Contract Dealer Survey 2013: What They Really Think

By Darius Helm

 

As the commercial market starts to heat up, contract dealers are finding themselves busier than they have been in the last few years, but the market today is different from the one before the recession. Prices remain elevated, and budgets and construction schedules are as tight as ever. Competition remains fierce, and it doesn’t help that, with manufacturers selling more product direct, contract dealers are increasingly forced to compete against their own suppliers.

The fundamental challenge facing flooring contract dealers is how readily, given the right circumstances, product is valued over service. The slow and unsteady recovery from the longest recession since the Great Depression has helped create an uneasy, nervous market. And the grim long-term outlook for energy and raw material prices has done little to buoy spirits. The pressure is on end users to make the most out of every dollar spent, and the hurt passes all the way down the line, through the general contractors, to the contract dealers.

The issue of manufacturers going direct has been developing for nearly 20 years. Before that, manufacturers treated contract dealers more like clients, and mill reps had close relationships with them. But the distribution revolution of the mid ’90s saw suppliers tearing down the old model and selling to anyone they could. What fell through the cracks was accountability—who was responsible for the finished floor?

When the manufacturers sell direct to the end user, the contract dealer is essentially brought on for the singular purpose of installing the floorcovering, and that can cause significant problems. There’s a lot more to a finished floor than just the installation, including a whole lot of logistics and timing, along with all the technical issues surrounding floor prep and specifying the right flooring product for the application. The only entity that has expertise in both product and process is the contract dealer, so when the dealer is only brought on as the installer, all the other elements of the process tend to get neglected, things don’t run smoothly, additional costs come up—and people start blaming each other.

However, as one contract dealer pointed out, these things often run in cycles. It’s likely that at some point one of the major mills will do the math and decide to no longer sell direct, setting up a trend for others to follow.

For the complete Contract Dealer Survey results, see the December 2013 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Philly Manufacturing Continues to Expand   Full Article
Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 16, 2014 -- The October Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey indicated continued growth in the Philadelphia region’s manufacturing sector this month.

Builder Confidence Declines in October   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 16, 2014 -- After four consecutive monthly gains, home builder confidence fell five points this month to a level of 54 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

Industrial Production Rebounds in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 16, 2014 -- Industrial production rose 1% in September, the Federal Reserve said.

Jobless Claims Lowest in Over 14 Years   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 16, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week were the lowest in more than 14 years, according to the Labor Department.

WFCA Taking Entries for Gold Standard Award   Full Article
Anaheim, CA, Oct. 16, 2014 -- The World Floor Covering Association is accepting entries for the annual Gold Standard Award.

Foreclosure Activity at Pre-Bubble Levels   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Oct. 16, 2014 -- Foreclosure activity last month hit the lowest level since July 2006, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac.

Business Inventories Rise Less Than Expected   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 2014 -- U.S. business inventories rose less than expected in August, according to the Commerce Department.

Producer Prices Decline in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 2014 -- Producer prices in the U.S. fell in September for the first time in more than a year, according to the Labor Department.

New York Area Manufacturing Slows in October   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 2014 -- Manufacturing in the New York region expanded at a much slower pace in October, according to the New York Federal Reserve.

Retail Sales Decline in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 2014 -- U.S. retail sales fell more than expected in September, following the biggest gain in four months in August, according to the Commerce Department.

Mortgage Applications Up on Lower Rates   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume rose 5.6% last week from the previous week as interest rates fell, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Florim Opens Showroom in Moscow   Full Article
Moscow, Russia, Oct. 15, 2014 -- Tile company Florim said it has opened a new flagship store in Moscow.

Retirement Fund Files Suit Against Lumber Liquidators   Full Article
Toano, VA, Oct. 14, 2014 -- Lumber Liquidators is facing a class action law suit brought by the City of Hallandale Beach, Florida, Police Officers' and Firefighters' Personal Retirement Trust, according to the Virginia Gazette.

UFloor Systems Signs Western Distributor Big D   Full Article
Aurora, CO, Oct. 14, 2014 -- UFloor Systems has signed Big D Floor Covering Supplies to distribute its Uzin subfloor preparation products.

Mannington Raising VCT Prices in January   Full Article
Salem, NJ, Oct. 14, 2014 — Mannington Mills said it will raise prices by 4% on all of its vinyl composition tile products effective Jan. 5.

Armstrong Issues Third Quarter Warning   Full Article
New York, NY, Oct. 14, 2014 -- Armstrong World Industries became the second public flooring company to issue a third quarter profit warning.

WFCA Names New Leader of Northwest Association   Full Article
Anaheim, CA, Oct. 13, 2014 -- The World Floor Covering Association has named Tish Gasparich leader of the WFCA’s Affiliate Flooring Association Northwest(FAN).

Horizon Forest Products Moves Richmond Offices   Full Article
Richmond, VA, Oct. 13, 2014 -- Horizon Forest Products moved its Richmond offices to 4820 Eubank Road in the Interport Business Center.

Share of Custom Homes on the Decline   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 13, 2014 -- New NAHB research reveals significant regional differences in the share of custom homes started in 2013.

Self's To Distribute Novalis LVT in Midwest   Full Article
Toronto, Canada, Oct. 13, 2014 -- Wichita, Kansas-based Self’s, Inc. will now distribute luxury vinyl flooring made by Novalis Innovative Flooring.