Nov. 18/25 2013; Volume 27/number 15
By Steven Feldman
All these Black Friday commercials only serve to remind me that 2013’s days are numbered. And with that, I started to reflect on the year that will soon be in the books. So, if you ever wanted a window to my brain, read on…
I’m thinking about how well some companies did in 2013, specifically Engineered Floors and IVC. Not only have they grown faster than Usain Bolt being chased by the cast of “The Walking Dead,” but I marvel at how they are investing in manufacturing facilities and creating jobs. Not only that, but retailers rave about the products and value these companies offer.
I’m thinking about the recent retirement of Frank Ready from Armstrong. Thirty years with the same company at management level is almost unheard of these days. Frank did some great things for Armstrong, charted the course during those bankruptcy years, and is one of the hardest working people I know. If I ever want to get him on the phone, I set my alarm for the crack of dawn. Somehow I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.
Speaking of retirements, Beaulieu co-CEO Ralph Boe steps down Feb. 28, 2014. To say Boe has had a distinguished career would be like saying Kirstie Alley likes to eat, with a resume that earned him FCNews’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. As much as he’s accomplished, he’s that much more impressive as an individual. He’ll be missed.
I’m wondering if there is one company, or even one person, that actually understands the Affordable Care Act. All I read about is a website that doesn’t work. Now I don’t feel so bad when one of our sites goes dark. Speaking of which, FCNews will be relaunching its website soon with a completely different look and feel. Stay tuned.
I’m wondering how many days I will awake in 2014 to find another company announcing its entrée into the LVT arena. Better yet, I’m wondering if it will just be more of the same. And to think, 10 years ago people were sounding the death knell for the resilient category. I just hope the overcrowded landscape of suppliers will not lead to the commoditization of the category.
While on the subject of growing categories, my recent sojourn around northwest Georgia led me to many of the smaller mills that are capitalizing on the PET craze, namely Lexmark, Phenix and Godfrey Hirst. Aside from product, the one common denominator contributing to their success? Strong leadership.
Here’s something else I’ve been thinking about: My displeasure with the TSA’s decision to expand its pre-check privileges to the masses. This was the one real perk I enjoyed with all the traveling we do—expedited security lines. Well, at least I still don’t have to take off my shoes or empty my pockets. (By the way, if I get any emails in response to this column, I know they will be about this paragraph!)
After attending the NAFCD convention in Chicago, I stand by something I said 15 years ago: Wholesale distribution has to be the toughest segment in flooring. Hard work and razor-thin margins. The successful ones deserve respect.
I’m wondering about Surfaces East. Given the timing of its October dates, my gut tells me the tile people will exhibit in droves. Flooring manufacturers? One recently asked me, “Are we supposed to show what we introduced last January or what we will be introducing this coming January?” All in all, I think an East Coast show has merit, but the question is when.
It’s pretty much a given that the Super Bowl will be Denver and Seattle, right?
OK. I’m closing that window now. I’m getting a draft.