Farewell, 2019! It was a busy year for the majority of retailers and flooring contractors around the country. Out west, we’ve been experiencing work in the construction and flooring trades at a very hectic pace. Trying to keep up with schedules and taking care of clients has been a challenge due to so much demand. Here are some of the highlights that stood out to me in 2019.
Qualified labor shortage
The construction industry has been dealing with this for a number of years now, and it still seems the number-one issue for retailers and contractors through 2019 and beyond. Is labor shortage going to be the new norm? I believe it will be for a number of years. The flooring/tile industry is still competing with other trades to get young adults to commit to a career in the industry.
Many of the current quality trades people have been in the trades 10-plus years, and many are nearing retirement. To expect the next generation of young adults coming into the trades in just the past couple of years to fill the void will take time.
There are several social media flooring groups that I feel are making a positive impact. Male and female installers are posting some great pics of their installations and showing the creative and artistic talents of our industry. Along with that, they’re assisting each other with questions and technical issues. Having so much exposure on social media is a great vehicle to introduce the younger generations to what can be done with flooring, and I believe that we can do even more with social media to attract the next generation.
Last year, there were many buzzwords and acronyms, including LVP, WPC, SPC, rigid core, 100% waterproof. Luxury vinyl planks have been the rage for the past few years and it’s a category that’s here to stay. Is it the ultimate flooring product? No. And is it being over marketed? Yes. I’m sure I’ll get some backlash from this, but this is my opinion. Yes, it is a more rigid core compared to the first generation of products that came into the market. 100% waterproof? If it is, why are there still moisture requirements for a concrete slab that must be maintained?
Are the click-type floors easier to install? Yes, and no. Yes, because there is no adhesive required. No, because floor flatness requirements are not being followed by many flooring contractors. A floating click floor requires a flatter substrate and in several manufacturer installation guidelines, flatness tolerances are more rigid than a glue direct or nail down product.
I’ve been pushing this for years. I’m seeing installation rates in our area of the country going up for contractors and it is about time. We need to maintain a “livable” income for our trades in order to entice the next generation to have the desire to make it a career. As business owners who sell and install flooring, we should not feel guilty to make a profit. For those of you who have increased your pricing, keep it up, especially with the current robust construction market.
2019 was a year to work hard and play hard. Being one that loves the outdoors, my wife Suzy and I take our Side-by-Side UTV out with friends and family as much as we can on the weekends, and hope to continue our playtime for years to come. For those of you who worked too much in 2019, which, in our trade is the norm, don’t forget to take a breath and take time to relax. You don’t perform as well when you get to that burnout stage; I’ve been there and done that, and it isn’t worth the added stress to mind and body. Enjoy a hobby and if you have a family, don’t miss the kids growing up.
I’ve attended the NAFCD/MDMDA distributor convention for the past few years and always look forward to listening to one of the Beaulieu brothers from ITR Economics speak about the construction industry. The forecast for 2020 looks to be a slower start for the first part of the year but looks to be stronger in the second half.
Wishing you all the best of success for 2020!