Al’s column

Home Editorials Al's column

HOUSING UPDATE: While the economy continues to move along at a sluggish pace, one bright spot that remains is the housing market, according to various sources. For example, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May improved three points in builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes. This gain reflected improvement in all three index components—current sales conditions (+4 points); sales expectations (+1 point and its highest level since February of 2007) and traffic of prospective buyers (+3 points). Meanwhile, actual sales of newly built single-family homes rose 2.3% in April according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD. New home inventories for April stood at 156,000 units, which at the current pace is a 4.1-month supply of houses.

REACTIONS: “Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies,” noted Rick Judson, NAHB’s chairman and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. Robert Denk, NAHB’S senior economist, said this is “further evidence of the gradual, consistent improvement we have seen in housing market conditions over the past year. We’re now about half-way back to what could be considered a full recovery, and we do expect to see continual, solid gains in both starts and sales of new homes going forward.”

ARROW AWARDS: Nominations are sought for California’s annual Arrow Awards, recognizing business and industry figures for outstanding leadership, innovation and partnerships in product stewardship and green design. Any business entity, division or facility located in California is eligible to apply as are third-party stewardship organizations and non-profits. Nominations are open until June 24 and applications and more information can be obtained at Last year we mentioned with all the “great work done by the West Coast mills and the industry in general, there is no reason a flooring company shouldn’t win….” Well, Shaw Industries and its California-based Tuftex division took home top honors with the Overall Excellence in Product Stewardship award, so there is no reason it or another flooring company can’t win again—but only if they get nominated.

HONORING VETS: In March, Midwest distributor Gilford Flooring held its annual spring dealer event (FCNews, March 18/25). This year’s theme was, “Pride In America, A Salute to Our Military,” and as part of the event, the wholesaler made a donation to the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower America’s wounded warriors. Over 300 people attended the Gilford event and, as a result, the distributor donated $2,000 to the non-profit. “We didn’t just want to give a salute to our soldiers,” said Dick Wallingford, Gilford’s senior vice president, “we wanted to do something tangible. This a national organization that does wonderful work helping our veterans.”

CRIME REPORT: This latest report is out of England, but you can bet anything the findings are occuring in the U.S. as well. A report, “Cyber Security and Fraud,” by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found 41% of its members were victims of cyber crime in the past 12 months. Twenty percent said their business had suffered as a result of virus infections in their software systems while 8% were victims of hacking and 5% said they were affected by security breaches. The average cost to a business was $6,000, but some suffered loses amounting to over $75,000. Nearly 20% of those surveyed said they had no protection against cyber crime. Wherever your business is based, maybe it’s time to get some security.

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