While some of you have been hunkered down waiting for things to get better, your competitors have been hard at work ready to seize market opportunities. 

Please pay attention, they could be ready to steal business from you.

Herman Miller of Zeeland, MI, is the most recent example of a company looking ahead. Last week, the office furniture company received $7.6 million in state tax incentives to construct a new factory to make health care furniture and a new design center in Holland, MI. Herman Miller plans to ultimately hire 600 people. (Holland, by the way, is the backyard of Haworth, one of its top contract furnishings competitors.)

Other expansions and planned expansions abound in our new WOOD 100 Report.

Here's just a few examples:

  • Wood cabinetry manufacturer Kitchen Magic returned to Pennsylvania in May, moving from New Jersey into a 62,000-square-foot facility. The new $5.6 million facility houses its corporate office and manufacturing operations.
  • MasterBrand Cabinets  has been selected as the exclusive supplier of kitchen cabinetry for the new Martha Stewart Living kitchen line launching at The Home Depot in September. To make this happen, the Jasper, IN-based company is expanding its Kinston, NC, plant. Plans include a nearly $4 million investment and creation of more than  300 positions.
  • Gilmore Furniture of Warwick, RI, a perennial WOOD 100 company, announced it will expand its main manufacturing facility to add metal fabrication capabilities, the 27-year-old company’s fourth expansion in five years. “Orders for products from our various new and established customers of contract furniture (case goods, upholstered seating and tables) are steadily rising,” said Robert Clark, spokesman.

These and other companies that are readying plans for the future have faced the same types of economy-based challenges that practically every wood products company has had to deal with in the last few years. Yet, they have managed to stay focused with an eye toward opportunities that surely lie ahead.

Did We Miss You at IWF?
The International Woodworking Fair just took place in Atlanta the end of last month. Preliminary figures indicated that attendance about 12,000, less than half of what if was at IWF 2006.

Were you one of the shows or one of the no-shows?

I trust you were one of the former. IWF, despite being an event smaller in size than any of the previous 12 I attended, was a must attend. It was the place not only to check out new products, but to rub elbows with your vendors and peers, compare notes, swap stories and most importantly, feel the vitality of the North American wood products industry.

The housing market is bound to rebound and so are the manufacturing industries - cabinets, windows, flooring, furniture, etc. - that cater to it.

Rest assured that if you didn't attend IWF, you have one or more competitors that did. Invariably he or they found something that can help them reduce cost, add value or move into a new product arena. Can you say the same?

Contact me at rchristianson@vancepublishing.com. Tell me what your company has done of late to prepare for the next great chapter of the woodworking industry.


Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.

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