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Mullican introduces solid oak flooring collection

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 2.33.59 PMJohnson City, Tenn.–Mullican Flooring debuted a new solid oak collection at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas, held Jan. 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

The St. James Collection features a wire-brushed surface texture in four designer colors—Catalina, Harbor Mist, Seabrook and Sea Salt. This 3/4-inch-thick solid product is manufactured in a narrow, 3-inch width and captures the beauty found in the oak species. In addition, the new product offering is protected by Mullican’s Alpha A’Lumina Real World Finish and carries a 25-year finish warranty.

“This collection features a double stain application process that enhances the distinctive grain of the wood species, giving it an atypical appearance,” said Brian Greenwell, vice president of sales and marketing. “The St. James Collection provides another means for us to ensure that designers and homeowners alike can choose flooring that perfectly suits their projects and their personal preferences.”

All of Mullican’s prefinished and unfinished solid flooring is produced in the U.S., along with a substantial amount of the company’s engineered floors.

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Evans appointed plant manager for Mullican

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 8.34.28 PMJohnson City, Tenn.—Mullican Flooring, a leading manufacturer of hardwood floors, has appointed Kyle Evans as plant manager for the company’s Johnson City, Tenn., manufacturing facility. In his new position, Evans will manage and direct the plant operations of the 309,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which includes production, milling and finishing. In addition to ensuring the safety of nearly 300 employees, Evans will be responsible for optimizing production and verifying product quality.

“Kyle comes to Mullican with a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience in the hardwood flooring industry,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “His strong technical skills are matched by his enthusiasm for his work.”

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Mullican celebrates 30th anniversary in style

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.08.33 PMWhite Sulphur Springs, W. Va.—Mullican returned to its West Virginia roots this month to celebrate its 30th anniversary as a hardwood flooring manufacturer. The company chose the iconic Greenbrier resort here for the gathering, which featured 240 guests, among them leading Mullican distributors, core lumber suppliers and other key vendors.

Starting with 10 SKUs in 1985, today Mullican offers “1,000 SKUs across prefinished solid, unfinished solid—so many surface textures it blows my mind,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican. “We are going to keep producing leading-edge styles to keep pace with the latest design trends.”

Except for a brief pre-event meeting, the two days were devoted to fun and fellowship. “We wanted to celebrate in a big way…30 years is a tremendous accomplishment,” added Poland, who joined the company 17 years ago.

Mullican’s birthplace, Ronceverte, W. Va., is just 10 miles from Greenbrier. The company was founded by Bill Mullican, Sr., who bought a facility that made flooring for large trucks and converted the site into a hardwood manufacturing business.

Originally known for unfinished solid wood flooring sourced from Appalachian forests, Mullican has since grown into an international competitor with a broad range of prefinished, engineered and exotic products. In all, it offers more than 1,500 products through 50 distributors and 5,000 retailers. Mullican still operates the original plant in Ronceverte while manufacturing hardwood in Johnson City, Tenn., its headquarters; Norton, Va.; and Holland, N.Y.

In recent years Mullican has increased its domestic production by shifting a large segment of its engineered manufacturing from Asia to the renovated facility in Johnson City.

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Jennifer Greenwell named Mullican’s marketing coordinator

Jennifer Greenwell HeadshotJohnson City, Tenn.—Jennifer Greenwell has been named Mullican Flooring’s marketing coordinator. In her new role, Greenwell is responsible for overseeing the company’s sales incentives, Partners in Profit program and social media activity as well as managing the organization’s Gold Dealer Program, an exclusive rebate initiative for Mullican retailers.

Greenwell has more than 16 years of sales and marketing experience including six years in a previous marketing position at Mullican.

“With her extensive sales and marketing background as well as her detailed knowledge of our operations, [Jennifer] will certainly be an asset to our company,” said Neil Poland, president, Mullican.

