Monday, October 31, 2011
Net Sales Up at Armstrong, Wood Flooring Up 6%
Armstrong World Industries (Lancaster, Pa.) increased net sales 4.6 percent during the third quarter to $773.6 million from $739.8 million during the third quarter of 2010, according to its earnings report released today. Cost reduction steps taken in 2010 resulted in better net income, which increased 46.9 percent to $52.5 million from $24.6 million during the same period in 2010.
The company's wood flooring net sales also improved, increasing 6.2 percent to $127.2 million from $119.8 million during the same period last year. This improvement resulted in operating income of $17.4 million, a big improvement from the third quarter of 2010, when that sector lost $13.3 million. In its earnings statement, the company said "higher [wood flooring] volumes were partially offset by unfavorable price and mix. Operating income increased as a result of reduced manufacturing and SG&A costs, favorable input costs when compared to the prior year, and volume gains."
In addition, Armstrong pegged its 2011 expected net sales in the range of $2.85 billion to $2.9 billion.
Net Sales Up Almost 17% at Lumber Liquidators
Lumber Liquidators (Toano, Va.) beat its once-narrowed third-quarter net sales prediction by increasing sales 16.8 percent to $172.0 million, according to its latest earnings report filed Oct. 27. During the third quarter of 2010, the company had net sales of $147.2 million.
On the whole, the company's third quarter numbers were up. Better sales resulted in improved net income, which increased 57.2 percent to $6.7 million from $4.3 million during the same period in 2010. Comparable store net sales increased 3.0 percent for the third quarter of 2011, in comparison with decreasing 5.7 percent during for the third quarter of 2010. Net sales at non-comparable stores increased $20.3 million over the same period in 2010, and the company opened six new stores during the third quarter, bringing the 2011 total to 33.
The company's SG&A costs decreased slightly during the third quarter to 29.3 percent of net sales from 30.5 percent during the same time last year, and the company attributed it to a national advertising campaign and its improved productivity after a software flub in 2010 that increased its open orders.
Lumber Liquidators also announced that it has named Carl Daniels senior vice president, supply chain, effective Oct. 31. Daniels will oversee the company's international and domestic logistics, warehousing and distribution operations; he will report directly to Robert Lynch, Lumber Liquidator's president and COO. Daniels most recently served as senior vice president of supply chain and operations at Harbor Freight Tools, where he was responsible for distribution, transportation, international consolidations and procurement.
In addition, the company narrowed its fiscal outlook for the remainder of 2011 and expects:
- Net sales for the full year in the range of $674 million to $681 million, from the previous range of $673 million to $686 million
- Fourth-quarter net sales in the range of $167 million to $174 million, from the previous range of $170 million to $180 million
- The opening of seven to nine new store locations during the fourth quarter, for a total of 40 to 42 new store locations in 2011
- Earnings per diluted share in the range of approximately $0.96 to $1.02, from the previous range of approximately $1.00 to $1.08
- Fourth-quarter earnings per diluted share in the range of approximately $0.33 to $0.39, from the previous range of $0.39 to $0.44.
Bamboo Hardwoods Overhauls Operations
Bamboo Hardwoods (Seattle) has a new owner and CEO and is in the midst of completely overhauling its business operations.
The company, which was founded in 1996, recently announced that it is closing its retail outlets and transitioning to wholesale-exclusive operations for bamboo flooring and related products. It is also launching national distribution of products bearing the Bamboo Hardwoods brand, and it has named Hardwood Flooring Distributors (Seattle) its exclusive distributor for the new brand in the Pacific Northwest region. Other new executives include David Keegan, COO, and Hugh Gallagher, CFO.
“This company now has the backing and team it needs to really establish Bamboo Hardwoods as the premier brand of bamboo flooring,” Maritz said. In addition, Maritz is seeking new distribution partners throughout the U.S. for its product lines, which also includes a line of FSC-certified bamboo flooring.
Remodeling Activity Slows Down
A majority of remodelers say their market is declining, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The association's Remodeling Market Index (RMI) dropped to 41.7 in the third quarter from 43.9 in the second quarter, after having reached a four-year high of 46.5 in the first quarter.
The overall RMI combines ratings of current remodeling activity with indicators of future activity, like bid calls. In the third quarter, the RMI component measuring current market conditions fell to 43.0 from 44.8 in the previous quarter. The RMI component measuring future indicators of remodeling business declined as well, to 40.4 from 43.0 in the last quarter.
"Remodelers report that while many consumers show interest in having remodeling work done, they are slow to commit to projects," said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bob Peterson, a remodeler from Ft. Collins, Colo. "Consumers are in a 'wait and see' mode with regard to current economic conditions."
All three components measuring current market conditions decreased in the third quarter: major additions to 45.2 (from 46.2 in the second quarter), minor additions to 45.7 (from 48.5) and maintenance and repair to 37.1 (from 38.4). Future market indicators decreased as well: calls for bids to 45.4 (from 49.8), amount of work committed for the next three months to 29.9 (from 32.3), backlog of remodeling jobs to 43.0 (from 45.7) and appointments for appraisals to 43.3 (from 44.2).
Earlier this month, researchers at Harvard said remodeling activity should remain weak at least through the first half of 2012.
Next In Forest Management: Drones Over the Rainforest
Drones have become well-known because of their roles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now they are fighting a different kind of war—one against illegal logging.
Humming above the vast forests of the Amazon, two unmanned drone aircraft—dubbed Arara (Parrot) and Tiriba (Little Parrot)—are ratcheting up the battle against illegal loggers and smugglers. Able to stay in flight longer than conventional aircraft (and much quieter, to boot) the São Paulo Environmental Police have enlisted the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor illegal activity in the Amazon, according to Scientific American.
The drones can be deployed almost anywhere, and they're quieter and smaller than conventional crafts, thus evading detection by criminals. What's more, Tiriba can be launched just by throwing it, as this YouTube video shows:
In August, we shared some other interesting advances in forest management, including computing tools from Google, tree DNA fingerprinting and advanced policy like REDD+. For an in-depth look at the gamut of drone aircraft uses, see "Drones are Ready for Takeoff" from Smithsonian Magazine.
HF Briefs: Ashawa Bay's New Distributor; Production Manager Position Available
Merle B Smith Co. Inc. (Burr Ridge, Ill.) has been named a distributor of Ashawa Bay Hardwood Floors' (Cook, Minn.) solid prefinished white oak flooring. The flooring is available in 2¼-inch and 3¼-inch widths with a smooth finish, and a 5-inch-width with a hand-scraped finish; it is available in several colors. For more information, contact Wayne Jaske at (630) 325-0770 or email@example.com.
A Pakistan-based company has posted a notice the HF Classifieds section for an available production manager position.
C&R Flooring's (Needham, Mass.) Chris Zizza has been given the Longevity Honor Award by the Builder’s Association of Greater Boston. The award was given during the 2011 PRISM Award celebration on Oct. 19 at Boston's House of Blues. The bi-annual awards event hosted over 400 builders, architects, interior designers and other professionals from the home industry to celebrate exceptional achievement in design, construction, sales and marketing.
The American Hardwoods Promotion campaign has redesigned the American Hardwood Information Center at www.HardwoodInfo.com. Recent additions include information for both consumers and professionals, along with a members-only area.
NWFA Teaches Subfloor Prep & Solid Glue Down in Vegas
The NWFA held a Subfloor Preparation & Solid Glue Down school at its Las Vegas training facility on Oct. 26-28. The association's Director of Technical Training Frank Kroupa led the instruction, along with these volunteer instructors:
These students completed the school and earned credits toward an NWFA degree:
- Bruce Newbrough (Ardex Engineered Cements/W.W. Henry CO.)
- David Darche (Bona US)
- Wade Hagan (Bostik Inc.)
- Manny Hernandez (Loba-Wakol LLC)
- Steve Lima (MAPEI Corporation)
- David Paal (Premier Flooring Services LLC)
Also, these companies served as Partners in Education for this school:
- Chris Zizza (C & R Flooring Inc.)
- Metin Aydin (Coliseum Tile and Hardwood)
- Erdinc Turgul (Coliseum Tile and Hardwood)
- Martin Sures (Desert Floor Inspections)
- Bryan Hall (DriTac Flooring Products LLC)
- Kris Kollenda (DriTac Flooring Products LLC)
- Tyler Bolton (Elements)
- Ed Mitchell (Flash UV LLC)
- Vincent Ferranti (Floor Covering Inspections)
- Jonathan Richard (G.R. Distributors Inc.)
- Derek Pankoff (Grand Forks Deck and Rail)
- Daniel Behn (Hardwood Specialist & Craftsman LLC)
- Jeremy Freeman (Hardwood Specialist & Craftsman LLC)
- Chris Milhaupt (Hardwood Specialist & Craftsman LLC)
- Dale Henderson (Henderson Wood Floors)
- Oscar Sandoval (Henderson Wood Floors)
- Elliot Hamilton (Hermosa Wood Floors)
- Jon Ramos (Hull Forest Products Inc.)
