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Construction Trends

Proposed Ergonomics Standard Challenged

The American Subcontractors Association has challenged the approval of a proposed standard for “Reduction of Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction” by the Accredited Standards Committee of the American National Standards Institute at a May 1 hearing, according to ASA Senior Director and Counsel, Government and Industry Relations, Bill Isokait.

The proposed standard was produced by ASC’s A10.40 work group and would require significant changes and modifications in construction work practices and equipment. ASA and five other construction associations challenged the proposed standard on the grounds that ASC did not clearly define ergonomic injuries or solutions, did not support its conclusions with sound research and did not comply with the required ANSI procedures for obtaining consensus agreement. ASC will issue a decision on the challenge within 30 days.

Builder Confidence Slips Again in May

Ongoing concerns about subprime-related problems in the mortgage market caused builder confidence about the state of housing demand to decline three more points in May, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released May 15, 2007. With a current reading of 30, the HMI has now returned to the lowest level in its current cycle, which was previously hit in September 2006.

“Builders are feeling the impacts of tighter lending standards on current home sales as well as cancellations, and they are bracing for continued challenges ahead,” said NAHB President Brian Catalde, a home builder from El Segundo, Calif.

“The crisis in the subprime sector has infected other parts of the mortgage market as well as consumer psychology, and as a result the housing outlook has deteriorated,” added NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “We’re now projecting that home sales and housing production will not begin improving until late this year, and we’re expecting the early stages of the subsequent recovery to be quite sluggish. There still are tremendous uncertainties regarding our baseline forecast going forward, owing largely to the subprime crisis that is having widespread effects throughout the mortgage market.”

Derived from a monthly survey, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months. Any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

All three component indexes declined in May. The index gauging current single-family sales slipped two points to 31, while the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months fell three points to 41, and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell four points to 23.

Three out of the four U.S. regions posted declines in the May HMI. The Northeast posted a six-point decline to 32, while the South posted a four-point decline to 33 and the West posted a three-point decline to 32. The Midwest eked out a one-point gain, to 23.

Green Homeowners Are More Satisfied—and Motivated by Cost

The preliminary findings of a new home buyer survey show a high rate of customer satisfaction among those who have purchased green homes—and 63 percent of buyers are motivated by the lower operating and maintenance costs that come with energy- and resource-efficient homes.

NAHB and McGraw-Hill Constructionconducted the research, which represents the first time the true green home market has been sized, screening out green home owners from a representative panel of U.S. home owners.

These home owners say they are extremely happy with their investments, with 85 percent saying they are more satisfied with their new green homes than with their previous, more traditionally built homes.

The new survey also backs up recent findings by the NAHB economics staff that interest in green remodeling continues to grow: About 40 percent of those who have recently completed home remodeling or renovation work in their homes reported that they used green products or materials, the research found.

In a survey of NAHB builders that the company conducted last year, McGraw-Hill Construction estimated that 2 percent—or $7.4 billion—of the of the residential construction market contained green building elements. According to this new research, 0.3 percent of all existing U.S. homes are truly green, constructed using several different green building design features and products, a market sized at approximately $2 billion.

The research also found the following:

– The new green home owner is affluent and well educated, in his/her mid 40s and married, and also more likely to be from the Southern or Western states. Women are also more likely to be green homeowners.

– 63 percent report lower operating and maintenance costs as the key motivation behind buying a green home. Additionally, nearly 50 percent said they are motivated by environmental concerns and their family’s health.

– More than 60 percent of those surveyed say that consumer awareness, additional costs and the limited availability of homes are obstacles to green homes gaining a bigger market share. However, when looking at the “biggest” obstacles, green homeowners view education as the biggest hurdle to overcome.

Survey results will be published this summer in the next issue of the McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report series and available at

Americans to Spend More Than $232 Billion on Home Remodeling in 2007

Americans will spend nearly $233 on home remodeling this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ 2007 industry forecast. That represents a 1.9 percent increase from the record $228 billion spent in 2006, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Remodeling currently accounts for more than 40 percent of the home construction industry by dollar volume.