 

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Mullican partners with HGTV's ‘Property Brothers’

mullican 30thJohnson City, Tenn.—Mullican Flooring is partnering with HGTV’s top-rated show, “Property Brothers,” as the exclusive provider of hardwood flooring for its upcoming season, scheduled to premiere later this month. Mullican also provided products from several of its solid and engineered flooring collections for seven episodes of the popular show’s fourth season last year.

According to company statements, HGTV was a top-10 cable network last season among viewers ages 25 to 54, drawing an average of more than 18 million primetime viewers each week. “Property Brothers” has ranked as one of the network’s most-watched programs since the show’s 2011 premiere.

“Our diverse product lines, which offer selections ranging from wide widths and longer lengths to textured surfaces and exciting new colors, ensure that designers and homeowners alike can choose flooring that perfectly suits their projects and personal tastes,” said Neil Poland, president, Mullican.

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Manufacturers maintain positive outlook despite concerns

December 8/15, 2014; Volume 28/Number 12

Wood

By Ken Ryan

Supply issues and raw material price hikes have forced hardwood flooring manufacturers to up their game in what they do best: produce high quality, stylish products that exhibit the value consumers demand. These efforts are expected to help steady the wood business in the coming year.

Michael Martin President and CEO, National Wood Flooring Association

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.27.26 PMIndustry experts are predicting that the hardwood category will continue to grow at a slow and steady pace. Estimates for 2014 put sales at about $2.7 billion, and projections out to 2019 are about $3.5 billion.

A big issue we’re seeing right now is the concern about installation taking place before HVAC is turned on in new construction. This creates a problem for other trades as well, not just hardwood, and could ultimately lead to flooring failures. To address this we’re meeting with national building organizations to tackle the problem and have our guidelines included in national building codes.

Another big issue we’re experiencing, and is occurring in all flooring segments, is the lack of qualified installers. Fewer young people are entering the trades these days—flooring in particular—because the work is physically demanding and they can earn better wages sitting at a computer. We’re working with other flooring groups through the Floor Covering Leadership Council to address this issue and develop training programs for vocational technology schools and veterans’ groups.

We also recently participated in providing feedback to the EPA on formaldehyde regulations. This is an issue that will definitely impact our industry going forward.

NWFA continues to monitor issues like the long-eared bat through our involvement in the Hardwood Federation. We also continue to monitor lead paint regulations, which affect wood flooring refinishers, Lacey, etc. Each year we visit Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Hardwood Federation to meet face-to-face with our legislators who can have the most impact on these issues. These meetings provide education and also real-life stories about how their decisions and votes affect people in their districts.

Paul Stringer Vice president, sales and marketing, Somerset

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.27.47 PMI pay little attention to what I hear related to forecast. There are so many variables that I can and can’t control. If I work hard on the things I can control, that will affect my performance more than any forecast. Now, what I hear from others in the industry is a year much like 2014, maybe 6% to 7% growth, but what I am more concerned about is how I reduce back orders. How do I handle sales promos that have more of a percentage impact than the overall forecast?

Lumber availability and prices will be key factors. I think the hardwood market is going through some changes related to higher-priced product due to higher raw material cost, insurance and other inflationary costs, which allow for lower-cost alternatives to be considered by consumers. What this does, in my opinion, is put more pressure on hardwood manufacturers to produce high quality, stylish products that exhibit the value consumers demand. The manufacturers that deliver these key attributes will fare better in the long run than price cutters. That has been our formula for success and it has been fun to sell and market products this way.

Somerset—and our customers as well—invested a lot of money and production time in 2014 on samples, displays and introducing new products. We think that Somerset and our distributors and retailers are in a great position to take advantage of that investment. We experienced strong introduction sales numbers on our new collections that only really had half the year in the market. We have continued to invest in better machinery, more kilns and other capital projects that improve the quality and service that is part of our philosophy for continued improvement. We don’t announce new infrastructure projects or make a big splash in the press when we do these things, but it is key to our goal of adding more value to our product for those customers who are driving our growth.

