CHICAGO - A robust housing market and healthy economic fundamentals will drive two percent overall growth in wood products manufacturing in 2017. Speaking at the annual building materials and lumber dealers' convention Economist Alan Beaulieu told kitchen cabinet sales will grow 3.7 percent next year.

Beaulieu gave a strongly upbeat forecast for the next few years, based on the "moving averages" forecasting model developed by his firm, ITR Economics. Contrasting historic performance of the GDP with individual market segments, ITR uses the model to look forward, giving it 98 percent accuracy over the years. 

Beaulieu said U.S. economic underpinnings, particularly its abundant and low cost energy supply, continue to make it the most attractive place for foreign investors. Dispelling a number of common myths about the U.S. economy, Beaulieu reminded attendees that it is the world's largest - percent of the global GDP (China is number two with 6 percent, Germany third with 3 percent).

The U.S. is also a manufacturing powerhouse, with domestic production at peak historic levels and growing  though automation limits the need for employment in this segment. The U.S. is also the only developed economy whose population is growing, a mix of immigration and birthrate, yielding the millenial generation that is growing consumer demand and business innovation.  

Demographic trends were a recurring theme among the presenters at the seventh consecutive year the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) and North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA). Keynoter Ken Gronbach of KGC Direct used basic demographic population growth profiles to demonstrate the rise and fall of everything from Levi's jeans to caskets. 

Both Gronbach and Beaulieu pointed to the ievitable growth in household formation among the younger adults, and intentions of millennials to marry and have chidren, as reliable forces for sustain growth in housing and the furnishings that go with it. 

The gathering itself, November 1-3 in Chicago, reflected the strength in building and remodeling, with a record year 940 distribution professionals throughout the leading floor covering, specialty building material, cabinetry and woodworking industries.

The event took place at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, where attendees participated in an increased number of education sessions along with technology-driven marketing, demographics, freight and logistics, employee retention and developing successful sales professionals.
The 2016 Distribution Management University, held in conjunction with the Annual Convention, was an interactive workshop where distribution managers learned proven techniques and tools to build relationships and enhance their personal brand.
Attendees were able to take advantage of many new enhancements to the 2016 NAFCD + NBMDA Annual Convention. The new partner pavilion featured seven experts who are top in their field and provided attendees with valuable ideas, insights and best practices in their individual areas of expertise.
Attendees were able to participate in complementary one-on-one fifteen minute consultations in the pavilion over two days of the event. The consultations covered the following topics: economic resources and forecasting; marketing strategy and digital content; attracting entry level personnel and managing millennials; transportation and freight management; family business management; human resource management; and social media best practices.
NAFCD and NBMDA developed a matching program for first-time exhibitors. They facilitated connections for new exhibitors with a number of their top distributor targets. This program improved first-time exhibitors’ introduction to the association and event.
Panel discussions were introduced in the 2016 program, offering peers insights at an enriched level with questions lead by the panel moderator as well as an open Q&A.
Finally, the event boosted a new level of multimedia featuring video vignettes throughout the convention providing exposure to valuable NAFCD and NBMDA member benefits.
“Enhancements to this year’s event not only improved the attendee experience, education and networking, but it contributed to the overall success of the event,” said Kevin Gammonley, NAFCD and NBMDA Executive Vice President. “We received positive feedback and, as always, are excited to help attendees expand their network and grow their business here are the Annual Convention.”
The 2017 NAFCD + NBMDA Annual Convention event will take place November 14-16, at The Broadmoor, in Colorado Spring, Colorado.

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