By Steve Lawser

New Market Study Reveals Component Purchasing Trends

The cabinet industry remained in the number one position as the largest end-use market for wood component products this year primarily due to the continued decline in the building products industry and slowdown in the construction markets. That information, along with other trends, is included in the 2010 Dimension & Components Market Study by the Wood Component Manufacturers Assn. (WCMA).

According to the study, the cabinet industry currently accounts for 31.2% of members’ total business, compared to 32.2% posted last year. This is only the second time that the building products industry’s share of members’ total shipments has not been the leading market segment for components since 1996.

An average of 40% of all participating WCMA members’ products was sold into the construction market, a decline from 43% last year and 49% two years ago. Of this amount, 44% went into new housing, 34% were for remodeling projects, and 22% for commercial and other non-residential applications.

This is a shift from the previous survey when new housing accounted for 39%, remodeling 32%, and commercial 29%. This change was a result of a shifting back to residential markets from commercial markets, after the construction bottomed out. The long-term housing trend remains positive due to new household formations, demographics, immigration and replacement of older homes.

The building products industry remained the second largest end-use market for component products and represented 28% of WCMA participating members’ shipments compared to 27.2% last year. This is a 32% decline from the 40.9% posted two years ago. However, the building products industry is expected to rebound as a major market for dimension and component manufacturers if the housing and remodeling markets recover.

The furniture industry remained in third place, but fell to 21.1% of dimension and component sales, compared to 27.1% reported last year. This decrease can be attributed to the continued attack on U.S. and Canadian furniture companies by low-cost imports, though some furniture manufacturers have started sourcing their production back to the United States and Canada.

Decorative and specialty products remained in fourth with 10.2% of sales, compared to 8.6% last year. This category includes musical instruments, caskets, toys, sporting goods, wall plaques, picture frames, cutting boards, gift and novelty items. The increase over the past two years can be attributed to companies having to shift their business from construction markets to focus on more specialized products in smaller, niche markets. Industrial wood products represented 6.4% of the total market of component products, up from 4.7% last year.

In looking at the type of components, cut-to-size blanks jumped up to the number one product category this year, accounting for 11.5% of all dimension and component shipments, compared to 7.6% last year. Cabinet doors moved up to the number two spot at 10.9%, compared to 8.3% last year. Stair parts were third at 8.5%; followed by mouldings (8.2%); edge-glued panels (8.2%); specialty/novelty parts (4.5%); chair parts (4.3%); cabinet parts (4.1%); turnings (4.1%); tool handles (3.6%); plywood parts (3.6%); drawer boxes (3.5%); musical instrument parts (3.4%); dowels (3.4); and vehicle parts (3.3%).

Steve Lawser is the executive director of the Wood Component Manufacturers Assn. For more information, visit WoodComponents.org, call (770) 565-6660 or email wcma@wood components.org.

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