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New multi-family housing rides rollercoaster in 2017

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15

By K.J. Quinn

 

Builders and residential contractors experienced a rollercoaster ride serving the multi-family housing market in 2017, observers reported, as this volatile business saw demand fluctuate by quarter and macro issues impede growth.

“When the final data come in, we expect multi-family starts to be down almost 10% over the course of 2017,” said Robert Dietz, senior vice president and chief economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “We expect multi-family development to record additional, slight declines [in 2018].” Multi-family housing includes low-rent units and market-rate rental units in addition to condominiums.

Multi-family housing starts and permits (five or more units) declined 12% in October 2017 compared to the same month in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Additional construction data from Dodge Data & Analytics—which includes some units the Census Bureau and HUD consider single family—provide further evidence the market is in decline. “The [numbers are still being crunched for 2017] but we’re on track for multi-family housing starts as they are measured by Dodge to decline 7% to 475,000 units,” Kim Kennedy, manager of forecasting, said at the end of 2017.

Like peeling an onion, additional layers must be uncovered to view construction data in its entirety. The latest Census Bureau and HUD housing data reveals multi-family housing starts consisting of five or more units jumped 37% from September to October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 393,000 units. Authorization of building permits in housing with five units or more rose 13% to 416,000.

New multi-family construction saw fluctuations in market conditions influenced by such factors as Mother Nature, the economy and changing homebuyer demographics. For example, the supply of apartments and condominiums surged in recent years as builders responded to rising demand fueled in part by young Americans who preferred to rent rather than purchase a home in the aftermath of the recession, according to published reports. “Rental housing demand should remain solid, but it is no longer growing as it did in the year immediately after the Great Recession,” NAHB’s Dietz said. “Thus, the multi-family sector is currently seeking a balance between supply and demand.”

The market recovered approximately 96% of the previous, bubble-induced peak of 508,000 housing starts set in 2005, Dodge’s Kennedy observed. “Because multi-family recovered quickly beginning in 2010, it is also peaking earlier than single-family housing for this construction cycle. The 2016 level is very likely the peak for this cycle.”

Macro issues such as escalating building materials and labor costs are contributing to rising home prices while leaving less discretionary money for buyers to spend on flooring upgrades. Finding enough buildable lots to keep up with demand remains a major hurdle for the construction industry. And perhaps the biggest issue of all is a tightness in labor nationwide, which is reportedly contributing to keeping single- and multi-family housing markets from being overbuilt.

“Multi-family is solid, but there is some slowdown in new construction in certain markets,” noted Jay Smith, president, FEI Group, a nationwide network of interior finish contractors and showrooms that includes MultiFamily Solutions by FloorExpo.

One trend expected to continue is the movement toward smaller home designs, which traces its roots to around the time when the housing bubble burst. The average multi-family property is reportedly getting smaller, following years in which builders disproportionately constructed high-end homes. This situation may be short-lived, however, as multi-family developers build more for-sale housing units in the years ahead and older millennials settle down and start raising families.

“There is a trend toward smaller units but this only means more units and not less square footage as overall building sizes aren’t decreasing,” explained Randy Rubenstein, owner, Rubenstein’s Contract Carpet/North American Terrazzo, a Seattle-based flooring contractor. “But one trend we’re noticing is the increase in amenity floors trending with higher-end finishes.”

Demanding but lucrative
The overwhelming majority of residential flooring contractors are large, highly sophisticated and well-financed specialists. While multi-family housing can be a lucrative business given the amount of volume and growth prospects, it requires the necessary resources and financial wherewithal to keep up with daily service demands. “The overhead costs often exceed the margins,” noted Ron Dunn, co-founder and co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, the parent company of brands CarpetsPlus/Color Tile, Carpetland USA Color Tile, Floorco and Clean Touch Pro. “Most flooring dealers that are doing property management work typically specialize in it, and it is their main business model.”

Production building is a highly transactional business that requires builders’ dealers to pay close attention to managing their daily operations and overhead. If they cannot provide timely, cost-effective, turnkey service, builders have more options at their fingertips. “Dealers [serving] these markets will need to bring speed of service, high levels of productivity, modern systems, deep capital position, the appropriate facilities and readiness to satisfy very demanding customers,” FEI Group’s Smith said.