Pierre Thabet Founder and owner, Boa-Franc/Mirage

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.28.16 PMThe U.S. economy is recovering but the housing forecasts are still shy for 2015. The industry shouldn’t have high expectations on the new construction side of the market but there should be nice opportunities in the remodeling business. Being able to keep market share in the overall floor covering industry will remain a challenge for hardwood flooring manufacturers as people have moved down in their flooring options from wood to other less expensive alternatives. But on a more positive note, consumers’ growing preference for renewable, natural and local products will make hardwood manufacturers like Mirage more attractive.

Lumber pricing has stabilized, but supply remains a challenge. As I mentioned previously, maintaining market share will be of key importance as the hardwood industry is being attacked by all other categories with products that try to look like wood. It is understandable since wood is what consumers want to have in their homes, but for various reasons—budget, installation constraints, high traffic—cannot always purchase it. But, on the other side, it is comforting to know that people’s desire for wood is not abating at all.

In terms of trends, floors presenting character and color variations are hot and will continue to be in 2015. Consumers don’t have time to worry about the upkeep of their floors; they want a floor that is trendy but, moreover, they want it to be forgiving and easy to maintain. Textured floors such as our Imagine Collection and time-worn looking floors with character marks and color variations such as our Sweet Memories fulfill all these needs and will continue to have consumer preference in 2015. Obviously, the larger the better, so wide widths of 5 inches and more will also be everywhere next year.

Neil Poland President, Mullican Flooring

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.28.21 PMMullican Flooring’s growth target for 2015 is 10%, and our ability to reach that goal will depend on the growth of the housing market. If housing market growth remains flat or grows only at a single-digit rate, we will need to readjust our goal. We are bullish on the housing market over the next several years and truly believe that pent-up demand, combined with continued low interest rates, will be catalysts for significant growth.

As for trends, obviously wider widths and alternate species have been the drivers of any recent growth. We believe, however, that the combination of species, surface treatments and colors will merge together to create a visual element that will be in demand by consumers, designers and specifiers. Hardwood flooring manufacturers that are open minded, flexible and totally focused on style and design will lead the charge over the next five years. We are in the fashion business, and I believe that introducing the most fashionable products will be more important than ever.

The domestic lumber supply remains a concern. Sawmills have increased their production volume to meet the excessive demands that were experienced in 2014. In spite of this increased production, we are concerned about future global market growth and the ability of hardwood lumber producers to stay ahead of any additional increases in demand.

Lukasz Piatek Key accounts manager, Elegance Exotic Wood Flooring

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.28.28 PMWe see the overall market continuing to grow. As it does, our largest customers continue to open new locations, so we’re seeing their businesses expand as well. These customers are paying attention to things like the Lacey Act and CARB (a California regulation that restricts the use of formaldehyde in all wood products). For us that is an advantage because we are getting all of our raw materials from legitimate suppliers.

In 2015 we’re looking to increase our line with the mindset of quality vs. quantity. Our introductions will have a narrow focus aiming to be the products that move through the channel. We are coming out with some click products that we are excited about. While we have seen growth in solid and engineered, in the last two years we have seen the biggest spike in click products.

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Mullican Flooring donates hardwood flooring to Wounded Nature – Working Veterans

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.34.14 PMCharleston, S.C.—Mullican Flooring, a leading manufacturer of quality hardwood floors, has provided flooring to Wounded Nature – Working Veterans, a non-profit charity that is dedicated to cleaning up America’s coastlines while employing veterans who are re-entering the civilian workforce.

Mullican contributed 900 square feet of 1/2-inch engineered oak flooring that is certified 100% Pure by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Featuring a 5-inch width, the product will be installed in high traffic areas of the organization’s headquarters in Charleston.

“Wounded Nature – Working Veterans is in the process of restoring a house that had been vacant for six months and was in need of extensive repairs,” said Rudy Socha, CEO of Wounded Nature – Working Veterans. “I believe floors set the mood and tone for any property. We consider ourselves very lucky to have Mullican Flooring as a donation partner for this project. Their donation of high-quality and environmentally friendly flooring will help set a very positive mood for everyone who visits our headquarters.”

