Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Philly Floor Store Produces 'How-To' Video Series
The Philadelphia Floor Store (Conshohocken, Penn.) is making a series of "how-to" videos to educate their hardwood flooring contractors.
Topics covered in the videos range from carbon brush replacement to edger pad installation. The move to digitize the company's techniques was made as knowledge-sharing effort, said founder Mike Glavin.
"We pride ourselves on education our customers on all the latest hardwood flooring products and installation techniques," he said in a statement.
These training videos and more can be found at Philadelphia Floor Store's YouTube channel.
HF Briefs: Jobs Available, Moisture Meter For Sale
A number of job openings have been posted in the HF classifieds section within the past week. People with sales and sanding and finishing experience, see the classifieds page for location information and job requirements.
A CMEX II concrete moisture meter will be for sale at the NWFA Expo in Nashville, Tenn., April 16-19. See the classifieds ad for price and contact information.
Builder Confidence Before Spring Season In Standstill
Compared with last month, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes increased by one point to 47 in April, according to the National Association for Home Builders’ Housing Market Index.
But confidence levels should receive a boost in the coming months, NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly said in a statement.
"Builder confidence has been in a holding pattern the past three months," Kelly said. "Looking ahead, as the spring home buying season gets into full swing and demand increases, builders are expecting sales prospects to improve in the months ahead."
Housing Starts Up, Permits and Completions Down in March
The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development released last March’s residential construction statistics. They found:
Privately-owned housing unit permitting was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000, or 2.4 percent lower than February. Compared with March 2013's numbers, this figure represents a 11.2 percent increase.
Privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000. The number was 920,000 in February, making March's figure 2.8 percent higher.
Less privately-owned houses were completed in March than in February, a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000 vs. 874,000, respectively.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
NWFA Regional Instructor Profile: Jon Namba
Jon Namba, NWFA Regional Instructor and owner of Namba Services Inc., started his career back in 1977 on the dark side: carpeting. He saw the light (probably reflecting off an uncarpeted floor) in 1985 and made his way into the hardwood flooring business.
Carpeting, he says, was a rat race where the retailer held the strings. So, he started to learn the wood flooring trade through seminars. Namba bit at every class that was offered nearby—sanding, finishing, machine repair, you name it.
He approached his dad, who had just started a condominium development, and asked if he could handle the hard surface installation.
"I told him I wanted to get into hardwood and tile," Namba says, explaining that at the time he was still new to the trade. "I told him if I screwed it up, he would have to pay for it. He never had to."
And with Namba's soon-to-happen rise through training schools and contests, his dad might as well have put his wallet away for good. Namba got involved with International Certified Flooring Installers Association. Their training schools propelled him to regional and national competition wins for resilient flooring and carpet. The late Chris Davis, then-World Floor Covering Association president, approached Namba after he won nationals and asked him to be a director of technical services.
He did that for awhile, became executive director and then was drawn into the training circuit again, this time with NWFA.
His business is like him—from carpet, to tile, to hardwood, Namba Services Inc. does it all.
“Pretty much anything that goes on a floor we do,” Namba said.
For Namba, education may be everything.
"I think for anyone coming into this industry, the most important thing is to get involved with the association and learn the proper installation methods," Namba said. "[Trainers] have years of knowledge and experience that can launch you years ahead of what you would learn on a job site that so-and-so's uncle taught them."
If you're going to go to one of Namba's workshops, or any other NWFA instructor's for that matter, he has one bit of advice: participate.
"I see on the panels how some people sit back and are kind of nervous because they don't want somebody to laugh at them. This is the place," Namba said. "Learn by doing the mistakes on those panels. Ask these instructors questions—don't hesitate—they are there to help."
You can find John Namba at the following workshops, and he promises that if you attend, whether a seasoned veteran or otherwise, you'll walk away with something new.
To read more about the revamped NWFA technical schools and see the schedule for this year, click here. To register, click here.
- April 30–May 2: Problems, Causes & Cures | Wood Floor Repair | CP Installation Testing | Intermountain Wood Flooring (Salt Lake City)
- Sept. 30–Oct. 3: Job Site Preparation | Problems, Causes & Cures | Wood Floor Repair | Finish Application/Color | Kimbrough-Carpenter (Albuquerque, N.M.)
The NWFA Regional Instructors for 2014 are:
row, L-R): Jay Daniel Moore, Daniel Boone, Scott Taylor, Jason Elquest,
Roy Reichow and NWFA Director of Certification and Education Brett
Miller; (front row, L-R): Jon Namba, Mike Dittmer, Kjell Nymark and Joe
Study: Bamboo Isn't All That Green
Bamboo, used for more than 5,000 years as building material across the world, has come into vogue the last two decades as a pro-environment floor covering.
