New pallet manufacturers, recyclers, pallet pooling companies, lumber providers, equipment providers, universities and end users from companies such as Costco and DuPont gathered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from March 1-3, 2014 for the conference. Companies from the US, South America, Mexico, Canada and Europe were in attendance.
The conference was packed with two days of seminars, workshops and networking opportunities. We asked Rich for his top takeaways from this year’s conference. Here is what he had to say…
I had four main takeaways from this year’s conference.
- The economy, and especially industrial production, is growing.
Albeit slow growth, growth in industrial production is growing at a faster rate than GDP by about 1.5 points. This means more demand for pallets and packaging in the manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Inflation is on the horizon, but still a ways off.
Inflation will come through a series of events – increased production, lower unemployment, demand for higher wages and then inflation. Probably not until 2015-2016.
- The lack of availability in industrial lumber and recyclable pallet cores are two primary challenges for the industry today.
So how will our industry handle increases in demand without an adequate supply to meet this demand? Will users of pallets and other wood-based packaging be willing to pay much higher prices in order to secure adequate supply? The consensus among the manufacturers in attendance is that customers will have no choice but to pay higher prices.
- How will emerging technologies affect the pallet industry?
With the extreme growth in e-commerce, distribution systems have changed. There is still a strong need for pallets, but the logistics models that require pallets are different now and will continue to evolve. It is up to the pallet industry to recognize these changes and adapt. The growing trend in consumer consumption appears to be based on using handheld devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) to purchase goods and to be able to pick up these goods at your local retail store within shorter and shorter periods of time (as in a few hours).
We want to hear from you! What was your favorite part of the 2014 NWPCA Annual Leadership Conference? Let us know by commenting below.
Post by: Rich Reiher, Vice President