“Mullican’s partnership with Wounded Nature – Working Veterans makes sense given the commitment of both organizations to preserve our natural resources for future generations,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “Mullican Flooring is excited to provide flooring to Wounded Nature – Working Veterans, an organization that shares our respect for the environment.”

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Mullican Flooring to be featured in additional episodes of ‘Flipping Boston’

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 12.15.30 PMJohnson City, Tenn. –Mullican Flooring has provided hardwood flooring for two additional episodes of “Flipping Boston,” a television series on the A&E channel.

The first episode, “More for the Money,” is scheduled to air Saturday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. EST and feature a renovation project that includes flooring from Mullican’s solid, 3/4-inch Castillian Collection.

The Johnson City, Tenn.-based company supplied 450 square feet of Castillian oak glacier solid flooring for the house, located in Lynn, Mass. All Castillian products are high-end offerings, available in rustic, hand-sculpted and wire-brushed finishes in 5-inch widths.

The second episode, “Donaldson’s Duck,” will air Saturday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. EST. This episode will feature a renovation project in North Andover, Mass., that includes 2,000 square feet of Mullican’s maple cappuccino Muirfield solid flooring in a 4-inch width.

The Muirfield Collection is a four-sided, micro-beveled product protected by Mullican’s lifetime-warranty finish, Claritage Extra finish by PPG Industries, which offers durability and gloss longevity that exceeds those for other hardwood flooring products.

“‘Flipping Boston’ continues to showcase the wide selection of hardwood flooring products offered by Mullican Flooring,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “Homeowners and contractors often utilize hardwood flooring in renovation projects because of its timeless appeal and durability. Mullican Flooring’s extensive collections feature a diverse aesthetic appeal, allowing consumers to select a style that aligns with their individual needs.”

Now in its third season, “Flipping Boston” is a remake of the previous “Flip This House” series and features business partners Dave Seymour and Peter Souhleris. The show shadows the duo’s efforts to make renovations in a short time frame in order to achieve a profitable resale of homes in the Boston area.

Mullican’s hardwood flooring products have been featured in seven additional episodes of “Flipping Boston” this season: “Desi’s Debut,” “Ticked Off Tenant,” “Trouble and Strife,” “Dave’s Demons,” “Stink House,” “Flipping Boston Strong,” and “Flip to the Finish.”

More information about “Flipping Boston” can be found at aetv.com/flipping-boston.

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Mullican promotes Oaks to marketing manager

Amber Oaks Head Shot 7-16-14Johnson City, Tenn. — Amber Oaks has been promoted to marketing manager for Mullican Flooring, the company announced.

In her new position, Oaks will be responsible for the oversight of market research and strategic planning, along with design elements for company merchandising, website development and marketing materials. She will also oversee special promotions, trade shows and merchandising accounts.

Oaks joined Mullican Flooring in 2012 as marketing and claims coordinator. She will continue to work out of the company’s headquarters in Johnson City.

“Amber has been an asset to Mullican Flooring from the beginning,” said Brian Greenwell, Mullican’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We are privileged to have her play such a key role in our organization.”

Oaks received a business administration degree, with a concentration in marketing management, from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. While at ETSU, she completed requirements for a certificate from Northwestern Mutual’s Leadership Institute. A native of Kingsport, Tenn., Oaks resides in Johnson City with her husband, Seth Stringer.

“I feel fortunate to be associated with a company such as Mullican Flooring, and I’m extremely proud to be an integral part of its growth and future,” Oaks said. “I look forward to many more years of service with Mullican Flooring.”

 

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Industry expects second half to be better than first

July 7/14, 2014; Volume 28/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 10.40.11 AM

Despite a rocky start to the year—largely due to the unusually harsh winter that affected much of the country—2014 is still expected to be another modest growth year for the flooring industry, albeit perhaps not at the level many expected in late 2013.