“Quite simply, we’re adding more homes each year than we’re tearing down, and these will eventually require remodeling,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “Compared to other components of the housing industry, remodeling remains one of the few areas to show growth, at least in nominal terms.”

Driving the remodeling market are the size and characteristics of the housing stock. With an average age of 33 years and rising, older homes require more remodeling—both in terms of upgrading features to compete with new construction as well as maintaining their physical quality. Though remodeling is somewhat cyclical with new construction, homeowners cannot put off a major repair like a leaky roof as they can discretionary upgrades, and that stabilizes the industry during slower housing markets.

Architects Say China Is a Leading Source of International Business for U.S.

China and the United Kingdom are the top international markets for U.S. architecture firms, according to a market research survey of 629 U.S. architects commissioned by PPG Industries, Pittsburgh.

The study, which encompassed a representative cross-section of U.S. architects according to firm size, job title, geographic location and years of experience, also showed that a full 85 percent of architects named manufacturer Web sites as their preferred source of product information, followed by sales reps and technical binders from manufacturers.

According to the report, 32 percent of U.S. architecture firms have projects built outside the country. China is the leading international market, accounting for 21 percent of the firms’ combined international business, followed by the United Kingdom at 16 percent. Surprisingly, neighbors in Canada and Mexico represent only 15 percent and 13 percent of U.S. firms’ international project work, respectively.

Firms in the southeastern United States and on the West Coast reported the highest percentages of work in China, while projects in the United Kingdom were executed primarily by companies on the West Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic states.

Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Brazil, India, South Korea and Germany were among the other significant sources of international business for U.S. firms.

The 10-minute on-line survey was completed by 629 qualified participants, producing ± 3.9 percent accuracy at the 95 percent confidence level.

Pittsburgh-based PPG is a supplier of industrial coatings, applied coatings, specialty chemicals, commodity chemicals and glass.

Wallboard Shipment Volume Announced for 1Q 2007

According to statistics complied by the Gypsum Association, the United States gypsum board industry shipped a total of 7.769 billion square feet of material during the first calendar quarter (January–March) of 2007.

During the same period, Canadian manufacturers shipped 793 million square feet of material.

Dryvit Invests $600K in Georgia Facility Upgrades

Dryvit Systems, Inc., West Warwick, R.I., has enhanced its manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ga., investing $600,000 for new equipment at the facility. Equipment upgrades will increase the capacity and efficiency of Dryvit’s southeastern U.S. facility, to meet rising demand for Dryvit products in that area.

Dryvit operates four other manufacturing plants in North America, including its headquarters in Rhode Island, and locations in California, Oklahoma and Ontario, Canada—all of which are ISO 9001:2000 certified.

Equipment upgrades at the Columbus, Ga., facility include a new 400-pail blender to substantially increase plant capacity; the replacement of all dust collectors to improve indoor air quality and ensure a safe, clean work environment; the installation of a new silo to ensure adequate supply of raw materials on site; new loading locks; the installation of three automatic capping machines to increase production speed; and new flow-back racking, increasing product storage by 25 percent.

CertainTeed Facilities Awarded

Five CertainTeed® manufacturing sites have been honored by Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building materials manufacturer and parent company of CertainTeed Corporation, for their exceptional commitment to promoting health and safety in the workplace.

Saint-Gobain reviewed more than 1,000 of its locations worldwide before selecting the top 23 plants to receive its distinguished Diamond Award, the conglomerate’s highest health, safety and environment honor. Among those selected for 2007 Diamond Award was the CertainTeed Gypsum manufacturing plant in Mississauga, Ontario.

According to Stephen Sandre, plant manager of the Mississauga facility, it’s the employees that play the biggest part in maintaining a safe workplace. In addition, the plant implemented various results-driven measures to ensure the safety of their employees, such as installing barriers around machines that protect operators and those nearby from injury.

