November 2007

Judge Bars DHS Implementation of "No-Match” Rule The temporary restraining order imposed by a federal judge that prohibited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from implementing its new "no-match” rule delayed the effective date to Oct. 12, but on Oct. 10 U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer of San Francisco barred the Bush administration from implementing the rule. The judge granted a preliminary injunction against the DHS plan.

The action was the outcome of lawsuits filed by such groups at the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which claimed that enforcement of the new rule would create hardship for millions of employers and small businesses.

Mean while, more than 23,000 employers are using a voluntary electronic employee verification system in order to avoid difficulties regarding "no-match” letters. They are using E-Verify, a free Web-based system that links to federal databases and confirms whether a new hire is authorized to work in the United States.

The Small Business Administration joined the outcry against the burdensome requirements of the new rule, noting that the DHS violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act by failing to analyze the impact of the "no-match” rule on small businesses.

According to an article in www.bizjournals.com, the SBA accepted the "safe harbor” argument posed by DHS "that the rule would help small employers by protecting them from immigration prosecutions if they followed certain procedures.”

A number of business groups spoke out in an article, Business Challenges Immigration Rule, in an Oct. 2 edition of The Washington Post. According to the newspaper’s report on Oct. 11, one of the issues raised by the plaintiffs related to the errors in the Social Security Administration’s database. DHS head Michael Chertoff said the administration will consider an appeal. But until such an appeal is filed, which could take up to nine months, Chertoff promised to aggressively enforce immigration laws. The injunction will remain in effect until the suit either goes to trial or a higher court intervenes.

Usgbc Launches "Green Schools Advocates” Program

Dozens of architects, PTA presidents, school board members, school superintendents and others are ready to begin a grassroots effort to further the vision of green schools for every child within a generation, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Some 64 "Green School Advocates” from U.S. Green Building Council chapters nationwide were in Washington, D.C., in late September to receive training for use in their communities to organize green school committees.

A 2006 study sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, the American Institute of Architects, the American Lung Association, the Federation of American Scientists and USGBC found that building green would save an average school $100,000 each year in energy costs alone.

Green schools have a superior indoor environment, with clean, fresh air, free of dangerous chemicals from everyday products like carpets, paints and cleaning materials. On average, green schools use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than conventional schools, which would bring the United States closer to reducing reliance on imported energy.

Green schools’ better lighting, temperature control, ventilation and indoor air quality contribute to reduced asthma, colds, flu and absenteeism, helping improve learning, test scores and lifetime student earnings. Greening all school construction would also create more than 2,000 new jobs each year from increased use of energy-efficient technologies. And green schools improve teacher retention.

For more details about USGBC, LEED®, and this initiative, visit www.usgbc.org.

August Construction Climbs 3 Percent

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $630.7 billion, new construction starts in August increased 3 percent compared to the previous month, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Nonresidential building rebounded from a sluggish July, regaining some of the upward momentum shown earlier in the year, and moderate growth was also reported for public works construction. Residential building in August was stable, following the declines of the prior three months that lowered the dollar amount for this sector more than 20 percent from its pace in early spring. During the first eight months of 2006, total construction on an unadjusted basis came in at $460.6 billion, a 3 percent gain relative to the same period a year ago.

Nonresidential building in August advanced 7 percent to $192.6 billion (annual rate). New construction starts for hotels rebounded 73 percent, following a brief pause in July, as this structure type continues to have a banner year. For the first eight months of 2006, hotel construction was up a substantial 119 percent compared to last year, led in particular by a number of very large hotel/casino projects in the Las Vegas and Atlantic City markets. August also showed a sharp increase for warehouse construction, which climbed 84 percent compared to a very weak July. Amusement-related projects in August jumped 55 percent, and church construction showed 17 percent growth in August while healthcare facilities registered an 8 percent gain. School construction, the largest nonresidential category by dollar volume, slipped 2 percent, although its August pace was still 13 percent above the monthly average for the previous year. Also posting 2 percent declines in August were store construction and offices. The public building category fell 8 percent, transportation terminals were down 19 percent, and manufacturing plants were down 23 percent.

Residential building in August was reported at $309.2 billion (annual rate), essentially unchanged from July. Single-family housing retreated 2 percent, marking the seventh decline in a row for this structure type. The 2 percent drop was not as steep as the 8 percent slide in July, but it still left the dollar amount for new single-family construction 22 percent below the pace at the outset of 2006. For the first eight months of 2006, single-family housing for the United States was down 6 percent from its dollar amount for the same period of 2005.

By region, year-to-date declines were reported in the Midwest, down 16 percent; the West, down 13 percent; the Northeast, down 9 percent; and the South Atlantic, down 3 percent. Running counter to the weaker activity was the South Central, which posted a 3 percent gain during the first eight months of 2006. The August decline for single-family housing at the U.S. level was consistent with the earlier increases in the cost of financing. However, long-term interest rates began to recede in August, as the 30-year fixed mortgage rate slipped to 6.5 percent from 6.8 percent in July, and September has seen this series settle back further to 6.4 percent.

Multifamily housing in August grew 10 percent, as this category continues to see numerous large projects reach groundbreaking even as concerns have mounted about the growing volume of unsold units.

The 3 percent increase for total construction during the first eight months of 2006, compared to last year, was the result of this performance by major sector: nonbuilding construction, up 14 percent; nonresidential building, up 13 percent; and residential building, down 5 percent. By geography, total construction in the January–August period of 2006 was as follows: the South Central, up 10 percent; the West, up 4 percent; the Northeast, up 3 percent; the Midwest, up 2 percent; and the South Atlantic, down 1 percent.