- Carlos Menendez (Jorca Floors Inc.)
- Juan Carlos Garcia (Kaster Flooring)
- Manuel Monrreal (MBM Flooring Distributor)
- Ray Darrah (QuestInspect)
- Gary Dessert (Sequoia Flooring Co.)
- Bob Matharu (Sika Canada Inc.)
- Ger Xiong (Tulip Hardwood Floors)
- John A. Wabeke (Valley Flooring Inspectors)
- Tom Pope (W.F. Taylor Co. Inc. aka Taylor Adhesives)
- William Bolash II (WJ Bolash Carpentry & Hardwood Flooring)
To see the full schedule of 2012 NWFA technical schools, click here.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
September New Home Sales Rise
Turning the tide on a four-month streak of bad news, single-family housing sales rebounded in September. Sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. This is 5.7 percent above the revised August rate of 296,000, but is 0.9 percent below the September 2010 estimate of 316,000.
The median sales price of new houses sold in September was $204,400, while the average price was $243,900. The estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 163,000, representing a supply of 6.2 months at the current sales rate.
"Today's report highlights the gradual improvement in housing market conditions that is becoming evident in certain pockets of the country, as consumers who can surmount very restrictive lending standards to qualify for a favorable mortgage rate seize on this opportunity to buy," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
"The improved rate of new-home sales in September is on par with NAHB's forecast for the overall number of sales this year and in keeping with the spotty improvements that our latest builder surveys have highlighted in select markets," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While 313,000 is still an exceptionally low rate of new-home sales by historic standards, it is an encouraging sign of an anticipated broader recovery over the course of next year, and builders have helped the situation by keeping their inventories of homes for sale very lean in areas where there is an oversupply of existing units."
2012 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo Seminar Schedule Announced
The NWFA has announced its seminar schedule for the 2012 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, to be held April 10-13 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando. For the first time, seminars are grouped into four tracks: Marketing/Sales, Technical, Management, and AIA/ASID. Topics run the gamut from the truth about wood flooring acclimation to building business with social media to cash flow techniques. The full schedule, including all speakers, can be viewed here. AIA/ASID seminars are accredited for CEUs. NWFA members can earn degree credits for attending seminars. For more information on the NWFA degree program, go to www.nwfa.org.
A keynote address from noted Harley-Davidson exec Ken Schmidt with insights on rebuilding corporate culture and branding for success will kick off the show; attendees can also enter to win their own Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The NWFA Wood Flooring Expo is being completely relaunched for 2012, with the theme "Renew Your World." For the first time, NWFA is partnering with Hardwood Floors to sell booths and manage the trade show floor. For more information on exhibiting, click here. More information on the show can be found at www.nwfaexpo.org.
Obama Unveils Housing Program Overhaul
President Barack Obama resorted to executive action to overhaul the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) program with aims to put homebuilders and remodelers back to work while also making it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages. He shared details of the executive action with a crowd of homeowners on Monday in Las Vegas, one of the areas hardest hit by the burst housing bubble.
The overhaul, dubbed Project Rebuild, has four hallmarks:
"So you take these things together," Obama said, "this is going to help a lot more homeowners refinance at lower rates, which means consumers save money, those families save money, it gets those families spending again. And it also makes it easier for them to make their mortgage payments, so that they don't lose their home and bring down home values in the neighborhood."
- To create construction jobs by rehabilitating vacant or abandoned homes and businesses, which the president said should help stabilize home prices.
- To lift barriers that prevents homeowners who are current on payments from refinancing mortgages after going underwater, or owing more than their houses are worth
- To lower closing costs and eliminate certain refinancing fees that, the president said, often negate refinancing.
- To increase competition among refinancing lenders.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) lauded the president's plan but said that it does little for homeowners who have already fallen behind on their mortgage payments.
"It is encouraging that the Obama administration is beginning to turn its attention to restoring the nation's housing market, which is crucial for the health of our economy," said Bob Nielsen, the group's chairman. "However, for the many families who have fallen behind in their payments because of the weak job market, the changes to HARP will have no benefit. HARP is only open to mortgage borrowers who have remained current with their payments. Clearly, additional policy initiatives are urgently needed to prevent foreclosures and deal with the inventory of foreclosed homes."
Nielsen also offered several other housing issues that should be fixed.
"In addition, it is essential to address overly restrictive mortgage lending standards, inappropriate credit limitations on home builders and a broken appraisal system that is contributing to housing price instability," he said. "All of these factors are detrimental to the full-scale housing recovery we need to rally consumers and get a disappointing economic recovery moving forward."
Mohawk Ranked on Newsweek's Top Green Companies List
For the third consecutive year, Newsweek has included Mohawk Industries (Dallas, Texas) on its list of the 500 "greenest" companies. This year, Mohawk moved up to 292 overall from 350 on the list, which is in the latest issue of Newsweek.
Mohawk is No. 9 among all consumer goods companies on the list. “Mohawk is honored to be ranked among the leading manufacturers and service providers in Newsweek’s annual green rankings,” said Bill Kilbride, chief sustainability officer at Mohawk. “This recognition is a testament to the commitment and hard work of all of our employees as we strive toward sustainability.”
The company highlights products, processes and people in its sustainability strategy. Through its recycling efforts, Mohawk says it diverts more than three billion pounds of material from landfills each year.
In July the company released its annual sustainability report at www.mohawksustainability.com, and in August it launched a natural-gas-powered semi fleet.
Newsweek’s Green Rankings list represents the first effort by a mainstream media organization to evaluate publicly traded companies on their environmental footprint, the methods through which they manage that footprint and their sustainability communications. A full breakdown of Newsweek's green methodology can be viewed here.
HF Briefs: Direct Hardwood's Tweets; WSFCA Events; Used 3DS Needed
Direct Hardwood Floor & Supplies LLC (Ambridge, Pa.) was recently picked as a "Tweet Business of the Day" by Fox Business for its use of Twitter in driving small business. The company, which operates the @directhardwoods feed, joined Twitter in September 2010. "The challenges are mostly people not updating their homes with the [construction] industry being down. We are going after people who have money and are fixing up their houses," Owner Mike Solomich told Fox of its Twitter tactics.
The Washington State Floor Covering Association has scheduled several upcoming events. On Nov. 8 in Seattle the group will hold a dinner meeting titled "Challenge the Sales Experts." It will hold multiple sessions of "Asbestos Awareness Training," including Nov. 10 in Spokane, Wash.; Dec. 12 in Tukwila, Wash.; and Dec. 13 in Bellevue, Wash. And last, the association will hold its Northwest Design Showcase of Interior Solutions on Feb. 29 in Lynnwood, Wash. More details for all of the events can be found on Hardwood Floors' Calendar page.
A reader in New Hampshire posted an ad on Hardwood Floors' Classifieds seeking to buy a used Lagler or Alto three-disc sander, and a step-up transformer.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
NWFA Schedules 2012 Inspector Schools
Along with its full slate of wood flooring installation, sand and finish schools, the NWFA has planned two NWFACP Wood Flooring Inspector schools for next year. The first school will be held March 19-23 in Las Vegas and the other Sept. 17-21 in St. Louis.
The school is divided into two sections. The first four-day section is designed to prepare wood flooring professionals to take the NWFACP Certified Inspector exam. Topics will include report forms, performance standards, moisture, grades, manufacturer-specific issues, sand and finish, installation, bond fasteners, report writing, and serving as an expert witness. The second section consists of a four-hour closed-book written exam, as well as two take-home inspection scenarios. Reports based on the scenarios are due 10 business days later. For more information, visit www.nwfa.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800/422-4556 (U.S. and Canada) or 636/519-9663 (local and international).
Average U.S. Home Prices Back to Mid-2003 Levels
With a tepid 0.2 percent gain from July to August, average U.S. home are in line with mid-2003 levels, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. August also marked the fifth straight month that at least half of the cities in the survey showed monthly gains.
Even with the gains, the S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city indices posted annual returns of -3.5% and -3.8% versus August 2010, respectively.
“There was some weakness in the monthly statistics, as 10 of the cities post price declines in August over July,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “And even though the annual rates are largely improving, 18 [metropolitan statistical areas] and both composites are still negative. Nationally, home prices are still below where they were a year ago."
