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Construction Trends

House Bill Advances Immigration Debate as ICE Cracks Down on Construction Companies

Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) moved the immigration debate forward by introducing the first major bill in the current Congress aimed at reforming and updating the nation’s immigration and border security laws. H.R. 1645, the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act of 2007, would enhance the nation’s border safety, create a new employee verification system and establish a new visa program to manage the future flow of immigrants into the United States.

“This bill is a solid first step toward achieving meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform,” said Brian Catalde, president of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Playa del Rey, Calif.

It is estimated that more than 20 percent of the building industry’s entire workforce is foreign-born, making the immigrant population essential to meeting housing demand and sustaining economic growth in this country.

This year, the nation’s home builders will construct more than 1.5 million new homes, and it is projected that the residential construction industry will need to build 18 million new homes during the next decade, generating more than 1 million new jobs.

As of March 22, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary in addition to the Committee on Homeland Security for review.

In the meantime, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to crack down on construction companies that employ illegal immigrants. In March, a drywall and stucco firm in Arizona was targeted. Now, state and federal criminal charges face the company’s president and seven other employees, as well as three people suspected of supplying counterfeit work authorization documents to the company’s illegal alien workers. Charges against the company include conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and conspiracy to knowingly hire illegal aliens.

Last September, ICE arrested 38 illegal aliens working at a construction site in Puerto Rico, and in June 2006 ICE arrested 55 who were working at a secure construction site on the grounds of Dulles International Airport, just outside of Washington, D.C.

A conviction for conspiracy to knowingly hire illegal aliens, a class B misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison in addition to other possible fines. A Conviction for conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens carries a maximum penalty of five years, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Created in March 2003, ICE is the largest investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

Remodeling Industry Poised For Green Growth

Consumers want their remodeling projects green and remodelers already answer the call, according to recent research by the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers. NAHB Remodelers discussed the state of green remodeling at a March 26 press conference during the National Green Building Conference in St. Louis, Mo.

“The only way to bring green into120 million existing households is through remodeling,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS, a remodeler from Chicago. “Americans spent more than $230 billion last year in home remodeling, with energy efficient and sustainable products representing an increasing share of the market.”

More than one quarter of remodelers surveyed by NAHB saw growing demand for green remodeling late last year, compared to just 6 percent reporting less demand. The majority of remodelers already incorporate energy efficiency into their work. Nearly all (85 percent) used low-energy windows, 68 percent used insulated exterior doors, 65 percent upgraded insulation and 56 percent installed high efficiency HVAC systems.

The survey also showed that many remodelers also use environmentally friendly products. For example, more than 75 percent of those surveyed minimize the harvesting of old-growth forests by using alternatives to dimensional lumber, like engineered wood. Additionally, 65 percent already incorporate recycled or recyclable materials into their projects.

For the first time, the National Green Building Conference held remodeling educational courses for contractors. One of those instructors and NAHB Green Building Subcommittee member Michael Strong, CGR, CAPS, GMB, discussed the emerging trends within the industry.

“Energy efficiency continues to lead the way, but for items beyond appliances, the installation matters as much as the product,” Strong said. “Simply putting in that low-E window doesn’t solve the problem. Homeowners need to look at the whole room and eventually use a whole-house approach to maximize efficiency.”

NAHB Remodelers offer a “Top 8” list for homeowners:

• Install maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.

• Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that just meet the energy code.

• Seal all exterior penetrations in the area being remodeled.

• Purchase only Energy Star®-rated appliances.

• Install only low-flow water fixtures.

• Upgrade to an Energy Star®-rated water heater, or better yet a tankless water heater.

• Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford.

For more information about remodeling, visit

Are You the Ultimate Tradesman?

Nascar Nextel Cup driver Jamie McMurray, of the #26 Irwin Industrial Tools Roush Fenway Racing team, is joining forces with Irwin Industrial Tools, a Newell Rubbermaid® company, to conduct a nationwide search for America’s top tradesman. The Irwin Ultimate Tradesman Challenge launched in Texas on April 11 and will follow the Nascar Nextel Cup Series schedule into 14 racing markets throughout the United States, in addition to multiple non-racing markets around the country.

