MasterSpec Small Project Enhanced with 55 New Sections

ARCOM is pleased to announce that MasterSpec Small Project has been enhanced to include 55 new sections. Architects and specifiers will now have access to more than 320 sections commonly used for small projects. The additional sections include sustainable design requirements, reroofing preparation, waterproofing and roofing, snow guards, chairlifts and much more. These abridged specification sections are developed specifically for projects limited in size, scope and duration with simpler contractual requirements.

In response to growing client demand, MasterSpec Small Project now features some of the tools and resources included in the flagship MasterSpec software, namely Supporting Documents and Paragraph Builder, two of the most popular tools. MasterSpec Supporting Documents feature checklists, tips, and background research information, helping specification writers improve their efficiency while also reminding them of items that might be overlooked when compiling specification projects. Paragraph Builder is a cloud-based time-saving tool that hosts manufacturer and product information that are continuously and automatically updated.

MasterSpec Small Project is preferred when architects, engineers and specifiers are working on residential, light commercial, renovation, and design-build projects, as well as facilities management and interior fit-out work.

RCMA Elects Officers, Bestows Martin A. Davis Industry Leadership Award

The Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) hosted more than 90 industry attendees at its 2014 Annual Meeting, Feb. 24-25 in Las Vegas. The association elected a new slate of officers to its board of directors and named Brian Anthony, vice president, The Brewer Co., Milford, Ohio, the 2013 recipient of the RCMA Martin A. Davis Industry Leadership Award.

The Martin A. Davis Award, the highest tribute bestowed by the RCMA, is presented on an annual basis to that individual, selected by his or her peers, who has exemplified outstanding service and made significant contributions to the roof coatings industry. The announcement of Anthony as this year’s honoree and the presentation of the award were made on February 24 at the RCMA 2014 Annual Conference at the Luxor Hotel.

Involved in the RCMA’s activities for over 20 years, Anthony has served as both Vice President and President of the Association. “Throughout Brian’s time with the RCMA, he has consistently been looked to as a leader in all aspects of the Association’s development and growth, and has been particularly active with our technical programs,” reports John Ferraro, RCMA executive director.

Anthony is the 29th recipient of the Martin A. Davis Award, first awarded posthumously to Martin A. Davis in 1985. The award was subsequently designated in honor and memory of Davis, a visionary founding member of the RCMA, who served both the Association and the industry with distinction and exceptional service.

In addition to receiving the Martin A. Davis award, Anthony was re-elected to serve on the RCMA Board of Directors. Also elected to fill two vacant seats were John Ivancic, Sherwin-Williams, and Craig Smith, Superior Products International.

The following Officers were elected by the membership at the 2014 Annual Meeting to serve two-year terms:

President: Helene Hardy Pierce, GAF
Vice President: Skip Leonard, Henry Company
Vice President: Steve Heinje, Quest Construction Products
Secretary-Treasurer: Jonathan Dietzel, The SWT Group

“We are thrilled with the turnout at our Annual Meeting,” commented Ferraro. “I believe that the unprecedented volume of first-time attendees is a testament to the hard work put in by our member volunteers and the relevance of our association’s activities.”

The RCMA will next convene in Baltimore, July 14-17, for the association’s International Roof Coatings Conference.

ELFA Monthly Leasing and Finance Index Provides a Survey of Economic Activity

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector, showed its overall new business volume for January was $6 billion, up 2 percent from new business volume in January 2013. Volume was down 44 percent from December, following the typical end-of-quarter, end-of-year spike in new business activity.

Receivables over 30 days were at 1.8 percent in January, down slightly from 1.9 percent in December. Delinquencies were unchanged from the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were unchanged from the previous two months at the all-time low of 0.3 percent.

Credit approvals totaled 76.9 percent in January, a decrease from 78.3 percent the previous month. Fifty-four percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during January, a decrease from 57 percent December.

Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 0.7 percent year over year.

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for February is 63.3, the second highest index in two years and off slightly from last month’s two-year index high of 64.9.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: “At the start of the new year, equipment finance activity picked up where it left off for most of 2013. New business volume shows modest, incremental growth while credit losses continue at historic lows. With fiscal pressures in Washington subsiding, at least for the time being, and most major U.S. economic indicators showing positive signs, we are hopeful that these factors will help promote a favorable climate for continued investment by U.S. businesses in capital equipment in 2014 and beyond.”

