Floor Covering Weekly March 25, 2013 : Page 1

Vol. 62 No. 6 A Hearst Business Publication March 25, 2013 $4 A Hearst Business Publication C ommercial Supplement to Floor Covering Weekly FCW March 2013 Wood: Fall sales preview Autumn intros spice up product mix Great Floors goes wide and deep 3-25-13Commercial.indd 18 8 Bōlyü Drift and Brights carpet tile installed at the San Francisco o ces of Zoosk, the social dating service. Consolidated installs St. Mary’s Sch nox sets ooring stage Fashion forward commercial carpet 3/20/13 11:25 AM Don Finkell takes on new challenge By Mallory Cruise A bona de leader and champion of respon-sibly harvested wood, Don Finkell has made an indelible mark on the hardwood industry. Announcing his retirement from Anderson Hardwood Floors last month, he was quickly elected chairman of the board of the Hard-wood Federation — a role that will allow him to continue his work to make the industry successful, sustainable and environmentally responsible. “Don Finkell is the ‘reluctant hero’ of the hardwood ooring industry advancing the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), championing the ‘green’ move-ment and now the leading voice of hard-wood in Washington D.C. Now there is a legacy packed with pride, professionalism and unsel sh dedication,” said Ed Korczak, former executive director of the NWFA. Finkell served in many capacities, including president at the NWFA and worked closely with Korczak during that period. roughout his career, Finkell has been an advocate and facilitator of signi cant improvements in the hardwood industry from government regulations to product recogni-tion. Finkell has been a part of it all. “Don is an absolute icon of the industry and a true pioneer,” said Dan Natkin, Man-nington’s director of wood and laminate business, citing all of his work on the Lacey Act and as a champion for U.S. manufactur-ing. Natkin worked closely with Finkell as part of the Coalition for Hardwood Parity (CAHP) which brought the International Trade Commission (ITC) case against Chi-Don Finkell Continued on page 14 Abbey: Armed for a strong 2013 By Amy Joyce Rush [O] is year’s Abbey Carpet & Floor Convention, held here this month, brought its members together to view new exclusive product lines, targeted programs and initiatives, and discuss hot topics like a store’s Internet presence and maintaining healthy margins. e group, reported chairman and CEO Continued on page 4 Phil Gutierrez, is experienc-ing steady sales growth. “For the last ve months we have heard from you (members) increases averaging 9 per-cent month a er month,” Gutierrez said. Steve Silverman, presi-dent and COO, added, “As we look back and can more clearly understand the di culties we faced, we felt an appropriate theme for this year’s convention would be Building on a The exhibit hall opens to vendors and dealers. Strong Foundation. For most, succeeding through these challenging times has made businesses more e cient than before the recession began. As a result, we are operat-ing from a stronger foundation from which to build during times of prosperity.” Silverman spoke with pride about the resilience of his members. He told FCW that Abbey dealers “have weathered the most Humphrey takes WFCA leadership [A, C.] Scott Humphrey, former director of the Shaw Flooring Net-work, has been named chief executive o cer of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), it was announced by Harold Chapman, WFCA chair-man of the board. e move is e ective April 1, 2013. e position was le by the late D. Christopher Davis in 2012. “We’re very excited to have Scott on board. We’re going to continue to work on things like educating the retail sales associate and we’re trying to work more closely with other ooring Scott Humphrey associations to educate their members. We’re also going to continue to educate the consumer through our website and consumer media tour,” Chapman said. In his new role, Humphrey will be tasked with developing a long-range plan for the Ana-heim, Calif.-based association. He will serve as spokesman for WFCA and will be responsible for directing the creation of national trade and consumer advertising campaigns and image-building promotions to raise awareness of targeted WFCA initiatives. In addition, he will be charged with identifying and seeking opportunities to develop alliances and part-nerships with other organizations that will drive growth and business for members and the industry overall. “I’m passionate about our industry and its future, and I am thrilled to be joining the WFCA at a critical time in its history,” said Humphrey. “I am con dent that with the gi ed sta at WFCA, we can drive positive growth and innovation throughout the industry.” For more than 25 years, Humphrey served in multiple capacities at Shaw Industries, beginning his career as territory sales manager. In his most recent role as director of the Shaw Flooring Network, he oversaw an $8 million budget that con-tributed to several hundred million in sales with a sta comprising a large number of direct and indirect reports. Together, his team was responsible for manag-ing more than 2,000 independent Shaw aligned retailers. Humphrey was also a visionary behind the Shaw Learning Academy — recognized as one of the top 100 internal training programs worldwide for the last eight years by Training Magazine. He also wrote, developed and facili-tated Shaw Academy for Leadership Training (S.A.L.T.), a highly successful four-day inten-sive leadership program attended by hundreds of top managers at Shaw and key retail partners. e decision to bring Humphrey in to lead the organization was made a er a thorough search and review by a WFCA board-appointed Search Committee composed of six members. e WFCA Executive Commit-tee reviewed the recommendation of the Search Committee and unanimously selected Humphrey to lead the Association. FCW P e r i o d i c a l For breaking news updated each business day, visit us online at www.fcw1.com

