News Developments – December 2022

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Cabinetworks Expands Its Pennsylvania Plant

Cabinetworks Group (“Cabinetworks” or “the Company”), the country’s largest independently owned manufacturer and distributor of kitchen and bath cabinetry, headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI, announced recently, in collaboration with the State of Pennsylvania, a plan to expand its Mount Union facility in Huntingdon County, PA and retain 1,694 quality manufacturing jobs, which includes an additional 300 new jobs.

Cabinetworks is investing $23 million to transform its 206,000 square foot Mount Union facility from a component plant into an advanced manufacturing and assembly operation that can build and ship fully assembled cabinets. Cabinetworks will revamp the facility layout and implement a highly efficient, high-speed cabinet production model with state-of-the-art equipment to meet a production goal of 5,000 or more cabinets per day by the end of 2025.

Cabinetworks uses solid U.S. Hardwoods in its manufacturing including Cherry, Hard Maple and Red Oak. The firm manufactures its products across the United States.

This is the second time the company has joined forces with the Governor’s Action Team, which assists businesses looking to move to or expand in Pennsylvania. In 2016, Cabinetworks made a $10.7 million investment to purchase the Mount Union plant, which made it the company’s fourth location in the state, where it has been manufacturing since 1970.

Cabinetworks Group is the largest independently owned manufacturer and distributor of kitchen and bath cabinetry in the United States. To learn more, go to www.cabinetworksgroup.com.

Wisconsin Senator Introduces Reliable Rail Service Act

According to the Hardwood Federation, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) recently introduced the Reliable Rail Service Act, a bill to help untangle supply chain bottlenecks plaguing the Hardwood industry and other shippers around the country. The bill aims to codify requirements that rail carriers provide service to a broad swath of users, including the Hardwood sector, “on reasonable request.” While a path forward for the bill is limited this year, the legislation lays down an important marker to be picked up in 2023 when a new Congress convenes and considers measures to re-balance the nation’s supply chains.

To learn more, go to www.hardwoodfederation.com.

Remodeling Market Sentiment Softened In Third Quarter But Remains Positive

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently released its NAHB/Westlake Royal Remodeling Market Index (RMI) for the third quarter, posting a reading of 77, declining 10 points compared to the third quarter of 2021.

“Remodelers in many parts of the country remain positive about the market,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Kurt Clason, a remodeler from Ossipee, NH. “In some areas, however, a growing number are seeing signs of a slowdown due to the ongoing problems of labor shortages, high material prices and rising interest rates.”

The NAHB/Westlake Royal RMI survey asks remodelers to rate five components of the remodeling market. Each question is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, where an index number above 50 indicates that a higher share view conditions as good than poor.

The Current Conditions Index averaged 82, dropping eight points compared to the third quarter of 2021. All three components declined as well: the component measuring large remodeling projects ($50,000 or more) fell six points to 80, the component measuring moderately sized remodeling projects (at least $20,000 but less than $50,000) dropped eight points to 83 and the component measuring small remodeling projects (under $20,000) declined by six points to 85.

The Future Indicators Index fell 13 points to 71 compared to the third quarter of 2021. The component measuring the current rate at which leads and inquiries are coming in dropped 17 points to 66 and the component measuring the backlog of remodeling jobs decreased by eight points to 77.

“Home equity and ongoing strong demand for work at home and an aging housing stock are supporting demand for remodeling,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Interest rates are having a negative effect, more so on new construction than remodeling, so it’s not surprising that remodeler sentiment has so far managed to stay positive. After a decline in 2022, NAHB expects a small increase in remodeling activity in 2023, in contrast to the rate of new construction which we anticipate will continue to decline.”

For the full RMI tables, please visit www.nahb.org/rmi.

Russians Have Eluded U.S. Sanctions On Russian Birch

Decorative Hardwoods Association and Hardwood plywood made news in Washington recently as The Washington Post reported on Russian Birch imports by way of China and Vietnam. Earlier this year, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, DHA reported about large volumes of Birch plywood imports through Vietnam and noted this material was likely Russian. Now, a new study by the Environmental Investigation Agency has documented this activity. DHA also reported recently that the Commerce Department determined that imports of Hardwood plywood from Vietnam were circumventing duties on Chinese plywood. This story will add additional scrutiny to these unfair and illegal trade practices.

In another sign that further regulatory restrictions on domestic forest management may be coming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has proposed listing tricolored bats on the Endangered Species List. DHA and the Hardwood Federation will comment on the proposed listing and highlight previous findings that bats benefit from healthy managed forests and that the decline in bat species is unrelated to forestry.

On a positive note, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to improve forest management. Although time is running out in this Congress, DHA will work with the Hardwood Federation and other allies to support the legislation in 2023.

To learn more, visit www.decorativehardwoods.org.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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