Are You Feeling Better about 2012?

John G. Swanson
January 23, 2012
THE TALK... | Markets & Trends

This week we heard from two sources that business could be improving.  The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence is up for the fourth straight month.  “Builders are seeing greater interest among potential buyers as employment and consumer confidence slowly improve in a growing number of markets," says David Crowe, NAHB chief economist.

Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies sees greater potential for remodeling as well. “We’re beginning to see some hopeful signs in the economy, and the housing market is finally starting its slow recovery,” says Eric S. Belsky, the center's managing director. “That should prove helpful for home improvement spending as the year progresses.”

Manufacturers at the Northeast Window & Door Manufacturers meeting this week in New Jersey were also sounding a bit more optimistic. No one was predicting huge growth numbers certainly, but a couple suggested the year was starting out better than they had thought it might. "No one wants to talk too much, because they're afraid they'll jinx it," one supplier joked. At the risk of jinxing it, what do you think? That's our poll question of the week.  And post a comment. Are you are seeing more signs of life already? Is it still pretty quiet where you are? What will it take to bring some new life to the window and door market?

Survey Results as 01/31/2012 :

 

Are You Feeling Better about 2012?

No, I'm worried business will deteriorate.

  

 

55%

 

Yes, it's looking like business will pick up a little.

  

 

27%

 

No, I'm still feeling very cautious about year ahead.

  

 

9%

 

Yes, we will see some significant sales growth.

  

 

9%

 

This week's poll makes it clear that negative sentiments still linger in the window and door business.  It is important to note that a technical glitch limited the number of responses to this poll, but it would not be surprising to me to hear that improving economic news is being greeted with skepticism by many window and door executives.

I certainly understand everyone's caution. I do think, however, that companies do need to think about gearing up a bit. Granted we are starting from very low levels, but the National Association of Home Builders is talking about a 17 percent increase in housing starts this year.  According to NAHB, both not only is builder confidence is improving, remodeler confidence is at a five-year high.  

I don't expect a huge rebound for the coming year, but I expect there will be more opportunities for window and door manufacturers and dealers than there were in 2011.  I also suspect there will be companies that aren't prepared for those opportunities, because they are still focused on cutting back. Personally, I was very pleased to hear the positive comments from several manufacturers at last week's NWDA meeting.  It not only made me feel better for the coming year, however, it was a signal to me that it's time to make sure we're prepared for recovery.