Is it, though? A study released by research firm Dovetail Partners Inc. revisited the theory and concluded that bamboo is not environmentally superior to wood. But, as the authors said, it's hard to “get the green genie back in its bottle.”
The narrative that bamboo was inherently better than wood products was spread by entrepreneuring manufacturers in China looking to export their goods. When bamboo first appeared on the global market in the early 1990s, despite it being easy on the eye, it just wasn't moving. It wasn't a material for floors— Americans recognized bamboo as the material of their grandfather's fishing pole, or the numerous imported backscratchers and chopsticks. So those manufacturers decided to shift that perception, and looked at the environmentalist movement for inspiration, the study said.
It took a while, but then in 2002, the United States Green Building Council designated bamboo an environmentally preferable material in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 2.1 standard. Acceptance, the study says, was based on the belief that bamboo's ability to regenerate rapidly—less than 10 years—made it superior to products from wood that renew slower. A rapid rise in Chinese bamboo flooring production followed the USGBC's designation. Only a handful of U.S. bamboo suppliers existed in the late 1990s. There were 200 by 2005.
The USGBC's LEED version 4, introduced this fall, no longer affords bamboo the same environmentally-desirable qualities it used to. The new guidelines should make bamboo products, including bamboo flooring, more difficult to promote as environmentally preferred materials.
But from 2002 through the recent change in the LEED standard, media spread—"without question"—the material’s regeneration capability, as well as an inaccurate factoid that there was a large supply of bamboo, more than 1.6 million square miles, growing in China, most of it under government management.
The study cites sources that say these assumptions are misleading at best and patently false at worst.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported in 2010 that China's bamboo resource was equal to 14.1 million acres, just over 22,000 square miles, or 1/72 of the 1.6 million square miles figure spread by certain media.
In fact, the rise in bamboo production has come with environmental harm, the Dovetail study says, including:
• Over-harvesting and, because one species of bamboo in particular is favored, monoculture plantations, encouraged by the authorities and financial gain
• Other types of forests have been clear-cut to make way for bamboo plantations
• Because it grows fast, bamboo demands a lot of nutrients, and requires fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides whereas maple needs none
However, bamboo's social benefits are many, the study says. Increased production has reduced poverty and swelled household incomes. Planting bamboo on terraced slopes once used for agricultural production causes less runoff and erosion.
The bottom line, the study says, is that those benefits come at a cost when bamboo forests are not managed properly, and ultimately "should never be designated as environmentally preferable materials without at the very least" carefully judging its environmental impact throughout the supply chain.
MFMA Accepting Scholarship Applicants
The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) announced the start of a scholarship to help offset costs of tuition for a secondary, advanced or trade school education related to the business of flooring.
"The process of turning trees into high-end sports surfaces encompasses numerous skilled hands," the association said. "And once the sports floors are installed, even more trained professionals use the floors in their careers. We want to support all levels of this process in their educational and career goals."
Two annual scholarships of $1,000 each will be available for students accepted into one of the following fields of study in fall 2014:
Architecture, Athletic administration, Athletics, Boiler inspection training, Biological conservation, Biomechanical sciences, Building construction, Civil engineering, Coaching, Commercial driving schools, Construction sciences or management, Dance education, Forest science, Forestry studies, Engineering technology, Environmental resource management, Exercise science, Industrial technology schools, Kinesiology, LEED training or certification, Mechanic schools, Mechanical drafting, Machine technologies, Natural resources / conservation, Physical administration, Physical education, Physical rehabilitation or therapy, Recreation & park administration, Small engine repair schools, Sports & fitness management, Survey schools, Trucking schools, Wood sciences.
Applicants need to be recommended by an active MFMA or certified architect and will be judged on academic and written essay responses by the MFMA Sport Floor Contractor Advisory Council and approved by the MFMA Board of Directors.
The application due date is July 1. Find more information online at the MFMA's website.
Investing in Wildfire Fuel Removal Can Save 3x Cost of Fighting Fires
Investing in forest management and proactive fuel treatments—thinning and controlled burns—could save up to three times the cost of future fires while reducing severe fires by 75 percent and benefiting people, water and wildlife, a recent study by three forest groups, including the U.S. Forest Service, found.
The study simulated the paths of future fires in the central Sierra Nevada. It examined what the endgame was if the fires had or did not have fuel to burn. The obvious, but crucial, conclusion was that neglected forests are ticking infernos whose destruction doesn't just affect woody ecosystems but tax dollars and life.
