ORLANDO - Millwork and architectural interior builders have had good business this year.
But for 2014, as single home and business construction flatten, sales will probably not grow again, instead remaining even with this year, says economist Alan Beaulieu.
Speaking at the Architectural Woodwork Convention here in Orlando, Beaulieu predicted better news ahead in the longer term, with the U.S. economy benefiting from availability of low-cost energy and the recovery of customer markets in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
The U.S. Gross Domestic Product will end the year up 2% at $13.648 trillion, with retail sales at $2.13 trillion. Housing, will have grown 5% when the year ends, at 780,000 units.
U.S. overall industrial production will grow 2.6% this year, while Beaulieu's Wood Products Production Index of revenues will have grown 6.2%. The Wood Products Production Index encompasses Millwork Products (+7%), Veneer & Plywood Products (+5.3%) and Reconstituted Wood Products (+10%). Separately, Panel Processing will grow 8.2% by the end of the year. For 2014 Beaulieu expects the WPPI Index to fall 6.1% from this year's high, and Panel Processing to drop 6.1%.
With the upward trend from 2013 equalling the downward trends for 2014, "Expect business to be plat," Beaulieu said.
Following 2014, Beaulieu says he foresees a three-year expansion before the next downturn sets in. By the second quarter of 2016, housing construction will be produced at an annualized rate of over 1 million units - about 30% higher than 2013. His presentation, which included details on millwork and wood interior sales projections, was among the most attended of the sessions today in Orlando.
The Architectural Woodwork Institute gathering here for its 61st annual convention, drew nearly 300 registrants - up significantly from recent years.
The upbeat mood was evident as well in the "State of the Association" address by its current chair, Mike Bell, who is also president of Allegheny Lumber & Millwork, in Lawrence, PA. Architectural woodworkers say they are seeing better business, with shorter lead times, quicker bid cycles, and many more, but smaller, projects
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