AWI e-briefs
A semimonthly news publication for Manufacturing & Supplier Members of the
Architectural Woodwork Institute
January 22, 2015
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Mark Your Calendar for 2015 Cost of Doing Business Survey

What’s on your bottom line?  How does your company stack up against the competition?  The annual AWI Cost of Doing Business Survey gives you the tools to analyze your strengths and weaknesses with survey results providing industry averages.

Take your business to a new level of financial scrutiny, analysis and action. Mark your calendar for the CODBS which launches March 1, 2015.  Look for the February issue of AWI NewsBriefs to learn what industry peers say about the CODBS.  AWI’s monthly print newsletter should arrive in your mailbox around February 15.

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New Best Practice Groups Forming: What Are They All About?

Interested in gaining trusted advisors who share your challenges?  AWI Best Practice Groups meet throughout the year bringing together non-competitive architectural woodworkers who share business experiences, serve as idea sounding boards, offer fresh perspectives, and mentor fellow BPG members.  

New BPGs Forming…

  • Next Generation BPG – one opening.
  • Women’s BPG – three openings.
  • Regular BPG – always open to interested AWI Manufacturing Members.

To explore the value of joining one of the groups, contact BPG liaison Teresa McCain at 571-323-3622 or at tmccain@awinet.org.  Basic information about AWI Best Practice Groups can be found in the “Members Only” section of the AWI Web site, www.awinet.org.

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Improving Cash Flow: Evaluate Your Customer’s Credit

A series of articles from the American Subcontractors Association

One of the key factors in assuring your company’s cash flow is to evaluate the credit of the General Contractor or construction manager with which you are about to do business.

In some instances, the process can start before you decide to bid. You may be surprised about how much information you can find about a prospective customer through an Internet search. In addition, credit services such as Dun & Bradstreet may be helpful in identifying the size of the General Contractor, the experience of its officers, and any current major problems. D&B reports, however, often have limited value in evaluating the contractor’s true financial worth. Similarly, the contractor’s financial statements often are difficult gauges because of progress payments and retainage, which may be inconsistent in reflecting monies owed in relation to monies collected.

The best initial source of credit information is the contractor’s bank. Therefore, you should request the name of the bank or banks that the contractor uses. You also may want to consider requesting that your customer provide you with at least a partial copy of the prequalification form that it provided to its customer. See ConsensusDocs Form 221, “Constructor’s Statement of Qualifications for a Specific Project” for a sample form.

Finally, do not overlook any previous experience you have had with the customer. Negotiate payment terms tailored to address any past abuses that you have encountered with that customer on earlier jobs. The exchange of information with other trade contractors also can be helpful in getting an idea of the customer’s character and ethics, as well as paying habits. Many ASA chapters conduct a Business Practices Interchange. If the customer is a high credit risk, try to get a check for material before starting on-site labor. Also, be sure to establish a clear contractual right to stop work or hold up completion of your installation if your payments are not kept current. For major risks, consider some form of direct disbursement, joint checks, escrow or similar arrangements.

This article appeared in the June 26, 2014 edition of ASA Today.  The article is reprinted with permission of the American Subcontractors Association (ASA).

These and other articles in ASA’s “Improving Cash Flow” series which will appear in upcoming editions of AWI e-briefs often provide links to additional resources provided exclusively to ASA members in ASA’s “Members Only” section of its Web site, www.asaonline.com.


ASA Membership


To explore membership in ASA, AWI members can visit http://bit.ly/1slhHef and click on “local associations and state organizations” to see whether there is an ASA chapter located in your state.

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Should Employers Use Social Media to Screen Prospective Job Applicants?

From Insperity

Companies hiring employees should resist the urge to use the Internet to find out more information about job applicants. Visiting social media sites can expose employers to information that cannot be used legally in applicant screening. Even if the information is not taken into account, merely having been exposed to it can cause legal issues for the recruiter and the company.

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to using social media for applicant screening, including:

  • Social media screening may reveal an applicant’s demographic or religious information, which is unlawful to use for hiring purposes and can lead to discrimination charges.
  • The applicant’s social media presence can prove to be an inaccurate reflection of his or her work ethic.
  • It can have a negative impact on diversity at a company.
  • There are legal implications related to privacy.

