Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meet James C. (Jim) Gould

Jim GouldI'm Jim Gould, president of the Floor Covering Institute.

The floor covering industry is my home. It's not only engaging, rewarding and -yes- challenging, but also more interesting and fun than when I first got started 40 years ago.

I’ve seen it written that the floor covering industry is a “mature industry.” I look around and see glass back sheet vinyl, recycled carpet fiber, direct printing on laminate core board, recycled rubber and cork combined, etc. How can innovations like these be considered boring? They make this industry dynamic, exciting and constantly changing.

Someone might say, “well by ‘mature’, we mean the way products make it to market, the marketing channels.”

When I entered the industry, carpet was sold through distributors to specialty retail carpet stores and represented 80% of all floor covering sold. Wood and ceramic were sold through wood only or ceramic only craftsmen because they required such unique skills and expertise to install. There was no Internet and Home Depot did not exist.

The channel to the consumer has morphed into something that no one could have foreseen back then. Today, Lumber Liquidators (sounds like a science fiction movie title), Costco and Direct Buy sell floor covering! And they sell products like laminate, engineered wood, bamboo and carpet made out of soda bottles and corn.

By no means boring or mature.

My background ranges from wholesale to retail and even includes some manufacturing. While most of my career has been in distribution, my real passion has always been finding ways to bring great products and ideas to the people who need them, often before they realize the need. That was what was so cool about Pergo. Before anyone in the USA had heard of laminate for the floor, I had the opportunity to help choose and build its distribution channel, help set up its North American administration and even throw in my two cents about how to market the product.

Years before Pergo, I had been involved in the global floor covering market trying to find unique products and super values to benefit my retailer customers. In the process, I learned how and what flooring the rest of the world sold. Nearly twenty years ago, Monsanto commissioned me to study carpet distribution in China. In 1990, I joined an international organization of floor covering distributors based in Europe and was the only native English speaking member. It changed my perspective on our industry and helped me to appreciate how diverse our industry really is. [Also see Flooring The Consumer's interview with Jim Gould.]

We have an unique industry; large enough to represent a significant part of country’s economy yet small enough to feel like family. I have made so many friends and feel so close to so many companies that unknowingly I have become a part of an international network of floor covering and business experts.

Pull all of this together, the global exposure and international network, with a desire to find a marketing channel for unique products and services, and it sums up what I like to do. I started the Floor Covering Institute just two years ago but it has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I have worked with multi-billion dollar manufacturers and the owner of a single retail floor covering store. Clients have ranged from Europe, New Zealand and China to a small Midwestern town in the United States. Every day brings a new set of questions, challenges and opportunities. It can’t get much better than this.

Right now business is tough but opportunities abound for those who are willing to learn, work hard and create their own future. Where was IVC vinyl, Konnecto Luxury Vinyl Tile and Armstrong’s high gloss Grand Illusions just five years ago?

I'm happy you found the Floor Covering Institute Blog site for a couple of reasons, the most important being that it was created to help you and learn from you. My hope is that you will find a lot of really interesting information here from which you and your floor covering business can benefit.

Your comments, questions and reactions will help guide our efforts in this regard so please speak up; we want this blog to be a two way conversation. The Institute has a lot of expertise and knowledge and we look forward to sharing it.

Bring your questions and comments to this site. We would love to hear from you.


James C. Gould

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