A word from the boss

This was not done by AI! (24-01-10)

ChatGPT has quickly become the most popular word over the past year. As much as this conversational agent can arouse fear and apprehension for some, it can also be a tool providing support and improvement for others. The Boss doesn't feel like trying it, but many of his employees use it and he has to admit that the quality of their communications has greatly improved.

All in all, 2023 has been a good year for Normand. What we feared during the year did not exactly happen. However, it seems that this is only a postponement because, technically, we would be in a recession...

The labour shortage and housing crisis continue to be on our minds. Some construction-related sectors are slowing down, while others are in recovery mode, supported by a U.S. economy that is still resilient. Demand is contracting, but the labour market remains strong.

Inflation has begun its descent and interest rates are expected to follow shortly. But let's face it; it's going to take some time. We're going to have to be patient and stay vigilant.

Well, No! This article (like the others) was not written by AI but by a human who has been participating in the development of our woodworking industry for 50 years...


A strange summer! (23-09-15)

It's been a strange summer this year. Dry, hot and "burning" in some parts of the country, cool, humid and rainy in others with all the inconveniences that only mother nature has the knack of concocting for us.

After all, the summer remains a period of slowdown during which many economic players put their projects on hold in order to take advantage of the good weather. It's the perfect time to take a step back and review our half-year strategy.

With the beginning of autumn, comes the bell for a return to work. For teachers and students, it's back to school. For politicians, it's the resumption of parliamentary business. For do-it-yourselfers, it's back in their workshop. Activities are resuming and, gradually, we are getting back up to speed.

The challenges that we face are certainly not the least. Soaring inflation, high interest rates, the labor crisis, not to mention the not-always-exemplary rhetoric of our politicians, are amplifying the climate of economic uncertainty that is sweeping over us.

Despite all that, the Boss thinks common sense should prevail. Let's focus on the essentials and remain proactive in managing our business.

Let’s get back to work!

 


Enjoy the summer! (23-06-30)

The end of June coincides with the end of our fiscal year. Although slightly lower than the previous year, sales were maintained to our great surprise and satisfaction. We would like to thank you for your support and loyalty. Our team will continue to work hard to earn this trust.

Given the current economic climate, it is difficult to ignore the impacts of inflation, fluctuating exchange rates and rising interest rates on our operating costs. However, we intend to continue our efforts to keep prices as competitive as possible.

The end of June also coincides with the arrival of summer and, for many, summer means "holidays". Our team will also take some time off, but our stores will remain open and our support staff, although reduced, will strive to accommodate your requests. The Boss will do his best to fill the gaps but he hopes that you will be patient and sympathetic to any shortcomings on his part. Finally, if you happen to be in the area, stop by to say hello. You are always welcome.

We wish you a great summer and a happy holiday!!


Cautious optimism! (23-01-17)

The Boss thought that business would gradually calm down during the autumn but he was royally mistaken. The industry has not yet managed to reduce its production times to a normal level and, thanks to the extension of certain tax incentives, several manufacturers have taken advantage of this to acquire new more sophisticated equipment. Paradoxically, some have even had to postpone their investment projects to the Greek calendars for lack of available resources to deal with them...

November and December ended on a high note and, all in all, 2022 was a very flourishing year for Normand. This influx of orders has necessarily had a strong impact on our level of after-sales service and we thank you for your patience and understanding.

We start this new year with an enviable order book and reasonable expectations. We face a challenging year and we will have to continue to adapt to changing market conditions driven by continued inflation and high interest rates.

The Boss admits to having always been one of those who prefer to see the glass half full. He therefore opted for a slowdown in the economy rather than a recession. It is therefore with cautious optimism that he begins the year 2023.

Time will tell!


Landing or crash? 

Currently, everything is on the rise: environmental problems, war-related risks, energy costs, interest rates, inflation rates, fears of a recession... This mix of bad news creates a climate of uncertainty that we felt especially with our non-industrial customers. The summer period has been quieter in the industry because of the holidays and business has returned to normal. 

Supply chain issues are gradually diminishing, but not those related to labour shortages. The level of industry activity appears to have stabilized, but the pressure remains constant. 

Contrary to our expectations, autumn has started off strong and it seemly will continue this way. But inevitably, things will have to calm down. Will we see a soft landing or a crash? No one can predict that given all that is hanging over our heads right now. 

The Boss, this eternal optimist, remains realistic and cautious. All it takes is one extraordinary event to completely change the situation. Let us therefore be reasonable in our expectations and accommodating in achieving results. 

