A bi-monthly news publication for AWI Manufacturing & Supplier Members April 15, 2010
Business Tools

AWI “Award of Excellence” Program Submissions Due by May 1, 2010

What can you do to earn an AWI "Award of Excellence" and gain business exposure to potential new design professional customers?

Start by submitting your application for the next "Award of Excellence" (AOE) honors program – summer 2010.

Use an AOE award to market your excellence and gain a competitive edge during these challenging times when others are seeking entry into your markets. All Manufacturing Members are eligible to participate. Gain exposure among the outstanding projects of AWI Manufacturing Members who are featured in Design Solutions Magazine, AWI’s official quarterly journal.

Visit awinet.org for submission forms. The deadline for submissions for the next quarterly (summer) AOE honors program is May 1, 2010. Benefits to AOE honorees include exposure in the online issue of the journal which is open for business 24/7, plus distribution to more than 25,000 industry professionals.

Pictured is one of the award-winning AWI Manufacturing Member projects featured in the winter AWI "Award of Excellence" quarterly competition. The upscale Z’s Fusion Restaurant in downtown Louisville, KY, features extensive use of wood fabricated by Kentucky Millwork in Louisville. The dining area pictured here has the added warmth of African Mahogany paneling and room dividers. Other views of this project can be seen in the winter issue of Design Solutions.

Photo Credit: Michael Bell, Louisville, KY


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AWI News

AWI Calls for Nominations for Honorary Life Membership

AWI is currently inviting nominations for the high distinction of Honorary Life Member.  Do you know someone who should be recognized?

Honorary Life Members are individuals who have contributed exemplary service to the association, its’ members, and AWI’s Mission as deemed by his/her peers.

Nomination Procedures
Any current or retired owner or employee of an AWI Manufacturing or Supplier Member in good standing is entitled to nominate an individual for the distinction of Honorary Life Member.  Nominations will be made and presented to the AWI Board of Directors. A majority vote by a quorum of the AWI Board of Directors is required for election to the position of Honorary Life Member.

Qualifications for Honorary Life Member
Nominees must meet the following qualifications.

  • A current or retired AWI member in good standing.
  • 25 years of membership in AWI. 
  • 15 years of voluntary service to AWI. 
  • All Past Presidents 10 years removed from office are automatically nominated. 
  • An individual who may not have met above qualifications but has demonstrated superior leadership and championed the Mission of AWI. 
  • All Rinehimer Award recipients are automatically elevated to the distinction of Honorary Life Member.

Distinction
An Honorary Life Member of AWI shall receive the following:

  • Gratis Lifetime Individual Membership entitling recipient to all regular Manufacturing Membership mailings, meeting announcements, electronic communications and other benefits as might be determined by the AWI Board of Directors.
  • Recognition in the roll of AWI members.
  • Continuous Honorary Life Membership until death.
  • Entitlement to attend AWI events where attendance fees are charged at a reduced rate.  (Discount equal to 50% or maximum $200.00 attendance fee for Honorary Life Member.  This same discount can be used to bring a spouse/guest.)
  • The Honorary Life Members will be awarded at the AWI Annual Convention.

The deadline for nominations is July 31, 2010. Click here to complete a nomination form.


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Reminder – AWI Leadership Meeting, May 13-15, Louisville, Kentucky

All Development Council representatives, committee members, board members and Chapter Leadership attendees, please make sure to register for the AWI Leadership meeting and make your hotel arrangements.

MEETINGS AND TRAINING SESSIONS

  • Development Council Meeting, May 13, 8:00 am – 12:00 noon 
  • Speakers Bureau Training, May 13, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Reception hosted by the AWI Board and Sponsored by the Ohio Valley Chapter, May 13, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Chapter Leadership Training, May 14, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Education Foundation Meeting, May 14, 8:00 am – 12:00 noon
  • Skills USA Committee Meeting, May 14, 8:00 am – 12:00 noon
  • Supplier Committee Meeting, May 14, 8:00 am – 12:00 noon
  • Marketing Committee Meeting, May 14, 1:30 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Single Membership Task Force Meeting, May 14, 1:30 pm – 5:30 pm
  • AWI Board of Directors Meeting, May 15, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

All meetings include breakfast and lunch.

