20 Years of Dramatic Change

by WOHe

Retrospectives, by definition, invite you to look back so you
can see what got you to where you are today.

In the case of the kitchen and bath industry, what got us to
where we are today is a wide range of key developments across the
industry’s history: a robust economy, dazzling product innovation,
burgeoning consumer demand, favorable demographics, an evolving
retail landscape, manufacturing milestones and technological
breakthroughs.

Those developments, it’s clear by now, have been the major
driving force behind the industry’s impressive transformation, in
only a few short years, from an immature, awkward adolescence into
a vibrant, mature entity. They’re also the developments that
Kitchen & Bath Design News has identified this month in a
special retrospective article that, not coincidentally, marks the
magazine’s 20th anniversary of publishing.

K&BDN, launched in 1983, has been a witness to and a
chronicler of sweeping and profound change in the kitchen and bath
industry over the past 20 years. We’ve seen the market change,
customers change, products change. We’ve witnessed shifts in design
trends, in consumer buying patterns, in the climate for
competition, in the tools for conducting business.

In fact, it’s safe to say that we’ve seen the kitchen and bath
industry, in an amazingly short time span, undergo nothing short of
a stunning metamorphosis from a stodgy, manufacturing-driven
industry of unimaginative steel cabinets and avocado appliances
into a sophisticated, marketing-oriented, fashion-driven industry
that combines glamour and high-tech with high-style and
cutting-edge designs.

Similarly, we’ve seen the industry, in the same compressed time
period, go from a virtually unidentifiable blip on the radar screen
of the U.S. construction market to become the most dynamic,
fastest-growing niche in the building/remodeling trade a sector of
the trade that captures the most attention, and commands more in
the way of dollars, than any other.

Change, clearly, has been the order of the day in the kitchen
and bath industry a notion that you either understand and embrace,
or stand aside and watch hopelessly as the parade simply passes you
by.

But, if the industry’s past 20 years have taught us anything,
it’s that the next 20’years, almost assuredly, will
represent’more of the same.

More new ideas. More challenges. More demands. More
opportunities. More change.

The fact is, the kitchen and bath industry, in many ways, is
literally being reshaped each day, right before our eyes, as the
manufacturing, distribution and retail landscape continues to
evolve in dramatic, breakneck fashion reinventing itself on the
fly, shedding old layers of skin, replacing outmoded, ineffective
ways of doing business with new systems, a new approach, a new
mindset.

These changes may not be comfortable. They may not be easily
understandable. They may not be fun. But they’re real, they’re
permanent, and they’re an inevitable part of the fabric of healthy,
prosperous, maturing industries like the kitchen and bath industry
industries that are full of opportunity, that stimulate commerce,
that attract ambitious new players.

The underlying message here, then, is simply this: Fasten your
seat belt and stay alert.

The kitchen and bath industry in the next two decades as it was
over the past 20 years won’t be for the faint of heart. It won’t be
for the unenlightened, or the unimaginative, or the timid. It won’t
be for those people who decide to sit on their hands, and try to
make a go of it with the same tired formula that worked in the
past. It won’t be for those who refuse to bend with the stiff and
steady winds of change.

The next 20 years, like the twenty which just passed in a blur,
will see an entirely new kitchen and bath industry
unfold.’

And while looking back at what got us to where we are today may
be enlightening, looking ahead at what’s happening in our industry
is the only way to get safely to tomorrow.

Understand how the notion of change continues to define
literally everything in this market. Anticipate it, monitor it,
embrace it, learn from it, even enjoy it.

And remember standing pat in the face of this change is not
safe, and it’s not an option.

It may, in fact, be the ultimate risk.

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