Martha Ahlers, VP/COO, United Leasing Inc., added: “The Monthly Confidence Index results for the last two reported periods provide continued optimism for the year ahead. Beginning 2014 with a 63.3 MCI, the 2nd highest mark in the last 24 months, is also extremely promising and serves as evidence of stability and positive velocity within our industry. In the Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, origination volumes year-over-year are also up, while maintaining historically low delinquency and charge-offs—an indication of continued health. The combination of these positive indicators creates a huge amount of excitement for potential growth.”

About ELFA’s MLFI-25
The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey. The latest MLFI-25, including methodology and participants is available below and also at

MLFI-25 Methodology
The ELFA produces the MLFI-25 survey to help member organizations achieve competitive advantage by providing them with leading-edge research and benchmarking information to support strategic business decision making.

The MLFI-25 is a barometer of the trends in U.S. capital equipment investment. Five components are included in the survey: new business volume (originations), aging of receivables, charge-offs, credit approval ratios, (approved vs. submitted) and headcount for the equipment finance business.

The MLFI-25 measures monthly commercial equipment lease and loan activity as reported by participating ELFA member equipment finance companies representing a cross section of the equipment finance sector, including small ticket, middle-market, large ticket, bank, captive and independent leasing and finance companies. Based on hard survey data, the responses mirror the economic activity of the broader equipment finance sector and current business conditions nationally.

ELFA MLFI-25 Participants

ADP Credit
BancorpSouth Equipment Finance
Bank of America
Bank of the West
BB&T Bank
BMO Harris Equipment Finance
Canon Financial Services
Caterpillar Financial Services
De Lage Landen Financial Services
Dell Financial Services
Direct Capital Corporation
EverBank Commercial Finance
Fifth Third Equipment Finance
First American Equipment Finance, a City National Bank Company
GreatAmerica Financial Services
Hitachi Credit America
HP Financial Services
Huntington Equipment Finance
John Deere Financial
Key Equipment Finance
LEAF Commercial Capital
M&T Bank
Marlin Leasing
Merchants Capital
PNC Equipment Finance
RBS Asset Finance
SG Equipment Finance
Siemens Financial Services
Stearns Bank
Susquehanna Commercial Finance
TCF Equipment Finance
US Bancorp Equipment Finance
Verizon Capital
Volvo Financial Services
Wells Fargo Equipment Finance

Colorado Coalition to Welcome METALCON International to Denver

Visitors to the 24th METALCON International, slated for Oct. 1-3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, will get a royal welcome from local companies involved in the show. Denver-based New Tech Machinery and Colorado Springs-based S-5! Solutions have formed the Colorado Coalition as a way of encouraging visitors to learn about Colorado before they arrive and for Coloradans to experience METALCON.

METALCON Show Director Claire Kilcoyne agrees that METALCON and Colorado are a perfect match. “We’re so glad to be coming to Denver. Colorado is a great state for metal and for business. That’s why we always wanted to bring the show here, so the expansion of the convention center was a turning point in doing that. Our friends at S-5! and New Tech are making great plans to welcome METALCON to their state. It’s a great feeling and we’re looking forward to all the exciting things happening in October.”

METALCON is the only annual international event focused on metal construction products, technologies and solutions. It draws designers, builders, developers, contractors, fabricators and suppliers from more than 52 countries each year. Experts from nearly 300 companies exhibit the latest products and technology and share their knowledge with attendees while industry specialists present key topics in the education program and in live demonstrations of field techniques held daily in the exhibit hall.

New Tech Machinery and S-5! Solutions have spearheaded the welcoming effort by generating awareness about METALCON among area groups, such as the Colorado Roofing Association, the Colorado AIA, IFMA, BOMA and surrounding state associations.

Keith Lipps, vice president of S-5! Solutions, is eager to show off his state and his company. “The Colorado Coalition was formed as soon as we learned METALCON was coming to our home state. It’s exciting and gives us a chance to welcome the industry to Colorado. The roofing industry here supports metal and solar and Colorado has consistently been in the top five states using solar. When a trade association meeting is held elsewhere in the U.S., people from the Rocky Mountain states have less of a chance to go. So we’re reaching out to our industry in our own backyard and the associations we’ve met with are very excited about METALCON. Downtown Denver is quite historic and fun and the convention center is walking distance to a lot of great places. We’re also inviting our distributors from all over the world for an S-5! meeting in conjunction with METALCON. So there are a lot of fantastic activities already set in place.”

