Confidence in Equipment Finance Market Remains at Highest Index Level in Two Years

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation has released the April 2014 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $827 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 65.1, remaining at the highest index level in two years for the second consecutive month.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent Thomas Jaschik, president, BB&T Equipment Finance, said: “The first quarter of 2014 had positive results with respect to new business activity, and the economy is on a positive trajectory. The conclusion of the winter of 2013-2014 may be the catalyst for pent-up demand to begin to be released. This will have a positive impact on the equipment finance market throughout 2014.”

The overall MCI-EFI is 65.1, unchanged from the March index.

• When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 37 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 31.4 percent in March. Sixty percent of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 65.7 percent in March. Two point nine percent believe business conditions will worsen, unchanged from the previous month.

• Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 31.4 percent in March. And 60 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 62.9 percent the previous month. Another 2.9 percent believe demand will decline, down from 5.7 percent who believed so in March.

• Also, 28.6 percent of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, a decrease from 31.4 percent in March. And 71.4 percent of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, up from 68.6 percent in March. No one expects “less” access to capital, unchanged from the previous month.

• When asked, 37 percent of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 40 percent in March. Sixty percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, unchanged from last month. Another 2.9 percent expect fewer employees, up from no one who expected fewer employees in March.

• And 2.9 percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” down from 5.7 percent last month. Another 91.4 percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” up from 88.6 percent last month. Just under 6 percent rate it as “poor,” unchanged from March.

• Of the survey respondents, 34.3 percent believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, an increase from 31.4 percent who believed so in March. And 62.9 percent of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, a decrease from 68.6 percent in March. And 2.9 percent believes economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, an increase from no one who believed so last month.

• In April, 40 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 45.7 percent in March. The other 60 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 54.3 percent last month. No one believes there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.

April 2014 MCI Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership:
Independent, Small Ticket
“I believe there are many projects that were put on hold during the last quarter due to the difficult weather conditions this winter. Equipment acquisition should improve as these projects get back on track as economic conditions continue to improve and the weather turns more favorable. The concerns I have are for the increasing amount of capital that continues to enter the marketplace bringing a downward pressure on yields.” Valerie Hayes Jester, President, Brandywine Capital Associates, Inc.

Bank, Small Ticket
“It seems that the U.S. consumer is gaining confidence, which may translate into increased spending. When this segment of our economy actually gains real traction, we will see tangible growth in GDP. The one caveat is the threat of a global event that could stall our cyclical recovery.” Paul Menzel, President & CEO, Financial Pacific Leasing, LLC

Bank, Middle Ticket
“The industries we serve continue to make capital investments to support growth activities. Drought in some areas of the country may curtail capital investment this year.” Michael Romanowski, President, Farm Credit Leasing Services Corporation

Why an MCI-EFI?
Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.

Who participates in the MCI-EFI?
The respondents are comprised of a wide cross section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies. The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey’s integrity. Since the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry’s confidence.

How is the MCI-EFI designed?
The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents’ opinions about the following:
1. Current business conditions
2. Expected product demand over the next four months
3. Access to capital over the next four months
4. Future employment conditions
5. Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
6. U.S. economic conditions over the next six months
7. Business development spending expectations
8. Open-ended question for comment

How may I access the MCI-EFI?
Survey results are posted on the Foundation website, included in the Foundation Forecast newsletter and included in press releases. Survey respondent demographics and additional information about the MCI are also available at the link above.

New Reality Show Seeking Building Professionals

UTOPIA, FOX’s bold new unscripted series that follows a group of everyday people creating their own new civilization, has begun a nationwide search for pioneers to become the first inhabitants of UTOPIA. The series is looking for motivated and adventurous people who possess the passion and determination to create and build a whole new world—just the way they want it! Entrants should express their ideals, beliefs, skill sets and vision for their interpretations of UTOPIA.

Casting currently is seeking people with skills in the construction, home decorating, design, DIY, transportation, wood working, machinery/tools, architecture, green living, sustainable development, building/engineering trades areas.

