I have just returned from four very hot days in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where I attended the Northwest Wall & Ceiling Bureau's Annual Convention. The NWCB's staff-Bob, Mark, Tiina and Angela-really put on a great show in terms of scheduling and production for the 613 attendees. Although they have help from the sponsors, it really comes down to their hard work to put on a great show. Those contractors in the northwest are lucky to have a bureau such as them. Although I didn't run into President Ford, I was lucky to spend time with two Walls & Ceilings columnists. Pete Battisti and I shot abominable golf together on the Westin Pete Dye course, and Michael Gardner and I talked about one day shooting abominable golf in the District of Columbia. Just kidding-it was great to see old friends and make new ones.

To be relevant with this month's sub theme on custom drywall work, Gardner gave a great presentation on the state of the gypsum industry at the convention. For his hour-and-a-half seminar, the future looks bright as he discussed some changes we can expect to see.

As we know, manufacturing is on the up. As reported in W&C, several plants for both board and mud are currently in production, the latest being National Gypsum's facility near Phoenix (see Trade News on page 10), as well as the company breaking ground in March for its Mount Holly, N.C., plant that opens next year. Forecasted from 2007 to 2009, a greater capacity will be coming out of the lines. Additionally, a couple of new companies have begun or are anticipated to manufacture board.

The Federal Gypsum Co., located in Nova Scotia, is manufacturing out of USG's old fiberboard plant in Point Tupper. The company's wallboard line is called PlasterRock and meets applicable ASTM and ULC/UL standards. It has been producing all regular lengths since the beginning of the new year.

The other player is J.D. Irving, a private, family-owned company based in the Maritime region of eastern Canada and Maine, opening a company called Atlantic Wallboard. Although it has yet to manufacture board, it does have a $90 million plan to convert an old shipyard into an environmentally friendly manufacturing center for products, including wallboard, which will be operational by mid-2007. The gypsum plant is the model for future manufacturing facilities for the green park. Currently, there are approximately 80 gypsum wallboard-related manufacturing facilities in North America.

Gardner also mentioned that foreign board (outside North America) has been exported to our eastern ports. Most of this is 1/2-inch regular stock. He did suggest referring to ASTM standard C1396 on how to determine board quality.

So, if you've read the reports from the National Association of Home Builders citing major drywall shortages and your company is feeling the pains of the allocations, have hope. I anticipate that by next year, a greater abundance of materials will be available with the new plants opening.

To further whet your appetite for drywall and other wall and ceiling products, check out the companies featured in this year's Manufacturers Spotlight. There are several drywall companies listed with their respective lines, new and improved. As well, check out a couple of the features on what some subcontractors are doing to find their niche in this competitive market.


I am very pleased to announce some additions to the W&C staff. Next month, this space will grace the words of our new Editorial Director Richard E. Kroll. His day job is as the chief executive officer and senior engineer of R. J. Kenney Associates Inc. He is a registered professional and structural engineer in 32 states, and has extensive experience in low-rise structural design, manufacturing, construction and materials testing. Furthermore, he has domestic and international experience in the designing, testing and local approving authority acceptance of EIFS.

Those that have been in the industry for a while now may know Kroll as the one who designed the first patented pressure equalized and drainable EIF system. There's a lot more to say but I'll let him. It's been a fun gig writing this column, however I don't resist the change of the guard and wish Dick a great column. He'll also be contributing feature articles and regular updates on industry-related themes.

I welcome Jo DeLorenzo back into the mix. She is a former editor of Roofing Contractor magazine who has since left to study law. But she is so brilliant, we've recruited her as the magazine's assistant editor, working part time.

And Joshua Marx is the new W&C Wired e-News editor, helping to get the monthly newsletter out.

Please join me in welcoming them into the family.