What I’ll be watching in 2012
By Steven Feldman
Associate Publisher/Editorial Director, FCNews
With 2011 just about in our rear-view mirror, what better time than now to look ahead to 2012. Here are just some of the things to which I will be paying attention, and maybe you should as well.
1. The economy in an election year. Overall economic performance, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in presidential election years, is the strongest indicator of electoral success for an incumbent president. It has been extremely rare for an incumbent president to lose when election-year economies grow in excess of 4%. During weak election-year economies, voters will most likely reject the incumbent president. It will be average GDP growth in the first three quarters of 2012 that matter. Will the current administration enact policies to grow the economy? If it grows, it can only be good for this industry.
2. Engineered Floors. Remember Bob Shaw, arguably the industry’s most influential person this industry over the last 30 years? He retired from his namesake company in 2006. Well, he’s back. And in a big way. He launched Engineered Floors as a fiber producer two years ago. Quietly he’s also been making carpet. And you know Mr. Shaw knows how to make carpet. To this point the focus has been on selling truckloads to large dealers. Last week it was announced he had bought Dreamweavers. Mr. Shaw has big plans. We’ll be watching to see how they unfold.
3. Leadership changes at three major manufacturers. When we all come back from the New Year’s break, Mohawk will have Brian Carson at the helm replacing the retiring Frank Peters, Dal-Tile will have John Turner Jr. taking over for Harold Turk, and Mannington’s Russell Grizzle moves into the top spot after the retirement of Tom Davis. New leadership often brings new vision and new ideas, albeit not right away.
4. The potential sale of Pergo’s parent, Pfleiderer. The struggling German-based wood composite panel producer is going through a massive debt restructuring and is looking to sell its North American business, which includes Pergo and Uniboard. There is still brand equity with Pergo, although the company has primarily become a home center brand in recent years. Pergo’s executive vice president, David Hartman, is a marketing guru. If someone with some capital steps in and takes the gloves off Hartman, we could see somewhat of resurgence.
5. Beaulieu. Lots of changes over the last few months here and with them lots of rumors. One of particular interest is transforming the mill into a mid-to-high-end player. One confirmed rumor was that the CEO of Beaulieu Canada, Karel Vercruyssen, credited for turning that company around and in the black five years running, was asked by 50% owner Mieke Hanssens, wife of Carl Bouckaert, to get involved in the States. By the way, Bouckaert and Hanssens are officially allowed back in the fold on July 1 as it relates to day-to-day involvement in the company, if they so desire.
6. True loose -lay LVT products. Floating LVT is all the rage, but most have mechanical locking systems similar to laminate or are adhered together. Freefit a few years back came out with a true loose-lay product that required no locking system or adhesive. At least two companies have introduced second-generation products that are thicker and contain fiberglass wearlayers for added stability. Karndean and Raskin Global will be making noise with this technology, and others are sure to follow.
7. Surfaces. There are 70 new exhibitors. Mohawk’s Western regional is in the lobby. Retailers are tired of sitting on the sidelines. When the dust clears, I want to see if my projected increase in attendance actually reaches fruition as we all look forward to a bigger and better 2012.
SURFACES is the largest US event serving the floor covering industry. Held annually in Las Vegas, NV, SURFACES brings together buyers and sellers from all over the world to see the latest floor covering products, tools, services and technologies. SURFACES also offers an unrivaled educational program and networking opportunities focused on increasing business opportunities and driving sales.
The official sponsor of SURFACES is the World Floor Covering Association, the floor covering industry's largest advocacy organization representing floor covering retailers, contractors and allied service providers throughout North America.