The good news is that 2015 is projected to be more like 2013—maybe even better. Granted there are a great deal of unknowns, just like in 2014 how the harsh winter pretty much halted all business on the residential and commercial fronts for the first quarter and then the midterm elections caused the economy to go into roller coaster mode.
In speaking with some of the industry’s top executives, as well as dealers from around the country, just about everyone is entering the year with a feeling of optimism because all the signs are there for 2015—and beyond—to be good for the flooring industry.
All the indicators that matter to the flooring industry are still pointing upward and there is every indication to believe they will start to materialize at a faster rate moving forward.
One of the big ones is the single-family new housing market. In 2014, it never took off like many expected due in part to the reasons already mentioned. But make no mistake about it, the demand—and need—for these homes, both affordable and luxury, is there. In fact, on the luxury side, we’ve already been seeing growth as recent reports show more multi-million dollar homes being built than in previous years.
Then there is the remodel market. A Harvard study states remodeling in general will grow in the low 3% range over the first half. That means the flooring industry should see an even greater growth as it is common knowledge one of the first things people do when they move into a new or existing home or apartment is to replace some or all of the flooring. Why? Because the place is empty and that’s the most convenient time to change out the floors.
On the commercial side, contractors are full of optimism—even those in areas that have not seen true growth in a handful of years such as in the Pacific Northwest. It is easy to see why, as in my travels around the country I’m seeing more and more industrial-sized cranes going up, meaning more construction of office spaces—especially Class A space—as well as a tremendous amount in healthcare, from hospitals to walk-in emergency clinics to assisted living facilities. And then there is the hospitality industry, which is once again revitalized and remodeling or building new facilities as consumers and businesses are packing their bags at levels not seen since before the recession.
One of the best places to look and see why there is optimism is within the flooring industry itself, especially at the manufacturing level, which has more of a bird’s eye view of the overall economy. There is a ton of investments taking place to build new factories or re-equip existing ones with the most state-of-the-art technology, including many web-based, social media strategies to deliver customers to your doorsteps.
The mills wouldn’t be spending all this money if they didn’t think business was going to be picking up—and at a pace where they need to be prepared to meet the demand.
There are even more reasons to be optimistic for the year than space allows. The point is, you can look at the glass as half empty or as half full and about to get fuller.