In short, it is best to refrain from using social media to screen job candidates. The process may open the door to lawsuits and harm a company’s reputation. However, employers who find social media screening necessary should be sure to define the process and obtain written permission if an employer uses a third party to conduct a background check.

About Insperity

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 28 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees.  With 2013 revenues of $2.3 billion, Insperity operates in 57 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.

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Four Smart Marketing Resolutions for 2015

Have you resolved to take your small business to bigger and better heights in 2015? Then one of the best moves you can make is to upgrade your marketing.

Click here to view four marketing resolutions from the Small Business Administration that every small business owner should consider making for 2015.

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Green Scene

FSC Requests Six-month Extension for Suspended Certificate Held By Resolute Forest Products

The Forrest Stewardship Council (FSC) has requested a six-month extension to be granted by the certification body Rainforest Alliance for a suspended forest certificate held by Resolute Forests Products (RA-FM/COC-005956) in Lac St-Jean, Quebec, Canada. The deadline for the suspension of this certificate is extended from January 2 to July 2, 2015.

The request by FSC is based mainly on the unique situation created by the Baril-Moses agreement. This six-month extension provides the Government of Quebec with an opportunity to regularize the situation between the Cree and Innu.

Click here for more details.

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Revision to the FSC Chain of Custody Standard

Nearly 29,000 companies (at latest count) are certified to the FSC Chain of Custody Standard.

To streamline the standard, incorporate the results of recent pilot projects, and include direction given by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) General Assembly, FSC has been reviewing and revising the Chain of Custody Standard (FSC-STD-40-004) over the past two years, with the help of the Chain of Custody Working Group.  Following delays in the process, the first public consultation has begun and the draft of the revised Chain of Custody Standard is now available for public review, FSC announced. Comments are due by February 28, 2015.

FSC U.S. has developed a Web page dedicated to the Chain of Custody Revision here. This page provides all relevant consultation documents and will be updated periodically throughout the public consultation, according to FSC. There will also be a second consultation period later in 2015.

To assist stakeholders during the consultation, FSC has provided a “crosswalk” that identifies the changes between the current Chain of Custody Standard and the revised draft. 

FSC also invites interested stakeholders to participate in a webinar to learn more about the first draft of the revised Chain of Custody Standard. Webinars will be available in English and Spanish, and have been scheduled to meet the needs of Certificate Holders globally. Check out the dates and times (Central Standard Time) here where you can also register.

For more information, visit the CoC Revision Web page.

Meanwhile, the FSC notes that its Online Claims Platform is a resource and voluntary toolto help companies comply with revised CoC standard. Details are available here.

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Industry Learning Forum

Executive Briefing Conference Announces Program

The Executive Briefing Conference (EBC) sponsored by Stiles Machinery on April 12-14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia offers intensive briefings, thought provoking speakers, case studies, plant tours and networking opportunities.   In its 13th year, the EBC is a two and a half day experience for decision makers in the wood working industry.

Keynote Speakers


Jack Uldrich is a best-selling author and frequent guest on CNN, MCNBC and NPR.
Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, is one of the country’s most informed economists.

Featured Presenter


Dr. Frank Prekwinkel is founder of the imos AG, one of leading suppliers of IT for the furniture industry.

To view the briefing topics and related presenters, case studies and plant tour details, visit stilesmachinery.com here.

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Learn How to Negotiate Retainage

Construction subcontractors are learning effective strategies for convincing general contractors to reduce or eliminate retainage with the new video-on-demand “Negotiating Retainage” from the Foundation of the American Subcontractors Association (FASA).

Presenter Eric Travers, Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter, Columbus, Ohio, explains how subcontractors can broach the topic of reducing or eliminating retainage with their clients and how to negotiate from a position of strength. He also illustrates how subcontractors modify their bids to reduce or wholly eliminate retainage, including discouraging withholding for closeout line items.

“Negotiating Retainage” (Item #8076) is $65 for ASA members and $95 for nonmembers. This and other on-demand videos are available through FASA’s Contractors’ Knowledge Depot.