The 2010 AWI Annual Sponsors will have tabletop displays during the Thursday reception and Friday’s breakfast and lunch.

REGISTRATION
There is no cost to attend, but AWI asks you to register so staff can obtain an accurate count to prepare for participants. If you have not already done so, login into www.awinet.org, in the left menu choose "Members Only," then "2010 Leadership Meeting."  You will find a link to registration on that page. Please make sure to choose all events you are attending.

LODGING
Members are asked to make their own hotel reservations.  AWI has secured a group rate of $120/night at the Hyatt Regency Louisville.  Click Here for Hotel Reservations. The cutoff for hotel registrations is April 20.

ASSISTANCE and INFORMATION
If you have any questions about the event including registration assistance or lodging information, please contact AWI Director of Marketing Katie Allen at 571.323.3611 or e-mail kallen@awinet.org.
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New Members Welcomed

AWI welcomed another nine new members to the association. Who are they and how do you contact them?

MANUFACTURING

Azars Woodcraft, Inc., Erie, CO, www.azarswoodcraft.com 
Cabin-Tree Cabinets, Riverton, UT, www.cabin-tree.com 
Cynkar/Santini Inc., Mount Airy, MD, www.cynkarsantini.com
DBR, Inc., Orlando, FL, www.mccree.com
E.L.C. Manufacturing, West Pittston, PA
Phoenix Woodwork & Interiors Ltd., Winnipeg, MB, Canada, www.phoenixwoodwork.com
Premier Woodwork Corporation, Wentzville, MO, www.premierwoodworkcorp.com

SUPPLIERS
Cefla Finishing America, Inc., High Point, NC, www.ceflafinishinggroup.com
Northeast Interior Systems, Inc., Pawtucket, RI, www.neis.cc 

As a benefit of their membership in AWI, Web site addresses are provided for those members that reported them on their membership application. All AWI members may be accessed via the online AWI Member Directory at www.awinet.org or by calling the association’s headquarters offices at 571.323.3636.
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Green Scene

Contentious USGBC Wood Standard

The latest news from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is that over 5,000 signatures have been received via an online petition "demanding changes" to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) green building rating system™ of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

According to SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow, a "groundswell of support" has emanated from the SFI online survey from those who feel "strongly that USGBC should open LEED to SFI and other credible forest certification standards." To view the online petition language, click here.

News reported in metaFore IN Focus (free subscription) recently linked to a Greener Buildings article noting the brief history of the ongoing contention since USGBC opened comment on the wood standard. The dispute arose when amendments to the standard would recognize wood products certification from groups other than only the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). As reported in AWI e-briefs previously, the FSC is not pleased with the amendments for a variety of reasons.

And, so it continues, at least until the USGBC reaches a decision or continues with another comment period. Stay tuned.
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Standards

Did You Know...about the AWS?

By Shows Leary, AWI Quality Certification Program Inspector

Familiarity with the AWI Architectural Woodwork Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI) can no longer be relied on in woodwork project specifications where the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS) introduced in August 2009 supercede the QSI. Don’t assume the standards are the same. Learn about shop drawings.

As a service to architectural woodworkers, we will report about some of the differences between the QSI and AWS in each issue of AWI e-briefs to help members educate themselves about the changes.

Shop drawings – throw away those napkins!

While the QSI did have guidelines for presentation of shop drawings, in the Appendix, the AWS brings the requirements to a new level, having its own section, along with other submittal and mock up requirements.

Minimum drawing size is 8-1/2" x 11"(4.1.3.1). The only drawings allowed on 8-1/2" x 11" sheets are door submittals. (4.1.3.1.1)

A title sheet (4.1.4) is required and has six (6) minimum requirements: project name and address, design professional firm and contact information, contractor firm and contact information, manufacturer firm and contact information, installer firm and contact information, and finisher firm and contact information.

