With 2009 drawing to a close and companies that have survived the recession making plans for 2010, the fourth installment of Wood & Wood Products’ “Survival 101” series examines the industry’s purchasing intentions for the coming year. The just-completed survey of more than 800 readers and Woodworking VIP panelists reveals their plans for equipment and supply expenditures, as well as insight into factors involved in their decision-making process.

One finding was that most companies (81.8%) do plan to spend money for capital improvements to their facilities in the coming year, although the outlays will be comparatively modest. More than one-third of respondents (35.4%) plan to spend $10,000 or less. At the other end of the scale, 2.3% said they will spend more than $1 million in 2010.

Survey participants were asked to name the categories of equipment in which they plan expenditures, and responses showed spending plans reaching into every area of the shop. Overall, the areas with the greatest dollar outlays will be finishing, solid wood machining and assembly; wood waste management will be the least.

However, there are differences in the spending plans between custom and stock manufacturers. Respondents that identify themselves as primarily custom manufacturers will make most of their expenditures for finishing, solid wood machining and assembly. Stock manufacturers will spend the most on assembly, material handling, panel processing and finishing.

In terms of supplies, respondents were asked about components, including cabinet doors and drawers. Sixty-six percent said they manufacture components in-house. Among the companies that currently outsource, roughly two-thirds said they will continue to do so at the same level in 2010. Of the remaining one-third, half said they will increase their outsourcing and half said they will decrease it next year.

How People Buy

Participants were asked to indicate among several factors which ones have an influence when they choose a provider for capital improvements. Almost every factor mentioned has a substantial influence in the decision-making process, according to the responses, but top of the list are the reputation of the manufacturer and pricing. Other key factors include repair/maintenance, reputation of the supplier, warranties/guarantees and having a knowledgeable salesperson.

When it comes to the buying decision for hardware, components and supplies, the same factors were weighed a little differently. Pricing was the top factor, followed closely by the manufacturer’s reputation. The supplier’s reputation, knowledgeable salesperson and timely delivery were other important considerations.

In terms of what sources of information respondents use for locating new equipment and supplies, the sales rep ranked number one, followed closely by trade publications, industry Web sites and trade shows/conferences. When it comes to ranking the most important resource in choosing new equipment and supplies, the sales rep again was the top factor, followed by trade shows, Web sites and publications.

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