As I write this on November 4, Minnesota is one day away from setting a new record for the longest growing season in history. Also known as the frost-free season, a growing season is defined as the period of time between freezes. Since we Minnesotans accept the reality that a fresh polar vortex could happen at any time, this extended warmth is a blessing for farmers, as well as builders and remodelers.
Mirroring Minnesota’s growing season, 2016 has largely been a healthy one for our industry. With record-low mortgage rates and a strengthening economy, housing starts are on a slow, steady growth curve. The economists at Trading Economics forecast housing starts in 2016 to total 1.17 million, rising slightly to 1.19 million in 2017, and projecting 1.28 million in 2020. While these numbers fall far short of the white-hot two million plus number reached in 2005, they’re definitely trending in the right direction.
For those dealers who aren’t yet feeling the rising tides that are lifting other ships, this edition of LBM Journal features a Real Issues. Real Answers. feature on razor-thin margins that may help right the boat for some. Plenty of readers have offered advice as to how to make profits a higher priority heading into the new year.
The election of 2016 is still four days away, so by the time you read this, we’ll have (presumably) elected a new president and congress. Though the election is over, the opportunity for you and your company to make a difference is just beginning. Our industry is fortunate to have a staff of pros in Washington, D.C. whose job is to help make sure our elected leaders hear your voice. If you’re not actively involved with NLBMDA, do yourself and your industry a favor and get involved. Their mission is to act on your behalf. The best place to start is with your state or regional lumber association. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re not sure where to begin. See page 68 for more insight into NLBMDA’s plans for 2017.
With the holidays upon us, and the year coming to a close, many companies are looking back at the year that was—and wishing for a crystal ball, to see what is yet to come. Most will agree that 2016 hasn’t been that bad, as far as business goes. As we look ahead to 2017 it brings comfort to know that we’re all watching out for each other—from our dedicated advocates in Washington, to our fellow dealers down the road.
Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season, and looking forward to working together to help you grow your sales, your business and your brand in 2017 and beyond.