Contract Dealer Survey - December 2011

By Darius Helm

 

Though there are signs of a strengthening in the commercial market, competition is still as fierce as ever, margins are slim and partnerships between the different entities—contract dealers, architects and designers, facility managers, general contractors and manufacturer reps—are strained and problematic. However, there are also signs that the tough economy has increased the level of partnership (perhaps out of necessity), particularly with the A&D community. 

It’s not just the commercial slowdown that has impacted the contract dealer business. The residential housing market, now in its sixth year of decline, has led a number of independent flooring retailers and residential flooring contractors to look farther afield to earn a living, and many of those businesses have targeted the commercial market. This movement has generated a good deal of chaos, with residential dealers low-bidding on projects on the one hand and often doing poor work on the other. This has made it harder for seasoned contract dealers to win bids and it has also impacted the reputation of the profession. The only silver lining coming out of this trend has been, in some instances, additional business coming the way of contract dealers when they have to go in and redo a job left in tatters by residential trespassers.

The last time this biennial survey was conducted, in 2009, the commercial market was at its lowest point, one year into the deepest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. Commercial development slammed on the brakes, practically grinding to a halt in the corporate sector. Over the last year, there have been clear indications of markets turning positive, but the unique structures of the different sectors—project timelines, susceptibility to pent-up demand, reliance on credit, owned versus leased space, private versus public funding, client demographics and of course demand itself—result in different responses to the fragile recovery. 

The corporate sector showed the best growth this year, having fallen further than most markets, with the exception of hospitality. And even the hospitality market is showing signs of life, with steady growth expected to kick in next year, in part because of the need to maintain and update looks. 

Sectors that are predominantly exposed to the public and generate revenue directly from them, like hospitality and retail, feel the pressure of pent-up demand more significantly than many other sectors. It’s just about all remodeling and refurbishing, though, with very little going toward new construction, and that’s true for every vertical sector in the commercial market. Most experts anticipate a slow and irregular return to health, with new construction lagging behind refurbishing.

However, despite the shift in momentum in the last year, this year’s survey respondents are focused on many of the same issues that rose to the top in the 2009 survey, suggesting that many contract dealers are still in the thick of this struggle to survive, never mind thrive, in this unsteady, nervous and jumpy market.

For the complete Contract Dealer Survey results, see the December 2011 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.


Copyright 2011 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Previous Record Low Rates Hurting Home Sales   Full Article
New York, NY, July 11, 2014 -- Low interest rates are keeping some people from selling their homes, which is limiting supply and putting a damper on the housing recovery.

Metroflor's Aspecta Wins Award   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, July 11 -- Metroflor said that its new LVT contract brand, Aspecta, was acknowledged by the Product Innovations 2014 awards bestowed by Buildings magazine to a group of 30 finalists exclusive to NeoCon exhibitors.

Buchanan Hardwoods Gets NWFA Certification   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, July 11, 2014 -- The National Wood Flooring Association said that Buchanan Hardwoods, of Aliceville, Alabama, has earned the NWFA/NOFMA Mill Certification for its Elite Flooring.

Business Economists See Improving Economy   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 11, 2014 -- Business economists have lowered their expectations for second quarter growth but don't believe a recession will occur anytime soon.

Initial Jobless Claims Beat Expectations   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 10, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 3.5% to 304,000 for the week ending July 5, according to the Labor Department.

McGrane Named Executive VP at Max Windsor   Full Article
Adairsville, GA, July 10, 2014 -- Joshua McGrane ?has been named executive vice president? of ?Max Windsor USA.

Tile of Spain Seeking Design Contest Entries   Full Article
Madrid, Spain, July 10, 2014 -- The 13th Tile of Spain Awards of Architecture and Interior Design is seeking entries.

Lumber Liquidators Lowers Forecast, Stock Plunges   Full Article
New York, NY, July 10, 2014 -- Shares of Lumber Liquidators fell as much as 15% in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the company lowered guidance for the full year 2014.

Soniclean Partners With Shaw on Soft Carpet Vacuum   Full Article
New York, NY, July 10, 2014 -- Soniclean said it has partnered with Shaw Industries to address the growing demand for a vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning soft style carpeting.

Teragren Names Vice President of Sales   Full Article
Bainbridge Island, WA, July 10, 2014 -- Teragren has named Mark Jordan vice president of sales.

Dixie Group Added to Russell Stock Indexes   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, July 10, 2014 -- The Dixie Group said it was added to the Russell 3000 Index and Russell 2000 Index when Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity indexes on June 27.

Congoleum Closing New Jersey Warehouse   Full Article
Hamilton Township, NJ, July 10, 2014 -- The Congoleum flooring warehouse here will cease operations later this year.

CRI Posts Model Specification for Commercial Carpet   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 9, 2014 -- The Carpet and Rug Institute said its Model Specification for Commercial Carpet is now available online at Carpet-Rug.org.

Bamboo Hardwoods Names Flooring Sales Director   Full Article
Seattle, WA, July 9, 2014 -- Bamboo Hardwoods has named Bruce Boulden as the company’s national flooring sales director.

Mortgage Application Volume Increases Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 9, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume rose last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Ardex Academy Sets Training Dates   Full Article
Aliquippa, PA, July 9, 2014 -- Ardex Academy offers free classroom and hands-on product installation training at eight locations throughout North America. Participants learn substrate preparation and the newest installation techniques.

Judge Ends Laminate Copyright Dispute between Home Legend and Mannington   Full Article
Rome, GA July 3, 2014 -- A U.S. District Court in Rome, Georgia ruled in favor of Home Legend in a legal dispute over similar looking laminate floorcovering. The judge ruled nature can't be copyrighted.

Job Openings at Highest Level Since 2007   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 8, 2014 -- Job openings in the U.S. rose in April to the highest level since September 2007, according to the Labor Department.

CARE Seeking Proposals for PET Market Project   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 8, 2014 -- Carpet America Recovery Effort is seeking proposals for a 12-18 month project to demonstrate value-added uses for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) derived from post-consumer PET carpets.

Quick-Step Hosts Event for Shelter Charity   Full Article
Dallas, TX, July 8, 2014 -- Laminate maker Quick-Step recently co-hosted an event to benefit the local charity Dwell With Dignity.