What’s News October 2021

October 8th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs


Jeld-Wen to Proceed With Divestiture of Towanda, Forgoes Appeal

Jeld-Wen Inc. signaled the end of a years-long legal battle by revealing in its earnings statements that the company will forgo any further appeal of a court order requiring divesture of one of its plants. In June 2016, San Antonio-based door maker Steves and Sons (Steves) filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that Jeld-Wen violated U.S. antitrust laws when it merged with a competitor, CraftMaster Manufacturing Inc. (CMI), acquiring a Towanda, Pa.-based doorskin plant. A trial-by-jury process ruled that Jeld-Wen’s acquisition of CMI violated antitrust provisions, after which a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an order for Jeld-Wen to sell the plant. An appeal by Jeld-Wen resulted in a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel upholding the decision. After a request for a rehearing by the judge, officials for Jeld-Wen signaled that the company would petition to a higher court. The company doubled back on its plan, announcing it will commence a process for divestiture. After a thorough review, “Jeld-Wen has concluded at this time that it is in the best interest of the company and its stakeholders to commence a process for the divestiture of its Towanda, Pa., operations and certain related assets,” a company statement said.

By order of the court, the company’s long-term supply agreement with Steves will continue through the divestiture process, after which the acquiring company must negotiate a fair agreement with Steves, extending supply through September 10, 2024.

Court of Appeals Upends Summary Judgment in Case Against Steves

A case against door manufacturer Steves and Sons Inc. (Steves) will have its day in court, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that a district court erred in granting summary judgment. The case includes state law disability discrimination and retaliation claims filed against the company by an ex-employee, as well as claims for retaliation and interference under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The recent decision to reverse summary judgment is hitched in part to discrepancies over a return-to-work form delivered by the employee to Steves, signed by a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). The timing and details of that form, the plaintiff suggests, could upend Steves’ cause for terminating employment. Steves removed the case in April 2018, placing it with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, eventually motioning for summary judgment. The district court granted that motion.

In its justification for why Campos was terminated, officials for Steves pointed to the lack of a compliant release to return-to-work document, the expiration of his FMLA leave a month prior to his termination and his refusal to accept an alternative position, which the district court found to be legitimate and nonretaliatory. “We conclude all three reasons have been adequately rebutted for purposes of summary judgment,” the new Court of Appeals document states.

SEMCO Inc. Settles, Ordered to Pay Employees $650,000+ in Lost Wages

Wisconsin’s Attorney General, Josh Kaul, announced the state reached a settlement with Merrill-based Semling-Menke Company Inc. (SEMCO), requiring the company to pay more than $650,000 to eligible employees. SEMCO closed in December 2019, leading former employees to file a complaint, alleging that the company failed to provide proper notice according to requirements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The cause was taken up by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), leading the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a lawsuit in February 2021.

“With this resolution, substantial payments are being made to workers who lost their jobs when the business closed,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Thank you to those at DOJ and DWD whose work led to this excellent result for more than 130 Wisconsinites.”

EPA Announces Penalties for Six Southern California Companies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced six lead-based paint enforcement actions against renovation firms doing work in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary schools. Renovation firms failed to comply with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires them to protect workers, the public, and children from exposure to lead. They will pay a combined total of over $55,000 in penalties.

EPA settled with Buena Park-based Bitech Construction Company Inc., Whittier-based Kemp Brothers Construction Inc. and MIK Construction in Santa Fe Springs for violations of the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) under the TSCA. Three Expedited Settlement Agreements (ESA) were also reached with AMG and Associates Inc. in Santa Clarita, Calif., as well as with Woodcliff Corp. and Mackone Development Inc., both in Los Angeles, Calif.


Assa Abloy Set to Acquire Division of Spectrum Brands

Assa Abloy announced a definitive agreement to acquire the Hardware and Home Improvement (HHI) division of Spectrum Brands, for a purchase price of MUSD 4,300 on a cash and debt-free basis.

Spectrum Brands’ Hardware and Home Improvement division provides security, plumbing, and builders’ hardware products to the North American residential segment with a diversified product offering of locksets, faucets and hardware.

HHI has a portfolio that includes patented SmartKey technology and electronic, smart and biometric locks. Key brands include Kwikset, Baldwin, Weiser, Pfister and National Hardware. HHI is headquartered in Lake Forest, Calif., with 7,500 employees worldwide and has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, China, and the Philippines. HHI will become part of the Opening Solutions Americas Division.

HDI Completes Acquisition of Novo

After announcing an agreement in June 2021, Hardwoods Distribution Inc. completed the acquisition of equity interests in Novo Building Products Holdings. As a result, Novo will become a key offering in HDI’s distribution portfolio, officials said.

Cornerstone Acquires Cascade Windows

Cornerstone Building Brands completed the purchase of Cascade Windows, in Spokane Valley, Wash. As part of the $245 million deal, Cornerstone acquired the comprehensive portfolio of vinyl windows and patio doors, and six manufacturing facilities located in Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and California, as well as three distribution centers in Idaho, Washington and Colorado.

The Cascade Windows business was added to Cornerstone’s U.S. Windows Business Unit.

Smith&Smith Welcomes Exceed, Home Doors and Windows Specialists

New Zealand’s vehicle glass repair and replacement company, Smith&Smith, has acquired Exceed, a nationwide door and window hardware repairs, insect screen and security door installation specialist.

Smith&Smith will provide the Exceed team with a range of support, particularly around procurement, digital technology and marketing. Matt Still steps into the newly established role of trade services director, reflecting his responsibilities in both the Laser and Exceed businesses.

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