Specialty News & Trends

Kitchen & Bath

Modest increases seen

Residential construction may be off in 2007 as the housing slump continues, but kitchen and bath remodeling is expected to post a modest increase, says a newly released market analysis by the National Kitchen & Bath Association. According to the Hackettstown, N.J.-based NKBA, there were 7.4 million kitchens remodeled last year, along with approximately 10.3 million baths (3.4 million full baths and 1.3 million powder rooms). The NKBA said it expects a “cautiously optimistic” remodeling forecast of 7.55 million kitchen jobs this year, up 1.5 percent over 2006, with bath jobs rising 1.6 percent, to 10.48 million units. In contrast, the association noted it expects kitchen-and-bath-related declines in new construction, as that market sector continues to slump.

Cabinets & Vanities

Sales slow down

Sales of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities declined again in April — the product of a continued downturn in the nation’s housing market — the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association said last month. According to the Reston, Va.-based KCMA, manufacturers participating in the association’s monthly “Trend of Business” survey reported that overall cabinet sales decreased 11.4 percent in April compared to the same month in 2006. Sales of stock cabinets fell 23.6 percent for the month, while semicustom cabinet sales declined 4.0 percent and custom cabinet sales posted an increase of 22.2 percent. Year-to-date sales through the first four months of 2007 were down 13.9 percent from the January to April time period of 2006, the KCMA reported.


Mixed-bag for cabinets

When it comes to the nation’s cabinet market, the current picture is a mixed bag of both positive and negative factors.
That’s the view of economic analyst Wayne Wilbanks, who last month addressed attendees at the 52nd Annual Convention of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Wilbanks, managing principal of Wilbanks Smith & Thomas Asset Management LLC, said that while the “crystal ball is a little clearer this year than it was a year earlier,” U.S. cabinet manufacturers are facing a market that is expected to improve by next year, but is still being impacted by the current housing downturn.

While manufacturers on the high end of the residential market have been virtually unscathed by the housing slowdown, overall cabinet sales continue to post a significant decline (see related story above). Cabinet market forecasts call for a continuation of the current pattern through the balance of this year, with a gradual recovery taking hold in 2008.

On the plus side, Wilbanks said, is the expectation that the fed is not likely to raise interest again in the foreseeable future.

Wilbanks also said some 3 billion new consumers are emerging, and will drive global growth for the next 25 years. He noted, in addition, that U.S. retirement savings have risen from $12 trillion in 2003 to $16 trillion in 2006.

However, Wilbanks said, there are several key negative indicators defining the housing market, among them is the fact that home prices have declined recently at the fastest rate since 1950.

“The nation’s housing woes may be only in the early innings,” Wilbanks said, although he added that expects a positive turn in the market by mid-2008.


Therma-Tru announces its ugliest door in America winner

For another year, Therma-Tru searched for the ugliest entry and patio doors in America. In its third year, the competition received more than 240 entries — everything from obnoxious colors, peeling paint, warped panels and leaking seals that barely keep the rodents out.

A panel of expert judges determined one grand prize winner and a runner-up. This year’s grand prize winner from Granger, Iowa and runner-up from Montgomery, Texas will receive Therma-Tru door systems worth approximately $3,000 to $5,000.


Case unveils new franchise model for small and emerging markets

Case Handyman and Remodeling Services, LLC, the nation’s largest full-service residential remodeling organization, has unveiled a new franchise model targeting small and emerging markets. The new model allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to start a Case Handyman and Remodeling franchise at a lower capital investment than the financial requirement needed to open and operate a franchise in a major market.

Mark G. Richardson, CR, Case president, believes the creation of this concept is an appropriate step in his company’s franchise evolution. “Case is represented in almost every major market throughout the United States,” says Richardson.

“There are many markets in the country with strong demographics; this model allows us to connect the dots between the major markets and bring our unique brand of home improvement and remodeling services to areas that otherwise would not have been served by Case.”

Modeled from an existing Case franchise operating in a smaller market, the concept is a direct complement to Case’s existing franchise model which launched in 1998. Richardson commented that this is an ideal opportunity for business-minded couples and individuals who want to start their own business without having to invest a substantial amount of capital upfront.

“In this model, owners have less of a financial commitment tied into operating costs and overhead.”

Currently, Case has several franchise locations operating under the small market model. In addition, small market franchisees will also be able to draw on the expertise and knowledge of Case’s franchise support team. Since its inception in 1998, Case Handyman and Remodeling Services, LLC has expanded to more than 180 territories nationwide. For more information, please visit www.casefranchise.com or call 800-513-2250.


NRCA to assist in new partnership programs

NRCA is working with its national charity partner, Rebuilding Together, and its 235 local and state affiliates to support two new partnership programs, Heroes at Home and Serving Those Who Serve.

Heroes at Home was created as a partnership between Rebuilding Together and Sears Holdings Management Corp., Hoffman Estates, Ill., to assist military families facing hardships. Serving Those Who Serve was established by Rebuilding Together and Countrywide Financial, Calabasas, Calif., to meet the needs of injured soldiers and veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Both programs are intended to provide necessary repairs, improvements or modifications to veterans’ and soldiers’ homes. Home projects vary and can range from replacing doorknobs with latch handles; to remodeling a bathroom to include a zero-entry shower with accessible fixtures; to building wheelchair ramps to make a home accessible.

Rebuilding Together is looking for roofing material and labor donations for homes requiring such repairs or modifications. To donate roofing materials or labor or for more information, contact Kaylee Alberico, NRCA’s communications assistant, at (847) 299-9070, ext. 7592 or kalberico@nrca.net.


CertainTeed Build-It Tour provides hands-on field training to fence, rail and deck contractors

CertainTeed Corporation hits the road this summer with the “Build-It” Tour, a new, mobile installation training program for distributors and contractors of CertainTeed fence, railing and deck products.

Headed by CertainTeed fence, railing and deck training manager Pat Sadler, the tour is traveling across the nation, bringing direct product demonstrations to contractors. Sadler, a 20-year veteran of the industry, has played an integral role in the development of fence, rail and deck products throughout his career.

The first stop on the tour was at Applicator Sales in Portland, Maine, where the sales team got hands-on training and an opportunity to build displays that are specially designed to help with sales.

“It makes a real difference when you understand how a product works and how to properly put it together,” says Scott Frazier, regional sales manager for Applicator Sales. “I’ve noticed a major difference in our sales team since they participated in the training. Not only do they understand the product better but they’re also excited to talk to the customer about it.”

The Build-It vehicle is a truck-trailer combination that serves as a traveling trade show booth, with full-size fence, railing and deck product displays. Sadler and his team offer installation, application and hands-on assistance to contractors, salespeople and end users, during their visits.

The Build-It Tour continues across America this summer. For information on participating in the tour stop, building professionals can contact their CertainTeed fence, railing and deck territory manager or call (800) 233-8990.