While the segment is highly specialized, there are similarities with the commercial flooring business. “It’s really no different than any other major commercial construction project, with all of the same challenges since the major high-rise multi-family projects are being built by the same large general contractors who are also doing non-residential work,” Rubenstein said.

Finding and maintaining installation crews who can quickly install flooring in large projects is a major challenge given the restricted labor market and higher wages paid to skilled workers. “Dealers need a lot of installation crews and operational assets to service multi-family builders,” said David Holt, Mohawk Industries’ senior vice president of sales. “If they screw up with those builders, they’re going to go out of business.”

Similar to a doctor, dealers are always on call as notifications for next-day installations can be received in less than 24 hours. “This requires manufacturers and flooring dealers to be in sync with product and inventory needs like never before,” said Brad Christensen, vice president, business strategy, builder, Shaw Floors. “Flooring dealers, in an attempt to become more efficient, have inventories as lean as possible and, as a result, they have been very savvy with the management of their SKUs and do their best to avoid duplication.”

Working with flooring suppliers who provide high-quality products and, when necessary, are there to help minimize the impact of installation callbacks is imperative. “That way, the builder can continue to look forward to knowing you are there to take care of any problems,” said Rob Brockman, channel marketing manager for contractor, builder, developer and property manager at Armstrong Flooring. “Building a strategic partnership focused on the builder’s needs is the challenge that is built over time on a foundation of trust.”

Flooring choices evolve
Whether it’s inside a dealer or builder showroom, multi-family homebuyers are given opportunities to upgrade to better quality flooring. The incentive for builders and dealers to encourage upgrade purchases is two-fold: It ensures customers receive a good-looking, high-performing product that meets their expectations and profit margins are considerably higher than base-grade products. “Consumer knowledge and education result in higher sales dollars for the same amount of work,” Alliance Flooring’s Dunn pointed out. “It’s a win-win-win for the builder, the homeowner and the flooring dealer.”

Most flooring upgrades are allocated for kitchens and baths, experts noted, because both areas offer the greatest return on investment and time spent in the home. “Large kitchens and open-concept design are still things that homebuyers seem to want,” Armstrong’s Brockman said. “This creates an opportunity to sell upgrade flooring as there is no real separation of spaces in these open plans.”

While flooring choices vary by region, carpet is the leading surface for multi-family spaces, though hard surfaces and higher-end goods are trending up, suppliers reported. “In multi-family homes, many people have pets,” Mohawk’s Holt noted. “So carpet is being replaced more frequently, usually within four to five years.”

New hard surfaces such as LVT and WPC are reportedly gaining coverage in multi-family environments. “Buyer preferences are leaning toward hard surfaces—mainly LVT—because of their great looks, durability and water resistance,” Brockman added.

Homebuyers still desire natural products such as ceramic tile and hardwood, which studies indicate add value to the home. Upgrades to these higher-priced products are becoming more prevalent given looser loan standards that help customers secure additional financing. “We’ve seen strong growth in town homes and patio homes in which higher quality floor coverings and better finishes are being selected,” Alliance Flooring’s Dunn said.

Looking ahead, the multi-family housing channel represents a lucrative opportunity for dealers who are well positioned to service the many needs of builders and homebuyers. “FloorExpo [believes] the multi-family and builder segments to be the most challenging in flooring,” FEI Group’s Smith said. “If done right, dealers can be very successful.”

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Resilient: LVT—A five-tool player that’s finding comfort in virtually all segments

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Ken Ryan

 

In baseball, a five-tool player excels at all the fundamentals. In flooring, that five-tool “player” would be LVT—a rare product rich in features and versatility suitable for virtually all commercial and residential segments—from Courtyard Marriott hotel rooms to residential basements.

LVT (including WPC and rigid core products) has been growing at a double-digit rate for the past several years, during which time it has expanded its reach across all segments.

Property Management
Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.51.30 AMSimply put, LVT has succeeded in the property management channel because it provides longer life than carpet. That’s according to Jerry Hosko, president and COO of Redi Carpet, which bills itself as America’s largest multi-family flooring provider. LVT has been widely accepted on first floor units of apartment communities because there are no acoustical issues to be concerned with. “It is not being used as widely on upper floors for the acoustic reasons although the underlayments on the market have helped somewhat,” he said. “WPC is not used as much due to additional cost above and beyond standard LVT products, but it is gaining acceptance in certain applications and is expected to gain more interest for its waterproof qualities, especially in the wake of recent flooding.”

