Hardwood Floors February/March 2024

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FEB/MAR 2024




Olde Wood L I M I T E D




866-208-9663 | OldeWoodLtd.com


us.pallmann.net pallmannusa


Trusted by flooring professionals throughout North America, WOODWISE wood fillers are the gold standard for hardwood flooring applications and are supported by a full line of maintenance products, tools and accessories. To learn more or find a dealer near you, go to woodwise.com or call us at 425-869-0859 . THE RIGHT WOOD FILLERS FOR EVERY JOB



Design Hardwood Products, Inc. • Redmond, WA



Flooring Foundations By Libby White Johnston Cindy and Owen Bailey have grown their family business from a shed in 1993 to three locations in West Virginia today. Hear from the Baileys and other wood flooring professionals about how they laid the groundwork for success.




The Balancing Act: Creating a Foundation of Health and Wellness for Flooring Professionals By Michael Longshore In the world of flooring professionals, the job's demands extend far beyond the meticulous installation of flooring products. There is a unique terrain that presents specific mental and physical challenges to be navigated.

Selecting the Right Adhesive By Gary Scheidker

Hardwood flooring and their adhesives have evolved. The needs of these new hardwood flooring products can vary depending on the width, species, substrate, and environment that the flooring will live in.



Julie Russell | Chair Michael Martin | CEO Anita Howard | COO Brett Miller | VP, Technical Standards & Industry Partnerships Stephanie Owen | Executive Director, NERF NWFA LEADERSHIP

Industry Insights

16 Government Affairs Key federal initiatives

By Dana Lee Cole

impacting the hardwood industry. 20 Market Matters A slowdown without recession. 24 Design Trends Building strong relationships between flooring pros and designers.

By Santo Torcivia

PUBLICATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE Robert McNamara | Sheoga Hardwood Flooring Jason Elquest | Blackhawk Floors Inc. Lenny Hall | Endurance Floor Company Inc. Kevin Mullany | Benchmark Wood Floors Inc. Jim Schumacher

By Brittany Stout

Business Best Practices

Libby White Johnston | Publisher | libby.johnston@nwfa.org Burt Bollinger | Editor | burt.bollinger@nwfa.org Brett Miller | Technical Editor | brett.miller@nwfa.org Rhonda M. May | Creative Manager | rhonda.may@nwfa.org Amy Burris | Digital Manager | amy.burris@nwfa.org Bridget Norlie | Engagement Manager | bridget.norlie@nwfa.org PUBLICATION TEAM

28 Sales Savvy A sales lesson from

By Paul Reilly

the Show-Me State. 32 Marketing Ways to build a digital foundation.

By Todd Saunders

At the Site 56 Substrate Moisture Mastering moisture

14 Research Park Drive St. Charles, Missouri 63304 P : 800.422.4556 Local : 636.519.9663 F: 636.519.9664 E: news@hardwoodfloorsmag.com W: hardwoodfloorsmag.com

By Jeremy Waldorf

in your subfloors. 60 Subfloor Preparation Combatting high moisture for installations over wood substrates. 62 Hardwood Hints Touching up natural oil/

By Nick Mizzone

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Burt Bollinger Dana Lee Cole Jared Fitzgerald Libby White Johnston Michael Longshore Michael Martin

Brett Miller Nick Mizzone Kjell Nymark Paul Reilly Julie Russell

Todd Saunders Gary Scheidker Brittany Stout Santo Torcivia Jeremy Waldorf

By Jared Fitzgerald

hardwax oil finishes. 64 Tech Talk

Complex subfloor repairs. 70 Inspector’s Report The path to certification. 72 WFOY Winner Spotlight Best in Parquetry: Custom Floors Unlimited.

By Kjell Nymark


By Burt Bollinger

Katie Schenk Advertising & Media Manager katie.schenk@nwfa.org | 636.736.5230

Product Focus

Hardwood Floors' subscription base is BPA audited. A BPA audit provides advertisers and agencies with assurance that what they choose to invest in does, in fact, reach target audiences for specific ads. The BPA Worldwide audit also helps media companies by documenting the quality of their audiences.

78 Adhesives, Subfloors, Underlayment

Also in this Issue

6 Chair’s Cut

By Julie Russell

Hardwood Floors (Print: ISSN 0897-022X and Online: ISSN 2475-5125) is published on a bi-monthly basis, plus the Annual Industry Guide, by the National Wood Flooring Association and distributed as a membership benefit to its member companies and without charge upon request to qualified individuals throughout the wood flooring industry. Single copy price is $8, annual Industry Guide is $50. Subscriptions: $40/year (includes 6 issues and Industry Guide) in the U.S. and Canada. Publication office: 14 Research Park Drive, St. Charles, MO 63304. Phone: 800.422.4556. Printing office: Walsworth, 306 N. Kansas Ave., Marceline, MO 64658. Printed in the U.S. Periodicals postage is paid at Chesterfield, MO and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Hardwood Floors, P.O. Box 9147, Lowell, MA 01853. Copyright © 2024 by the National Wood Flooring Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited.