A material list (4.1.5) is required that includes grade, lumber and veneer specifications, core thickness and finish materials. Don't forget the nine (9) basic requirements of veneer specifications: species, cut, leaf match/balance, panel match, end match, room match, grain direction, fire rating and flitch selection. (More on this in another article) See the Basic Considerations pages of section 4 for detailed information. The material list also requires listing of core types, adhesive requirements, hardware and finishing requirements.

Adhesive requirements are also required to be shown on the materials sheet. Another new feature is the requirement to provide a layout plan with references to individual drawings. (4.1.6.1.3). All of the typical, plan, elevations and section details are also required and scale requirements are given.

In wall blocking, locations (4.1.6.12) are required on shop drawings. Blocking is still required to be furnished and installed by others. There is a section devoted to shop drawing requirements for each of sections 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

About the author: Shows Leary has been an AWI Quality Certification Program (QCP) inspector since 1996. He has served as QCP's Regional Representative and as a member of the Quality Certification Corporation Board of Directors and Board of Appeals. He is an alternate member of the AWI Technical Committee. Contact Shows Leary at shows@showsleary.com

The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) makes every effort to ensure that published information is accurate and current. Neither AWI, nor any content contributor, officer, or employee of AWI warrants the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of any information published in AWI NewsBriefs and/or AWI e-briefs, nor endorses any products, services or other information resources linked from AWI’s editorial content and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of such information. Portions of the information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at their own risk.
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AWS Errata Web Site

Architectural woodworkers are reminded to check the Errata Web site for the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS) for updated information which is posted as data changes.

Visit http://www.aws-errata.com/ for errors and corrections to the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS) jointly produced and published by the three developers: AWI, the Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) and the Woodwork Institute (WI).
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Understanding & Marketing AWS: Upcoming Presentations

With the release of the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS), members of the AWI Speakers Bureau, AWI chapters, staff and others are/will be making presentations to architectural woodworkers, architects, designers and contractors about the differences between the AWI Quality Standards Illustrated and AWS. Watch for news of special presentations in your area.

AWI Wisconsin Chapter
When: April 27, 2010 (1:00 – 5:00 pm)
What: One-half Day AWS Workshop
Presenter: Mike Bell, Kentucky Millwork
Information: See attached
Questions: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Empire State Chapter
When: May 5, 2010
What: AWS002 Training
Where: SWBR Architects, Rochester, NY
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Empire State Chapter
May 27, 2010
What: AWS001 Training and Plant Tour
Where: Genbrook Millwork, Greene, NY
Information Contact Chapter Officers 

The AWS is jointly produced by AWI, the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) and the Woodwork Institute (WI).
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Safety Matters

2010 AWI/CNA Safety Awards Program Launches May 1

AWI Manufacturing Members who have maintained safe working environments for their employees will want to participate in the 2010 AWI/CNA Safety Awards Program. Get recognized for your good track record. Applications will be accepted until June 1, 2010. How do you submit an application?

Watch your e-mail for link to the application. Submissions will be accepted beginning May 1, 2010.

What are the benefits?

  • Gain recognition.
  • Market safety as a core business value.
  • Build team spirit among your employees.
  • Negotiate business with added leverage.

As in previous years, honors will be awarded for Best Safety Achievement, Zero Lost Time Accident Achievement, and Safety Improvement Recognition. Honorees will be recognized at the 58th AWI Annual Convention, October 27-30, 2010, in Denver, CO.


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CNA Risk Control Webinars

Tap into the resources of AWI safety partner CNA for complimentary Webinars on a variety of risk control topics. Here’s a list of upcoming events.

At CNA, we know that keeping your business and employees safe can be a tough job. That’s why we created the CNA School of Risk Control Excellence (SORCE) Webinar series – a comprehensive schedule of Webinars that gives you the tools and resources you need to prevent accidents before they occur.

The SORCE Webinars are listed below. You can register for any of these classes by clicking here.