UTOPIA will follow 15 inhabitants as they leave their everyday lives to move to a beautiful, but isolated and undeveloped location—for up to an entire year—challenging them to create their own world. The series offers people from across America the chance to be part of a groundbreaking social experiment; the pioneers will make every decision about how they will live, work and what the rules and laws of UTOPIA will be.

Participants must be a legal U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, at least 21 years of age (as of March 24, 2014) and able to commit to a full year as a “Utopian” pioneer. Watch a UTOPIA casting video. Visit UTOPIA’s website for updated submission rules, terms, conditions and additional casting information and events.

Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction Is Extended by Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee has approved a two-year extension of the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction, also known as Section 179D, as part of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.

The provision allows a taxpayer to take a deduction equal to commercial building energy-efficiency expenditures made by the taxpayer as part of the building’s interior lighting systems, heating, cooling, ventilation and hot-water systems or building envelope. Certification must be obtained to verify that the retrofits are installed as part of a plan to reduce energy costs by 50 percent or more in comparison to a specified minimum standard.

The bill makes some modifications to the 179D incentive. Tribal governments and 501(c)(3)non-profit organizations would be permitted to transfer the deduction to the architect or designer primarily responsible for designing the energy efficiency project. The ability to transfer the deduction is currently available only for public building projects.

Also, under the new provision the 50 percent energy savings certification would be calculated on energy-efficiency improvements above a new baseline reference. The approved modification moves the baseline to a more current standard.

The Commercial Building Tax Deduction was enacted into law as a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and represented the first performance-based federal tax incentive aimed at energy efficiency improvements in commercial buildings. Congress has acted twice to extend the provision. The last extension was for five years and expired on Dec. 31, 2013.

Companies that Offer Voluntary Accident and Disability Insurance Report Less Workers’ Comp Claims

A new survey released by Aflac, a provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, found that 42 percent of all companies providing access to voluntary accident and disability insurance reported declines in their workers’ compensation claims.

The Aflac Workers’ Compensation Report, an online survey conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide on behalf of Aflac, asked 600 employers from small, medium and large U.S. companies if they provided employees with access to accident or disability insurance and, if so, whether they noted a corresponding decline in workers’ compensation claims.

When responses were broken down by company size, the survey found that 55 percent of large companies that provide access to accident insurance experienced declines in workers’ compensation claims, while 34 percent of small- and medium-sized companies each reported declines. These findings are important considering workers’ compensation benefits paid to injured workers in 2011 rose, costing American employers $77.1 billion.

“For years, insurance agents and brokers have heard anecdotal rumors linking voluntary accident and disability insurance to reduced workers’ compensation claims, and we learned the anecdotes are true based on our recent study results,” said Tye Elliott, Aflac vice president of Core Broker Sales. “These findings confirm the correlation between accident and disability insurance and reduced workers’ compensation claims. Employers can now weigh the potential positive financial effects of offering accident and disability insurance against the costs of workers’ compensation claims.”

Measuring the impact of voluntary accident and disability insurance on workers’ compensation claims

In addition to asking employers if they could confirm declines in claims, the survey also inquired about the significance of those declines.2 Here are the responses of companies that provide access to voluntary accident insurance:

    · 14 percent of all employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 17 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 12 percent of large-sized businesses reported reductions of 50 percent or more, while 29 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 13 percent of medium-sized businesses reported reductions of 50 percent or more, while 14 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 15 percent of small-sized businesses reported reductions of 50 percent or more, while 9 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

The findings were similar for companies that provide access to voluntary disability insurance — nearly half (47 percent) of large employers reported overall decreases in workers’ compensation claims. In addition, 43 percent of small companies and 33 percent of medium companies reported declines. Respondents were also asked if they could gauge the significance of the declines:

    · 15 percent of all employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, and 15 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 11 percent of large employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 20 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 18 percent of medium employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 7 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

    · 18 percent of small employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, while 17 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

What do these findings mean for companies? According to Elliott, “The results demonstrate that by making voluntary accident and disability insurance available to employees, companies can often decrease the frequency and expense of their workers’ compensation claims.”