8 Business Briefs 10 Wood Stock

By Burt Bollinger

36 Special Content

By Libby White Johnston

Exit interview with Rick Holden. 69 Company Profile: Footprints Floors 82 New Products 84 Overheard on NWFA Podcasts 86 Wood Talk: Hank Adams 87 Ad Index

88 Final Coat: CEO’s Message

By Michael Martin

We’ve crafted the inventory of products you need.

With years of dedication and skill, you've mastered the art of flooring installation, honing your craft to perfection. We've meticulously crafted an inventory that includes premium hardwood flooring, high-performance sanders, robust flooring adhesives, durable finishes and more. Our selection is designed to ensure that every project you undertake is supported by the highest quality products, allowing your craftsmanship to shine through in every detail.

Find your local branch: HorizonForest.com/contact 22 LOCATIONS | 80+ YEARS IN BUSINESS | 1,000’S OF FLOORING PRODUCTS


By Julie Russell Chair, NWFA



I personally schedule a workout into my day to flush out the stress that comes with driving forward every day. I also schedule a time for learning through podcasts, webinars, and classes to help my mind stay open to new and creative ideas. It is just as important to the future of your business as putting out those fires. This issue of Hardwood Floors magazine is focused on “Flooring Foundations” and includes advice from seasoned experts about how to create a foundation for a successful career in the wood flooring industry. By reading this article (starting on page 40), you will walk away with incredible guidance specific to our industry that you cannot get anywhere else. Not to spoil the article for you, but education and networking are two of the big takeaways from all of the advice given. Both are areas where the NWFA can help, whether you are fresh to the industry or have decades of experience under your belt. The NWFA’s online learning platform, NWFA University, was developed specifically for wood flooring professionals. It includes more than 350 courses, which are available to you when it is most convenient with your schedule. Courses can be taken either on a computer or tablet and are 10 to 20 minutes each with a short quiz at the end. Whether it is the sales, installation, sand and finish, or manufacturing path you choose, you can learn at your own pace. If hands-on learning is more your speed, the NWFA offers more than 50 in-person training events across North America. From basic to advanced level courses, you’ll improve your skills, enhance your experience, and increase your efficiency, all while learning from the best of the best and being surrounded by new friends. When you are ready to take it a step further, NWFA certifications provide opportunities for wood flooring professionals to validate their industry knowledge and expertise in a variety of skill sets. Finally, to experience in-person education, the latest products and trends, and unmatched networking, attending the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, April 16-18, 2024, should be at the top of your list. The event boasts 11 trade show hours, more than 40 networking opportunities, and more than 30 education sessions. Keep in mind that this is all happening in New Orleans, Louisiana, so you really won’t want to miss out!

What is foundational for you? Is it time with family or friends? Perhaps it is working out, sports, prayer, or meditation? We all need something that grounds us during the busy times. The start of a new year can end up being overwhelming. We rush to wrap things up before the holidays or the end of the year, declaring that we will tackle any unchecked boxes on our lists next year. Then, when the calendar flips to the next page, it turns out there are still the same number of hours in the day and the lofty goals can fall by the wayside as we fall back into the grind. But I have found that if something becomes part of your core, it’s likely to remain a priority.

build a stronger foundation on which your career can thrive. Learn more!

Reach out to the NWFA team at 800.422.4556 or visit nwfa.org to find out more about how you can

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MANUFACTURER MEANDERINGS BJELIN has appointed Fredrik Alfredsson as global head of sales, responsible for all flooring products under the company’s brand. BOSTIK INC. has named

MULLICAN FLOORING announced the promotion of Pat Oakley to president. Oakley succeeds Neil Poland, who will serve as executive chairman of the company. NORTHERN WIDE PLANK, a provider

of wide plank engineered hardwood flooring, announced the opening of its Dallas showroom. ROBINSON LUMBER COMPANY (RLC) and TRADELINK WOOD PRODUCTS announced they have completed a transaction to sell RLC’s U.S. flooring business to Tradelink. Pat Oakley

Courtney Korselt the regional business director for wall and floor products. CANLAK COATINGS announced the hiring of Frank Cesare as the new chief operating officer.

Courtney Korselt

SHEOGA HARDWOOD FLOORING welcomed Robert McNamara as vice president of marketing and sales.

