My take: Here’s what I’m thinking about today

January 25, 2018

January 22/29, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 16

By Steven Feldman

 

The year officially begins on Jan. 1, but it is not until the minute that the Mandalay Bay door police yield to the stampede of Surfaces attendees that I feel the year is in full swing. And with that, this is when I am often asked for my thoughts on the year ahead. So, to answer that question….

I’m thinking that barring any missile launches by “Rocket Man” in North Korea, 2018 is going to be a very strong year for the economy. That is the sentiment offered by the 99% accurate Beaulieu brothers from ITR Economics, who believe the next 10 or 11 years will be strong, save for a slight hiccup in 2019.

Love him or hate him, I’m thinking the Trump tax cuts will help this industry. Yes, they may favor the wealthy, but wealthy people buy homes, and people who buy homes more often than not replace flooring. And wealthy people buy better flooring. And better flooring means better margins. You get the picture.

I’m thinking this combined Anderson Tuftex brand will be a good thing for Shaw. The products are strong, particularly on the Anderson side, the best since Shaw purchased the company from the Finkell family. I just feel this is the first time they’ve committed real resources to the brand—and it shows.

I’m thinking at some point Mohawk will need to add hardwood to Karastan, its high-end carpet brand, in response to the aforementioned Anderson Tuftex initiative as well as Dixie’s hardwood launch into its high-end Fabrica brand to be unveiled at Surfaces. I remember Karastan prototyped it once, but that was before Mohawk owned its hardwood manufacturing. Makes all the sense in the world now.

I’m thinking that Domotex launching a U.S. show is a long time coming. I’ve said it for years—this industry needed an Eastern-based show in the winter. Informa tried it, but the fall timing of the event just wasn’t right. In 2019 it’s a month after Surfaces, but only because Atlanta plays host to Super Bowl LIII. In 2020, it’ll only be one week later. Surfaces will certainly survive and thrive, but Southeast and Northeast attendance may take a hit if the suppliers support Domotex en masse.

Speaking of things long time coming, Jeff Lorberbaum being inducted into the Hall of Fame certainly falls into this category. FCNews recognized his accomplishments a few years ago as the fourth recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award.

I’m thinking about this whole WPC/SPC avalanche. What becomes of traditional LVT as we know it? And in case you were wondering the difference between the two, as explained so eloquently by Piet Dossche at Carpet One earlier this month, WPC has a foamed up extruded core with built-in air pockets to provide optimal comfort, while SPC has a dense, highly filled mineral core that provides superior indentation resistance.

I’m thinking about the logic-defying growth of Engineered Floors these past eight years and what may lie ahead given how the company is now part of CCA Global and Abbey.

I’m thinking it will be strange going to industry events and not seeing Randy Merritt or John Godwin in the Shaw space.

I’m thinking about Mohawk’s new hardwood strategy where they will be offering solid wood, engineered wood and RevWoods to the consumer. What is RevWoods? Glad you asked. It’s revolutionary wood, a.k.a. laminate. Since laminate mostly comprises wood-based materials—and the word “laminate” is not favored by some consumers—Mohawk will market the line within the wood category. I will be watching how the retailer and consumer embrace it. But then again, few people clamored for Patagonian tooth fish on restaurant menus, but seafood lovers can’t get enough of Chilean sea bass. (It’s the same fish, folks.)

Lastly, I’m thinking about the resurrection of the venerable Gulistan brand under the auspices of ex-Godfrey Hirst exec John Sheffield. Surfaces is the stage for the brand’s launch, and it’ll be interesting to see how it differentiates itself.

See you in Vegas.

 

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