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FMI Releases 2013 U.S. Construction Industry Talent Development Report

FMI, Raleigh, N.C., has released its 2013 U.S. Construction Industry Talent Development Report, and it shows that the labor shortage is real. The report is based on responses nationwide from a mix of general contractors and construction managers at firms of all sizes and specialties, including mechanical/plumbing and heavy/highway/civil.

More than half of respondents report a shortage in skilled labor. As a war for talent begins, construction experts must evolve their methodology of searching for the best and brightest employees. First, construction careers must be made more appealing to women and minorities. Second, there must be an appeal to today’s youth through career counselors, career fairs and utilization of social media channels.

In addition, as baby boomers retire, more than 75 percent of those surveyed said they were preparing for a leadership transition in three ways: 1) promoting internally, 2) training to improve performance and 3) providing internship and co/op programs.

Also, more than half of those surveyed said they were identifying gaps in core competencies, increasing recruiting efforts at schools and universities, and employing “best practices” to retain key talent.

To download a copy of the full report go to

AISI Report Examines Performance of Individual Cold-Formed Steel Components in a Building During a Seismic Event

The American Iron and Steel Institute has completed the first phase of a three-phase research program that will help fill a knowledge gap in understanding how cold-formed steel members, connections and systems in a building perform during an earthquake. The research is being conducted by a team from the Structural Engineering and Materials Program at Virginia Tech, and the results of the first phase are published in a report titled: “RP13-2: Energy Dissipation of Thin-Walled Cold-Formed Steel Members.”

Traditional analysis and design procedures for cold-formed steel light frame buildings subject to earthquakes tend to focus on utilizing the strength of individual shear walls or diagonal flat strapped braced walls, which is adequate for providing protection against collapse during design-level seismic events. However, in order to make buildings more resilient and cost-effective, researchers need to better understand how the individual components making up these walls contribute to the performance of the whole structure.

Measuring how these individual components perform during seismic testing allows researchers to develop more accurate and computationally efficient design models. This first phase of the research examined the cyclic behavior and energy dissipation of cold-formed steel C-section structural axial and flexural framing members. Twenty-four axial tests and 24 flexural tests were performed to evaluate the energy dissipation characteristics of axial and flexural members experiencing global, distortional and local buckling deformations.

“The resulting data from this research was used to calibrate a hysteretic model that represents the full response of cold-formed steel C-section structural framing members,” said Bonnie Manley, P.E., regional director of construction codes and standards and leader of AISI’s Seismic Code Team. “From the model, we are developing a toolbox of nonlinear elements that are capable of accurately simulating the seismic behavior of CFS members and their infinite number of possible configurations in cold-formed steel structures. The remaining two phases of the program will focus on connections and systems. When those are completed, the toolbox will be fully stocked with a suite of models that will greatly improve the accuracy of seismic analysis and performance-based earthquake engineering of CFS structures. The end result will be safer buildings and more design flexibility for design professionals.”

“RP13-2: Energy Dissipation of Thin-Walled Cold-Formed Steel Members” includes a review of available literature that explores the cyclic behavior of axial and flexural members experiencing buckling; a description of the testing program; a summary of the experimental results of cyclic and monotonic tests of CFS axial and flexural members exhibiting local, distortional and global buckling; and the calibration of a hysteretic model that represents the cyclic response of CFS members.

For more information on SMDI’s Construction Market program, visit

Nonresidential Construction Index Drops in Fourth Quarter

FMI’s 2013 Fourth Quarter Nonresidential Construction Index report shows a 2.9 point drop in the fourth quarter to 57.4. However, the score is still ahead of fourth quarter 2012 by 1.9 points. An NRCI of more than 50 indicates growth, therefore the fourth quarter score still indicates modest improvement in the industry.

One of the reasons cited for the slight decline is the political infighting and uncertainty. Proceeding with caution by investors seems to be the new norm.

Productivity continues to slide. The 48.6 score is at its lowest since the second quarter of 2008. Ultimately, attention to productivity and profit margins will be key to sustaining growth going forward.

Building construction continues to improve since 2012. However, growth is still unsteady as the numbers have slipped 7.5 points to 64.1 this quarter. Material and labor cost also continues to rise causing the overall NRCI to fall.

Builder Confidence Rises Four Points in December

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved four points to a 58 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December, released Dec. 17, 2014. This gain reflected improvement in all three index components—current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in December. The index gauging current sales conditions jumped six points to 64, while the index gauging expectations for future sales rose two points to 62. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 44.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South edged one point higher to 57 while the Northeast, Midwest and West each fell a single point to 38, 59 and 59, respectively.

