2009 was a challenging business climate for our industry. Where do you see business going in 2010?

The National Association of Floor Covering Distributors, in association with the North American Building Material Distribution Association recently published its Fall 2009 Economic Outlook Report, in which analysts summarized the market in the following terms: “Existing Home Sales are definitely on the rise and the Remodeling Market Index is in the early stages of recovery. The worst is yet to come in the Nonresidential markets.” We agree with these general statements and feel that full economic recovery is still some distance out.

MAPEI Group CEO Dr. Giorgio Squinzi recently made the following comments about MAPEI’s attitude toward this difficult period: “Some forecasters say that we will reach the end of the tunnel in 2012. At MAPEI, we are already preparing for that moment, convinced that ‘strong’ companies that invest in research will overcome the crisis and be even stronger than before. This is the strategy adopted by MAPEI Group, which, since 1978, has opened or integrated an average of almost two facilities per year all over the world and invested 6% of annual revenues in Research & Development. Investing in the future, with our feet firmly placed on the ground of today, is our vision. And in spite of the widespread pessimism, this is the path followed by MAPEI, to continue our journey of worldwide growth.”

Luigi Di Geso, President and CEO

What design and technology trends do you see on the horizon for your product segment?

In the Americas, MAPEI produces products in three major industry segments – tile and stone installation systems; floor covering installation systems including wood, carpet and resilient; and concrete restoration systems. In the tile and stone installation market, we see trends towards very thin large-format tile as well as large-format tile in regular thicknesses. MAPEI has designed innovative mortars to meet the needs of setting these popular tiles.

In the wood installation sector, MAPEI is going even greener than we have been in the past by developing exciting new adhesives that make use of rapidly renewable materials. In the concrete restoration segment, MAPEI is introducing new lines of products that will help us play an important role in the renewal of the American infrastructure.

In what way will green products be an important aspect of business in 2010?

When it comes to green and sustainable practices, MAPEI believes strongly in the 4 Ps – products, processes, plants and people. We are bringing all these aspects together under the umbrella of ISO 14001 certification for Environmental Management Systems. Our manufacturing plant in Laval (Montreal), Quebec, has already received its certification, and we will be pursuing this certification for all our facilities in the Americas in the near future.

What message would you like to give the industry for 2010?

MAPEI has been manufacturing adhesives, sealants and chemical products for building for more than 70 years. During that time, our company has passed through a number of economic cycles in all parts of the world. These experiences have taught us one lesson of paramount importance – our people are our company. Each MAPEI colleague possesses knowledge of our products, experience in our processes and a solid understanding of our industry. If we were to reduce the number of our employees, it would be a cost, not a savings to MAPEI. Therefore, MAPEI does not intend to lay off any employees in 2010. Instead, all of us are committed to preparing for the economic recovery. This is MAPEI’s strategy for long-term success.