Since the Diamond Award was established in 1990, CertainTeed has won 12 times for safe operations at various plants, the most of any of Saint-Gobain’s North American subsidiaries.
Other CertainTeed facilities have also been honored for their continual ability to maintain strict safety standards and exemplary safety records with the Saint-Gobain Corporation Gold, Silver and Bronze Safety Awards in large, medium and small plant categories.

The CertainTeed Window manufacturing facility in Auburn, Wash., received the Silver Safety Award for outstanding health, safety and environment performance for large plants with 300 or more employees. Taking the Gold Safety Award for medium-size plants with 100 to 299 employees was the CertainTeed Siding plant in Jackson, Mich. The CertainTeed Unisul insulation blowing machine manufacturing facility in Winter Haven, Fla., received the Gold Safety Award for plants with fewer than 100 employees. The company’s siding plant in Social Circle, Ga., won the Great Strides Award for showing significant HSE innovation, employee involvement and improvement during 2006.

Armstrong Awarded Energy Star Label for Its Corporate HQ

Armstrong World Industries has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star® certification for its corporate headquarters building located in Lancaster, Pa.

Constructed in 1998, the three-story, 126,000-square-foot glass and steel facility houses 225 occupants and consolidates corporate staff that was originally scattered throughout three separate locations.

EPA awards the Energy Star label to facilities that achieve energy performance ratings of 75 or better, on a scale from 1 to 100. Ratings are calculated by comparing buildings of similar square footage on factors such as location, energy consumption, number of occupants, number of computers and other equipment present, and hours of operation. In addition, the building must conform to industry standards for thermal comfort, air ventilation, control of indoor air pollutants, and illumination.

The building uses an advanced heating, ventilating and air conditioning system that includes energy efficient motors for all air handlers and pumps in the building, along with an Energy Management Control System to control the motor systems and space temperatures.

The building’s design allows natural light to penetrate deep into the building. Exterior sunshades ensure that summer sun does not overheat the interior and drive up cooling requirements. Integrated control systems interface with lighting systems through outdoor photocells and timer functions to reduce energy consumption.

People & Companies in the News

Tritex™ ICF Products, Omaha, Neb., has added two production facilities to serve customers in the Pacific Northwest and southeastern United States. Tritex insulated concrete forms will be produced by Tegrant, formerly SCA Packaging of North America, in its Wilsonville, Ore., plant. In the southeast, Tritex forms will be manufactured by Cellofoam in Orlando, Fla. This brings the number of plants producing Tritex ICFs to five.

PrimeSource Building Products, Inc., Carrollton, Texas, has appointed co-chief executive officers Ken Fishbein and Mona Zinman.

Leading up to these promotions, Fishbein served as executive vice president/vice chairman and Zinman as executive vice President.

Fishbein founded Metropolitan Wholesale in 1965, which went onto become one of the original PrimeSource companies.

Zinman began her building products career in 1967 with Wilmod Company, Inc.

PrimeSource also announces Tom Kato as the new PrimeSource board chairman. Kato’s background is within the wood product sector of the building materials industry.

Precision Walls, Cary, N.C., has announced that its manufacturing division will operate as a separate entity. As of May 1, 2007, this division has been doing business as Advanced Exterior Systems. The manufacturing division designs, engineers, fabricates and installs panelized wall systems, light-gauge metal trusses, aluminum composite panel systems, architectural cladding systems and ceramic rain-screen wall systems.

Advanced Exterior Systems will be led by John T. Christine, chief operating officer. His management team will consist of Mark Raynor, vice president of Architectural Cladding Systems; Jerry Baker, vice president of Panelized Wall Systems; and Bill Canipe, vice president of Truss Systems.

AES will remain in its existing 65,000-square-foot facility in Raleigh, N.C., and Precision Walls will continue to market, sell and install all panel and truss products offered by AES.

Oshkosh Truck Corporation, Oshkosh, Wis., has been named Craig E. Paylor president of JLG Industries, Inc., its access equipment subsidiary and newest acquisition.

