Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, Surfaces 2009, held recently at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, will be remembered as an important show for attendees and exhibitors alike.
They also discussed how their respective companies are handling the current economic downturn, in the area of downsizing and increasing operational efficiencies.
“We can’t change the macro environment; we can only change our reaction,” stated Boe. “We have a ‘rolling right-sizing,’ where all employees take time off, rather than laying off 10 percent of our staff.”
“We’re looking at all sectors that are not related to the customer,” said Davis. “To try to avoid layoffs, we had to cut 401K matching.”
Rainer Blair offered an optimistic take on the current economic environment, noting that the Chinese character for crisis is the same as for opportunity. “There is going to be a great deal of opportunity for those who can shift into the commercial sector,” Blair pointed out.
“In every previous downturn, there has been a double-digit recovery,” said Merritt.
“You have to keep working to be the best you can be in every way,” said Davis. He stressed, “Know your competition better than you ever have. Choose the right attitude, because your staff will emulate that attitude.”
While attendance was lower than last year, show goers said there was an upside, with more face time for attendees and exhibitors to conduct business.
Wanda Ellis, executive director of the American Floorcovering Alliance, agreed. “We have had more potential members at this show than any other,” she said.
Blair said the industry would probably continue to see tough times in the near term. “Our industry is much too fragmented right now. As a result, we will continue to see a consolidation of companies,” he said, adding that within the next six to 18 months, the industry is expected to see more closures and acquisitions.