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Volume 16, Number 19 • Nov 26/Dec 3, 2001

Al's Column

GOING STRONG: Surfaces 2002 promises to be at impressive and exciting market. Last year, attendance was at a record level and this year pre-registration figures are far ahead the 2001 numbers at this point. Considering the effects of the Sept. 11 disaster, people’s reluctance to fly, and the sagging economy, the fact that pre-registration is double digits above expectations is nothing short of sensational. Hanley-Wood, owner of Surfaces, will re-lease its registration figures to date early in December and we’ll share them with you. Exhibitors will be pleased, as is Hanley-Wood. We believe Surfaces 2002 will be a blockbuster because our Award of Excellence balloting is posting big numbers and going at a record-breaking pace. The competition, acknowledged as the industry’s premier contest, comes to a final vote at Surfaces. • 
GETTING STRONGER: The planned merger/acquisition of Mohawk Industries and Dal-Tile International is a stunning development. It will catapult Mohawk to the summit when the deal is finalized in the first quarter of 2002, making it a $4 billion company, the second flooring business in the world to reach that level. This year Mohawk will do $200 million in hard surface sales; after the acquisition its hard surface sales will escalate to approximately $1 billion. Jeff Lorberbaum, Mohawk’s president and CEO, estimated the hard surface segment to be $7 billion and the ceramic market to be $2 billion, indicating the opportunities and growth potential for the combined company are unlimited. He said Mohawk expects to pay down the debt incurred in the transaction “rapidly” be-cause of the high cash flow of both companies. This, however, will “limit acquisitions in the near future,” though he noted that he expects there will be further consolidation in the industry. Finally, asked about the affect the deal will have on Mohawk’s Congoleum operation, he said, “It will enhance our distribution of Congoleum (products).” INDUSTRY FIRST: Color Tile dealers are the first in the industry to use GE Capital’s Internet credit application process on their local Web sites. This innovation allows local Color Tile customers to obtain pre-approved Color Tile credit before leaving home. Then, within minutes they can be in their dealer’s store with credit authorization in hand, ready to buy. Tim Tipton, Color Tile’s vice president of marketing, explains, “Color Credit, our private label credit card, yields a ticket average 800% higher than for Visa and MasterCard sales. It is a valuable marketing tool with instant measurable results. The on-line pre-approval service puts credit in the consumer’s hand, customers with buying power in the dealer’s showroom and the Color Tile brand in people’s minds. This all happens without a moment of time or a dollar of revenue expended by our members.” And that’s one of the reasons why Color Tile membership increased more than 30% this year and is still building. • 
GETTING SMART: Floor-Soft, a Dalton-based software development company, has leased its SMART software product to Beaulieu. SMART is a program that optimizes the cutting of rolls as they exit the coater. The program also considers all open backorders and a set of stock cutting rules, all with the objective of filling the greatest number of orders possible while minimizing the number of short roll balances and scrap. Ralph Boe, president of Beaulieu Residential, feels the system “will have a positive effect on virtually every aspect of our business, particularly customer service and improved delivery times.” Sounds like a smart deal. • 
GIVE HIM HIS DEW: Per-due is a chicken farmer. Purdue is a university in La-fayette, Ind. Harry Perdew is the World Floor Covering Association’s education director and primary architect of it very successful Certification Program. Perdew—it’s all in the spelling, but who’s reading.

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