Don Finkell takes on new challenge

Mallory Cruise

<br /> A bona fide leader and champion of responsibly harvested wood, Don Finkell has made an indelible mark on the hardwood industry. Announcing his retirement from Anderson Hardwood Floors last month, he was quickly elected chairman of the board of the Hardwood Federation — a role that will allow him to continue his work to make the industry successful, sustainable and environmentally responsible.<br /> <br /> “Don Finkell is the ‘reluctant hero’ of the hardwood flooring industry advancing the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), championing the ‘green’ movement and now the leading voice of hardwood in Washington D.C. Now there is a legacy packed with pride, professionalism and unselfish dedication,” said Ed Korczak, former executive director of the NWFA. Finkell served in many capacities, including president at the NWFA and worked closely with Korczak during that period.<br /> <br /> Throughout his career, Finkell has been an advocate and facilitator of significant improvements in the hardwood industry from government regulations to product recognition. Finkell has been a part of it all.<br /> <br /> “Don is an absolute icon of the industry and a true pioneer,” said Dan Natkin, Mannington’s director of wood and laminate business, citing all of his work on the Lacey Act and as a champion for U.S. manufacturing. Natkin worked closely with Finkell as part of the Coalition for Hardwood Parity (CAHP) which brought the International Trade Commission (ITC) case against Chinese imports of engineered wood in 2010.<br /> <br /> For the ITC ruling, Finkell explained, an investigation was conducted in 2007, and with help from the Senate Finance Committee, a study was done on the competitive activity of five countries — China included.<br /> <br /> “The results from that findings mission showed there was a dramatic shift to China from other countries, including the U.S. There were findings in that study that indicated that there would be basis for action against China. You see China going from being almost no significant factor in the U.S. market 10 years ago to more than 50 percent of the market today, and that is a dramatic increase,” said Finkell.<br /> <br /> One of the most meaningful results from that case has been a shift to American manufacturing as importers grapple with the uncertainty surrounding purchasing floors from Chinese suppliers, as well as the possibility of retroactive tariffs that won’t be decided until this coming December.<br /> <br /> As a champion of environmentally harvested wood, Finkell continues to be an influential voice for the Lacey Act and was instrumental in launching the NWFA’s Responsible Procurement Program (RPP). <br /> <br /> Finkell said there are two reasons that environmental groups began to partner with the industry in regards to the Lacey Act. “One, they wanted to preserve the environment. Tropical deforestation around the world is a problem — it affects natural habitats and global warming. Two, from a business standpoint, it causes an un-level playing field in America. We have a good record of environmental stewardship and a ‘rule of law’ prevails but in other parts of the world, that is not the case. People in a position of power, or those who initiate the buying of timber, can essentially steal, and it’s hard to compete with that because the actual raw material is the single biggest cost of a wood floor,” explained Finkell.<br /> <br /> As the new chairman of the Hardwood Federation, Finkell has clear goals. The biggest, he said, is to expand company and association support within the hardwood industry.<br /> <br /> “We want to continue to monitor government activity on the regulatory side. There’s a whole slew of regulation being talked about that could possibly harm the hardwood industry. The Federation does good work on behalf of the industry and everyone benefits from the work they do, but not everyone supports it. We do get good support from the wood flooring members but from some associations we don’t get as much support. We want to increase the visibility of the Federation. The more support we have, the more we can do in Washington,” said Finkell.