2009 was a challenging business climate for our industry. Where do you see business going in 2010?
Unfortunately, 2010 will likely be another challenging year for the housing market and for the floor covering industry. Any upturn in housing construction isn’t expected until the second or third quarters, and, even then, it will be minimal. Further complicating matters for the wood flooring industry is the likelihood of a lumber shortage, due to so many sawmill closings during 2009. Even though lumber prices are now starting to rise, it probably won’t be enough for sawmills to regain profitability during 2010.
What design and technology trends do you see on the horizon for your product segment?
Textures in hardwood flooring are becoming increasingly popular among consumers. The various textures – such as hand-sculpted, wire-brushed and distressed – will continue to be popular. We also predict that new surface treatments will become available in 2010 that will add value and design capabilities to the home.
In what way will green products be an important aspect of business in 2010?
There is going to be a growing demand for green products by builders, as well as the general consumer. This is largely because of new standards of environmental stewardship and forest sustainability that are being pushed by the federal government and environmental groups in the building industry. Mullican has led in this area by introducing its Green Haven line, which includes several Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified products. In early 2009, the company was the first hardwood floor manufacturer in the United States to offer FSC 100 percent-PURE solid domestic hardwood floors (certification No. SCS-COC-002109). Mullican has also introduced FSC-certified engineered and exotic products and plans to continue investing in greener products.
What message would you like to give the industry for 2010?
Sometime during the year, the markets are going to revive, and builders will need hardwood flooring. Mullican is laying the groundwork now for the increased demand by adding 25 new employees in the first quarter and substantially increasing solid prefinished production in our Johnson City, Tenn., facility.