Long-time journalists covering the moulding and millwork industry gathered online last week in a virtual session hosted by the Moulding and Millwork Producers Association (MMPA) to talk about industry trends, share their insights and answer attendees’ questions. Over the course of the event, it was apparent that companies had a lot to contend with this year. Going into March demand was relatively flat, speakers suggested, but following the COVID-19 shutdown when restrictions were lessened, homeowners opted to make improvements—good news for the industry overall.

“With demand being flat that was a lot of additional supply coming on,” said Joe Pruski, assistant editor at Random Length Publications, which includes Fastmarkets.

Tara Taffera, publisher for Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine, was among the panel’s presenters, and spoke about this increased demand as well, citing several expert resources who all point to a thriving market.

“From housing start numbers from the National Association of Homebuilders, to remodeling indices, to strong financial showings in recent third quarter financial reports, this all points to increased sales and a thriving market,” she said.

When asked if that demand would continue into 2021, “All indicators are positive going into 2021,” said Taffera. “There is still a bit of an unknown due to COVID-19 but we don’t see demand slowing on the residential side.”

A positive of the pandemic, according to Taffera, is that moulding and millwork companies have finally entered the digital age.

“This segment was extremely reluctant to embrace online formats, but COVID-19 has forced companies to do so,” she said. ‘Those who do not find ways to engage with customers, whether it’s virtual ways of selling, or online portals, they will be left behind—especially given the effect the pandemic has had on the industry and how it has changed the ways we do business.”

The third trend mentioned by Taffera included a change in product mix on the moulding side, as some materials are difficult to obtain due to high demand.
“It’s a chain reaction,” she said. “Less solid wood means more fingerjoint is specified; then medium density fiberboard (MDF) is specified when fingerjoint isn’t available. So some categories are getting boosts in their numbers.”

She also told attendees that when dealing with the challenges of today’s environment, communication is key as suppliers report that they are gravitating toward companies who excel in this area.

“If communication is a weakness for your company, this may be an area where you want to focus now,” said Taffera, “as this is more important than ever.”

Will Sampson, editor of FDMC magazine/Woodworking Network, rounded out the session by pointing out that all are seeing a lot of mergers and acquisitions in architectural millwork. He also mentioned that millennials are not particularly knowledgeable about wood products, and as a result, these products are on the decline, particularly in the furniture market.

The session was part of a weekly MMPA educational series going through January 31. For a list of educational sessions, CLICK HERE.

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