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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Office furniture grew 5.5% in '07
(wgvu) - Office furniture grew 5.5% in '07

Feb. 14, 2008

By Mark Sanchez

The office furniture industry grew 5.5 percent in 2007 amid a slowing
national economy.

Industrywide shipments in North American increased to $11.42 billion,
according to the Grand Rapids-based Business and Institutional Furniture
Manufacturers Association.
The final tally for 2007 represents a solid increase from 2006 but is
still a growth rate that was smaller than the two previous years.

The fourth quarter of 2007 was the weakest quarter of the year, as
shipments grew 4.4 percent during the same period in the prior year,
reflecting slower national economic growth.

All things considered, I think it was very healthy, BIFMA Ex ec
utive Director Tom Reardon said.

The growth of 2007 isn't expected to continue into 2008, though.
BIFMA's last quarterly outlook three months ago projected flat or
slightly lower shipments this year. An updated outlook is due out soon.

I still think there's significant uncertainty about the year
ahead, Reardon said.

That uncertainty showed up in the latest quarterly index on the
industry activity from Michael A. Dunlap & Associates of West Olive.

The survey of industry executives and suppliers resulted in an overall
index of 52.44 in January, down sharply from the 55.62 three months
earlier in October and below the 56.86 average of the past 15 quarters.

The personal outlook index among respondents was 48.18, the first time
it has fallen below 50 since Dunlap & Associates began the survey three
and a half years ago.

The results reflect the national economy and a steady decline in growth
that began for the industry about a year ago, Michael Dunlap said.

He noted most individual categories gross sales, order backlogs,
capital and tooling expenditures, and employment levels and hours worked
still remain above 50 and in positive territory. The survey uses a
scale of one as the absolute worst and 100 as couldn't be

The surveys results, he said, are a little lower, but nothing
that's bothering me.

I'm not terribly worried. We do have these cycles, Dunlap
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