<br /> <br /> Part of what he hopes to accomplish in Washington is to change the regulations regarding the supply of hardwood and how it is harvested. Citing missed revenue for the government, lots of red tape for suppliers and the overall health of federally owned forests, Finkell wants to see more harvesting from federally owned forests.<br /> <br /> “There was a time when federal forests were the prime suppliers of timber and now they are almost insignificant. We’re aiming to get them to be more active,” added Finkell.<br /> <br /> As part of his effort to help educate the industry about environmental issues, Anderson and Finkell sponsored the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at Surfaces 2010 so that the agency could field industry questions regarding responsible harvesting, chain of custody and other Lacey-related issues.<br /> <br /> “Don has been instrumental in many areas of the industry and association. Considered a technology and product development innovator at Anderson and Shaw, Don was also very generous in lending his leadership skills to the environmental area in particular for NWFA. From the creation of the NWFA Responsible Procurement Program, which required the coordination of multiple environmental groups, to speaking on our behalf at forestry meetings, Don readily accepted any task given to him to help drive the industry forward,” said Michael Martin, executive director and CEO, NWFA.<br /> <br /> Anderson<br /> In his long tenure as president of Anderson, Finkell is credited with everything from getting retailers to help select the company’s newest products, through its ClubNext program that encourages customers to vote for the best of new product prototypes, to developing new and innovative finishes that changed the way the industry and consumers thought about pre-finished hardwood flooring.<br /> <br /> “Don almost single handedly created the factory finished handscraped category for engineered hardwood flooring,” offered Natkin.<br /> <br /> Finkell explained, “When we came out with an aluminum oxide finish, we developed a finish that couldn’t be duplicated on the job site. There were people who previously felt that a pre-finished floor was not as good as a floor that was site finished but we proved that a pre-finished floor could be just as good. Also, from a design standpoint, I think we contributed to increasing the popularity of the handscrape look — we brought an obscure, niche product to the market as a household name.”<br /> <br /> A major milestone in Anderson’s history was its acquisition by Shaw in 2007 which gave Anderson capabilities it did not have, particularly in the areas of improved product and technology. He also felt that Anderson needed the strength and clout of a larger supplier in order to more effectively compete in a changing market.<br /> <br /> “Shaw has allowed for Anderson to invest in solid hardwood flooring plants. Anderson never really was a player in solids, and Shaw has brought that capability to the forefront,” he said.<br /> <br /> The industry has changed dramatically over Finkell’s 30 plus years of stewardship. “When I first started, engineered wood was about 25 percent of the hardwood industry and wood was about 2 percent of the total flooring market. Now, engineered is over half of hardwood sales and I think wood flooring has grown to about 10 percent of flooring industry sales,” explained Finkell.<br /> <br /> But the biggest and most lasting contributions — in everything from legally sourced wood from all over the world to maintaining the price competitiveness of U.S. suppliers, and from styling and finishes to new product development — may be the ones Don Finkell has himself brought to the industry.<br /> <br /> “During his tenure at Anderson/Shaw Don worked continuously and tirelessly to create product that led the industry in innovation, style, quality and value. But, as is true with any great leader, Don not only worked on behalf of his company, he worked on behalf of the entire wood industry through his service with the National Wood Flooring Association and Hardwood Federation, as well as his leadership on the enactment of the Lacey Act for the wood industry. It is his collective body of work over the past three decades that has led to his recognition as the leader he is in the wood industry today,” said Shaw president Randy Merritt.