The Ultimate Tradesman grand-prize winner will receive a new 2007 supercharged Ford F-150 pick-up truck customized by Roush Performance, a dream barbeque with Jamie McMurray and the #26 Irwin race team at their home and the chance to win $1.26 million dollars.

The Ultimate Tradesman Challenge will travel around the country from April through November making stops in the following Nascar Nextel Cup Series race markets: Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Talladega, Ala., Richmond, Va., Charlotte, N.C., Pocono, Pa., Kansas City, Kan., Daytona, Fla., Chicago, Watkins Glen, N.Y., Michigan, Dover, Del. and Fontana, Calif. Additionally, local challenge events will be held in multiple markets across the country.

Contestants can visit local retailers and industrial distributors, Wednesday through Friday during race week, to enter the Ultimate Tradesman Challenge. Each participant will be asked to measure, mark and drill a piece of wood, using Irwin tools, as quickly and accurately as possible.

Contestants with the 30 fastest times in the local market challenges will advance to regional events to be held in May (Charlotte), September (metro Los Angeles) or November (Texas). The three regional finalists will then compete against each other for the title of “Ultimate Tradesman” on Nov. 11 during the Phoenix race weekend, and the ultimate tradesman will be given a chance to win $1.26 million.

Local challenge event winners will receive race tickets to their local race and Irwin apparel and merchandise. Regional challenge winners will receive a $10,000 cash prize, race tickets, an Irwin racing jacket and an Irwin tool bag filled with professional grade product.

For a full event schedule and more details on the Irwin Industrial Tools Ultimate Tradesman Challenge, visit

Wallboard Shipment Volume Announced for 2006

According to statistics complied by the Gypsum Association, the United States gypsum board industry shipped a total of 35.028 billion square feet of material during calendar year (January–December) 2006.

During the same period, Canadian manufacturers shipped 3.371 billion square feet of material.

ASTM Seeks Success Stories in Standardization

ASTM International, West Conshohocken, Pa., has initiated the ASTM International 2007 Advantage Award, a case study competition with prizes up to $25,000. The award is an opportunity for the users of ASTM standards worldwide to convey the positive outcomes of an ASTM International standard or a group of ASTM International Standards.

Original papers that demonstrate the impact of the ASTM standards, present tangible value such as cost savings, efficiencies, global use, etc., and include support data and background information are sought. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 31, 2007.

The program offers cash prizes of $25,000 for the first prize, $10,000 for the second prize and $5,000 for the third prize.

More information, including the rules, is posted on the ASTM Web site at The site contains specifics regarding content, format and other submission requirements. An official entry form, which is a requirement of submission, is downloadable from the site.

Business Developments

Tridon Fireproofing, LLC, a subsidiary of Tridon Industries, Inc. and headquartered in Pottstown, Pa., has become a licensed contractor for Cafco® sprayed fire protection, thermal insulation and acoustical products, manufactured by Isolatek International.

Hunter Douglas, an Upper Saddle River, N.J.–based manufacturer of window coverings and architectural products, has acquired ESI, a U.S. developer of motor controls for window coverings. Headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., ESI has pioneered controls that incorporate highly intelligent software and are able to operate any window covering motor with unmatched functionality.

Environmental Interiors, Inc., a manufacturer and installer of specialty architectural products with offices in Hudson, N.H., Miami, Houston and Huntington Beach, Calif., has sold its security products division to Gordon, Inc., a manufacturer of specialty architectural ceilings and interior specialties headquartered in Bossier City, La.

Multiquip Inc., Carson, Calif., will register equipment that it sells with the National Equipment Register to help its customers combat equipment theft. NER is a database company dedicated to helping equipment owners deter theft and recover stolen equipment. The partnership strictly limits NER’s use of this information to helping a police officer identify the true owner of a machine 24 hours a day.

Brady Construction Innovations, Inc. (dba Sliptrack Systems) has appointed ClarkWestern Building Systems, Inc. as an authorized master distributor for SLP-TRK® Brand Slotted Track under Sliptrack Systems’ United States Patent – RE 39,462, trademark and code approvals.

