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84 Lumber in Pittsburgh Swings to First Profit of 2008

July 14, 2008

By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jul. 12–The nation’s housing market continues to drag, but 84 Lumber Co. signaled this week that it had managed to improve its own results.

The Washington County professional building supply company reported it posted a profit in May, the first time it has done that this year. The private company didn’t release financial details.

It took a combination of factors to manage the feat. Sales, which had been decreasing since April 2006 and dipped more than 20 percent last year, leveled off in December and have been consistent since then, according to a company statement. It helped that 84 Lumber has more locations in the northeast quadrant of the country than in hard-hit southern markets.

Dan Wallach, chief financial officer, also noted 84 Lumber had worked to trim payroll costs and bad debt, along with shuttering unprofitable locations. In the past year, the company has had more than one round of layoffs at its Eighty-Four headquarters and closed dozens of sites around the country.

In April, the company secured two five-year financing packages worth almost $590 million to help it ride out the housing slump.

Nationally, housing starts declined 3.3 percent in May to the lowest level since March 1991, according to the National Association of Home Builders, citing U.S. Commerce Department statistics.

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