No, The Sky Isn’t Falling at All

by WOHe

John Forst has a pretty good handle on how to cope with an
economic slowdown that’s proving problematic for much of the
American business community these days.

Forst, a California-based fabricator who serves as president of
the International Solid Surface Fabricators Association, outlined
his approach in a recent strong message to ISSFA members.

That approach: Don’t stop working hard, don’t stop marketing to
prospects, don’t stop communicating with employees, and don’t stop
networking with colleagues.

There was only one thing, in fact, that Forst advised solid
surface fabricators and others to stop doing immediately.

And that’s to stop finding reasons why your business can’t grow
and continue to succeed.

Forst’s approach is seemingly working well at least in his own
case. He reports, in fact, that his business is up 29% through the
first five months of 2001, while his company’s backlog of new jobs
continues to grow.

It’s very curious, indeed, but similar stories about companies
that are busy, and thriving, are being echoed throughout the
industry . . . even as the fourth quarter opens on a somber note
for many U.S. business sectors.

All of which makes you think there’s another thing that many of
us should stop doing.

And that’s to stop believing all the headlines screaming doom
and gloom for everyone over the current economic downturn.

The lucky reality for the kitchen and bath industry at least
thus far is that it doesn’t seem that the sky is falling, at all.
Quite the contrary, in fact.

In reality, the housing and kitchen/bath industries have pretty
much somehow managed to defy all odds, and have remained
remark-ably resilient in the face of the overall economic downturn.
Housing is virtually the only economic sector that remains a bright
spot. It’s also an industry that not only continues to
significantly outperform the economy as a whole, but also continues
to perform extremely well when measured against its own historical
benchmarks.

People ought to remember that when they shrink in horror from
all the things they’re reading about the economy. They ought to
remember that when they plan for 2002. And they ought to be fully
cognizant of the sturdy foundation of positive factors that
continues to support and sustain this market:

  • Demographic trends that point to continued demand for new and
    remodeled homes, particularly among large numbers of two-income
    “baby boom” homeowners now in their peak earning years.
  • Favorable interest rates that continue to spark home purchases,
    refinancing and other forms of discretionary consumer
    spending.
  • Near-record levels of home ownership, combined with a housing
    stock that continues to age, and a high number of homeowners who
    place kitchens and baths high atop their remodeling “wish
    list.”
  • The prevailing view by large number of Americans that their
    home represents a “fortress” of sorts from the pressures of the
    outside world a place to retreat to, spend time in, unwind, gather,
    entertain, and bond.
  • The related view by a growing number of homeowners that their
    home, more than ever, represents a “safe haven” for their
    investments an equity-building means of protecting and growing
    their wealth that stands in sharp contrast to more uncertain forms
    of investments.

With that kind of foundation firmly in place, there are many
reasons to remain bullish about an industry that will continue to
remain vibrant, secure and rich with promise.

So, as John Forst suggests, keep your head up, your wheels
spinning, your voice active and your perspective intact. Things
will only get bad if you buy into the gloom and doom, abandon the
strategy for success, and look for reasons to let your business
fail.

Editor’s Note: Kitchen & Bath Design News is pleased to
introduce a new columnist this month, expanding our lineup of
columns exploring virtually every aspect of the kitchen and bath
industry. “The Rep’s View,” written by John K. Morgan will examine
the industry through the eyes of the independent rep a vital, yet
often overlooked, link in today’s product distribution channel.
K&BDN readers, it is anticipated, will be exposed through “The
Rep’s View” to some valuable perspectives from an interesting new
industry voice.

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