GEMINI COATINGS launched its new Floor Finish Division, offering Glitsa® and Lenmar®.

Robert McNamara

UZIN UTZ NORTH AMERICA announced the promotion of RJ Symalla to PALLMANN technical and training manager for the U.S. and welcomed two new territory managers, Sean James and Tim Weland. Uzin Utz North America promotions

RJ Symalla

Sean James

Tim Weland

AHF Products ® announced the redesign of its corporate website, ahfproducts.com, with new user experience, functionality, and branding.

Get in the news!

To be included in the Business Briefs section of Hardwood Floors magazine, please send your happenings to libby.johnston@nwfa.org.

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PID Floors opens new flagship showroom PID FLOORS' new flagship showroom opened in the heart of the Flatiron design district of Manhattan in New York City, New York.

FLOOR & DECOR opened new locations in Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama; Hyannis, Massachusetts; Avenel, Ocean Township, and Princeton, New Jersey; Albany and Nanuet, New York; Springfield Township, Pennsylvania; Wylie, Texas; and Chesterfield, Virginia.


AHF PRODUCTS announced that Belknap-Haines will help expand LM Flooring® in New England and relaunch in the Southeastern United States. BJELIN has teamed up with SPARTAN SURFACES, making the flooring supplier the national U.S. distribution partner for Bjelin’s commercial hardened wood range. GALLEHER was acquired by Transom Capital Group. HORIZON FOREST

PRODUCTS announced the promotion of Jason Harrell to branch leader of the Richmond, Virginia branch.

Jason Harrell

the magazine of the national wood flooring association


Wood Stock


By Burt Bollinger

It’s the cause that recently brought together numerous NWFA members to generously donate their products, volunteer their time, and share their exceptional skills to provide the floors inside the new home of SFC Davis, who was severely injured in 2019 while on a deployment in Afghanistan. “I’m 100 percent a product of NWFA education, and I feel like it’s important to give back and pay that forward,” says Mike Somodean of MSCS Inc. “I want to support any effort that the NWFA participates in. I was familiar with the Gary Sinise Foundation and had always wanted to participate, but logistics and location played a role, so it had never worked out previously.”

Somodean, based in Roswell, Georgia, played a pivotal role in quickly organizing a dedicated team of contractors for this unique mission. “I learned about the opportunity to participate at the most recent NWFA Expo in Milwaukee, and I jumped at the chance to help,” says Somodean. “I gathered a few other wood flooring professionals who were also at the Expo.” Somodean spearheaded a dedicated team for the project, which included Rob Chewning from Southern Woods Flooring, Lorie Davidson from Davidson Wood Flooring, and other skilled professionals. This group included Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring

The recent dedication of a home for United States Army Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Ryan Davis in Savannah, Georgia, marked the NWFA's 72nd project in collaboration with the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. program. This event showcased the profound impact that can be achieved when the NWFA community unites for a common cause – providing free, custom-built smart homes to severely wounded veterans and first responders.

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says Somodean. “We had 2,600 square feet of 4” wide, long length, rift and quartered red oak. I am a big fan of sand and finish work, even more than installation, so I was thrilled to learn that would be our task.” A notable aspect of this project is that no local contractor was available in the rural part of Georgia where the home was built. “The location in Savannah, Georgia was a five-hour drive for me; however, I was fortunate enough to own a camper, and I found a campground within 15 minutes of the jobsite,” explains Somodean. “I enjoy camping with my family, so doing it in this situation made sense.”

for hardwood flooring, MAPEI for adhesive, Norton Abrasives for abrasives, and Uzin-Utz/Pallmann for stain and finish. Together, this team and their suppliers ensured the successful completion of this meaningful project. “Thanks to everyone’s incredible efforts, the project could not have gone better, and we could not have had a better experience,” says Somodean. “For this home, we learned that it would be a site-sanded and finished product from Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring, which is one of the highest end wood flooring manufacturers in the industry, and I was very excited to be able to work with that material,”

Somodean says staying in the camper was a chance for these professionals to bond over work and shared meals and conversations, making the experience feel less like work and more like an enjoyable time spent with colleagues. “Being able to spend lunches, evenings, and dinners with the other guys, talking shop, talking about not just business, but life, was the cherry on top for me,” he says. “It didn’t feel like work.” “The official timeline for the project was from Monday to Saturday. However, Rob Chewning from Southern Woods Flooring went above and beyond by driving down a week before to kickstart the project, focusing on preparing the

the magazine of the national wood flooring association


Wood Stock

To learn how you can get involved with the GARY SINISE FOUNDATION R.I.S.E. PROGRAM contact the NWFA at 800.422.4556, or e-mail anita.howard@nwfa.org.