Abbey: Armed for a strong 2013

Amy Joyce Rush

<br /> [ORLANDO] This year’s Abbey Carpet & Floor Convention, held here this month, brought its members together to view new exclusive product lines, targeted programs and initiatives, and discuss hot topics like a store’s Internet presence and maintaining healthy margins.<br /> <br /> The group, reported chairman and CEO Phil Gutierrez, is experiencing steady sales growth. “For the last five months we have heard from you (members) increases averaging 9 percent month after month,” Gutierrez said.<br /> <br /> Steve Silverman, president and COO, added, “As we look back and can more clearly understand the difficulties we faced, we felt an appropriate theme for this year’s convention would be Building on a Strong Foundation. For most, succeeding through these challenging times has made businesses more efficient than before the recession began. As a result, we are operating from a stronger foundation from which to build during times of prosperity.” Silverman spoke with pride about the resilience of his members. He told FCW that Abbey dealers “have weathered the most difficult years in our industry’s history. With the difficulties that came with it, the survivors have pared down staff and done what was necessary to stay in business.”<br /> <br /> He said that, for the first time, there is data to support an improved economy — housing market, low unemployment rate, improved resale market, increase in home prices, increase in consumer confidence and the start of increased consumer spending.<br /> <br /> “How do we best take advantage of the opportunity recognizing that our competitors are faced with the same opportunity?” asked Silverman.<br /> <br /> The answer, he said, is in the programs being offered to members. “Our product brands allow members to price floors without fear of comparison shopping. We have a consumer website that is their website and can and should be customized with as much information as they would like,” explained Silverman. “Our message is to take advantage of the many programs we offer. We have a broader view of what the consumer tastes are.”<br /> <br /> Products and programs<br /> A wide variety of exclusive product offerings allow each Abbey store to maintain its own identity and best serve its specific market.<br /> <br /> “We selected these programs and they are the best programs in broadloom and hard surface. We have negotiated the price of the product and price of displays,” Silverman said. “We are not taking away the entrepreneurship of our owner.”<br /> <br /> Dave Hardy, executive vice president of merchandising and member services, noted, “Business is improving and the consumer is back in the market.”<br /> <br /> In softsurface, Abbey offers an assortment that includes both exclusive carpet brands and exclusive fiber brands such as Softique and Infinity nylon. “The success of Softique, Infinity nylon, TruSoftand Silk is undeniable. We will expand these platforms,” explained Hardy.<br /> <br /> Introductions came from such leading vendors as Shaw, Dixie, Invista, Milliken, Mohawk, Beaulieu and Tuftex in key brands like American Showcase and Alexander Smith.<br /> <br /> Noted Silverman, “Dixie and their three divisions, Dixie Home, Masland and Fabrica, are introducing possibly the best products from a styling and color standpoint we have seen.”<br /> <br /> There was an equal amount of excitement on the hard surface side with hardwood coming from such suppliers as Mullican, Armstrong, CFS, Anderson, Max Windsor, Shaw and Mohawk, all private labeled. New laminate programs were also added along with LVT from makers like Karndean and USFloors. A Marazzi tile program also debuted here.<br /> <br /> New suppliers for 2013 include Citco Industries, Home Legend, Feizy Rugs, American Rug Craftsmen by Mohawk and Karastan.<br /> <br /> Problem solving<br /> First day workshops offered information from website design to managing your online reputation. The forum allowed members to share best practices, challenges and solutions.<br /> <br /> When it comes to running promotions, retailer Ted Gregerson of Abbey Carpet & Floor in Anniston, Ala. said that preparation is the key to success. “A lot of us don’t prepare for a sales event,” he said. “If you mark the floor at 55 percent to 60 percent, you can have whatever sale you want. A lot of times, we are our own worst enemy — we are afraid to raise prices.”<br /> <br /> Sam O’Krent, O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring Center, San Antonio, Texas, told attendees, “We have to understand the consumer does not understand floor covering. Talk about your own store — how long you’ve been in business. Get in their home. We say, ‘We will be within 5 percent to 10 percent of the next closest price and I’ll tell you why we are worth it.’ ”<br /> <br /> Abbey offers its members a full service advertising department led by Barbara Wells and Bill Wilson. “Differentiate yourself from the big box. Create a sense of fashion and style in your showroom and stay in touch with the consumer,” emphasized Wells.<br /> <br /> Also on the agenda was managing a dealers’ online reputation through Angie’s List and Yelp. During convention, the group offered members the service of signing them up for both listings to help get them started.<br /> <br /> “Seventy-eight percent of consumers say they would consult reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase,” noted Wilson. <br /> <br /> The 3 million Angie’s List members, reported Wells, are between the ages of 35 and 64; married; homeowner; college educated; annual household income of at least $100,000; and, they spent $1.2 billion on flooring in 2012. “These members are right in our wheel house,” she noted.<br /> <br /> Similarly, Yelp receives 87 million searches per month with 31 percent of the Yelp audience having remodeled in 2012.<br /> <br /> Pillars of a stronger foundation<br /> Invista’s Pami Bhullar, director of retail development, Invista/Stainmaster Carpet, offered additional insight. “Consumer behavior is changing rapidly,” he said noting that Invista has done a tremendous amount of consumer research. “Consumers control the marketplace, the retail situation, so we have to adapt. 2013 seems to be the turning point,” he said.<br /> <br /> He said to concentrate on “three pillars of a strong foundation” which included being an ambassador, “If you don’t have a story to tell, all you have is price negotiation.” People, products and promotions comprise the second area of concentration followed by systems, sales and success. “You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” he advised.<br /> <br /> Some key points Bhullar made: consumers use more than 12 sources of information to make a decision; they dislike detailed signage and selling tools; 75 percent of the buy is emotional; almost 70 percent of consumers visit home improvement stores to gather information, however, two-thirds buy in specialty retail; and, 66 percent of consumers who get a recommendation from an RSA follow it.<br /> <br /> Bhullar noted too that 55 percent of consumers are looking for durability and easy-to-lean products, 25 percent looking for style and look and 20 percent a low price or value.

