What’s News September 2020

July 27th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

COVID-19

Contact Tracing Leads New York Officials to Keymark

A day after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced hospitalizations were below 1,000 in his state for the first time since March, a New York-based aluminum extrusions provider found itself in the spotlight after its employees were identified as the source for an outbreak of COVID-19. Governor Cuomo announced that the New York State Department of Health’s contact tracing program and local health department officials back-tracked the outbreak to employees of Keymark Corp., among whom 38 cases stemmed from human-to-human contact. Meanwhile, “Around 95% of the people who came back positive were asymptomatic,” Keymark’s president William Keller III told [DWM].

Isolation and quarantine measures were established for those involved. Of the 44 people who tested positive, the company contact-traced to another 75 individuals, said Keller, placing around 100 employees out of work for 10 days to two weeks. But the issue wasn’t social circles or cohabitation, he suggested. Rather, “The primary area where we identified there could be contamination was in carpooling,” he said, with the majority of those infected hailing from a single community. Policies were established prohibiting ride-sharing practices at Keymark, Keller said, as his company rushed to establish bus services.

The company’s factory operates on a 24-hour basis across four shifts, but the majority of COVID-19 cases were identified among one building and a single shift. Buildings and workspaces are cleaned and sanitized for 30 minutes between shifts, Keller said.

In all, 500 employees were tested.

Positive Notes

Companies Rally Together Amid COVID-19 and Protests

Pella Corp.

Pella began producing face shields in its 3D printing facilities in Shenandoah and Sioux Center, Iowa, where, according to company officials, the state’s health care workers were in “desperate need of personal protective equipment.” The company announced it is able to produce more than 600 clear, protective face shields daily.

Kohltech

According to CBC News, when the owner of a Timbermart building supply business in Nova Scotia, was in need of a way to safely bring customers back into his store, he reached out to Kevin Pelley, CEO of Kohltech. Pelley was able to send him a shipment of tempered glass shields within 48 hours. “They sent down a couple of prototypes and we put them on the counter, and they’ve been working ever since,” Bower says.

North Star Windows and Doors

North Star Windows and Doors, in St. Thomas, Ontario, partnered with various vendors to repurpose some of its assembly lines for producing protective face shield. “At the start of the outbreak, the engineering and maintenance team began to brainstorm how we could support frontline efforts by leveraging new capacities in cutting, existing raw materials, and like-minded suppliers …,” said Glenn Schmitchen, engineering manager.

Window World

According to WREX news, a handful of businesses in Freeport, Ill., were damaged following protests that became violent. Joe’s Pizza was one of them. Scott Williamson, president of Window World in Rockford, Ill., noticed the damage. “We told them that we are going to go ahead and replace this and it’s not going to cost you anything,” said Williamson.

Trade

DOC Weighs in on Millwork, Adds Plywood

In mid-June, the Federal Register published a preliminary determination regarding wood moulding and millwork products from the People’s Republic of China, where the Department of Commerce (DOC) determined that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters. Now the department is looking into whether imports of hardwood plywood completed in Vietnam, using components from China, are circumventing existing antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders.

An investigation took place from January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, into wood moulding and millwork products that are made of wood (regardless of wood species), bamboo, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), or of wood and composite materials (where the composite materials make up less than 50% of the total merchandise), and which are continuously shaped wood that undergoes additional manufacturing or finger-jointing or edge-glued moulding or millwork blanks. Wood mouldings and millwork products that are coated or clad, even along their entire length, are also covered by the scope, as are jamb parts, and door components, such as rails and stiles. All wood moulding and millwork products are included within the scope even if they are trimmed, cut-to-size, notched, punched, drilled, or have undergone other forms of minor processing, according to the determination. Subject merchandise also includes wood moulding and millwork products that have been further processed in a third country.

The final CVD determination for mouldings will be issued on the same date as the final AD determination, which is currently scheduled to be issued no laterthan October 19, 2020, unless postponed, according to the Federal Register.

Expansions

Ensinger Opens New Warehouse

Ensinger Building Products, part of the Ensinger Global Group, opened a warehouse in California where officials say it provides local distribution for its insulbar polyamide thermal breaks to West Coast customers.

“This strategically located warehouse allows Ensinger to support this rapidly growing market with shorter lead times, reduced freight costs and continued industry-leading service,” said Joe Nellinger, sales operations manager.

Pella to Expand in Ohio

Pella Corp. is expanding with a new 324,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Troy, Ohio. The existing space will house production of vinyl doors and windows, in order to serve customers in the Eastern region of the U.S.

“We are excited about the growth opportunity that vinyl products represent,” said Tim Yaggi, CEO. “This new facility allows Pella to increase our production capacity and shorten lead times for our valued retail and trade customers in the region.”

The facility is expected to be fully up and running by 2025, creating more than 400 new jobs. Officials said the project was made possible through partnerships with Jobs Ohio, Dayton Development Coalition, Troy Development Council and Ohio Development Services Agency.

“Industrial recruitment is vital to the growth of any community, and I appreciate the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in this project at every level,” said Joseph A. Graves, CEO of Troy Development Council. “Pella’s investment in our city and the employment opportunities that will be created provide a stimulus to the continued economic development of our area. I look forward to a long and successful partnership with our newest corporate citizen.”

Fenzi Expands Headquarters

The Fenzi Group is expanding its headquarters in Milan, Italy, with a new integrated logistics center to optimize efficiency in warehouse management and shipping.

With a surface area of more than 160,000 square feet, the new plant is highly automated, officials say, and designed to make use of the company’s logistics management techniques. The facility is equipped with structural technologies to digitize the flow of raw materials and shipping, thereby improving traceability.

“The COVID-19 crisis has not stopped our determination to continue to improve,” says Matteo Padovan, general manager of Fenzi Italia.

Housing

Market for New Homes Shows Promise as Rates Hang Low

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the economy, the housing market waved a flag of relief in July, indicating that homebuyers are ready to move again under the stimulus of record-low interest rates. July readings were especially favorable for current single-family sales and single-family sales expected over the next six months, as “New home demand is improving in lower-density markets … as people seek out larger homes and anticipate more flexibility for telework in the years ahead,” said Robert Dietz, Ph.D., chief economist for NAHB. Meanwhile, the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to below 3% in July. Combined, those and other factors have preliminary expectations for new home sales registering above July 2019.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) is based on a monthly survey of NAHB members in order to weigh the strength of the single-family housing market, with a measurement of 50 or more indicating that more builders view conditions as good than poor. After three months of decimation and a low of 30, the July 2020 rating registered seven points higher than July 2019—jumping a full 14 points from June 2020 at a ranking of 72. The current July index is the highest on mark for the month since 1999 and the second highest for July on record. The July 2020 measurement also out registers every month from last year, with the exception of December.

Manufacturers

PGT Innovations Hires 100+

A career fair in June netted door and window manufacturer PGT Innovations more than 100 new employees. Held at its North Venice, Fla.-based headquarters, the event sought manufacturing technicians, fabricators, material handling technicians and drivers. To fill an additional 70 positions, the company offered $250 sign-on bonuses throughout July.

More than 1,700 people work at the facility, making it the largest private sector employer in Sarasota County, officials report.

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