BMHC sells off equipment, properties to stem losses

Building Materials Holding Corp. (BMHC), the industry’s fifth largest pro dealer, has reported a $45.2 million loss for its third quarter, which ended on Sept. 30, 2008. Sales were $364 million, a 39 percent drop from sales of $594 million a year ago.

So far this fiscal year, the company has lost $111 million on sales of $1.1 billion. In fiscal 2007, BMHC posted a profit of $18.6 million on sales of $1.8 billion for the first nine months.

In a conference call with analysts, Robert Mellor, BMHC’s chairman and CEO, listed a number of steps the company has taken to preserve liquidity. In addition to negotiating a permanent amendment to its credit facility, BMHC has sold off $4.2 million in excess vehicles and equipment as well as properties it owns.

Costs are also being cut through closings and consolidations. A Northern California location in Dixon that provided concrete services is in the process of winding down, Mellor said. In Southern California, in the city of Colton, BMHC is negotiating to sell its concrete services. If the sale falls through, the operation will close, according to Mellor. A reload center in Southern California, in Mira Loma, will close in the next 30 days and be put up for sale.

In Colorado, a door shop and millwork facility in Fort Collins and a wall panel plant in Greeley will be moved to other BMHC facilities. A Puget Sound, Wash., distribution center is being relocated.

The sale of these and other surplus properties is expected to generate $45 million in the next 24 months, Mellor said.

Some of these closings are part of BMHC’s restructuring of its two former divisions, SelectBuild and BMC West, into one organization. In a question and answer session with analysts, company president and chief operating officer Stan Wilson said the company will be looking at SelectBuild’s wide array of construction services -- for example, plumbing, electrical and other related trades -- with an eye toward profitability.

“They need to be contributing to income, or we will be exiting those,” Wilson said. SelectBuild is also becoming a more “sales oriented” operation rather than an “order taking operation,” Wilson said, adding, “It’s a major difference than the way we used to operate.”

CEO Mellor, commenting on the company’s delisting from the New York Stock Exchange last week, said: “We were disappointed that the New York Stock Exchange did not follow the lead of NASDAQ in suspending the trading requirements during these economically turbulent times.” BMHC’s move to over-the-counter trading would have no effect on the company’s credit agreement, he noted.