Our core markets are still very soft - new school construction has been in a deep recession, and it has yet to really begin recovery. MAYBE we have hit the bottom, but there is very little state government support for new construction, and local voters are generally being cautious. Architects are starting to see some increased activity for education construction, but it will be a while yet before we are installing new gym seating, auditorium chairs, and portable seating to a significant degree.
But Hussey Seating is continuing to grow. Our key strategy over the last few years is to pay more attention, in a significant way, to past customers. The traditional view in our industry is that our seating sales are a one-time sale, and in 20 or 30 or 40 years from now, we will see the customer again looking to replace. At Hussey, through our Hussey Advantage division, and through a national network of Regional Service Centers, we have focused on surveying, inspecting, upgrading, and renovating existing seating installations. This has been a terrific growth area for us.
But it's also positioned us in the right place when those customers decided it is in fact time to replace. They may have decided they aren't getting new construction, and it's therefore time to do a more modest investment of replacing and modernizing their gym, auditorium, or just the seating equipment in those facilities.
Or the large stadiums and arenas are realizing to be competitive, they need to continue to upgrade features such as seating, and increase comfort, refresh colors, and improve seating configurations.
Because we have been in the seating business for over 60 years, we have a HUGE base of installed seats, and thousands of satisfied customers out there. So we are now seeing a big demand for seating replacement, from gyms to auditoriums to convention centers to stadiums to college and professional arenas.
Someday that new construction will boom again, and we will be ready for it. But for now, we are in fact very busy putting seats in for the 2nd (or even 3rd) time to past customers!