Closets Expo tops wood manufacturing news this week, as furnishings capital Charlotte, NC becomes the epicenter of secondary wood markets activity, with a vibrant show at the convention center, and big nearby news: Wilkesboro, NC-based Lowe's adds 50,000 jobs and machinery maker Delmac, Greensboro, NC is absorbed by SCM Group.

Even Martha Stewart made an appearance, visiting the MasterBrand Cabinets' factory on Thursday that added hundreds of employees to make her cabinetry line for Home Depot.

Last night, the Association of Closet & Storage Professionals held its annual meeting, at which board member Paul Donohue fleshed out details and pricing of the new three-level certification program.

Donohue, who owns Ridgewood Closets of Saddle Brook, NJ, said the certification will improve the stature of closet professionals. "Professionals have clients," Donohue said. "Wal Mart has customers."

The ASCP certification program offers three successive levels of certification status for professional closet designers: Registered Storage Designer, Certified Storage Designer and the highest level, Master Storage Designer. The certification process requires portfolio submission, testing, recommendations, and a minimum two years professional experience (followed by three years and then ten years to attain the highest level, Master Storage Designer.) Pricing for each level of certification is $275 for ASCP members; $400 for non-members.

Closets Expo is hosting more news-making activities today, with the second and third installments of Wood Tech Summit featuring two sessions on integrating software to production and design. Many more attendees are expected to drive in today to Closets Expo before it closes at 3:00 p.m.

This morning during the closing keynote sessions, CLOSETS magazine publisher Laurel Didier will present research findings of th 2011 Closet & Home Organization study. An advance copy provided Woodworking Network finds the study confirms that last year witnessed a steep downturn for the closets industry; and that closets and home organization services are a unique market segment in the interior woodworking industry. Eighty-one percent of producers surveyed said closets and home organization products were their primary manufactured product.

Last year, during the downturn, home organization projects saw an increase in production of traditional projects, such as master bedroom closets, and slight declines in other areas such as laundry rooms, home offices and pantries. Showing significant growth was one area: garages. projects for the garage increased 20 percent, according to the study, representing 12 percent of home organization projects. Summary reports of the full 2011 State of the Closets Industry study will be available for sale next month.

Closets Conference & Expo opens on upbeat note Certification for closets professionals was announced at the 2011 Closets Conference and Expo, where attendee counts running well ahead of 2010 Expo numbers. The home storage solutions show floor area doubled for a 50 percent jump in exhibitors at the Charlotte, NC Convention Center>>.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Joe N. Miles & Sons Inc. sawmill in Silver Creek, MS 19 violations, beginning with an investigation of having an electrical junction box open in an area where combustible wood sawdust accumulates, then adding lockout-tagout employee safety violations>>.

Lowe's, based in Wilkesboro, NC and Home Depot based Atlanta announced they are hiring 100,000 temporary employees, some of whom will become full time. The home improvement centers, who do a healthy lumber and hardware business with contractors and cabinetry firms, are expecting a busy spring season. The move may foretell better times.

La-Z-Boy gains on Brook Shields, factory cells La-Z-Boy Inc. says a move to factory cells improved operating margins, even as overall sales fell 4.3 percent during the third quarter. Almost half the decline was a change in accounting procedures. The furniture maker and retailer said Brooke Shields as "brand ambassador" is well received>>

Ash borers beat Pennsylvania quarantine The state lifted its ban on ash wood and hardwood shipping, because the emerald ash borer eluded control. Meanwhile, a coalition asked the USDA to ban untreated wood packaging from Canada fearing non-native insects and diseases can enter the U.S.>>

Delmac Machinery was absorbed into SCM Group NA, as the two U.S. woodworking machinery firms combined matching the structure of the organization in Italy. Delmac's John Park will move to SCM Group North America headquarters in Duluth, GA.

 Crowds packed the 7th annual Closets Expo in
Charlotte, NC as it opened yesterday.

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