“As we prepared for 2014 we anticipated that [positive] momentum would continue, expecting three or four years of steady improvement,” said Randy Merritt, president of Shaw residential. “Maybe we just hit a blip and will see a better second half.”

Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring, shared the sentiments of many when he said demand in 2014 has continued to grow but not at the rates of 2013 due to the colder winter. “Let’s hope the demand spike has just been delayed by the brutally cold winter,” he said. “We are optimistic the demand will accelerate in the next several months.”

Bruce Zwicker, CEO of Haines, the industry’s largest distributor, believes the overall flooring industry will grow 4.5% in 2014 driven by a 6% increase in the second half. More important, he believes the long-term fundamentals that drive the market, including housing starts, job creation, consumer confidence, etc., exist today.

Others, including Luc Robitaille, vice president of marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage brand, agreed that a bad winter can’t derail the comeback. “The economy is definitely on the right track and we think it will continue to deliver a sustained growth over the next few years,” he noted.

Flooring retailers grind it out

Challenging times are nothing new for independent flooring dealers. They’ve been through it before with the economic struggles in the mid-2000s, and the successful ones have learned to rely on their business acumen to navigate through the rough patches.

“You just have to grind it out,” said Paul Johnson, president, Interiors One Carpet One in Tulsa, Okla. “You have to continue to improve your business fundamentals and reinvest in your company. Those who didn’t do that during the recession are behind the 8-ball and finding it is really hard to play catch-up.”

Flooring America’s fiscal year runs from October through September, and its first quarter ending in December 2013 was, according to the group, terrific. “Then things stalled, especially in the Northeast and Midwest with the terrible weather we had, and those areas are still limping along,” said Keith Spano, president.

Indeed, the general economy contracted in the first quarter by 2.9%, the worst three-month period since the Great Recession. However, recent economic data is far more encouraging for a better second half and beyond.

On July 3, the Labor Department announced U.S. employers accelerated their hiring in June, adding an encouraging 288,000 jobs to help drive the unemployment rate to 6.1%, the lowest since September 2008.

It was the fifth straight monthly job gain above 200,000—the best such stretch since the late 1990s tech boom. Over the past 12 months the economy has added nearly 2.5 million jobs—208,000 a month, the fastest year-over-year pace since May 2006.

The July 3 report from the Labor Department underscored that the U.S. economy is moving closer to full health.

Several retailers said they have already seen business activity spike, which in turn has forced them to scramble to fulfill orders. Spano said he recently visited Flooring America stores in 10 states in a two-week span, and noted that “everyone is slammed right now from a written standpoint. Everyone is busy, but we will wait to see how the delivered piece comes in.”

Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery in Louisville, Ky., said 2014 has been a tale of two sides. “Sales have been very good for the first half of the year but deliveries were slow due to the prolonged winter. Now the weather is great and we are doing all we can to get the huge backlog installed.”

Overall, Freadreacea said he sees business continuing to grow in the second half and expects 2014 to show marked improvement over the past several years.

July has historically been a busy month for flooring retailers, a trend that would be great if it holds true for 2014. Michael Dominique, owner of Michaels Floor Depot in Clearwater, Fla., said June was his best month of 2014, and sales in the first half were up 10% to 15% over 2013.

Bill Zeigler, owner of Zeigler & Sons, Hanover, Pa., said after an up and down first half, billings have come back strong in June, which “bodes well for a better second half.”

Scott Milligan, owner of Heartland Wood Flooring in Pompano Beach, Fla., said the first half of 2014 was his best ever, with much of that growth coming on the commercial side, as South Florida’s housing market continues to rebound.

Spano said the retail segment, while lagging at times, is showing signs of more robust activity. “We are starting to see jobs for the whole house coming through rather than one-room type jobs,” he said. “That leaves us optimistic for the second half.”

He added that data shows 22% of homes last year at this time were under water compared with 11% this year. “Still, the ones who are in positive territory are not investing in flooring just yet. But with five consecutive months of good job growth—[in excess of] 200,000 jobs created—there is reason for optimism.”