subfloor,” explains Somodean. This proactive approach saved them valuable time and contributed to the project’s success. “It was one of the easiest solid wood glue-down installations I have ever had, thanks to the quality of the material, the preparation of the subfloor, and the high quality of the adhesive courtesy of Mapei. There were no issues. The jobsite also was kept very clean, and the builder was great for us, catering to our needs, and helped keep everyone out of our way while we worked.” As midweek approached, the team began sanding portions of the floor that had been installed. Derek Swegle, representing Pallmann, actively participated in the sanding and finishing of the floor, applying the new PALL-X 2-KOLORIT system, followed by two coats of the premium PALLMANN PALL-X GOLD finish the next day. The collective effort and dedication of everyone involved made this project an outstanding success. The Gary Sinise R.I.S.E. program is a



powerful reminder of what can be achieved when a community comes together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who have given so much. “In the end, the house looks amazing. It was a fantastic group effort,” says Somodean. “No one cut any corners, and everyone involved in the project went above and beyond to ensure the home was perfect and a comfortable space for the Davis family.”

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HOLIDAY A Restoration

By Burt Bollinger

“My original trade was as a toolmaker, and I am used to working with hand tools. Making

Donna and Delbert Adams of Sheffield Hardwood in Ontario, Canada, recently embarked on a remarkable journey to a castle in Hungary that combined their passion for hardwood flooring with a deep sense of craftsmanship and history. Adams’ story is a testament to the legacy of skilled tradespeople, the power of collaboration, and the restoration of centuries-old treasures.


things with close tolerances is something I have done all my life,” says Adams. “It was that attention to detail that was ingrained in me from an early age that eventually led me to where I am today.” Adams’ path to hardwood flooring was not a straight one, but rather intertwined with his father, a builder, who introduced him to flooring during Adams’ high school years. In 2015, Delbert’s life took a turn when his father passed away, leaving behind his tools and a connection to craftsmanship. Delbert decided to retire early, and in 2017, he found his way back to hardwood floors. However, he didn’t just return to traditional flooring; he also ventured into parquet floors. “I had heard about Workcamp Parquet, and I sent pictures in the hope we would be considered as a participant. They looked at our website and liked what they saw, and we were invited,” says Adams. “It was quite an honor to be included with these experts worldwide. It became a working vacation for my wife and me.” Held annually, Workcamp Parquet gathers professionals from all corners of the globe and serves as a platform for master artisans, seasoned professionals, and enthusiastic apprentices to come together, share expertise, and carry forward the tradition of fine craftsmanship. The year 2023 marked a special edition of Workcamp Parquet, with the event in the historic Bishop’s Castle in Győr, Hungary. Their mission

the magazine of the national wood flooring association


Wood Stock

was to restore a 150-year-old antique parquet floor spanning 2,100 square feet within the Bishop’s Palace. Additionally, they aimed to craft a new 800-square-foot parquet floor in an adjoining room hidden beneath carpeting for 75 years. This endeavor culminated in a broader post-war reconstruction project, as the Bishop’s Palace had endured extensive damage during World War II. “The intent was to restore the floors using period techniques and tools. For example, the tiles are mounted on a rough subfloor instead of our current flat plywood. We end up shimming each tile,” says Adams. “It’s quite an involved procedure, as each tile has four corners to level up. Of course, the adjoining tiles must be flush, so getting the tiles aligned requires a lot of fitting and fiddling.” The repair work was equally demanding. Worn, chipped, or broken parquet pieces had to be removed carefully and replaced with century-old white oak that matched the original. Precision fitting, hide gluing, shimming, leveling (no filler), and a finish of oil and wax were all part of the process to honor the original craftsmen and authenticity of the floor’s age. “The floor was around 150 years old. There was a completely different approach taken to the floor as it was seen as an antique floor worthy of repairing,” explains Adams. “It was second nature to them. Over here, hardwood floors of similar vintage have not been restored.” One distinctive aspect of the restoration was the commitment to use period-appropriate techniques and tools. For instance, the parquet tiles were mounted on a rough subfloor, a departure from the flat plywood used in modern installations. Each tile had to be meticulously shimmed and leveled, ensuring the corners aligned perfectly. It was a labor-intensive process, with craftsmen dedicated to preserving the historical integrity of the flooring. “Despite us being from all over the world, there was a common drive to accomplish something. Everyone was keen on producing a beautiful floor. There was a language barrier we were able to overcome by technology,” says Adams. “Between hand communication and this sort of technology, we muddled through

