We keep seeing signs that the market place is getting better. But it’s not improving fast enough for some.

Positive examples abound: 

       • The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association reported that April cabinet sales were up 1.2%. That’s the first time I’m aware that the KCMA’s monthly Trends of Business Survey, which compares year-to-year sales for each month, ended in the black since fall of 2006. 
       • Accounting/consulting firm Smith Leonard reported that March furniture orders increased 9% from the same period in 2009, in registering the fourth straight month of growth. 
      • The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that housing starts increased 5.8% in April and that while home     construction continued to lag normal years by plenty, that it is running 25 percent of last year. 
      • MasterBrand Cabinets plans to expand its operations in Kinston, NC, and add 334 jobs. 
      • Southern Motion plans to invest $7 million expand its facility in Pontotoc, MS, and add up to 400 jobs over the next five years. 

On the down side:

  • We reported last week that Thornwood Furniture of Phoenix, AZ, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
  • Caye Furniture recently announced that it would close its Albany,MS, plant - what was once the largest upholstered furniture plant in the world - and lay off 600 workers.
  • More drastic, we also reported on Barcalounger closing its motion furniture plant in Martinsville, VA, and filing Chapter 11 with the intention of selling its domestic assets.
  • Also on the "more drastic list," Masco announced it would close two Ohio-based Mill's Pride plants in early 2011, potentially putting 1,200-plus people out of work.

The Bottom Line

It seems like such a strange dichotomy to see some companies pressing forward with expansions and prepping for new opportunities at the same time others are gasping for breath and reeling it in.
Over the course of the ensuing economic rebound, rest assured that Woodworking Network will closely monitor the woodworking industry’s victories of new startups, plant expansions and rehirings, while simultaneously keeping our fingers crossed that they total much greater than the losses we expect to see of companies cutting back or closing shop because they are over extended or unable to capitalize on a market that is improving too slow to save them.

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