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Construction Industry

Demand Softens, but Outlook for Architecture Billings Index Remains Positive

Buoyed by sustained demand for apartments and condominiums, coupled with state and local governments moving ahead with delayed public projects, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has been positive for seven consecutive months. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 50.9, down from a mark of 53.7 in October. This score reflects a slight increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.8, following a mark of 62.7 the previous month.

The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in November was 54.9.

“Demand for design services has slowed somewhat from the torrid pace of the summer, but all project sectors are seeing at least modest growth,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Architecture firms are expecting solid mid-single digit gains in revenue for 2014, but heading into 2015, they are concerned with finding quality contractors for projects, coping with volatile construction materials costs and with finding qualified architecture staff for their firms.”

Key November ABI highlights include:

  • Regional averages: South (57.9), West (52.7), Midwest (49.8), Northeast (46.7).
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (56.8), mixed practice (52.6), institutional (51.3), commercial / industrial (50.6).
  • Project inquiries index: 58.8.
  • Design contracts index: 54.9.

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Safety Matters

New Workplace Safety Reporting Requirements Begin in January

Don’t forget…Beginning on January 1, employers are required to notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required reports of only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye had not been required.

OSHA advises that the updated reporting requirements have a life-saving purpose: They will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards. "By requiring employers to report when injuries like this happen, OSHA will be able to work with them to identify dangers and intervene sooner. We will be able to engage with employers not just through inspections, but through outreach to fix hazards before they become fatal," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Get more facts here.

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Federal Scene

New Standard Mileage Rates Now Available; Business Rate Rises in 2015

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on January 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be:

  • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, up from 56 cents in 2014.
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down half a cent from 2014.
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil. The charitable rate is set by law.

Taxpayers always have the option of claiming deductions based on the actual costs of using a vehicle rather than the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after claiming accelerated depreciation, including the Section 179 expense deduction, on that vehicle. Likewise, the standard rate is not available to fleet owners (more than four vehicles used simultaneously). Details on these and other special rules are in Revenue Procedure 2010-51, the instructions to Form 1040 and various online IRS publications including Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

Besides the standard mileage rates, Notice 2014-79 (posted on IRS.gov) also includes the basis reduction amounts for those choosing the business standard mileage rate, as well as the maximum standard automobile cost   that may be used in computing an allowance under  a fixed and variable rate plan.

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National Defense Authorization Act Impacts Subcontractors

If you’re a small business doing business with the government, the proposed SBA rule includes a number of provisions that could impact you.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently published a proposed rule to implement Section 1651 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA), proposing to change several key areas, including: the performance requirements applicable to small business and socioeconomic program set aside contracts and small business subcontracting, the nonmanufacturer rule and affiliation rules, and the performance requirements for joint ventures.  If you’re a small business doing business with the government, the proposed rule includes a number of provisions that could impact you.  Comments must be received on or before Feb. 27, 2015.  The highlights of the proposed revisions to the NDAA include:

  • Subcontracting: Changing the way that performance is calculated on small and socioeconomic set-aside contracts, and authorizes similarly situated subcontractors to count towards the performance requirements. (Section 1651).
  • Joint Ventures: Making the performance requirements consistent, regardless of whether or not a small business chooses to joint venture or perform in a prime or subcontractor relationship. (Section 1651).
  • NonManufacturer Rule:  Revisions to SBA’s regulations pertaining to the Nonmanufacturer rule and affiliation rules including the treatment of software as a commodity and the elimination of waiver requests for procurements within the Simplified Acquisition Threshold. (Section1651)

For more information about the proposed revisions, visit: www.sba.gov.

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AWI e-briefs

Upcoming Editions

  • February 5  —  news of AWI as well as its affiliates, the Quality Certification Program and the Woodwork Career Alliance, and AWI Speakers Bureau.
  • February 19 — business and industry news.

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Upcoming Education
Contracts Webinar
"Turning Contract Terms into Profit”


January 28, 2015
2:00 - 3:00 pm (ET)
Information & Registration: Click here


eCost Book Webinar

February 4, 2015
2:00 - 3:00 pm (ET)
Information & Registration: Click here

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