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Showing posts from November, 2011

If Housing Is Rebounding Can Floor Covering Sales Be Far Behind?

FLOOR COVERING STATISTICAL TRENDS AND OUTLOOK - Housing Data

Something happened on the way to the predicted double-dip recession that was to be caused by the European debt crisis and the paralysis in Washington- the housing market showed strong gains and specialty floor coverings store sales turned upwards.  These trends can be seen in the following reports.

• According to the Department of Commerce (http://www.census.gov/const/newresconst.pdf), housing permits increased by 6.5% and starts rose by 5.5% in the third quarter of 2011.  In October, these gains accelerated, growing 17.7% and 18.9%, respectively.

• Existing home sales increased at even sharper rates.  According to the National Association of Realtors  existing home sales increased by 17.8% in the third quarter of 2011 and by 11.7% in October.(http://www.realtor.org/research/research/ehsdata) • Floor covering store sales also began to rebound as housing demand increased.  Commerce reported that specialty floor covering store…

Assessing opportunities in China; the market, logistics and consumer buying habits

As a consultant to the global floor covering industry I talk to manufacturers about shifting markets and how to reach new opportunities. The fastest growing and yet most mysterious market is Asia where the demand for all products, including floor covering, is rapidly rising. It’s no secret that China’s market is expanding at unheard of rates and some floor covering companies have already made the leap to China. In fact, US exports of floor covering to China increased 36.8% over the first eight months of 2011, according to Stuart Hirschhorn of Catalina Reports.


I have written about the growing opportunity in China many times and you’ve certainly heard the message from others.  But I know many of you are asking, What does it mean to me?  Is there an opportunity for my company and if so, How can I capture it?

These are serious questions especially when you consider the trouble that some of the world’s largest, and presumably most sophisticated, retailers have faced in China. Best Buy Co…

Corporate culture; what does it say about your company?

Culture at a company (corporate culture) is generally developed through the actions of management.  Employees then follow their lead.  “The boss did it this way so it must be the right way.” I share this obvious observation because sometimes leaders do things that ultimately reflect poorly on the company.  This is particularly so during difficult times.


One of the benefits of working with dozens of companies outside the flooring industry is the opportunity to understand their corporate standards and culture by observation.  I recently spoke at a convention for a couple hundred people.  The food was acceptable as you would expect; but the room was dirty and hideous.  The company chose this room because it was the least expensive room available.  The room was so remote and old that most of us didn’t even know that wing of the well-known property existed.  We sat in a dirty room that communicated the company’s own low standards while the corporate president spoke glowingly about their c…

Thank you Veterans!

On this Veteran's Day, there aren't enough words to thank the Veterans and their families for all that they have done and continue to do for our nation...all generations and including Veterans from other countries that have stood by our side.

We are forever indebted to you; your service and sacrifice and your courage.  We honor you today, as we should every day.



The Floor Covering Institute

Coalition working to define Lacey Act Due Care Standard for wood supply chain

There’s a yearning for clarity of the Lacey Act Due Care Standard. Many in the wood supply chain are waiting for the next shoe to drop, wondering who will find themselves in the boat with Gibson Guitar, the first US company to be investigated for importing illegal wood. The second raid on Gibson in August caused a lot of stir and controversy but even before that happened one coalition was already working to define the Due Care Standard for the wood and paper supply chains.  The movement started far outside the floor covering industry but its effort and anticipated result are surely of interest to us.  You may have read a brief description of this in the trade press so I wanted to give you more information about who is taking up the cause, their goal, and what you can expect as an outcome.


First,  for anyone who wonders why you should care about the Due Care Standard .…  The Department of Justice defines Due Care with two criminal liability standards: strict liability for forfeiture of…

Market Strategy for a Tough Economy

The economy hasn’t been good for most and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  So what does a company do to position their business and products to survive the down economy and prepare for opportunities when the better economy returns? 

Whether you are part of the ceramic tile or stone industry, which is my speciality, or even part of the floor covering industry, the same business and marketing principals apply and you need to go through the same exercise to answer the following questions and prepare your business strategy:

•    You need to know who your competition is
•    And, what your competitive advantages are over that competition 
•    You need to know your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your competition
•     You need to have a good product mix in order to supply the commodities, drive volume and to promote the higher margin products that give you a competitive advantage
•    And of course, you need a written marketing plan to orchestrate the comple…