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Rising transport costs take their toll on distributors

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

New government regulations have exacerbated the ongoing trucker shortage in the U.S., resulting in higher inbound freight costs for flooring distributors that could spread across the entire supply chain.

The problem is twofold: More than 70% of the goods Americans consume are carried on the nation’s highways, but a new report says the industry needs to hire roughly 90,000 new truckers each year to keep up with demand. At the same time, new government regulations—including implementation of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate—are forcing some smaller trucking firms and individuals out of business, thereby worsening the shortage and creating problems like product shortages and delivery delays.

Observers say there is no reason to think the labor situation in the trucking industry should get better any time soon. In the short term, truckers must switch from logging their hours on paper to doing it electronically by April 1or face penalties; drivers will no longer be able to fudge their hours on paper to stay on the road longer.

“There has been a shortage of truckers for quite a while,” said Bob Weiss, CEO of All-Tile/Carpets Cushions & Supplies, a top five flooring distributor based in Elk Grove Village, Ill. “What is compounding the problem are new regulations that are tighter.”

Scott Rozmus, president and CEO of FlorStar Sales, a top 20 wholesaler based in Romeoville, Ill., said the biggest issues they are facing are delays and the difficulty of finding available, reliable carriers. “Obviously, costs are going up, too, but ultimately the consumer will need to bear those costs.”

Other distributors are feeling the impact as well. Carrollton, Texas-based Adleta, another top 20 flooring distributor, had to go out and hire additional drivers because of the shortage. “It’s no easy feat to find a driver with a clean and safe driving record,” said John Sher, president. “[As a result], all inbound freight has gone up dramatically. While we have been absorbing this, we will have no choice but to pass this on.”

The improving economy is adding to the problem. The reason: as more goods are shipped, more drivers are needed. It’s classic supply and demand economics. “There will be increased costs moving forward as the new cost structure realities begin to show themselves,” Weiss explained.

At issue is the ELD mandate, a federal rule that took effect Dec. 18, 2017 which requires trucking companies to record their hours of service on ELDs (devices that synchronize with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time for more accurate hours of service recording). With ELD implementation, any delays at docks or warehouses will result in higher transportation costs for the shipper, according to transportation officials.

Jaeckle Distributors, Madison, Wis., has been operating with electronic logs since 2008, so the new ELD mandate hasn’t impacted the way it operates. However, it has impacted other carriers it works with and has added another layer of complexity for carriers who are new to it.

“We have not seen a significant rise in LTL [less than truck load] costs; however, I am seeing a decline in the overall service quality we’re experiencing with other carriers,” said Bill Simonson, vice president of operations. “We are finding increased damage and more occurrences of freight not being picked up. That is either due to lack of experience, shortness of drivers, or lack of hours available to drive.

“And, of course, you are dealing with a good economy, rising volumes and fewer drivers to move the freight. We’ve been adding drivers to our staff and we’re more confident with our ability to control quality in this environment than we are with some of the third-party carriers out there.”

Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf, a top 20 distributor from Owings Mills, Md., said the implementation of electronic logs has prompted a tangible percentage of the smaller independent trucking companies to exit the business. “Losing 10%-12% is a dent in the overall capacity, which was strained to begin with,” he explained. “A lot of the drivers I am around have gotten older and they are not willing to spend the money [required of the electronic logs] into one truck; it has really shut down a portion of the trucking capacity, and there wasn’t an abundance to begin with.”

The American Trucking Association reports the industry has struggled with a driver shortage for the past 15 years. During the Great Recession, freight volumes dropped, allowing the industry to meet demand with fewer drivers. But when volumes recovered in 2011, the driver shortage became a problem again, the ATA found.

According to a study conducted by DAT Solutions, just one truck was available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped at the start of 2018—that’s the lowest ratio since 2005.

Striegel, as well as others, predicts the situation could get worse. “Hiring a driver is the hardest position to fill. Between [the government] closing loopholes and the new restrictions in place, it has put constraints on my existing fleet.”

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Guru-USA names national sales and marketing manager

Ontinyent, Spain–Estil Guru S.L. (Guru), a manufacturer of shower waterproofing products, has named Derick Cooper national sales and marketing manager for the U.S. and Canada. Cooper has early 30 years of experience across several industries covering sales, marketing, technical service, and product management. He most recently served as president of an independent sales agency.

He will be tasked with managing all sales and marketing efforts of Guru-USA, The company markets a waterproof membrane called Waterstop as well as a kit that includes an integrated shower drain. It is now launching Evolux Kit, the next generation in waterproofing products.

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Mohawk honored by Training Magazine for 12th consecutive year

UG_Campus_LeadsCalhoun, Ga.–For the 12th consecutive year, Mohawk Industries has earned a spot in the 2018 edition of Training magazine’s annual Top 125 rankings, the training industry’s premier awards program. Mohawk was recognized for outstanding training and development programs that help employees expand their skills and inspire their ambitions.

Mohawk has placed in Training’s top 10 on four occasions and is the only manufacturing company to repeatedly achieve such prestigious positions on the list. The numerical rankings will be formally announced in February at a black-tie event preceding Training magazine’s annual expo and conference.

