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Showing posts from April, 2011

Battle over flooring patents takes a new turn

Those of you who have read any of my previous blog posts know that I am appalled at how much money the flooring industry spends on legal issues, many of which with common sense and rational communication could be avoided. In a new twist, Berry and Unilin have taken a new path of cooperation, not confrontation, which can only mean more money will be available for product development and that's good for the industry. The "Click" Wars In the last decade the legal spotlight was firmly focused on “click” locking systems used in laminate flooring. Two of the leading protagonists were Unilin (think Quick-Step) and Valinge Innovation of Sweden, representing their exclusive licensee (at the time) Berry Floors (think Alloc). At the time, both Berry and Unilin were  owned and based in the same region of Belgium. Early actions between Unilin and Valinge included lawsuits, counter claims, injunctions and even the dismantling of booths at the Domotex flooring fair in Germany. I

Year of Forests film raises concerns in wood flooring industry

Jim Gould The United Nation's International Year of Forests 2011 is a year-long celebration of trees and forests on our planet. What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing on its face, yet I was alarmed by a film commissioned by the UN to support the endeavor.  The visually beautiful film focuses singularly on preserving trees by not cutting them; ignoring the benefits of sustainable forestry management. It leaves the impression that cutting down trees is bad. Period. That message is unbalanced and alarming.   Why is this alarming for the hardwood flooring industry? Everyone in the hardwood flooring industry understands the positive benefits of wood flooring to the world. Consumers don't but they need to. If this industry wants to grow, we have a duty to educate consumers of the true story that wood harvested from well managed forests and turned into flooring creates the world’s most environmentally friendly floor covering available. Regular readers may r

Selling buggy whips on the Internet – an example of using competition to your advantage

Jim Gould I recently needed to ship a box to New Zealand so I went to the UPS Store only to learn that their least expensive service was over $400.  My next stop was the US Post Office which I dreaded as I envisioned the stereotypical long lines and bureaucratic employees waiting to collect their pensions. Did I mention this is a stereotype? I was surprised to find the post office relatively empty and I walked directly to the counter where Bob was waiting for me with a smile.  I knew the smile would disappear as soon as I explained that I wanted to ship to New Zealand without it costing an arm and a leg. Surprisingly, Bob took the challenge seriously; weighing, measuring and explaining all of my options - which ranged from $30 to $48! I waited for him to tell me that at this price it would take 4-6 weeks to get there, but instead I learned the box would travel via Fed-Ex and whether I spent $30 or $48 it would arrive on the same day. Paying only $30 depended upon reducing my shi

Catalina reports three improving market opportunities for the floor covering industry

FLOOR COVERING STATISTICAL TRENDS AND OUTLOOK Stuart Hirschhorn The flooring industry may be global but every selling market is local.  That was the message I tried to bring home last month when I participated in a Floor Covering Institute panel discussion at Coverings where I addressed the economic environment and the selling opportunities in the United States.  Today’s post is taken from that presentation and reveals some important areas of opportunity for the floor covering industry where demand for floor covering should be on the rise. Yes, the recovery is weak…Catalina Research estimates that first half 2011 square foot floor covering sales (shipments minus exports plus imports) could increase less than 1.0% over the first half of 2010. The March 2011 issue of the Catalina Floor Coverings Quarterly Update indicates that U.S. housing demand and nonresidential construction spending is expected to continue to decline in the first half of 2011.   To outpace this sluggish mar