April 16-30 Construction Industry Focus

SORCE on Demand — An Online Learning Tool for Construction Workers
Date: April 20, 2:00 p.m. EST
Presenters: Gary Clevenger and Joe Wallace, CNA

Risk Transfer Solutions for Subcontractors
Date: April 27, 2:00 p.m. EST
Presenters: Attorney Michael Davis, Chamberlain Hrdlicka White Williams & Martin and Shari Falkenburg, CNA

May Manufacturing Industry Focus


Hurricane Preparedness 
May 4, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Hurricanes are potentially damaging weather events that destroy roads, vehicles and equipment. Learn about preparation steps that you can take to protect your people, building, inventory and equipment.

Drug & Alcohol on the Job: What do Employers Need to Know?
May 7, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Research indicates that illicit drug use and alcohol/drug dependence vary across industries and occupations. Mary Hines, President of SAPPA (Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association) and CNA Risk Control will discuss drug and alcohol use in various industries and what employers need to know about drug and alcohol in the workplace.

As an added bonus, CNA policyholders can join SAPAA for the balance of this calendar year for FREE. All you have to do is go to www.sapaa.com, download the membership application and write "CNA" in the membership dues category.

Electrical Arc Flash Safety and Risk Management
May 11, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Electrical losses impact equipment and workers. Joe Weigel from Schneider Electric will present an overview of the NFPA 70E 2009 Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Joe will talk about facility and employer responsibilities for compliance to the NFPA 70E Standards, as well as the current status of OSHA’s enforcement. Participants will leave this Webinar with an understanding of electrical hazards and how they impact workers and business costs.

Labels and Warnings in Product Liability Prevention
May 17, 2:00 p.m. EDT
The most common allegation in a product liability lawsuit is that of a failure to warn. A CNA Risk Control expert will share the latest changes in labels, warnings and instruction standards, and how to maintain product liability prevention.

Managing the Latino Workforce
May 21, 2:00 p.m. EDT
According to Hector Escarcega, Bilingual Solutions International, effective intercultural communication creates a profitable workplace. Mr. Escarcega will discuss quality, production and safety, and provide valuable insight for closing the communication and cultural gap when training and communicating with your Spanish speaking workforce. Discussion around the use of customs and traditions in your workplace, along with legal pitfalls and social problems for cultural sensitivity will also be addressed.

Motion is Money – Building your Business Economy
May 27, 2:00 p.m. EDT
This Webinar is designed to help you recognize how the aging workforce affects your business operations and how to understand how motion in the work environment affects productivity, efficiency, and bottom line profitability.

To learn more about the School of Risk Control Excellence contact your CNA Risk Control consultant, or call 866.262.0540.
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Combustible Dust Meetings Seek Suggestions for Protecting Workers

More than 130 workers have died and more than 780 have been injured in combustible dust explosions since 1980, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records. The agency is seeking comments from public meetings to develop a proposed standard.

The third in a series of stakeholder meetings that ask for suggestions and comments for protecting workers from combustible dust hazards in the workplace will be held April 21 at 9:00 am and 1:30 pm at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel and Conference Center. OSHA will use comments from these meetings to develop a proposed standard. Read the Federal Register notice for more details.
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OSHA Official Recommends Higher Penalties and Improved Whistleblower Protections

Employers who ignore the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and risk workers' lives should pay higher penalties, Assistant Secretary Michaels told Congress on March 16. Michaels was on Capitol Hill giving testimony supporting the goals of the Protecting America's Workers Act.

"Safe jobs exist only when employers have adequate incentives to comply with OSHA's requirements. Meaningful penalties provide an important incentive to do the right thing," said Michaels to the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

Monetary penalties for violations of the OSH Act have been increased only once in 40 years. Michaels offered a revealing disparity between OSHA penalties and those of other agencies: In 2001, a tank full of sulphuric acid exploded at a refinery killing a worker and literally dissolving his body. OSHA's penalty was only $175,000. Yet, in the same incident, thousands of dead fish and crabs were discovered, allowing an Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act violation amounting to $10 million — 50 times higher.