People & Companies in the News

Tridon Industries, Inc., headquartered in Pottstown, Pa., made the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Book of Lists 2007, a publication that positions itself as an essential tool for doing business in Greater Philadelphia. In the publication, Tridon ranked 20th out of 25 Top Women-Owned Businesses.

Tridon Industries, Inc. is a premier distributor and installer of insulation, soundproofing and fireproofing products. The company services Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the entire New England area. For the past three years, the company has been named to the Philadelphia 100®, a list that honors the fastest growing privately-held companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. The company is 100 percent woman-owned and is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise.

PrimeSource Building Products, Inc., Carrollton, Texas, has announced that CEO and Chairman Charlie Choi passed away at the end of March. Choi was the PrimeSource CEO and chairman of the board from March 1998, when Itochu Building Products purchased PrimeSource, until his death.

Powers Fasteners, Inc. has opened a large state-of-the-art engineering research and testing laboratory at the company’s world headquarters building in Brewster, N.Y. The 15,000 square-foot laboratory replicates actual jobsite environments and is considered the “foremost test facility in the country for cracked concrete.

The company has appointed Jacob Olsen as vice president of Research & Development and head of the new facility. Olsen, a professional engineer, joined Powers in 2005 as director of product development.

At the Award Dinner held in March by the Northern California Drywall Contractors Association / Drywall Information Trust Fund, association President Burke Nicholson presented Jason Fell with an award that recognizes outstanding dedication and service to his/her industry. Fell is technical director of the Drywall Information Trust Fund.

Fell is known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as the guy to go to for any and all information related to the drywall industry. He is only the fourth person to receive this award in the association’s 39 years.

The EIFS Industry Members Association, located in Morrow, Ga., has re-launched its Web site with a new look, information and resources for the building industry. Found at, the site offers industry news and information, FAQs, building envelope research, testing, and a directory of member organizations, just to name a few.

Dryvit Systems, Inc., West Warwick, R.I., was rated first for brand familiarity and use, according to an annual study released at the end of March by Hanley-Wood. Each year, Hanley-Wood surveys builders throughout the nation to gauge brand use within the industry. Builders surveyed said they used Dryvit most and were more familiar with Dryvit than any other brand.

Tom Cassutt has joined Bonsal American, Charlotte, N.C., as director of R&D. He was director of R&D and product services for Mapei Corporation prior to joining Bonsal American.

In addition, there have been five key organizational changes designed to better manage the conversion and growth of Bonsal American’s commercial and tile setting products to the new ProSpec brand.

Johnsie Beck, president of Sakrete of North America, will assume the added position of executive vice president of sales for Bonsal American. She will have overall responsibility for all Bonsal American sales, excluding Pavement Coatings and Home Centers. She will continue to work with Oldcastle Retail to develop the overall strategy for Home Centers.

Kathy Rudolph has been appointed vice president of sales, Construction Materials East. She will be responsible for managing sales for commercial and tile setting products for all territories east of the Mississippi River and will manage National ProSpec Construction Products accounts.

Kevin McFadden has been appointed vice president, construction materials–product management. His initial responsibility will be to develop the ProSpec Construction Materials business in western North America, as well as the product management functions for all construction products. International sales will continue to report to McFadden.

Bob Huddart has been appointed Bonsal American national accounts manager. He will manage the relationship with national co-op customers and other key accounts. He will also help support the Sakrete licensees by identifying business development opportunities and coordinating key accounts supported by multiple licensees.

Todd Stiffler has been appointed sales manager for the Bonsal American Building Materials Independent Group and will manage the territory sales representatives. Stiffler’s focus will be to continue growing Sakrete sales to independent dealers, who support all of the Bonsal American manufacturing locations.

Acoustical Solutions, Inc., Richmond, Va., is opening a new, larger office and manufacturing facility in Richmond, Va. In addition to more room for the company’s sales team, warehouse capacity is also greater in the new facility, and a new showroom features a wider variety of products.

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