The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) should go beyond expanding recognition of certified wood programs by adopting a new way to brand lumber that frees dealers of the constraints of chain-of-custody certification, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) urges.

NLBMDA made its proposal in a letter to the USGBC, which is seeking comments on its proposal to award credits for sustainable wood that several organizations certify. At present, USGBC's LEED program gives points only to wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. If it approves the change, the LEED program could accept wood certifications from organizations such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Canadian Standards Association.

The eco-label would work like existing grade stamps, says Colleen Rocha Levine, NLBMDA's director of government affairs. The association proposes that the eco-labels be "permanently marked by the producing mill on a face or side of each piece of dimension lumber." The label would "serve as a producer's warranty (subject to a third-party inspection) or origin of timber" and offer "permanent and transparent documentation" throughout the product's life cycle.

"There are five branded eco-forest certification programs that require dealers to keep separate purchasing, inventory, and sales records to document compliance with LEED" or National Association of Home Builders projects, Levine says. "A new eco-label would eliminate those duplicative record-keeping requirements and speed the flow of certified wood products into the supply chain."

–Victoria Markovitz

Cost-of-Doing Business Survey: There's Trouble All Over

Dealers reported an average pretax profit margin of 2.3% in 2007 in the latest Cost of Doing Business Survey, conducted by seven regional LBM associations that represent 24 states. That's down from the 6.06% margin for 2006 reported in the survey last year by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.

Gross margin on materials sank to 26.07% in 2007 from 29.15% the year before. Gross margin return on inventory multiplied by gross margin percentage worsened to 251.82 in 2007 from 336.02 in 2006. Inventory turnover decreased to 7.15 times from 8.17.

Sales per employee dropped to $337,981 from $396,651, and gross profit per employee shrank to $86,793 from $115,663. On the other hand, the average salary dropped to $51,544 from $57, 473.

There was one bright spot: As a percentage of sales, payroll costs dropped to 15.2% from 17.37%.

Businesses in a participating state may contact their local federated association for a copy of the survey. It costs $300 for members of participating federated associations, and $500 for all others.

The associations are:

  • Mountain States Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming)
  • Illinois Lumber and Materials Dealers Association
  • Michigan Lumber & Building Materials Association
  • Northwestern Lumber Association (Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota)
  • Southern Building Material Association (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia)
  • Lumbermen's Association of Texas (Louisiana, Texas)
  • Western Building Material Association (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington)

–Craig Webb

Boston Group Buys Nantucket Lumberyard and Its Airplanes

Boston's Intercontinental Real Estate has bought Marine Home Center, the lumberyard on Massachusetts' Nantucket Island featured in August's ProSales.

One press report says the deal includes hardware stores in Sandwich and South Yarmouth, Mass.; a warehouse in Hyannis, Mass.; 22 residential units; 52 commercial vehicles; and four airplanes plus a hangar. The residential news service quoted a source saying the deal was worth $42.5 million. There has been speculation that Intercontinental chairman and CEO Peter Palandjian coveted Marine Home Center's valuable harborfront property, but Palandjian has said there are no plans to remove the business.

In Brief

Jim Stockman has been promoted to vice president of Hayward Corp., the parent company of Hayward Lumber, Monterey, Calif. He will remain chief operations officer. ? The 19th Annual Joe Hardy/84 Lumber Golf Invitational, benefiting the Westmoreland/Fayette County, Pa., Council of the Boy Scouts of America, raised $84,174 this year. . ?Actress Valerie Bertinelli will star in the pilot for a potential TBS sitcom about a woman separated from her husband who finds herself running his lumberyard.

Spread the word!

Send your company's news, announcements, and events to Evamarie Socha, via e-mail esocha@hanley or fax 202.785.1974.


The approximate number of permits available for the Nevada Division of State Parks' annual wood sale. Only one cord per family, please, of wood consisting of pine and fir, some seasoned and some green. Most of it is stove length but some odd-sized and large rounds are possible.

Source: Nevada Dept. of Conservation and Resources