"Unscrupulous employers who refuse to comply with safety and health standards as an economic calculus will think again if there is a chance that they will go to jail for ignoring their responsibilities to their workers." Read Michaels' testimony for more information.
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Chronic Nature of MSDs Would Lead to Over-Reporting on OSHA Form 300, ASA Says

On March 30, the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) filed comments urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to "abandon" a proposed rule that would require employers to record musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on injury and illness logs.

ASA pointed out that the "chronic nature of MSDs and the subjective nature of MSD symptoms" will force employers to choose between over-reporting MSDs and hiring medical experts to investigate MSD claims, and increase subcontractors’ workers’ compensation costs. Employers, ASA said, "would also have problems determining whether an MSD is work-related." In addition, "due to the complexity of MSD symptoms," ASA said, "an employer must send more employees to see a doctor to investigate claims of pain for the Form 300, the employers’ workers’ compensation claims will increase and its [Experience Modification Rating] will go up, even if the employer does not have to report the injury, which will increase its workers’ compensation costs and inhibit the ability to prequalify with new customers."

ASA told OSHA that employers will have trouble determining whether to log MSDs on the OSHA Form 300, in particular new MSD cases since MSD conditions are chronic. "Must an employer report an MSD regardless of whether it has been previously reported by another firm? If so, how can a firm find this data? If not, OSHA will need to account for over-reporting of MSDs."

ASA also criticized OSHA for failing to conduct an economic analysis before promulgating the proposed rule, which would have "found that the cost of accurately recording an MSD in accordance with the record-keeping regulation’s general recording requirements would increase, as would the compliance burden of completing the OSHA Form 300."

ASA filed comments in response to OSHA’s January 29, 2010, proposed rule to add a column to the OSHA Form 300 "Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses" for musculoskeletal disorders, also known as ergonomic or cumulative trauma disorders. OSHA defines MSDs as ‘‘disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs.’’ The proposed rule excludes from the definition of MSDs, "disorders caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, or other similar accidents.’’

"We believe that OSHA significantly underestimated the cost of adding a column to the OSHA Form 300 for MSDs," said ASA. "For these reasons, ASA urges OSHA to abandon this proposed rule."

To view the proposed rule, click here.
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Ask the Expert

Answers to Risk Control Questions by CNA Insurance, AWI’s Insurance Safety Partner...

Question:
As a specialty woodworker, I have a computer network that runs the woodworking machines for my production. If the computer network becomes infected by a virus causing a delay in production, I’m afraid the impact to my bottom line could be substantial. How can I guard against this?

Answer:
This is a valid concern since any unplanned downtime ultimately translates to a loss in dollars. With the increase in Internet threats over the past few years, you need to do everything you can to protect your network. This means taking proactive steps to reduce the chances of a loss in the first place, and putting the right insurance coverages in place to respond in case you do experience a loss. A robust risk control program coupled with an insurance policy that covers loss of income may be just what you need.

NetProtect 360SM from CNA offers valuable business protection, including covering the costs associated with restoration of the computer software and data.

Contact Fay Kitchin at CNA (fay.kitchin@cna.com) to learn more about Net Protect 360SM and about how we can build a risk control program for your business.
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Workforce

Woodwork Career Alliance Announces Sanding Skill Standards

Progress is being made by the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America (WCA) as it advances work on the massive Skill Standards project that will serve as a benchmark for tomorrow’s workforce. Sanding Skill Standards were announced recently.

For details, visit Woodworking Network Update (free subscription), which ran the news as its "Top Story" on April 7, 2010. Click here for access

For a complete list of Skill Standards developed to date, visit WCA at www.woodworkcareer.org. To volunteer to advance the Skill Standards project, contact WCA Secretary, Greg Heuer, gheuer@woodworkcareer.org, Chief Learning Officer of AWI.


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New AWI Jobs Board Launched

Looking for good workers?

