Al’s column

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by Al Wahnon

VOX POPULI: A recent survey confirmed what we knew all along— American consumers want quality customer service and are willing to reward businesses that provide it. A substantial number, 61%, say in this economic environment, quality customer service is more important to them. Americans will spend 9% more with companies that provide excellent customer service. That’s a significant number for flooring retailers who usually ring up larger sales. And, 24% of respondents believe companies value their business and will go the extra mile to keep it. It gets better: 37% believe that companies have increased their focus on providing quality service. On the flip side, 27% feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service and 28% say companies are now paying less attention to good service. Which side are you on?

JOB COUNT: Here’s an interesting fact I picked up in the FCICA newsletter: First-tier subcontractors working on new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funded projects must now report job creation data to their prime contractors. This information is important in order to measure employment growth as a result of the stimulus packages. An interim rule requires subcontractors working on stimulus projects with subcontracts valued at $25,000 or more and awarded on or after July 2, 2010, to report their physical address, performance address and “a narrative description of the employment impact of work funded by the Recovery Act,” including a description of the types and number of jobs created or retained as a result of their work. It’s no big deal but it has to be done.

MOVIN’ UP: The Dixie Group is doing better as its recently posted second quarter and six month results attest. In the second quarter, which ended June 26, the company had net sales of $59,058,000 versus $52,572,000 in the same quarter last year. For the six months period, Dixie had net sales of $109,512,000 com- pared with $100,211,000 in the same six months of 2009. Dan Frierson, chairman and CEO, explained, “During the second quarter, we experienced significant improvement in revenue. Carpet sales for the period were 17% above those of the first quarter and 12.8% above the same quarter last year, while the industry was up only 1.7% over the year-ago quarter.” Dixie makes the case that the economy is improving and who can argue? Kudos to the Dixie Group.

ALPHABET SOUP: For the first time ever, the NAFCD and the NBMDA are joining forces to stage a joint market. The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors and the North American Building Material Distribution Association will hold its inaugural Distributor Marketplace on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. The new format provides a larger audience and new opportunities to make meaningful connections in another industry. Highlights will include general sessions with noted speakers, roundtable discussions that will provide networking opportunities and an exchange of success stories, and manufacturer-hosted distributor meetings in the days preceding the Distributor Marketplace. Sounds like a great event.

GREEN MACHINE: Think the trend of businesses making green office renovations is just a passing fad? Think again. According to the most recent issue of EL Insights, the U.S. green building market value will balloon from $71.1 billion to $173 billion by 2015. Commercial green building is expected to grow by 18.1% annually during the same period, from $35.6 billion to $81.8 billion. The explosive projected growth can be attributed both to a growing recognition of green building’s potential cost-savings as well as incentives from the government. It’s a big market and getting bigger, so if you haven’t been paying attention to the U.S. Green Building Council, now is the time to start.

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