S-5! Solutions offers a line of non-penetrating clamps, attachment brackets, snow retention systems, and solar attachment solutions that offer strength and longevity.

Kristin Peregoy, marketing manager for New Tech Machinery, is equally involved in the Colorado Coalition. “We are so excited to have METALCON here in our hometown. We’re getting a great response from trade groups in our area and making plans for a big welcoming party at the show. Some of our staff have never been to METALCON so this will be their first time to see the show. Denver is a green and environmentally friendly city so metal roofing is a key part of the area especially in the foothills. Rollforming also has a rich history in Denver and our company has been a major part of the metal community here for more than 20 years. So we’re very proud to be part of this coalition.”

New Tech Machinery manufactures portable rollforming equipment for roofing contractors, gutter contractors and in-plant manufacturers worldwide. Its current product line includes three standing seam roof panel machines, four seamless gutter machines, specialty machines and accessories for existing machines.

The value of metal in sustainable design and green building is highlighted at METALCON in Green Island, an area on the exhibit floor dedicated to metal products used in building energy-saving structures, and in Solar Bay, a special pavilion that showcases the benefits of integrating solar technology with metal roof and wall systems.

During the three-day conference and exhibition, specialists from the Metal Construction Association and other industry related associations present the latest applications and field techniques in daily demonstrations in the Metal in Action area of the exhibit hall. This interactive program combines the best of Solar Bay Live, MCA’s Residential and Commercial Roofing Demos, and Tools Demos. Solar Bay Live offers presentations of techniques for installing solar and metal combinations. In the tool demos, participants can test the latest tools for use with metal.

METALCON is produced by Newton, Mass.-based PSMJ Resources Inc. and sponsored by the Metal Construction Association. MCA is an organization of leading manufacturers and suppliers headquartered in Chicago.

Value of New Construction Fell 13 Percent in January

The value of new construction starts fell 13% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $485.0 billion, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial. The downturn followed a healthy performance in December, which was the third highest month for total construction starts during 2013. January’s retreat encompassed all three main construction sectors, with moderate declines reported for nonresidential building and housing, as well as a more substantial loss of momentum for nonbuilding construction (public works and electric utilities) after a particularly robust December. On an unadjusted basis, total construction starts in January came in at $34.1 billion, down 5% from the same month a year ago.

The January statistics lowered the Dodge Index to 103 (2000=100), compared to a revised 118 for December and below the average Index reading of 110 for all of 2013. “The year 2014 began slowly, due to behavior specific to each of the three main construction sectors,” stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for McGraw Hill Construction. “Nonresidential building in 2013 advanced 7%, but the progress was occasionally hesitant, including sluggish activity at the end of last year that carried over into January. At the same time, the prospects for continued growth for nonresidential building during 2014 are generally positive, helped by receding vacancies for commercial properties and some improvement in the fiscal health of state governments. Residential building in 2013 climbed 24%, but towards the end of last year growth began to decelerate as mortgage lending to first-time homebuyers remained stringent. The January slowdown for housing was due in part to tough winter weather conditions, yet the deceleration in recent months bears watching going forward. Nonbuilding construction in 2013 dropped 12%, as the steep pullback by electric utilities outweighed surprising growth for public works. Last year’s nonbuilding performance was also quite volatile on a month-to-month basis, including strong activity in December that’s now been followed by a sharp reduction in January. With 2014 not likely to see the same volume of very large public works projects reach the construction start stage, nonbuilding construction is expected to register another decline this year, and January’s downturn is part of that broader trend.”

Nonresidential building in January dropped 6% to $157.3 billion (annual rate), and was down 7% from last year’s average monthly pace. The commercial building sector in January fell 13%, with declines from the prior month shown by hotels, down 43%; and warehouses, down 3%. Hotels and warehouses posted strong percentage growth during 2013, with each rising 29%, and the sluggish activity in January is viewed as a pause in what’s expected to be continued growth for both structure types during 2014. Cushioning the January decline for the commercial building sector was a 21% increase for office construction, helped by groundbreaking for such projects as a $125 million corporate headquarters in Houston TX, a $66 million office park in Mountain View CA, and a $44 million office building in Raleigh NC. Store construction in January improved 4%, reflecting the start of a $30 million shopping mall in Lakeland FL and a $25 million department store in Las Vegas NV. The manufacturing plant category had a strong January, jumping 44%, due to the impact of two very large projects – a $1.2 billion propane dehydrogenation facility in Texas and a $450 million oil refinery expansion in North Dakota.