“My original trade was as a toolmaker, and I am used to working with hand tools. Making things with close tolerances is something I have done all my life. It was that attention to detail that was ingrained in me from an early age that eventually led me to where I am today.” — Delbert Adams, Sheffield Hardwood

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to resonate with me what the people of this country (Hungary) had gone through, things that we have no concept of over here in North America.” Bishop András Veres of Győr, the host of the restoration project, expressed his gratitude to the participants and regarded the room’s restoration as a

it. It was not a barrier to having a good time and getting things done.” Despite language barriers, they shared a common goal: to create a beautiful floor that would stand as a testament to their craft. “For many there, this restoration is a big part of what they do. They were

symbol of healing following the ravages of World War II. It was a testament to the resilience of the historic floor and the skilled craftsmen who had come together to restore it. Adams’s participation in Workcamp Parquet 2023 became a profound chapter in his life. It was an opportunity to connect with like-minded artisans, delve into the intricacies of his craft, and contribute to restoring a tangible piece of history. As he returned to Canada, he carried with him the memories and a deeper appreciation for craftsmanship that transcends borders and generations.

serious about what they were doing and very good at it,” says Adams. “One craftsman spent two or three hours preparing a damaged tile and fitting a piece of parquet as big as your hand, testing it repeatedly until it was perfect. He was taking it to the next level, respecting the antique he was working with.” The journey in Hungary was more than a labor of love for the Adams and their fellow parqueteers. It was a journey through history and a deep dive into the culture and resilience of a country that had faced its fair share of challenges. Adams was struck by the generosity, friendliness, and love displayed by the people he met, many of whose families had experienced war trauma. “While in Győr, we met many people whose families had experienced war trauma, and the common behavior was generosity, friendliness, and love for their families, their marriages, and their church,” says Adams. “It began

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FARM BILL 2023 Front and center in 2023’s advocacy was the inclusion of hardwood-friendly provisions within the context of farm bill legislation. Political turmoil in the House squashed hopes for an on-time 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization, but on November 15, Congress finally passed an extension on the expired bill through September 30, 2024. The one-year extension will guarantee funding for key hardwood initiatives such as the Market Access and Foreign Market Development programs. It is unclear what the exact language of the current Farm Bill draft language looks like as House Ag Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) has indicated that he won’t release legislative text on the Farm Bill until leadership schedules floor time. But we are confident that as the Farm Bill moves forward in 2024, it will serve as a vehicle to capture other priorities for the industry. In addition to authorizing resources that promote hardwood exports, the Hardwood Federation also is leveraging the debate to promote related industry objectives: Hardwood Access Program – In an important milestone for the hardwood sector, Reps. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) have agreed to sponsor the Hardwood Access Program (HAP) bill for introduction in the House. Although fiscal constraints will make it very difficult to move HAP as part of the Farm Bill, the legislation will serve as a high-profile vehicle to educate Congress on the benefits of hardwood products, laying the groundwork for enactment in future years. Stay tuned for updates as the industry bill moves forward.

The Hardwood Federation had a busy legislative year in 2023, with a focus on advocacy for key developments and events in the industry. As we move into 2024, it promises to be just as eventful. Outlined here are some highlights to help you track the industry's focus and where we will be directing our efforts in the coming year.

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By Dana Lee Cole

Timber Innovation for Building Rural Communities Act – This bipartisan, bicameral bill sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Reps. Andrea Salinas (D-OR), Kristina Glusenkamp Perez (D WA), and John Duarte (R-CA) could be folded into a final Farm Bill. The proposal includes several positive provisions for the industry, including establishing a USDA platform measuring, collecting, and sharing data related to the carbon benefits of wood products, and recognizing the value of carbon reduction and environmental benefits of wood in building design and furnishings in USDA grant programs. Through the federation’s work with the Forest in the Farm Bill Coalition, several recommended changes were incorporated into the bill language to ensure that hardwoods are eligible for the programs.


