20 Years: Then and Now - July 2012

 

In 1992, the U.S. economy was coming out of a recession brought on by the savings and loan crisis and the first Gulf war. George H.W. Bush was in the last year of his first term as president of the country, though he would lose to Bill Clinton that November. 

Like today, the country was lifting out of a period of decline. Low interest rates were encouraging homeowners to refinance, which enabled them to spend more money on new flooring and a president was gunning for a second term. 

The consolidation within the manufacturing sector had already begun, the two biggest of which were Shaw Industries’ acquisition of WestPoint Pepperell’s carpet division in 1987 and Armstrong’s carpet mill purchase in 1990. But it really started to heat up in 1992. In February of that year, Shaw bought Salem Carpet Mills, giving it a combined marketshare of over 30%. Two months later, Mohawk went public at $15 a share and by August had agreed to buy Horizon—which was actually bigger than Mohawk. Shaw turned around and bought Amoco’s polypropylene carpet fiber plant. And in September, Dixie bought Carriage Industries and Queen bought Cumberland Mills. By the end of that year, the amount of carpet sold in the U.S. had increased by 9.6%, proof that the recession was over.
< ;br />Today, just two decades later, the world has changed quite a bit. Economically, we are still at least a year away from any substantial recovery, but at this point analyst Santo Torcivia is predicting 4% growth this year followed by 9% growth in 2013.

Regardless of all that, the landscape of the flooring industry is much different today from what it was in 1992. Today, carpet accounts for 42.8% of sales rather than 62.5% in 1992. Consolidation has continued throughout the 20-year period and there are substantially fewer manufacturers today than there were in 1992. The dominant players today have diversified, as part of this consolidation process, becoming multi-surface providers. 

On the retail front, home centers have not only replaced the department stores but they’ve also taken share from the builder accounts in the single-family construction sector. Today, we estimate there are fewer than 12,000 independent flooring retailers left in the market. The number of distributors has also dropped substantially, but those that are left have streamlined and expanded to run with greater efficiency. 

In the early stages of this 20-year period, the commercial contractor sector went through a major buyout and consolidation, but that has all stabilized now and the professionalism that they bring to the equation is still in high demand. 

Looking forward, there is a lot of change to come. The Internet is already shifting the traditional channels to market—particularly with area rugs. And Interface continues to open company-owned retail stores in the major U.S. markets. 

American consumers have limited free time today and their preference for home furnishings is shifting over toward more durable, low maintenance products—a trend that favors hard surface flooring. 

In the commercial sector, carpet continues to dominate and modular’s share of that mix—especially in the corporate sector—continues to rise. And a once brown industry has turned green.

For the complete 20 Years Then & Now, see the July 2012 issue of Floor Focus Magazine. 

Copyright 2012 Floor Focus

 

 



Other Archived Articles

New York Manufacturing Improves at Slower Pace   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The Empire State manufacturing survey fell back to 14.7 in August after hitting a four-year high of 25.6 in July.

Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The preliminary August reading on the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index fell to 79.2 from a final July result of 81.8.

Investors Wondering About Firm's Stake in Armstrong   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Flooring industry analyst Stifel Nicolaus says talk is heating among its clients up that Armstrong World Industries could be broken into separate entities.

Office Environments Acquires Flooring Firm   Full Article
Charlotte, NC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Office Environments, a Charlotte based commercial furniture dealer, said it has acquired Modular Designs, a flooring firm also based in Charlotte.

FCICA Continuing Diamond Member Club   Full Article
West Bloomfield, MI, Aug. 15, 2014 -- FCICA, the Flooring Contractors Association, said it will continue its Diamond Club member program for the 2014-2015 membership year.

Housing Affordability Declines in Second Quarter   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Nationwide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter as several markets saw a firming of home prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Georgia Unemployment Grows but Dalton Layoffs Fall   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Unemployment in Georgia in July rose to the highest rate since last October, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Initial Jobless Claims Rise Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 21,000 to 311,000 in the week the ended Aug. 9, according to the Labor Department.

Higher Downpayments Hitting First-Time Home Buyers   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Growing requirements for downpayments are shutting many first time buyers out of the housing market, Bloomberg News reports.

Tarkett Contest Features Commercial Flooring   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Tarkett has launched a WeLikeItNatural Creative Contest featuring its commercial vinyl flooring.

Retail Sales Flat in July   Full Article
Retail Sales were flat in July as car demand slowed and consumers remained cautious in their spending. This is the weakest performance in six months.

Mortgage Application Volume Down Last Week   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as both purchase and refinancing applications declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Valinge Awarded Another U.S. Patent   Full Article
Viken, Sweden, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Valinge said it has been awarded a U.S. patents regarding mechanical locking of LVT/resilient floorboards.

Another Investment Firm Discloses Armstrong Position   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Another investment firm has disclosed a large position in the shares of Armstrong World Industries.

Home Price Increases Continue To Moderate   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Home-price growth continued to moderate in many metropolitan areas in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Domotex Turkey 2015 Set for May   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Aug. 12, 2014 -- The dates for Domotex Turkey 2015 are May 25-28 at the Turkish carpet trading capital, Gaziantep.

Job Openings Edge Higher in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Job openings increased to 4.67 million in June, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ceramic Tile Standards Subject of Gathering in SC   Full Article
Clemson, SC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- International trade and standards for ceramic tile were the focus of discussions as delegates from 15 countries met in Clemson to develop new standards.

Propex Marks 50th Anniversary of Polybac   Full Article
Hazlehurst, GA, Aug. 11, 2014 -- Propex recently celebrated a significant milestone for the carpet industry at its Hazlehurst manufacturing facility.

Realtors Applaud FICO Calculation Changes   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 11, 2014 -- The National Association of Realtors said it supports the decision of Fair Issac to make some changes related to how it calculates FICO credit scores.