It’s a mighty good time to be in the kitchen and bath industry, with a robust market expected to build even more momentum on the back of solid fundamentals, including low mortgage rates, job growth, pent-up demand and favorable demographics.
But solid fundamentals will ultimately mean little if kitchen/bath design pros, cabinet manufacturers and others in the industry’s supply chain fail to leverage their strengths, identify new revenue streams and seize emerging opportunities.
That, in a nutshell, was the message conveyed to cabinet manufacturers and suppliers at the recent 61st Annual Convention of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association. The messenger: Riley Kirby of the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence, a Charlotte, NC-based research firm with exclusive ties to Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Kirby, chief of research for RICKI, underlined what KCMA members have known for some time – that sales of kitchen cabinets and vanities, having posted solid gains through the first four months of 2016, are currently on a growth trajectory that has endured for more than four years.
And additional growth, Kirby noted, seems very much in the cards.
Indeed, according to the latest RICKI research, more homeowners are remodeling now than 12 months ago, and budgets are expanding. In addition, 69% of RICKI-surveyed designers say they expect business to improve in the next 12 months, while 72% of surveyed consumers say they’d rather renovate than move, and 62% feel that now is a good time to remodel. Coupled with that is the finding that although many home purchasers are willing to settle for a smaller home, few are willing to give up kitchen space – a clear signal about the continued importance of kitchens in today’s homes.
But Kirby also hinted that there are revenue opportunities that can be more effectively leveraged, especially by thinking out of the box.
For instance, he pointed out, 37% of RICKI-surveyed consumers say they store kitchen items outside their kitchen, a prime opportunity to add kitchen storage and/or apply organizational touches to such spaces as closets, basements, dining rooms and garages. At the same time, 42% of surveyed designers say their clients want to blend their kitchens with adjacent outdoor spaces, another prime opportunity that savvy designers can no doubt tap. Lastly, RICKI found, nearly half of all surveyed kitchen remodeling consumers report that they wish they’d spent more on their kitchen project. The implication of that, of course, is that regardless of how good the market is, money is being left on the table.
So even with 2016 shaping up as another growth year for the kitchen and bath industry, this is no time for business professionals to rest on their laurels, or expect profits to grow simply with the rising tide of the market. It’s as critical as ever to hunt for every dollar that’s available, and pull back the curtain on opportunities that may otherwise be missed.
The KCMA marked a bittersweet milestone at its Annual Convention, opening a new chapter in its 61-year history while bidding farewell to Dick and Janet Titus, both of whom retired after serving the association for more than three decades (see related story, KCMA Celebrates Conference, Elects 2016-2017 Officers).
Dick Titus, who served 35+ years as executive v.p., became the first full-time chief staff executive for the KCMA, known at the time as the National Kitchen Cabinet Association. Janet Titus began as director of member services when the association changed its name and moved in 1982 from its former location in Louisville to its current headquarters in Reston, VA.
It’s impossible to overstate the contributions the couple made over the course of their joint tenure, an era during which the KCMA solidified its role as the principal trade association for U.S. manufacturers of kitchen cabinets and bath vanities, while emerging as an important advocate for members and suppliers to the trade.
Among the highlights during the couple’s tenure at KCMA was the administration of testing and performance standards for cabinets, as well as the development of an Environmental Stewardship Program. The KCMA also sponsored key research projects, lobbied Capitol Hill on behalf of the industry, provided management tools and spearheaded countless efforts at education and community outreach.
It’s to Dick and Janet Titus’ credit that all of this happened on their watch. Kitchen & Bath Design News and its parent company, SOLA Group, salute the couple for their invaluable contributions and extend our warmest wishes as they embark on their journey into a hoped-for healthy and happy retirement.