Once again there is an AWI National Jobs Board, now on LinkedIn. AWI tried this years ago, long before social media, AWI’s Chief Learning Officer Greg Heuer announced on his blog. Let’s try again, he says. Go here to check it out.
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Learning Forum

Why Do Customers Stay or Leave?

Discover the number one reason customers stay or leave and what readers of Business Brief.com are saying about the reasons.

Get some tips and insight about customers. Research by the Peppers & Rogers Group indicates that people rely on "emotional experiences with salespeople." Learn more from BusinessBriefs.com (free subscription) by clicking here.
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Industry News

A Date to Remember for IWF Atlanta

IWF Atlanta, August 25-28, 2010, is offering discounts for registration prior to July 23. Remember that date and act early to benefit.

General Registration Info
If you register before July 23, 2010, the cost is $20 per badge and the badge is good for all four days of the show. AWI members, however, receive a bigger discount an additional $5 discount off the price. Click here to take advantage of this offer.

After the July 23, 2010 early registration deadline, the cost is $25 per badge.

Housing
To assure you receive your housing preference for IWF Atlanta, use this association member link to arrange for accommodations. AWI members should use the special access codes (Login = IWF; password = AWI) to reserve housing (not IWF registration).

Technical Conference Sessions
The cost for attending the Technical Conference sessions at IWF 2010 is $45 for registrations made before July 23, 2010 and $55 for registrations made after the July 23, 2010 early registration deadline.  You must register for a show badge to attend any Technical Conference session. This registration fee is uniform for all attendees – no additional discounts are available.

Education
For attendees, IWF has scheduled 21 seminars in six tracks, including the AWI presentation of "LEED® - Green - Sustainable Woodwork" on Thursday, August 26, 1:00 - 2:30 pm.

This program explores the relationships between the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™ of the U.S. Green Building Council project specifications and the use of wood and wood products. It is intended for general-level design professionals, end-use customers, and woodworkers who are unfamiliar with the LEED® requirements. The concept of LEED® points or credits are related to AWI’s support of sustainable architecture and the use of wood, nature’s renewable resource.  Attendees take home an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of using FSC-certified materials. The program reviews green lumber, panel products, veneers, and doors.

Click here for Information on all the educational tracks.
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Modest Rebound in Architecture Billings Index

Following a drop of nearly three points, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) nudged up almost two points in February. The stimulus package is having limited impact, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) because funding has not yet reached intended recipients.

The AIA reported that the February ABI rating was 44.8, up from a reading of 42.5 in January. This score indicates a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry score was 52.0.

"We continue to hear that funding dedicated for construction projects in the stimulus package has not yet been awarded, resulting in a bottleneck of potential projects that could help jumpstart the economy," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. "That, coupled with a persistently rigid credit market for private sector projects, is a key reason why the design and construction industry continue to suffer at near historic levels in terms of job losses."

Key February ABI Highlights:

  • Regional averages: midwest (49.4), northeast (44.1), west (43.6), south (40.7);
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (47.3), institutional (44.2), mixed practice (43.3), commercial / industrial (43.2);
  • Project inquiries index: 52.0.

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The Architecture Billings Index is derived from a monthly "Work-on-the-Boards" survey and produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group.
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Only 10 Metro Areas Add Construction Jobs between February 2009 and 2010

Only 10 out of 337 metropolitan areas added construction jobs between February 2009 and 2010, the Associated General Contractors of America reported, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even worse, 230 metro areas experienced double digit declines in construction employment while only two cities experienced a double digit increase, association officials noted.

"In virtually every area, construction workers continued to suffer the brunt of the recession," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Job losses in far too many cities were simply, and sadly, staggering."

Simonson noted that the industry continues to suffer from weak demand for new construction activity. Annual construction spending declined to an eight-year low in February. He said that single-family homebuilding and the federal stimulus should help boost construction employment in a number of metro areas this spring, but high vacancy rates and shrinking state and local budgets will keep construction employment from rising in most areas.

