Blog

The Sky is the Limit

April 2019

As today’s world moves towards more ecofriendly options thermofoil components are gaining strides in the woodworking industry.  The growing popularity of 3DL has encouraged a lavish blend of nature and design that mimic our surroundings.  With STF’s latest 3D laminate addition, the Skye truly is the limit.

Skye is just one in the many newest designs that are capturing todays modern trends utilizing our landscapes as inspiration. The white brushed elm design combined with the deep texture emulates nature in the most spectacular fashion. A TFL match can be found with Uniboard (H54).

House Flipping Rates Near Historic Highs

April 2019

Home flipping is on the rise, nearly back to the same level it was around the peak of the housing bubble in 2006. However, this time around it does not cause concern for many economists as the flips are less risky.

According to a recent report from Core Logic Inc, that has been tracking house flipping data since 2002, stated that the flipping* rate has increased on a year over year basis for 12 consecutive quarters. 2018 fourth quarter flipping rate was at 10.9% of home sales, compared to first quarter of 2006 which was at 11.3%.

The biggest markets for house flipping falls mostly along the sun belt with Birmingham, AL at 16.5% followed by Memphis, TN (16.22%), Tampa, FL (15.1%), and Las Vegas, NV (15%). Other markets with high average rates are New Jersey, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

At the low end of the home flipping rates areas such as Austin, TX (4.3%), Bridgeport, CT (4.4%), Hartford, CT (5.1%), and New Haven, CT (5.3%) along with other parts of Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin.

This time around house flipping is more based on adding value and speculating on prices. Adding value to older homes is has been key to ensure there is no market volatilely. This allows entry level homes back to the market without large costs for first time home buyers (entry level homes are desperately needed on the market due to a lack of supply). One of the key takeaways from the housing bust was that a large part of the flipping industry was based on speculation on future home prices.

*House flipping rate is determined as a percentage of total home sales that have been owned for less than two years.

Unemployment and Job Openings

April 2019

U.S. job openings fell in February to the lowest level in nearly a year. Seasonally adjusted, there was 7.09 million unfilled jobs in February, down by more than 500,000 from January.

While job openings may have fallen, unemployment rates have stayed at very low levels, for both February and March, the unemployment rate stayed at 3.8%.

An Optimal Grey

March 2019

What’s hot in the world of kitchen trends? According to Houzz’s annual study of kitchen trends grey has been on a constant rise in recent years. Grey cabinets have had a major break through, with 1 in every 10 homeowners choosing grey over the more traditional white in cabinets. Paired with contrasting colors or bright accent pieces such as brass hardware or a bright color paint, grey is becoming a staple in many homes.

With a shift in focus from white to grey, STF has introduced yet another grey in our solid collection. Opti Grey is a mid range grey that is bound to have endless applications and never go out of style. Complimentary TFL products can be found with Arauco, Roseburg, Tafisa, Funder, Uniboard, Stevens Indsutries, KML, and American Laminates. Matching HPL can be found with Formica and Pionite.

January Marks 100 Straight Months of Increased Employment

March 2019

The U.S. labor market has reached a new record with the longest streak of job additions to the market. January marked the 100th month of consecutive job growth within the U.S according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonfarm payrolls rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 304,000 in January. Employment grew in several industries including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care and transportation and warehousing.

Unemployment ticked up to 4.0% but that is attributed to the partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days. Despite uncertainties that surrounded the partial shutdown, it did not slow down the private sector hiring.

Abstract Design with Concrete Applications

October 2018

After popular demand, STF is excited to introduce our latest stock design: Concrete.

Concrete is unlike any of our other 3D laminate designs, it is the first abstract design intended for horizontal surfaces. Mimicking a light grey toned concrete, it is perfect to achieve a modern or minimalistic look. It pairs well with any of our woodgrains or solid colors for the kitchen cabinets utilizing concrete as the horizontal surface or as a kitchen backsplash.

It could be paired with Wilsonart: Pearl Soapstone 4886-38 (2).

U.S. Jobs Report: Working Like It’s 1969

October 2018

Unemployment in September has hit the lowest level since 1969, with little to no indication it is going to go back up any time soon. The U.S. Labor Department has reported that unemployment is now at 3.7%, with the addition of 134,000 jobs in September.

Confidence High Across the Board

October 2018

Consumer confidence hit an 18 year high in September, a very positive indicator for spending going into the holiday shopping season. The Conference Board Index measured consumer confidence at 138.4, up from 134.7 in August. This is the highest it has been since September 2000. (An index reading of 100 represents how household saw the economy in 1985).

A high consumer confidence is a good sign for the third quarter GDP, since consumer spending attributes to about 70% of GDP and economist are forecasting GDP growth at 3.3% for the third quarter. While some economist have voiced concerns about current trade tensions between the U.S and our trading partners, the consumer has not felt the effect of it.

In the continuing trend of increasing confidence and outlook, the National Association of Manufacturers (across all industries) are reporting exceeding high (92.5% of respondents) outlook for the third quarter. This is on pace for the highest yearly reading of the surveys 20 year history. Outlook for the fourth quarter is at 93.9% positive, making it the highest one-year average on record. Optimism for small manufacturers increased in by 1.8% from Q2 to Q3 to 91.3%.

