The Floor Covering Institute is urging industry professionals who are interested in learning about the growing flooring demand in Asia, the differences in channels, and environmental and legal issues affecting the industry (including an update on the ITC investigation) to attend the international Wood Flooring Forum on March 21 in Shanghai. The forum, set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is geared toward industry executives, buyers and marketers, and takes place one day before the Domotex asia/Chinafloor show, also in Shanghai.

The forum, “The Forces of Change in the Wood Flooring Industry,” will offer an overview of opportunities, obstacles and innovations in major flooring markets and the driving influence of sustainability.  

A shortened formal general session will expand into a panel discussion by major wood flooring manufacturers including Armstrong, PowerDekor and Nature. Afternoon breakout sessions will offer intimate access to experts and practical information on market issues, channels and practices. The sessions will be presented in two tracks: One with an Eastern market focus and the other concentrating on Western markets.

Also offered will be a presentation on how sustainability in design, strategy and materials is creating one of the most sustainable structures in the world  - the Shanghai Tower. It uses wind turbines, a rainwater collection system, two envelope layers that surround nine interior sky gardens to improve air quality and an ingenious twisting design that mitigates lateral loads from wind. Michael Wiener, principal of Gensler, the architects of the 121-story Shanghai Tower, will speak on the  future of sustainability as a viable financial approach in construction and materials.

Afternoon breakout sessions tailored to the Western audience will focus on Asia's market; a parallel track will be presented for the those more interested in the US and EU markets, as follows:

Session 1: Defining the Asian Market.Asia’s construction boom is creating the largest floor covering market in the world. This session will examine the potential of China’s market and the burgeoning LEED and sustainable products market there.

China is building more than 20 billion square feet of floor space a year to support its migrating populations. This huge construction boom will create an unprecedented shift in supply and demand and will also create opportunities for Western companies – a fact that some U.S. manufacturers have already recognized, as evidenced by Anderson’s partnership with PowerDekor and Mannington’s partnership with Elegant Living, among others. (Similar information will be presented for both the EU and US markets).

Session 2: Doing Business in China.Covers business customs and practices in China as well as certifications, dispute resolution, transfer of title, banking and customs will be covered in this session. (Similar information will be presented for both the EU and US markets).

Session 3: Marketing and Sales in China.The channel to market in China is vastly different than in the US or Europe. China’s largest flooring retailers will explain what suppliers must know about marketing, distribution and retail flooring in China. (Similar information will be presented for both the US and EU markets).

Panelists and participants include:Frank Ready, executive vice president of Armstrong World Industries and ceo of Armstrong Floor Products Worldwide; Guo Hei, president of PowerDekor, China’s largest flooring manufacturer with more than 2,300 retail stores; Raymond Kwan, deputy general manager of flooring manufacturer Elegant Living (Baroque) with more than 800 retail stores in China; Ed Korczak, executive director of the National Wood Flooring Association; Jurgen  Fruchtenicht, president of the European Federation of Parquet Importers (EFPI), a Brussels-based association of leading European importers of engineered and solid wood floorings; Ruud Steenvorden, expert on European channels and logistics; and Frederik Dreesman, member of Home Decor International, a leading European wholesale distributor/buying group.

Additionally, Jim Gould, president of the Floor Covering Institute and strategic director of the Wood Flooring Forum, will give an overview of the growing Asian floor covering market and facilitate the discussion about the urgent need to increase marketing of wood flooring benefits.

A reduced rate of $99 is being offered to Western attendees, and includes lunch and translation services. The event will be held at the brand new 5-star Kerry Hotel in Pudong, Shanghai, only minutes from the Domotex asia/Chinafloor venue.

The forum is co-organized by China’s National Forest Products Industry Association, the Floor Covering Institute LLC and VNU Exhibitions. For more information or to register contact Jimmy Zhao Jim Gould