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Showing posts from October, 2009

Flooring Industry Wake Up Call Sets Stage For Insights

Did you attend the Surfaces '09 General Session Industry Wake Up Call ? The one that brought together 6 flooring industry leaders in a first of its kind event to have a conversation? Yes, a conversation about the tumultuous times we're in, how floor covering industry leaders have reacted, and where they see things headed. It's the same conversation that sets the stage for Floor Covering Institute insights. The event, titled " Prevailing Through the Current Crisis - An Industry Wake-Up Call ," attracted a record 1000+ attendees representing the flooring industry. I was fortunate to be one of them and I found the event amazing from multiple perspectives. First, the participants: Ralph Boe , president and CEO of Beaulieu of America ; Rainer Blair , then CEO of Mapei of Americas ; Tom Davis , president and CEO of Mannington Mills ; Tom Lape , president of Mohawk Residential; Randy Merritt , president of Shaw Industries ; Frank Ready , CEO of Armstrong's North

Migliore: Biggest Problem in Flooring is Not Understanding Product

It never ceases to amaze me that there are people selling floor covering that do not understand the product. This goes for retailers, contract dealers, architects, designers and specifiers. Having the opportunity to see literally thousands of flooring failures over the last 38 years and still seeing the same thing occur can be very frustrating. A large percentage of the failures have are due to somebody not knowing, and sometimes not caring, whether the flooring material will actually do what is expected of it. Instead it’s more important that it look good or go with the d├ęcor. Too often a complaint arises within a very short period after installation that creates animosity and pain for all involved. When all is said and done, inevitably the cause of the complaint is that someone didn’t understanding the product, its characteristics and performance aspects. When this happens, it can be said, and often is, that “the product is performing up to the standards and characteristics to whi

Flooring Industry Take Note: Will carpet return when "normal" returns? and...What if the new "normal" is already here?

Perhaps you’ve heard about the new normal. Essentially the question for all business people is what will business be like when it “returns.” Those in the flooring industry may have more to fear than most. The new normal - the landscape to which we will manage our businesses - will be far different from before the housing implosion. It’s particularly bothersome because the floor covering business has been so bad for so long. What if we discover we’re already experiencing the new normal? There are a couple substantial trends and none of them are particularly positive for floor covering stores. Consider: Carpet is trending out of style; Housing isn’t coming back quickly and when it does the greatest beneficiary will be hard surface; The explosion of hard surface over the last decade will interrupt the normal replacement cycle of flooring. I occasionally mention that carpet is out of style. I generally receive three types of responses: People think I’m nuts and don’t say anything perhap

Wootton Takes a Look at the Future of Our Industry

Part 2. In part one of my post I wrote about the last 20 years in the floor covering industry . Today I talk about the future . So what does the future hold for our industry? Obviously, until we experience a significant improvement in the economy and the banks start lending money (sensibly) life in our industry will continue to be difficult. There is currently way too much production capacity in all segments. It is going to be a long time (if ever) before new home construction returns to the heady levels of 2007 and earlier. On a brighter note, another Floor Covering Institute colleague, Stuart Hirschhorn, who publishes the excellent Catalina statistical reports, suggests the current improvement in existing home sales should lead to an improvement in the residential remodel business in 2010. Here is what I expect to see in the next few years and remember this is only my opinion for what it’s worth. The large manufacturers now have in house manufacture or outsourced private label

Institute in Action: Consultants to Hold Six Education Sessions at Surfaces 2010

Surfaces 2010 is coming right up - Monday, February 1 through Thursday February 4, 2010 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas - and four Floor Covering Institute consultants will hold six education sessions at Surfaces 2010. Since you don't want to miss these sessions, I want to make sure that their combined schedule is available to you. All of the sessions are designed to provide up to date, practical information to apply to your business. More specifically: Institute President Jim Gould will host a panel to provide insight and instructions important to anyone thinking of developing an import program including guidelines for importing under the provisions of the Lacey Act. The session is geared towards foreign manufacturers considering exporting to the U.S. and domestic buyers wishing to learn about importing. Christine Whittemore will hold two sessions; one on marketing in a recession and a second will provide an overview of social marketing and how to appl

20 Years in Flooring: then, now and what comes next

While writing my introductory blog post a couple of weeks ago I began one paragraph by saying “ In 1990 I relocated with my family to Johnson City, Tennessee. ” This reminded me that I will enter my 20th year in the floor covering industry at the end of this month. What better time to reflect on how it was, how it is, and how I think it might be in the future. Much has changed in the past 20 years in terms of product assortment, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, channels and the move in consumer preference from soft to hard surfaces. Oh, and by the way, did I mention we are currently experiencing the worst market conditions ever? So who were the major players in 1990 when manufacturers tended to concentrate on just one product segment; either carpet, vinyl, hardwood or ceramic? Carpet In carpet Shaw was the dominant name having recently acquired Armstrong’s carpet business. Elsewhere in the carpet segment consolidation was the name of the game with acquisitions happening on

Hirschhorn Forecasts Future of Residential Flooring Replacement - Part 2

Part 1 of this post - Stuart Hirschhorn: Residential Flooring Replacement Sales May Rise in 2010 - appeared on Tuesday, October 6, 2009. Both posts include excerpts from the September 2009 Catalina Floor Coverings Quarterly Update . Mr. Hirschhorn is the director of Research for Catalina Research and a consultant with the Floor Covering Institute . In Part 1 of my post earlier this week I reported on the state of the flooring industry - that we estimate existing home sales may rise by 4.8% in the third quarter of 2009 over the same period the previous year. This compares to a 2.8% drop in the second quarter, a 7.4% decrease in the first quarter and a 13.1% decline for all of 2008. Based on the improvement in existing home sales this quarter, Catalina estimates that total floor coverings square foot sales could decline by 10.0% during the fourth quarter of 2009 ( see chart in previous post ). This is a one-third improvement from the decline in the second and third quarters and only

Stuart Hirschhorn: Residential Flooring Replacement Sales May Rise in 2010 - 1 of 2

Hello, I am Stuart Hirschhorn, founder and director of research for Catalina Research, Inc . I am also a consulting member of the Floor Covering Institute so you will be hearing from me periodically on this blog. Today I want to share some Catalina floor covering research that points to an upturn in the U.S. floor covering market in the second half of 2010 . This forecast is based on an upturn in existing home sales in recent months. Since some 10% of homebuyers purchase new flooring within the first year of ownership, the upward trend in existing home sales could show up in rising residential replacement sales next year. As many of you know, Catalina publishes the Floor Coverings Industry Reports and the Floor Coverings Quarterly Update . The following information is an extract from the most recent Catalina Floor Coverings Quarterly Update released in September 2009. Excerpt from the September 2009 Catalina Floor Coverings Quarterly Update The decline in U.S. floor coverings sq

Forecasting China's Fortunes: Introduction to "China Opportunity" Series

I have just returned from a whirlwind, nine-day, 11 factory tour of China, traveling from Shanghai (east) to the Tibetan Plateau (west), from Weihai (north) to Hong Kong (south) and points in between, seeing more people and buildings than most Americans can imagine. I’ll be posting here and publishing articles over the coming months about the opportunities I see for floor covering and China’s market economy. So stay tuned. Even though I have been traveling to China for nearly 20 years, this trip was eye opening. While the world is mired in the worst recession in 75 years, China continues to grow. Building cranes abound, not one or two but hundreds in every city I visited. Massive high rise housing projects are rushing to meet the demand of the largest rural to urban migration in the history of the world. Their skylines stand testament to western forecasts that by 2015 roughly half the world’s construction will take place in China, and by 2020 their construction boom will exceed 20