WMA Headlines January/February 2022February 16th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs
Demand Isn’t Guaranteed: But Present Circumstances Are a Definite Reality
By Carl McKenzie
This past October, I attended the World Millwork Alliance (WMA) Annual Convention and Trade Show. For me, this event is always exhausting, exhilarating, instructional and fun all at the same time. It sets the stage, if you will, for the planning that is necessary as we go into the new year. It also provides a good opportunity to gather perspectives.
I found that there seems to be wide consensus around a few things and speculative concern around others. There is consensus that everybody is winning right now, some by a lot and others by just enough. Everyone’s results generally are strong, and there is a good opportunity to reinvest for the future. At the same time, everybody is a little tired because winning in this environment has been hard. Nobody is fully served today and there doesn’t appear to be enough relief coming in production capacity, transportation, or the variety of other obstacles that seem to continue piling on.
So Many Questions
Looking at what’s ahead for 2022, it’s hard to find anyone willing to say that demand might decline. Most believe they should have modest growth that’s limited only by the ability to supply more product. To be clear, that’s modest growth off healthy numbers. Of course, that scenario sets up ongoing price pressures which raise a whole new set of concerns.
These concerns are where speculation begins, though without consensus this time. Is there an actual wall of wood coming? Are prices so high that consumers turn to other products? Will the market return to balance? Will supply grow or will demand shrink to bring about balance? Will prices adjust back to where they started or somewhere in between? Will prices crash or glide? When will that happen? How do we keep from getting burned in the process?
There’s a lot of healthy debate on these topics, to say the least—debate mixed with the kind of panic that sets in as we remember particularly bad markets. We’re all on the lookout for that eventuality, but we all seem to agree: not today.
So today, while we look out for things that might happen, let’s make sure that we look in at things that actually are occurring—things that are at risk of being overlooked in the heat of all the work that needs to be done.
Following are a few thought provokers.
• When things are hard, don’t lean on money as the answer to keeping everyone happy. Make it more than that. While you’re at it, put someone in charge of this.
• Ensure no one is overlooked. Seek them out and bring them on board. Rising tides don’t necessarily raise all boats. Be intentional about this.
• It’s natural to resist things that are changing and to protect things that need to change. Be a leader for change.
• Don’t let winning performance cover up sloppy plays. Be like Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Surely you have your own thoughts, and I would love to hear them. My recommendation is that you maintain the kind of broad view of your business that is common among great and aspiring leaders. Match that with intentionality that is also broad and that exceeds bottom line results.
We should be grateful for the industry that we are in, and WMA reminds us that we are all in it together.
Carl McKenzie is chief commercial officer of Specialty Building Products and chairperson for the World Millwork Alliance.
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