Randy Prewitt is president of St.
Louis-based Flortek Consulting, which provides wood floor-related training at
any location in North America. He has more than 25 years’
experience as a hardwood installation teacher and
trainer, and has been involved in both distribution and retailing/contracting.
A former president of The Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis, Randy
also has served as director of Technical Services for the National Wood
Flooring Association (NWFA).
I was reminiscing on trips our family took by automobile-imagine that-for
vacation. Airlines were available but cost prohibitive for the average family.
Two lane highways stretched from coast to coast. There were no by-passes to
avoid slowing down or to avoid a four-way “stop sign.” Small towns had their
Welcome signs displayed similar to the billboards along today’s interstate
highways. These small towns offered their very own ambiance. “Filling Stations”
offered “two pumps” and were usually on the corner for easy access. There were
hardware and department stores and always an IGA for groceries... Dads stopped
into the hardware store while moms shopped with the kids at P.N. Hirsch. Huge
automobiles were parked “free” down Main Street at 45 degree angles.
As always, manufacturers will use
this month’s National Wood Flooring Association’s annual convention to
highlight new products, including the latest tools. Many of the new entries
will no doubt be impressive, but rest assured it’s the tried and true products
that remain the foundation of the hardwood flooring business. If you are among
those set to attend the show in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., March 25-28, you can
expect to see them maintain their “respected” position at the showcase.
Well, just as the gunslinger of
the Old West would add a “notch” on his gun belt after a shootout with an
adversary, you too, we hope, have made it through another year by carving out
your own special “niche” in the hardwood flooring industry. Some of us may have
been wounded by slumping sales. Others unfortunately have gone to flooring’s
“Boot Hill” due to financial woes. Those who honored commitments by making some
form of restitution to their vendors, you too will be missed, but never
forgotten. When you “start” a business with pride, it is only fitting to “end”
your journey the same way.
The last installment of Wood or
Wood Knot was devoted to the growing need for installers who know how to
properly sand a hardwood floor. As we noted, prefinished product has come to
dominate the hardwood category and that means there will be plenty of demand
for future care. Inevitably all these prefinished floors will at the very least
require a recoat of finish. Retailers and contractors have a responsibility to
ensure that consumers have someone they can count on to help maintain the
beauty of their hardwood floor for years to come.
Hardwood flooring continues to
flourish, even in uncertain times. For those of us who have devoted our
professional lives to this industry, there is a sense of pride and
accomplishment when we see today’s consumer opt for wood over other types of
flooring. We are proud of the technical accomplishments that continue to
advance hardwood and we are impressed with the marketing efforts that promote
the creativity and value of this highly desirable flooring.
you are involved in the hardwood flooring business, there is a good chance you
are reading this at the National Wood Flooring Association’s annual convention
in Denver, Colo. If so, you are in the right place. This is a hugely important
meeting presented by a highly influential trade organization (NWFA’s membership
now exceeds 4,000). It promises to be an upbeat meeting. Why? Let’s just say
the age-old expression “Wood is Good” is something of an understatement today.
Wood flooring has seen a revolution over the past two decades and it may be
flooring’s hottest category right now. We are well past describing our
beautiful wood flooring products as a great value for the consumer. Consumers
have shown that they have a strong craving for wood flooring for reasons that
go well beyond value. To this I say Bon appetit.
Our industry continues to prosper in technology, particularly as it relates to both prefinished and job site finished hardwood flooring. Today’s consumers are not only more discerning about their flooring purchases, but are also better educated as well. Hardwood flooring has emerged as a mainline frontrunner in advertisements. The presence of hardwood can be found on radio, television and obviously the Internet with the manufacturers’ own personalized website.
The majority of hardwood sales and installations are generated by "natural stained" wood flooring products. Prefinished hardwood flooring sales have historically been dominated with the "neutral color choice."
Not long ago, NFT published an extensive study on consumer complaints related to the floor covering industry. For retailers and installers, the bottom line was the emphasis on responding promptly and scheduling the recommended repairs.