Calm After the Storm; WDMA Members Learn about Future
of Construction at Annual Meeting
Things didn't go well for the residential construction business
in 2006, and most of 2007 doesn't look much better. But, by the
fourth quarter, things could start to look up.
That's the word from Harvey Bernstein, vice president of industry
analytics, alliances and strategic initiatives at McGraw Hill. Bernstein
shared that prediction as part of wide ranging talk looking at the
future of construction at the Window and Door Manufacturers 80th
Annual Meeting in Big Island, Hawaii.
While Bernstein mixed in liberal doses of humor throughout the
presentation, the residential decline last year (11 percent) and
the projected falloff this year (7 percent) were no laughing matter.
"This year will be tough, but not anything like last year,"
he says. "We're projecting things could go up in 2008. The
question is really if the shift will be in the final quarter of
2007 or the first quart of 2008."
After 2008, Bernstein says things look bright for residential building
components producers. And, it's not going to be just one thing powering
the resurgence. Demand, in fact, could come from all corners of
the globe. Case in point: Third World countries. With increasing
urbanization, longer life spans and growth in communication and
transportation, there will be more demand for housing.
That opens many new markets for products manufacturers. "If
you're not focused on the global marketplace, you're behind,"
As other countries grow more sophisticated, the United States grows
older. By 2030, Bernstein projects that the elderly population in
this country will be increasing faster than the total population.
The anticipated retirement and subsequent relocation of seniors
and empty nesters into new homes offers even more opportunity for
residential builders and materials producers.
But to capture this market, building material producers will have
to know what seniors want. "Understanding what this population
wants [in home choice] is important," Bernstein says. "What
kinds of features are they looking for?"
This will pose challenges, of course. But after a year of declining
business, it's most certainly a challenge that both builders and
their suppliers will surely embrace.