Industry Rebound is Top Story of 2013

Chattanooga, TN, Dec. 31, 2013 -- Broadly speaking, our biggest story of 2013 is the flooring industry began a sustained turnaround, with roughly $1 billion in investments/expansion plans, much of it in North Georgia, touching every flooring category. However, most of the plans were in the carpet arena, and much of that focused on polyester.

1. Mohawk Industries was aggressive in 2013, acquiring tile maker Marazzi, closing the acquisition of laminate maker Pergo, and acquiring board maker Spano InvestNV. It also announced several expansion projects.
2. Engineered Floors announced a $450 million expansion in North Georgia.
3. The LVT category will continue to broaden its marketshare as Armstrong, Mannington, Mohawk and IVC all said they are ramping up production in the U.S. Also, carpet maker Beaulieu also began selling LVT.
4. Carpet tile also continued to take share. Shaw opened a plant in China, broke ground on a second tile plant in Adairsville, Georgia, and Interface rebuilt its plant in Australia.
5. The housing market rebounded, with sales of existing homes and new homes up sharply over 2012, as well as house prices.
6. Production in the U.S. became attractive to foreign firms. A few of the companies announcing expansion plans in the U.S. included Dubai backing firm Mattex, JN Fibers, a Chinese maker of recycled polyester fiber products, German dry mortar firm Uzin-Utz AG, and Chinese hardwood flooring company Zeyuan Flooring.
7. There was plenty of executive movement this year. Bentley Prince Street CEO Anthony Minte retired after 21 years and was replaced by Ralph Grogan. Beaulieu CEO Ralph Boe said he will retire in February after a transition period. Armstrong Flooring Products CEO Frank Ready retired and was replaced by Thomas Mangas. Don Finkell, who led Anderson Hardwood for more than three decades, also retired but is still very active in the industry. Scott Humphrey moved from Shaw Industries to become CEO of the World Floor Covering Association. Thomas Trissl, founder of Centiva, began a new company and promptly purchased subfloor company HPS North America. Bob Weiner, who had a long history with carpet firms Prince Street and Constantine, began Totally Enterprises LLC and Totally Carpet, to focus on the corporate carpet market.
8. There were troubles for Lumber Liquidators. The company's offices were searched by federal authorities, who suspected the company may have violated the Lacey Act by having some of its products made with illegally harvested wood abroad. The firm was also accused by an online investment site of having illegal levels of formaldehyde in some of its products. As a result of these problems, a number of class action suits have been filed against the company.

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