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.
George Celtrick, owner of Whitewood Products, talks about consumer behavior while on the sales floor and decisions to purchase wood look-a-likes verses the real thing. He notes that consumers see the value of selecting ceramic or LVT for certain applications where perhaps low-end hardwood would not meet their needs. Celtrick talks about the decline in sales of hardwood flooring last year and the prime reasons for that drop, as well as the role the retail salesperson plays in consumer hardwood decisions.
John Simonson, president of Webstream Dynamics and FiveStar Store Reviews, looks back at Surfaces 2019 and the seminars he lead at the show. He discusses the attendance at the seminars, the basic online knowledge level of the retailers that attended and the types of questions that were asked. Simonson also discusses competition from the big box retailers and how independent retailers can be more effective competing with them
Brian Carson, president and CEO of AHF Products, discusses more of the purchase of Armstrong’s hardwood flooring unit by American Industrial Partners, the numerous brands involved in the acquisition, and plans for those brands going forward. Carson discusses his plans for a brand hierarchy by price point as well as the impact LVT has had of the lower end of the wood market. He discusses a potential means of dealing with this situation, such as improving the ease of installation and making wood more attractive to retailers, builders, and contractors. Also discussed are the means of re-educating channel partners to the attributes of wood, the effects the installer shortage has had on the sector, and making wood sales more profitable for channel partners
Mike Cherico, vice president of Floors & More, talks about changes that have been occurring in the marketplace, including the value of private brands and having retailer-exclusive products. Cherico also discusses the growth retail members of the group had in 2018 and the group’s convention, which was held in Las Vegas just prior to Surfaces, its turnout, the speakers and the prime message of commitment and seeing programs through to success. Also discussed is the value of interaction and the sharing of best practices and ideas among retail members.
Brian Carson, president & CEO of AHF Products, discusses the purchase of Armstrong Flooring’s hardwood flooring unit and Armstrong’s statement as to the performance of the unit in 2017. He talks about the acquisition of the unit by American Industrial Partners and its successes in the wood arena as well as his focus on hardwood styling, innovation, and value for the company’s consumers and channel partners. Carson talks about his views on the company’s manufacturing facilities and if there will be consolidation, closures or other changes, as well as other problems the wood flooring sector is having with wood look-a-likes.