Supply Chain Trends, Forecasts in 12 Charts

If these numbers look familiar, it's because you've been paying attention. Each month we send out an analysis of a data set that we think will help you run your business more efficiently. Here, we've compiled those reports from 2012 in the hopes of giving you a jolt of analytics to start the new year. From measuring projected revenue growth by product category across the supply chain to counting dealers with showrooms to asking remodelers for the reasons homeowners give them for hiring their services, use these numbers to recap 2012 and plan for 2013. View the slideshow for the full list.

JANUARY 2012: How Southern Pine Got Hurt by Design Value Cuts

Want to build a truss, rafter, or joist? For years, your strongest softwood lumber option for several key design tests has been Southern pine. But on June 1, three design values dropped for Southern pine 2x4s that are visually graded at #2 and below. Forest Economic Advisors noted at the time that the downgrade would move Southern pine from the strongest to the weakest of species on those values. But such might not be the case in years to come, as other species are in the process of undergoing re-evaluations similar to the one that caused Southern pine's values to fall. 

FEBRUARY 2012: Big Builders' Big Mortgage Role

MARCH 2012: How Dem, GOP Voters Differ Over Being Green

Next time your contractor customer considers adding green features to a house he's building, ask whether the likely buyers favor Democrats or Republicans. A new Harris survey found some substantial differences between the two groups on green lifestyle questions. In some situations, independents were the greenest group of all. 

APRIL 2012: Contractors Want E-Mails From You … Just Not Every Day

Nearly 60% of builders and remodelers want to get regular e-mails from their building material supplier, a recent survey of contractors by The Farnsworth Group suggests. They're particularly interested in new products and sales or special offers. But take care to avoid wearing out your welcome; only 12% want to get e-mails from you more than once a week. 

MAY 2012: Americans’ Changing Reasons for Remodeling

Compared with 2006, the nearly 400 remodelers polled by the NAHB this spring were 11 points more likely to be doing bathroom remodels and 13 points less likely to be working on bathroom additions. For whole room additions, they're 24 points less active, but they're 4 points more engaged in window replacements. Why? The signs above—showing changes in the reasons remodelers hear for doing projects—we're moving from a nation of home-flippers to one where residents are burrowing in. 

JUNE 2012: Even Fewer People Can Afford Housing Today

Washington says anyone spending over 50% of household incomes on mortgages or rent has a severe home-cost burden. So far this recession-ravaged decade, the share of households in this category has grown, and not just among the poorest of the poor. Pressure to limit federal and state funding for low-income housing and rental assistance means these percentages likely will keep going up. 

JULY 2012: Where the Shortage of Framers Hurts Most

Builders nationwide tell LBM dealers they worry about a potential shortage of framing subcontractors as housing revives. A survey of contractors by the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Institute suggests the problem is most acute in the West. More survey findings

AUGUST 2012: LBM Dealers Increase Number, Variety of Showrooms

ProSales' latest survey of what dealers stock found there's more show-and-tell going on nationwide. The percentage of dealers without showrooms has shrunk by 4 points since our last poll, while the percentage showing windows, doors, and kitchen/bath products has increased. 

SEPTEMBER 2012: The Next Trend for Truss and I-Joist Makers

Forest Economic Advisers (FEA) predicts big growth in production of machine stress-rated (MSR) lumber through 2016, for two reasons. First, MSR wood is used mainly for trusses and I-joists, so when new-home construction rises, so will production. Second, design values for visually graded Southern yellow pine—another wood type used in trusses and joists—were reduced. That makes MSR of all types more desirable. FEA also predicts a boost in production of Southern pine MSR as production in Canada slows due to the mountain pine beetle's destruction in the west and reduced harvests in the east. 

OCTOBER 2012: Where Do You See the Most Growth-Potential Through 2014?

Home building's slow revival is leading LBM dealers to regard repair, remodel, and replacement work as their biggest opportunity for increased sales over the next two years, a survey by ProSales' parent company finds. Interestingly, small builders agree: They were as bullish on remodeling growth as on move-up housing (both at 38%), with luxury custom and starter homes trailing. 

NOVEMBER 2012: Signs of a Recovery Among Smaller LBM Dealers

Most of America's building material dealers take in less than $10 million annually in sales, but most industry reports focus on the bigger players in the ProSales 100. By contrast, two-thirds of the reports from accountants and financial institutions compiled by Sageworks since 2002 involve dealers with annual revenues under $10 million. How's that group doing? After peaking at 4.14% in 2005 and then falling to a 0.25% loss in 2009, dealers' net profit margin has rebounded to 2.29% in the 12-month period ending in mid-November 2012. Meanwhile, gross margins have shrunk a bit, from 26.3% in 2009 to 24.85% in the most recent period, not much different than its 2005 performance. 

DECEMBER 2012: Which Products and Which Channels Will Grow Most Through ‘14?

All parts of the supply chain in North America took in about $99.5 billion last year from selling 14 key building product lines, a new study by Principia finds. By 2014, the research group forecasts those revenues will rise 6% per year to hit $122 billion. But that additional $22.5 billion won't be shared equally among products or among sales channels. Here's where Principia expects the growth. 

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