Approximately 24% of Specialty Chemicals' employees are unionized. Collective bargaining agreements are renegotiated in the normal course of business. Currently, Specialty Chemicals is under negotiations with union members from its North Vancouver facility as the collective bargaining agreement expired on November 30, 2012. While labour disruptions are not expected, there is always risk associated with the negotiation process that could have an adverse impact on Superior.
Construction Products Distribution
Activity in the Construction Products Distribution segment is subject to changes in general economic activity and, in particular, residential and non-residential construction. New residential construction is subject to such factors as household income, employment levels, customer confidence, population changes and the local supply of residential units. Residential renovation is not as sensitive to these factors and can provide some balance in the demand for residential construction product distribution. Non-residential activity can be subdivided into commercial, industrial and institutional. New construction in these sectors is subject to many of the same general economic factors as for residential activity. In the industrial and institutional subsectors, government and regulatory programs can also have a significant impact on the outlook for product distribution, particularly as related to Superior's insulation businesses. As a result, changes to general economic activity or other factors mentioned above that affect the amount of construction or renovation in residential and non-residential markets can have an adverse effect on the segment's business and Superior.
Construction Products Distribution competes with other specialty construction distributors servicing the builder/contractor market, in addition to big-box home centres and independent lumber yards. The ability to remain competitive depends on the segment's ability to provide reliable service at competitive prices.
The GSD market is driven largely by residential and non-residential construction. Demand for wall and ceiling building materials is affected by changes in general and local economic factors including demographic trends, employment levels, interest rates, consumer confidence and overall economic growth. These factors in turn affect existing housing sales, new home construction, new non-residential construction, and office/commercial space turnover, all of which are significant factors in determining demand for products and services.
The C&I market is driven largely by C&I construction spending and economic growth. Demand is influenced by commercial construction and renovation, the construction, maintenance and expansion of industrial process facilities (such as oil refineries, petrochemical plants and power generation facilities) and institutional facilities in the government, healthcare and education sectors.
The distribution of walls and ceilings and C&I products involves risks, including the failure or substandard performance of equipment, human error, natural disasters, suspension of operations and new governmental statutes, regulations, guidelines and policies. Operations are also subject to various hazards incidental to the handling, processing, storage and transportation of certain hazardous materials, including industrial chemicals. These hazards can result in personal injury including fatalities, damage to and destruction of property and equipment and environmental damage. There can be no assurance that as a result of past or future operations, there will not be claims of injury by employees or members of the public due to exposure, or alleged exposure, to these materials. There can be no assurance as to the actual amount of these liabilities or the timing of them, if any. The business maintains safe working practices through proper procedures and direction and utilization of equipment such as forklifts, boom trucks, fabrication equipment and carts/dollies. The business handles and stores a variety of construction materials and maintains appropriate material handling compliance programs in accordance with local, state/provincial and federal regulations.
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