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My take: What I’ll be watching in 2013

Volume 26/Number 17; January 7/14, 2013

Two weeks into 2013, and I’m feeling good. Sure, my pants could be a little looser, but I know I’m not alone there. I also know there’s a lot to be watching this year. Here’s what I’m going to be keeping my eyes on:

I’ll be watching the economy. I feel good right now. Retailers tell me 2012 closed on a positive note and I’m feeling things will not abate in 2013. A mild winter in much of the country has to have helped. Getting past the uncertainty of the election and all that fiscal cliff nonsense (that phrase needs to be retired, right next to “outside the box”) should have us all moving on with our lives.

I’ll be watching the housing market, the segment whose fortunes most impact our industry. Recent reports indicate the momentum is continuing in 2013, which bodes well for all of us. And remodeling usually parallels housing starts.

I’ll be watching what Mohawk decides to do with Pergo, the most recognized name in laminate flooring. Pergo has primarily become a home center brand throughout the last decade. Does Pergo remain in that channel as a complement to the Mohawk and Quick•Step specialty retail brands, or can Mohawk differentiate it enough whereby it can re-enter the specialty channel?

I’ll be watching the people who need early boarding on airplanes insist on also needing early exiting. I don’t get it; you need extra time to board so you don’t hold up the masses but the theory doesn’t apply to exiting? Sit yourself down!

I’ll be watching for the resurfacing of a longtime familiar name in the floor covering industry, someone who has been quiet for a while, with a new venture.

I’ll be watching for a rumored new installation system for Alterna, Armstrong’s popular premium LVT, which the company believes will be the industry leader by the end of 2014.

I’ll be watching to see if Surfaces attracts more attendees this year with the economy, housing and business on the upswing. Between the FCNews-sponsored education program and all the exhibitors, I think it’s time and money well spent.

I’ll be watching “Homeland” since every human to which I speak seems to be addicted. All I know is it won a bunch of Golden Globes and airs on Showtime. (I don’t even know if I pay for Showtime, let alone the night or time it’s on!)

I’ll be watching to see if the ever-popular LVT category starts becoming associated with the dreaded “c” word—commoditization—in the wake of everyone and their mother attempting to join the party with their versions of click systems. I worry because that new company is touting style and quality “with price advantages.”

I’ll be watching to see where my friend, Anthony Minite, former president of Bentley Prince Street, lands. The guy has talent and fosters a first-rate working environment. In fact, BPS was always listed among the best places to work in Los Angeles.

I’ll be watching what I’m now calling the “Soft Wars.” It may not rival the fiber wars of the mid to late ’80s, but we have something brewing here across all fiber platforms. SmartStrand Silk (triexta), Clear-Touch (PET), Anso Caress, Wear-Dated Embrace and TruSoft (nylon), now PureSoft Cashmere (solution-dyed PET). And I’ve left out many, many more. All I know is it’s great for the carpet industry as it gets consumers up to a higher price point and greater margin dollars for the dealer.

Speaking of soft, I’ll be watching if the mills make it vividly clear that certain vacuum cleaners do not work with soft carpet. People tell me Dysons are out of play. This is very important to ensure a satisfied consumer.                                                                                                                                                         Steven Feldman