Submitted by mmetz@kcma.org on Wed, 12/08/2021 - 17:19
Industry News Update October 8, 2021

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association is committed to bringing you the most up-to-date information in the industry. Here’s a look at what’s happening: 

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM: LEVERAGING THE MESSAGE 

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April 22, 1990. The 20th anniversary of Earth Day. Environmental groups were doing their best to be heard. Forests were disappearing, they said. Our buildings are poisoning us, they warned. Climate change is upon us, they feared. A subset of this ethos developed into the green building movement that became influential in the early 2000’s.

Such conscientious consumers are also kitchen cabinet customers. Our industry wanted to engage in a balanced approach to this discussion. KCMA committees began discussing environmental stewardship outside of the confines of regulatory compliance. From these discussions, the ESP was born. Crystal is proud to have been directly involved with the development of the program and continues to participate in program enhancements, including the revised standard released in 2020.

Since the program’s inception in 2006, Crystal has successfully leveraged our ESP certification in numerous ways:

  • Included as part of our “Why Crystal” dealer messaging
  • Highlighted in the “Green Design with Crystal” section of our catalog
  • Featured prominently on page one of our first environmental marketing brochure in 2007
  • Used the ESP seal and logo on packaging and marketing materials

Read More

 

BACK TO CHINA: COMPANIES ARE LEAVING VIETNAM AFTER COVID SHUTDOWNS

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After three months of severe pandemic-related lockdowns in Vietnam, some furniture companies are moving production back to China.

Vietnam began seeing a surge in economic and manufacturing output a few years back - largely induced by the Trump Administration's trade war with China. The country's wood exports surged to $2.4 billion in the first two months of 2021 - a 51 percent increase over 2020. In late 2020, the country surpassed China as the top foreign supplier in veneer and plywood. 

And in May of this year, Vietnam overtook China as the largest exporter of furniture to the U.S. market.

Vietnam's government ordered all factories to shut down after a June outbreak of COVID, only allowing them to reopen if workers were housed on-site. About 50% of timber processing companies in Vietnam were forced to stop operations and are now facing the possibility of bankruptcy. Others are still allowed to operate but are at less than 50% of capacity. Read more.

 

THE WORK OPPORTUNITY TAX CREDIT OFFERS A HIRING INCENTIVE FOR EMPLOYERS

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Through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, employers can earn tax credits ranging from $2,400 to $9,600 if they hire eligible jobseekers in targeted groups, such as qualified veterans and individuals returning to the workforce following involvement in the justice system.

 

AUTOMATION IS A SHOP’S COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

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Machine shops wishing to produce higher volumes and offer faster turnarounds should be adopting – or updating – robots and other automation solutions, now.

Customers’ rising expectations, a widening labor gap, and supply-chain uncertainty mean that automation – which can provide a productivity advantage – is becoming increasingly essential for machine shops’ viability.

The rate at which machine shops have been adopting automation also means those businesses that remain behind the curve miss out on a potential competitive advantage. This is the reason that investing in automation is becoming essential for machine shops to remain successful.

Growing Uncertainty
Modern machine shops contend with an increasingly acute shortage of skilled workers, making it difficult to keep up with demand. At the same time, supply chain disruptions, an economic crisis and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 have forced businesses to adapt rapidly.

Being able to offer customers quick lead-time deliveries and reliable service is an advantage for machine shops. However, this will become even more valuable, and more attractive to potential clients as customer expectations rise and market conditions remain challenging. Read more.

 

ARE DRONES THE FUTURE OF TREE PLANTING?

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"Nature’s capacity to reforest is in exponential decline due to fire severity and frequency. Existing tools and nursery supply chains are woefully inadequate to fill the gap."

Enter Droneseed, a company that's developed drones specifically designed to plant seeds in areas ravaged by wildfires. 

The five-year-old company, which employs 60 and works primarily on the West Coast, aims to replace human tree planters, who it says are growing scarce in number. The company says drones can get the job done faster than humans. Deployed in groups of five, they can cover 50 acres per day - whereas an individual human covers about two.

Droneseed says the increased speed and automation can save landowners 30-50 percent in reforestation costs.

Drones are around eight feet long and don't just carry seeds. They carry a 60-pound proprietary blend of seeds, fertilizer, nutrients, and natural pest deterrents. Seeds also don't need to be buried in the ground.  Read more.

 

CHINA WATCH: ENERGY CRISIS CONTINUES

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The rolling energy crisis caused by high coal prices and tight government controls has affected Chinese manufacturing, with September figures showing an unexpected decrease in activity. Many people are scrambling to keep the lights on, with leaders in northern China—where winter is fast approaching—closely monitoring coal supply contracts. Shortages in the northeast, China’s rust belt, are particularly acute.

The root of the problem is that China’s economy remains fundamentally dependent on coal. Even if the electricity shortage is solved, high coal prices will still cause problems in the north, where the poor routinely burn coal for winter heating, accounting for 7 percent of the country’s coal use. Read more.