The Top 250 Design Survey - October 2011

By Darius Helm

 

While conditions have stabilized in various sectors of the commercial market, optimism earlier in the year about a slow and unsteady recovery—yes, that’s what passes for optimism these days—has, over the summer, diminished into a nervous uncertainty. Economic conditions, both globally and here in the U.S., have become increasingly fragile over the last few months, and it is once again unclear when the commercial market can expect to regain its health.

Pent-up demand seems to be driving some parts of the commercial market, and it remains true that the corporate sector, buoyed by healthy profits last year, has been trending upward. However, the fundamental issues of high unemployment and a tight credit market continue to stifle growth, and there are precious few signs of any relief in the near future.

However, it is worth noting—and has been noted before—that a slow market does not mean no market at all. If the market has fallen 25% in the last couple of years, that still means 75% activity. That’s not to, as they say, put lipstick on a pig, but it means that there’s still a lot of work out there, even if the going is tough and the competition is more fierce than ever.

Furthermore, last year the commercial flooring market posted slight gains and it was poised for more growth this year, though we’ll have to wait and see what the final numbers add up to.

This year’s survey responses were replete with indications of a continued difficult market. For instance, pricing was a growing concern, vinyl products increased in popularity, and, sadly, environmental concerns among many respondents diminished in importance.

On a positive note, it’s been a great year for sustainability developments. The carpet reclamation business is stronger than ever, green fibers are taking the market by storm, and hard surface and resilient producers have also made great strides. And in an ironic twist, this year’s weather related disasters, which many climatologists believe are products of a destabilizing environment, will likely lead to some rebuilding and provide a modest boost in revenues.

SECTOR OVERVIEW
We asked designers to name their three biggest projects of the last year and identify them by market category, and this year the sector with easily the most top projects was corporate, followed by healthcare, then education. Historically, the corporate sector has tended to be on top, though healthcare led the way during the two years following the credit crisis, in 2010 and 2009, and education was on top in 2008.

According to this year’s surveyed designers, that corporate growth has come from two quarters—tenant improvement and Fortune 500 firms. This correlates well with data gathered from other industry experts, who cite robust growth among the top U.S. and multinational firms, as well as a trend toward renewal of more standard leases. Lease extensions of the last couple of years stifled remodeling efforts, but now that we’re seeing building owners relent and again offer, for example, five-year leases, tenants have started feeling more secure and many have gone ahead and refurbished their spaces. Not so with new construction, which still remains anemic. 

For the complete survey results, see the October 2011 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.

Copyright 2011 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.