Door and Window Musings
by Tara Taffera
April 4th, 2017

What Keeps You Up at Night?

Ah, the age-old question: “What keeps you up?” You hear it a lot, but last week while attending the meeting of the Moulding and Millwork Producers Association (MMPA), a speaker stopped mid-session to get feedback. As always, the answers were insightful. Here are a few of them:

  • “The U.S dollar.”
  • “The softwood trade agreement.” “With his feeling on trade, he [Trump] may take a very hard line,” responded the speaker, Bob Smith of Virginia Tech.
  • “Employees—a live body.” “The No. 1 concern in Virginia is finding and keeping good employees,” responded Smith.
  • An attendee in California mentioned that a big problem is finding buildable land. Smith said this is an issue nationally as well. “You have a guy in Washington, D.C., that doesn’t like permits so there is opportunity there,” he added.

“When I ask that question, I find we are all struggling with the same issues,” he said, particularly finding good employees. “If you can’t find the human, often times you have to invest elsewhere—in machinery automation.”

It’s been a few years since I attended an MMPA meeting, and it was great to hear that the moulding market is back, and to hear several speakers predict future growth. And the door and window and moulding markets really aren’t that different—both have trouble finding good employees—though it may be even a little worse for this group.

Many of the sessions made references to the current administration and how everything from budget to tax proposals will affect their businesses. On the moulding side, where importing and exporting plays a greater role than in doors and windows, it made me realize how much change—good or bad—will play a huge role. From taxes to the value of the U.S. dollar, the effects will be felt everywhere.

If you missed my article on possible changes to tax law, check it out. I also wanted to share a comment I received to that article from a reader in the United Kingdom.

“I read your article with no surprises in terms of content, but no mention of the elephant in the room. The elephant is the presumption that the USA can do what it likes in a world economy without any repercussions, whether it be economic, political or environment. Much of the tax funding will come from less environmental spending, and whilst the rust states will benefit, which is Donald Trump’s support base, other high tech industries will suffer through investment moving to Europe. The U.K. has already gained huge investments from global high tech companies, where that investment would have been expected to stay in the USA. Exporters generally will suffer, as other countries match U.S. tariffs, and the loss of talent will be difficult to recover. The U.S. glass industry exports high volumes of technical glass, for which there are alternate products. It also imports large quantities of basic as well, where the price may be higher now. It takes a long time to change float glass production to reduce imports. Whilst Mr. Trump will manage some success via infrastructure projects and resurgence of coal based industries, this will be short term. Progress cannot be indefinitely held back. I noted one of your commentators stated that the U.S. was getting control back. I believe that this will prove a delusion, as other major world players will resist any changes that are against their interests, and the U.S. will end up worse off.”

What’s your take? Post a comment here or send me an email at

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  1. Very good points and some are now added to my “awake at night” list for pondering.
    The final statement from the U.K. reader was an interesting insight as well.
    Keep the great food for thought coming.

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