In addition to low spending levels, association officials cautioned that federal and state regulatory and spending decisions were having an impact on the industry. They cited confusion about the impact of the health care legislation, unfunded mandates in California and New York forcing contractors to retrofit or replace current equipment and infrastructure spending cuts in states like New York and Florida.

View the latest city-by-city construction employment figures.
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Federal Scene

Tax Credit Helps Small Employers Provide Health Insurance Coverage

There is some good news from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for many small businesses. Many small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that provide health insurance coverage to their employees now qualify for a special tax credit, according to the IRS.

Included in the health care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, approved by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 23, the credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. In general, the credit is available to small employers that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees.

The maximum credit is 35% of premiums paid in 2010 by eligible small business employers and 25% of premiums paid by eligible employers that are tax-exempt organizations.  In 2014, this maximum credit increases to 50% of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35% of premiums paid by eligible employers that are tax-exempt organizations.

The credit is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ low and moderate income workers. It is generally available to employers that have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees paying wages averaging less than $50,000 per employee per year. Because the eligibility formula is based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, many businesses will qualify even if they employ more than 25 individual workers. The maximum credit goes to smaller employers – those with 10 or fewer FTEs – paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less.

Eligible small businesses can claim the credit as part of the general business credit starting with the 2010 income tax return they file in 2011. For tax-exempt employers, the IRS will provide further information on how to claim the credit.

The IRS will use postcards to reach out to millions of small businesses that may qualify for the credit. The postcards will encourage small business owners to take advantage of the credit if they qualify.

More information about the credit, including tax tips, guides and answers to frequently asked questions, is now available on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. 
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Special Payroll Tax Exemption Form Now Available from IRS

On April 7, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a new form that will help employers claim the special payroll tax exemption that applies to many newly-hired workers during 2010, created by the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act signed by President Obama on March 18.

New Form W-11, Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act Employee Affidavit, is now posted on IRS.gov, along with answers to frequently-asked questions about the payroll tax exemption and the related new hire retention credit. The new law requires that employers get a statement from each eligible new hire, certifying under penalties of perjury, that he or she was unemployed during the 60 days before beginning work or, alternatively, worked fewer than a total of 40 hours for anyone during the 60-day period. Employers can use Form W-11 to meet this requirement.

Most eligible employers then use Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to claim the payroll tax exemption for eligible new hires. This form, revised for use beginning with the second calendar quarter of 2010, is currently posted as a draft form on IRS.gov and will be released next month as a final along with the form’s instructions.

Though employers need this certification to claim both the payroll tax exemption and the new hire retention credit, they do not file these statements with the IRS. Instead, they must retain them along with other payroll and income tax records.

The HIRE Act created two new tax benefits designed to encourage employers to hire and retain new workers. As a result, employers who hire unemployed workers this year (after February 3, 2010, and before January 1, 2011) may qualify for a 6.2% payroll tax incentive, in effect exempting them from the employer’s share of social security tax on wages paid to these workers after March 18. For the initial IRS announcement (as reported in a previous issue of AWI e-briefs), click here.
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Chapter News

Upcoming Chapter Events

What’s happening in your local AWI chapters and architectural woodwork communities?

Check out the informative AWI chapter programs sponsored in your area. Tap into your local AWI chapter for vital information that can help your business grow and put you in touch with fellow AWI architectural woodworkers and suppliers.

AWI Carolinas Chapter
When: April 16, 2010
What: Involvement in SkillsUSA South Carolina Competition
Where: Greenville, SC
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Ohio Valley Chapter
When: April 16, 2010 (7:30 am – 4:15 pm)
What: Chapter Meeting and "Results Oriented Selling in the ‘New Normal Economy’" Program Presenters: Michael Strickland Group|
Where: Indianapolis Marriott East, Indianapolis, IN
Information: See attached
Questions: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Georgia Chapter
When: April 16, 2010 (11:00 am – 1:30 pm)
What: Spring General Membership Meeting and Presentation by ETemplate Systems about their Universal 3D Digital Field Measuring System
Presenter: Paul Hansen of ETemplate Systems
Information & Registration: Bruce Robb, 678.495.3935 (p); bruce.robb@myinsidesign.com or Jere McCorkle, 404.456.8837 (p), Jmccorkle@hardwoodweb.com 

