture and thereby mold in commercial and residential construction.

Additional information about the RSMC is available by visiting the organization’s Web site at www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org.

Alimak Hek Buys Manufacturing and Design Assets of Champion Elevators

Alimak Hek has purchased the manufacturing and design business from Champion Elevators, a U.S.–based manufacturer of rack and pinion construction hoists and industrial lifts.

Champion Elevators’ serves the construction industry with temporary hoists, and the Alimak Hek Group is a supplier of mast climbing equipment.

Products will retain the Champion brand name, similar to the Alimak and Hek product lines of Alimak Hek. All Champion and Alimak Hek products will be sold in the United States through a joint sales force. Alimak Hek and Champion plan to leave all major products largely unchanged.

During the first half of this year, the Alimak Hek headquarters in the United States will be re-located from Bridgeport, Conn., to the Champion Elevator location in Houston, Texas. The joint new business will start operating immediately.

USG Reaches Agreement to Resolve Asbestos Claims in Chapter 11

USG Corporation, Chicago, has reached an agreement to resolve all present and future asbestos-related personal injury claims, enabling the company and its subsidiaries to take a significant step toward emerging from bankruptcy. The agreement was reached with the Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants Committee and the court-appointed representative for future asbestos claimants, and is also supported by the committees representing both unsecured creditors and stockholders. USG and its subsidiaries filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions on June 25, 2001, to resolve asbestos claims in a fair and equitable manner and protect the long-term value of the company’s businesses.

Under the agreement, USG will establish and fund a personal injury trust to pay asbestos personal injury claims. USG’s bank lenders, bondholders and trade suppliers will be paid in full with interest. Stockholders will retain ownership of the company. Financing for the plan is expected to be provided from USG’s cash on hand, a $1.8 billion rights offering to existing stockholders backstopped by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., tax refunds and new long term debt. The terms of the agreement will be contained in a plan of reorganization that the company expected to file last month along with a disclosure statement. After voting on the plan, the plan will require approval by both the Bankruptcy Court and the District Court that oversees the cases.

"This agreement will achieve the key goals we established when USG and its subsidiaries filed Chapter 11 in 2001,” said William C. Foote, chairman and CEO. "Upon final court approval, our trade creditors, bank lenders and bondholders will be paid in full, in cash, with interest; USG and its subsidiaries will emerge from Chapter 11 free of all asbestos personal injury claims; significant shareholder equity will be preserved; and we will emerge with a solid balance sheet that will enable us to continue to invest and grow the company. Importantly, after more than four years in Chapter 11, the agreement will also enable compensation to flow to claimants who have suffered an asbestos related illness.”

Construction Recedes One Percent in November

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $663.1 billion, new construction starts in November retreated 1 percent from the previous month, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Slower activity was reported for residential building and nonbuilding construction, offsetting a moderate gain for nonresidential building. During the first eleven months of 2005, total construction on an unadjusted basis came in at $602.6 billion, up 10 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

November’s data produced a reading of 200 for the Dodge Index (1996=100), down slightly from October’s 201, while still above the 195 average for the first 11 months of 2005.

"The volume of total construction continues to be quite healthy, supported by what is still a brisk pace for homebuilding,” stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. "Yet, while housing remains at a high level, it’s not providing the same upward push witnessed earlier in the year. In contrast, nonresidential building languished at the outset of 2005, but recent months have seen a stronger performance. This pattern—housing settling back while nonresidential building registers moderate growth—is expected to be present during 2006.”

Residential building in November slipped 1 percent to $378.3 billion (annual rate). Single-family housing grew 1 percent in dollar volume, but multifamily housing fell 12 percent relative to October. The current year has seen a surge of large condominium and apartment projects, and such projects were not quite as numerous in November as in recent months. Still, November did include the start of three multifamily projects valued each in excess of $75 million, located in Cherry Hill, N.J. ($135 million), Riviera Beach, Fla. ($100 million), and Baltimore ($85 million).

For single-family housing, the level of construction starts remains very high, although Murray noted, "The loss of momentum shown by the home sales statistics at the end of 2005 may well lead to a somewhat less robust pace for construction in 2006.”

