NWFA Convention Highlights Latest Wood Flooring Innovations
May 25, 2011
More than 180 leading manufacturers exhibited the latest innovations in hardwood flooring and related accessories at the 2011 National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Convention, held April 26-29 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif. Overall attendance for the four-day event was slightly over 2,000, a slight decrease from last year’s figures.
Despite the decrease in attendance, wood flooring manufacturers debuted a variety of new products and services, which were well received by their customers.
“We introduced our new Learning Program, which offers comprehensive training for distributor and retail salespeople,” said Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork. “It’s a multi-pronged approach in filtering down the cork story, how to sell and install WE Cork Flooring. The reaction to this was very positive, as it addresses the insecurity some salespeople in the industry still have about cork flooring,” Wicander said.
Seneca Millwork introduced a new line of flexible moldings that integrate with any type of wood flooring, creating a seamless transition between flooring and moldings.
“This is an exciting development for us, because it allows users to customize the molding to fit with any type of wood, finished or unfinished,” said Joe Albany, flooring industry sales manager for Seneca Millwork. “With our system, customers can also request custom radiused products.”
Maxwell Hardwood Flooring introduced a new series, Townsend Additions, which was a hit with attendees.
“We’ve gotten a great response to the new Townsend Additions line,” said Tommy Maxwell, owner of Maxwell Hardwood Floors. “We’ve gotten very positive feedback on this product. Our customers are surprised by seeing our products for the first time.”
Palo Duro Hardwoods introduced a training program for the company’s new sanding process, which reduces working time and improves surface finishes.
“The reaction to our new PST Premium Sanding Training has been good so far,” said Jeff Fairbanks, vp of sales for Palo Duro Hardwoods. “Many contractors are looking for ways to set themselves apart from the competition and not battle on price alone.”
In addition to viewing the latest wood flooring products and accessories, attendees also participated in a variety of educational seminars throughout the day. In the opening session, Charles Marshall of M Power Resources LLC presented “Funny Business: How to Make Sure Your Customer Service Isn’t a Joke. Next, Ed Rigsbee of Rigsbee Research offered a seminar on “Partnering for Profits & Smart Alliances in Difficult Times.”
In the day’s first installation-related seminar, FCI columnist Jon Namba offered an intensive crash course on how to prevent and correct moisture problems in wood flooring installation.
In the demonstration theater, Bob Sweezy of Stauf, Steve Lima and Tony Gootee of MAPEI offered a hands-on seminar on “Subfloor Solutions.”
During the awards dinner and roast, new officers were elected and a variety of awards were given out, followed by a roast of retiring executive director/ceo, Ed Korczak.
Following are the latest NWFA Board nominees: Wayne Cotton, Wheeler, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL; Mark Elwell, Bamboo Flooring Hawaii, Honolulu, HI; Enos Farnsworth, Basic Coatings, Toledo, OH; Barry Gork, Timberlake, Chicago, IL; Jamie Lupresto, Diamond Flooring, Elizabethtown, KY; Jim Schumacher, 3M, Annadale, NJ; John Lessick, Apex Wood Floors, Downer’s Grove, IL.
NWFA Golden Mallet Awards were awarded to: Drew Kern, Flooring Works, Milton, Ontario, Canada; Blair Davies, Magna Hardwood Floors International Inc., Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The NWFA Industry Leadership Award was presented to Virgil Hendricks, Mid-West Floor Company, St. Louis, MO.
The NWFA Retiring Chairman Award was given to given to Neil Poland, Mullican Flooring, Johnson City, TN.
The NWFA Retiring Past Chairman Award was given to Don Finkell, Anderson Hardwood Floors, Clinton, SC.
Despite the many challenges facing the economy, manufacturers seemed upbeat about the prospects for the remainder of the year.
“We’ve seen an uptick in business this year, with lots of prospects,” said Mark Schroeder, director of marketing communications for Franklin International. “We’re bullish on our prospects in the flooring sector,” Schroeder said.
“We’re hearing from our customers that things are improving this year, compared with previous years,” said Maxwell. “Customers seem to be more optimistic. They have accepted conditions as they are currently.”
“We’ve seen an increase in business this year, particularly in wood flooring adhesives,” said Jack Raidy, Jr., president of W.F. Taylor Co., Inc. “This has been gratifying in a wood flooring market that is declining overall.”
Key issues affecting the marketplace include the sluggish housing market, rising energy costs, and dramatic increases in the cost of raw materials.
“Rampant raw material cost increases are affecting everyone in the flooring industry,” Raidy said. “Chemicals used in adhesive manufacturing for the flooring industry are experiencing an unprecedented velocity of increases,” Raidy added.