AWI Iowa/Nebraska Chapter
When: April 23, 2010
What: Chapter Meeting
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Chesapeake & Potomac Chapter
When: May 4, 2010
What: Chapter Meeting
Information: Contact Chapter Officers  

AWI Chicago Chapter
When: May 13, 2010
What Chapter Meeting & Presentation on "GREEN Finishing"
Presenter: Dany Cote
Special Guest: AWI National Director Steve Waltman, Stiles Machinery
Information: Click here for meeting details. 

AWI New England Chapter
When: May 19, 2010
What: Chapter Meeting & Associate Product Fair
Where: Doubletree Hotel, Westborough, MA
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Great Lakes Chapter
When: May 19, 2010 (1:00 – 5:00 pm)
What: Tour of Traverwood Branch, Ann Arbor Library; LEED® Presentation; followed by dinner and General Membership Meeting at another location
Where: Ann Arbor, MI
Presenter: AWI Sustainability Resources Representative Rob Ziegelmeier
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Central Pennsylvania Chapter
When: May 20, 2010
What "Growing Your Own: Investing in Your Most Valuable Asset," including an update on the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America, National Skill Standards, and WoodLINKS USA.
Presenter: L. Duane Griffiths, Professor, Author, Manager of Educational Services, Stiles Machinery
Where: Wildwood Conference Center, Harrisburg, PA
Information: Program/Registration
Questions: Garry Astles, President, Central PA Chapter; gastles@northwayind.com  

AWI Colorado Chapter
When: May 20, 2010
What: Chapter Meeting
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Heart of America 
When: May 20, 2010
What: Chapter Meeting
Special Guest: AWI National Director Steve Waltman, Stiles Machinery
Host: Salina Planing Mill, Salina, KS
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Carolinas Chapter
When: May 21, 2010
What: Membership Meeting
Special Guest: AWI Past President Ed Brewer, Louisville Lumber & Millwork
Where: Myrtle Beach, SC
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Arizona Chapter
When: June 1, 2010
What: Chapter Meeting
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Chicago Chapter
When: June 10, 2010
What: Golf Outing
Where: St. Andrews Golf & Country Club
Information & Questions: Click here 

AWI Wisconsin Chapter
When: June 11, 2010
What: Meeting and Tour of Milwaukee Tool
Where: Milwaukee, WI
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Great Lakes Chapter
When: June 16, 2010
What Board Meeting
Where: Daiek Woodworks
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Texas Chapter 
When: June 17-18, 2010
What: General Meeting and Program – "Advertising & Marketing: How to Impact the Bottom Line"
Where: Sheraton South Padre Island Beach Hotel & Condominiums, South Padre, TX
Information: Details on chapter Web site 

AWI Iowa-Nebraska Chapter
When: June 18, 2010
What: Meeting at DMAC
Sponsor: Stiles Machinery
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Florida Chapter
When: June 19, 2010
What: Meeting on "Software for the Woodworking Industry" and Board Meeting
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI Empire State Chapter
When: June 24, 2010
What: Meeting
Special Guest: AWI National Director Skip Heidler
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

AWI New England Chapter
When: June 24, 2010
What: Product Vendor Fair
Where: Newburyport, MA
Information: Contact Chapter Officers 

All chapters are encouraged to plan their events early to allow for ample promotion of your activities in this section of AWI e-briefs as well as through other avenues. Contact Greg Bednar, AWI Chapter Development Services at gbednar@awinet.org

Members are encouraged to check chapter event listings in the most recent issue of AWI e-briefs, as well as with chapter officers and chapter Web sites for program changes. As plans become finalized, dates and presentations may change for chapter programs previously listed. This issue of AWI e-briefs contains the most current information available to AWI National.
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Next Issue of E-briefs

The next issue of AWI e-briefs will be published May 6, 2010.


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