In July, home prices increased 0.9 percent over the previous month.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Wood Flooring Contractor Running For Mayor
Fortunes for incumbent politicians have been declining that past few years, and one person looking to capitalize on this trend is Chris Jones, owner of All Premier Flooring LLC (Shelton, Conn.). Jones, a Democrat, is running a campaign for mayor in Shelton, a town of about 40,000, and he's hoping to unseat 10-term incumbent Republican Mark Lauretti, according to the Valley Independent Sentinel. This is Jones' second time opposing Lauretti, who has been mayor of Shelton for the past 20 years, nearly half of Jones' 44-year life. “I understand it’s hard to defeat a political machine such as this, that’s been in power for 20 years,” Jones told the Sentinel. “But being in office for 20 years a lot of negativity comes out of that as well." A federal ethics probe of Lauretti and a fight over the Shelton's next fire-chief are cornerstones of Jones' campaign. Jones is a lifetime resident of Shelton, and he started his wood flooring company there in 2004. He has also served on Shelton's Board of Aldermen, its Planning and Zoning Commission and the town's Americans With Disabilities board.
HF Briefs: Wood Science Education; ForestTECH Registration; More
The Flooring Inspectors Education Guild will hold a wood science class at NWFA headquarters in St. Louis on May 31-June 3. This class will be a departure from previous courses in that it is developed for people across the wood flooring industry, not just inspectors. Topics will include engineered flooring manufacturing and construction, and wood anatomy and moisture relationships. For an expanded overview, visit Hardwood Floors' calendar page. To register, contact Selva Tucker at email@example.com or call (864) 238-5507.
Early-bird registration for ForestTECH 2011—a trade show devoted to new technology for forest managers to be held Dec. 1-2 in Albury, Australia, and Dec. 6-7 in Rotorua, New Zealand—will close Oct. 28. More information on the event can be found on the show's website, and a flyer and registration information can be viewed on this flyer.
The International Wood Products Association (IWPA) recently released the eighth edition of International Wood, a buyer’s guide to wood applications, sources and trends. The publication includes a comprehensive, one-stop sourcing directory for the wood products industry along with feature editorials on new and innovative applications and trends for imported wood species and products. To receive a free complimentary subscription, visit here.
Stauf Adhesives USA LLC (Memphis, Tenn.) has joined INSTALL, the North American alliance of flooring mills, manufacturers, consultants, associations and contractors.
Friday, October 21, 2011
NAHB Chides Republican Presidential Candidates
In an effort to spur debate on housing market relief, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) on Thursday scolded Republican party presidential candidates for not addressing the issue during their latest televised debate.
"There can be no economic recovery without a housing recovery, yet the silence on housing was deafening during the debate," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "It is particularly ironic that with the debate setting in Las Vegas, the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, the candidates chose to duck this topic and other critical housing issues."
And criticism was also leveled on President Obama. "President Obama needs to take an affirmative position on homeownership as well," Nielsen said. "The failure of the Administration to put forth pro-housing policies is impeding the economic recovery and hurting job growth and consumer confidence."
In its statement, the NAHB explained that in normal economic times, housing accounts for more than 17 percent of the nation's economic output, and that building 100 single-family homes generates 305 full-time jobs, $23.1 million in wage and business income, and $8.9 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments. Also, more than 1.4 million residential construction workers have been idled since April 2006.
"Instead of arguing who was to blame for the downturn, all the 2012 presidential hopefuls need to be addressing these housing issues head-on," Nielsen said. "Housing and homeownership are critical to a strong and prosperous nation.
U.S. Reps. Seek to Amend Lacey Act
In response to the recent federal raids on Gibson Guitars, two Tennessee lawmakers unveiled a plan Thursday that would amend the U.S. Lacey Act, according to The Tennesean.
The amendment, filed by Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, would require federal agencies to compile and make public a database of wood import and export laws for each nation; eliminate penalties for those who unknowingly violate the act; reduce the paperwork required for importers and exporters of plant and wood products; and exempt guitars, antiques and other items manufactured before May 22, 2008 (when the law was last amended to include provisions to fight illegal logging). The amendment is also sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.).
On Sept. 19, the Departments of the Interior and Justice sent Rep. Blackburn a letter stating, "People who unknowingly possess a musical instrument or other object containing wood that was illegally taken … do not have criminal exposure" under the Lacey Act. "The Federal Government focuses its enforcement efforts on those who are removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them."
Yet Cooper told the Tennessean that the letter wasn't reassuring to most people, and that the law still needs to be clarified. He also told the newspaper that the proposed changes will not have an effect on the ongoing investigation of Gibson Guitars.
"All too often we find that the regulations coming from bureaucrats in Washington have unintended consequences on the manufacturers, dealers, and consumers of goods and services in this country," Blackburn said in a release. "The selective and excessive enforcement of these regulations are killing jobs and striking fear into the hearts of those who may unknowingly be in violation of the law."
On his website, Cooper posted a one-page summary, section-by-section explanation, and complete text of the bill. Other notable supporters of the amendment include the International Wood Products Manufacturers Association and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The Hardwood Federation, of which the NWFA is a part, does not support amending the Lacey Act.
NWFA Expo to Include Harley Giveaway, Keynote from Harley Exec
One lucky attendee at the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo in Orlando April
10-13 will ride away on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The giveaway ties
into the 2012 keynote speaker: Ken Schmidt, former director of
communications at Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
Schmidt will share his expertise on brand-building, corporate
positioning and customer relations with the wood flooring industry on
Wednesday, April 11. He played a pivotal role in the famous turnaround
of Harley-Davidson from the brink of bankruptcy, and is now a
professional consultant and motivational speaker. Schmidt will share
his insight on how businesses of any size and scope can, like
Harley-Davidson, create meaningful differentiation from competitors;
maintain veteran customer relationships while innovatively pursuing new
ones; improve sales through customer referrals; attract and retain
employees; and revitalize corporate culture.
The keynote is free for all registered attendees at the Expo. The
totally relaunched NWFA Wood Flooring Expo will be held at the Gaylord
Palms Resort & Convention Center April 10-13. For more information,
call (800) 422-4556, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.nwfaexpo.org.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
NAFCD Honors Lifetime Achievers
The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) has named recipients of its 2011 Lifetime Achievement Awards. Recipients include Roger Hunt of Flex Credit; and brothers L.A. Train, Kenny Train, and Jeff Train of Swiff Train Co. (Houston); and Donald Wohlfarth Sr. of Bayard Sales Corporation (Middletown, Pa.).
This is the first time that NAFCD has honored more than one individual in a single year with the award, which honors exceptional leadership or contributions that have led to expanding the vision of the floor covering distribution industry.
Roger Hunt began his flooring career in 1952 in wholesale customer service. He eventually was named senior vice president/general manager at Carson Pirie Scott's wholesale division, and next he became executive director of Flex Credit, a floor covering consumer credit association. Scott also serves on the board of directors of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.
For the past 49 years, L.A., Kenny, and Jeff Train have grown Swiff-Train from a small Texas family business into an international wholesale flooring company with eight branches, as well as a strong import/export business with staff and inventory based in Belgium, China and South Korea.
Don Wohlfarth Sr. began his career in the warehouse at Bayard Sales Corporation. He rose through the ranks and eventually bought the company in the early '90s. He is 79 and still working every day.
The awards will be given during this year's NAFCD Annual Business Meeting, taking place Nov. 9 at the NAFCD & NBMDA Distributor Marketplace, in Nashville, Tenn.
Existing Home Sales Fall 3% in September
Existing home sales fell 3 percent in September, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The seasonally adjusted rate in September was 4.91 million, down from the revised August figure of 5.06 million, which was a five-month high. Still, the current rate is 11.3 percent above the 4.41 million unit pace in September 2010.
Single-family home sales fell 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.33 million in September from 4.49 million in August, but are 12.2 percent above the 3.86 million-unit level in September 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $165,600 in September, down 3.9 percent from a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market has been stable although at low levels, and there is plenty of room for improvement. “Existing-home sales have bounced around this year, staying relatively close to the current level in most months,” he said. “The irony is affordability conditions have improved to historic highs and more creditworthy borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but the share of contract failures is double the level of September 2010. Even so, the volume of successful buyers is higher than a year ago and is remaining fairly stable – this speaks to an unfulfilled demand.”
NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said access to credit is unbalanced. “All year we’ve been discussing the fact that many creditworthy home buyers are being denied mortgages,” he said. “On top of that, loan limits have been lowered, which means buyers of higher priced homes, including many in more expensive housing markets, now have to pay a higher interest rate for a jumbo mortgage than buyers who can qualify for a conventional loan. We need to remove the roadblocks to a housing recovery—not place more obstacles in the way of financially qualified buyers.”
In related housing news, remodeling activity is expected to remain weak through the first half of 2012.
Remodeling to Remain Weak Through First Half of 2012
A sluggish economy and housing market will continue to weigh down home remodeling spending will into 2012, according to researchers at Harvard. The market is expected to stay soft, with a modest decline in annual remodeling spending over the next several quarters.
