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We’re Not At The Jumping Up and Down Stage Yet

We’re Not At The Jumping Up and Down Stage Yet

Story by Rich Donnell,

One of the comments I continued to hear from many industry professionals as we waded through the muddy recession together and as new housing starts sank to 500,000 annually (and even lower, but I couldn’t bear to watch anymore), was “just wait until we reach 1 million housing starts again. It’ll seem like 2 million!”

The point being that a doubling of housing starts would create such euphoria in manufacturing that 1 million might as well be 2 million. Everybody would be so delighted at the increased business, and running so hard in their business (and so unaccustomed to being so busy) that nobody would have time to pay attention to 1 million, or 2 million.

Well, are you starting to feel that way yet?

Among other things, our report in this issue on the domestic composite panel industry beginning on page 22 reveals several of the latest housing forecasts and all of them top 900,000 for 2013, followed by an increase to more than 1 million in 2014. Indeed these forecasters have been adjusting their figures slightly upward with some regularity.

I must say that we as a publisher of magazines in the building products industry have been busier as of late. Your activities, or lack thereof, in the mills and in equipment manufacturing shops trickle down, for better or worse, to us, just as new housing or no housing trickles down to you. Right now, it’s for the better. It’s easy for us to quickly research what years were better or worse. We simply go into our library, look at the annually bound issues, and can tell by the thickness of those bound volumes. The thicker the year the better, meaning more pages per issue, more advertisements, more articles.

However, I’m going to stop short of announcing that today we should be euphoric. And I’m guessing that most of you are in agreement with me.

(Then again, those who have not been in this industry for very long, say for just a handful of years, perhaps are feeling euphoric. Perhaps 1 million might as well be 2 million, compared to when they joined the industry, when it was 500,000. They’re too young to know any better.)

But for most of us, and especially for the ones of us who’ve been around a long time, say 30 years or so, this should not be euphoria. One million housing starts is what it says it is, 1 million, not 2 million. We can remember when 1 million housing starts was not very good; that it was an indicator of recessionary times; our bound volumes of magazines were not very thick in those years of 1 million.

And so to go back to the premise of this column, our friends may have been overstating it a bit when they said 1 million would seem like 2 million. Not to take anything away from the 500,000 where we were to the 1 million we’re now entering. The latter is certainly more enjoyable than the former. New projects. More jobs. Renewed spirit. Thicker magazines. No small matters, those. But, no, it’s not 2 million. You’ll know 2 million when it comes again. There will be no mistaking it. And you’ll say 1 million couldn’t hold a candle to 2 million.

Here’s to 2 million!

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