Government Affairs (Continued) Jobs In the Woods Act – This fall, Senate and House members introduced the bipartisan “Jobs in the Woods Act,” (H.R. 5344, S. 3063), a bill that would provide education grants ranging in size from $500,000 to $2 million to promote jobs in the understaffed timber industry and U.S. Forest Service. Legislative champions include Reps. Lori Chavez-Deremer (R-OR) and Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) on the House side, and Senators Angus King (I-ME) and James Risch (R-ID). The bill’s champions are determined to fold this bill into farm bill reauthorization in 2024. USDA FUNDING AND AUTHORIZATIONS Although not part of farm bill reauthorization, the Hardwood Federation also advocates for bills that directly fund USDA initiatives that will boost the sector as well as steer agency authorities toward industry priorities: Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2023 – On September 22, Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee heads Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced the “Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2023” (S. 2867), a bill to direct USDA’s National Forest Service to reduce wildfire risks and create a career pipeline for loggers. TRANSPORTATION Transportation is another major issue on which the Hardwood Federation has been active. Notably, the industry supports bills, known as the “supply chain package,” passed out of the House Transportation Committee earlier this year. The package includes: Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act of 2023 (H.R. 3013) – Codifies two waivers issued during the pandemic to make obtaining a commercial driver’s license more streamlined and efficient. Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act of 2023 (H.R. 1836) – Builds upon the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 by allowing the Federal Maritime Commission to review complaints about market manipulation and anti-competitive operations of maritime exchanges. H.R. 3372, legislation that authorizes a pilot program whereby states may opt in to allowing 91,000-pound rigs equipped with a sixth axle to travel on their portion of the federal interstate highway system. H.R. 3318 establishes a 10 percent axle weight variance for dry bulk materials, which we read as including wood chips. TAXES, TREASURY REGS Although advocacy on USDA programs and supply chain initiatives have been especially active this year, tax policy and business disclosures continue to present opportunities and challenges for the industry:

Business Tax Package – On November 2, the federation joined the National Association of Manufacturers and allies in a letter to Capitol Hill urging action on a package of business tax benefit extensions currently pending on the House floor. It would extend through 2025 the 100 percent bonus depreciation benefit, which began scaling down in 2023. It would also retroactively extend the research and development tax credit, which was phased out in 2022, and restore more generous interest deductibility provisions. Main Street Tax Certainty Act of 2023 – The Hardwood Federation also supports H.R. 4721, making the 20 percent deduction for qualified business income (QBI) permanent to benefit small businesses. Corporate Transparency Act – The federation has joined allies in the small to medium-sized business community to urge Congress to delay implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), a little-known federal anti-corruption law enacted in 2021 that was set to take effect January 1, 2024. The law will impose multiple reporting requirements on “beneficial owners” and trigger fines of up to $10,000 for non-compliance. FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIONS EPA, Air Quality Rules – In November, the federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce met with the White House Office of Management and Budget to urge the administration to reject EPA’s proposal to tighten standards for fine Particulate Matter (PM 2.5). This follows up on formal comments submitted advocating against EPA’s plans and referenced a study by the American Forest and Paper Association showing that EPA’s proposal would impose up to $900 million in compliance costs on the wood products sector. EPA, Low Carbon Construction Materials – In September, EPA announced that it would make grants available to parties to develop Environment Product Declarations (EPDs) for low carbon construction materials, beginning after October 1. European Union (EU) Deforestation Regulations – The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and the federation have been leading the charge to blunt the impacts of the EU’s now final deforestation rules to require geo-location of fiber included in the manufacture of wood products. The federation and AHEC have met with administration officials, including a meeting with the U.S. Trade Representative, to urge a work-around to minimize additional red tape for hardwood exporters to EU markets. HF and AHEC have established a working group of forest industry allies to share information related to the rule’s implementation. Dana Lee Cole is the executive director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the United States and acts as the industry advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at dana.cole@hardwoodfederation.com.

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A SLOWDOWN WITHOUT RECESSION 20 hardwood floors hardwoodfloorsmag.com

The U.S. economy is moving in two opposite directions at the same time as it continues to drain its prior strength. Low unemployment, declining overall inflation, a strong U.S. dollar, and continued but slowing consumer spending are buoying economic growth. Pushing against this growth are high food, energy, and household-related costs, significant and growing federal deficits, a weak housing market with high interest rates, and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. All of this leads us to the conclusion that the U.S. is heading for an economic slowdown, which will bottom mid-2024 before rising slowly through 2025, returning to trend growth (+2.0 percent) in 2026, all without any recession. Since flooring is more a discretionary item, its fortunes will fare slightly worse than the overall economy.

By Santo Torcivia

SOME BRIGHT SPOTS IN THE U.S. ECONOMY: Employment is growing, albeit at a slowing pace, with a low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent and labor participation at 62.8 percent. • Consumer spending adjusted for inflation continues to grow at a diminishing rate (2.1 percent YTD on 9/30/23), and it is being fueled largely by consumer credit as inflation fueled prices take a bigger bite out of household income. Consumer credit outstanding is at record levels ($5.0 trillion at 9/30/23, an increase of 4 percent over the same period last year). With inflation pushing interest rates higher and total debt now at nearly 25 percent of disposable personal income, this situation cannot be sustained much longer. Consumer spending is the engine of the U.S. economy, representing two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). • Inflation is falling and should end the year at 4.2 percent, and 2024 should see consumer price inflation fall to 2.8 percent. • A stable U.S. dollar is helping ease the impact of inflation as imports become less costly due to a favorable exchange rate. Dollar stability is the result of previous Fed policies and the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency.

