Dark-suited secret service agents stood sentry and security radios squawked at the 2004 Building Components Manufacturers Conference (BCMC), held Oct. 6–8 in Charlotte, N.C., and anticipations were running high for a mysterious opening keynote address. Conference attendees were asked to bring proper identification and be prepared for scrutiny at security checkpoints entering the main conference hall. Attendees were abuzz as the speaker arrived—wondering could it really be George W.?
Well, not quite. Although it turned out to be a presidential look-alike who had several in the audience fooled—if only for a moment—the BCMC show did deliver on its promise to kick off the 24th annual gathering of component fabricators, manufacturing-minded pro dealers, and equipment manufacturers with a high-profile guest speaker—even if it was a body double.
With a record-breaking 2,905 attendees, the 2004 BCMC—which is owned and managed by the Madison, Wis.–based Wood Truss Council of America (WTCA)—continues its growth in industry prominence, particularly as component-oriented production builders increase their overall market share and a growing number of pro dealer lumberyards bolt-on truss and panel facilities to their traditional distribution business models.
“Production builders are a key driver to the components market as builders begin to see their bottom line affected from a cycle-time perspective,” says WTCA executive director Kirk Grundahl. “The other driver, of course, is the lack of skilled labor in the field. But at the end of the day, if you are going to supply framing material, you need to supply the whole package, and we think structural building components are where the future of residential construction lies.”
In addition to the almost-presidential kickoff, BCMC offered 86,450 square feet of convention floor space highlighting the latest in component manufacturing equipment, computer software, and delivery vehicles from 137 manufacturers, while educational sessions delivered by actual component manufacturers covered topics from installed sales to measuring productivity to selling panels to builders and framers. Additionally, attendees were able to check out state-of-the-art milling operations at H.W. Culp Lumber and tour 84 Components and Stock Components plants (operated by 84 Lumber and Stock Building Supply, respectively).
As a part of the speaker lineup, Stanley Duobinis, president of Crystal Ball Economics and former assistant staff vice president and director of forecasting for the NAHB, presented a recap of 2004 construction economics and a bullish look at the 2005 components market shared by most in attendance. According to Duobinis, national economic recovery is creating job growth that will temper interest rate increases. Single-family housing starts often increase in tandem with job growth, Duobinis said, especially in regional markets.
Next year's 25th anniversary BCMC 2005 will be held Oct. 12–14 in Milwaukee. For more information, contact BCMC at 608.268.1161 ext. 9, e-mail [email protected], or visit www.bcmcshow.com.