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October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10

“What will the retail flooring business look like in five years?”

Marty Schallock
Malkin’s Flooring
Menomonee Falls, Wis.

Product – “In the next five years, I could certainly see our product mix to be 50% hard surface and the balance in carpet. After all, most of the first floors in homes are a hard surface of some sort.”
Labor – “Finding qualified installers is a real problem. The labor force is getting older, and there are no young people coming into the industry. I could very well see our company having its own installation team as employees, therefore doing our own hiring and training. I have already started that with ceramic tile.”
Technology – “Advertising and marketing is a constant moving target. We continue to advertise on the local TV and radio stations along with inserts or direct mailings. I think that will still be the way in five years, but with more dollars and emphasis on social media. Technology will dictate how the showrooms of tomorrow look as well. I envision customers being able to take pictures of their homes, come to a floor covering store and input a specific product into their own room scenes on their phones or tablets.”


Olga Robertson
Shorewood, Ill.

Labor – “We’ve been talking about an installation bottleneck for the past year or more. Today there are organizations like the WFCA (World Floor Covering Association) and CFI (International Certified Flooring Installers Association) taking an active role to recruit and train young people in a trade in which they can make six figures. The flooring industry, as a whole, has done nothing to promote the benefits of learning a craft in this industry—that a hardwood installer is a craftsman, a tile installer is a craftsman, etc. We need to elevate that position and treat [installers] with deference. Who knows what the future holds, what or who will be the next big thing, but we do know that installation and installers must be a top priority.”
Technology – “More and more consumers and retailers will use the Internet to process orders, payments, etc. But I don’t think the mills will ever have a universal format for B2B.”


Mark Goldstein
Edwards Carpet
St. Louis

Product – “Carpet will continue to take up less market share and hard surface will take up more. I think the changes we’re seeing in LVT and waterproof floors are going to become huge, especially in below-grade installations. Technology will continue to make synthetic floors look more realistic. When It comes to laminate products, the floors are looking more like real wood than ever before.”
Technology – “I think the showroom today will look 1,000% different. With technology, eventually you’re going to see large, flat-screen TVs in every showroom that will exhibit what the flooring will look like in your room. People are going to continually come out with different ways to interact. I think eventually every display will be interactive with some sort of technology that will enable you to put in a product, style and color and view on a screen how it will appear in a room setting.”
Next generation – “All millennials will get jobs and be in the housing market and we will be able to market more heavily to the 25- to 35-year-old age group. There are still a lot of 35-year-old-plus people who will get into home improvement projects and do it themselves, but the millennials are not a DIY generation. When they do have money, they want someone else to put [flooring] down.”


Penny Carnino
Grigsby’s Carpet,
Tile & Rug Gallery
Tulsa, Okla.

Technology – “I think we will continue to see better and better technology in regards to LVT styling. Sometimes it looks so good it’s hard to tell the difference until you get down there and really look and touch it. Advertising will continue to trend more and more toward the Internet. Social media is becoming more important in branding your store and showing consumers what your company can do.”
Labor – “It is already a challenge to find quality installers. In the next five years, we might see recruiting at job fairs to send people to flooring trade schools with the guarantee to work for that company. Customer service will be even more important to set us apart from the big-box stores, especially if installation becomes an issue.”


Steve Lewis
Lewis Floor & Home
Northbrook, Ill.

Product – “Hard surface will continue to gain market share on the first floor of most residences. The technology has come so far, so fast in both the luxury vinyl tile category as well as the porcelain tile category. Tile sizes will continue to grow and I believe there will be more man-made products that replicate natural stone and wood.”
Labor – “I believe there will continue to be a shortage of both quality installers and people in our industry as we have had trouble attracting younger people. Quite frankly, we don’t pay our installers enough and that makes it difficult for retailers to find and keep quality workers. With so much emphasis on price, I believe it will be more important than ever to differentiate ourselves with installation and service, especially with upper-end customers.”
Technology – “The Internet will provide retailers a vehicle to show room designs, various finishes and options in ways that traditional home furnishing magazines cannot. While I’m sure the existing ‘price first, quality second’ companies will still be flooding the airways, I believe the successful companies will showcase design and fashion.”

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