A stable U.S. dollar is helping ease the impact of inflation as imports become less costly due to a favorable exchange rate.

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Market Matters (Continued)

This is a summary of the December 2023 Quarterly Market Monitor Report published by Market Insights LLC. NWFA members have exclusive access to the full report, which provides forecasts and analysis of economic, market, and industry conditions and trends affecting the North American flooring market. The report includes a historical and forecasted volume of dollar sales of total wood flooring (at mill sell price) per metro area and state. Separate reports are available for the United States and for Canada. The availability of the reports on a quarterly basis will provide NWFA members with current data that can help them develop business plans, prioritize inventory, and react to market conditions in a timely manner. NWFA members may download the full report by visiting nwfa.org.

Estimated growth in dollar value consumption by flooring product category for the year-to-date period ending September 30, 2023, versus the same period last year:

Basis for Estimate U.S. CALCULATED RESULTS - YTD 2023

Product Categories

YTD Calc. percent of change (2022-23)

Carpet & Rugs Ceramic Tile

-8.4% -9.7% -11.3% -14.4% -15.9%

Laminate Flooring Resilient Flooring

Wood Flooring

Total Flooring


*NOTES: Year-to-Date = September 30, 2023.

Sources: US ITC import & export reports, Federal Reserve Production, Index/ Carpet & Rugs, & Market Insights LLC research

• Disposable Personal Income (DPI) will continue to rise, but not at the inflation rate. DPI will not rise close to the rate of inflation until 2026. • Commercial market as measured by real non-residential investment in structures, a measure of the inflation-adjusted investment in total new non-residential construction, is rising and should continue to strengthen before weakening in 2025, and then rising again in 2026 through 2028. The 2025 slowdown is partly the result of weakening corporate. Expect all commercial construction building types to rise in the forecast period, led by education, health care, and lodging.

consumer consumption and home and non-residential construction and renovation. • Key economic indicators have fallen during the last five quarters, indicating that a significant downturn is likely in the next six months. • Fuel, transportation, and raw material prices remain high, all of which are boosting inflation. Further, the war in the Middle East could cause some oil-producing nations to cut production and exports. • More Americans than ever are working two or more jobs trying to make ends meet. • Undocumented immigrants and refugees entering the U.S. could expand welfare rolls and social costs, and raise government spending and debt. • The Ukraine war is threatening to grow into a broader and more dangerous conflict, absorbing increasing amounts of financial aid from the U.S. • Although unlikely based on experience and data available, a forced lockdown to thwart another COVID-19 or similar outbreak would shut down the economy and cause a major economic downturn or recession. The U.S. economy is facing a major slowdown, though less likely a recession, in 2024, should the economic variables worsen.

Factors threatening the U.S. economic situation include: • Inflation remains the most serious

threat to economic stability. Although currently declining, it could easily rise again, threatening the positive course of the U.S. economy. Continued high prices on consumer staples and energy and high interest rates will threaten

Santo Torcivia is president of Market Insights LLC in Reading, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at 610.927.2299 or storcivia@marketinsightsllc.com.

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Building Strong Relationships Between Flooring Pros and Designers Relationships are the secret to success for any business, especially in the flooring industry, where who you know directly impacts what you know and when you know it. When building out that network and a bigger bottom line, wood flooring professionals could benefit greatly from forging more relationships in the design world.


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By Brittany Stout

In fact, it’s one of the industry’s most powerful strategies for business development, yet one that is so often underutilized. While contractors and retailers often work directly with builders and homeowners, having a working relationship with a designer is an excellent way to gain referrals and insightful perspectives. Here are just a few reasons why flooring professionals and designers should be actively seeking opportunities to connect and collaborate.



Designers think differently than

contractors, builders, and homeowners. When brought on a job, they can help identify blind spots you may have otherwise overlooked. Their unique perspective can help solve problems while saving time and money by thinking about things differently. When you look at a sample and try to visualize how everything will come together, it can feel abstract and overwhelming. The unique perspectives of professional designers enable them to create cohesive and creative spaces beyond what other types of professionals can. If this isn’t your favorite part of the project, the good news is that this is where designers often thrive. When you have good working relationships with a designer, you can hand off these tasks, allowing you to stay focused on what you enjoy most. They will pour hours into researching and refining options until you only need to approve your final selection from a small list of options. 2 SMOOTHER SELECTION PROCESS Do you get bogged down in the selection process?

the magazine of the national wood flooring association


Design Trends (Continued)


EXPANDED EXPERTISE Flooring professionals sometimes may stick with what feels safe and familiar, especially regarding the type of products they install. But when you’re tasked with a project that requires you to think outside the

Investing time and energy into quality business relationships is a form of marketing. And as the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” As members of your network grow their businesses, your chance of gaining new business also increases, and vice versa.