Together, we will succeed! 


A new virus in 2022?

Despite the continuing labour shortage, the long lead times that are not diminishing, the increasingly high freight costs and the inevitable price increases, demand remains strong and the Boss is a little embarrassed to admit that business has reached a level not seen in many years while this is not the case for many other players in the economy.

We finally got out of this famous tunnel that kept getting longer and, with the arrival of spring, we were finally able to see the real light at the end. We then allowed ourselves to dream of a summer free of restrictions and filled with escapades and activities.

But now "someone" has miserably decided to rock the boat causing a major drama whose harmful consequences risk impacting the economy of the entire planet. Add to that the sharp rise of gas prices and you get an explosive mix that fuels inflation and risks dampening the momentum of many countries.

It is obvious that, if he had been able to choose between the two situations (Covid vs Ukraine), the Boss would have largely preferred to continue living with all the restrictions related to the pandemic. But unfortunately, you can't always choose your battles.

Let us remain optimistic, but let us also be realistic and cautious!


What will the real wave be in 2022?

What a year we have been through! We learned to surf on the 3rd wave, then the 4th (Delta) and now on the 5th (Omicron). If the intention of this famous virus is to have us use the whole Greek alphabet with its variants, we are not yet out of the woods (24 letters).

However, the real wave that the entire woodworking sector is currently facing is the one caused by rising prices. It is a groundswell that may cause many inconveniences to our customers.

Production times continue to lengthen and many manufacturers no longer know where to put their heads. Many of them accept orders conditionally on an indefinite date and at the price in force at the time of production.

Even more worrying is the phenomenal increase in transit costs. A 40' container now costs 5 times more than in 2020. And as if that was not enough, shipping companies require a premium to be placed on a priority departure list otherwise the delays will be longer...

As the Boss has pointed out several times in his previous posts, prices will rise exponentially in many cases and, unfortunately, there does not seem to be a vaccine against it, except understanding.

Happy New Year 2022 despite all!


Great news for fall! (21-10-29)

The woodworking sector continues to be very busy due to sustained demand and delays caused by interruptions in the supply chain. The upward pressure on prices continues and it will soon become difficult to resist an increase of our own.

In this active period of the fall, the Boss is particularly proud to be able to present his brand new transactional website. The popularity of e-commerce had made him realize the correctness of carrying out a complete redesign of the old site that had run its course and, frankly, no longer met expectations.

Easier to access, with more content and a better search engine, one may still find some typos but we count on your kindness to help us improve.

Thank you for your continued support!


Something new for the start of the school year!(21-09-01)

The coming of summer was the forerunner of good news: a pandemic on the way out, an expected summer vacation and more freedom ...

But the Covid does not seem to have said its last word with its variants and Mother Nature made us feel hot, even "too" hot in some places. And as if that wasn't enough, our political leaders decided to add a layer ...

For our part, note that the woodworking sector continues to be very busy because of the sustained demand and delays due to lead times. The pressure on prices to rise continues and it will be difficult not to increase them.

During this back-to-school period, the Boss is particularly proud to be able to present his brand new transactional website. The popularity of e-commerce had made him realize the importance of carrying out a complete overhaul of the old site which had had its day and frankly no longer met expectations.

Easier to access, with more content and a better search engine, we may still find some typos there, but we are counting on your kindness to help us get it right.

Bye bye summer, welcome fall!


Business is getting tougher! (21-05-01)

Recently, the Boss said he was very satisfied with the sustained recovery of business in the industry as well as in stores and on the Internet. However, he was concerned about some of the supply problems that are becoming more and more common today.

The popularity of working from home and very low interest rates mean that the real estate market is overheating, the construction and renovation industry is moving at high speed and the wood sector is struggling to supply demand as it continues to grow.

In the face of a strong global economic recovery, a large bubble is swelling due to a lack of inventory, long and costly supply delays, production backlogs among manufacturers due to the scarcity of raw materials. The spiral of price increases has started to move and we have already found the big culprit for all this: Covid of course.

For us, the factory dispatch dates for the majority of our import orders are between 6 and 12 months. Therefore, if you had plans for 2021, arm yourself with patience.

Fortunately, vaccination is slowly making its way and we can start dreaming of a return to a semblance of normal life in the summer. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to speed up the delivery of back orders as well as the maintenance of price stability.

Get vaccinated, it's free and you can enjoy the summer!