MIA: Leadership Training

By James A. Hieb

DALLAS -- Housing starts will recover by the end of 2012, according to a presentation at this year's Marble Institute of America (MIA) Leadership Workshop.

The insight into the future came as the MIA brought together industry leaders this fall from throughout the United States and Canada to address future economic trends, sustainability, and branding.

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Attendees at the event, held here on Oct. 18-19, represented a cross-section of the industry with quarrier/producers, fabricators, contracting installers, restoration, and distribution attendees. Seventy-five percent of the attendees came from outside the immediate Dallas area.

The event featured a full day of presentations on Oct. 19 concerning the stone trade, with a focus on three areas: economic trends, sustainability and marketing.

Economic Trends

Frank Anton, CEO of Hanley Wood LLC, one of the top ten business-to-business (b2b) media companies, shared a number of insights to common questions affecting the stone industry:

#1 Who Will Drive Future Housing Demand—Boomers or Millennials?
Anton acknowledged that the groups are nearly equal in size. While the boomers are tested (they’ve driven every housing recovery since 1980), millennials don’t have a home to sell and the future action will be by first-time buyers. He added that millennials don’t have much money, but they know how to spend it. They are ethnically and economically diverse and better-educated than previous generations.

However, the demand for remodeling and retirement housing will be driven by the aging boomers. People 55 and older were the only group with increased earnings between 2000 and 2008. Even so, boomers have suffered a significant loss of equity; many are delaying retirement, or working part-time in semi-retirement. Many may decide to stay put and remodel.

The top five remodeling markets in the second quarter of 2010 are:

1 – Pittsburgh
2 – Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area
3 – Anchorage, Alaska
4 – Houston-Sugarland-Baytown (Texas)
5 – Syracuse, N.Y.

(For a complete listing of top 50 remodeling markets, go online to www.marble-institute.com/leadership.)