Thursday, April 10, 2008


With new housing starts down 25% this year, suppliers of materials for building and construction are scrambling for new strategies. To boost revenues and profitability, your business managers who supply products to this industry may require new, unfamiliar skills.

  • International Markets Insight: The weak US dollar and stronger economic growth in Europe and Latin America are creating opportunities for sales of raw materials, chemicals and other supplies overseas. Business managers with international experience know where to look to sell abroad and how to tailor product development to meet foreign building codes and regulations.
  • Relationships with State and Local Governments: While residential and commercial real estate construction is suffering, some building products suppliers find opportunities in developing products and supplying construction for schools, hospitals and other institutional projects where construction continues albeit at slower rates of growth.
  • Green Awareness: Environmental considerations are a top factor in product development these days. An increasing amount of product managers’ time is allocated to developing and selling products that provide significant environmental performance advantages to their customers. Successful vendors also have their regulatory antennas up and attuned to future eco-policy.
  • Tuned In to Niches: Home Improvement may be a market opportunity for building suppliers to bolster their top lines. Molded composite bathroom surrounds and structural insulted building panels are examples of products that are finding customers despite the retreating construction market. Managers with experience analyzing segment trends may spot niche opportunities that buck the trend.


Note: Median full time base salaries.
Source: American Chemical Society salary survey 2007

THE LAST WORD: If you have a half hour after your business meeting in New York, go see “Design and the Elastic Mind” at the Museum of Modern Art. This amazing exhibition, on display until May 12, explores how designers are harnessing technology advances to develop new concepts for our lives. It also shows how scientists are borrowing from design concepts to model, for example, nanotechnology ideas. An example of the many mind-boggling displays is Sketch Furniture, a unique method by which freehand sketches materialize into form. Strokes made in the air are recorded with motion capture video and digitized into a 3-D computer model. The digital files are sent to a rapid manufacturing machine that uses computer controlled lasers to print the objects in polyamide resin resulting in furniture that is a clear translation of drawing into object.

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