WMA Headlines May/June 2019

July 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Under Pressure: Will We Emerge from the Dark Ages?

By Carl McKenzie

I recently heard a speaker compare the amount of innovation that has occurred over the last century across numerous industries. He concluded that the building industry is not only behind every other but, by comparison, it is also in what he described as the dark ages. Case in point: We build houses today much like we did when Jesus was a carpenter. Think about that. Meanwhile, inside our homes, I can sit right on my couch and tell Alexa to turn up my air conditioning, to adjust the temperature on my refrigerator and to turn my TV on and off.

It is true that construction processes are lagging in improvements, but it is also true that the products we build with have evolved tremendously and at an amazing pace. At the same time, market pressures stemming from labor, the costs for land and housing affordability will almost certainly force processes to catch up, causing us to reshape the way we build. This is a fascinating topic that we will cover in detail amid the educational sessions at the World Millwork Alliance’s (WMA) 55th Annual Convention in Reno, Nev.

Doors, windows, mouldings, trim, siding, flooring and every part of the structure and finish of a house are now made from space-age combinations of fiber, binders, resins, coatings and, frankly, who knows what? Manufacturers work every day to develop products that will enhance the marketability, value and performance of the biggest investment most of us will ever make: our homes. Technology has advanced the speed with which we bring things to market, making innovation faster, cheaper and more reliable. We can create, introduce and market products that work better, look better, last longer and offer more options to consumers. As a result, somebody is trying to sell a new version of something every day.

For many of us in the business, this break-neck speed and competition can feel like a blessing and a curse, but there’s no debating that, overall, it’s a good thing. Yes, it can make things complicated, but in the end fast-paced improvement is better than the alternative.

As business leaders, we must embrace change, because it’s our responsibility and also our biggest opportunity. The diversity that results from mass innovation creates separation between those competing for a spot in the market. In the process, one of the next new things will also be the next big thing. And after all, isn’t that what we’re all trying to accomplish?

Carl McKenzie is chief commercial officer for U.S. Lumber and second vice president for the World Millwork Alliance.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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