WMA Headlines November/December 2021

November 9th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Craftsman Kick: New Trends Stress the Supply Chain

By Tim Hicks

Not that many years ago, wooden six-panel hollow core and solid-core molded six-panel doors made up a large percentage of the interior doors market. Front entry doors for most houses were also mainly six-panel and made of wood, steel or fiberglass, often accompanied by sidelights and sometimes transoms. Things have certainly changed over the last 20 years.

As new molded designs were introduced in two-panel textured and smooth, five-panel smooth, and two-panel planked varieties, markets began to shift— slowly but surely—away from six panels. In the last five years, that shift has accelerated, starting with the introduction of flat-panel molded doors in one-, two-, and three-panel craftsman styles. When first introduced to the market, they seemed to be limited to use among mostly craftsman style homes, but more recently demand has skyrocketed, as these doors are
used in all styles.

Stoking the Fire

We are also seeing more multi-family, projects using flat panel doors as well. As demand for this style of doors has increased, it has come at a very difficult time for the supply chain. With the pandemic causing labor shortages in many markets, lead times for doors have in some cases doubled and tripled. For door distributors, this has meant trying to build a much larger inventory, as many of the shops we supply need them quicker than manufacturers can produce. Door manufacturers are also more productive when they can produce full pallet quantities instead of building individual job quantities.

As we build more inventory of hollow- and solid-core doors in 6-foot-8-inch and 8-foot heights, we hope that homeowners and builders have the ability to choose any design they wish. The ability to maintain a very deep inventory appears to be distributors biggest challenge as low mortgage rates and housing shortages continue to spark higher demand.

Tim Hicks is vice president of Clay Ingels Co. and chairperson for the World Millwork Alliance.
thicks@clayingels.com

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