Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst for the Institute for Trend Research (ITR), was the keynote speaker for the 7th annual Forum. Dietrich has been such a popular presenter that he has spoken at this event every year since its inception. The 2012 forum drew a record crowd of more than 200 glazing industry leaders from across North America.
Dietrich provided an overview of ITR’s dashboard of six leading indicator signals, which offer a broad view of the direction the U.S. economy is heading over the next six to 12 months. The renowned economic expert said there are no signs that the U.S. economy is fading or collapsing. In fact, growth is above year-ago levels, and more gains are expected.
“Despite high unemployment and a significant loss of net worth in recent years, American consumers have returned to their first love – shopping,” said Dietrich. “Even with high gasoline prices this summer, back-to-school sales in August exceeded expectations. Americans are buying cars at a furious pace and also upgrading their homes -- not incidental expenses. Inflationary pressures are mild, interest rates are favorable, and consumer balance sheets are better than they have been in more than a decade.”
Dietrich continued his interactive presentation by providing an overview of the housing and construction markets, which are key to the glazing industry: “Construction trends are alive. Housing starts are up over 21.4% from one year ago. Housing affordability is at an all-time low. Equally good news is that home prices have hit bottom and are heading higher. Nonresidential construction is 14% above one year ago and showing surprising strength. Although the gains are well below the historic peaks of 2008, the recovery touches a broad swath from commercial to health care, manufacturing to malls, sports arenas to education institutions.”
“Another positive sign for our economy is that our abundance of oil and natural gas reserves means six consecutive years of decreasing dependence on foreign oil,” said Dietrich. “It’s time for forward thinking that creates a future each of us can own and enjoy.”
The NGA's 7th Annual Glazing Executives Forum, presented by the NGA Architectural Glazing Committee and held in conjunction with GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window, and Door Expo®, took place on Thursday, September 13, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The program was created by and for owners, presidents, CEOs and senior managers in the North American glazing and architectural glass industry to help build enduring relationships and to provide a collegial forum for collaboration on common challenges. The day-long event featured dynamic and informative speakers, peer-to-peer sharing, and fresh updates on challenging topics impacting the industry. It has become the most important annual networking opportunity for leaders of the glazing industry.