LEADS AND COLLABORATION One of the greatest benefits of all is that relationships expand your network. It doesn’t matter if the designer or the flooring pro made the initial contact; the result is more money in both of something similar to what you’re looking at and can offer valuable perspectives and life lessons that will save you time and headaches on the install. This will help pull you outside your comfort zone while expanding your expertise and creativity. 4 your pockets. Investing time and energy into quality business relationships is a form of marketing. And as the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” As members of your network grow their businesses, your chance of gaining new business also increases, and vice versa. It’s exponentially more powerful marketing than you can achieve by doing it all alone. box and utilize new and different products, it can pose challenges and hangups. This is another benefit of having close relationships with designers. They are an encyclopedia of knowledge about the latest and greatest products. They likely have installed


GETTING STARTED Forging relationships doesn’t have to be a hard or overwhelming process. The best relationships develop over time with consistent interactions that build trust. Consider joining industry

networking groups to seek out these “power partnerships” or start by looking online. You can find people through their website or social media and get a feel for their vision, style, and values. Once you find some connections that align with your own goals, nurture these relationships just like you would for any other aspect of your business. In time, you will reap great rewards.

Brittany Stout was named among Hardwood Floors magazine’s “40 Under 40” for 2023. She is the builder specialist and designer at Touch of Color Flooring, a family-built and operated business with locations in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Richmond, Virginia. Touch of Color has six core divisions: Builder, Multifamily, Senior Living, Commercial, Retail, and Design, and it services seven states throughout the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic. Learn more at touchofcolorflooring.com.

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from the Show-Me State A Sales Lesson

Vandiver’s sentiment also could describe the buyer’s mindset. Sellers often use frothy language to convince buyers. For example, “We have extraordinarily exceptional customer service and quality beyond measure.” This statement may be factual, but it’s far from compelling. Buyers desire more than “frothy eloquence”; buyers desire outcomes. Value-added sellers leverage two value types to persuade buyers: perceived value and performance value. Perceived value raises the buyer’s expectation; it’s your promise. Performance value is delivering on the promise; it’s the value received. Perceived value highlights what is possible, allowing the buyer to dream. Performance value transfers the buyer’s dreams to reality. This puts sellers in a tough spot. How can salespeople demonstrate performance value if the buyer hasn’t experienced your solution? Simple. Show the proof. Proof sources bridge the gap between perceived value and performance value.

I’m from Missouri, the Show Me state. Missouri’s U.S. Congressman, Willard Duncan Vandiver (1897 to 1903), is often credited for giving Missouri this unofficial slogan. At a Naval banquet, he said: “I come from a state that raises corn, cotton, and cockleburs, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

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By Paul Reilly


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Sales Savvy (Continued)

Proof provides reassurance and peace of mind. Proof justifies the premium buyers pay to experience your solution. Translate your promise into performance. Here are three ideas to enhance your

presentation with proof. SOCIAL PROOF

Social proof demonstrates how others have implemented your ideas or purchased your solution. We assign greater value to what is desired by others. Buyers like knowing that others have made the same decision and benefitted. What market leaders are utilizing your solution? And how has your solution positively impacted their business? Answering these questions offers compelling proof to cautious buyers. CASE STUDIES Show me the data. Your solution is an investment for a future outcome. The dollars are in the details. Provide the buyer with customer success stories. A basic case study includes background information on the customer’s situation, a solution description, and details of how your solution impacted the customer. Bridge the gap between dreams and reality by showcasing a previous success. QUALITY average, customers are willing to pay 11.4 percent more for better quality. Invest in quality certifications. Promote your company’s quality awards. Collect testimonials highlighting the quality of your overall solution. Proving quality enhances profit. Buyers have an aversion to loss – especially losing money. The buyer must believe your solution is worth what they are giving up. Proof bolsters their belief. Providing proof is more convincing than merely providing your opinion. How will you incorporate proof into your next presentation? Paul Reilly, is a speaker, sales trainer, author of Selling Through Tough Times (McGraw-Hill, 2021), coauthor of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 2018), and host of The Q and A Sales Podcast. For additional information on Reilly’s keynote presentations and seminars, call 636.778.0175 or email paul@reillysalestraining.com. Visit tomreillytraining.com and signup for the free newsletter. CERTIFICATIONS If you have better quality, prove it. Our research shows that 76 percent of customers are willing to pay more if you can prove better quality. On


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