Al’s column

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by Al Wahnon

BOTTOMED OUT: It seems that 2010 marked the bottoming out of the world’s economic woes, at least according to the Italian ceramic machinery and equipment manufacturers’ association Acimac. Considering tile has been one of the hardest hit categories and the Italian ceramic machinery industry generates more than 75% of its turnover from exports, if this sector is looking at brighter skies it bodes well for those down the pipe stream. According to Acimac, 2010 finished 1.2% above 2009. This is an encouraging result, noted Pietro Cassani, chairman, who is anticipating growth between 10% and 15% this year. “Our companies are expecting an initial recovery in world markets in 2011, allowing us to partly make up for the severe losses suffered in 2009 when the sector’s turnover plummeted by 33%.” We can only hope it is that way for everyone.

ASSOCIATION REPORT: There are a number of active retail associations but few can top the force that is the Maryland Northern Virginia Floor Covering Association (MDNVAFCA). Pronouncing it is an activity in itself. The organization shared it efforts over the past year because, “As an association, we are proud of the work we have done, and wanted to share…our accomplishments.” Conditions may be tough but it didn’t stop the association in 2010: From hands-on training sessions and mill tours to industry and local charity events, “We consider this a highly successful year for MDNVAFCA.” It even made an effort to balance dealer membership with affiliate membership so the association has “a strong voice with the vendors who serve the flooring industry.” With what it has done, and all that the board has planned for 2011, “We are very excited about the coming year.” As well they should be.

FLYING CARPET: The Carpet & Rug Institute’s weekly blog caught our attention, as it regularly does, with an interesting story about George Pendle and his colorful blog, Carpets for Airports. While light hearted in nature, his website takes visitors on an interesting tour of the world’s airports to look at their carpet, or lack of it in some cases. He has even received national attention as The Los Angeles Times ran a feature story on him and his fixation with airports and carpet. In the article, Pendle, an author, said, “Flooring is considered mundane. We’re all too busy looking at the sky and the planes to look at the ground beneath us. I thought it would be a fun experiment to compare and contrast airport carpets from around the world.” And, as his website states, “From Santiago to Sydney, from Bishkek to Boston, the airport carpet sings out its inviolable song, a sign of man’s refusal to go drably into that dark night of international travel.” So go to carpetsforairports.com and get ready for a wild ride.

BRANCHING OUT: Kathy Ireland continues to expand her home furnishings and fashion empire. Having already conquered a host of industries, flooring included, the maven of home and office furnishings and other decorative items along with apparel and accessories has signed a licensing partnership with Primo International for a line of seating, sleepers, futons and other products. The initial launch this month encompasses 30 items but Ireland and her team are already working on additional pieces, which are expected to be launched later this year and will be shown at various markets in North America. Like the Energizer Bunny, she keeps going and going.

ANNIVERSARY: Lissa Wyman is a long time friend and we wanted to congratulate her on the 10th anniversary of her successful rugnews.com, an online resource for on-the-spot news and information concerning the category. To mark the occasion, she hosted an old-fashioned birthday party with coffee, cake and party favors during the Atlanta Area Rug Market earlier this month. Wyman even gave out her signature rugnews.com black baseball caps as she reminisced about old times while letting guests know what she has in store for 2011 and beyond.

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