I don’t know many woodworking professionals, particularly those who sell machinery, who are not happy that 2009 is over and the prospect of making a fresh start in a new year rekindles hope for better times.

Indeed, we are hearing more good things than bad from the customers of Wood & Wood Products and Custom Woodworking Business. More importantly, we are seeing many companies that did not spend marketing dollars with us in the final months of 2009 - if at all - set up schedules to run ads in our publications. Many are also running banners on our newly launched Web site WoodworkingNetwork.com and in our WoodworkingNetwork Update and Red Book Alert e-newsletters.

The ugliness of the past couple of years disguises the pent-up demand that a poor economy has created. To be sure, there is reason to remain concerned about double-digit unemployment, but it’s not like a need for cabinets, flooring, windows, furniture, etc. has gone away.

The housing market is the leading indicator of the wood products industry’s ultimate health. It is way off traditional levels, but at least moving in a positive direction in terms of new starts. Nationwide housing production rose 8.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units in November, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. (Read story.)

The KCMA’s monthly Trend of Business Survey showed November 2009 cabinet sales were down 15.4%. That’s hardly great news, but less bad when considering that it was the first time during the year that a month’s sales were not off by more than 20%.

Bad times test the mettle of business managers. Those that have seen opportunities in challenge have best positioned themselves to take advantage of their market as the economy improves.

We plan to highlight wood product company successes in 2010. If you have some good news to share, share it with us.

Post a comment to this blog or e-mail me at rchristianson@vancepublishing.com.

Onward and forward.

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