Foodservice Equipment Reports

A Good First Quarter

One of the great things about industry association meetings is the synergy of the parts. Not only do you get juicy ideas to digest from the individual seminar speakers, but you get to combine the input from multiple speakers and compare them for a fuller, more comprehensive picture.

You get to compare notes with your peers, too. What’s happening in your market? Is it unique, or is it like what your peers are seeing in other segments or other parts of the country?

Roundtable discussions at FEDA's Annual Convention last month offered a great chance for dealers to compare notes. One of the topics covered was the economy, naturally. What’s happening, and what’s the near future look like?

The consensus, as always, was noticeably varied. But the common experience among attendees seemed to confirm the dealer economy is definitely stronger than it was a year ago. Quite a few attendees said they felt the market itself was up 5% in the first quarter compared to first quarter last year. That 5% figure was after pulling out price increases and adjusting for any shift in market share. It was 5% for the market, not just for the dealer.

Some dealers said they’d seen twice that in their areas and/or segments. And share gains in some cases meant the dealers books were looking better yet.

All of which tends to confirm industry forecasts and various measurements that point to a decent growth market in general. Replacement business appears to be the big driver, but some dealers, depending on their locales, said noncommercial projects appeared to be on the upswing too. Commercial renovation, too, is reviving.

The future, of course, is always less clear. Some dealers indicated they expect pretty good scenarios through 2013, although others expressed some concern about possible market-specific softening later in the year. Others were skeptical about growth that so far has been greater than industry forecasts projected.

In fact, one of the notable takeaways might be that caution continues to mute any dancing in the streets. Once burned, twice shy, apparently. The downturn of the past couple years was painful. Nobody wants to lay off friends again. Nobody wants to run out of cash.

So yes, it was a pretty good quarter for many. But no wild parties are scheduled yet.

 

Chief Editor
bward@fermag.com

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