"After pulling through the worst of the downturn in home improvement spending, we appear to be entering another period of softening," says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "The ups and downs in the economy are being reflected in home improvement activity."
Click graph to enlarge.
"Absent a more sustained upturn in the broader housing market, particularly in the sales of existing homes, there’s not much to propel growth in home improvement spending," says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center. "Homeowners are continuing to undertake smaller jobs, but are still nervous about larger discretionary projects."
The research was conducted using Harvard's Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), which is designed to estimate national homeowner spending on improvements for the current quarter and subsequent three quarters.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Housing Starts Jump 15 Percent in September
Overall housing starts in September—including single-family units and multi-family units—were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 658,000, 15 percent above the revised August estimate of 572,000 and 10.2 percent above the September 2010 rate of 597,000 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. After falling in August, single-family housing starts in September rose 1.7 percent to an annual rate of 425,000; the revised August figure was 418,000.
"Today's numbers are very welcome evidence that builders are putting some crews back to work on single-family homes in select markets where economic conditions are improving, and on multifamily homes in places where demand for rentals is on the rise," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). However, "Extremely tight lending conditions for both building and buying new homes, along with stubbornly high foreclosures that are putting downward pressure on home prices, continue to weigh down new construction and corresponding job growth."
"The big gain in multifamily housing production for September was in the wake of a below-trend number in August and in keeping with characteristic volatility in that sector," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "However, there's no doubt that demand for apartments is rising as restrictive mortgage lending policies and concerns about future employment push consumers to pursue rental options."
Obama Kicks Off National Forest Products Week
In a presidential proclamation Friday, Barack Obama deemed Oct. 16-22 National Forest Products Week.
Obama lauded U.S. forests for providing renewable energy, biofuels, green building materials and the "wide variety of products that make up an important part of our economy."
"America's forests have long played an integral role in shaping and developing our nation. They help us access clean water and air, drive discovery as natural laboratories, and make our communities more beautiful and vibrant places to live," the president said.
National Forest Products Week was established in 1960 and begins every year on the third Sunday of October; it is always preceded by a presidential proclamation. It is one of 44 patriotic and national observances in the U.S., which range from Constitution Week, to Leif Erickson Day, to Pan American Aviation Day.
Floor Coverings Sales in U.S. Increase
Square-foot sales of floor coverings in the U.S. increased in 2010 for the first time in six years, according to a report from Catalina Research. The increase was driven by an upturn in existing home sales and remodeling in the first half of the year, along with the restocking of distribution inventories that fell in 2009.
The wood flooring and ceramic tile sectors benefitted from the gains. The vinyl and laminate flooring sectors also outpaced overall industry trends as consumers generally remained value-conscious due to stubbornly high unemployment, Catalina reported.
During the end of 2010 and the first half of 2011, however, sales weakened as the U.S. housing market took a double-dip, which was brought on by continued unemployment problems and declines in home prices, and tight credit. Still, flooring sales remain on an upward trend, according to Catalina Research, as manufacturers push through price increases as material costs rise.
The report is available for $3,495 at www.marketresearch.com or by calling (800) 298-5699.
Smith & Fong Expands Use of Soy-Based Adhesive
Smith & Fong (San Francisco) has adopted a soy-based adhesive—dubbed SoyBond—for its PlybooPure flooring and PlybooSport sport flooring.
The adhesive, which is also formaldehyde-free, was developed along with specialty chemical company Ashland Inc. over the better part of two years; Soybond is based on Ashland's Soyad adhesive technology. In addition to different handling procedures and protocols for working with the adhesive, Smith & Fong had to develop new presses and application equipment. The company also points out that the new adhesive passes California Section 01350, a collection of environmental guidelines, and that it is LEED-point eligible.
"Our mission is to move all our manufacturing to the new system," said Dan Smith, the company's president and founder.
Builder Confidence Sees Gains for October
After hovering around 14-15 for the past three months, builder confidence in the market for newly built single family homes increased four points in October, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. It was the largest one-month gain the index has seen since the home buyer tax credit program helped spur the market in April of 2010.
"Builder confidence regained some ground in October due to modest improvements in buyer interest in select markets where economic recovery is starting to take hold and where foreclosure activity has remained comparatively subdued," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen "That said, confidence remains quite low as builders continue to confront overly restrictive lending policies that are discouraging prospective buyers, problems with new-home appraisals and widespread uncertainty regarding federal support for homeownership."
"This latest boost in builder confidence is a good sign that some pockets of recovery are starting to emerge across the country as extremely favorable interest rates and prices catch consumers' attention," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "However, it's worth noting that while some builders have shifted their assessment of market conditions from 'poor' to 'fair,' relatively few have shifted their assessments from 'fair' to 'good.' One reason is that builders are facing downward pricing pressures from foreclosed homes at the same time that building materials costs are rising, and this is further squeezing already tight margins."
The component gauging current sales conditions rose four points to 18, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose seven points to 24, and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose three points to 14.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index asks builders to rate current home sales, sales expectations and buyer traffic. Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
How to Say ‘Thank You’? Give Away Wood Floors
Testament to a wood floor's ability to sell homes, San Diego's Brookfield Homes is giving free wood flooring to new homebuyers at all five of its neighborhoods now selling. The company is billing the move as a thank you to residents for voting it No. 1 in the recent "San Diego’s Best 2011" poll by the Union-Tribune/SignOnSanDiego.
The free wood flooring is offered for San Diego homes purchased by Nov. 15 and closing escrow no later than Dec. 28. The two flooring choices, either Pacific Treasures or Paradise Cove, is available in specified areas of each floor plan only.
The eligible homes are located in these neighborhoods: Rockrose at The Foothills in Carlsbad, Mahogany at Old Creek Ranch in San Marcos, Serenity at Stonebridge Estates and Windingwalk at Chula Vista. Home prices start in the "high $200,000s" and go up to the $800,000s. For more information, visit SBWire.
Monday, October 17, 2011
NWFA to Hold Open House at St. Louis HQ
The National Wood Flooring Association is holding an open house at its St. Louis headquarters—open to members and non-members alike—Nov. 9-10. “We’re inviting our education partners, local distributors, their customers, and all the installers we can find to come and learn about our education opportunities,” says NWFA CEO Michael Martin. The open house will be held from 2-7 p.m. each day and will include displays from manufacturers and distributors, food and raffle prizes. The current participant list includes 3M, Ambassador Floor, Basic Coatings, Boardwalk Floors, Bona US, Capri Cork, Carpenters Local 1310, Clarke American Sanders, Duo-Fast, Dura Seal, Electro Plastics dba STEP Warmfloor, Fortifiber Building Systems Group, Hardwood Floors, Historic Timber & Plank, Hydraflow Flooring Division, ISC Surfaces, Karlson Hardwood Floors, Lenmar, Lockwood Flooring, Mannington, MAPEI, Oshkosh Designs, Powernail Company, Rustoleum, Think Tank, Tingle Flooring, UFloor, Wagner Meters and WD•Flooring.
No RSVP is necessary. The NWFA headquarters is located at 111 Chesterfield Industrial Blvd., Chesterfield, MO 63005; for more information, call (800) 422-4556 or visit the NWFA webpage about the open house.
Lowe's Closing 20 Stores Across U.S.
Lowe's Companies Inc. (Mooresville, N.C.) closed 10 stores on Oct. 16 and said it will close 10 more within about one month following an inventory sell-through.
Stores affected by the closings are located in:
Approximately 1,950 employees will be affected by these closings, according to a company release. Employees will receive pay and benefits for 60-90 days, and Lowe's will be working with local government agencies to help former employees with outplacement assistance.
- Aurora, Ill.
- Batavia, N.Y.
- Biddeford, Maine
- Brown Deer, Wis.
- Chalmette, La.
- Claremont, N.H.
- Denver, Colo.
- Ellsworth, Maine
- Emporia, Va.
- Haverhill, Maine
- Hooksett, N.H.
- Ionia, Mich.
- Los Banos, Calif.
- Manchester, N.H.
- North Kingstown, R.I.
- Old Bridge, N.J.
- Oswego, Ill.
- Rogers, Minn.
- South Tacoma, Wash.
- Westminster, Calif.
The company also announced that it has narrowed its new-store projections. Lowe's now expects to open 10 to 15 stores per year in North America from 2012 forward, compared to a prior assumption of approximately 30 stores per year. This year, the company will open 25 stores as planned.
"Closing stores is never easy, given the impact on hard-working employees and local communities," said Robert A. Niblock, chairman, president and CEO at Lowe's. "However, we have an obligation to make tough decisions when necessary to improve profitability and strengthen our financial position."
Wood Flooring Imports Reach 2011 High
U.S. wood flooring imports—including both engineered and solid products—increased for the third consecutive month in August, according to Zepol Corporation. August figures reached a 2011 high at $13.3 million, up from $12.8 million in July.