“At Mohawk, training doesn’t stop when people learn the skills they need to perform their jobs,” said Becky Redd, Corporate Learning Director. “We train our sales force and customer support functions to exceed expectations through product knowledge and problem-solving skills, our technical teams to drive process innovation on the plant floor and in our warehouses and our line employees to deliver quality while maintaining a safe workplace.”

The company’s dedication to workforce development throughout the business is a way of creating value for customers and ensuring the continued success of the organization.

“One of the most exciting things about working at Mohawk is the potential all people have to expand their skillsets and to grow personally and professionally through company-provided resources,” Redd said. “Each day, hundreds of men and women throughout the company formally and informally train, coach and mentor employees so that they can fulfill their potential while helping the business achieve its goals. Our 12 years in Training magazine’s Top 125 reflects our commitment to continuously improving all aspects of the business, and I am so proud of the exceptional work that has gone into making our teams the best they can be.”

Now in its 18th year, Training’s Top 125 recognizes the world’s elite learning organizations. All companies are eligible to enter as long as their primary business is not selling training products and services.

 

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Anderson Hardwood, Tuftex Carpets unite to create Anderson Tuftex

Anderson Tuftex_StrollDalton–The strategic merger of Anderson Hardwood Floors and Tuftex Carpets of California will take effect Jan. 1, 2018, the company announced. Both of these brands have a long heritage in the flooring industry and are a natural fit to bring together into one premium brand: Anderson Tuftex.

Anderson Tuftex creates floors that are designed with intention and crafted with care. The brand will take a holistic and consumer-centric approach to marketing and product development. Today’s consumer demands a simplified shopping experience both in-store and online and Anderson Tuftex said that is listening to the expectations of consumers.

“The entire consumer journey is changing and has been for quite some time. Consumers are finding inspiration everywhere and are more directly connected with brands than ever before,” said Carrie Edwards Isaac, vice president, Anderson Tuftex.  “But purchasing flooring is complicated and consumers feel pressured to get it right. At Anderson Tuftex, it’s about simplicity. We don’t want to overwhelm consumers with options but, rather, craft intentional designs that serve as a canvas for their lives.”
Anderson Tuftex will be showcased at Shaw Connect 2018 winter markets and will unveil the new premium brand at Surfaces in Las Vegas. The future of these two legacy brands will focus on their new, collective brand identity by working with their valued retail partners to drive premium floorcovering sales.

“We’re committed to elevating the discussion with our customers and providing them with a beautiful product mix that they’re eager to sell,” said Trey Thames, vice president of sales, Anderson Tuftex. “By offering bold, yet timeless patterns and foundational colors in both hard and soft surface flooring products, we’re empowering our customers to create a seamless shopping experience for consumers.”

Anderson Tuftex is designing and producing coveted hardwood, carpet and rugs that enable retailers to take consumers from refined to rustic, with handcrafted products that offer a cultivated charm. There are many exciting things on the horizon for Anderson Tuftex, with several new styles making their debut in 2018.

“I am excited about the momentum around this new premium floorcovering brand and our ability to inspire discerning consumers by creating a meaningful experience,” said Tim Baucom, executive vice president, residential business. “The timing is perfect with the increased sophistication of today’s consumer and her desire for a brand like Anderson Tuftex that offers transparency and authenticity.”

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J+J Flooring Group partners with APPA to host facilities workshop

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-11-23-03-amDalton–J+J Flooring Group is partnering with APPA to present a Facilities Drive-In Workshop, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Roosevelt University in Schaumburg, Ill.

In collaboration with APPA and Roosevelt University, J+J Flooring Group has developed a content focus that has strategic application to financial outcomes, student and faculty satisfaction and safety in education facilities. The session will consist of three topic areas: “Leveraging the Built Environments to Enhance Brand Power,” “The Emergence of Research-Based Design in Learning Environments” and “Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls.”

The workshop is geared to local area technical and non-technical facility professionals at all levels who work at public and private educational institutions, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Facility professionals at museums and libraries are also welcomed to attend.

The registration fee is complimentary and includes a continental breakfast and lunch but space is limited. All registrants will earn 0.4 CEUs, 4 PDH units and 4 LUs. Each session will include the use of audience-response technology, allowing attendees to participate with individual feedback and personalized interactivity.

Facility professionals can register at http://www.appa.org/roosevelt_j%26j/

 

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Beauflor taps Distribution Jacques-Cartier to cover parts of Canada

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-49-05-pmAtlanta–Beauflor continues to expand its North American distribution network with new partner Distribution Jacques-Cartier. The distributor will offer the full line of Beauflor cushion vinyl flooring as well as click luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and planks in eastern Canada.

“This welcome addition to our distributor network allows Beauflor to be closer to our Canadian customers, providing a superior service and product delivery experience,” said Steve Roan, Beauflor’s sales and marketing director for North America.

Customers in Ontario, Quebec and Maritimes will now be serviced by Jacques-Cartier for access to Beauflor products, including cushion vinyl rolls and PURE click vinyl planks.

