Focus on Leadership - February 2013

Interview by Kemp Harr

 

David Meberg is president and CEO of Consolidated Carpet, a third generation commercial flooring contractor based in New York City. Founded as a workroom in 1943, Consolidated, a Starnet member, is now one of the largest full-service floorcovering contractors in the industry. Meberg is also president of the Greater New York Floor Coverers Association and co-chairman of INSTALL (International Standards and Training Alliance); he is a leader in the movement to create a certification program for flooring installers. In addition, because Consolidated services the New York and New Jersey markets, Meberg has an insider perspective on Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the flooring business.

Q: Tell us a little about your business. You’re a family-owned company, right? 
A:
 Yes, we are a third generation, family-owned business. This coming November, we will celebrate our 70th anniversary. That being said, we wouldn’t be where we are without the tireless effort and quality work provided by all our associates, family and non-family alike. We also have non-family members in our senior management team, which I feel is integral to our success and future growth.

Q: Is your father, Arne, still involved in Consolidated Carpet? Which other family members are actively involved?
A:
 Arne still likes to pop his head in and offer his input whenever he is up north visiting. Most of his time, however, he spends in his new home in Florida, enjoying the warmth. His younger brother Thomas, my uncle, remains in the business, as well as a number of cousins, including my partners Paul and Christopher.

Q: What is the business climate in the Tri-State region? In what commercial sectors are you seeing the most activity? Which ones are lagging behind?
A:
 Like most regions, we saw an uptick last year in business opportunities; however margins remain squeezed, requiring us to more strategically approach the projects we do, and don’t, want to be involved with. We see a lot of opportunity developing in the healthcare and institutional segments, as well as a current boom in residential high-rise locally. Corporate remains stagnant, which obviously holds back a market like New York City.

Q: How did Hurricane Sandy impact the regions you serve? Was Consolidated Carpet itself affected by the storm? 
A:
 Obviously the devastation was well documented. A few of our associates who live in low-lying coastal areas suffered significant losses. The business, however, just had to deal with power and connectivity outages, but we were up and operational in the field within 48 hours. Our offices and warehouse re-opened as soon as our services were fully restored, about a week after the storm.

Q: To what extent will the rebuilding following the hurricane impact the vitality of the region and of businesses like yours?
A:
 It’s almost too soon to tell. We are a union, commercial flooring contractor. We don’t anticipate much of a bump by way of the residential rebuilding; however, we do hope for some opportunity in the school and institutional markets affected by the storm. In New York City, the commercial damage was mostly at or below street level, so most of the work has been for relocation or swing space requirements caused by entire buildings being out of service. 

Q: You’ve always been a leader in installation certification. Are you satisfied with the progress the industry has made? What else would you like to see? 
A:
 No, I’m not satisfied. However, while there is always room for improvement, I believe that the certification programs in the market today are better than they have ever been, whether we are talking INSTALL, CFI, or select manufacturer sponsored programs. However, until the industry as a whole gets behind them—and links warranties to certified installation—we will not be where we need to be. 

Too many manufacturers are more concerned about just selling units than the finished product on the consumer’s floor. I’ve heard some say that the ANSI S600 Installation Standards review is the first step in that direction. Unfortunately, I’ve been involved in a number of “first steps” over the past 20 years, so I remain skeptical but optimistic. The certification program I am most involved with, INSTALL, will work tirelessly to win both the manufacturer’s confidence and that of the end user, so they are assured a quality finished product on the floor.

Q: The installation of modular carpet and some of the new floating hard surface products requires different skill sets that some might say are easier to learn. How do you think these product evolutions will change the role of the commercial flooring contractor?
A:
 For every new product manufactured that some say is easier to install, there is always a new product or backing system or subfloor condition that makes things just as, or more, difficult. It is incumbent on all successful flooring contractors to stay ahead of the learning curve.

The flooring contractor is a vital link in the supply chain to the marketplace. Some may forget that, or want to discount that, but until they invent a product that installs itself, our services are vital to customer satisfaction and retention.

Q: How long have you been a Starnet member? What do you consider the most important advantages to being a Starnet member? 
A:
 We’ve been Starnet member/owners for a dozen years now. It is a vibrant, vital group of flooring contractors, and we are proud to be part of it. Starnet offers many services and great educational opportunities never provided to our market segment before. Depending on the size of your company, you can utilize as many or as few services as you desire. 

To Consolidated, the biggest advantage has been utilizing a network of partners across the country to service our national accounts. Personally, I feel our membership in Starnet provides us the opportunity to be involved in the more important conversations about the industry and where it is headed.

Q: How does Consolidated Carpet engage in sustainability? Tell us about the Con-Serve Reclamation Program.
A:
 As a workroom in the late eighties and early nineties, we were a material collection point for some of the earliest pilot recycling programs, so I can honestly say that we’ve been invested in industry sustainability since the movement began. We do our best through Con-Serve to ensure that no materials we remove from jobsites finds their way to a landfill, and the proof is in the numbers: over one million pounds per year diverted over the past four years now. 

Besides our internal initiatives to cut down waste, we invested one million dollars last year in a solar panel array and new roofing system at our warehouse. It’s cut down our energy costs by over 90%, and we will see an ROI in six years. We are all in.