Despite the streak of monthly rises, year-to-date imports are down 8 percent. China holds a dominant position in supplying wood flooring to the U.S.; about 60 percent of wood flooring imports come from China. Canada, Germany, and Indonesia follow China as the other top suppliers.
Conversely, U.S. exports of wood flooring decreased slightly in August; however, year-to-date figures are up 2.5 percent from last year. The total value of exports in August was about $1.6 million, down from $1.8 million in July. The top country of destination is Sweden, which imported 44% of the total export share in August, followed by Canada and Mexico.
For more information on wood flooring imports and exports, visit www.Zepol.com.
Pioneer Millworks Installs Perfect Floor For Equine Group
If there was ever a story about a wood floor coming full circle, this is it. Recently, Pioneer Millworks (Mendon, N.Y.) reclaimed nearly 300,000 board feet of oak from a number of horse farms and then re-milled it into its Black & Tan flooring. All the company needed next was the perfect place to install such a reclaimed product.
One of the clients at the top of its list was EquiCenter, which is also located in Mendon; the group started in 2004 and offers therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, vaulting and horsemanship (equine-facilitated mental health) sessions. In other words, it presented the perfect opportunity to showcase wood flooring reclaimed from horse farms.
Pioneer Millworks recently installed the flooring—which bears a deep, tan hue and prominent grain patterns—in EquiCenter's conference room and meeting room.
"We love the story behind these floors," said Jonathan Friedlander, EquiCenter president and CEO. "The wood is unique, really outstanding. When our supporters, volunteers and participants come through, they always notice and comment on the beauty of the floor and they love the connection between the source of the wood and its current use." Friedlander said he and other group members often find themselves speculating about the horses that once lived in those barns.
Below are pictures from the reclamation process and installation:
HF Briefs: Liability Seminar; Custom Flooring Offered; More
Contractor/inspector Roy Reichow and lawyer Blake Nelson will host a free seminar Oct. 28 in Edina, Minn., titled "Who's Responsible? Flooring Installation & Manufacturer Warranties"; it will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Topics will include "ultimate responsibility" for floor failures and how to protect against liability; inspecting product conditions; manufacturer liability and pass through laws; and written disclaimers. To register, visit www.whosresponsible.ezregister.com or call (952) 746-2102. Seating is limited.
During an educational seminar on Oct. 5, C+R Flooring (Needham, Mass.) announced it is giving interior designers the opportunity to create their own custom flooring collections. About 35 designers attended the event and heard presentations from C+R Flooring, Kährs, Mirage, and Custom Mills to learn about flooring options and view custom samples from the collection. For more information about participating in C+R Flooring's Signature Series or to learn more about the collection, call (781) 444-1553 or visit www.candrflooring.com.
Cali Bamboo (San Diego) was included in San Diego Business Journal's list of the fastest growing companies. Cali Bamboo was 51st on the list for growing nearly 57 percent over the past three years.
Hardwood Floors' online Classifieds has new notices for: someone looking to buy a used Clarke sander, edger and buffer; a new Line-Rite tape machine for sale; and three jobs posted by the wood products staffing group Impact, including manufacturing maintenance manager, saw mill plant superintendent and manufacturing plant manager.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Bo Bonds and Tim Beller Join Shamrock Plank Flooring
The Shannon Lumber Group (Memphis, Tenn.) has named Tim Beller western regional sales manager for its Shamrock Plank Flooring division. Previously, Beller worked at Acme Floor Company and Villagio Madera.
Also, Bo Bonds has been named junior inside sales representative at Shamrock Plank Flooring. Recently, Bonds graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in business administration and marketing.
Wallace Fred Taylor, Founder of W.F. Taylor, Dies at 84
Wallace Fred Taylor, founder of adhesive maker W.F. Taylor Co. Inc., died Sept. 22 near Olympia, Wash.; he was 84. Taylor’s wife Julia Fern Taylor was at his side when he died.
Taylor was a pioneer of the adhesive industry. During World War II Taylor served in the U.S. Navy, and after he returned home he received a degree in chemistry from the University of Arizona. He worked at several large adhesive companies before starting W.F. Taylor Co. Inc. in 1977.
In 1984 Taylor sold his company, after which it was controlled by two successive British holding companies. Today, W.F. Taylor is again a family-owned company headed by Jack Raidy Sr. "Wally left a strong legacy to build upon and was viewed as a consummate gentleman by our customers and employees. He has remained a valued resource over the years," Raidy said.
In retirement, Taylor climbed mountains and ran marathons; he also played poker and repaired antique clocks.
NWFA Releases Forest Certification Tool Kits
The NWFA has created customized tool kits to assist with responsible forestry certification. The kits—one for manufacturers and another for sawmills—provide detailed guidance on preparing for the initial Responsible Procurement Program (RPP), and FSC Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood audits.
"It’s estimated that about 90 percent of the world’s forests are not certified," said NWFA CEO Michael Martin. "This creates a real problem for our industry to prove its products come from renewable sources, even though nearly all of the timber our members use comes from U.S. renewing forests. This is the purpose that the RPP serves—to provide a tangible way to measure and promote best environmental practices, rather than just creating another green initiative not based on tangible proof."
To that end, the NWFA was involved in the recent FSC certification of 12,000 acres of forestland in South Carolina. The project was headed by the RPP's FSC Procurement Group, and it marked the group's first major project.
After overtures from Anderson Hardwood Floors' (Clinton, S.C.) timber buyer, South Carolina's White Wood Timber Group met with the FSC to discuss certification via both the FSC and the RPP. During those discussions, International Paper contacted White Wood to inquire about FSC-certified pulpwood. Based on information provided by the FSC Procurement Group, White Wood was able to mobilize landowners to do the initial group certification.
"What’s even more rewarding, however, is that the certified acreage is expected to grow to 80,000 [acres] in just five years, combining the resources of landowners in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida," said Don Finkell, NWFA RPP Governance Board chairman and president of Anderson Hardwood Floors.
The White Wood certification was also made possible through a grant from a Wood Education and Resource Center grant made possible by the Rainforest Alliance. The FSC Procurement Group was originally established under the direction of the RPP.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for the FSC Procurement Group as it represents a significant increase in FSC-certified wood," Martin said. "The efforts of Anderson to initiate the relationship and foster the certification process are testimony of Anderson’s commitment to the RPP program and environmentally conscious forest management."
Five wood flooring manufacturers are currently certified under the RPP, including Anderson Hardwood Floors, Augusta Flooring (Waynesboro, Va.), Mannington Hardwood Floors (Salem, N.J.), Mullican Flooring (Johnson City, Tenn.), and Sheoga Hardwood Flooring & Paneling (Middlefield, Ohio). Several more companies are expected to complete the process of becoming RPP members by the end of the year, and more information on joining can be found here.
In related news, the 2010 FSC market survey was recently published online. More than 3,500 companies in 29 countries contributed, and FSC said the survey is proof that its label is continuing to gain momentum in developed and emerging markets worldwide.
Obama Spurs Community Forests
Through the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program, President Barack Obama is offering grants to establish community forests that bolster rural economies, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The implementation rules for the program were published today in the Federal Register.
Community forests created under the program will support working forests through sustainable management, timber and non-timber production, wood-for-energy production, and recreation and tourism. It will also focus on education and forest stewardship. The Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), administers the program.
The grants are available to local governments, American Indian tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations. Currently, $1.5 million is available, and the U.S. Forest Service has requested $5 million more in the president's 2012 budget. Grant requests should be announced in about 60 days, according to the Forest Service.
Grant awardees are required to ensure public access to the protected lands. The community must be involved in the process of establishing a forest, developing a forest plan and determining long-term management needs, and each grant requires a non-federal match of 50 percent.
"The Community Forest Program will bring money and jobs to our rural communities," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "These community forests will also provide a model of effective forest stewardship for private landowners. They protect habitat, conserve and protect water supplies, and provide educational opportunities, all while contributing to the local economy."
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
DOC Lowers Export Rates for Most Chinese Companies
The U.S. Department of Commerce today lowered the antidumping and countervailing duty determinations for the lion’s share of Chinese companies that ship engineered wood flooring to the U.S.
The department lowered the antidumping rate for the majority of Chinese engineered wood floor exporters to 3.31 percent from a preliminary rate of 6.78 percent. Meanwhile, the department also lowered the countervailing duty rate for the majority of producers to 1.50 percent from a preliminary rate of 2.25 percent.
One mandatory respondent in the countervailing duty investigation—Fine Furniture (Shanghai) Ltd.—saw its individual rate lowered. The other two mandatory respondents in the countervailing duty investigation retained their “de minimis” rates, or a rate less than 2 percent.