John Kelleher, president of the property management division of Rite Rug, a large retailer, said LVP has really taken over the new construction of apartments and renovation, supplanting carpet and VCT. “Eight years ago LVP started to come around, and the last five years we have seen tremendous growth in that product. It has gotten better as far as development, and I think it is going to continue. It is a big product for us in property management and continues to grow thanks to the innovation of the plank.”

Gary Russo, owner of United Flooring and Paint, a flooring contractor, said ease of maintenance was a huge factor in United’s ability to get quick product placement for customers in its St. Louis and Chicago markets. As he explained, “Typically a plank can be pulled up and replaced, although many times with direct glue-down plank, the substrate can be damaged when the flooring is removed.”

Russo noted that easy cleanup is another reason for the success of vinyl plank.

Residential replacement
Among hard surfaces, hardwood flooring is the aspirational product of choice for most consumers. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon for a consumer to walk into a flooring store, ask for hardwood flooring and leave with LVT/WPC. “People are buying it because of the way it looks,” said Larry Noel, president of sales for retail for Rite Rug, citing the incredible realism.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.51.38 AMOf course, LVT goes well beyond aesthetics. LVT is a much more family-friendly product than wood or laminate, proponents say. “LVT provides style with much more realism than laminate,” Noel said. “You don’t hear the tapping sound you get with laminate when you walk over it, and LVT is more forgiving than laminate.”

LVT is finding usefulness in virtually every room of the house these days, and some of these homes are large and expensive. Noel shared that Rite Rug just secured a project on a $2.2 million home in Columbus, Ohio, in which the homeowner requested LVT be installed in his basement.

Specified commercial
LVT/P wasn’t always the product de jour for the commercial segment, and in some LEED buildings, designers are hesitant to specify LVT because it contains PVCs, and therefore is not a truly sustainable product. However, concern over constant maintenance, scratches and moisture have steered some commercial establishments away from real wood and put LVT in play.

LVT is also gaining ground in hospitality. For years, designers would only specify carpet for guestrooms in hotels. Today, LVT is being paired with area rugs in many hotels, especially boutique properties and limited service brands like Courtyard Marriott. 

Marriott is even using LVT in the bathrooms of new properties.

Cost and time spent on a project are factors when specifying products. In LVT businesses see a faster, less-expensive turnaround and save money on labor. They also don’t have to shut down as long to accommodate lengthy acclimations or installations.

Angie Clarkson, LEED AP BD+C, a registered interior designer at architecture and interiors firm LWPB, weighed the pros and cons of LVT vs. other hard surface products. “On one hand, LVT is never going to feel the same underfoot as a natural hardwood floor. Any imperfections in the substrate will certainly transfer to the surface, just like any 1⁄8-inch-thick product. On the other hand, it gives designers a world of exotic wood species at their fingertips. You want the look of endangered African rosewood? You’ve got it without the long lead times or the ecological guilt.”

Builder
Many builders would rather install hardwood floors or ceramic tile for entryways, great rooms, kitchens and bath areas because it raises the value of the home. Increasingly, however, LVT is being used in new construction given the product’s relative affordability and realistic looks of stone and wood. What’s more, LVT is easier underfoot than wood or ceramic and individual tiles and planks that get damaged can be more easily repaired.

Eastwood Homes, Charlotte, N.C., offers luxury vinyl planks in several divisions and has received positive feedback. “Our homeowners love LVP because it gives them the look of real wood in a material that is even more durable than wood,” said Clark Stewart, president. “When installed correctly, LVP is impervious to water and holds up incredibly well to the wear and tear of real life.”

Stewart called LVP “a dream come true for dog owners, parents or anyone who appreciates low-maintenance, high-durability flooring.”

Main Street
Small businesses are playing a pivotal role in the growth of the U.S. economy. These Main Street businesses—whether they are small retail shops, professional offices, restaurants or cafes—all have one thing in common: They need a durable, beautiful floor that’s low maintenance. LVT, engineered with more durability than what would normally be considered adequate for residential, has found a home in Main Street, and flooring dealers are seizing this channel opportunity.

