Volume 47, Issue 1 - January/February 2008

Moulding the Future
From the WMMPA
by Kellie A. Schroeder, Executive vice president of the Wood Moulding and Millwork Producers Association. Mrs. Schroeder’s comments are solely her own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

Parrots and Potholes
Listening to Others Can Sometimes Bring You Down 

I never realized the population was involved in a constant state of word association until a few weeks ago. A cold snap invaded from the North, sending the temperature diving below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for numerous consecutive days where I live. The weather was the talk of the town. Immediately, people parroting each other regarding the climate surrounded me. I now know more synonyms for bad weather than is listed in a thesaurus. Every person I came across threw me his own personalized description. I would say winter in my conversation and they would say “freezing” back. If I said weather, they said, “Bone-chilling!” Climate evoked “arctic.” If I talked long enough about the weather, people would congregate around me as if I had scattered birdseed on the ground and they were large, colored birds wrapped in mufflers squawking cold lingo. Polly, want a cracker?

No Escape
Ah, winter! You cannot escape it. The biting cold weather encapsulating your body each time you step outside. No one relishes freezing weather save for the winter sports enthusiasts. This year, I would like to change your way of thinking regarding winter and the millwork market through word association. 

Let’s tackle the millwork market first and then come back to winter.

If I say the word “market” to you, what word pops into your mind? Might I take a guess at what you were thinking just now? OK, I think the word “slow” or “dismal” or “flat” raced through your mind. (Did anyone come up with death? I spoke to a moulding manufacturer the other day and his word association when I said “market” was death. Kind of scary, but relevant, don’t you think?) So, freezing equals blizzard and the market equals inertia. Got that? We’re moving on.

Earlier I described people as big birds. Actually, I think we are all parrots and for good reason. Most of us have heard the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” That saying is especially true of the millwork industry. From manufacturer to distributor, we all travel together from one trade show to another, rubbing feathers and sharing information. This is great for business—save for the herd mentality that comes into play when the market is erratic or non-existent. 

Resist Mimicking 
A blackbird can be changed into a parrot easily, which can spiral an entire flock out of control. What do I mean by that? Picture this: drought conditions overtake Bird Valley, and the pond the birds bathe in recedes a few inches from its banks. A blackbird on the wire above the pond states aloud that the pond is really a pothole and is not suitable for bathing. The two closest birds mimic the first by repeating what they heard, thereby turning into parrots. Before day’s end, the entire new parrot population has stopped bathing in the pond for fear of falling into a pothole. All water activities cease.

The millwork industry is standing on the edge of what they think to be a market pothole, when it is actually the same old pond. The parrot population has quadrupled in the last six months, and I fear we will all sprout feathers if we do not check ourselves when it comes to discussing the market. I am not saying positive thinking will correct all woes and bring bottom lines back into the black, but I am saying encouraging words may bring a few bird bathers back to the pond. Change your outlook and your words when talking about the market among your peers. There are enough dire predictions out there bringing about market inertia; focus on the positives. Instead of being a naysaying parrot, try injecting new words to associate with the market like “moving,” “picking up” or “alive.” 

Alter Your Word Associations
While you practice your new market descriptions, I would like to redirect your word association for “winter.” The next time you hear someone mention the cool weather, think “desert” and “heat.” If someone tells you its cold outside, think “sunshine” and “blue skies.” And if you hear the word “winter,” I want you to think of the WMMPA’s Winter Business Meeting taking place in Rancho Mirage, Calif., from March 12-15, 2008. Nestled in the warm desert, the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa is the perfect winter getaway destination for anyone that needs thawing out. 

Educational sessions will include: Lumber Supply Panel; PVC Supply Presentation; MDF Supply Talk; International Markets Discussion; Where to Find Trained Manufacturing Personnel; Why PVC is a Green Product; Roundtable Market Discussions; Current Exporting Opportunities; How to Export Your Products 1-2-3; Green Building Market Drivers; Financial Organization at Home; New Technology Update; and Increased Costs Due to Methanol Shortages.

For more information regarding the WMMPA Winter Business Meeting, contact the WM® office at 530/661-9591 or visit www.wmmpa.com and click on the Events Calendar page. Fly west this winter to practice your positive word association. There will be plenty of crackers to share while you thaw out your feathers. 

© Copyright 2008 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.