SANTA ROSA -- Orco Construction Supply, one of the largest independent suppliers in the Southwest, closed its Santa Rosa store as part of a consolidation of six California and Arizona locations.

Livermore-based Orco closed its decade-old store at 3267 Dutton Ave. in southwest Santa Rosa in early March along with stores in Lancaster, Oxnard, Sacramento, Salinas, San Diego and Phoenix.

President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Alexander said the move was the latest in a series of steps the 52-year-old company has been taking for the past two years to compensate for a steep fall off in sales to homebuilders. “Nobody expected things to stay so bad for so long, but we’ve had our eye on this [change] from the get-go,” he said.

Orco retained 11 stores, located in Carlsbad, Colton, Livermore, Modesto, Rocklin, San Jose, Santa Ana and Sun Valley in California, Las Vegas in Nevada and Goodyear and Mesa in Arizona. Orco also operates reinforcing-bar fabrication facilities in Bloomington and Stockton.

“We have every intention of participating in these markets for the next 50 years,” Mr. Alexander said. Orco plans to sell products and materials in and deliver to the markets it exited from the stores it still has.

Pennsylvania-based 84 Lumber Co. took a similar approach after it closed its Santa Rosa store a year ago after 29 years in the market.

Homebuilding and nonresidential construction in the U.S. is expected to be weak until at least late 2009, according to a new survey by Wells Fargo Construction, a division of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance. The firm polled 900-plus contractors and equipment dealers nationwide in October for its 33rd annual survey, released in late February.

The survey also found more contractors are planning to buy used equipment this year than last year, increasingly over the Internet, and rent equipment a bit more often.

Tempering those results, however, are new California emissions rules for large diesel-powered equipment that will call for use of cleaner burning engines starting in the next few years.

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