Monday, January 26, 2009

Luxury Vinyl Tile Prices

Luxury vinyl tile prices have remained fairly stable over the last few months and we expect that trend to continue as long as oil prices stay at current levels.

Congoleum Duraceramic Tile Prices are the same as we offered 6 months ago. With the exception of a special purchase of excess inventory we made from one of our suppliers. These discount DuraCeramic tile prices are well below our normal low DuraCeramic prices. About a 25% discount on our everyday sales price. DuraStone Luxury Vinyl Tile is also available at great prices from American Carpet Wholesalers.

Nafco Luxury Vinyl Tile by Tarkett has experienced only a minimal increase. Our Nafco Luxury Vinyl Tile prices continue to be some of the lowest to be found anywhere. Look for us to carry more inventory in the near future. An order for this product already ships within 2-3 business days and with an inventory increase we will be able to ship an order usually the same day. Another great service from American Carpet Wholesalers that keep our customers coming back.

Again only slight increases have been seen for Mannington Adura Luxury Vinyl Tile and Mannington Luxury Vinyl Plank. These luxury vinyl tiles and planks are another area where we anticipate and inventory increase.

You can always count on American Carpet Wholesalers for the latest floor innovations at discount flooring prices.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Green Carpet gets Greener (or just more exposure)

I remember back in the early to mid 90's when Image Carpet Industries (later becoming part of Mohawk ) first starting reclaiming pop bottles and making beautiful carpets. Initially it was a tough sell. consumers somehow felt the carpets were inferior in some sort of way. But to the contrary, the new "P.E.T." carpets were in some ways superior to nylon carpets and equal in other ways. They were superior in stain resistance and wear ability was about equal. To answer consumers objections, I and most other sales people would use the line "have you ever seen a stain on a Coke bottle"? However, some of the carpets were made so dense and thick, it would take months and months for the loose staple fibers to completely shed. Consumers thought and complained their carpet was defective and coming apart. So the new polyester carpets were getting a bad rap. Over the last several years, more and more of the vendors are using continuous filament P.E.T. to solve the problem and with new technology, continuous filament fibers can be made just as dense and thick as a bulked staple fiber.

Philadelphia by Shaw and Bliss by Beaulieu have added to there Green Carpet Products. Shaw has added and reinforced their "Clear Touch by Philadelphia" and tout it as made from 100% recycled material. "Healthy Home" by Bliss has many beautiful styles and vibrant colors that only a polyester fiber can deliver.

Going green usually means the manufacturer will ask more for a green product. You buy a hybrid vehicle and you will pay $5000 to $10,000 more than the non green version. Not so with these carpets. On the average, they will run 10 to 20% less than a comparable nylon carpet. So you can go "Green" and keep some green for yourself.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More About Mohawk and Shaw's Trade Show

As I mentioned before, I attended two trade shows last week in Atlanta. At the Shaw Industries' show I was particularly impressed with the addition to some of their green products line. Namely, Philadelphia Carpets' Clear Touch line and Queen Carpets' Anso Choice line. Both lines offer enviromentally friendly carpets and have added some new great looking carpets for more choices to the consumer. Both carpet brands (Queen Carpet and Philadelphia Carpet) have added new offerings to their commercial carpet tile line. Since American Carpet Wholesalers does a ton of commercial work, I was quite excited.

Shaw Industries acquired both the Anderson Hardwood and Zickgraf Hardwood companies and gave me the opportunity to visit with reps for these products (Calvin and Tony) as well as my reps from Shaw( Chris, Vickie and Jacob). Overall, for me it was a good show. New products, great friends, good conversation, and a terrific lunch on Shaw. The interest in the new products was upbeat and traffic seemed to be up from last year.

At the Mohawk show it was a little different story. Not nearly as upbeat and traffic seemed to be down. However, I did get to visit with my reps which is always a pleasure, especially Congoleum.
Congoleum has a distribution relationship with Mohawk and show their products at the Mohawk regional shows. DuraCeramic Tile by Congoleum is one of my top selling products and just to say hello to Pete and Mike is a reward in itself.

