Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a-changing.” Indeed they are — and for the better.

That’s the overriding message I’ve been receiving from a host of woodworking manufacturers and suppliers, one of whom said the last fourth quarter was the best his company has done in a few years.

He’s not alone. In the February issue of Wood & Wood Products, we asked 11 association executives for their predictions. While expressing “cautious optimism,” pretty much all said they expect sales to pick up by the latter part of 2010.

“As companies continue to wrestle with a challenging economic environment, they are also taking steps to position themselves for the recovery that is sure to come,” summed up Andy Counts, CEO of the American Home Furnishings Alliance.

“[An] industry trying to do ‘business as usual’ needs to adjust to the new realities,” added David Rothwell, president of the Woodworking Machinery Industry Assn. “Manufacturers need to update their production methods urgently in order to meet global competition. The U.S. woodworking industry also needs to be more open to global opportunities and more aware of the global challenges they will be facing, such as mass customization, design innovation, etc.”

So what are you doing to prepare for your company’s future?

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