The United States gypsum board industry achieved its highest rate of annual shipments ever in calendar year 2004 when the U.S. manufacturers of gypsum board shipped a total of 34.24 billion square feet of material. This volume represents a substantial increase in shipments over the same 12-month period of 2003 when 31.72 billion square feet of board were shipped. Gypsum board shipments previously peaked in 1999 at 29.08 billion square feet, declined slightly in 2000 and then rebounded over the past four years.

Canadian manufacturers also experienced an increase in shipments as production increased from 3.42 billion square feet in 2003 to 3.55 billion square feet in 2004. Similar to the U.S., Canadian shipments crested in 1999, declined in 2000 and have risen steadily since.

"2004 was certainly a healthy year for gypsum board shipments in the U.S. and Canada, as shipments for nearly every product segment tracked by the Association displayed an increase over 2003," said Michael Gardner, executive director of the Gypsum Association. "While it was unquestionably the strong housing market that fed overall demand for gypsum board during the past year, what is heartening is that shipments of products that are commonly installed in non-residential construction also showed growth last year. This would seem to indicate that potential exists for a healthy 2005."

In other association news, Director of Promotion Services Lee G. Jones announced that the association has updated and redesigned its existing Web site, For the redesign program, the association staff members worked closely with the Web design team at automated graphics systems of White Plains, Md., to create a site that is both visually appealing and easy to navigate.

The redesigned site features automatic drop-down boxes in a wide variety of categories that enables visitors to quickly scan all available page titles. Also featured is a search function that offers visitors the ability to search all available choices on the site for a queried term. In addition, the site now incorporates VeriSign purchase technology to facilitate and secure online purchase transactions.

Separate pages have been specifically designed for architects, building officials, contractors, and the media to keep each industry segment supplied with the most current GA-produced information, newsletters, educational programs, and articles.