Roofing Supply Group Opens Florida Location

Roofing Supply Group LLC, a national wholesale distributor of roofing supplies and related materials, announced that it has continued its expansion in Florida with the opening of a new location in Fort Myers. This new location will strategically position RSG to better serve the Southwest Florida market as a whole, including the counties of Lee, Collier and Charlotte.

Jack Gill, Florida district manager, will oversee the new location. It is the 20th branch in the Southeast Region under the direction of Tim Perryman, regional senior vice president.

“We are thrilled about our new branch in Fort Myers, which expands our footprint in the Florida market,” Gill says. “It is exciting to see the exceptional team we are building, one that will continue RSG’s commitment to our customers by providing outstanding service and quality products.”

Perryman adds: “We are excited to continue our expansion in the Southeast and more specifically in Florida. In the last nine months we have opened locations in St. Petersburg/Pinellas, Jacksonville and now Fort Myers. We are committed to the state of Florida and look forward to evaluating additional opportunities for growth.”

The opening of this latest branch in Fort Myers aligns strategically with RSG’s overall expansion initiative which includes organic growth, opening of new locations and potential acquisitions. This marks the 10th new location for RSG in the last year.

Hanley Wood Names Best Products from 2014 IRE

Hanley Wood Exhibitions has announced the selection of six products receiving recognition based on innovation, productivity and cost-effectiveness during the 2014 International Roofing Expo (IRE), held Feb. 26-28 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. A panel of industry experts selected the “Best New Product” and “Best Sustainable Product” from selections found in the Product Showcase at the show.

The IRE Product Showcase, a 2,500-square-foot pavilion, featured 28 displays of the latest products focusing on safety and sustainability – as well as products made in the USA – in a direct, non-selling environment. Judges selected first, second and third place winners in each category.

Carlisle SynTec Systems of Carlisle, Pa., was awarded Best New Product for its Sure-Flex KEE HP PVC Membrane. ERSystems & Elastek of Irving, Texas, was awarded Best Sustainable Product for its ER One Step.

“The 2014 IRE was successful,” said Ryan Blad, Technical Service & Support for ERSystems & Elastek. “The biggest highlight would be OneStep winning the Best Sustainable Product Award.”

Second place in the Best New Product category was awarded to Galaxy Energy Americas of Aurora, Ontario, for its G7 universal standing-seam clamp, while third place was awarded to Metal Plus LLC of Winsted, Conn., for its Roofer’s Helper bracket.

Second place in the Best Sustainable Product category was awarded to Polyglass USA of Deerfield Beach, Fla., for its Polyfresko G SA, while third place was awarded to Freedom Supply of Wendell, N.C., for its Roofer’s and Paver’s Edge.

“We congratulate all six award winners,” said Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE Show Director. “These companies deserve recognition for the innovative products they created and the significant impact each will have on the roofing industry.”

Other companies competing for the Best New Product award included AVM Industries, Benjamin Obdyke, DI Roof Seamers, Eco Chief Products, Epilay, ERSystems & Elastek, Insulation Solutions, Leister USA, Lifetime Tool and Building Products, MetalSafe Coatings, Polyglass USA, SafePro Guard, Tramex, Vector Mapping / IR Analyzers.

Competing for the Best Sustainable Product award were AVM Industries, Carlisle SynTec Systems, DaVinci Roofscapes, Eco Chief Products, Lifetime Tool & Building Products, Metal Plus and MetalSafe Coatings.

The 2015 International Roofing Expo will be held Feb. 24-26, at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Online housing reservations can be made immediately and online registration will open in September.

Register Now for International Roof Coatings Conference

Industry professionals can now register for the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) 2014 International Roof Coatings Conference (IRCC), to take place at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel Baltimore, July 14-17. Offered in partnership with nine industry organizations, the conference will highlight the latest technological advancements and emerging issues of relevance to the roof coating, building envelope, green building, cool roofing, research, and architectural communities.