Builder confidence remains unchanged in September from August at 67 according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Builders remain confident that the growing economy and rising incomes will allow more individuals to pursue buying new homes. Even with housing affordability becoming a challenge, many builders maintain a positive outlook for September.

IWF 2018 in Review

September 2018

After a flurry of excitement, Synergy Thermal Foils will put IWF 2018 down in the books as a great success! The International Woodworking Fair (IWF) is a biennial event and was hosted in Atlanta, Georgia on August 22-25, 2018. With over 1,000 exhibitors that spanned over 1 million square feet, thousands of people from the woodworking, manufacturing, design and other industries walked the halls in awe of the latest products and technology that woodworking has to offer.

STF stood out from the crowd with our display which highlighted the range of products that can be finished using thermofoil. From cabinet doors to decorative wall panels, moldings to health care tables; the possibilities with thermofoils is endless.

Introduced for this show, our newest additions to our 3D laminate collection, Elmwood, Ember and Tete-e-tete garnered much attention. These three designs features a unique texture and design combination that catches the eye.  Throughout the show, we fielded the question “Is this real wood?” and many people were astonished that it was in fact thermofoil. All three of the designs have TFL matches: Elmwood matches Uniboard’s Driftwood (H70) and Stevens Industries Ontano (L04), Ember matches Uniboard’s  Ember (H53), and Tete-e-Tete matches Tafisa’s Tete-e-Tete (M2001) and Uniboard’s Silva (H50).

Additionally on display was STF’s TFL and HPL matching program. With our customers in mind, we try to introduce not only leading trends and designs but also to ensure that our RTF stocking program has matches to major TFL and HPL producers across North America. Matches from companies such as Uniboard, Tafisa, Dixie-Funder, Formica and more were all on display.

Outside of Synergy’s own booth, our products were on display at other prominent booths. Genesis Products had a display of miter-folded boxes that utilized Synergy’s Smokewood foil. Italpress had a beautiful display of a unique wall panel system utilizing STF’s Memento, Silverwood and Barnwood.

Overall 2018’s IWF was a whirlwind experience and will be talked about for months to come.

Whether you were able to attend and saw the breathtaking new colors or unable to go to this year’s IWF because of your own hectic schedule but still want to see the new designs, please email info@synergythermofoils.com for sample requests.

Employment and Wages Catching Up with a Roaring U.S. Economy

September 2018

Without a shadow of a doubt, the U.S. economy has been on a rampage in recent months. Growing beyond expectations within multiple economic indicators. Effects of the booming economy are being felt by every person from the average worker to the largest corporations.

Second quarter GDP has been reported at 4.2% at an annualized rate; almost double the Q1 reports. GDP growth has been largely attributed to larger consumer spending and an increase in soy exports for the second quarter. This is the strongest growth rate since Q3 of 2014.

Private domestic business investment has been steadily on the rise following the 2017 tax plan implemented, reaching nearly $596 billion for Q2. Investment as a percentage of the economy is at about the same level of the mid-2000’s boom.

Consumer confidence is on the rise as well, up 5.5 points in August according to the Conference Board. The index now stands at 133.4 (1985 = 100), up from 127.9 in July. The present situation index improved from 166.1 To 172.2 and the expectations index also increased from 102.4 last month to 107.6 this month.

“Consumer confidence increased to its highest level since October 2000 (Index, 135.8), following a modest improvement in July,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved further. Expectations, which had declined in June and July, bounced back in August and continue to suggest solid economic growth for the remainder of 2018. Overall, these historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending in the near-term.”

Unemployment remains at historically low levels for August, unchanged at 3.9%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 201,000. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing and mining. A broader measure of unemployment that includes individuals who are unemployed but have given up looking for work fell to 7.4 %, the lowest level since April 2001.

With many indicators pointing towards a rocking economy, one thing has remained a drag on growth; wages. That is starting to change. Average hourly earnings have increased 0.4% in August following a 0.3% increase in July. This has raised annual increases in wages to 2.9%, the largest increase since July 2009. However, this has matched the current rate of inflation (compared to previous months where the rate of inflation outpaced wage growth). If the inflation rate remains steady finishing out Q3 and going into Q4, wage growth is likely to surpass that by the end of 2018.

Cabinet Sales Increase Year Over Year

September 2018

July has reported an increase in cabinet sales of 3.8% for July over the same time frame during 2017 according to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufactures Association (KCMA)’s monthly Trend of Business Survey. Participating cabinet manufactures have notated that stock sales has increased by 9.2%, custom sales increased 8.4%,  however semi-custom sales decreased 3.1% year over year.

Year to date cabinetry sales through July 2018 are up 1.5%, stock sales are up 3.2%, semi-custom decreased 1.1% and custom sales are up 3.9% so far this year.

Survey participants include stock, semi-custom, and custom companies – companies that belong to KCMA represent combined sales of approximately 70% of the U.S. kitchen cabinet and bath vanity market.

U.S. Furniture Sales Up 5%

September 2018

In tune with other manufacturing markets, U.S. furniture manufacturers have reported a 5% increase in sales during July 2018 over the previous month. From the recent survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors completed by Smith and Leonard, this 5% increase has been a consistent trend over the past couple of months. June experienced a 5% increase over May and May experienced a 15% increase over April. Year to date, orders are up 6% over 2017 with over 60% of participants reporting increased orders.