The cost of financing has increased, albeit slightly, as the 30-year fixed mortgage rate moved up from 6.1 percent in October to 6.4 percent by mid-November, before stabilizing at 6.3 percent during December.

On a geographic basis, November showed this performance for residential building: the Northeast, up 3 percent; the South Central, up 1 percent; the Midwest and South Atlantic, each down 2 percent; and the West, down 3 percent.

Nonresidential building in November increased 4 percent to $181.0 billion (annual rate), as the institutional structure types provided much of the upward push. Healthcare facilities, rising 31 percent in November, maintained the robust pace witnessed throughout much of 2005. November included the start of two very large hospital projects in California, valued respectively at $242 million and $240 million, plus the start of an $83 million hospital project in Nevada. The transportation terminal category also surged in November, jumping 88 percent, due to the start of the $200 million JetBlue terminal at New York’s JFK International Airport and the start of a $125 million terminal at San Jose International Airport. Other institutional structure types with November gains were public buildings (courthouses and detention facilities), up 25 percent; amusement-related projects, up 5 percent; and school construction, up 1 percent. The amusement category was able to show a further increase following a strong October, given the November start of a $500 million stadium in Indianapolis.

The commercial and industrial portion of the nonresidential market was mixed in November. Large gains were reported for warehouses, up 25 percent; and hotel construction, up 70 percent, with the boost coming from the start of a $171 million hotel in San Francisco. Store construction in November was unchanged from the previous month, while office construction retreated 7 percent. The manufacturing plant category registered a 70 percent decline for new construction starts in November, reflecting both the comparison to a very strong October as well as the broader hesitation that continues to be shown by manufacturers towards adding new capacity.

The 10 percent increase for total construction during the first 11 months of 2005, relative to 2004, was the result of the following pattern by sector: residential building, up 14 percent; nonbuilding construction, up 8 percent; and nonresidential building, up 3 percent. Continuing the shift seen at the 10-month mark, nonresidential building is now up slightly on a year-to-date basis after trailing the prior year for much of 2005.

By region, total construction during 2005’s January–November period showed 12 percent gains for the South Atlantic and the West, 10 percent gains for the Northeast and the South Central, and a 4 percent gain for the Midwest.

People & Companies In the News

Ames Taping Tool Systems, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, has opened its newest store in Greensboro, N.C. Ames has company-owned store locations and franchise operations in more than 200 of the fastest-growing residential and commercial construction markets in the United States and Canada. The company plans to open 20 new store locations in 2006, continuing an aggressive store opening program from the previous year. Greenboro is Ames’ third store in North Carolina, joining existing locations in Charlotte and Raleigh.

SBR, Inc., the parent company of Fypon®, Ltd., has promoted Tom Riscili to president of the urethane millwork company. In his new position as Fypon’s president, Riscili will oversee the manufacturing operations, marketing and sales organizations, product expansions and all aspects of the company.

Kimberly A. Hendricks has joined JLG Industries, Inc., McConnellsburg, Pa., as vice president, finance. She will oversee external financial reporting, tax and compliance, financial planning and analysis, cost accounting and internal audit.

Richard Séguin has been appointed chief executive officer of ParexGroup, the Mortars division of French group Materis. He succeeds Patrick de Belloy who his retiring. Séguin previously held general management and international responsibilities in chemicals and in packaging at French groups Rhodia and Pechiney.

The winners of the 2005 Design Contest sponsored by the Drywall Information Trust Fund and the Northern California Drywall Contractors Association are as follows:

First Place, Residential Division—Youstra Residence, Portola Valley, Calif.; Architect—M. Dean Jones, Tiburon, Calif.; General Contractor—K. Welton, Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.; Drywall Contractor—Daley’s Drywall, Campbell, Calif.

The winner was a large custom home with a mix of drywall at a perfect Level 5, and wood details that required the gypsum board to be true and within the strict tolerance.

First Place, Commercial Division—de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; Architect—Fong & Chan, San Francisco; General Contractor—Swinerton Builders, San Francisco; Drywall Contractor—KHS&S of Concord, Concord, Calif.

This winning project was an excellent example of Level 5 finishe. The structure had to be one that contributes to the surrounding environment. The design complexity was "out of the box.” Both the interior and exterior of the structure had to present priceless artwork in a truly modern way.