R.I. Lead Paint Ruling Overturned

Rhode Island’s Supreme Court in July overturned a lower court ruling that three former manufacturers of lead paint ­— Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings — were liable for creating a public nuisance by covering up the health risks of lead paint.

The 2006 jury verdict could have forced them to pay billions of dollars to clean up contaminated paint around the state.
The Rhode Island decision could influence court decisions in other locations where lead-poisoning lawsuits are pending. Comparisons have been made to the tobacco lawsuits that ultimately cost the tobacco industry billions of dollars.

Rhode Island authorities claim that more than 30,000 children were poisoned by lead paint in the state and nearly 300,000 homes contaminated.

The supreme court ruling stated the public nuisance law does not provide a remedy in the case and that the state failed to “establish that defendants interfered with a public right or that defendants were in control of the lead pigment they or their predecessors manufactured at the time it caused harm to Rhode Island children.”

Building Products

Norandex Charts Growth

Norandex Building Materials Distribution, one of the largest distributors of exterior siding, windows and doors in the United States, has completed the relocation of its corporate offices from Macedonia, Ohio, to a newer and larger facility in nearby Hudson, Ohio. Norandex president and CEO Brian Chambers says the move is a step in the company’s aggressive growth strategy.

As part of that strategy, Norandex also announced the acquisition of Area Vinyl Siding Distributors, LLC, a distributor of vinyl siding and accessories in the greater Baton Rouge, La., area. Area Vinyl’s two locations — in Walker, La., and Gonzales, La. — will operate under the Norandex Building Materials Distribution name.

Kitchens & Baths

Cabinet Demand to Grow

United States demand for cabinets is forecast to expand 3.9 percent per year through 2012 to $18.5 billion, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

A rebound in new housing construction from a low base as well as building design trends that lead to greater cabinet use per residence will support new residential cabinet demand. In improvement and repair applications, which are the single largest end use for cabinets, demand will be aided by ongoing growth in spending through 2012. Changing consumer preferences in cabinet design and various demographic factors — such as an aging population that has the financial wherewithal to finance renovation projects — will also support demand, according to the study.

Kitchen cabinets, which represented about 85 percent of cabinet shipments in 2007, will benefit from a continuing trend toward using more cabinets to provide increased utility, as well as from an expanding range of kitchen cabinet styles and options. In addition, the rising use of kitchen-type cabinets in other rooms of the home (e.g., laundry rooms and media rooms) will also aid increases.

Shipments of bathroom cabinets will offer slightly stronger growth prospects through 2012, supported by design trends such as larger bathrooms and a greater number of bathrooms per house, as well as by a recovery in new housing construction and ongoing gains in improvement and repair expenditures, according to Freedonia.

Demand for other types of cabinets will be led by the strong performance of garage and nonoffice (e.g., laundry, hobby and mudroom) cabinets, which will benefit from the ongoing popularity of built-in cabinetry where it has not been traditionally used.

Customer Satisfaction

Driven by Ordering and Delivery

While aspects of cabinet design and performance are important to consumers, it is the ordering and delivery process that is key in determining customer satisfaction with cabinets, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Cabinet Satisfaction Study.

The study, now in its second year, measures customer satisfaction with cabinets based on evaluations in five factors (in order of importance): ordering and delivery (34 percent); price (20 percent); operational performance (19 percent); design features (15 percent); and warranty (12 percent). Respondents may have installed the cabinets themselves or with help from family and friends; hired an independent contractor or remodeler; used an installation service provided by a home improvement retailer; or used an installation service provided by the product manufacturer.