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Huttig sees loss in first quarter

Huttig, the St. Louis-based building products distributor, saw a net loss of $9.8 million in the first quarter, a deeper loss than the $3.4 million recorded in the same period last year.

Sales fell 25 percent to $166.8 million from $222.4 million in last year’s first quarter.

To offset declines in the housing market, the company said it continued a program to help improve operating efficiencies and reduce cost structure during the quarter.

"While seasonally one of our slowest quarters, the 2008 first quarter was also significantly impacted by the 29 percent year-over-year decline in annualized housing starts," explained Jon Vrabely, Huttig president and CEO. "Although we incurred an operating loss in the quarter, our year-over-year sales decreased less than the overall decline in housing starts, suggesting that we have continued to increase our overall market share despite having fewer physical locations.”

In the first quarter, the company completed consolidations of distribution facilities in Kansas City and Greensburg, Pa., into adjacent facilities in Springfield, Mo., and Columbus, Ohio. The company is also implementing a “LEAN” manufacturing initiative to help further offset the decline in demand.

Currently, Huttig distributes its products through 36 distribution centers serving 44 states.

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