Don Finkell, NWFA chairman, cuts the ribbon kicking off the show, while Ed Korczak, NWFA’s exec. dir./ceo and Joe Boone, chairman of NWFA’s Membership Services Committee, look on.

The hardwood flooring industry came to celebrate during the National Wood Flooring Association’s 25th anniversary Expo and Education Conference held recently in National Harbor, Md., 11 miles outside of Washington, D.C. The event drew 2,514 people, up 3 percent from last year’s attendance, and included new hardwood product introductions and the return of some companies to the industry under new ownership.

Frank Suplee, Robina’s northeast regional sales manager, with Golden Elm hardwood flooring, which the company plans to release in the fall.

One of the newly reorganized companies, Owens Flooring by Colonial Craft, showcased its new products including the Owens Select by Colonial Craft line of prefinished flooring. According to national account manager, Mike O’Neil, the NWFA show marked the first time Owens Flooring has exhibited since being sold to Quanex Homeshield LLC in February.

PoloPlaz’s (from left) Chad Baker, president; and Bill Jauernig, sales manager; hold up the company’s new finishes that are stored in disposable plastic bags rather than cans, which is designed to reduce VOCs during disposal.

The new ownership “has made a huge impact in the local economy of Wisconsin,” he said. “We were able to hire back some quality people.”

Q.E.P. and Harris Wood were exhibiting a complete wood floor and installation product line, signifying the new relationship between the companies following Q.E.P.’s recent purchase of the more than 100-year-old Harris Wood brand.

Margo Dawley, vp American Forests’ Global ReLeaf center, and Jeff Johnson, MAPEI’s product manager for floor covering installation systems, hold up a $50,000 check made out to the Global ReLeaf program. MAPEI is partnering with American Forests’ Global ReLeaf program to donate $1 for each pail sold of the company’s Ultrabond ECO line to plant trees.

“The acquisition of Harris has been a natural for our company,” noted Jamie Clingan, Q.E.P.’s svp sales and marketing. “We want to polish off the Harris name and bring Harris Wood back to its heyday.”

Randy Stertmeyer, president/ceo of Green River American Hardwood, said his company was building up inventory after opening a new hardwood mill in Lee Center, N.Y. “We are starting to see more optimism from our customers and our distributors,” he added.

According to Pierre Thabet, president of Boa-Franc/Mirage, while the economy seems to be slowly turning around, the industry will need to brace for new price increases. “People are starting to see more activity, but there is still a shortage of materials coming. We predict a supply shortage as early as this summer.”

Neil Wenger, Mullican northeast regional sales manager, stands with the company’s new Castillian line, which includes fumed, wire-brushed and rustic looks.

Ed Korczak, exec. dir./ceo of the NWFA, stressed the importance of staying competitive by becoming more involved online. “You need to have a presence on social media,” he said. “You need to be on Facebook and have a blog. These are now necessary steps, because they are where the consumer is.”

Understanding the Lacey Act

Anne Middleton, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) outreach coordinator, spoke with NFT about the Lacey Act and how it can affect retailers who sell exotic hardwood flooring. The 25-year-old EIA is a watchdog agency that has been tracking the timber industry for more than 10 years. For more information, visit

Staying protected: “Make sure you’re asking the tough questions,” Middleton said. “Ask your suppliers what the product is, where it came from and verify that. When in doubt, look to industry standards. The NWFA’s Responsible Procurement Program is a perfect example of an industry setting the bar for legality. A lot of it is common sense. There are always ways to source responsibly and legally from any country.”

Penalties: “The penalties under the Lacey Act are different for unknowingly having illegal wood (which usually means confiscation) and knowingly have it. Remember, it’s so important to track your supply chain.”