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Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

January/February 2005                                Volume 44,  Issue 1

    
Moulding the Future
         A Viewpoint from the WMMPA

President Bush = Happy New Year?
Bush to Lead Millwork Industry to a State of Nirvana

by Kellie A. Schroeder

I surveyed the Wood Moulding & Millwork Producers Association’s (WMMPA) membership regarding the results of the presidential election within a few hours after the winner had been announced. I was interested in knowing whether the manufacturers viewed President Bush’s re-election as a positive, negative or even significant impact upon their business. As usual, the manufacturers provided in their replies a healthy amount of fodder upon which to chew. 

President Bush’s return to the White House was seen as a positive by all respondents in and of itself. His effect on the wood moulding and millwork market was seen as nominal. Although having a Republican president was seen as business-friendly, the majority of WMMPA manufacturers did not think having President Bush sitting in the Oval Office would stimulate sales for their individual companies. Offshore members viewed Bush as a stability factor in ongoing trade, yet noted that the president did not really factor into their wood moulding and millwork market business plans. Huh?

What happened? Wasn’t it early last year that the millwork market prognosticators were anxiously waiting for November 2004? Weren’t we all spouting off about the election on what it would or would not bring to the millwork arena? Didn’t we all hear, “the market will move [up, down, backwards, sideways, vertically, etc.] once the election results are in” at least ten times last year from every person we knew in the business? Well, didn’t we?

No less than six months ago, predicting Kerry would eliminate Bush at the voting booths signified the end of the world taking place on November 5 in the minds of the manufacturers. Lock the plant doors and burn the inventory would have been the cry going out. But, to hear a manufacturer speak of Bush winning the election in June 2004, they would have stated it was akin to the manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and builders alike winning the lottery. It was going to be Nirvana.

As soon as John Kerry conceded to President Bush, the manufacturers swept the election concern under the carpet. It was over. Done with. In less than 24 hours the election became a non-issue. But why? What about all of those conversations we had on waiting and seeing what would happen in November? Where did our Nirvana go? Bush did win, right?!

Here is a sad comment for me to make, but I will state it nonetheless: Nirvana was never going to happen, and will never take place in the future. Gasp! It’s true. No matter what political event befalls our horizon, the wood moulding and millwork market will never enter a state of Nirvana due to its outcome. 

Yes, Bush is and will continue to stimulate the economy through lower taxes, war and defense spending and less government, according to the manufacturers. One notable comment by a WMMPA member referred to Bush’s deficit spending giving vigor to the current economy, but paying the sum back will come at a high price somewhere down the road [the ramifications of which are for another article altogether]. However, an overwhelming amount of respondents claimed Alan Greenspan has more control over the building industry and its future than President Bush. Hail Greenspan!

Even though Bush is considered environmentally- and forest-friendly, he is not but a blip on the manufacturers’ radar screen right now. Sure, the election was fun for all to speculate on—it gave us one more topic to discuss with our peers, customers, suppliers, etc. But when you get right down to it, we all know deep in our hearts what drives our industry. The WMMPA membership named that tune in ten words: housing starts, low interest rates, Alan Greenspan, supply and demand. Period. Other factors that can drive the market for minor spans each year—erratic shipping schedules or a container shortage for example—come into play, but overall, the above list rules our fate.

Knowing this, however, will not change our habits. The next election will bring another round of talks promising Nirvana and the cycle will begin anew. We will feed on the hype, speculate on the interest rates and pray for a strong, business-friendly candidate to win. Until then, what are you going to talk about?

I can tell you what the WMMPA will be talking about at its Winter Business Meeting Feb. 9-11 in Sacramento, Calif. We’ve put together four panels of prominent people focusing on key areas of interest to manufacturers. The transportation panel will feature port, steamship, overland freight and container service representatives. The MDF panel will host Tom Julia, president of the Composite Panel Association, along with MDF sheet board suppliers and equipment manufacturers. 

The raw material supply panel features North Pacific Lumber, Snavely International, Temple, U.S. Superior Forest Products and Weyerhaeuser. The current market panel starts off with Darius Baker of the National Association of Remodelers Industry, followed by distributor, wholesaler and retailer representatives. You may view the complete meeting agenda on our web site at www.wmmpa.com on the events calendar page. 

If you are a manufacturer of wood mouldings and millwork, and are interested in attending our next business meeting, contact the WMMPA office at (530) 661-9591 or send an e-mail to kelli@wmmpa.com. Get yourself to a WMMPA meeting. We’re waiting for you! 

Kellie A. Schroeder is the executive vice president of the Wood Moulding & Millwork Producers Association, based in Woodland, Calif.


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