You can come out of the bunker now.

New home construction looks likely to keep rising modestly for the next two years, while remodeling is on a low-grade uphill climb. Building material prices are rising, and rates for credit—when you can get it—remain at rock bottom. Sure, there still are enough goblins flying around the world to inspire fear and even panic, but in LBM, the positive signs outnumber the bad.

That means it’s time for you and your company to discard the hunker-down, starvation-diet thinking that you employed to survive the last seven lean years and begin preparing for a relative time of plenty. It will take a different kind of business model to prosper in this new era, one that emphasizes smart purchasing rather than lean inventories, healthy credit lines rather than meager borrowings, and technology rather than elbow grease.

Keep in mind, too, that you can’t base your future on the way you ran things in the pre-crash years of a decade ago. Too much has changed since then for past practices to succeed a second time.

Which way should you turn? The grid at right is a start. Then we follow up with four in-depth reports to help you set a new direction and take flight.

All Special Report Articles