Industry Perspectives

Sure, today's commercial market is different than the past's go-go days. It's tougher, causing some people to get so caught up in swirling waves of pessimism that they are blinded to the abundant opportunities. They forget about commercial. Which is a big mistake. Commercial still has life in it for retailers/contractors who work smart and adapt to the changed conditions.

"Spotty" -- that word most often describes the commercial market. Some retailers are matching or even beating last year and the year before. Some are holding even. Others are down. One city is the pits, while less than 100 miles away commercial is thriving. With it all, everything points to the importance of not forgetting about commercial. For numerous short- and long-term reasons, it represents a good profit center today and it will be even more so as the economy strengthens.

The commercial business gets high marks from dealers for its present and future potential. Many are bullish. If you haven't read it yet, take a look at the April issue of National Floor Trends. It features a powerful article by Jeff Golden, publisher and editorial director, entitled "Residential & Commercial Floor Coverings: The State of Today's Market and Outlook for the Future." It's based on an in-depth survey conducted by NFT's highly respected research department.

This survey reveals that between now and the end of 2004, 47 percent of the dealers participating expect their commercial business to increase, 49 percent say things will remain stable but the same. Just 4 percent expect the business to decrease. This certainly emphasizes the importance of having commercial as part of your total floor covering package. Like I said, if you haven't read this article, do so. It also tells you what products dealers expect the most action from during the next couple of years.

In April, there was an important speech given at the CSE Show in Chicago by Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects. He said that signs of recovery are in place for the construction industry and he predicted that a full recovery is expected in the non-residential sector in 2004. He indicated that a recovery of construction activity could be expected later this year because of the number of inquiries received by architects in recent months.

There are no short cuts, no magic bullets to profit in commercial. What we do have is a wide array of commercial products for new construction and replacement work for offices, health care facilities, retail stores, services facilities, office buildings, industrial buildings, the hospitality market, hotels, schools, multi-family buildings -- you name the facilities and you have their floor covering answers at your beck and call.