George Celtrick, owner of Whitewood Products, discusses the industry’s installer shortage, its effects on the hardwood sector, and recruiting young installer candidates. Celtrick talks about hardwood flooring the product, the elements involved in manufacturing hardwood flooring, and factors that have become extremely important in the marketing of hardwood flooring today. Also discussed are possible ways to increase the value of hardwood, such as to stress the value hardwood flooring adds to the home as he demonstrates the company’s new products.
Fritz Rench, Chairman of Host Racine Industries, discusses a test job the company performed in a Dalton elementary school where it cleaned extremely dirty carpet throughout the school, leaving it remarkably clean. Rench also talks about the hard surface flooring the company cleaned in this school using the Host dry process.
Fritz Rench, chairman of Host Racine Industries, discusses floor covering maintenance and wet vs. dry cleaning methods, noting that the dry method has finally come of age. He discusses the advantage of the dry method in the multifamily sector, permitting an extended life for carpet and noting it is now in the first string of cleaning options. Rench adds that water is the primary cleaning agent in the Host method with little sponges controlling the moisture just enough to wet carpet fibers without losing control of the loose soil, which can happen with too much water.
Stuart Hirschhorn, research director of Catalina Research, talks about the changes that have occurred in the floor covering industry’s channels of distribution, noting that the home center segment has continued to grow and take market share, even though they are not adding locations as they once did. He adds that big box specialty stores are gaining share while the independent specialty flooring retailers continue to lose share. Hirschhorn also talks about the online players and his view on their growth in the future as he shares his view on the year.
Mike Cherico, vice president of Floors & More, talks about the new programs and products launched at the group's recent convention in Las Vegas, including their newest private brand offering and a lead generation program called the national sweepstakes program that will award a consumer $2,500. Members will be able to have their digital and social content managed by the company, which will also respond directly to consumers with discounts and other material. Also discussed is building retailer's brand locally.
Stuart Hirschhorn, research director for Catalina Research, discusses interest rates, the impact they had on the U.S. flooring market in 2018, and the potential effect they could have on the market if they rise in 2019. Hirschhorn also talks about the carpet sector and its market share decline over the last several years, noting that many northerners are moving south and west from carpet areas to hard surfaces. He also talks about the installation by designers and others of commercial carpet in residences in non-bedroom applications and the factors he sees affecting the future of residential carpet sales.
John Simonson, president of Webstream Dynamics and FiveStar Store Reviews, looks at the NAHB International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show held together in Las Vegas. He talks about the traffic at the shows, comparing it with the previous year, and the mood of the show, which he described as upbeat. He notes the lack of exhibitor participation at the Builder Show and the lack of exposure for various flooring products, as well as what he described as the lack of general knowledge of flooring products on the part of the builder community. Simonson also talks about the educational aspects of the show with the emphasis on hands-on opportunities and the over-abundance of wood look-a-likes in things such as siding and cedar shake shingles.