Although 2012 wood component sales “ended with a fizzle,” 2013 sales are projected to increase from 2 to 5 percent, according to member surveys by the Wood Component Manufacturers Assn. (WCMA) and the Wood Products Manufacturers Assn. (WPMA).
“Much of the optimism is based on consumers having a stable job and a steady revenue stream to support spending,” said Phil Bibeau, WPMA executive director. “The previous two years have started with business being strong in the first half, followed by a slowing for the remainder of the year. The overall consensus [for 2013] is that business will be steady, not the roller coaster that we have been experiencing.”
Steve Lawser, former WCMA executive director, agreed. “Most members feel better about 2013 as we are getting serious about solving our housing, credit and debt issues. They have fewer competitors now so they feel there will be less suppliers to meet any increases in demand.”
Growth looks to come from the building products segment, particularly as housing continues to improve. “Remodeling also has an especially positive outlook as people upgrade their homes with higher quality features that will generate increased demand for hardwood mouldings and millwork, flooring, cabinetry, staircases, etc.,” Lawser added.
As with other market segments, cash flow, increased costs of doing business, and obtaining and retaining skilled workers can be a challenge, both Lawser and Bibeau said. Other concerns cited by their members include the rising cost of health care and increased enforcement by OSHA on wood dust and other issues.
“It has not been possible to pass along increased costs of doing business in the form of higher prices, so margins remain slim or non-existent,” Lawser said. However, he continued, “Those companies remaining [in business] should be well-positioned to take advantage of any upswings in demand in 2013 and going forward.”
“Those businesses that are still operating are the true survivors,” added Bibeau. “They have made the changes necessary to compete in the global economy. They will see success if they continue to follow the principles that have brought them to where they are today: Work harder, smarter and become a partner with your customers.”