In the antidumping investigation, mandatory respondent Zhejiang Layo Wood Industry Co. Ltd. saw its rate increased from a de minimis preliminary rate to 3.98 percent. Mandatory respondent Zhejiang Yuhua Timber Co. Ltd. retained its de minimis rate, while third mandatory respondent Samling Group saw its antidumping rate lowered to 2.63 percent from a preliminary rate of 10.88 percent.
The Commerce Department also assigns antidumping and countervailing duty rates to companies that are not actively participating in the investigation, which is significantly higher than rates for investigation participants. In the antidumping investigation, those companies were assigned a rate of 58.84 percent, while in the countervailing duty investigation, these companies were given a rate of 26.73 percent.
As a result of this latest determination, U.S. importers of record will continue to pay additional tariffs on engineered wood flooring from China, and the investigation will continue. A final ruling is expected next month. If the International Trade Commission finds that Chinese imports are materially damaging domestic producers, the Commerce Department will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders. Import duties in the U.S. are primarily retroactive, meaning that if DOC does end up imposing duties, an importer could face a sudden jump in the amount owed a year or two after making a shipment of engineered wood flooring from China.
The investigation, which has been ongoing since October 2010, was prompted by allegations of dumping margins between 194.49 to 280.6 percent on the part of Chinese exporters. The petitioner is the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity (CAHP), consisting of Anderson Hardwood Floors (Clinton, S.C), Award Hardwood Floors LLP (Wausau, Wis.), From the Forest LLC (Weston, Wis.), Howell Hardwood Flooring (Dothan, Ala.), Mannington Wood Floors (Salem, N.J.), Nydree Flooring (Forest, Va.) and Shaw Industries Inc. (Dalton, Ga.). In April 2011, Baker’s Creek (Jackson, Miss.) left the group after being purchased by Home Legend LLC (Adairsville, Ga.).
The CAHP is opposed by Home Legend LLC, Lumber Liquidators (Dalton, Ga.), and a group of U.S. importers and retailers that formed the Alliance for Free Choice and Jobs in Flooring (AFCJF), among others.
Updated, Oct. 13
Both the AFCJF and CAHP have commented on the Commerce Department’s ruling.
The CAHP’s legal counsel, Jeff Levin, said the Commerce Department’s ruling is evidence that the “vast majority of Chinese imports are unfairly traded.” “We are pleased that the Commerce Department has agreed with what the U.S. industry stated from the beginning of this process … This industry presented a very compelling case to the [International Trade Commission] that we believe will strongly support a favorable judgment from them next month as well.”
The AFCJF also responded to the Commerce Department’s ruling with a favorable tone. “We applaud the DOC for finding even lower rates in this final phase of their investigation,” said AFCJF President Jonathan Train. “This proves that the petitioners initial allegations were exaggerated and erroneous. This gives us strong hope that the ITC final determination to be announced [Nov. 21] could result in a complete dismissal of the case.”
NWFA Lowers Cost for Manufacturer Tech Call Service
In an effort to improve member services, the NWFA has significantly lowered the cost of its Technical Call Center program that handles tech calls for specific manufacturer products, and it has opened the program to more participants.
The service directs technical calls for specific manufacturer products through dedicated toll-free telephone numbers to NWFA staff members who are trained and knowledgeable about its products. The service saves manufacturers time and money since their own sales staff are able to focus attention on sales rather than fielding calls about technical performance issues.
"Our technicians are trained to handle both consumer and trade professional inquiries related to wood flooring, so it’s a great customer service tool that can be utilized for a lot less than the cost of hiring and training a full-time staff person," said NWFA CEO Michael Martin.
The service is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central, Monday through Friday. After hours, calls go into a voice mailbox system and are answered on the next business day. The cost of the program includes a monthly fee plus a per-call cost.
McMinnville Manufacturing Company already participates in the program. "For our company, most of the time, the caller would find that no one would be immediately available to take their call," McMinnville's Donna Millard said. "Knowing the caller can get prompt service is extremely valuable to us. We could not employ a person in-house to handle these calls for the cost of the service. It really sets up apart from our competition, and our customers appreciate the prompt attention."
For more information on the program, call (800) 422-4556.
Joel Lefkowitz Opens Distributor HW Flooring
Former Hoboken Floors president Joel Lefkowitz has opened a new distribution company dubbed HW Flooring LLC (Deer Park, N.Y.). HW Flooring LLC is operating as an affiliate of Salesmaster Flooring Solutions.
The new company will service retailers and contractors serving the commercial and residential building markets, along with high-rise developers. It will cover New Jersey, New York City and Long Island, along with Rockland, Putnam, Westchester and Duchess counties, and Fairfield County, Conn.
HW Flooring LLC carries prefinished flooring lines Somerset Hardwood Flooring, Appalachian Flooring, Ark Floors, and DuChateau Floors. It also carries unfinished flooring, as well as installation and underlayment materials like foam, adhesive, nails and other accessories. Its staff can consult with A&D representatives for clients in healthcare, hospitality, education, high-rise and new home construction.
The new company is located at 303 Marcus Blvd., Deer Park, NY 11729. For more information, contact Lefkowitz at email@example.com or (800) 234-1717.
HF Briefs: Holden Gives Expo Overview; Shaw Previews Fall Colors
Hear what NWFA Chairman Rick Holden has to say about the renewed 2012 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, which will be held in Orlando April 10-13, in this video.
Shaw Floors (Dalton, Ga.) has produced a YouTube video to preview its fall flooring colors. "Boring beige is out," and its place are an array of vibrant gold, Dior-inspired grey, Amalfi Coast blue, French roast brown and timeless taupe colors "to provide inspiring design options for the home."
The NWFA endorses the NBMDA & NAFCD Distributor Marketplace, which will take place Nov. 8-10 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. At the event, the latest products the floor covering, building material, and cabinetry/woodworking industries will be showcased.
Visit Hardwood Floors' online classifieds for information on a used Stenner horizontal band saw.
American Hardwoods Promotional Campaign Underway
Ninety-five percent of consumers and professionals enjoy the look of natural hardwood, and 90 percent agree that hardwood products are "attractive and would inspire pride in the home." These are just a few of the sentiments shared in recent research conducted by Harris Interactive as part of The Unified Hardwood Promotion (UHP) campaign.
The campaign, of which the NWFA is a part, encourages everyone in the American hardwoods supply chain to use its logo and tagline, "Treasured for Generations," in marketing. The logo is meant to convey the variety of choices available with hardwood and indicate the timeless beauty and enduring value that come naturally with wood.
“Combining the best practices of hardwood leaders from all facets of the industry affords us the opportunity to come together and really make an impact,” said program participant Terry Brennan of Baillie Lumber. “We urge hardwood flooring professionals to take advantage of the new logo by incorporating it into their company’s marketing and sales programs as a supplement to their business messaging, and to show support for the American Hardwoods initiative.”
Campaigners said as awareness of the benefits of American Hardwoods versus competitive materials is raised, key influencers will look for the American Hardwoods logo when making a purchasing decision. Also, consumers will look to retailers and dealers who sell American Hardwood products, builders will look to manufacturers and distributors, manufacturers will look to sawmills and so on.
For more information on the program, visit www.HardwoodInfo.com or email AmericanHardwoods@gibbs-soell.com.
Boiler Regulations, Lacey Act Discussed During D.C. Fly-In
U.S. jobs and government regulations were the topics on everyone's mind during the Hardwood Federation's Fly-In, held Oct. 4-5 in Washington, D.C.
One of the subjects the cross-section of hardwood industry leaders discussed was the so-called maximum achievable control technology rule, or "boiler MACT," a rule on boiler emissions like mercury. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under a court order now to finalize the rule on Nov. 16, according to Reuters; however, manufacturers across several industries—including hardwood flooring—are fighting to delay finalization.
"Realistically, there isn’t a wood flooring mill in the U.S. that can meet the EPA standards right now," said NWFA CEO Michael Martin, who attended the Fly-In. "The impact of those regulations being enforced would be far-reaching and has the potential to shut down many mill operations at least for a time. This would have a direct impact on the entire wood flooring supply chain, from the direct impact on manufacturers to the price increases and lack of supply for distributors, retailers, and contractors."
In addition, attendees collaborated on a letter to the U.S. Congress concerning the Lacey Act, which has come under fire recently due to the federal raid on Gibson Guitars. The letter, titled "The Lacey Act Means Jobs for U.S. Forestry and U.S. Forest Products," was sent to every member of the Senate and House on Oct. 11. "… We want to highlight the important role the Lacey Act plays in fighting illegal logging and supporting jobs and markets for the U.S. forest products industry," the letter read. "We urge that no legislative action be taken to diminish the contributions of the Lacey Act to these important objectives." The NWFA, along with 15 other wood products associations, signed the letter.