“This announcement is one of the proudest moments for Distribution Jacques-Cartier,” said Marie-Line Dion, owner of Distribution Jacques-Cartier. “We are very pleased to become the Beauflor distributor for Eastern Canada, as we are always keen to offer our customers quality product lines with a choice of design trends at competitive prices.”

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FCICA celebrates 35 years

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-27-22-amWest Bloomfield, Mich.—FCICA, the Flooring Contractors Association, is excited for the 2016/2017 membership year as they celebrate their 35th year of promoting and representing the commercial floor covering industry.

FCICA was formed in 1982 by 10 flooring contractors who were workroom only at the time. “It is amazing to see how far we have come and I look forward to seeing where we evolve in the future,” said executive vice president Kim Oderkirk.

The Flooring Contractors Association will continue its mission to provide relevant and innovative educational sessions led by industry leaders as well as member resources. New this year, FCICA will extend its webinar offerings to include one free product focused webinar per month beginning in January 2017. Additionally, the Commercial Flooring Tradeshow, March 6, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas, will host four product demonstrations for attendees.

FCICA will soon be launching a new interactive website and member center which will provide members with greater networking capabilities and business resources.

“We appreciate the continued support and contributions from all of our members,” said Sarah Bays, membership coordinator. “We would like to recognize those members who have been with us from the start: Acton Flooring, Consolidated Carpet, Craigs Carpetcraft and Michael Halebian & Company.”

For more information about FCICA visit www.fcica.com or call 248-661-5015, toll free (877) TO-FCICA.

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Bostik and Artaic will co-host major workshop at Microsoft store in Boston

untitled2Wauwatosa, Wis.—On Oct. 6, 2016, Bostik and Artaic will co-host an event at Boston’s Prudential Center Microsoft store. Attendees of the Microsoft store event will be able to participate in a state-of-the-art, hands-on mosaic workshop using Artaic’s Tessera software.

Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to get involved/learn about how best to install glass mosaics using Bostik’s Dimension Grout. After the Microsoft store festivities, there will be a networking function at the nearby Mandarin Oriental Boston Hotel, where attendees can learn even more from representatives from both companies.

untitled1“Together with Artaic, we plan to showcase cutting-edge ways to specify and then install mosaics,” stated Scott Banda, Bostik’s director of marketing and business development. “And, to do so in very upbeat, unique and technologically-advanced venues. In particular, architects, designers and others interested in what’s happening tomorrow in the tile industry, will want to attend this event.”

This free event is located:
Boston Prudential Center Microsoft Store
800 Boylston St. #27
Boston, MA 02199

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NWFA participates in media tour to promote consumer publication

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-22-57-pmSt. Louis, Mo.—The National Wood Flooring Association recently participated in a media tour with consumer publications in conjunction with Bona US to promote the Wood Floor Styles and Trends guide. Bona sponsored the guide on behalf of NWFA and its members to utilize as a consumer marketing tool.

Designed to educate consumers about wood floors, the 16-page guide highlights tips, styles, trends and best practices for hardwood floors. The guide also focuses on the benefits of wood flooring including the sustainability of hardwood floors.

“Meeting with editors of consumer and design-focused publications provides an opportunity for NWFA to establish itself as the go-to contact for all their wood flooring questions,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “It allows us to understand what their editorial needs may be, and gives us an opportunity to provide resources that align with their editorial calendars.”

The media tour gave NWFA an opportunity to present a variety of relevant information in a short face-to-face meeting, including maintenance, the benefits of wood over other look-alike flooring options, trends and how to find qualified wood flooring professionals through NWFA’s “Find a Professional” web search function.

“It was a pleasure to team up with NWFA and leverage their industry expertise with top tier consumer and design publications,” said Cate Vanegas, director of marketing, Bona US. NWFA provided an American hardwood species sample kit as a leave-behind resource for editors, along with information about maintenance and trends. Bona launched its new Bona DriFast Stain Collection and Bona Disposable Dusting Cloths.

More information about the NWFA Wood Floor Styles and Trends guide is available at http://www.nwfa.org/technical-resources.aspx.

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Tramex introduces new pin-type moisture meter

pr_-photo_tramex_ptm2-0_flooringKilmacanogue, Ireland—Tramex introduces Professional PTM2.0—its new pin-type moisture meter. Tramex’s new device marks an enhancement in hand-held, digital pin-meter moisture testing and combines a list of features that save time, are more accurate and offer statistical analysis of Wood, Drywall and comparative WME (Wood Moisture Equivalent).

The Professional PTM2.0 contains a built-in international standard calibration selection and specific calibration for over 500 wood species. Each calibration curve has point-to-point precision for heightened accuracy of moisture content measurement.

The pin-type moisture meter comes with adjustable temperature correction and internal calibration checking, as well as responsive ergonomic technology.

The Professional PTM2.0 allows users to save up to 100 readings for max, min, average and standard deviation statistics—all visible on the devices large display screen.

For more information email: sales@tramexmeters.com
Or call: 1800-234-5849