At the Fuse Alliance 2022 annual conference, held in Dallas, Texas, March 6-8, industry leaders shared insight into the current state of commercial flooring and what's next for the market in 2022. Here are highlights of what was shared:
Mike Gallman, President, Mohawk Group
Our business actually is really good. Our hard surface business last year finished double digits above ‘19 hard. Our carpet tile business was flat to ‘19. Our broadloom business is bad, and a lot of that has to do with the hospitality business still not back. But overall, we're pretty positive. We were lucky to be part of a big residential company during COVID. That helped us.
As far as innovation, new things, our new EcoFlex One backing for us is a real game changer for us. We all write explicit installation instructions, but the reality of it is many installers don’t follow those instructions. Some don’t read English, and even though we're publishing in multiple languages, this is kind of a built in insurance policy. This backing allows someone to not necessarily follow the rules to the team and get away with it without having a real thing in the field. So that's something we're very positive about.
James Lesslie, Commercial President, J+J and EF Contract
Our cash flows remain positive. We can continue to invest in the business. Growth last year was strong and all categories, and our Kinetex product, is probably our fastest-growing product because it provides new solutions for people. Really the biggest change for us since the pandemic has been labor and raw materials. We are struggling like you guys are tired of seeing with the price increases. We're tired of seeing them, too. Labor's a challenge. And we've done is to focus on trying to be a good supplier to really focus on our reliability on time deliveries and quality.
Paul Murfin, President, Taylor Adhesives
I've been in the flooring industry for a while, for 30 years, but only two plus years in the adhesive side of the business. I hazard a guess that most of the gentleman on this panel don't come to work every day saying, “How do I sell more adhesive?” In my flooring days, I was focused on how do I sell more flooring? Our job as an adhesive supplier is really to be an invisible partner to many of these companies, but also to those of you in the room to make projects easier.
That’s what we focus on doing relative to commercial. When I joined the company more than couple of years ago, it was very clear that we made great products, but we were underrepresented in commercial channel. So, we've been working hard to get our name out in front of the industry.
Jeff Collum, President, Shannon Specialty Floors and Teknoflor
We spent the last two years really focused on how to be a better supplier in our industry. We compete with really high level of competition in big companies. We’ve faced all the challenges that these guys have mentioned already. Many of our lead times doubled and so many tripled over this period of time. We buy products from all over the world, Europe and Asia, so we've had some huge challenges. I went seven years as the president CEO of Shannon specialty floors.
A couple of things that we did during this time is we really focused on what's going to be new when we come out all this, and we have a new product announcing at Neocon in the summer. I'll give you a little sneak preview—it’s is a sustainable product. I think all of you know, we offer a lot of products for healthcare specifically that are PVC free. Those sustainable products for us are very important to how we sell through architects and how it funnels through the contractor business. We have invested a lot in our business during this time. I'm proud to say we didn't lay off our single employee in our industry.
Thomas Trissl, Principal, HPS Schönox
Although we had challenges with container delivery into American in the beginning 2020, March, April, we really beefed up the manufacturing over in Germany and put it all on the containers. We, meanwhile, were improving in our Sika facility in Philadelphia where Schönox was receiving products. We put this all together and actually realized, we now have products available. The output in Germany was much, much better than it was raw material supplies somewhere else. But you also had a situation where containers couldn't leave because of shrink wrap and pallet shortages. Pallets tripled in prices.
That brings us to 2022. I don't see things back to normal, but we realize that we have huge opportunities in liquids and in adhesives, and that is where we are focusing on in 2022 as well. W um, we are very fortunate that we have this big conglomerate, Sika, with us.
Eric Daliere, President, Tarkett North America and Tarkett Sports
We we experienced double-digit growth across most of our product categories. So, I just wanted to thank you for the partnership and thank you for the support. It wasn't an easy year for sure, but we had some success together.
What are we focused on? I would say there's two things, and it all relates to an idea for us, which is delivering the promise. That promise is a certain level of experience, a certain level of product, and also related to the potential that we, that I feel that we have as part North America. And there's two elements to that. One would be around raising our level of execution. The second one would be strengthening our position and around raising our level of execution. We've put a emphasis on customer service and supply chain, brought in a great talent to lead that effort, which is really focused around customer experience in, in a holistic way.
We've added to our operations leadership and brought some new talent in there. We've reorganized our product management and also upgraded our brand marketing and our communications. So what does that mean for you? It should mean a better experience, from a customer point of view, from beginning to end. It should mean that you see us out on the market with better, more compelling, solutions and better service levels overall, which is not easy to do in this environment. And I would love to see it all in our control, but as everybody up here has talked about, there's a lot of different pieces that are going on here, but we are making progress.