The letter also highlighted 1) the organizations' commitments to maintaining healthy forests, 2) the international pervasiveness of illegal logging, which cost the U.S. $1 billion, according to a 2004 report, and 3) the widespread support of the Lacey Act, including a wide swath of industry, environmental and labor organizations.
"We want to keep the Lacey Act intact and see it enforced," said Shaw Hardwood CEO Don Finkell, who attended the Fly-In.
Also, the hardwood industry delegates discussed upcoming changes to the LEED standard, which could require building specifiers use FSC-100% wood products to earn credits. The proposed change prompted attendees to discuss ways to increase demand for wood products through bypassing the popular LEED standard. To that end, the Hardwood Federation, of which the NWFA is a part, is attempting to persuade Congress to discourage LEED-only building guidelines while encouraging the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) systems in specifying building products. (The NWFA has LCAs available for both solid and engineered wood flooring.)
"Right now, the LEED point system doesn’t reflect the true renewable value of wood products," Martin said. "When compared to other building materials and the manufacturing processes of those materials, there are few contenders with the same renewability level as wood, yet the point system doesn’t clearly recognize this fact."
The Hardwood Federation used the event to tout a lobbying success it had regarding the specification of a bamboo sports floor for a Navy building; in May, the Navy agreed to install a domestically harvested species. In addition to convincing the Navy to install a domestic species at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune, a Navy representative guaranteed the Fly-In attendees that there would be no more "bamboo-only" specifications in future Navy buildings. Deb Hawkinson, executive director for the Hardwood Federation, called the success with the Navy a "huge win."
All told, more than 35 Hardwood industry participants held 85 meetings with Congressional representatives during the event. "Well-attended events show them that we are an engaged industry," Hawkinson said.
Below is the letter the Hardwood Federation sent to Congress on Oct. 11.
McGrath Brothers Recovering From Nashville Flood
When the Cumberland River overflowed its banks in May 2010, wood flooring distributor McGrath Brothers, along with the city of Nashville, was devastated. The company’s warehouse and showroom—then located about 300 yards from a Cumberland River tributary—were flooded and its inventory destroyed. All told, the natural phenomenon cost the company around $1 million, according to CEO Rick McGrath. Today, however, is a different story.
The company has resumed normal business operations. In June McGrath Brothers opened a new showroom near the south side of town at 411 East Iris Street, and in September it launched a brand new website at www.mcgrathdistributing.com.
When the flood hit, the company had vendor obligations in the ballpark of $800,000, but with the help of a FEMA disaster relief loan, it has whittled that figure to less than $150,000 today. "We’ve paid most of our vendors back; we did not have flood insurance, and our business insurance did not assist us," McGrath said.
Besides striving to overcome the financial hole in which the flood left the company, "A couple of unscrupulous competitors were saying we were out of business, and that's just not true. We're still here," McGrath said.
"We still have some hard work ahead of us, but we see better days ahead," McGrath added.
Several photos McGrath took while waters were high.
Important Issues Raised at Greenbuild
One highlight of this year’s Greenbuild, held Oct. 4-7, occurred outside of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, when four environmental groups ran a full-page ad in the Toronto Star calling the U.S. Green Building Council's proposed changes to wood certification policies "greenwash."
In the ad, Forest Ethics, the Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace and the National Wildlife Federation complained that the proposed LEED 2012 changes would “reward builders who use wood from some of North America’s worst clearcuts or from rainforest destruction around the world … In addition to bringing greenwash into LEED, the proposed changes would also weaken demand for sustainable forest products.”
Inside the convention center, columnist and author Thomas Friedman challenged attendees in the keynote address to continue innovating despite the world’s “grim” political and economic environments, according to Eco Home Magazine. “Those of us hoping for a green revolution in this administration are going to be disappointed,” said Friedman, whose keynote address can be viewed here.
While official figures have yet to be released, initial reports show attendance for this year’s event was 23,000, down from 2010’s 28,000.
Housing Bust Worst Since Great Depression
The homeownership rate fell to 65.1 percent in 2010, making the recent housing bust the worst since the Great Depression, according to the Associated Press. Analysts say the U.S. could never return to its housing peak due to tighter credit, prolonged job losses and reduced government involvement. What’s more, the homeownership gap between whites and blacks is now at its widest since 1960, wiping out more than 40 years of gains. "The changes now taking place are mind-boggling: the housing market has completely crashed and attitudes toward housing are shifting from owning to renting," Patrick Newport, economist with IHS Global Insight, told the AP. "While 10 years ago owning a home was the American Dream, I'm not sure a lot of people still think that way."
IICRC Offers Mold Remediation Exam
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is offering a certification exam for professionals in the mold remediation industry. The Mold Removal Specialist (MRS) Certification exam will certify that successful candidates meet all state required licensing requirements, and the IICRC is currently seeking mold technicians and specialists to participate in a beta-test for the exam.
Registration is open until Oct. 14, and beta-testing is limited to 200 participants. Participants will receive a discounted rate of $150 and, if passed, will be among the first to hold this certification.
The MRS certification does not replace the current Applied Microbial Restoration Technician (AMRT) exam and is an additional level of certification. The differences between the MRS certification and the AMRT certification are:
Upon completion of the Mold Removal Certification exam, there are no continuing education requirements, only an annual renewal fee and a re-certification every five years.
- The actual exam will be completed at a testing center located closest to the test-taker.
- While strongly encouraged, no training pre-requisites are required to take the exam.
- This is the first IICRC exam not associated with a specific IICRC training course.
Neuhofer Holz Expands Warehouse
Neuhofer Holz (Zell am Moos, Austria) recently celebrated the opening of approximately 65,616 cubed feet of warehouse capacity, merging the company’s logistics at a central location. The company held a picnic to celebrate and it also honored all of its employees with 10 or more years of service with the company.
TRADA Releases Wood ID App for iPhone, iPad
The United Kingdom’s Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) has released a free Wood Species Guide app for the iPhone and iPad. Created for architecture, construction and furniture professionals, the species guide helps users select the most suitable wood species for a project. Users get access to physical properties and illustrations for 40 commercial species for free, while access to 100 additional species is available for $6.99. Users can search species by name, appropriate uses, durability, color and movement characteristics. The app can be downloaded via iTunes.
Altman Joins UFloor Systems’ Uzin Division
UFloor Systems Inc. (Aurora, Colo.) has named David Altman director technical operations for its Uzin division of moisture mitigation, leveling compounds, sound attenuation, and adhesive products. Altman recently worked as technical manager for Amtico and brings many years of experience in technical positions with various flooring manufacturers. He is an active member of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and is a current ASTM F06 Committee member. Altman will work out of the Atlanta region.
Contractors Can Have ‘Breakfast With Basic’
Philadelphia Floor Store (Conshohocken, Pa.) will host a Breakfast With Basic seminar on Oct. 26 beginning at 8 a.m. Tony Ziola from Basic Coatings (Toledo, Ohio) will be on hand to demonstrate the company’s new Dirt Dragon, which is a machine specifically designed to clean wood floors. A Q&A will follow, along with a discussion on how the machine can open new business opportunities.
HF Briefs: Positions Available and Equipment for Sale
Thursday, October 06, 2011
NWFA Offers Domotex Asia Exhibit Space to Members
The NWFA is offering members the opportunity to exhibit together within a pavilion at the Domotex Asia trade show, which will be held in Shanghai, China, on March 27-29. By exhibiting with the NWFA, members will receive reduced exhibition space cost versus exhibiting on their own.
The booth cost is based on size, and it begins at $550 for six square meters; an event contract can be viewed here.
The Chinese market accounts for half of all wood flooring imports, exports and consumption, so the NWFA encourages members to build relationships abroad.
Also, manufacturers can exhibit with the NWFA in cooperation with the American Hardwood Export Council, and the association is working on creating speaking opportunities for exhibitors, along with market and product update opportunities.
NWFA Pavilion exhibitors receive:
For more information, contact NWFA's Debbie Edgar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Turnkey package with basic booth furnishing and services
- Conference areas for private meetings
- On-site management
- Internet access
- Booth cleaning
- Two exhibitor passes per booth.
Mercury Vapors a Risk for Old Sport Floors
It was recently found that two "rubberized" sport floors within the Columbus Recreation & Parks Department (Ohio) have elevated levels of mercury vapors, according to ABC 6. The flooring was originally installed in the 1970s and had since been covered with hardwood flooring.
The elevated mercury levels were found at both the Marion-Franklin and the Far East recreation centers. A park director for the city hired an environmental engineer to test the floors after hearing of similar cases at other Ohio schools.
The gyms were closed on Wednesday but the rec centers remain open under assurance from the City of Columbus that they are safe. ABC 6 reported that the city will spend more than a half-million dollars over the next four to six months to replace both gym floors.
In 2010, an Ohio sports flooring company and a school district battled over whether prior disclosure of mercury vapors was provided before a wood flooring renovation began.