ISA Economic Indicator Index Rises in October

The monthly Economic Indicator Report released Nov. 19, 2013, by the Industrial Supply Association continued its upward trajectory for the year.

The ISA Manufacturers Index increased from 61.7 percent in September to 66.7 percent in October, while the Distributor Index rose from 64.8 percent in September to 70.9 percent in October. For each index, a reading above 50 percent indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 percent indicates contraction. Both Indexes have been above the 50-percent level for all of 2013.

“Manufacturers of abrasives performed even better during the October reporting period than other manufacturers, as indicated by the Abrasives Manufacturer Index reading of 73.3 percent for the month,” said John Buckley, ISA executive vice president. “While the Cutting Tools Manufacturer Index was at 62.4 percent in October, it slightly underperformed the overall manufacturer index.”

Architecture Billings Index Slows Down in October

Following three months of accelerating demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index reflected a somewhat slower pace of growth in October. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the October ABI score was 51.6, down from a mark of 54.3 in September. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.5, up from the reading of 58.6 the previous month.

“There continues to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the overall U.S. economic outlook and therefore in the demand for nonresidential facilities, which often translates into slower progress on new building projects,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, Ph.D. “That is particularly true when you factor in the federal government shutdown that delayed many projects that were in the planning or design phases.”

Key October ABI highlights include these regional averages: the West, 55.9; the South, 54.4; the Midwest, 51.6; and the Northeast, 49.7. The sector index breakdown shows multifamily residential at 57.0, commercial/industrial at 53.7, mixed practice at 53.2 and institutional at 50.2. The project inquiries index was at 61.5 in October.

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

U.S. Demand for Industrial Fasteners to Reach $14.8 Billion in 2017

U.S. demand for industrial fasteners is expected to increase 4.3 percent per year to $14.8 billion in 2017. Gains will be supported by rebounding levels of motor vehicle manufacturing, a segment that makes up roughly one-quarter of all fastener demand. The fastest growth in fastener sales will be found in the construction market, as construction activity—both residential and nonresidential—makes a strong recovery from the declines posted during the 2007–2012 period. These and other trends are presented in “Industrial Fasteners,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

The original equipment manufacturing market for industrial fasteners will outpace growth in the maintenance/repair/operations market as U.S. manufacturing output continues to recover from the 2007–2009 recession. Machinery and aerospace equipment shipments are forecast to expand at improved rates. U.S. fabricated metal product output will rise, and the ongoing trend of “reshoring” in a range of industries will support increases in fastener demand. While production gains in the motor vehicle segment will bolster fastener sales through 2017, ongoing trends in the industry toward vehicles designed with fewer fasteners in order to reduce costs and weight will temper demand. Growth in fastener sales in MRO applications will improve from the performance registered during the 2007–2012 period as fixed investment rises and fastener-containing equipment sees more use with expanding production.

Competition from alternative joining technologies, such as adhesives, clinching and welding, will prevent further gains in a number of applications. Moreover, fasteners are a mature product; while opportunities for value-added technological improvements certainly exist, they tend to be limited in many markets.

Growth in demand for standard fasteners is forecast to outpace that for aerospace-grade products through 2017. This will be a result of standard fasteners’ heavy use in the OEM and construction markets. Externally threaded standard fasteners will remain the largest single product category, posting the fastest gains, along with application-specific products. Demand for aerospace-grade fasteners will improve from the growth registered during the 2007–2012 period, as aerospace equipment shipments accelerate. Manufacturers serving this market will need to continue adjusting to the growing use of composites in aircraft manufacturing. Composite designs often require fewer fasteners, but provide opportunities for sales of higher value fastening products designed specifically for use with composites.

“Industrial Fasteners” (published 10/2013, 260 pages) is available for $5,100 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For further details, contact Corinne Gangloff at (440) 684.9600 or e-mail [email protected]. Information may also be obtained through

Housing Markets Continue Slow Climb Back to Normal

Markets in 54 out of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index released Dec. 5, 2013. The index’s nationwide score of .86 indicates that, based on current permits, prices and employment data, the nationwide market is running at 86 percent of normal economic and housing activity.

The LMI figures for November showed that 55 housing markets were operating at or above their last normal levels and the nationwide market was operating at 85 percent of normal growth.
LMI data for the two months were released simultaneously because of the delay in collecting data during the partial government shutdown in October.

