An editorial by Rich Christianson.

Record-setting home construction and a stellar remodeling market, both fueled by historically low interest rates, have contributed to what has arguably been the greatest run ever experienced by U.S. cabinet manufacturers. With both new housing and remodeling on a tear for most of the last five years, the biggest problem most cabinet
manufacturers faced was not finding business, but fulfilling it.

Now, as home construction undergoes a market correction, the pace of cabinet sales growth has also tapered. According to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn.'s monthly Trend of Business Survey, year-to-year sales growth in recent months slowed from the torrid double-digit pace it was on for most of this decade to single-digit increases.

While future prospects for the cabinet industry remain extremely bright, as cabinet sales cool in the short term, competition among companies to hold market share heats up. Many cabinet manufacturers are scrambling to find ways to improve their manufacturing, marketing and product development operations.

Introducing the Cabinet Conference
Against this backdrop comes a new Cabinet Conference focused on helping cabinet manufacturers of all sizes explore opportunities for sharpening or regaining their operational efficiencies, and ultimately improving their bottom lines.

The new Cabinet Conference: Manufacturing Strategies for the 21st Century brings a national presence to the 7th Texas Woodworking Show. The three-day event, March 7-9, 2007, in Dallas, is organized by Wood & Wood Products and Custom Woodworking Business, and is sponsored by Louis and Company.

We are especially excited that the inaugural Cabinet Conference has gained the support of several leading trade associations including the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn., the Architectural Woodwork Institute, the Cabinet Makers Assn., the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals, and the Wood Component Manufacturers Assn.

Conference Highlights
A trio of full-day educational workshops kicks off the Cabinet Conference on March 7. Among them:

• Tom Dossenbach, industry consultant and author of W&WP’s Management Matters column, will present a comprehensive overview of lean manufacturing. The workshop will include a case study of the lean manufacturing and continuous improvement program implemented by Twin Oaks Custom Cabinets of Neosho, MO.

• Tony Noel, wood products consultant and author of CWB’s Management Strategies column, will lead a wide-ranging discussion on managing a custom cabinet shop, including hiring and training, sales and marketing, project analysis and time management.


CARB RESCHEDULES VOTE ON COMPOSITE WOOD PRODUCTS RULE

The California Air Resources Board postponed a planned Jan. 25 vote on its Composite Wood Products Airborne Toxics Control Measure “to allow additional time to further develop the enforcement program.” The day of decision was rescheduled to April 26, 2007.

CARB’s controversial proposal was the subject of this space last month. If passed as currently adopted, any product made or sold with particleboard, MDF or hardwood plywood that contains formaldehyde resin would be required to meet alarmingly stringent emission standards.
Stay tuned.


• Anthony Perno, managing partner of Casework Technologies Ltd. of Albuquerque, NM, will
conduct the popular cost-estimating workshop, presented in special cooperation with the Architectural Woodwork Institute.

Days two and three — March 8 and 9 — of the Cabinet Conference will each begin with keynote presentations by the KCMA, including one on the cabinetmakers' role as environmental stewards and the other forecasting the outlook for the cabinet industry in 2007 and beyond. These important and timely keynotes will be open to all attendees and exhibitors participating in the Texas Woodworking Show & Cabinet Conference at no charge.

In addition, 11 one-hour educational seminars are on the conference docket for March 8 and 9. Topics range from the highlights of a benchmark study of cabinet manufacturers’ salaries and improving customer satisfaction to mass customization and nested-based manufacturing.

Full details about the Texas Woodworking Show & Cabinet Conference, including discounted early-bird registration, are available at www.texaswoodworkingshow.com.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.