Q: What changes would you like to see within the industry? 
A:
 This industry has been very good to me, my family, and all of our associates for many years. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, we lose sight of that. But since you’ve asked, I would certainly like to see a more defined approach to the commercial marketplace put in place by manufacturers and contractors, and I would like to see the value placed on installation that it truly deserves. Our company was built on the back of installers and continues to thrive because of them. Flooring is an installed product. Without quality installers, we don’t have quality products.

Q: As a leader of Consolidated Carpet, what would you like to be your legacy? Where do you want to take the company in the years ahead?
A:
 We’ve undertaken a significant amount of change over the past 20 years. We’ve turned our business from an installation-only workroom to a full-service flooring contractor. We’ve grown our business substantially. The years ahead will certainly see more change and, we hope, measured, incremental growth. At the end, however, I simply hope we can provide the next generation of Mebergs the same opportunity I was provided: to take over leadership of a vibrant, healthy business enterprise, filled with driven people who want to succeed.

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Wholesale Prices Slid in February   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 13, 2015—Wholesale prices fell 0.5% in February, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unexpected drop represents the fourth consecutive down month, as measured by the Labor Department’s producer price index.

Interface's Claims New Microsfera Has Lowest Carbon Footprint Ever   Full Article
LaGrange, GA, March 13, 2015—Interface has unveiled its latest product, Microsfera, which the firm says has the smallest carbon footprint of any carpet tile in history.

Ecore Revamps Business Structure   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 13, 2015—Ecore is making changes to its business structure in conjunction with IHRSA 2015 by launching a new category of sports and fitness flooring called Ecore Athletic.

J+J Flooring Video Wins Gold in AVA Digital Awards   Full Article
Dalton, GA, March 13, 2015—J+J Flooring Group video was named gold winner in the corporate image category of the AVA Digital Awards.

Average Mortgage Rates Rising, Buoyed by Strong Jobs Report   Full Article
McLean, VA, March 13, 2015—Average fixed rate mortgage rates are moving higher amid a strong jobs report and bringing mortgage rates back to where they were at the start of 2015, according to the results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Trade Sales & Manufacturer Shipments Edge Down in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for January was estimated at $1,302.5 billion, down 2.0% from December 2014 and down 0.3% from January 2014, says the Commerce Department.

Retail Trade Sales Down from Previous Month But Up YOY   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—Retail trade sales were down 0.6% (±0.5%) from January 2015 but up 1.0% (±0.9%) over 2014, says the Commerce Department.

LL's Free Air Quality Testing Won't Meet CARB Standards   Full Article
New York, NY, March 12, 2015—Lumber Liquidators will offer free indoor air quality testing for its consumers--conducted to workplace standards,-- but OSHA's thresholds for formaldehyde in the workplace are not as stringent as CARB's for the home.

Parterre's Vertu Resilient Plank Wins ADEX Recognition   Full Article
Wilmington, MA, March 12, 2015—Parterre’s Vertu Resilient Plank won two ADEX awards.

Consumer Survey Reveals Optimism about Housing Market   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—Consumer optimism toward the economy is growing and appears to be contributing to further improvement in overall housing sentiment, according to results from Fannie Mae's February 2015 National Housing Survey.

Millennials Account for Largest Share of Home Buyers, Says NAR   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—The millennial generation represented the largest share of recent buyers, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.

Three Tarkett Rubber Textures Win ADEX Platinum   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, March 12, 2015—Tarkett received the Platinum Award for Design Excellence (ADEX) for its new range of rubber textures: Brushed, Concrete and Leather.

Fuse Alliance Focuses on Digital Marketing to Raise Awareness   Full Article
Laguna Niguel, CA, March 12, 2015—Fuse Alliance, a member-owned organization of professional, commercial flooring contractors, unveiled a next generation public facing website that clarifies the group's target audience and services offered.

U.S. Container Imports Down Over 5% in 2015   Full Article
Minneapolis, MN, March 12, 2015—Total U.S. container imports are down over 5% this year, compared to January and February of 2014, reports Zepol. Nearly the entire decline in imports is attributed to the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Armstrong Top Execs Offered Retention Award to Stay Through Spinoff   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 11, 2015—Armstrong World Industries is giving three of its top executives an incentive to stay at the company through the spinoff of its flooring business into a new, independent company next year, reports Lancaster Online.

Small Business Optimism Edges Upward   Full Article
New York, NY, March 11, 2015—U.S. small business optimism edged up in February amid signs of tightening labor market conditions, bolstering the view that a recent slowdown in economic activity will be temporary, reports Reuters.

LL Class Action Lawsuits Extend Beyond Formaldehyde Issue   Full Article
Toana, VA, March 11, 2015—Lumber Liquidators is currently facing at least 12 class action lawsuits.

Foreclosure Inventory Fell 33.2% Year Over Year   Full Article
Irvine, CA, March 11, 2015—CoreLogic's January 2015 National Foreclosure Report reveals U.S. foreclosure inventory declined 33.2% from January 2014, and completed foreclosures declined 22.5%, reports World Property Journal.

The Floor Store Earns Sixth Armstrong Elite Retailer Recognition   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 10, 2015—The Floor Store’s new San Francisco, California showroom has been named an Elite Retailer by Armstrong, the chain’s sixth location to earn the distinction.

Wholesale Inventories Up Slightly   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 10, 2015—Wholesale inventories were up 0.3% to $548.7 at the end of January, says the U.S. Census Bureau.