Humphrey takes WFCA leadership

Scott Humphrey

<br /> Scott Humphrey, former director of the Shaw Flooring Network, has been named chief executive officer of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), it was announced by Harold Chapman, WFCA chairman of the board. The move is effective April 1, 2013. The position was left by the late D. Christopher Davis in 2012.<br /> <br /> “We’re very excited to have Scott on board. We’re going to continue to work on things like educating the retail sales associate and we’re trying to work more closely with other flooring associations to educate their members. We’re also going to continue to educate the consumer through our website and consumer media tour,” Chapman said.<br /> <br /> In his new role, Humphrey will be tasked with developing a long-range plan for the Anaheim, Calif.-based association. He will serve as spokesman for WFCA and will be responsible for directing the creation of national trade and consumer advertising campaigns and image-building promotions to raise awareness of targeted WFCA initiatives. In addition, he will be charged with identifying and seeking opportunities to develop alliances and partnerships with other organizations that will drive growth and business for members and the industry overall.<br /> <br /> “I’m passionate about our industry and its future, and I am thrilled to be joining the WFCA at a critical time in its history,” said Humphrey. “I am confident that with the gifted staff at WFCA, we can drive positive growth and innovation throughout the industry.”<br /> <br /> For more than 25 years, Humphrey served in multiple capacities at Shaw Industries, beginning his career as territory sales manager. In his most recent role as director of the Shaw Flooring Network, he oversaw an $8 million budget that contributed to several hundred million in sales with a staff comprising a large number of direct and indirect reports. Together, his team was responsible for managing more than 2,000 independent Shaw aligned retailers.<br /> <br /> Humphrey was also a visionary behind the Shaw Learning Academy — recognized as one of the top 100 internal training programs worldwide for the last eight years by Training Magazine. He also wrote, developed and facilitated Shaw Academy for Leadership Training (S.A.L.T.), a highly successful four-day intensive leadership program attended by hundreds of top managers at Shaw and key retail partners.<br /> <br /> The decision to bring Humphrey in to lead the organization was made after a thorough search and review by a WFCA board appointed Search Committee composed of six members. The WFCA Executive Committee reviewed the recommendation of the Search Committee and unanimously selected Humphrey to lead the Association.

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