Archive for May, 2013

By Jeff Pett, The Fleetwood Group

May is a tough month to work through in our industry, at least as a furniture manufacturer. You aren’t quite sure yet what the summer is going to hold, but you have to prepare for a better summer than last year. We usually see incoming orders begin to ramp up in April, and in May, we usually see some increase in orders. But by the end of June, we pretty much know what kind of year we are going to have.  Our fiscal year runs from April through March, so by the end of our first quarter we can predict with quite a bit of certainty what total sales for the fiscal year will be. We get fully half of our total year’s orders in the months of April-June. And we ship in the neighborhood of 75 percent of our year’s sales by the end of August five months into our fiscal year.

But what do you do in May?

We added the first major installment of summer workers this past Monday. And by the end of May we will have three times as many students in the shop. We don’t have the orders in house to justify those numbers, but if we don’t get the summer help in and trained this early we will not be able to keep up with the orders in July and August. It is definitely a step of faith each May as we ramp up. And most years that works well. The summer of 2009 was, unfortunately, a major exception.

We don’t stock any finished goods. Every piece of furniture we build is to fulfill an order. So until the orders come in we cannot build anything. We can, and do, build common components ahead of time, but until there is an order in hand we don’t go any further. Then every year our capacity ends up being sold out in July and August so we have to be able to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in no time. But in May, it’s a bit of a guessing game and time to prepare for the hoped-for growth.

Our best indicator is incoming orders, but even then there is not the consistency year to year that you can take to the bank. April orders as a percent of total year orders have been plus or minus 11 percent over the past four years. The same holds true for May incoming orders. But by the end of June the total first three months of incoming orders gives us a much better picture of what the total yearend sales will look like.

It’s that pesky month of May each year where you have to commit to a plan and hope it is neither too conservative so our lead times would extend out, nor too aggressive where we are over extended on summer help and prebuilt components.

How is our year going to be this year? Talk to me on the Fourth of July.

Jeff Pett, is V.P. of Sales & Marketing for the Fleetwood Group, a supplier member, and a blogger for NSSEA.


Read Full Post »

By Jim McGarry, President/CEO

Ed Spaces (formerly School Equipment Show)

The NSSEA community — thought leaders in the movement to transform schools into healthy, high-performing learning environments — understands the importance of building and renovating schools that will promote healthy living and maximize learning. That’s why we’re pleased to once again be offering an opportunity for decision-makers at a school, college or university involved in any part of the design, building or renovation of an educational facility to apply for an NSSEA Educational Facility Grant to attend EdSpaces, December 4-6, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.

EdSpaces showcases the newest and the best products for educational facilities and provides education and training for the key stakeholders responsible for school planning and maintenance. With the partnership between NSSEA and USGBC’s Center for Green Schools we are moving forward with our joint vision to make EdSpaces the meeting place for the many relevant participants in the green schools movement whose jobs are to design, furnish, operate or maintain educational institutions.

The NSSEA Educational Facility Grant Award package brings the buyers together with the products and ideas needed to ensure a healthy learning space. The grant includes roundtrip coach airfare to San Antonio for EdSpaces, hotel accommodation for up to three nights at an official NSSEA host hotel and full conference registration to attend career-enriching educational sessions, exhibits and networking events. 

To be eligible for a grant, school district superintendents, facility planners, school business and/or purchasing officials must complete a brief application and provide information regarding current and future building projects taking place on your campus. To be awarded a grant, your facility must have an identified and approved renovation or construction project in place. In 2012 over 120 grants were awarded to school districts and colleges, so don’t miss your opportunity to see the best products, discover what trends are changing the learning environment, and connect with others facing the same challenges in facility design and management.

Apply for a grant today to help both you and your learning environment reach its full potential. Completed applications are due by June 28, 2013. For more information on the conference, visit www.Ed-Spaces.com.
For more information on next year’s event, December 4-6, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, visit www.Ed-Spaces.com.

Jim McGarry is the President/CEO of NSSEA. This article originally was published on USGBC’s Center for Green School blog.

Read Full Post »