“In Main Street LVT/WPC—with its durability—is quickly replacing VCT as a mainstay floor,” said Mike Foulk, president of Foulk’s Flooring America, Meadville, Pa. “The wood looks and tile visuals give the designers added decorating possibilities. The ease of maintenance is a welcome feature for the end user.”

Casey Dillabaugh, president of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, in Boise, Idaho, said many Main Street jobs have imperfections in some of the spaces; as such, a product with flexibility like LVT can fill that need. “It’s simply the most practical given the different installation options and should the space have stringent guidelines on what is and is not allowable. Add in how easy LVT is to replace and/or repair and clients see even more benefit.”

 

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Underlayment: Suppliers serve up solutions for multi-family applications

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.04.52 AMUnderlayment suppliers are focusing more of their attention on the all-important multi-family sector of the housing market. Specifically, they are developing products that aim to meet or exceed the stringent building code requirements for multi-family dwellings while complementing the vast array of flooring products designed to coordinate with them.

That’s certainly the focus of companies like MP Global Products, maker of the well-known QuietWalk brand of sound-deadening underlayment products designed to quiet noisy floating floors such as laminates. “Our company has concentrated on acoustic underlayment almost since our founding 20 years ago—which incidentally is exactly the same year the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) was formed,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing. “Together with NALFA, we helped the manufacturers of laminate flooring establish standards for underlayments with regard to several attributes, including sound attenuation.”

QuietWalk, MP Global’s hallmark product, is branded as such for its ability to draw sound in and deaden it. “The original train of thought was to help deaden the ‘clicky’ sound of laminate flooring within the room and make it sound more like solid wood,” Boesch explained. “During that process we also discovered that architects and designers loved our underlayments for use in condominiums and apartment buildings.”

Other major suppliers of underlayment products are busy at work tackling the noise-transfer issue in multi-family applications. For example, Diversified Industries, manufacturer of the popular FloorMuffler line of products, is looking to make sure it has all the bases covered in that respect.

“While flooring suppliers are working to develop products with better sound characteristics, the best solution for noise reduction is a quality underlayment,” said Colleen Gormley, national marketing coordinator. “We are continuously testing our products with the most up-to-date building code requirements to ensure flooring suppliers have a proven underlayment to partner with their flooring.”

Due to the advances in sound-reduction technology, Gormley is seeing the use of hard surface flooring becoming much more prevalent in multi-family construction than ever before—which is guiding much of the new product development within the company. “We have developed an entire line of products to provide superior noise reduction for every type of hard surface flooring installation. This includes our new line of rubber underlayments, FloorMuffler FLEX, which can be used under anything from tile to hardwood flooring.”

Dan Davis, national retail business manager, multi-family sector, HPS Schönox North America, also sees the multi-family market moving away from carpet and toward LVT. For its part, Schönox has developed several underlayments to address this trend. Chief among them is Schönox TS, an impact, sound-deadening underlayment made of cork and recycled urethane granules that not only provides impact and sound attenuation but also comfort underfoot. “This is used underneath LVT floors so the residents living below won’t hear anything,” he explained.

Schönox takes it a step further by focusing on the condition of the substrate prior to the application of a sound-deadening underlayment. To that end, the company offers AP, a dust- reduced synthetic gypsum compound that’s suitable over gypsum-based cement floors common in multi-family applications, and APF, a fiber-reinforced self leveling compound. “These are high-performance products that are proprietary to us and designed to go with these gypsum subfloors,” Davis said. “Our products are specifically designed to bond with gypsum subfloors, not separate or push away from them.”

Future Foam is also keeping a close eye on trends in the multi-family sector and is responding accordingly. “Multi-family is a very interesting sector for carpet cushion companies, including Future Foam,” said Mark Foster, regional manager. “We are often challenged by economic hurdles with carpet cushion, but we have seen an uptick in interest for sound abatement and comfort under LVT flooring.”

