Strategic Exchange - July 2011

By Kemp Harr

 

There are two pockets of business in the flooring industry right now—multi-family housing and contract commercial replacement. Summer is always the seasonal highpoint for multi-family but there are some age demographics and other statistics that tell us that this sector could be strong for a while. Today, occupancy rates are back up to the 90% level, and by 2015, 67 million Americans will be between the ages of 20 and 34—and that is prime age for apartment renters. Based on this prediction of increasing demand, permits for new apartment construction are currently running at a two year high. 

The NeoCon show, which serves those sectors, is now behind us and most people left that show feeling good about business. Granted, the phrase “new construction” continues to be an oxymoron—even in the commercial business—but activity in the remodel/replacement side is encouraging. As you can tell by reading our coverage of NeoCon in this issue, many key suppliers came to the market with a robust offering of new and innovative products. 

Commercial interiors are changing and more and more emphasis is going toward what the floor looks like. Thanks to LEED construction practices of the past decade, natural lighting is a big factor so interior walls have been coming down for a while—but the latest trend is lower cubicle walls or no cubicle workstations at all. 

At NeoCon, David Oakey with InterfaceFlor was quoting passages from The M-Factor, a recently published book on how Millennials, who are now old enough to go to work, are changing the face of the work environment. Millennials were born between 1982 and 2000 so they’re now between the ages of 11 and 29. They’re motivated more by having the latest laptop and smartphone than by where their office is. Because of their passion for collaboration, they’d rather have their desks pushed together than separated by paneled walls. 

And as many employers know, you get the best talent by offering your recruits a work environment that exceeds what they just saw during an interview with company X a week earlier. The challenge, as we go through this workplace transformation, is meeting the privacy needs of older workers with collaborative needs of the new workers—all in one location. But there’s one thing for certain. Any office space that doesn’t have walls or cubicles must rely heavily on the flooring to set the tone of the decor.

More Workplace Transformation
Remember when there were only a few area codes per state and we could tell where a call was coming from based on those first three digits? Then faxes and cell phones came along—exponentially increasing the number of unique numbers needed—so more area codes had to be added and it was just too many to memorize. Then along came the Internet and a protocol was devised whereby website addresses were most commonly ended with “.com.” In fact, dot com endings are now so common that Apple added a shortcut “.com” key too its iPad keyboard. 

Just recently however, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) met in Singapore and decided to expand that naming system from the current 22 that include .net, .org and .com to an almost unlimited number of extensions.

Who will be the first to have a .floor address?

Vacation to Recharge 
Most of us will take some kind of a break from work this summer to spend time away and hopefully with family. The trick is to get out of your routine, get into a fresh environment and relax. If you are addicted to your smartphone, you may want to consider a cruise or remote location so that you can’t check in even if you wanted to. Last year, we did a bareboat charter in the British Virgin Islands and there was no WiFi or cell service. It was scary at first but it was good to get totally away for five days. And when I came back, everything was fine. For those of you with aging parents, you can always set up some type of dire emergency communications plan—just in case.

If you are a true entrepreneur and work is as much a hobby as it is your means of revenue, you may want to take your vacation time to reflect and work on your business, instead of in your business. In this case, you may still want to try to sever the “day-to-day” smartphone umbilical cord. 

The trick to getting creative is to relax and free your mind up to start thinking about things from a different perspective. Sometimes a good short business book can help get your mind in the right gear. We’ve all heard about the shower being the place where fresh ideas pop into our heads and the reason is because we have relaxing warm water running over our bodies and we’re in a tile closet with limited distractions. 

Another trick is to create a few lists. Think about the people you know who might be good advisors. Make a plan to nurture these relationships so they can become a sounding board for your growth initiatives or hiring challenges. Try to identify people who aren’t wrapped up in themselves and who only network with people who can help them get ahead. This, by the way, brings up a whole different perspective. As you make a plan to nurture these advisors, make sure to work hard to give as much as you get. 

Another list to work on is your plan for growth. Ask yourself what value you bring to your customers and see if you can build on that value. If you’re having trouble building out your list, perhaps you should lay out a plan to visit with some of your best customers when you get back from vacation and ask them why they buy from you or, more subtly, “What was the highlight of the last project we worked on together?”

