Roofer pays $1 million for warehouse

Roofing by Curry has bought a warehouse and office for $1 million, with plans to consolidate multiple locations into one.

The company bought the 9,500-square-foot warehouse on roughly one acre at 241 Interstate Court, and intends to move in this summer after making modifications. The building had been owned and occupied by All Glass & Window, which recently expanded into larger space on Tower Lane.
Roofing Dublin by Curry, a replacement, repair and maintenance company, has been working out of three locations, including two flex units on Clark Road, said Nick DeVito, who with colleague Joanna Ginder-Ashley of Ian Black Real Estate represented the buyer.

As the economy has improved, DeVito said the industrial vacancy rate in the Sarasota-Manatee region is at its lowest point in years. The latest industrial report from Xceligent shows the vacancy rate for 10,000-square-foot and larger warehouses is below 4 percent.

“Due to the ongoing demand for warehouse roof space, supply is limited in our market for freestanding buildings of this size and location,” DeVito said. “We heard about the property at 241 Interstate Court and were able to put in an offer before it even went on the market.”

The roof buyer, Tonya Holdings Inc., is headed by Gary Curry. Seller AGW SRQ Inc. is managed by David A. Fleeman and Christopher H. Harris, state records show. Jeff Button at Richardson Kleiber Walter Kleiber Button represented the seller.

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CARSTAR Conference Will Be ‘Collision Repair Industry’s Largest MSO Network Event’

CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts is touting its annual conference as “the collision repair industry’s largest MSO network event.”

The conference is scheduled for Aug. 22-25 in Charlotte, home of Driven Brands, which acquired CARSTAR in 2015.

Themed the “1NE CARSTAR,” this year’s CARSTAR Conference will take place at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte as well as the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will open with a dinner and its annual awards presentation to recognize the top-performing franchisees. Then the event will shift gears to focus on strategic planning, management and technical education sessions, panel discussions, vendor partner networking events, motivational speakers and an insurance industry forum.

“Over the past year, CARSTAR has expanded its presence as the most dynamic company in the collision industry,” said Michael Macaluso, president of CARSTAR North America. “Our conference will reflect this with an event where store owners, business leaders, vendor partners and insurance companies come together to help build the collective industry for the future.

“This is the largest MSO network event of the year, with an incredible lineup of speakers, educational events and networking opportunities exclusively for the CARSTAR store owners.  This is just one of the many resources we provide store owners in the CARSTAR family, and a powerful tool for them to help them gain the edge, grow their business and improve their operations.”

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How to beat the tow-truck ‘vultures’

We all know about “vultures” – unscrupulous tow-truck operators that swoop down on accident scenes, take advantage of the drivers’ disorientated state and tarnish what is generally a vital service.

They almost demand that you let them tow your vehicle, only to leave you with the aftermath of not only recovering from the accident, but trying to get your vehicle back or released to a panelbeater.

It’s especially brutal when you don’t have insurance and don’t look for the endorsement stickers that identify the “good” guys – as we discovered through a recent reader complaint.

The reader was charged a staggering R4400 to be towed less than 10km from an accident scene on a normal weekday morning – R2950 for the tow, R200 a day for storage and a R1000 admin charge.

Accredited towing firms agree about R2500 is the norm, storage is generally R100 a day and admin costs are a grey area; most don’t charge, none are as high as R1000 and some make the first day free.

Being uninsured meant that the reader had nobody to fight his case, leaving him with no option but to cough up the full amount.

So how do you avoid being ripped off?

SA Towing and Recovery Association (Satra) chairman André van der said in a case like this your options are limited. Possession of your vehicle is used by the unscrupulous operator as leverage for payment and the situation can become ugly.

Satra-recommended rates are R2100 for towing, R95 to R180 per day for storage (depending on the facility), and not more than R350 as an admin fee.

Should you be rendered unconscious in the accident, your vehicle may only be moved if it’s an obstruction, and then only to the side of the road – tow operators are not allowed to do more without the consent of the accident victim or a relative.

Van der Merwe said: “It’s a case of prevention being better than cure.

“Look for the Satra sticker on the tow-truck and check that it carries the current year membership date – there will be action against those operating outside of the Satra code.”

The Satra code of conduct assures consumers have recourse against members.

“Call our 24-hour hotline from the crime scene on 0861-072-872 for assistance, they will assist with proper operators,” concluded van der Merwe.

AA brand manager Nick Bedford said: “Contact your insurer if your vehicle needs to be towed, for advice on who to call for the recovery and where to take the vehicle – and always get a reference number.”

Keep a cool head

The AA has appointed contractors in place in addition to its own tow-trucks. These don’t carry any sort of AA branding but should be able to supply an ‘RT’ number on request that can be verified by calling the AA call centre on 083-843-22.

These providers are bound by AA service level agreements similar to the Satra code.

