Business & Institutional Furniture Industry: BIFMA OutlookWood industry representatives from various industry associations were queried on the climate of their wood products market, including expectations for 2013 sales. Below are some additional comments by Tom Reardon, executive director of the Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association.

Wood & Wood Products: Overall, what are your members’ sales expectations for 2013 and how do they compare to 2012 figures? 

Tom Reardon: The latest quarterly office furniture shipments forecast prepared by IHS Global Insight predicts shipments of $9.6 billion (U.S. $’s) during calendar year 2013, which is a 3.4% increase over the $9.3 billion expected in 2012. 

W&WP: What will be the biggest challenges to your members and your industry in 2013? What are the biggest opportunities?

Reardon: The slow rate of employment growth, new office construction investment, and overall tepid economic growth continue to present a challenging environment for the office furniture industry. Expansion into other vertical furniture market segments such as educational and healthcare furniture provides opportunities for manufacturers interested in expanding their market focus. Some international markets (like the Middle East) also present significant growth opportunities.

W&WP: What current or pending legislation is having, or will have, the greatest impact on the North American office/contract furniture industry and why? (i.e., CARB, antidumping petitions for hardwood plywood, LEED, prison industry, etc.)

Reardon: The diminished risk of fire from smoking materials in an office environment has prompted the State of California to re-examine its decades old flammability standard, California Technical Bulletin 117. The anticipated revision to TB 117 flammability standard should allow the production of furniture without the need to add chemical flame retardants to foam in upholstered seating products.

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