The results for the 25th edition of the MADA/OFI Trends Survey recently reported some good news. The survey is conducted quarterly by Michael A. Dunlap & Associates and measures the current business activity of the office furniture industry and its suppliers.
The overall survey index reached 54.93, its highest since October 2007. The highest recorded overall survey index came in July 2005 at 59.72. April 2009 saw the lowest at 41.45.
The average index rating is 53.99.
Some of the reasons for optimism come from the jump in gross shipments: from 61.73 to 64.44. Order backlog also went up, to 61.73.
“The first quarter was still pretty slow,” said Mike Dunlap, principal and CEO. “Backlog actually fell below 50 and the gross shipments were up from the fourth quarter.”
The employment index increased to 52.96, and hours worked increased to 52.48.
“There is some hiring going on. If it’s below 50, that means that there are layoffs,” he said. “The hours worked is exceeding 40 hours a week. … There are more hours being worked in the factories and there’s been more employment.”
Capital expenditure and tooling expenditure both improved, to 56.04 and 57.25, respectively. Both the cost of raw materials and employee costs increased, but are still under the April 2010 numbers.
The two areas that saw decrease were new product development, at 62.96, and the personal outlook index, at 51.58.
“I’m very pleased in the results this quarter. The improvements are almost across the board for OFMs and suppliers,” said Dunlap.
“I am not surprised at the significant increases in gross shipments and order backlog. But I am very surprised to see the decrease in the personal outlook. It appears that the supplier community is a bit pessimistic compared to the OFMs.”
Dunlap believes that the industry will continue to see increases.
“I think we’ve definitely turned the corner. I think third and fourth quarters are going to continue to show improvements,” he said.
“It’s still going to take until 2011 to really see significant improvements, but we’re certainly going to see improvements.”