The second biennial IRCC is back by popular demand following the well-received inaugural 2012 IRCC, which was attended by over 120 industry representatives. This year, RCMA has partnered with nine US and international organizations to bring you the 2014 IRCC. These conference partners include:

    · Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
    · Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
    · National Research Council Canada (NRC)
    · Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA)
    · Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA)
    · Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA)
    · European Cool Roofs Council (ECRC)
    · American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
    · Alliance to Save Energy (ASE)

“We are thrilled to partner with such an outstanding group of organizations, each sharing RCMA’s vision to deliver excellent educational content and programming,” said John Ferraro, RCMA executive director. “The conference will feature presentations on topics covering everything from roof coatings to cool roofing to sustainability,” adds Ferraro, “and promises to be highly valuable to both member and non-member attendees.”

The conference will begin with an opening reception on the evening of Monday, July 14 and will continue through noon on Wednesday, July 16. The following speakers will be delivering presentations on a range of timely topics, sharing their research papers with meeting attendees, and participating in dialogues about the future of the coatings industry:

    · Dr. Karma Sawyer, United States Department of Energy
    “The Building Envelope Emerging Technologies Portfolio in DOE’s Building Technologies Office”

    · Alice Kennedy, Baltimore Office of Sustainability
    “Advancing Installation of Reflective Roofing Systems through Community-Based Social Marketing and the Baltimore Energy Challenge”

    · Dr. James L. Hoff, Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing
    “Introducing the RoofPoint Energy and Carbon Calculator: Measuring the Energy and Environmental Contributions of Roofing Systems”

    · Jeffrey Steuben, Cool Roof Rating Council
    “When the Going Gets Rough: The Impact of Substrate Texture on Solar Reflectance Ratings”

    · Dr. Hashem Akbari, Concordia University
    “Advances in Developing Standards for Accelerated Aging of Cool Roofing Materials”

    · Michael D. Fischer, Kellen Company
    “Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Codes and Standards: Impact on the Roof Coatings Industry”

    · Dr. Justin Jitao Chen, Dr. Steven Jiguang Zhang, Dr. Joseph Rokowski, and Loganathan Ravisanker, Dow Chemical Company
    “Novel PUA Hybrid Chemistry for Elastomeric Roof Coatings”

    · Joe Mellott and Tom Diamond, The Garland Company
    “Overcoming Vapor Drive Issues in Cool Roofing”

    · Kurt Shickman, Global Cool Cities Alliance
    “Cool Surfaces: An International Opportunity”

    · Dr. Michael R. Van De Mark, Missouri S&T Coatings Institute
    “Solvent Reduction Technology – What are the Rules?”

    · Dr. Kaushik Biswas, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    “Impact of Dynamic Insulation Technologies on Steep-Slope Roof Assemblies”

    · Steve Heinje, Quest Construction Products
    “The Roots and Future of Sustainability”

The RCMA Summer Meeting, open to both RCMA members and non-member guests, will follow the conclusion of the IRCC programming and will continue through the morning of Thursday, July 17. Highlights of the RCMA portion of the event will include guest speakers from Health Product Declarations Collaborative and the American Trucking Association, detailed reports on the activities of each of the Association’s committees, and industry updates on the latest regulatory and technical news.

Discounted “early bird” registration will run from April 8 through May 16, 2014. For more information on the International Roof Coatings Conference, including a complete schedule of events, registration information, and details on hotel accommodations, please visit the association website. Email RCMA Staff Associate Laura Dwulet with any conference questions or to be added to the mailing list to receive conference and registration updates.

Presentation Proposals Sought for 2015 IRE

Hanley Wood Exhibitions has issued a call for presentation proposals for the 2015 International Roofing Expo (IRE). Researchers, educators, consultants, technical experts and industry leaders are encouraged to share their knowledge and business expertise as presenters for IRE the educational conference program.

The International Roofing Expo is the must-attend event for commercial and residential roofing professionals to stay abreast of market directions, trends and cutting-edge technology. Formerly owned by NRCA, the show was sold to Hanley Wood Exhibitions in May 2004. The official show sponsor is NRCA; the official show publication is Roofing Contractor; and the digital destination and official residential publication is Replacement Contractor.

