News in brief

Houston Gets Union Push

The Houston Building Trades Council will use a $99,000 grant to start a labor/management cooperation program designed to bolster union contract work in the Houston area, and to increase unionized contractors’ share of the construction and maintenance market in Houston. The council plans to pattern its program after Built-Rite’s Philadelphia Area Labor Management Committee by adopting a multi-union jurisdictional agreement.

Work Booked Falls In February

U.S. construction executives surveyed in November predicted that future work booked will fall through February, suggesting that the rate of new construction will slow sharply. The rate of new construction is expected to rise in March, according to The Dun & Bradstreet Corp.’s survey.

Construction Industry Adds Jobs

The construction industry added 47,000 jobs in November 1998, after a previous gain of 32,000 jobs in October.

California Construction Up In 1998

California’s construction volume through October 1998 was up 13.6 percent, or $37.07 billion, compared to 1997, according to the Construction Industry Research Board. Private nonresidential building was up $1.43 billion, or 12.1 percent in 1998, according to the survey.

Contacts OK To Wear With Safety Eyewear

Prevent Blindness America, the American Academy of Ophthal-mology and the American Opt-ometric Association say it’s a misconception that damage to the eye can result from the use of contact lenses while also wearing safety eyewear, especially when welding. According to Prevent Blindness America, the same degree of eye damage will occur whether or not contact lenses are involved.

Work-Related Injuries Drop

Lost workday case rates in construction went down to 4.4 per 100 workers in 1997, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The drop follows a downward trend dating back to 1994, and is attributed to increases in safety and health education and training for contractors, construction supervisors and construction workers.

OSHA Standard May Not Cover Plumbers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ergonomics standard may not address the construction industry, according to Marthe Kent, in a published article in Occupational Safety and Health Reporter. OSHA plans on publishing a draft of the standard by September 1999. The construction industry was originally slated to be covered.

ARS Acquires 13 Companies

American Residential Services (NYSE: ARS) announced in late November that it closed 13 transactions with annualized revenues totaling $64 million. The 13 companies expanded ARS into three new markets — Ft. Collins, Colo., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Austin, Texas — and brought the company’s total annualized revenues to $559 million.

GroupMAC Acquires 3 Companies

Group Maintenance America Corp. (NYSE: MAK) announced in early January that it signed three letters of intent to acquire companies with combined annualized revenues of approximately $150 million. GroupMAC currently has operations in 56 cities in 26 states with annualized revenues of more than $1 billion.

UA Gives Thumbs Down To United Way

The United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinkler-fitters won’t donate to United Way of America, said Marty Maddaloni, in a Dec. 1 Wall Street Journal article. Maddaloni was angered when United Way dropped its initial opposition to a ballot initiative that would have required unions to get written permission before deducting money from members’ paychecks to spend on political purposes. The initiative failed.


The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors—National Association and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America recommitted themselves in November to memberships in the Plumbing-Heat-ing-Cooling Information Bureau (PHCIB). The PHCIB, which promotes the industry’s image, was founded in 1919.

Construction Industry Helps Wireless Network Grow

A wireless network exclusively designed for the construction industry is keeping pace with the Pacific Northwest’s building boom, growing to more than 2,400 business members since its 1997 launch. The Nextel Builders Network allows members — from contractors, builders and suppliers to specialty trades and other business associates — to instantly reach up to 100 members at the push of a button.

American Standard Reorganizes

American Standard Cos. Inc. (NYSE: ASD) has announced an extensive reorganization of its fittings business into one global business unit, the Worldwide Fittings Group. The Worldwide Fittings Group — which had prior responsibility for product development and manufacturing operations in Germany, Bulgaria and Mexico, and for product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales in the United States — will now assume responsibility for the product line globally.

Titeflex, Flomatic Receive ISO 9001 Certification

Titeflex Corp., manufacturer of Gastite, announced it received ISO 9001 certification. The international quality standard covers all aspects of the flexible gas piping, including design, manufacturing and documentation. Flomatic Corp., a manufacturer of automatic control valves and backflow preventers, announced it received ISO 9001 certification in November. The company expects to benefit from improved productivity and efficiency.

Weil-McLain Offers Warranty

Weil-McLain announced a new 10-year warranty for its commercial boilers. It is the first major U.S. cast-iron manufacturer to provide a 10-year warranty as standard on its commercial boilers.

Marlin Wins Award

Phoenix-based Marlin Mechanical Corp. has been given the “Excellence in Subcontracting” award by the Concord Cos. Inc., of Mesa, Ariz. The award recognizes excellence in all aspects of the company.

O’Brien Manufacturing Moves

O’Brien Mfg. moved its corporate headquarters to a larger facility at 7346 W. 500 North in Leiters Ford, Ind. O’Brien supplies private contractors and municipalities with high pressure, water jetting sewer cleaning accessories.