Wood Material Use in the U.S. Cabinet Industry: 1999 - 2001

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Virginia Tech

A combination of fax and mail questionnaires were used to estimate consumption of wood based products by the U.S. cabinet industry and evaluate current management issues affecting the cabinet industry. Group 1 companies (>$20 million in sales) were contacted and sent a fax questionnaire. A random sample of 1034 Group 2 companies (<$20 million in sales and >10 employees) were sent a mail questionnaire. A total of 19 usable questionnaires were received from Group 1 companies and 217 usable questionnaires were received from Group 2 companies. Group 1 respondents averaged 1,108 employees and $125.81 million in sales. Group 2 respondents averaged 27 employees and $2.31 million in sales. A shortened questionnaire (questionnaire 2, one page) was sent to half of the Group 2 sample frame resulting in twice the response rate as that of the long questionnaire (questionnaire 1, three pages).

Results indicated that the cabinet industry used an estimated 484 million board feet of hardwood lumber. Nearly 95% of the hardwood lumber purchases were grade 1 common or better. The most common used species were red oak (44%) and hard maple (24%). An estimated 58 million board feet of components and 68,344 doors were also purchased by cabinet manufacturers in 1999. Softwood lumber use was estimated at 25 million board feet, consisting primarily of white (49%) and southern yellow (36%) pine. The most commonly used panel products were particleboard and hardwood plywood, at an estimated 1,044 million square feet (1/2 inch basis) and 279 (3/8 inch basis) million square feet respectively. Other panel products used by the industry were medium density fiberboard, hardboard, and softwood plywood. Approximately 156 (any thickness) million square feet of veneer was used. Lumber purchases were primarily direct from sawmills (66%) for Group 1 companies and from wholesalers/distributors (53%) for Group 2 companies. Panel product purchases followed the same trend with Group 1 companies buying primarily direct from manufacturers (44%) and the majority of Group 2 purchases coming from wholesalers/distributors (84%).

Group 1 companies sold their products through factory sales people (54%) and to home improvement/building supply centers (37%). Group 2 companies sold their products through factory sales people (77%) and to builders and remodelers (62%). The largest proportion of cabinet types sold by both Groups 1 and 2 were face frame kitchen cabinets (74% and 38% respectively).

Companies from both groups reported producing certified (green) products. The majority of companies indicated they purchased some parts from outside sources. Companies from both groups reported considering alternative materials to substitute for wood. Products that were mentioned include strawboard, urban waste MDF, and plastic mouldings. Concerns rated highest by cabinet companies were finding qualified employees, increasing raw material prices, keeping qualified employees, and wood quality.

response rate, wood use, cabinets