Issues that keep executives awake at night

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There is no shortage of matters of concern to flooring professionals these days. These range from issues outside their control, i.e., inflation, interest rate hikes, labor shortages, to those within their grasp such as delivering high-level service and being innovative. In these challenging times, there are many industry issues that keep executives tossing and turning into the wee hours of the night.

FCNews surveyed several key executives to learn what’s on their minds.

“Our industry has gone through a lot the past five years, including sudden trade wars, the pandemic, supply chain challenges and now an uncertain economy. It is tough for me to sleep after this. The biggest issue I worry about is if our industry is ready to adapt to the new environment. This will continue to require product and supply chain innovation. We want to make sure our supply chain partners, ourselves and our retailer customers are ready for sudden changes in 2023. I also worry about such things as cyber threats, lack of population growth, the labor pool, and finding and attracting talent.”

—Raj Shah, president, MS.

“We’re always focused on how best to move forward while staying paranoid about everything in general. This mindset helps us keep everything in check and as balanced as possible. The current environment gives us another opportunity to evaluate what’s critically important and focus on insuring we perform and deliver for our customers at a consistently high level.”

—Jonathan Cohen, CEO, Stanton Carpet.

“What keeps me up at night is the fear of our category being flooded with competitors and products that do not have the industry’s best interests in mind. I believe we all have a part to play to keep our category growing and to continue to bring quality, value and profitability to our organizations as well as our valued partners who market, buy and sell our products.”

—Bill Anderson, CEO, Karndean Designflooring.

“I could say the looming economic issues have me worried, but to be honest business doesn’t keep me up at night. I work with an awesome team of Shaw associates, and we sell quality products to great customers. Our core suppliers are true partners, and Shaw products let consumers live and work within beautiful and functional spaces. What does keep me focused on getting a good night’s sleep is making sure we challenge ourselves as leaders to change and innovate. Shaw’s mission is to create a better future, and if anything keeps me up at night it is making sure we push ourselves to get better every day.”

—Scott Sandlin, EVP, residential, Shaw Industries

“Inflation—we can’t control our rising prices and it’s very hard to pass this increase on to our customers—and that negatively impacts our margins.”

—Andrew Peykar, president, Nourison

“Energy prices in the last year have moved faster than I can ever recall them moving and have a significant impact on the cost of doing business. With the geo-political landscape energy prices can move quickly, which is a significant concern. The Fed continues to raise interest rates without understanding the impact. If they keep raising interest rates, they could crash the economy into a wall.”

—Curt Hutchins, president of residential carpet, Mohawk

“Geopolitical challenge is one of the biggest concerns and how it impacts the industry re: product flow, supply chain, raw materials, etc.”

—Thomas Baert, owner, CFL

“COVID-19 presented its own challenges the past several years and while the industry has worked through them, handling the supply chain and adapting to market changes have been indicators of how we’ve needed to adapt. We are seeing signs that the landscape is constantly improving. The flow of materials has improved dramatically over the last six months. Mannington is working closely on managing inventory, costs and pricing in the market while managing the rapid rise and fall of international freight rates. We are seeing encouraging news that freight rates are beginning to stabilize. This will present good opportunities in 2023 to drive lower costs in key product categories.”

—Zack Zehner, president, Mannington Residential

“My biggest concern is the worldwide economy. It seems that shifts in the market, which once took a year to change, now change month to month. Keeping current and helping our customers navigate these changes is what keeps me up at night.”

—Steve Ehrlich, vice president, business & operations, Novalis

“Economic factors stemming from inflation such as higher interest rates slowing down the economy is the biggest thing that keeps me up at night. We have been in such a constant state of volatility since the pandemic took hold in March of 2020—business condition projections and forecasting against those has been difficult. Determining where pricing, demand and costs may land and how quickly things will improve to put our business in a prime position to take advantage of market swings will continue to be at the forefront of my mind. How quickly market pricing conditions are evolving is concerning. We moved from a time of high costs and a lack of inventory to now quickly normalizing logistics costs with strong inventory at the old higher cost. Where costs and demand and how to best plan for that is the biggest thing that keeps me up at night, currently.”

—Jason Surratt, CEO, Tarkett Home

“Our biggest concerns are economic trends and their impact—disruptions to global supply flow of goods. We enter every year dialed in with a solid plan. There are always bumps along the way, but we remain driven toward the goals and objectives we have set forth. Everyone has experienced real world challenges these past few years. The unknown certainly sits in the back of our mind, but we will rise to whatever challenge is next.”

—Carl Delia, president and CEO, Emser Tile

“A geopolitical [incident]. All bets are off if something crazy happens there. Also, raw materials are always on our minds. We’ve had extraordinary raw material inflation the last few years. We would think that would subside, but a lot depends on energy costs.”

—Jeff Meadows, president, residential sales, Mohawk

“I’m sleeping very well. That’s because we are all about preparation. We prepare for anything we do years ahead. The only thing that we are thinking about is manpower, but we have a system in place to handle that—our Future Management program. We have a lot of redundancy in our company related to new positions because we’re growing, and our people are already being trained for their new positions. One of the reasons I sleep OK at night is because we have this program.”

—Rotem Eylor, CEO, Republic Floor

“This list is long… the overall economy, interest rates, remodel activity, impact of non-wood alternatives, etc. Ultimately, it comes down to the general economy and its impact on the housing industry. It’s our belief that the housing and remodel markets have been recessionary for at least six to eight months; what really keeps me up at night is how long that lasts.”

—Dan Natkin, managing director, CEO, Bauwerk

“We should all be taking notice of the changes in the market, as I am sure we all are. However, as with any change comes opportunity. For example, consumers will be more conscious of value than ever before; those that have an effective strategy to provide it will be in a good place. Additionally, the reduction in share of the over-supplied vinyl business and a return to focus on quality and service will create some opportunity.”

—Derek Welbourn, CEO, Inhaus

“Despite going into 2023 in a much better inventory position than we were in in the first half of 2022, we can’t ignore the macroeconomic headwinds driven by rising interest rates and inflation. Inflation and rising interest rates will definitely impact business in the upcoming year for all flooring categories. However, we have seen that these things most significantly impact wood flooring as wood flooring is regarded as a premium category compared to other flooring categories like LVT or laminate.”

—Kyle McAllister, director of, hardwood & laminate, Shaw Floors

“Honestly, the thought of perhaps going into a bigger recession concerns me. I truly hope it’s not going to be bigger than we’re all thinking.”

—Wade Bondrowski, director of sales, USA, Mercier Wood Flooring

“Well, if I backtrack into what’s kept me up at night for the last year, it’s been supply chain, logistics, transportation and the cost associated with all of that and still being able to remain competitive. I’m not sure what’s going to keep me up at night in 2023. I think the geopolitical environment and just where do we go in the first 120 days, 180 days of [2023]? What’s the first half of the year look like? Where’s product going? Who’s buying it How much is being bought? What’s the real estate market look like? What’s new construction look like? And so, I think what might keep me up is wondering how we continue to improve—where we finally find ourselves getting out of this inflationary slowdown that we’ve seen now for a good eight months.”

—Jamann Stepp, vice president of hard surfaces, The Dixie Group

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