One thing I did take note of and was very interested in was a booth at both shows by a third party vendor. It is Their concept is new and unique and I certainly hope it takes off. I will post more on this subject once I spend a little more time with them at Surfaces.

It is Floor Covering Trade Show Season

Every year at this time floor covering manufacturers have regional and national trade shows to show new introductions and stimulate awareness of their products. Last week I attended Mohawk Industries and Shaw Industries regional show in Atlanta, Georgia (at separate locations). Neither Mohawk nor Shaw participate in the national convention (Surfaces) held in Las Vegas, Nevada. About 90-95% of the other manufacturers do. The Surfaces show is more convenient for the dealers because you have all the mills in one location. All the majors such as Beaulieu America (carpet), Quick-Step, Mannington Mills (Mannington Laminate, Mannington Hardwood, Mannington Adura, and Mannington Commercial Carpet), Anderson Hardwood, The Beaulieu Group (Berry Floor Laminate and Alloc Laminate), Nafco Luxury Vinyl Tile and many, many, more. Not only carpet manufacturers and flooring manufacturers, but related equipment producers, sundries producers, and carpet padding and laminate underlayment manufacturers. All showing their wares to about 40,000 retail floor covering dealers from across the USA as well as some international visitors.

All will offer special pricing concessions for show attendees. I always take advantage of as many of these carpet deals and flooring bargains as possible to pass on to the customers of American Carpet Wholesalers. This year will be no different except I expect to see more specials given the state of the housing market and the overall state of the economy.

This show is geared toward the residential flooring market. NEOCON is the commercial trade show held annually in Chicago, Illinois.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quick-Step Laminate Flooring

After venting my frustration about Quick Step Laminate's pricing policies, let me clarify what I think about the product. Fact: Quick Step is the best selling laminate floor on the market in our opinion. There are other brands that can claim this distinction because some of their products are placed in big box centers under different labels (mainly the lower quality products). However, we find that the majority of our sales come from the high quality laminate floors such as, Quick-Step Perspective Laminate, Quick-Step Eligna Hand Scraped (better known as Quick-Step Country Laminate) and Quick Step Quadra Tile Floors. Our customers for laminate floors represent a good cross section of home builders and the actual end user. Because most of them are looking for the best laminate floors at a good price, we generally include Quick-Step Flooring in our recommendations. As I previously stated, Quick Step is our best selling laminate flooring.

As a footnote, I will be joining Quick Step representatives at a Super Bowl event in Las Vegas on February 1st, followed with a free day on the 2nd and then attending Surfaces 2009 (the flooring industry's annual convention) on the 3rd and 4th and then back to Dalton, Georgia on Thursday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Buy Quick-Step Laminate Online?

Buy Quick Step Laminate floors online? Searching for Quick Step Laminate prices online is going to be harder if Unilin (Quick Step's parent, a Mohawk company) has their way. The manufacturer has increasingly been applying pressure to dealers to use minimum advertised prices. American Carpet Wholesalers is no exception. Because we are one of the top Quick-Step Laminate dealers in the country, and we value our relationship with Quick-Step, for now we have just removed our prices from the website. I say for now because there are 12-16 sites out there openly displaying less than minimum advertised prices. Why 12 or why not 16? One dealer has multiple websites with different marketing trchniques for the product and all below the minimum prices we are allowed to show. We mainatain a huge inventory(over $100,000) of Quick-Step Laminate Floors and if these sites do not comply soon, we will have no choice but to display competitive prices just to compete.

This is not to say American Carpet Wholesalers is not competitive now. What it means is that the consumer has to call us for our best pricing. Some sites are using a free shipping model to get around the pricing issue. We feel this is not consumer friendly that a customer 1000-1500 miles from the dealer would pay the same shipping cost as one say 100-200 miles away. Unless a dealer has dire need for cash flow, and wants to lose money on the sale, our prices for Quick-Step Laminate floors have consistently be some of the best to be found anywhere.

