Volume 13, Issue 6 - July/August 2012

AMD Headlines

Growth will Continue
Find Your Moral Compass

by Dan Barber

It’s no secret to any of us that we have and are going through some tough and sometimes depressing times. We regularly search our minds and data from all sources for appropriate answers. But as the noted philosopher Forest Gump said, “life is like a box of chocolates.” We pick based on our knowledge and past experiences and we are still not sure of the outcome from our decisions.

Don’t Be Greedy
For the most part, this industry has been built by honest and hard working men and women upon a basic need, shelter. It has continued to grow throughout the ages of time and most likely will continue to do so as our population increases. Still, knowing exactly how it will grow and in what directions is way beyond my pay grade.

In the past decade we have been caught in growth periods not caused by demand, but driven by greed. The financial markets became obsessed with finding ways to produce gains that had nothing to do with sound judgment, supply and demand, or, in my opinion, reality. We have allowed speculation based on what could happen, supported by hedges, derivatives, credit default swaps and all sorts of schemes that are just … schemes. These are designed to benefit one entity at the expense of another with nothing of sustenance produced. Perhaps I am naïve, but I see all this is based on nothing more than simple greed. The more we are exposed to what has driven our economy and our industry, the more we see manipulation, insider trading and subterfuge. Could we perhaps see an intriguing novel or two lurking here?

Finding Morality
I believe we must—as a nation, an industry and as a people—find our moral compass again. We must proceed based on sound judgment and true knowledge. Ethics both in business and in our personal affairs should reflect sound business practices; not hocus-pocus stunts for short term results. We need to avoid the direction which seems to be often motivated by (here is that word again) greed.

Let’s be open to new ideas and embrace what has been proven in the past. Be flexible and recognize quickly what does and does not work. Be willing to change as often as needed as we seek and find the right path.

I have found seeking wise counsel in all endeavors in life to be a tremendous benefit. For me, family, friends, church, business or pleasure, simply being open to sound advice has always been valuable. From our associations, we can always learn what works and what doesn’t work; but for business wise counsel, I have found the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) to be a great resource. The network of divergent people and businesses coupled with the fellowship opportunities have provided a listening ear and welcomed conversation with peers willing to share their experience and wisdom. As members, we have common ground: issues resolved by a collaboration of solutions and encouragement have been and are a welcome benefit. But whether it has been financial issues, management issues, distribution issues, mandated code issues, etc., I have yet to reach out for assistance and not received it from AMD, be it from the corporate association or from the membership.

I think it was Aesop who is credited with writing, “united we stand, divided we fall,” an often used phrase made popular in our own revolutionary war. It’s a phrase that brings home the point of belonging and seeking to be a part of something larger than just me and bringing together a wise counsel. Maybe what I could say is we can and should seek and learn from others.

I’ll conclude by stating that we can, and will again, be a very viable and successful industry. I believe that success will be based on a fundamentally sound business model with sound objectives and open and honest approaches.

As a side note Aesop also wrote, “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” That was written sometime between 620-560 B.C. It sure looks like nothing has changed.

May you and your business find the success you seek; but I conclude that commonsense and sound judgment will prevail in the long run.

Dan Barber is president of the AMD and vice president of finance and administration for Barnett Millworks Inc.

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