Specialty News and Trends for June 2006

Home Depot Targets Home Improvement Loans

The Home Depot announced last month a definitive agreement to acquire EnerBank USA. EnerBank, a wholly owned subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides home improvement loans, which remodeling and trade contractors can offer their customers. Primarily, the company provides loans for window and door replacements, heating and air conditioning upgrades, kitchen and bath remodeling, roofing, painting and landscaping work.

“This acquisition is another part of our strategy to expand our business and relationships with professional customers,” said Frank Blake, EVP, Business Development and Corporate Operations for The Home Depot. “EnerBank has a unique way of helping home improvement contractors grow their business, especially the smaller contractors who frequent our retail stores. Enerbank’s focus on offering loans via contractor referrals complements our existing credit offerings and partnerships.”

EnerBank’s business focus to provide home improvement loans through professional contractors will remain the same after the planned acquisition. In addition, EnerBank will continue to be run by its current leadership. EnerBank is an industrial bank chartered in the state of Utah. At the end of fiscal 2005, EnerBank employed 37 associates and had net loan assets of $76 million.

Distribution News

84 Lumber Announces Strategic Plan

84 Lumber Company unveiled a strategic plan that aims to increase the company’s revenues to $10 billion in sales by the end of calendar year 2009 vs. the nearly $4 billion in sales in 2005.

Among the key initiatives of the three-year plan include opening 125 new locations, adding 1,000 outside sales representatives, expanding the company’s Installed Sales Services Program; increasing manufacturing through 84 components; and increasing sales to large, national production builders.

A key component of the strategic plan is to focus on high-growth markets by closing 67 underperforming stores.

“As we close and consolidate these stores, we are in the process of opening 50 new stores in 2006, and already have 42 new store locations slated for 2007,” said company president Maggie Hardy Magerko. “Looking ahead to 2008, we are actively reviewing more than 20 new store sites at this time.”

In addition to the new stores opening over the next three years, the company will expand its outside sales force by a minimum of 1,000 professionals and will hire hundreds more to staff the new stores. In addition, expansion of the Installed Sales Services, which includes products such as framing, doors and trim, windows and insulation, and the expansion of manufacturing through 84 Components will create thousands of additional jobs.

Illegal Workers

Kentucky Contractor Raided by Government

Department of Homeland Security officials have stepped up their enforcement of laws that make it illegal to hire undocumented workers. Last month, a northern Kentucky home builder netted 76 arrests of workers and four construction executives.

“This was not a random roundup of illegal aliens,” Dean Boyd, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said. “These were arrests that were conducted as a result of a criminal investigation that has been carefully planned for some time.”

The four construction site supervisors were each charged with harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain. The maximum possible punishment for the charge is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A statement released by federal immigration officials in Washington, D.C., said the arrests and raid demonstrate how they will no longer tolerate corporate supervisors who harbor illegal aliens, no matter how small the company.

“On the national level, we are really stepping up our efforts to investigate illegal employment schemes,” Boyd said. “Expect more investigations like this. We are bringing criminal charges against employers, seizing assets and using all the tools at our disposal to target employers who are illegally hiring, harboring or laundering the proceeds of those schemes.”

Kitchen Remodeling

Appliance Shipments Grow

Domestic shipments of major home appliances were up significantly in March and were pacing well ahead of year-to-date shipments through the first three months of 2005, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reported. According to the Washington, D.C.-based AHAM, March appliance shipments totaled 9.98 million units, up 22.6 percent over shipments in March 2005. Shipments through the first quarter of 2006 totaled 21.4 million units, up 14.4 percent over the shipments in the same time period last year, AHAM said. Gains in March were reported for cooking appliances (+26.6 percent), home laundry products (+16.2 percent), and food preservation equipment (+4.9 percent). In contrast, March shipments of kitchen cleanup products declined 3 percent compared to a year ago, according to AHAM.


Tamko Changes Name

Tamko Roofing Products Inc. changed its name to TAMKO Building Products Inc. June 1, 2006.

In addition to is many roofing products, Tamko also manufactures EverGrain and Elements composite decking, composite railing systems, waterproofing materials, window and door wraps, asphalt and acrylic cements and coatings, insulation facer, and also many of the raw materials it uses such as glass mat, dry felt, processed asphalt, paper cores, polyester mats and crushed limestone.

“As we have grown, and expanded the kinds of products we manufacture, the name Tamko Roofing Products, Inc. really doesn’t adequately describe who we are or what we do,” said David C. Humphreys, Tamko’s president and chief executive officer. “For our first 50 years, from 1944 to 1994, we were Tamko Asphalt Products. In 1994, we changed it to Tamko Roofing Products, to better reflect a focus on roofing — and not just asphalt roofing.”

Book Reviews

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

When the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) surveyed its membership for its Design Trends Survey Update, the most sought after request at 61 percent was the addition of an entertainment center in the kitchen.

“Kitchens have become the center of the home, a place where families not only prepare dinner and enjoy family meals together, but also a place where they entertain, do crafts or household planning, watch television and even log onto the Internet,” says Janice Costa, co-author of Everything and the Kitchen Sink. “Remodeling a kitchen does not have to be overwhelming or impossible to afford.”

Costa is the editor of Kitchen & Bath Design News, a sister publication of Qualified Remodeler and the No. 1 trade publication in the kitchen marketplace. The book gives homeowners a common-sense approach to renovating, with chapters that include Planning Your Kitchen: The Road to Kitchen Nirvana, Money Issues and Design on a Shoestring. In addition, the book offers ideas for helping homeowners and remodeling professionals to work together more successfully, encouraging homeowners to hire qualified professionals to be sure the job is done right.

This new book might be the perfect leave-behind for prospective kitchen remodeling clients. For further information about the book go to www.barnesandnoble.com.

Building By the Book: Legal Advice for Contractors:

Sure, you know how to remodel a house, but do you know how to protect yourself in the process? Building By the Book: Legal Advice for Contractors will show you how to draft contracts that protect you and your business; get paid on time; properly file and enforce mechanics’ liens; decide whether to incorporate; negotiate your lease; hire, fire and manage employees; and prevent the mistakes that can turn a simple remodel into a litigation nightmare.

Attorney and Qualified Remodeler magazine columnist Nancy Chillag has published a multitude of articles on construction-related topics. Building By the Book: Legal Advice for Contractors, a collection of these articles, is packed with easy-to-understand, relevant and vital information for any contractor.


Vetter Design Entries Due

Vetter Windows & Doors’ call for design award entries ends on July 1. Its VIP awards seek to honor architects and remodelers whose designs exhibit innovation.

For further information go to www.vetterwindows.com.