CHICAGO, March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- James Hardie Building Products Inc. (NYSE: JHX) pledges its commitment and support to small and independent replacement contractors and remodelers with the introduction of its new Associate Contractor™ Program. Based on research insights from an industry-wide survey conducted last September, James Hardie identified a need for a new, mutually-beneficial partnership that had a lower point-of-entry investment for smaller businesses in addition to its existing Preferred Remodeler™ Program. The new program includes extensive training opportunities, business building support tools, and a HardieRewards™ Program. Participants can earn HardiePoints,™ which can then be redeemed for advertising and marketing materials; job-site tools, like HardieBlades or a siding nail gun; or traditional merchandise, such as golf clubs, an iPad or a flat-screen television. "We are providing an unprecedented training and business development opportunity coupled with our innovative products," explains Marc Setty, Repair and Remodel Marketing Manager. "While James Hardie siding products have always been an outstanding solution for homeowners looking to re-side their home, we value our partnership with builders and contractors of any size operation and want to ensure that they have what they need from us to effectively market and install our products." The company has already received an overwhelming response from customers who pre-registered for the program in advance of its launch date in March. Bill Jacks, president of Advanced Home Exteriors of Houston, shares his excitement about the new program. "After installing James Hardie siding for many years and for many satisfied customers, we are now being given the opportunity to showcase our commitment to installation excellence and dedication to using James Hardie products. Our sales staff and installation crews are equally excited about participating in the program." The program incentivizes members to participate in regular training opportunities, marketing and project reporting within a dedicated micro-site: www.HardiePro.com. The site houses a robust set of marketing tools -- customizable templates for direct mail, door hangers, yard signs and more; Website building tools; in-home sales tools; and discounted home visualization software. Training opportunities include short online modules focused on installation best practices, in-home selling and lead generation. The program went live on March 1, 2011, and has an annual membership fee of $295. James Hardie continues to offer the longstanding Preferred Remodeler Program, its flagship program designed for contractors who commit to the highest level of alignment with the organization and its initiatives. In addition to a variety of specially customized business-building tools and advanced training support, each Preferred Remodeler receives the benefit of a company endorsement on James Hardie's Website, a listing within the James Hardie Remodeler Locator, as well as direct consumer re-side leads. To learn more about the programs, visit www.WinWithHardie.com. About James HardieJames Hardie is the global leader in fiber cement technology, providing both panel and siding solutions to architects, builders and homeowners for over 100 years. It was the first to introduce fiber cement products to the U.S. in the early 1990s as a durable, low-maintenance alternative to wood and vinyl. James Hardie products combine innovation, versatility and safety by offering a variety of design possibilities matched with specific performance attributes relative to the climate where the product is being used. Currently installed on more than 4 million homes, James Hardie products have earned a favourable reputation within the industry and have been specified in some of the country's most prestigious projects. For more information about James Hardie visit http://www.jameshardie.com. SOURCE James Hardie Building Products Inc.