A panel from the local building and design industry got together at Oceanic on February 6 to talk about what they see happening this year. Below is an edited version of the discussion. (Note: More of the discussion will be published in the March issue of WilmingtonBiz Magazine.)
SCOTT BYERS, President and CEO, Majestic Kitchen & Bath Creations: What are you seeing for 2020 and how does it compare to prior years particularly due to Hurricane Florence?
CHARLIE TIPTON, Coastal Carolinas Division President, PulteGroup: You mentioned the hurricane, and it was certainly a big setback for our business here and a slow recovery getting back on our feet. It’s been gradual, but we’ve seen steady improvement from traffic and now we’re really starting to see the conversions come through. Del Webb is probably the best to measure. In the October timeframe, we finally got to pre-hurricane traffic in our signups. And November, December and January were all outstanding. So far this year it looks really strong.
CEE EDWARDS, President, MarKraft Cabinets: We had our biggest backlog in company history going into the first quarter at the end of 2019. We were still dealing with Florence stuff, but now a lot of that backlog is new construction. We’re seeing the same thing I think Charlie is that the traffic is there. The orders are still coming in. And it’s not a lot of spec homes, which is something we keep an eye on. Seeing purchase orders that come over with a homeowner’s name is pretty positive, especially going into an election year.
CRESS BELL, President, Bell Custom Homes: It’s been interesting the last couple of years, but it’s all supported by demand. We’re all in a good place. I just feel like everybody’s grinding, but you can’t forget why. It’s a good market. It’s been a lot of work and there’s pressures and stresses that come along with it. It’s a good market. We forgot what it was like.
JENNIFER KRANER, President, Big Sky Design: We have been growing about 30 percent each year in the last couple of years so it has been busy for us. During that time, I’ve been able to increase our design team to meet the needs that we have for different projects. One of the things we did two years ago to meet some of those needs is we developed a little bit more of a showroom in our space so we have a Big Sky Shop and Studio now. And what that allows is for more people to just walk in the door and have some of those resources at hand.
SCOTT LECHTRECKER, Owner, Ocean 3 Design: Normally I’m the first one to kind of feel an up or down tick, and it was steady last year. I did notice a little bit of slowing at the tail end of last year, but on January 1st, the phone was ringing again. I think this is going to be a good year.
It’s an election year, as we all know, and those are always a little strange. But I don’t see any change coming. People are spending money, and that scares me a little bit because the costs are so high right now. But they’re still spending and that tick just keeps going up and up.
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