As 2017 draws to a close, analysts and pontificators of all stripes will expend huge amounts of energy trying to determine what kind of a year it was and what it all means. When it comes to the woodworking industry, we look to facts and figures to confirm what most of us already know: This has been a growth year for woodworking businesses.

We bill this edition of FDMC as our annual Almanac Issue. It’s filled with mountains of data to give a detailed picture of the status of a wide spectrum of different segments of the woodworking industry. Kudos to my colleague Karen Koenig for doing the painstaking work of compiling and checking all of this information. It’s a tremendous task, but we think it is worth it to give you hard facts from which you can base your own analysis and better inform you as you make plans for the new year.

We’re a bit old-fashioned in this regard. We’re much more inclined to let the facts and figures do the talking, permitting you to do your own analysis as those facts and figures pertain to your unique situation. Granted, sometimes the data needs some interpretation, as what could be good news for one segment of the industry, might be a challenge for another. Still, you can probably make that determination yourself, without some talking head giving you his two cents.

On the other hand, when it comes to forecasting the future, it doesn’t hurt to hear a few opinions. We asked a wide variety of people across the industry to share what they see in their crystal balls for 2018. They are mostly optimistic about what lies ahead in the new year, but a number offer cautionary advice, particularly as it relates to specific market segments.

There will always be challenges to business success, but I am confident the woodworking industry has the talent, technology, and tenacity to make 2018 another great year.

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