But wait a minute; you’re on vacation, right? Isn’t that the time to get away from thinking about work? What about the kids who are with you, who before long will be off on their own? What about that spouse that you neglect when you get into your normal work routine? Will this vacation be memorable for everybody involved because you took the initiative—and a little time off from work a month prior to the vacation—to lay out a vacation activity plan that would get your kids and your spouse to want to put down their iPod, cell phone, Gameboy and pick up a paddle, a beach volleyball or a tennis racket? Or better yet, go see something they’ve never seen before? It’s all about balance, isn’t it?

Independence Day
By the time you read this, our country will have just celebrated its 235th birthday. America is pretty young to be who we are—the global leader both economically and militarily. How did we get here and are we smart enough to stay here? What was the magic that allowed us to rise so fast into this position? Is it because we are a republic, because of our Constitutional freedoms, our natural resources, our faith in God?

These are all factors, but the answer lies in the first three words of our Preamble to the Constitution—it’s the people. From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Franklin to Alexander Graham Bell to Orville and Wilbur Wright to Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs. These are people who understood the challenges and created the solutions. 

The only force that can kill this freedom is a government that has grown so big that it feels it has all the answers.

If you have any comments about this month’s column, you can email me at kemp@floorfocus.com.

 

Copyright 2011 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Unemployment Falls but August Job Gains Muted   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Employers in the U.S. added 142,000 jobs in August, the lowest monthly total of the year, according to the Labor Department.

Horizon Floors Signs Denver Hardwoods   Full Article
New York, NY, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Horizon Floors has a distribution agreement with Denver Hardwoods.

Invista Surfaces Makes Executive Promotions   Full Article
Kennesaw, GA, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Invista Surfaces has promoted Maggie Bidlingmaier to vice president of its residential business.

Gerflor Becomes Starnet Approved Vendor   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Resilient flooring firm Gerflor said it has attained approved vendor status in Starnet.

USG Signs Private Label Agreement With Powerhold   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- USG Corporation said it has entered a private-label agreement with Powerhold, the largest flooring accessories distributor network in the country.

Shaw Ranked Fourth on E-learning List   Full Article
Dalton, GA. Sept. 5, 2014 -- Shaw Industries ranked fourth on E-learning! magazine’s Learning! 100.

H.B. Fuller Acquires ProSpec Construction Products   Full Article
St. Paul, MN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- H.B. Fuller Company said it has acquired ProSpec Construction Products, a provider of tile and stone installation products.

Builder Hovnanian Says Income Doubled   Full Article
Red Bank, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises reported third quarter net income of $17.1 million, or $0.11 a share, up from $8.5 million, or $0.06 a share, a year earlier.

Services Sector Expands at Faster Pace in August   Full Article
Tempe, AZ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Growth in the services sector of the economy accelerated in August to the highest level since 2005, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Initial Jobless Claims Still Near Eight-Year Low   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week ticked up although claims remain near an eight-year bottom.

Private Sector Job Growth Remains Steady   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Private sector employment increased by 204,000 jobs from July to August, according to the August ADP National Employment Report.

CRI's Mendez Named SGAC Board President   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Carpet and Rug Institute vice president for government relations Jennifer Mendez was named president of the board of directors of the State Government Affairs Council.

Royal Adhesives Acquires Toronto-Based Chemque   Full Article
South Bend, IN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Royal Adhesives & Sealants said that its subsidiary Royal Adhesives & Sealants Canada will acquire polyurethane foams and adhesives maker Chemque.

Domotex Bringing Back Innovations Event   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Domotex is bringing back its Innovations@Domotex for a second season next year.

Factory Orders Increase by Record Amount   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Factory orders rose by a record amount in July, mostly on the strength of commercial aircraft.

Shaw Moves Up on Selling Power List   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Shaw Industries said it has been ranked no. 13 and is the only flooring manufacturer on the latest Selling Power 50 Best Companies to Sell For list.

Floor Focus Plans to Honor Young Professionals   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Floor Focus Magazine plans to recognize young professionals in the flooring industry who are under 40 years old.

Bona AB Wins Swedish Export Award   Full Article
Aurora, CO, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Bona AB said it has received the Export Hermes 2014 Award.

Rug Market Schedules Set Through 2018   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- AmericasMart has set the dates for its January and July markets, including its rug markets, through 2018.

Toll Brothers' Profit, Revenue Surge   Full Article
Horsham, PA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. reported third quarter net income of $97.7 million, or $0.53 a share, up from $46.6 million, or $0.26 a share, a year ago.