CHARLOTTE, NC - In the wood industry, as with other market segments, "Manufacturing is being rediscovered," says Stiles Machinery president Peter Kleinschmidt. "Companies are coming to the realization that they cannot capture the opportunities of the present with a manufacturing infrastructure that saw its last major update 25 years ago."
Kleinschmidt's remarks came at a media gathering at the Executive Briefing Conference this week, the 10th annual EBC that focuses on best-in-breed technologies and business trends that will impact wood manufacturing.
Forecasting 2012, Kleinschmidt says Stiles Machinery, the U.S. wood industry's largest equipment supplier, is holding steady, and "foresees the U.S. economy to slowly move forward at a slightly better overall growth rate than what we experienced in 2011."
In recent months, the wood industry has seen many changes in manufacturing base, "and some of them may be painful," Kleinschmidt says. But the auctions of near-new equipment, employee layoffs, and factory closures, though "troubling," should be seen as harbingers of the wood industry transforming itself.
Citing wood manufacturing firms abroad with strong sales - IKEA made a global profit of €3 billion, German residential cabinet maker Nobilia sold $1.3 billion against 162,000 annual housing starts (the U.S. has 700,000)- Kleinschmidt sees great potential for U.S. wood industry recovery.
"Opportunities for U.S. manufacturers are tremendous given the underlying economic advantages of producing in this country," he notes. But a new approach is needed in products and production, Kleinschmidt says.
"Process innovation is every bit as important as product innovation."
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