Dietrich to Consolidate Five Metal Framing Facilities

Worthington Industries, Columbus, Ohio, announced Sept. 25 it will begin implementing a consolidation plan at five of its Dietrich Metal Framing locations impacting approximately 165 employees.

The company expects the consolidation plan to result in $9 million in annual savings and be fully implemented by the end of the year. One-time restructuring charges, estimated to be $15 million in the aggregate for the five facilities, will be incurred over the next few quarters until the plan is completed.

The facilities included in the consolidation plan are East Chicago, Ind; Rock Hill, S.C.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Wildwood, Fla.; and the downsizing of operations in Montreal, Canada. The Rock Hill facility also houses a Worthington steel processing operation that will continue to operate.

Annual net sales generated by these operations total approximately $125 million, and the majority of those sales are expected to be handled by nearby Dietrich location.

USG Corporation Announces Joint Venture in China
USG Corporation announced Sept. 17 that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with a Chinese building materials company to manufacture a complete line of acoustical ceiling tiles and grid systems in China. USG’s partner in this venture is BBMG Corporation, formerly known as Beijing Building Materials Group, the sole parent of Beijing Star Building Materials Company, a mineral fiber tile producer in China, with net sales of $1.3 billion, employing 20,000 in China.

The current Chinese acoustical ceiling tile market is growing about 10 percent annually, says Edward M. Bosowski, executive vice president, USG Corporation, and president of USG International. The new joint venture will be utilizing state-of-the-art manufacturing process technologies to provide USG ceiling systems to the Chinese market. The joint venture will also export ceilings products to other Asian markets.

National Gypsum Partners … with a Red Grasshopper
National Gypsum, Charlotte, N.C., has sealed a three-year marketing partnership, and it all hinges on a red grasshopper.

Hispanic television legend "El Chapulin Colorado,” translated "the red grasshopper,” is the new face of National Gypsum for its Hispanic customer base. The iconic insect, which has charmed worldwide Spanish-speaking audiences for nearly 40 years, will appear in all of National Gypsum’s Latino marketing materials across the country’s top Hispanic markets.

A quick survey of the construction industry landscape reveals Hispanics are well on their way to becoming the majority end-user of all construction materials. Of special interest to National Gypsum, a 2004 survey conducted by the Occupational Outlook Handbook revealed 49.6 percent of all drywall installers, tapers and ceiling tile installers in the United States are Hispanic.

Authored and played by comedic mastermind Roberto Gomez Bolaños (professionally known as "Chespirito”), "El Chapulin Colorado” was the first series to put Mexican television on the international map.

National Gypsum began integrating El Chapulin Colorado into its Hispanic marketing materials last month.

Dietrich Metal Framing Names New President
Worthington Industries announced Sept. 26 that John Roberts is being named president of Dietrich Metal Framing. Roberts had been the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, a position he had held since June.

Roberts was U.S. director of sales for Owens Corning, focusing on residential and commercial insulation products. Prior to that, he held the positions of director of sales and marketing of OC’s Siding Systems business and regional general manager for the Great Lakes Region for Owens Corning, and in sales and management capacities for Domtar Gypsum and Georgia Pacific.

Todd Muirhead is being named vice president of sales and marketing for Dietrich. As a 15-year sales veteran for Dietrich, Muirhead has served in a variety of capacities in sales and marketing, most recently as regional sales manager for the southeast region.

ACTA Announces 2007 Associate Member of the Year
Architectural Contractors Trade Association, Farmington Hills, Mich., presented its 2007 Associate Member of the Year award to Marilyn Rich, Allied Interior Products, at its annual Appreciation Night on Sept. 18, 2007.

The Associate of the Year award recognizes the role associate members play within the association. The goal of the award is to acknowledge the members outstanding participation and contributions made throughout the year.

Rich has been a member of ACT since 1995 and currently serves on ACT’s Promotion Committee where she plays a key role in the association’s award program. Allied Interior Products is located in Pontiac, Mich., and has more than 50 locations.

Architectural Contractors Trade Association is a local trade association that represents union contractors and suppliers/manufacturers in Southeast Michigan. It is one of the U.S. chapters of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.

People & Companies In the News
Trakloc North America, LLC, Newark, N.J., has purchased the assets of Trakloc Building Systems and assets of Trakloc International. This agreement gives Trakloc North America the Master Licensor rights to produce and distribute the Trakloc System in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

The C.H. Hanson Company, Naperville, Ill., has redesigned its Web site (www.chhanson.com) to include product videos, a call-out section for new products, the company catalog, company history, media coverage, a way for inventors to submit their ideas, and a listing of leading distributors that carry C.H. Hanson products.

Jack Kroll has been appointed managing director of JWA’s Grabber Construction Product Division, Concord, Calif. Kroll had served as purchasing manager and national sales accounts manager. His more recent experience includes divisional sales manager of the Grabber Pacific Division as well as regional and branch manager for Grabber Pacific. Kroll brings more than 30 years of experience to his new position.

Martin Kehoe has been named to replace Kroll as sales manager for the Grabber Pacific Division, which will also includes Canada. Kehoe has also been nominated to become a permanent voting member of the JWA board of directors.

Fabcon Inc.’s Savage, Minn., plant has achieved Plant Certification status by the National Precast Concrete Association. The designation recognizes Fabcon’s Savage facility as one that manufactures precast concrete at the highest standards of production and quality control. The Fabcon plant is one of two precast wall panel manufacturing facilities in Minnesota to achieve certification from the NPCA.

Keith Poerschke, chairman of ASTM Committee C11 on Gypsum and Related Building Materials and Systems, has appointed Don Smith, director of technical services for the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, as the task group chairman and technical contact for the ongoing revisions to ASTM C1397-05, Standard Practice for Application of Class PB Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems. The standard was last updated in 2005.