Wood Industry as Business BarometerThe secondary wood manufacturing sector - from furniture to flooring, cabinetry to windows, paneling, moulding and casegoods - is a broad measure of the health of the U.S. economy as a whole. 

No wonder newspaper reporters speak frequently to wood businesses to take the temperature on recovery. Wood manufacturing incorporates design trends, consumer trends, manufacturing tnrends - wood industries fall under both the service sector - for residential, commercial and architectural interior work - and the manufacturing sector, for mass production of windows, doors, flooring and furniture.

Jonathan Wolk, CFO for cabinet manufacturer at American Woodmark, told the Wall St. Journal his Winchester, VA-based cabinet and vanity manufacturing business is hiring for the first time in four years, and investing depite the imponderables about the economy.

"We're starting to get the sense that this one's real and we're starting to staff up just a bit," Wolk  said. "Our sense is that the market is on its way back."

It's significant and a wood products firm has enough name recognition to make a "most admired" list. Fortune magazine released its list of the "most admired" companys, and in home equipment and furnishings, MasterBrand Cabinets parent Fortune Brands Home & Security was listed, as well as Stanley Black & Decker and Steelcase. Runners up in the category include wood products firms  Leggett & Platt, Newell Rubbermaid and Masco.

Execs involved in wood manufacuring also made the news recently for being "overboarded," a trend where managers are on too many corporate boards. Analysts, who studied Fortune 1000 CEOs, say those who are involved in too many boards for other businesses risk getting distracted from focusing on their own companies.

Among the execs listed as belonging to the most boards were Stanley Black & Decker chairman Nolan Archibold (six board seats); furniture manufacturer and seller Aaron's CEO Ronald Allen (five boards seats); and Loews CEO James Tisch and co-chairman Andrew Tisch (four each). 

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