“This index shows that most housing markets across the nation are continuing a slow, gradual climb back to normal levels,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “Policymakers must guard against actions that could impede or even reverse the modest gains of the past year.”

Noting that smaller metros accounted for most of the 54 markets on the current LMI that are at or above normal levels, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that “smaller markets are leading the way, particularly where energy is the primary economic driver. Nearly half of the markets in the top 54 are in the energy states of Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.”

“The fact that more than 125 markets on this month’s LMI are showing activity levels of at least 90 percent of previous norms bodes well for a continuing housing recovery in 2014,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co., which co-sponsors the LMI report.

Baton Rouge, La., tops the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.42—or 42 percent better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, as well as Pittsburgh—all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now exceeds previous norms.

Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning that their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Casper, Wyo.; Bismarck, N.D.; and Grand Forks, N.D., respectively.

The LMI shifts the focus from identifying markets that have recently begun to recover, which was the aim of a previous gauge known as the Improving Markets Index, to identifying those areas that are now approaching and exceeding their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity. More than 350 metro areas are scored by taking their average permit, price and employment levels for the past 12 months and dividing each by their annual average over the last period of normal growth. For single-family permits and home prices, 2000–2003 is used as the last normal period, and for employment, 2007 is the base comparison. The three components are then averaged to provide an overall score for each market; a national score is calculated based on national measures of the three metrics. An index value above one indicates that a market has advanced beyond its previous normal level of economic activity.

For historical information and charts, visit
New-Home Sales Up Sharply in October
Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 25.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000 units in October, according to data released Dec. 4, 2013, by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The government also reported that new-home sales fell 6.6 percent in September. The release of both the September and October report were delayed by the partial government shutdown in early October.

All four regions posted double-digit sales gains in October. Sales rose 19.2 percent in the Northeast, 34 percent in the Midwest, 28.2 percent in the South and 15.2 percent in the West.

The months’ supply of new homes fell to 4.9 due to the quicker sales pace in October, and the inventory of new homes for sales also edged down to 183,000 units.

Strong Multifamily Sector Pushes Building Permits Above 1 Million in October

Issuance of new building permits rose 6.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.034 million units in October due primarily to a double-digit increase on the multifamily side, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Nov. 26, 2013.

This follows a 5.2 percent increase in permit issuance in September to 974,000 units.

Census figures for nationwide housing starts for September and October were delayed as a result of September’s partial government shutdown.

“Despite the recent government shutdown, builders feel a housing recovery is still under way,” said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “However, this fragile recovery still faces a number of challenges, including uncertainty in Washington, tight credit conditions for home buyers and limited availability of labor and lots.”

“Permits are often a harbinger of future housing activity and the strong showing in the multifamily sector along with stable numbers on the single-family side bode well for a continuing, gradual upturn in housing over the coming months,” said NAHB senior economist Robert Denk. “But consumer and builder confidence could be seriously undermined unless policymakers make progress over looming budget, tax and economic policy issues in the weeks and months ahead.”

Multifamily permit issuance rose 15.3 percent to 414,000 units in October while the single-family side posted a 0.8 percent gain to 620,000 units.

Regionally, permits issuance in October held steady at 101,000 units in the Northeast and rose 15.4 percent in the West and 9.4 percent in the South. The Midwest posted a 9.6 percent decline.

New Continuing Ed Course Outlines Acoustical Strategies for Healthcare Settings

A new training course on healthcare acoustics, now available from CertainTeed Ceilings, Valley Forge, Pa., provides architects and designers the latest science on how sound affects the healing process and outlines strategies for optimizing indoor environments for the best patient outcomes.

The free course, “Acoustic Ceilings in the Healthcare Segment,” explains how evidence-based design is driving healthcare facility construction, the role of sound attenuation in protecting patient privacy, and LEED® for Healthcare as it relates to ceilings and acoustics. The course also describes Facility Guidelines Institute guidelines for ceilings in healthcare environments.

“Acoustic Ceilings in the Healthcare Segment” is registered with the American Institute of Architects Continuing Education System, as well as the Construction Specifications Institute Construction Education Network. It has also been approved by the U.S. Green Building Council LEED® professional credentialing program.

To schedule a CEU course presentation with a CertainTeed Ceilings architectural sales manager, call (800) 233.8990.

CertainTeed offers more than 35 free courses for professionals that can be used to meet all standards of national and local continuing education learning units. For more information, visit

AISI Mourns Loss of William H. Heenan Jr.

Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), today issued the following statement on the death of William M. Heenan Jr., former president of the Steel Recycling Institute and 2013 recipient of the Steel Market Development Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award:

“On behalf of the AISI family and our member companies, we were deeply saddened to hear of Bill’s passing. Bill was a tireless and devoted leader in the steel industry—building SRI from the ground up and establishing steel as the world’s most recycled material. We are forever grateful for the lasting impact Bill had on our industry and send our deepest sympathy to his family.”

Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of SMDI and long-time colleague of Heenan’s, said, “Beyond work, Bill was a generous and devoted family man. He set an example for all of us by crediting every success he had to his family.”

Heenan was president of SRI from 1990 to 2010. Prior to joining SRI, Heenan was general manager, tin mill products, for the United States Steel Corp., a position to which he was appointed in 1988. He was a lifetime board member of the National Recycling Coalition, served as a board member of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. and was co-chairperson of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

Both SRI and SMDI are business units of AISI.

People in the News

Niles Building Products, Niles, Ohio, has hired Jenna Gowin as inside sales manager. In this new role, Gowan will oversee the inside sales staff as well as assume strategic marketing responsibilities.

Gowin comes to Niles Building after three years with Dietrich Metal Framing and three years with Telling Industries where she was responsible for inside sales and marketing among other related sales duties.

Companies in the News

Engineering News-Record has announced the California’s Best Projects for 2013, and AWCI member California Drywall of San Jose, Calif., earned Best Project – Specialty Subcontracting for its work on Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. Bing also earned Best Project in the Cultural/Worship Category.

“Winning this award is great” said California Drywall President Steve Eckstrom. “But it’s not just because we’re honored for an exceptional project. This award allows us to reflect on the remarkable relationships we build with our clients and partners, on this and other projects. We share this award with Turner Construction, Stanford University, Ennead Architects and all the other trades we worked with on the project, especially our subcontractors and suppliers. We look forward to more successful ventures with these partners.”

The ENR Annual Best Projects Competition recognizes achievements in design and construction across 18 categories. A panel of judges from all areas of the industry selected a “Best Project” winner and merit winners in each category. The jury focused on projects that overcame significant challenges, adopted innovative approaches, executed exceptional design and craftsmanship, and maintained safe sites.

These winning projects were honored in the Dec. 2, 2013, California edition of ENR magazine and at an awards ceremony in San Francisco. All category winners, including California Drywall and Bing, now advance to the national competition to be considered for ENR’s “Best-of-the-Best” national award.

Ecovative Design LLC and Fortifiber Building Systems Group® have announced a strategic partnership to develop and sell insulated sheathing boards made from Ecovative’s Myco Foam, which combines crop wastes and naturally grown mycelium. As part of the agreement, Fortifiber will be the exclusive licensee for the products in the United States. Other terms were not disclosed.

Many builders are focused on ways to improve the R-value of a structure’s walls but have been hesitant to use ecologically harmful materials like polystyrene foams. This new product will provide comparable insulating performance and structural support while avoiding harmful chemicals and focusing on the complete building lifecycle. Ecovative’s Myco Foam is Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold, a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

L&W Supply, Chicago, is celebrating the opening of its new branch located at 7100 Old Landover Rd. in Hyattsville, Md. This is the first L&W Supply location in two years, adding to its existing network of nearly 140 locations across North America.

The Hyattsville branch will carry a full line of building material products and will operate under Branch Manager Michael Bortnick.

Parex USA, Inc., Anaheim, Calif., announces the opening of its newest distribution facility in San Diego, increasing its nationwide footprint to eight manufacturing plants and three distribution facilities.

The 8,400 square-foot warehouse, located at 9681 Distribution Ave., is primarily utilized to distribute LaHabra products through will-call orders for customers based in the San Diego area. The new facility also houses a color sample lab, for quick and accurate sample matches.

Products in the News

Knauf Insulation North America, headquartered in Shelbyville, Ind., has received Environmental Product Declarations from UL®, a reputable global independent safety science company, for EcoBatt® Kraft Faced Insulation with ECOSE® Technology, EcoBatt® Unfaced Insulation with ECOSE® Technology and Jet Stream Ultra® Blowing Wool Insulation.

Owens Corning announces a UL-certified Environmental Product Declaration for its FOAMULAR® Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation.

In addition, Owens Corning provided life cycle data on its Thermafiber® Mineral Wool Insulation along with other mineral wool manufacturers to NAIMA. The data helped NAIMA develop a North American industry-wide EPD for light and heavy density mineral wool insulation that was issued at Greenbuild 2013.

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