Al’s column

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by FCNews staff

SCHOLARSHIPS: One of the many benefits of belonging to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) is its goal to provide educational and training opportunities for as many members as possible each year. One of the many things it does is its Trade Scholarship Program, which allows members to offset the cost of business and industry-related education and training. Regular member firms are eligible to apply for an annual maximum cumulative total of up to $500. Approved programs qualifyforuptoa50% reimbursement of the course or event, except for those offered by the International Certified of Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), which qualify for up to 100% reimbursement. Also, up to $100 can be used for approved online training with reimbursement at 100%. To give as many people a chance to get a scholarship, WFCA announced it increased the program’s funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to $240,000. To learn more, call 800.624.6880.

GREEN HOMES: While home construction is still in a funk, one aspect of the housing market that has been moving along nicely is in the environmental area as more consumers are seeking homes that have an eco-friendly element to them. Proof of this comes from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. In 2008, the organization launched its LEED for Homes certification system, which recently surpassed the 10,000-unit mark. As of April, USGBC said not only have more than 10,000 homes been certified, there are over 38,000 additional units in the pipeline. To get a better idea of what a LEED Platinum home is like, see the story on page 8 regarding the one built by HGTV in Denver that used floors from Shaw Industries to help it achieve the distinction.

MORE GREEN: A recent study that gauges shopping attitudes and behaviors revealed nearly one in four people are willing to pay more for something if it makes them feel like they are contributing to saving the environment. According to the study, it used to be that environmental awareness was heightened just in April but it’s now becoming a way of life and something marketers should consider taking advantage of long term. The researchers did discover an interesting twist to conventional wisdom when it comes to specific age groups: People 18 to 34 are slower to embrace making purchasing changes to benefit the environment than those shoppers ages 35 to 44 and 55 to 64.The study was conducted by The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research for The Checkout, which is available at either company’s website: shopperculture.com and marcresearch.com/thecheckout.

WOOL SPECIALIST: For over 15 years, the Restoration Industry Association (RIA), in partnership with Wools of New Zealand (WONZ), has trained hundreds of rug specialists in the nuances and subtleties of cleaning wool—whether wall-to-wall carpeting, specialty rugs or even wool upholstery. RIA will soon be offering wool care training online and the ability to become an RIA Qualified Wool Care Specialist. To learn more, call RIA at 301.231.6505.

CLOSING: The economy has claimed another long-standing retailer. Jason Kimmel informed us of plans to either close or sell the original Floors To Go stores in Stockton and Sacramento, Calif., which first opened in 1976. In 1989, Jason and his dad, Jake, began franchising the concept. In 2001, due to Jake’s failing health, they sold the franchise to Abbey but kept their original stores. Jason said between 2000 and 2005 the two stores did between $4.5 million and $5.2 million in annual sales, but last year they combined for less than $800,000, an 84% reduction. A number of cost-cutting measures were done but unfortunately could not compensate for the reduced sales. As a result, by Sept. 1 the very first Floors To Go will cease to exist.

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