It seems that a cool head and common sense are the only things that separate your car from an unfriendly tow-truck pound. Try to remember to look for stickers that prove some type of accreditation, establish the towing and recovery rate, and never sign a blank towing form.

The more information you have about the tow operator, the better. It may also be a good idea to keep the Satra, AA, and your insurance company emergency numbers on your cellphone.

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Trucks drive Nissan, FCA, Ford, Honda as industry rebounds with 2.4% gain

U.S. sales of the Nissan Rogue crossover set a monthly record of 29,246, up 26 percent, in June, Nissan said. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

Nissan, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai-Kia and American Honda rode strong demand for trucks in posting solid sales gains in June as the U.S. auto industry rebounded from a May slump.

Industry volume rose 2.4 percent to 1.5 million new cars and light trucks — below most projections. And the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate came in at 16.68 million, below a consensus forecast of 17.2 million, and below the 17.01 million rate in June 2015 and May’s 17.46 million pace.

Nissan Motor Corp. — behind record crossover, truck and SUV deliveries — recorded a 13 percent rise. Fiat Chrysler extended its streak of monthly advances to 75, while Ford volume increased 6.4 percent. General Motors deliveries fell for the fourth time this year, down 1.6 percent, and Toyota Motor Sales volume slipped 5.6 percent, marking the company’s fourth monthly decline this year.

Automakers and analysts are counting on historically low interest rates, stable fuel prices, rising wages and near-full employment to counter some headwinds and continue driving strong auto sales in the second half of the year.

Light trucks, helped by improved fuel economy and low gasoline prices, continue to propel the U.S. market, which set a record in 2015.

“In spite of some severe stock market volatility in June, the American consumer stayed focus on buying new vehicles,” Reid Bigland, senior vice president of sales for FCA North America, said in a statement.

At the Nissan brand, volume rose 13 percent to 129,495 vehicles, setting a June record. Infiniti sales rose 11 percent to 11,058 cars and light trucks.

GM was dragged down by an 8.6 percent drop in deliveries at GMC and a 5.5 percent decline at Buick. Cadillac volume jumped 5.5 percent, while Chevrolet eked out a 0.1 percent sales gain.

The company again shrugged off the decline, pointing to efforts to boost residual values by cutting back on deliveries to daily rental fleets, rein in incentive spending and control inventory levels.

Ford rode another robust month for F-series trucks. F-series sales surged 29 percent to 70,937 trucks. Escape crossover deliveries gained 20 percent to 29,003 vehicles. Lincoln sales rose 5.8 percent to 8,809 vehicles.

The Jeep brand has set a U.S. sales record in every month dating back to November 2013.Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

FCA US, behind another record for Jeep and generous discounts, saw June deliveries rise 6.5 percent.

Jeep sales jumped 17 percent to 83,691 for a June record. Volume climbed 14 percent at the Ram brand and 3.1 percent at Dodge, but sales slipped 20 percent at the Chrysler brand and 19 percent at Fiat.

Fiat Chrysler’s average new-vehicle incentive in the U.S. rose 21 percent to $4,101 last month, compared with June 2015, TrueCar estimates.

American Honda Motor Co. reported sales of 138,715 for a year-over-year gain of 3.2 percent on record light truck volume for the month. Volume jumped 7.1 percent at the Honda division but slipped 27 percent at Acura.

At Kia Motors America, deliveries rose 16 percent to 62,572 vehicles — a June record. Hyundai also set a June sales record of 67,511 cars and light trucks, for a slight gain.

Sales at Volkswagen slid 22 percent to 23,809, extending the embattled brand’s losing streak to eight straight months. VW has been unable to sell new diesel models since September amid violations of U.S. emissions rules.

Audi of America notched its 66th-straight monthly U.S. sales record in June as deliveries rose 1 percent to 18,445 vehicles on a 29 percent jump in crossover sales. Among other luxury brands, volume rose 3.5 percent at Mercedes-Benz, 23 percent at Land Rover 125 percent at Jaguar and 41 percent at Volvo. At BMW, deliveries slipped for the seventh straight month, falling 10 percent in June to 28,855.

Subaru streak

Subaru set a June sales record with volume of 46,598 vehicles, an increase of 5.1 percent and the 55th consecutive month the brand has generated year over year gains.

With increased availability of the Legacy and Outback, Subaru executives expect the brand to finish the year stronger than it performed in the first six months, when volume rose 2.6 percent to 279,458 cars and light trucks.

“We can be very happy with our half-year performance which will set us up well for the second half of 2016,” said Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales for Subaru of America.

Mazda’s U.S. deliveries dipped 3.8 percent to 26,188 in June. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

Among major automakers, the average incentive last month rose 8.6 percent to $3,116 from $2,871 in June 2016. BMW dangled the biggest spiffs while Subaru offered the lowest discounts, TrueCar estimates.