The institutional building sector in January decreased 12%, as the recent signs of stability after a lengthy five-year decline continue to be tenuous. The educational building category receded 3%, although the month did include the start of several large university-related projects – a $155 million renovation to an academic building at Princeton University in Princeton NJ, a $100 million business school at Baylor University in Waco TX, and a $92 million science and laboratory facility at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville TN. Healthcare facilities in January dropped 17%, as this structure type continues to show an up-and-down pattern on a monthly basis, keeping renewed growth in a sustained manner on hold. The smaller institutional categories in January were mixed, with reduced activity reported for transportation terminals (down 31%) and amusement-related work (down 20%), while public buildings (up 6%) and religious buildings (up 58%) showed improvement from depressed levels in December. The decline for the amusement category was relative to a very strong December, which included the start of the $763 million Vikings Multipurpose Stadium in Minneapolis MN. Large project support for the amusement category was also present in January, coming from $90 million estimated for a new facility at the Disney Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista FL, as part of a larger $500 million project at that theme park.

Residential building, at $204.7 billion (annual rate), slipped 2% in January. The retreat came as the result of a 6% decline for single family housing, which has now settled back for three months in a row. The January single family decline was widespread geographically, with this pattern for the five major regions relative to December – the South Central, down 13%; the Northeast and West, each down 6%; the Midwest, down 3%; and the South Atlantic, down 2%. Murray noted, “Harsh weather conditions in January played some role in the sluggish single family performance, in combination with the recent pickup in mortgage rates and the tight lending environment as it relates to first-time homebuyers. Still, it’s expected that single family construction should soon regain upward momentum, given the very low inventory of new homes for sale and what’s anticipated to be a strengthening economy and jobs picture.”

Multifamily housing in January grew 12%, staying on the broad upward track that began back in 2010. Large projects that supported the January increase were led by a $400 million condominium and apartment building in New York NY, as this metropolitan area continues to see very large multifamily projects reach groundbreaking. Other large multifamily projects reported as January starts were located in Washington DC ($90 million), Miami FL ($69 million), Minneapolis MN ($54 million), and Dallas TX ($50 million).

Nonbuilding construction in January plunged 32% to $123.0 billion (annual rate), following its 40% surge in December. New electric utility work dropped 61% from the elevated pace witnessed in December, returning to the downward path that was present for much of last year. Although January did include the start of an $800 million natural gas-fired power plant in Pennsylvania, this was not enough to avert the category’s steep drop for the month. The public works sector overall in January was down 25%, with declines across most of the project types. While January did include the start of a $153 million highway paving project in Texas and the $126 million deck replacement of the Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey, highway and bridge construction for the month fell 35%. Other January declines were reported for river/harbor development, down 26%; miscellaneous public works (site work, mass transit, and pipelines) down 13%; and water supply systems, down 5%. Sewer construction was the one public works category to register an increase in January, rising 21%, with the lift coming from such projects as a $173 million sewer tunnel in Hawaii.

The 5% decline for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis for January 2014 relative to January 2013 was due to this performance by sector – nonresidential building, down 6%; residential building, up 8%; and nonbuilding construction, down 19%. By geography, total construction starts for January 2014 relative to January 2013 showed declines in four of the five major regions – the West, down 15%; the South Atlantic, down 9%; the South Central, down 5%; and the Midwest, down 3%. The Northeast was the only region to register a year-over-year gain for January 2014, advancing 15%.

Useful perspective can be obtained by looking at twelve-month moving totals, in this case the twelve months ending January 2014 versus the twelve months ending January 2013, which lessens the volatility present in one-month comparisons. For the twelve months ending January 2014, total construction starts were up 5%, due to this pattern by sector – nonresidential building, up 6%; residential building, up 22%; and nonbuilding construction, down 13%. By geography, the twelve months ending January 2014 showed the following behavior for total construction starts – the Northeast, up 16%; the Midwest and West, each up 9%; the South Central, up 2%; and the South Atlantic, down 5%.

