Al’s column

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by FCNews staff

JAPAN DISASTER: Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the citizens of Japan following the horrendous devastation imposed on the country from the triple whammy earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident. While many companies in the flooring industry have nobly stepped up with donations, such as the $1 million in cash plus various home supplies like bath tissue given by Invista’s parent Koch Industries, some may wonder how the situation affects the domestic flooring industry. In Koch’s case, Invista, maker of Stainmaster and Antron fibers, has offices in Tokyo and Osaka. It also has a fiber-production venture in Shiga. All told, 75 employees and their families make their home in Japan and, thankfully, all were accounted for.

JAPANESE INSTALLERS: Several times per year the government of Tokyo conducts floor covering installation certification tests. TIFPIA, Tokyo Interior Finishing Professional Installers Association, also operates a well-known training school in the city. Over the years, representatives from the association, various installation supply companies and others have not only visited the U.S. to train with and learn new techniques from some of the industry’s best, many have become certified by the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), thus forming meaningful relationships with their American brethren. Those who have been certified and trained report receiving high profile jobs including U.S. Air Force bases in Japan.

CFI CARES: To support their Japanese colleagues in this time of need CFI created the Japanese Friends Fund and is planning to send the first gift by April 15 with each donation being matched by Traxx Corp., a supplier of installation products. While the group wanted to get the gift off as soon as possible, CFI is hopeful donations will continue to come in as it would like to follow up with another gift to Japan on April 29. Contributions can be made to the CFI-Japanese Friends Fund and mailed to 2400 East Truman Road, Kansas City, Mo 64127, by PayPal or credit card by contacting CFI at 816.231.4646.

GREEN THOUGHTS: From total number of people to disposable income, the over 55 crowd has a great deal of clout, so it’s no surprise they get asked to participate in a lot of surveys. A recent one done by advertising insight firm Crowd Science, showed 16% of men over 55 feel green marketing is just a big ploy, while only 8% of their female counterparts think this way. Education does play a role, as 21% of respondents with a post-graduate education said they would pay substantially more for green products as opposed to 12% of those with an undergraduate background or less. When it comes to both sexes 43% boycott products for ethical/political reasons, 34% buy local if they can and 20% choose products with green labeling, though woman are more likely in this area at 42% vs. 30%. What does all this mean? Sandra Marshall, vice president of research for Crowd Science, said, “Women and younger age groups appear to be more eco-centric when it comes to shopping practices.” Something to think about considering who the industry’s primary customer is.

SPEAKING OF: According to Workforce Management, 46.8% of workers are now women. Their spending ability may also be growing in the near future as there are more leadership programs offered at business and management schools to help females fully break the glass ceiling. Why? Only 2.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and 13.5% of women at these firms are executive officers. And, it seems the majority of these companies are doing little internally to improve the situation with 65% of the organizations surveyed saying they do not have a program or a strategy for preparing women for leadership roles. So, even though 72% of companies surveyed believe gender diversity and financial success are linked, gender gaps at the executive level persists.

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