Volume 47, Issue 8 - October 2008

From the Editor

Unfamiliar Times Current Market Conditions
Call for Thinking Outside the Box There’s something to be said for familiarity. Take this column, for instance. I’ve written for SHELTER for more than two years now, and I write an editor’s column for one of its sister publications on a regular basis, but I’ve never had the pleasure of writing this one. Well, if you haven’t heard by now, on August 8, 2008, little Cora Stone Carpenter (see page 44) joined the world, and Samantha is trusting yours truly to venture into unfamiliar territory and not scare you away while she enjoys the first moments of her baby daughter’s life.

Approaching the unfamiliar has its upside. It places you in a new mindset. Two to three years ago, the construction and supply industries were riding high on a wave fueled by record-low interest rates and record-high construction activity. And the high times lasted long enough that they became familiar. When the boom began to fizzle, companies had to adjust to the unfamiliar feeling and dig deep to find new ways of remaining competitive. It may have been no coincidence or, perhaps, at the least a blessing in disguise, that the latest green movement set in roughly around the same time. An increased focus on energy conservation spilled over nicely into the need to cut back on fuel costs. A push for more environmentally-friendly products coincided nicely with the need to be fresh and creative to maintain market share.

At the recent International Woodworking, Machinery and Furniture Supply Fair (IWF) 2008, Roger Rutan, vice president of Timber Products Co. in Springfield, Ore., told me that he believes the green movement is a sort of exception to the slow times. But, in many ways, it’s turned the industry’s mindset toward quality.

The move toward quality was apparent at this year’s IWF. Attendance was visibly low,  and many speculate that this was due to the fact that companies chose to send fewer individuals during leaner times. But guess what? According to the majority of SHELTER interviewees— it didn’t matter. Quality prevailed. Instead of wading through countless company representatives to get to one decision maker, it was like a homerun derby for exhibitors. But don’t take my word for it. On page 22, you’ll find first-hand accounts from attendees and exhibitors who attest.

Speaking of homerun derbies, one event that always manages to deliver is the Annual Association of Millwork Distributors’ (AMD) Convention. Samantha Carpenter has been covering the event for eight years now, so it comes as no surprise that she spent every possible moment—right up to the day she went to the hospital!—preparing an in depth show preview. On page 30, you’ll find an overview of what you can expect to see and do.

In addition to previewing the show, each year SHELTER has the distinct honor of interviewing AMD’s incoming president. On page 26, Jeff Johnson of Western Pacific Building Materials provides a sneak peek of his views and goals for the association.

If you’re one of the lucky ones in the office who gets to attend AMD this year, stop by SHELTER’s booth No. 821. We’d love to say hello and, with a little luck, we might even have a few photos of little Cora to share.

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