Builders, Foster notes, often lose sight of the advantages of providing a cushion under LVT floors. “Acoustical properties play a big role in deciding what is to be used in multi-family dwellings today, so Future Foam provides sound ratings for applications under numerous hard surface products. A cushion that provides comfort and sound absorption are the keys to these projects.”

Soundseal, which offers a range of underlayment products specifically for certain flooring categories, is also keenly focused on the red-hot LVT segment. “As new products become available we endeavor to find suitable products to use under them,” said Dale Asp, business development manager, Impacta Floor Underlayments. “We developed VC300 and Probase Vinyl to be used under LVT products in multi-family dwellings. We also offer our Cerazorb and Probase Rubber underlayments, which can be used under a broad base of flooring products.”

In that same vein, the increasing popularity of LVT has led WE Cork to its latest introduction, Silently-LVT, which provides a low-profile sound solution under floating and glue-down LVT. According to Ann Wicander, president, “Silently-LVT can also be used as a single-stick method over hard-to-glue to substrates—such as lightweight concrete or surfaces that are expensive to remove like asbestos tile—by loose laying the Silenlty-LVT over the floor and gluing directly on it. This method saves time and money during installation, and is the perfect underlayment for apartments offering a high sound insulation rating of Delta IIC 20.”

WE Cork has a long track record of developing products for the multi-family sector. Back in 1978, when condominium development began to take off, WE Cork initially offered sound-control products for ceramic tile applications under the WECU (WE Cork Underlayments) brand. That paved the way for Soundless +, a product Wicander called “the highest performing product under ceramic tile applications in a concrete structure without a suspended ceiling.” WE Cork then went on to introduce the Warm & Quiet product line for use under hardwood and laminates. “This offers an easy-to-install, lightweight yet highly insulating solution that meets all requirements in the U.S.”

 

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Surging multi-family housing market translates into opportunities for retailers

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By K.J. Quinn

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.16.04 PMThe housing market lately has been a tale of two cities, as long-term growth prospects for new multi-family homes lags behind single-family startups. Nonetheless, the sector remains important and lucrative for the flooring industry, especially for hard surfaces, industry members say.

“The single-family builder market and multi-family market performed as forecasted,” said David Holt, senior vice president of builder and multi-family/retail and hard surface, Mohawk Industries. “Both segments were up in the 7% to 10% [growth] area, and we continue to see a shift of the percentage of the floor to the hard surface side.”

In October multi-family production catapulted nearly 69% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department reported. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Multifamily Production Index (MPI), which measures builder and developer sentiment about the current market, posted gains in the 2016 third quarter, an indication more respondents believe business conditions are improving.

“The health of the market is evident from builders’ optimism about the current state of the housing market and their short-term outlook for construction,” said Anne Thompson, economist, Dodge Data & Analytics. “Builders are also optimistic about the current and future state of the remodeling market as those who cannot afford to purchase new homes are spending more on upgrades to their existing properties.”

Lower unemployment rates and a healthier economy coupled with rising household formations are expected to help sustain growth into the New Year, according to published reports. “In the Pacific Northwest, interest rates remain low and demand high for residential, so there continues to be strong growth in the construction of new apartments and condominiums,” said Randy Rubenstein, owner, Rubenstein’s Contract Carpet/North American Terrazzo, Seattle. The multi-family housing market includes low-rent units, market-rate rental units and condos.

Whether multi-family construction can maintain its current growth rate beyond 2017, however, is debatable. There are economic indicators that reveal the market may already be softening.

“2018 could see quite a slowdown in comparison to the robust market we have had,” said Elizabeth Hurley, director of strategic accounts at Tarkett. “Already indicators show rent rates are slipping and vacancies are creeping up.”

In October multi-family housing permits—which represents the pipeline for new home construction—dropped 3.3% to 467,000, according to published reports. “We expect a small decline for multi-family starts as that market seeks a balance between supply and demand,” said Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist. Demographics, most notably recovering household formations, are reportedly driving demand for rental apartments.

Flooring sales impacted
A major hurdle facing developers of multi-family housing is finding enough buildable lots to keep up with demand. “There remains an under-supply of housing in this country, and that reality, along with the current trend toward a more urban lifestyle, have combined to foster demand,” said Scott Rozmus, president, Florstar Sales, a Romeoville, Ill.-based flooring distributor.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.16.22 PMTightness in construction labor is contributing to keeping both the single- and multi-family housing markets from being overbuilt. “If the new [presidential] administration eases tight credit and provides tax incentives to small businesses, homebuilders will benefit,” Dodge’s Thompson said. “However, limiting immigration and rising rates of deportation would further impede the already tight market for construction workers.”

