The Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC) announced the commissioning of a strategic research initiative to lead the industry through the next phase of resolving the flooring installation crisis. Installation has prevailed as the top industry concern for several years, and while a number of initiatives have been undertaken to combat the problem, it is not clear that there is widespread agreement on the root cause of the problem, or the best path to its long-term solution, according to the Council leadership team.

The decision to organize the new initiative was driven by existing research, which shows that installation issues continue to be the industry’s biggest challenge.The FCLC decided unanimously that an extensive research initiative focused on uncovering the underlying causes was of paramount importance.

Research from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) points out that more than 8 out of 10 single-family builders identified the cost/availability of labor as the most significant issue they face. The current scarcity of labor is all the more concerning given projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the construction industry will add around 790,000 new jobs in the decade leading up to 2024. This data further emphasizes that the flooring industry will be competing for scarce labor resources and must be strategically organized to do so.

In September, members of the FCLC worked with an industry consultant to develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the research project. Four research firms were selected and made proposals for the program. In December, coalition members within FCLC met with the contenders and decided to move forward with Chicago-based firm, The Blackstone Group.

The Blackstone Group bring 30 years of expertise in delivering custom marketing research and consulting solutions. According to council members, Blackstone stood out from the other firms as they offer a full-spectrum of resources for multi-dimensional, multiphase research engagements, and they employ advanced analysis tools and out-of-the-box approaches. FCLC members concluded that Blackstone will provide crucial insight and expertise as the flooring industry continues its resolution of installation challenges.

The research initiative includes reaching out to a broad range of stakeholders in all facets of the industry. This will ensure that all issues and probable solutions are strategically identified from many perspectives. The council believes that once the study is complete, its results will serve as the industry knowledge platform for the pursuit of a long-term resolution process.

Key research objectives of the FCLC-commissioned study include an examination of the evidence for gaps between the supply of and demand for floor covering installers, including an estimation of the size of this gap now and over the next 5-10 years. The study also will seek to quantify the financial consequences of the installation crisis on industry participants and lay out a stakeholder-driven determination of barriers and potential solutions.

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