- The U.S. wood manufacturing sector is poised for recovery, according to preliminary results of a new industry study, with more than 90 percent of companies planning to hire. Half or more expect to make capital investments, says the report, but most firms will pay cash or lease, avoiding banks and speeding the expansion and retooling plans.

That positive news was among the rich programs delivered in both private wood industry association conclaves and a series of public sessions during last week's Wood Industry Conference, held May 4-6 in San Marco Island, FL. The annual gathering of woodworking equipment and supplies manufacturers is sponsored by four associations: Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers, Woodworking Machinery Industry, the North American Building Material Distribution, and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America. These groups, some of which are also operating sponsors of the AWFS Fair and IWF woodworking shows, held individual organizational meetings during the event.

Woodworking Network was media partner for the WIC COnference, delivering preliminary results of a soon-to-be-released benchmark wood industry study in sessions with study co-sponsor WMMA.

Among high profile public sessions at WIC, Don Shultz, CEO of Phoenix-based PremierGarage, and highly-regarded strategist for the woodworking industry, keynoted the conference, with “Innovating Your Business Model,” discussing the need to understand the end consumer, the fundamental flaws in old-model marketing strategies and the power behind helping customers differentiate. His extensive background working in architectural woodwork, casework and furniture manufacturing gave him insights into the paradigm shifts in the industry.

Shultz has built a thriving franchise around a range of garage storage and cabinetry products, from basic organization to high-end display. Last year PremierGarage formed a strategic alliance with Orange, CA-based Tailored Living (aka Closet Tailors LLC), a subsidiary of Home Franchise Concepts,creating the first franchise network"to possess both home interior and garage space enhancement expertise. Operating manufacturing and distribution plants in Phoenix and Atlanta, PremierGarage has 70 locations and has completed over 70,000 installations throughout the United States and Canada.

Schultz's position as a top wood manufacturing professional reflected a major theme of the Wood Industry Conference, with manufacturers of woodworking equipment and supplies listening intently to panels to hear directly from their customers about trends, and market needs, in cabinetry, millwork and furniture manufacturing, as Woodowrking Network's Rich Christianson reported in his news filing from the event.

WCMA executive director Steve Lawser moderated panels on cabinetry and millwork. The WIC Cabinet Forum featured  Chris Watson, Conestoga Wood Specialties; Stanley Tidwell, Texas Doors/Woodmont; Jim Senn, Bertch Cabinet Mfg.; and Cathy Blankenship, Drawer Box Specialties.

The WIC Millwork Forum  featured Dick Pyle, Northland Forest Products; Keith Atherholt, Lewis Lumber Products; Bill Collins, Holt & Bugbee; and Barry Freiburger, George Guenzler & Sons.

A WIC Furniture Forum,  moderated by Woodworking Network's Rich Christianson, featured Reggie Propst, Kincaid Furniture; Tim McIntyre, Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers; Art Raymond, Hooker Furniture; and Mark Burzynski, Copeland Furniture.

When published, the WMMA-Woodworking Network benchmark wood industry study will available for $2,000. To be alerted when the woodworking industry benchmark study report becomes available, contact Woodworking Network.

 Wood Industry to Hire, Invest: WIC Report
 Don Schultz, CEO of PremierGarage, keynoted the 2011 Wood Industry Conference.

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