The 2015 event will take place Feb. 24-26 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The educational conference historically presents the latest trends in the roofing industry to help attendees expand their technical knowledge and grow their businesses.

“We are seeking top-tier industry innovators well-versed in the most relevant topics and issues facing roofing professionals today,” says Brandi McElhaney, Senior Conference Manager. “To make a significant contribution to the industry, we encourage you to submit a proposal.”

Experienced speakers with proven, dynamic presentation skills and in-depth knowledge are encouraged to submit proposals. Sessions are 90 minutes in length and should contain timely, practical information that can be immediately utilized in the workplace. Submissions should focus on applications-oriented, real world, problem-solving content, and must not include commercial or promotional messages or content.

    The multi-track educational program includes:
    • technical training
    • workplace safety training
    • leadership and management strategies
    • green building trends
    • legal and human resources issues
    • financial management training
    • sales and service best practices

    The primary audience of the educational conference includes:
    • commercial and residential roofing contractors
    • architects and designers
    • building owners and facility managers
    • manufacturers and suppliers
    • owners, general managers, and CEOs of roofing businesses
    • sales professionals and estimators
    • superintendents and foremen
    • industry consultants

“The conference offers speakers the opportunity to establish their position as industry experts to a broad range of roofing professionals,” said Bill Good, Executive Vice President of NRCA, the show’s official sponsor. “We encourage members, associate members and others involved with the industry to submit their proposals as soon as possible.”

The deadline for submitting Call for Presentations proposals is April 15, 2014. Session proposals should be submitted via the automated submission form. Questions should be directed to Brandi McElhaney, Senior Conference Manager, via email or by calling (972) 536-6392.

Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels to Hold First Fundraiser

The public is invited to the inaugural fundraiser in Plant City, Fla., May 1 for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps with financial support for families of construction-industry employees killed on the job.

Dean Sims II, vice president at Sims Crane & Equipment Co. in Tampa, is the founder of the Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels, which originally was begun in Broward County.

According to the Florida Department of Labor, fatalities on construction jobs in Florida increased from 41 in 2011 to 55 in 2012 – a 26 percent jump. Numbers for 2013 are not final yet.

“With all of the industry’s dedication to safety education and safety on the job, the fact that on-site deaths in the construction industry are on the rise is of major concern to everyone involved,” said Sims. “And the reality is, in most cases, the families of loved ones killed on the job need all the financial help they can get. That’s where Construction Angels comes in.”

The fundraiser, hosted by Sims Crane and open to the public, will be held at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33565, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. Festivities include live music, silent auction, raffle, commemorative photos and locally grown and distilled strawberry and blueberry wine. Registration/donation is $25 online and $30 at the door.

Register on the Sims Crane or Construction Angels websites.

NRCA Testifies about OSHA’s Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) provided testimony on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule to amend its existing standards for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The testimony was part of a three-week public hearing process held by OSHA.

“In roofing, as OSHA understands very well, our overriding safety concern is falls. The best safety practices in the industry include keeping roofing workers away from the edge of the roof, protecting them from tripping on the roof, and minimizing their trips up and down ladders,” said NRCA Executive Vice President William Good, who testified on behalf of the association. “Unfortunately, we fear the new rule will dramatically increase the risk of falls, because of the nature of roofing work.”

Good explained that in the roofing industry, silica exposures are limited to operations where tile roofs are being installed because the tiles need to be cut to fit in place on the roof. The proposed rule’s engineering controls would require roofing workers to either use wetting or vacuuming, both of which could introduce new tripping hazards because they involve placing hoses on rooftops. In addition, wetting would result in slippery tiles, which is particularly dangerous on steep-slope roofs.

Visuals of a typical tile roofing job site were presented during Good’s testimony to illustrate NRCA’s concern.

“Ours is a unique industry with unique hazards, and a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing silica exposures not only won’t work for us but will likely, in fact, create other hazards that are more immediate and life threatening,” Good continued.

OSHA’s public hearing on the new crystalline silica rule is scheduled to conclude April 4.