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Showing posts from January, 2010

Prince Charles, wool growers and carpet industry converge in new wool brand

On Tuesday, His Royal Highness Prince Charles announced a new international wool program directed at saving the sheep industry by promoting the attributes of wool to textile buyers, retailers and consumers. Next week you’ll hear about how that story dovetails with the floor covering industry when The International Design Guild (a division of CCA Global Partners) launches the Just Shorn™ brand of premium wool carpets the day before Surfaces (the U.S. international flooring show in Las Vegas).

The two stories may appear to be only tangentially related but in fact there has been considerable cooperation behind the scenes to create a new focus on wool, a premium wool fiber brand and a new, branded marketing story to differentiate the fiber directed at retailers and consumers. In recent years wool fiber’s marketing story has been commoditized and overshadowed by synthetics. Next week that will change with the launch of the Just Shorn™ brand.

Last month I posted “Branding to Create Pr…

Do New Housing Stats Signal Recovery for Flooring Industry?

When is a “flat” housing statistic a good sign? When it halts a downward trend. A .2% increase in single family housing starts for 2009 over 2008 isn’t a sexy headline but it could be worse. Could this possibly mean we've finally found the bottom?

Despite some “bad news” headlines, new housing statistics released last week show a healthy increase in building permits - which is often a good indicator of what flooring and other housing dependent industries can expect in the coming months. Plus, single family housing starts, while down for the month of December, were virtually even over 2008. That's a big increase in permits plus no decrease in starts over last year. It's not time to celebrate but I'd like to be able to dust off the cautious optimism.

If you like dry statistics you can draw your own conclusions from the New Residential Construction Report released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Depart of Housing and Urban Development with statistics for 2009 h…

Impact and Importance of Brand Equity in Floor Covering

Brand equity is an important issue for those in floor covering. For purposes of this post I’ll define brand equity as the value the brand brings to the seller or owner of the product or service. In other words, the brand brings significant cachet so that a customer will pay more for it.

Marty Collins, president of Gatehouse Capital and widely considered the “Father of residential hospitality” and I were dining together last week when he told me that adding a brand to a residential development adds about 30% to the value of the property. In other words, consumers will pay about a third more to live in The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons or similar residential development. Marty would know; he is opening the W Hollywood Residences.

It reminds me that in the last couple months I’ve heard four presenters ask their audience “What is branding?” The de rigueur answer is “it’s a promise.” Perhaps that’s accurate, but to me it’s too ethereal. According to Wikipedia “a brand is a distinguishing n…

Why Flooring Retailers Should Focus on Selling Solutions

...And not back over the flower beds.

From tile floor installation to chimney sweeping, kitchen cabinets and landscaping, as a homeowner with responsibility for upkeep and all that goes wrong I have plenty of opportunity to hire people to work on my home. As a customer, my service experiences are routinely disappointing; sometimes absurd. Listening to customer service expert Lis Calandrino last week on Talk Floor reminded me that I’d really like to be able to raise my expectations and prompted this post.

Just Showing Up Does Not Equal Customer Service.

It totally amazes me what happens sometimes when I try to hire someone for a home improvement/repair job. Too often their response is: (a) None, because they fail to call me back or (b) they call me back and say, “Yes I’ll be there Thursday at 2,” and then they don’t show up.

Sadly, I have become thankful for those who just show up! Calling me back and showing up on time meets the first threshold of customer service for me. If they d…

Moisture in concrete wreaks flooring havoc; learn why it's getting worse

A problem with concrete moisture causing vinyl flooring complaints has increased in epic proportions lately – it’s an epidemic in the making and flooring consumers, retailers, distributors, manufacturers, general contractors project manager, specifiers and architects need to take heed. Unless addressed it will continue to create massive installation failures costing the flooring industry, installers and end users tens of millions of dollars annually.

In the past two weeks LGM and Associates has had four installation failures reported to us that stem from moisture in concrete – three in hospitals and one in a school. All of the installations involved homogenous sheet vinyl flooring with welded seams and in each case the flooring was lifting off the substrate. These four cases could represent over 2 million dollars in liability. Multiply that number by 10, and that’s being conservative, and you get an idea of what is lurking out there in the mine fields of flooring installation. Deali…

China Has Awakened. Are You Ready?

Why China Should Matter To You - In Flooring Or Beyond.

Whether you're involved in doing business [flooring or other] in China - as Jim Gould is - or not, you've surely been affected by China. I have, twice. In both cases with businesses firmly established domestically [perhaps you remember the Brooklyn based sweater industry? or what about the residential upholstery fabric market?] that disappeared almost overnight to reappear in China.

This isn't a post about gripes, but rather about change and opportunity inherent to living in a global environment, given curiosity and knowledge.

In 1973, I was a kid living in French-speaking West Africa. My French grandmother came to visit bringing with her a book titled Quand la Chine s'eveillera... le monde tremblera [when China awakens..., the world will tremble]. I was mesmerized.

What's wrong with China, I asked? Why will the world tremble? Should I be afraid? The image of a slumbering giant awakening and shaking the world stuc…

Flooring and the Internet - Now I’m a Believer

I am certain I am not the only baby boomer who only fairly recently discovered the world of the Internet. Having since turned into a true believer of its benefits, I also believe that more and more people of my generation will use it to research floor covering products prior to visiting bricks and mortar showrooms.

Since birth I have been classified as part of the “baby boomer generation." This generation has always been an important demographic especially now that we are “older boomers” and are (or were before the economic disasters of ‘08 and ‘09) at the peak of our spending power -making decisions about where and how we want to live and how we allocate funds to these decisions.

Something we baby boomers have navigated through the past 50 years is the "technology revolution.” I didn't grow up with a laptop on my nightstand. The first computers were the size of a house. Today, all the information we need can be carried in a small hand held device with access to the…

Catalina says Floor Covering Sales Expected To Begin Recovery in 2010


Stuart Hirschhorn is a member of the Floor Covering Institute and Director of Research of Catalina Research, Inc. which provides in-depth market research on the floor covering industry. The following is an extract from Mr. Hirschhorn's most recent Floor Coverings Industry Quarterly Update.

The U.S. floor coverings market is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Catalina estimates that U.S. floor coverings square foot sales (shipments minus exports plus imports) could see only a 4.0% decline in the fourth quarter of 2009 over the same period for 2008. This could be the first time, since the first quarter of 2007 U.S. floor coverings square foot sales will not decline at double-digit rates. This improvement reflects the turnaround in U.S. housing demand during the third quarter of 2009 as existing home sales increased by 4.7%. This indicates that the rebound in floor coverings sales will be led by recovery in the residenti…