CNA Recognizes Insurance Agencies with Commitment to Construction

CNA Financial Corp. has announced the members of its 2014 Construction Leader Board. The company selected 28 agencies from more than 1,000 construction-focused agencies throughout the United States.

“CNA is committed to growing profitably within the construction industry and to deepening relationships with our best producers,” says John Tatum, CNA’s senior vice president, Construction. “The idea behind Leader Board is to recognize those agencies that have also demonstrated their commitment to construction and provide them with the tools they need to continue to grow and succeed in the future.”

The 2014 Construction Leader Board members include:

    Anchor Insurance & Surety, Portland, Ore.

    Barmore Insurance Agency, Houston

    Bowen, Miclette & Britt Insurance Agency, Houston

    Brown & Brown, Lisle, Ill.

    Dawson Companies, Cleveland

    E.J. Wells Insurance Agency, Westford, Mass.

    Gans & Smith Insurance Agency, Longview, Texas

    Halcyon Underwriters, Maitland, Fla.

    HUB International, Metarie, La.

    IMA Inc., Denver, Colo.

    INSURICA, Oklahoma City, Okla.

    InterWest Insurance Services, Sacramento, Calif.

    Lawley Insurance, Buffalo, N.Y.

    Moody Insurance Agency, Denver

    Neace Lukens, Cincinnati

    PayneWest Insurance, Missoula, Mont.

    Sihle Insurance Group, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

    T.P. Daley Insurance Agency, West Springfield, Mass.

    The Cashion Co., Little Rock, Ark.

    The Charles L. Crane Agency, St. Louis

    The Manuel Lujan Agencies, Albuquerque, N.M.

    Thomas & Farr Agency, Monroe, La.

    TIBCO, Montgomery, Ala.

    Time Insurance Agency, Austin, Texas

    United Valley Insurance Services, Fresno, Calif.

    Wells Fargo, Louisville, Ky.

    Wells Fargo, Albuquerque, N.M.

    Wells Fargo, San Carlos, Calif.

    CNA’s Construction Leader Board was developed in 2012 to recognize and reward top-producing construction agencies who have demonstrated their commitment to the industry.

    Benefits of being a Construction Leader Board agency include enhanced access to services and resources offered by CNA.

Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation Releases February Confidence Index

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation has released the February 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 63.3, the second highest index in two years and off slightly from last month’s two-year index high of 64.9.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent Valerie Hayes Jester, President, Brandywine Capital Associates, Inc., said, “I am optimistic that there is increasing demand for equipment and therefore financing to acquire that equipment. The brutal winter experienced by a significant portion of this country has slowed down many projects that would have been in progress by now. I am hoping that the last third of this quarter will show the signs we had experienced at year end, as demand increased.”

February 2014 Survey Results:
The overall MCI-EFI is 63.3, a decrease from the January index of 64.9.

    When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 21.2% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, down from 33% in January. 72.7% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, up from 61% in January. 6.1% believe business conditions will worsen, up from 5.6% who believed so the previous month.

    24.2% of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, down from 36% in January. 69.7% believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, up from 61% the previous month. 6.1% believe demand will decline, up from 2.8% who believed so in January.

    31.3% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, up from 25% in January. 65.6% of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, down from 75% in January. 3.1% expect “less” access to capital, up from no one who expected less access the previous month.

    When asked, 40.6% of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, an increase from 33% in January. 53% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, down from 58.3% last month. 6.3% expect fewer employees, down from 8.3% who expected fewer employees in January.

    3% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” relatively unchanged from 2.8% last month. 93.8% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down slightly from 94.4% last month. 3% rate it as “poor,” also relatively unchanged from last month.

    34.4% of the of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, a decrease from 41.7% who believed so in January. 59.4% of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, an increase from 55.6% in January. 6.2% believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, an increase from 2.6% last month.

    In February, 56.3% of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, an increase from 55.6% in January. 43.8% believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 39% last month. No one believes there will be a decrease in spending, a decrease from 5.6% who believed so last month.

February 2014 MCI Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership:

    Bank, Small Ticket
    “Weather has created some slow down in equipment deliveries and inventory which may slow first quarter growth.” Kenneth Collins, CEO, Susquehanna Commercial Finance, Inc.