NAHB: Improving Housing Markets on the Rise
After launching last month, the NAHB's Improving Markets Index (IMI) shows that 23 housing markets across the U.S. qualify as "improving." The IMI is a monthly economic index showing which housing markets are improving in the areas of housing permits, employment and housing prices. At the start of the index's launch, 12 areas were deemed "improving."
The current list includes:
- Alexandria, La.
- Amarillo, Texas
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Bismarck, N.D.
- Casper, Wyo.
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Fayetteville, N.C.
- Houma, La.
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Jonesboro, Ark.
- Kankakee, Ill.
- McAllen, Texas
- Midland, Texas
- New Orleans, La.
- Odessa, Texas
- Pine Bluff, Ark.
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Sherman, Texas
- Sumter, S.C.
- Waco, Texas
- Waterloo, Iowa
- Wichita Falls, Texas
- Winston-Salem, N.C.
DuChateau Floors Holds Facebook Photo Contest
DuChateau Floors (San Diego, Calif.) is holding a photo contest on its Facebook page and offering $400 in prizes throughout October. Participants can post photos of installed DuChateau floors and the company will choose winners to feature in its website, blog or upcoming catalog.
Amazon gift cards in the amount of $250, $100 and $50 will be given to the first, second and third place winners, respectively. Participants can also submit photos via email to email@example.com, and full contest details can be viewed here.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
President of Indonesia Vows to Protect Forests
The president of Indonesia vowed last week during a conference in Jakarta to dedicate the last three years of his administration to protecting the nation's rainforests, according to the Center for International Forestry Research.
In attendance were 1,000 government, business and society leaders, along with foreign donors, and CIFOR reported that the president's move was met with broad support. Indonesia is home to the third-largest tropical forest in the world.
Citing Ministry of Forestry data, CIFOR said Indonesia is losing about 1.1 million hectares of forests each year, mostly due to unsustainable logging that includes the conversion of forests to plantations for palm oil and the pulp and paper industry. It is also partly due to large-scale illegal logging, which is estimated to cost Indonesia about $4 billion annually.
"If it weren’t for the benefits that our forests provide, then our way of life, our people, our economy, our environment and our society would be so much the poorer," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said. “Our success in managing our forests will determine our future and the opportunities that will be available to our children.”
In related news, the U.S. forgave nearly $30 million in Indonesian debt on Thursday, diverting the funds to bolster tropical forest conservation on Borneo, according to the Jakarta Globe. The "debt-for-nature" swap is authorized under the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which was crafted to mitigate climate change by reducing deforestation that releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Mullican Offering $6K In Facebook Contest Prizes
Mullican Flooring (Johnson City, Tenn.) is offering $6,000 in prizes as part of its “We Heart Our Mullican Floor!” photo contest. Installers, dealers and consumers can enter the competition by submitting an “after” photo of their renovated space at the company's Facebook page, where full contest details can also be viewed.
A grand prize of $5,000 and first-place prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the best photos submitted; the contest is open until Nov. 30. Winners will be determined based on popular votes cast on Facebook by the general public during the month of December, and winners’ names will be posted on Facebook after Jan. 15.
Leitz Makes Two Personnel Moves
Leitz Tooling Systems Inc. (Grand Rapids, Mich.) has named Don Congdon technical sales representative for its Central Region; Congdon has industry experience in plant management and process engineering.
Also, the company has named Andreas Poznic diamond service operations manager/key account manager. Poznic will be based out of Archdale, N.C., and brings over 30 years of tooling experience to Leitz.
HF Brief: Manufacturing Management Position
A high-end wood flooring startup has posted an opening for a general manager in Hardwood Floors' online Classifieds.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Scientists Warn of Forest Loss
Even though people are increasingly settling in cities worldwide, they are depending on forests more than ever, and so the stakes in combating climate change are higher than ever, according to an article from The New York Times. Scientists have recently discovered that forests have been absorbing more than 25 percent of the carbon dioxide people are putting into the air, yet the environment is being altered so much by human activities that trees are dying off in record numbers across the planet. “At the same time that we’re recognizing the potential great value of trees and forests in helping us deal with the excess carbon we’re generating, we’re starting to lose forests,” Thomas W. Swetnam, an expert on forest history at the University of Arizona, told the Times. Scientists now fear that if trees were to die off on a sufficient scale, trees would not only cease sequestering carbon but would also spew large amounts of carbon back into the air.
USDA Report Highlights Wood as Green Building Material
Wood should factor as a primary building material in any green building project, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Thursday. As a result, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged builders to prioritize wood in green building projects.
The report—"Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction"—confirms that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials.
"This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years," said Vilsack. "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America."
The report found that the use of forest products in the U.S. currently supports more than one million direct jobs, particularly in rural areas, and contributes more than $100 billion to the country's gross domestic product.
The study also found that increased use of life cycle analysis in building codes would benefit the environment, and that more stock should be granted life cycle analyses in green building material selections. The USDA also found that a lack of education hinders the acceptance of wood as a green building material.
August Construction Spending Edges Upward
Construction spending in August was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $799.1 billion, 1.4 percent above the revised July estimate of $788.3 billion. The latest figure is 0.9 percent above the August 2010 estimate of $791.7 billion. During the first eight months of this year, construction spending amounted to $511.4 billion, 3.0 percent below the $527.3 billion for the same period in 2010.
Private construction spending in August was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $511.0 billion, 0.4 percent above the revised July estimate of $508.9 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $237.8 billion in August, 0.7 percent above the revised July estimate of $236.2 billion.
Lumber Liquidators Buys Company in China, Lowers Fiscal Outlook
Lumber Liquidators has signed an $8 million deal to purchase a trading company—Sequoia Flooring—in Shanghai, China, that provided quality control, product control and logistics services for approximately 40 percent of Lumber Liquidator's 2010 merchandise purchases. The move is part of the retailer's long-term sourcing strategy of purchasing directly from mills.
Lumber Liquidators paid for $5 million of the deal in cash. Lumber Liquidators will retain certain key personnel in Sequoia Flooring's Shanghai office and assume direct control of sourcing previously managed by Sequoia. Lumber Liquidators will also open a representative office in Shanghai after the government of China approves the deal, which is expected to happen this month.
"One of the core components of Lumber Liquidators' strategy and a key competitive differentiator has always been our ability to purchase products directly from mills," said CEO Jeffrey W. Griffiths. "We are excited to launch the third phase of our sourcing initiatives with the significant expansion of direct sourcing in China. By entering into this transaction, we will be able to better control product cost and quality through our own international sourcing operations, further strengthen our value proposition and increase our competitive position. Additionally, we believe that this acquisition will allow us to expand operating margin, while at the same time provide greater flexibility in our marketing programs to help us attract consumers with aggressive opening price points."
On the same day it announced the deal for Sequoia, Lumber Liquidators narrowed its fiscal outlook for 2011 and new expects:
The company said its new fiscal outlook includes the one-time Sequoia transaction, and that it plans to release its third-quarter results on Oct. 27.
- net sales for the full year in the range of $673 million to $686 million, narrowed from the previous range of $670 million to $700 million
- third quarter net sales in the range of $168 million to $171 million, narrowed from the previous range of $165 million to $180 million
- fourth quarter net sales in the range of $170 million to $180 million, narrowed from the previous range of $170 million to $185 million
- the opening of seven to nine new store locations in the fourth quarter of the year, for a total of 40 to 42 new store locations in 2011, narrowed from the previous range of 40 to 44 new store locations
- earnings per diluted share for 2011 in the range of $1 to $1.08, narrowed from the previous range of approximately $1 to $1.15.
Hernandez Father & Son Reassume Helm of Flexitions
Flexitions, maker of flexible transition molding, is once again under the management of founders Gary Hernandez Jr. and Gary Hernandez Sr. According to a press release issued Friday, Flexitions will once again operate as its own business entity.
The duo issued this statement: "We’re very pleased and enthusiastic about our decision. We will expand the innovation and advancements within the Flexitions product line, furthering our original mission of creating groundbreaking products that improve the floor covering industry. We look forward to servicing our customers and we are excited about the future."
HF Brief: Leitz Promotes Fishburn; Used KT Sander for Sale
Leitz Tooling Systems Inc. (Grand Rapids, Mich.) has promoted Jeff Fishburn to regional sales manager for the company's Central Region. Fishburn brings a long history of experience to the position, most recently serving as technical sales representative in the same region.
Vecoplan LLC, a sawmill waste processing company, has named Chris Sturgis service technician. Responsibilities of his new position include installation and start-up of individual machines and complete systems, as well as maintenance and service on existing machines, systems and control panels in the field. Sturgis has an AASET degree with a major in electronics engineering technology.
Visit Hardwood Floors' Classifieds for information on a used KT Sander for sale.