I appreciate your position as a cheerleader for the industry, which I am a part of, but I think your article relative to California's office/contract furniture numbers (February 2012 CabinetMaker+FDM) misses the point. I could frankly not give a damn what their sales are. My interest would be in what their domestic manufacturing numbers are.
We know that Masco has shuttered and auctioned off vast amounts of manufacturing plants everywhere. Steelcase recently closed their Vecta plant here in Texas. Other plants we hear of around the country are eliminating their manufacturing and using their buildings as forwarding warehouses for Chinese goods. And so far as how these FDM 300 affect us small business types, the best I can see is that we provide a market to help liquidate their retired equipment. My attempts at providing them production services prove fruitless as we cannot begin to approach their cost needs. The best we can do is correct their Chinese screw-up's.
We need to know what is really happening, not hot air blown up our pant legs. Things are serious for all of us and to make it sound anything less is blatant hopium. Unless of course you would like to provide to all of us solid Chinese outsourcing contacts so we too can work our way onto your 300 list.
Small and mid size shops are closing every day, being squeezed out by your magnificent 300 who are pushing into offshore manufacturing at an ever greater pace. How many of Ashley's 18,000 employees are working in the US? I think that’s a relevant question. Maybe I have missed the point of your article, but being on the top of that list is not necessarily a position of honor.
Karl Forth replies: Thanks for your comments. I would agree that much of the industry is still in a serious situation, and imports are affecting all market sectors. But there is still a lot of domestic manufacturing, especially in the office/contract and cabinet markets, and I believe there will be for the foreseeable future.
We’ve reported the large sales declines in this group of companies over the past five years, so I don’t think we can be accused of cheerleading. The fact that the office/contract sector had a good year in 2011 and that more companies reported sales gains is significant. Amid all the bad news, I don’t think it’s out of line for us to report on the positive events.
In the March issue we looked at the companies that have closed in some detail, so there’s not much of a positive spin there.
You make a good point about Ashley. We estimated their manufacturing sales without their retail store segment sales for the first time, which drops them in the ranking. We try to present as accurate a picture as we can for each company, but sometimes we are not able to get all the manufacturing information.
Every business owner and senior manager is responsible for answering three key questions that guide the activities of their organization.
Sales for the FDM 300 group of companies fell 10.7 percent in 2008.
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Integrated system provides immediate real-time production and financial reports.
More and more cabinets are being made in China.
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