The average multi-family property is reportedly getting smaller, following years in which builders disproportionately constructed high-end homes. This trend may be short lived as older millennials settle down and start raising families. “Their perceived preference for more urban living, where zoning and land cost issues tend to limit the size of homes, may constrain growth in homes,” Thompson said. “Downsizing by baby boomers, however, may have the opposite impact.”

While carpet is the leading surface for multi-family spaces, flooring choices are trending more toward hard surfaces and higher-end goods, suppliers report. “New technologies in sheet and especially LVT have gained traction in the multi-family environment, which also sees frequent use of hardwood, laminate and ceramic products, along with carpet,” Florstar’s Rozmus explained. “Opportunities vary by developer, owner and market.”

LVT and WPC products are among the most sought after, experts say, as buyers covet their high performance and good looks. “LVT is growing rapidly and WPC is a significant part of the share shift as well, both at the continued expense of broadloom,” said David Gheesling, CEO, FEI Group, a Marietta, Ga.-based network of flooring contractors, cabinetry and countertop dealers, and decorative hardware and plumbing businesses. “While we obviously participate in all these surfaces, the initial concern was the longer replacement cycle this trend could produce for our industry. That is indeed taking place, but we’re pleased to already see replacements generated by changing color and style trends.”

Plank looks are among the most popular in hard surfaces, according to vendors. “Our visuals and technology at Mohawk are so innovative that it is almost impossible to tell wood from plank, sheet vinyl or LVT,” Holt said. “The surface is determined by cost and property use.”

While multi-family is part of the builder segment, it is a distinctly different channel than single-family homes. “New construction—whether it be single- or multi-family—is a specialized market and requires special talents and business models to excel and make large profits,” Holt said. “It requires a lot of money, labor, operational and organizational skills.”

The timing may be right for dealers to enter the business, considering the multi-family sector is expected to thrive at least over the next 12 months, based on the latest housing data and economic forecasts. “At the recent NAFCD (National Association of Floor Covering Distributors) conference, speakers indicated the current population and housing trends would continue to favor the multi-family sector,” Florstar’s Rozmus explained. “So it would seem prudent for retailers and contractors to seek opportunities, develop contacts and acquire product knowledge and training that will allow them to maximize the benefits available from the current tailwinds.”

The price of entry, however, is fairly steep, which helps explain, in part, why this segment remains highly specialized. Market demands are similar to what residential flooring contractors encounter in the single-family builder market, experts say. “The overwhelming majority of the residential contract arena is serviced by large, highly sophisticated, well-financed specialists,” FEI Group’s Gheesling said. “The operational aspects alone are significantly different from the retail business, and it’s not something most retailers are set up to tackle.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.16.10 PMIndeed, inventory, pricing requirements and service timelines are all significant factors and require a substantial commitment in time, resources and investment just to make par. “You have to have a commitment to inventory on hand, something most dealers are trying to get away from,” Tarkett’s Hurley said. “Multi-family customers continue to challenge dealers with not only, ‘how quickly can you get it here,’ but also, ‘how quickly can you install it.’”

Similar to the retail business, the shortage of qualified installers is a thorn in the sides of builder dealers, an issue further compromised for those servicing multiple market segments. Between tenants and trades coming in after the flooring is installed, dealers often need to make several return visits to address issues on jobsites.

Nonetheless, the multi-family channel represents a lucrative opportunity for dealers who are well positioned to service the needs of end users and builders. Vendors attempt to do their part by developing products that are easier to install, so mechanics get in and out of jobs quickly. “Certainly, this trend provides opportunity for flooring retailers and contractors to gain traction, particularly with products like Armstrong’s FasTak LVT, whose all but unique installation methodology provides a huge competitive advantage in the multi-family arena,” Florstar’s Rozmus said. “Products like these provide the realism that residents desire while offering the ease of installation, repair and maintenance that owners and facility managers demand.”