Volume 46, Issue 5 - June 2007
In the news
by Dan Barber, vice president, finance and administration, Barnett Millwork in Theodore, Ala., and treasurer of the Association of Millwork Distributors.
Keep the Change
Innovative Companies Will Stay Ahead of the Market
Well the time has arrived—not one we were longing for, but one that was inevitable. The double-digit growth for double-digit years has slowed. From what I glean, all regions of the United States—some more than others—are facing a market with fewer housing starts.
Now, we must all challenge ourselves, and our businesses, to do something a little different than we have in the last couple of decades. That means change. Change is difficult, but those who embrace it and adapt succeed, while those who don’t? You know what happens.
Many forces in the housing market are not under our direct control. But we can embrace them and become inventive, or we can be resistant and unhappy.
To be inventive, we will have to explore and find new things that fit our businesses. With the total market for new construction being less than previous years, we must consider other markets such as repairs and renovations. These markets will most likely use traditional materials that are found in new construction.
The Idea Mill
I am certainly no expert, but here are some of the ideas our company will be considering, and maybe one of them will spur your thought process.
Look at business processes and ensure they fit our plan and are efficient;
Look at the processes of manufacturing, assembly, loading and shipping. If they can be refined, we have immediate savings;
What about the raw material and parts? Are they bought and handled correctly?
Are we using technology as a tool for our business and is it efficient?
Are we training and motivating our best resource—our people—properly?
When it comes to building codes, are we the knowledge base that our customers need, and are we supplying the correct products for our market?
Have we researched the demographics of our market and geographic area to be sure we have the right product mix?
The population is growing, and it may be shifting from area to area based on age, climate, cost of living, job opportunities and other factors. Are we in a growth area?
Have we considered the green movement and energy efficiencies in our product mix? These are certainly opportunities to fulfill needs in the marketplace.
Our population is increasing and living longer. This means many will be seeking different types of shelter and perhaps in different geographic regions.
I’m certainly no prophet, but just a small dot in a very large industry, or, as one fellow said, “a BB in a boxcar.” I can’t possibly include all the points that should be considered, but this is just meant to get the process started for you. Take some time and think about your business, what it is, what made it that way, and where you would like it to go. Be creative and inclusive of others and you may be surprised. Change can be a good thing.
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