    Independent, Middle Ticket
    “I’m conflicted about the near-term. All small to medium-size customers claim activity is sporadic and are not willing to commit capital for new equipment. Thus we see demand is off, but funding availability is strong.” George Booth, Managing Director, Black Rock Capital, LLC

    Bank, Middle Ticket
    “The economy and the equipment finance market continue to experience peaks and valleys. The good news is the valleys aren’t getting any deeper; the bad news is the peaks aren’t getting any higher. Hopefully, in 2014 the economy will gain enough confidence to break through the peaks.” Thomas Jaschik, President, BB&T Equipment Finance

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:

    Current business conditions
    Expected product demand over the next four months
    Access to capital over the next four months
    Future employment conditions
    Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
    U.S. economic conditions over the next six months
    Business development spending expectations
    Open-ended question for comment

OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Workplace Safety Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that the comment period on the proposed rule to improve workplace safety and health through improved tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses will close on March 10, 2014. The comment period was originally scheduled to close March 8. However, this date falls on a Saturday. OSHA will accept comments submitted March 10 as timely submittals.

The proposed rule would amend OSHA’s record-keeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep.

Comments may be submitted electronically, the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for more details. (Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA’s Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.)

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

YouthBuild Provides Life and Job Skills

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of approximately $73 million in YouthBuild grant funds to develop programs that will help out-of-school youth complete high school or General Educational Development programs, as well as learn critical occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology and other in-demand fields.

“Too many of our young men and women face challenges that prevent them from reaching their full potential,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The YouthBuild program helps them overcome these challenges by providing participants with the resources they need to develop the life and job skills that lead to a place in the middle class.”

The department will award approximately 75 grants with a maximum funding of up to $1.1 million each. The grants will be awarded to organizations that oversee education and employment services for disadvantaged youths in their communities. The department anticipates serving approximately 4,950 young people in this grant cycle.

YouthBuild serves as an alternative education program that provides classroom instruction, case managers and occupational skills training for 16- to 24-year-olds at risk of falling out of the labor force. Participants are often those who have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, dropped out of high school or are at risk of failing to reach key educational milestones.

Successful grantees have historically provided construction skills training to participating students and must continue to offer that training. However, new guidelines issued in February 2012 expanded the list of eligible industries that grantees are allowed to offer skills training opportunities for to include training in high-demand occupations, such as health care and information technology. Students in YouthBuild also receive leadership development training and access to community service activities to ensure that they maintain a connection to their communities through volunteerism.

The solicitation for grant applications, which includes information about how to apply for a grant, is available online.

Learn more about YouthBuild and other youth employment and training programs.

Free Metal Education and Technical Resources Available on MCA’s Website

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) offers several new technical bulletins and white papers on its website. MCA continues to update its Education/Technical Resources section on the website, addressing practical and educational topics related to the metal construction industry, including working with metal roofing, insulated metal panels, metal composite materials, fasteners, fabricating, machinery operation and many others. All technical resources are available for download as a pdf document at no charge.

New resources include:

    The technical bulletin “Roof Covering Repair Requirements and the International Code” offers input on what types of metal roof repair materials are required on an existing roof and what code supporting language exists. The two-page document briefly outlines the relevant portions of the 2012 International Existing Building Code for those who have questions about repairing a roof within code.

    “Choosing Between Fire Retardant and Standard Core Metal Composite Material” is a six-page white paper that clarifies the allowable uses for standard and fire retardant MCM in accordance with the 2006-2012 editions of the International Building Code. Developed by MCA’s MCM Fabricator Council, the paper includes detailed diagrams on several standard MCM core installation options.

    The six-page technical white paper “Insulated Metal Panels and NFPA 285” provides information on testing IMPs in accordance with NFPA 285. Specific IMPs have been tested and meet the conditions of acceptance of NFPA 285. This paper provides background on how when the “basic” IMP panel system meets NFPA 285, minor variations in items can be allowed without retesting or an analysis.

    “Proper Tools for Fastening Metal Panels” is a two-page technical bulletin that is intended to be a guide to proper fastening of metal panels to wood or metal frame buildings. Several illustrations indicate how to properly tighten fasteners and recommended tools are discussed.