Volume 11, Issue 7 - September 2010

AMD Headlines

Living that Millwork Dream
by Nick Carter

Recently at an association meeting, I bumped into a long-time friend and asked how he was doing. “I’m just living that millwork dream,” he replied. While it was funny (I’ve used it many times since), it reflects the mood that many in our industry currently feel.

The business world, as we have known it for many years, has been shifting under our feet at a breathtaking pace. When we step back we realize that it was happening long before the mortgage crisis hit full stride.

Shortly after graduating from college in the 1970s, we had the first economic downturn that I have had the pleasure to experience. Everyone was cutting back and no one was buying—generally a great time to be in the sales game. I’ll never forget our manager coming into a meeting one morning and stating, “I’ve been reading in the paper that there is a recession going on. Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on participating in it!” After that meeting an interesting thing happened; the harder we worked and the more we ignored the gloom and doom, the luckier we became.

Our company’s role in the industry gives us a somewhat different perspective than most. We tend to see upward trends slightly ahead of the curve. The reason is that when companies feel that business is on the verge of getting back into gear, they often invest in updating their technology. Often it is more of a “feeling” the customers are experiencing rather than a hard trend. Happily, we have seen more activity in 2010 than in the past several years.

Like many of our customers, WoodWare has taken the past few years to laser-focus on meaningful changes not only for the near term, but for long-term, sustainable impact.

"As we begin to emerge from this current situation, it is becoming more of a zero sum game. The customers are more demanding and mistakes can be very costly."

As we begin to emerge from this current situation, it is becoming more of a zero sum game. The customers are more demanding and mistakes can be very costly. Being able to track business key performance indicators real time is becoming critical. In the past, you could analyze last month’s or last quarter’s reports to make adjustments. Now you need to be in a position to act almost immediately to the changing environment.

The Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) recently held its annual Top Management Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. This was the 20th consecutive meeting that I have attended, and everyone there said it was one of the best and most meaningful sessions that any of us had participated in. Michael Marks, a consultant with Indian River Consulting Group, gave an incredibly insightful and timely message on this exact topic of accurate forecasting. There were several breakout sessions which had all of us thinking. (I particularly liked the ones where each table was asked to come up with a forecast, i.e. the year and month when the housing shortage would end …)

Now more than ever, relationships between individuals and companies have been put under a tremendous strain. Yet it is many of these relationships that will help us make it through these troubling times. The AMD has been a key part of our company over the years for not only the benefits of education, but for the relationships that it fosters between the distributors and manufacturers of millwork products and services.

In these uncertain times, the one constant has been that of the AMD who continues to be an advocate on behalf of the millwork industry on codes and standards, provides a forum allowing our company to network with fellow customers and AMD members and is an essential resource for quality education.

As AMD’s associate vice president, I am fortunate to be involved with a group that truly cares about our industry. We are all striving to grow and respond to these challenging times and provide a forum for all of us to communicate and strengthen our relationships. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to getting back to “Just Living that Millwork Dream!”

Nick Carter is president of WoodWare Systems and associate vice president of the Association of Millwork Distributors. His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.


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