Volume 14, Issue 1 - January/February 2013

AMD Headlines

2013 Millwork Market Outlook
Projecting Honest Improvement

by John Crowder

This is the time of year when we look back to the past year and evaluate where we have been. Then we gather all the forecasts and information available and proceed to make predictions for the next year. How did your 2012 budget turn out? We budgeted very conservatively last year and, unfortunately, we were very close to our projections. We have forecasted conservatively again for 2013. However, I think next year the door and window segment of the building business will finally see honest improvement in both volume and pricing.

Our company produces wood and composite building products and distributes them nationwide through various channels depending on the product line. We have been told the recession has been over for some time now; unfortunately no one informed our customers. We still find ourselves bumping along the bottom of a five-year downturn. By any account this has been a history-making recession. I have listened the last few years to how next year is going to be better and, that will turn out to be true for 2012—if only single digits. I am not an economist but I do see 2013 as a much better year for the millwork industry for a number of reasons.

Statistically Speaking
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released November 19, 2012:
• HMI is 46—the best number since April 2006 when it was 51.
• HMI single family sales for the present is 49—the best number since May, 2006 when it was 50.
• HMI single family sales for the next 6 months is 53—the best number since May, 2006 when it was 55.
• HMI traffic of prospects is 35—the best number since April 2006 when it was 39.
• The National Association of Realtors (NAR) numbers released in November show the month’s supply of existing homes at five—the lowest since October, 2005.
• NAR also showed the lowest 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.34 percent.

Suffice to say, almost all the economic indicators for the housing industry are better. There are still enough outside factors, fiscal cliffs and escalating conflicts to keep us up nights, but my prediction is very optimistic. Recent trade shows I have attended, including the AMD show in Louisville, as well as discussed with our customer contacts, all point to a better 2013.

Optimism is great but it doesn’t pay the rent. Personally, our orders are better than they were last year at this time, but they don't follow the rosy picture painted above. Until actual business improves all the way through the supply chain, any forecast is just someone’s idea of what should happen. Let’s hope all the encouraging numbers translate to better business. Once the market returns we can start working on the next challenges of finding enough raw material and trained employees to supply it.

Mark Hefley is vice president sales and marketing, Cascade Wood Products Inc. in White City, Ore., and AMD associate vice president.

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