Through June, U.S. light-vehicle demand has risen 1.4 percent, though some analysts say prospects for another record year are diminishing amid signs of weakening job growth and Brexit-spooked financial markets.

“There certainly is a higher probability of having a slightly down year than there was a month ago,” Jeff Schuster, an analyst with research firm LMC Automotive, told Bloomberg News this week. “It’s no longer just a leveling off — it’s a potential contraction in the second half of the year.”

Before U.K. citizens voted a week ago to leave the European Union, RBC Capital Markets flipped from predicting 2016 U.S. sales would top last year’s record 17.5 million vehicles to forecasting a 1 percent drop. Bank of America Merrill Lynch lopped its estimate by a half-million vehicles.

The vote in the U.K. triggered a two-day global stock market rout — the kind of event that makes car shoppers less confident about their finances. U.S. equity markets have rebounded this week.

Some analysts also believe a rise in inventories of late-model, off-lease used vehicles could pull shoppers away from new cars and light trucks in coming months.

That rise – powered by an increase in leasing that began about three years ago – is expected to accelerate in the second half and continue for several years.

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Meet the new CEO at Armstrong Flooring

One of Central Pennsylvania’s newest public-company leaders is poised to become one of the region’s newest residents.

Don Maier, president and CEO of newly launched Armstrong Flooring Inc., on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 6.

Don Maier, president and CEO of newly launched Armstrong Flooring Inc., on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 6. – (Photo/Submitted)

Don Maier is president and CEO of Armstrong Flooring Inc., which separated over the last week from Armstrong World Industries Inc. Although Maier has been an executive atArmstrong World since 2010, he has been living outside Cincinnati with his wife, Susan, and two daughters.

“That’s a long commute,” said Maier.

The Ohio native stayed put because he had accepted what was then a three-year assignment. And because of his role in company operations, he was often traveling anyway.

Six years later, after his younger daughter graduates high school, Maier and his wife will be moving to a home they bought in Manheim Township, he said. His older daughter attends the University of Cincinnati, where she is studying graphic design.

“My career obviously has changed now and I’m much less of a road warrior,” Maier said. “I look forward to being able to have dinner with my family and being home.”

He’s also looking forward to sampling what Lancaster County has to offer. “It’s been exciting to see the Lancaster area evolve over the last six years,” he said. “I think the downtown area and all of the improvements that have been made down there, it’s a real exciting place.”

Maier spoke to the Business Journal on April, the day he rang the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares in Armstrong Flooring began trading April 4.

Based in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, Armstrong Flooring has 3,700 employees and annual revenue of about $1.2 billion. Competitors include Georgia-based Shaw Industries Group Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, which reportedly has more than $4 billion in annual sales, and Georgia-based Mohawk Industries, which has roughly $8 billion in annual sales.

Hit the floor running

Before the separation, Maier was CEO of Armstrong’s flooring division. He’s excited to lead it as a standalone company.

“This is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It’s just such an honor to be in this position, to be in a brand-new startup company that has a 150-year legacy behind it.”

It’s not an easy position. Like many companies in the business of construction and building products, Armstrong took a hit during the downturn and is looking for more solid footing.

Maier’s goal is to spur revenue growth through product innovation and improved service to the people and companies that sell Armstrong products.

“When I went into this role a little over a year ago as the CEO before we separated, what I really found was a business that had great assets, great brands, great products but was not really driving the top line like it needed to,” he said.

Recent innovations include new vinyl flooring products with cultured diamonds incorporated in the surface coating. The diamonds increase durability and resistance to scratching. Marketed as Diamond10, the coating also is designed to repel liquids.

“Were very excited about that,” Maier said, noting that the coating is likely to be applied to other kinds of flooring. “You’ll see Diamond10 on wood products, tile products, sheet products.”

Valuing relationships

Big-box retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot remain important distribution channels for Armstrong, Maier said. Big chains represent about 40 percent of flooring sales overall.

But Armstrong also is focused on shoring up relations with independent retailers and distributors. They represent the remaining 60 percent of sales for the industry.

“We see a lot of opportunities by serving that channel much better than we have,” Maier said, noting in particular the value of relationships between distributors and retailers.

“That’s a real, I think, competitive advantage,” he said. “The Shaws and Mohawks of the world are primarily direct-sales model. We like the penetration and the relationships that the distributors bring.”

The structure costs a bit more, flooring experts have told me in the past.

But independent retailers can take time to explain to customers the value of Armstrong products, Maier said. “It’s difficult to do in a big-box environment where there’s a fairly low touch with sales.”

The long commute and responsibilities related to the corporate separation have kept Maier from community involvement. But he expects to do more as time goes on.

In the meantime, he said, the new company is creating a foundation, similar to the existingArmstrong World Industries Foundation established in 1985. The Armstrong Flooring Foundation will start with funding of $750,000, Maier said.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to give back more of my personal time to the community down the road,” he said.

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