Al’s column

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by FCNews staff

WE ARE FAMILY: When executives at Shaw say they want their retail customers to feel part of the family, it’s no joke. At its SFN convention in Orlando, Fla., the mill not only hosted dealers from more than 830 retail stores, there were over 725 children in attendance, making it one of the largest of its kind the industry has seen. While the company certainly catered to the needs of its retailers, it looked like executives were having more fun watching the kids run around the exhibit hall and evening receptions interacting with all games and activities set up specifically for their entertainment. As Randy Merritt, president, said, “We loving having the children here. SFN is 14 years old and many of the people now working the floor were once doing the playing. We’ve watched them grow up and get involved in the family business.”

LORBERBAUM’S MESSAGE: Mohawk’s chairman Jeff Lorberbaum made an appearance in Reno earlier this month for the Abbey Carpet convention and congratulated the members for surviving the most difficult economic landscape in their lives and assured that the worst is behind us. Like many others, he pointed to a few economic indicators that suggest there is business out there to be had given the pent-up demand for flooring. Lorberbaum told members they are in a position to capitalize, citing the new proprietary soft nylon collection called Softique. This Abbey exclusive manufactured by Mohawk cannot be shopped, he stressed, so the salesperson can talk value instead of price. These types of programs are why many retailers say it is worth the price of admission to groups like Abbey.

GAIN IN SPAIN: Signs that things are starting to look up came from Spain, where Joaquin Piñon, chairman of the Spanish tile manufacturing association ASCER, said during the press conference at Cevisama he was excited about the future. Exports in 2011 are expected to increase 4%. It is still a battle in the U.S. as companies fight products that are priced lower because they offer less quality. Piñon hopes American consumers will opt for the type of quality found in Spanish tile, noting the factories are investing in research and design and “working very hard” not just on style and price but to maintain the industry’s high regard for the environment and social issues.

DIVERSION: Consolidated Carpet, one of the industry’s largest full-service contractors, has once again surpassed the 1 million pound mark. That’s 1 million pounds (1,059,284 pounds to be exact) of post- consumer carpet the Starnet member was able to keep out of the region’s crowded land- fills in 2010. This was the third consecutive year Consolidated met its goal of diverting over a million pounds through its ConServe Reclamation Program. As part of the program, Consolidated has not only partnered with the industry’s leading mills to assist in the collection process of used carpet to supply their recycling programs it donates both soft and hard surfaces to charitable organizations in the area. In addition to the New York metropolitan area, the company donated 6,000 yards of carpeting and other flooring materials for the rebuilding of seven firehouses in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

JUST THE FACTS: At the 11th annual Dalton/Whitfield Legislative Appreciation Reception, co-hosted by the Carpet & Rug Institute, each attendee was presented with a card listing some important facts about the carpet industry in Georgia. Titled “It’s All in the Numbers,” the card included the following tidbits: Georgia supplies more than 45% of the world’s carpet and rugs; more than 80% of the U.S. carpet and rug market is produced by mills located within a 65-mile radius of Dalton; the world’s four largest carpet mills are located in Georgia, and nine of the top 2O carpet manufacturers in the U.S. are in the state.

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