Sometimes the lowest price is not always the best. We have gone head to head with some competitors over price and won because of customer satisfaction. When the price diference is minimal, why would a customer buy from a dealer who has a consumer satisfaction of 1.5 to 2.0 when ours is usually 4.6 to 4.8 out of 5. We have worked hard to achieve this rating and feel American Carpet Wholesalers is a consumer friendly company. A little comfort of buying such a large purchase from a trusted company and recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing corporations in the country in 2007 and again in 2008.

For now we ask that our customers just pick up the phone and call us. We know convenience lies in the shopping cart and apologize openly that Quick Step Laminate cannot be ordered online at our site at this time.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 A Year of Challenges!

2008 was year of turmoil in the financial and housing markets. For most of us in the flooring industry it has kept us on our toes. For me 2007 was far more challenging. Fortunatley we adjusted our expenses and marketing and actually saw growth and profit for 2008.

Unfortunately, it was not to be for others. Banks, brokerage firms, automakers made almost daily headlines. So was it in the flooring market. One of the biggest failures was that of I have in the past had a business relationship with iFoor and was both stunned and disappointed.

Throughout the years the floor covering industry has had some true pioneers. Too many to mention by name. The same is to be said for Steve Simonson, the founder and CEO of iFloor.
Way back before I ventured online, Steve had a vision as to what consumers wanted and set out to provide a vauluable service to them. For this, Steve caught hell from manufacturers and competitors alike. I watched and learned from the constant evolving process of I was, and I am now, envious of their software and marketing efforts.

So why did they fail? I am not on the inside, but from the outside looking in I would say two things caused their failure. An ambitious expansion program at the wrong time in history. Second, is the that banks do not care who fails, or what they promised, as long as they can cover up their own lack of restraint. Funding or the lack of it was the major culprit.

Steve is a visionary, so he will be back. As to, they are in Chapter 11 and this competitor is pulling for them.

12.3 MM Piano Finish Laminate Floors

There have been some high gloss laminates around for a while. But only Lamett Laminate Floors and Alloc Laminate Floors have achieved what was the initial goal. The look, sound , and feel of a truly elegant hardwood floor.

Lamett Flooring is an up and coming supplier to the market. Based in Georgia, their laminate floor products are becoming more and more in demand. Their latest introduction is called "Charisma". It's a 12.3 mm high gloss (piano finish) laminate floor when installed has all the characteristics of a fine wood floor. We are pleased to have received inventory in 5 of the 6 shades. At $2.48 per sf, it is the best value for this type of laminate floor. We expect "Charisma" to quickly become one of our top sellers.

Cheap Laminate Floors or Laminate Floors Cheap!

Believe it or not, there is a difference. Not long ago I was talking with one of my suppliers about prices and why people drive long distances to the Dalton Georgia Carpet Outlets to buy laminate flooring. It was my observation that on the signage of a lot of stores was "Laminate Floors $.49 sf" or "Laminate Floors $.59 sf". I don't know where these floors come from. Maybe from China or maybe they are defective or discontinueds. Probably ok for rental property that needs to be replaced regularly. This is the defintion of "cheap laminate floors". We do not stock it or sell it.
The only time we offer discontinueds is if they are discontinued while we have inventory, in which case the warranties are still valid.

Our customers are usually looking for name brand laminate flooring. Such as Quick-Step Laminate floors (our number one selling laminate floor), Berry Floor Laminate, Lamett Laminate, Alloc Laminate, Tarkett Laminate and other laminate floors. Buying laminate floors long distance has to be rewarding. For instance, a $4.-$6. sf name brand laminate floor can be bought at American Carpet Wholesalers for $2.-$4. sf. This would be the defintion of "laminate floors cheap".

For consumers that want a serviceable, fully warranted product, I would recommend a quality name brand with a good reputation for years of trouble free performance. Buying a low quality laminate floor for a rental or institutional application on the assumption it would need replaced regularly does not hold water. A good laminate floor with proper installation and a good laminate underlayment will last for years and years. It will also save you money for the material replacement and the labor to replace it countless times. A little more intial investment is much more cost effective.
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