Cabinetmakers: State of the Union Study The President's State of the Union address last night pledged efforts to help homeowners and U.S.-based manufacturing - two great initiatives that can play to the advantage of custom woodworkers, professional carpenters and remodelers, closets designers and installers, and production and custom cabinetry manufacturers.

As homeowners regain equity and resurface from underwater loans, they will be even more motivated and capitalized to invest in their property.

Another "state of the union" was issued this week: The Cabinet Makers Assn. annual study finds 78 percent of this segment of woodworkers are optimistic about 2012. One reading of the data could make the case that those whose sales fell in 2011 are most likely to be optimistic about 2012.  

Tellingly, those with CNC machines were most likely to have seen growth in 2011. Non-CNC shops were more than twice as likely to report decreased sales, accounting for 70 percent of those reporting decreased sales in 2011. Are better companies able to afford the technology? Or does the technology make them better companies?

"Lack of manpower to devote to high-potential areas such as sales and marketing and business development may be a limiting factor in growing business," says the CMA report. "If companies are staffing based on existing workload versus investing in resources to generate leads and close sales, they may risk being caught in a vicious cycle."

Survey participants were predominantly from smaller shops, 53 percent operating with three or fewer employees, and 57 percent reporting revenue of $500,000 or less in 2011.

Forty percent of the cabinetmaking firms own their shops; another 20 percent of the cabinetmaking firms rent their shop from the business owner, who personally holds the property.

With a laundry-list of data points that covers everything from wage rates to most-used software applications, this CMA State of the Industry 2012 report is must reading for cabinetmakers everywhere, and the companies that supply them.

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