Most recently, Paylor served as senior vice president of marketing for JLG with global responsibility for business development, sales, marketing, customer service and aftermarket. Since joining JLG in 1978 as a district manager, Paylor has held increasingly responsible, customer-focused roles primarily in the areas of sales, marketing and business development. In 1996, Paylor became an officer of JLG and was appointed senior vice president of sales and market development in 1999. During his nearly 30 years with JLG, the company has grown from annual revenues of $40 million to $2.3 billion in fiscal 2006.

Paylor succeeds Charlie Szews, Oshkosh’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, in the position. Szews had been acting president since Oshkosh’s acquisition of JLG in December 2006 and now returns full time to his corporate responsibilities.

JLG Industries, Inc., a subsidiary of Oshkosh Truck Corporation, headquartered in McConnellsburg, Pa., announces that Wayne Lawson, Mike Rafi, Joe Dixon and Kirsten Skyba will each expand their roles with JLG.

Lawson, vice president of sales and customer support for EAME (Europe, Africa and the Middle East), will assume expanded responsibility in which he will take an even more prominent role in leading the development and implementation of the company’s EAME market development and sales strategies while continuing to provide leadership for the sales and service operations and customer support functions. He will also assume responsibility for the major accounts team in Europe, along with the used equipment sales team and associated initiatives.

Rafi has been promoted to the position of vice president and general manager for the Caterpillar Alliance Group.

Dixon is now vice president and general manager of ServicePlus.

Skyba has accepted the position of vice president of global marketing for JLG. Previously, she was the vice president of marketing communications for Oshkosh Truck Corporation. Skyba remains an officer of Oshkosh Truck Corporation.

The Gypsum Association, Washington, D.C., has announced the election of the following officers from the board of directors for 2007–2008: Chairman: Kerry G. Gannaway, senior vice president, Manufacturing, American Gypsum, Dallas; Past Chairman: James W. McNeer, vice president, Gypsum Operations, Temple-Inland Forest Products Corporation, West Memphis, Ark.; First Vice Chairman: Gerard P. Carroll, senior vice president, Manufacturing Operations and Engineering, National Gypsum Company, Charlotte, N.C.; Second Vice Chairman: Donald E. Moses, president and CEO, Manufacturing, CertainTeed Gypsum/CertainTeed Gypsum Canada, Inc., Tampa, Fla.; Treasurer: Charles J. Poandl, vice president, Customer Value, Gypsum Division, Lafarge North America Inc., Herndon, Va.; and Secretary: Michael A. Gardner, executive director, Gypsum Association, Washington, D.C.

All terms are for one year and became effective May 1, 2007.

GlasCraft, Inc., a division of Cohesant Technologies, Indianapolis, has added Bill Hrynkiewicz as business development manager–domestic foam and coatings. Hrynkiewicz will direct, coordinate and accelerate the business growth of GlasCaft in the North American market for PU foam and specialty coatings. He joins the company with more than 30 years of marketing and sales experience, and a decade of experience in the plural component equipment industry.

Flex-Ability Concepts, Oklahoma City, has updated its Web site, Enhancements include an Arc Length Calculator that allows the visitor to determine linear footage for a specified curved application. Also new to the site is the option to request a hardcopy radius template for a nominal fee. The site offers product information including specifications, engineering drawings, installation instructions and photos.

Dryvit Systems, Inc., West Warwick, R.I., has appointed Carl Machado to corporate material manager. In his new post, Machado will be responsible for all material management issues, including procurement, raw material, resale and finished product inventory at the corporate level.

Machado brings extensive experience in material management, most recently serving as global materials manager for Texas Instruments, Attleboro, Mass., for the past eight years. He spent 22 years in various other positions with the company.

Bonsal American®, Charlotte, N.C., has expanded its management team by hiring Amy Wright as its marketing manager for Bonsal American. Wright will manage Bonsal American’s new brand of professionally specified building products. Wright has experience in public relations, brand management and marketing.

Bonsal American also has expanded its sales efforts in the western United States by naming Scott Springs, regional sales manager of its new brand. Springs is responsible for all tile/stone setting and concrete repair and restoration products in Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

Springs’ experience includes sales of commercial products.

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