"Recent megafires in California and the West have destroyed lives and property, degraded water quality, damaged wildlife habitat, and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars," said David Edelson, Sierra Nevada project director with The Nature Conservancy. "This study shows that, by investing now in Sierra forests, we can reduce risks, safeguard water quality and recoup up to three times our initial investment while increasing the health and resilience of our forests."
Last year, the U.S. Forest Service spent $1 billion to cover firefighting shortfalls.
Monday, April 14, 2014
NWFA Expo Opens in Nashville This Week
After “thinking big” in Dallas, the National Wood Flooring Association Expo is ready to “strike a cord” as the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo takes over the brand-new, LEED-certified Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., April 16-19.
This year’s show will include everything from a mill tour to a happy hour on the show floor Thursday to a concert just for the NWFA Expo attendees by country singer Pam Tillis. The full Expo schedule is available at the NWFA website; here are a few highlights:
Wednesday, April 16:
The NWFA Certified Professionals Symposium runs from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and the Welcome Reception begins at 6 p.m. at the Omni Hotel.
Thursday, April 17:
Education sessions on branding, radiant heat, insurance work and more run from 8 to 9 a.m. Keynote speaker Robin Crow will address the Opening General Session with his talk “Evolve or Die” at 9:15 a.m,, followed by four more education sessions at 11 a.m. The trade show floor opens at noon; from 5-6 p.m. there will be a happy hour on the show floor with free beer from the happy hour sponsors.
Friday, April 18:
Attendees who have registered for a tour of the Somerset Mill will leave for the all-day event at 8 a.m. and return at 4 p.m. The show floor will be open from 9 a.m., and drawings for the trade show prizes will be awarded before the show closes at 2 p.m. Wood Flooring University, featuring three sessions—certification testing, a Contractor Summit and a Distributor/Manufacturer Summit, runs from 2-5 p.m. The Wood Floor of the Year Awards Dinner begins at 6 p.m.; degrees and Wood Floor of the Year winners will be announced, and country star Pam Tillis cap off the night with a concert exclusively for NWFA attendees.
Online registration is closed, but interested parties can still register on-site. See here for more information.
Jim Gould to Present 'Standing on the Brink' at NWFA Expo
Longtime industry expert Jim Gould, president of St. Louis-based Floor Covering Institute LLC, will present a two-part seminar, “Standing on the Brink,” at the NWFA Expo this week in Nashville. Part one will be Friday morning’s Management Education Session, from 8-9 a.m., about the difference between Millennials and Baby Boomers, how the U.S. retail industry is responding and how the flooring industry must do likewise. Part two of his presentation will happen during the Distributor/Manufacturer Summit Friday afternoon from 2-5 p.m. During the summit, NWFA’s Michael Martin and Hardwood Floors magazine’s Kim Wahlgren will speak on the changing state of distribution, and there will be two discussion panels. Distributor speakers will include Rick Holden, COO of Derr Flooring Company; Enos Farnsworth, general manager of Denver Hardwood; and Art Layton, vice president of CMH, Bayard, JJ Haines. The manufacturer panel will feature Scott Sandlin, vice president of Shaw Industries; Dan Natkin, director of Mannington; and Flavia Baggio, president of Indus Parquet. For more information, go to www.nwfaexpo.org.
NWFA Regional Instructor Profile: Kjell Nymark
Kjell Nymark’s path to being an NWFA Regional Instructor started at age 21 on an ice rink in Finland.
He went there to play hockey after college and do some soul searching. He found a spot on a second division team that came with a place to live. He dreamed of staying, but then, in 1989, the Iron Curtain came down. As Russia opened up to the world, so, too, did the Eastern Bloc’s talented hockey players, and Nymark lost his spot on the team.
What to do? Having seen how many people in Finland were trained tradesman, he went back to Canada and asked his wife's father for a job at his hardwood company.
He loved it.
"I always liked wood, but never had considered I could make a living with wood until I went to Finland and found myself," Nymark said. "The only time I really found direction is when I got into hardwood."
That is, he felt great while working for BC Hardwood until 13 years later when he felt an itch to do more. At the urging of his wife, he went to Las Vegas to take a course on becoming an installation trainer.
"I couldn't believe after 13 years in the business how much there was to learn and how little I knew," Nymark said. "Meeting those people, my eyes were opened, and I realized we don't really know anything."
He took to it like a tongue to a groove, and in the process, he met some key personalities involved in NWFA training, including Rusty Swindoll, Kevin Mullany and Mark Lamanno. Before long he was teaching at the Las Vegas schools. He was teaching good people who were eager to soak up the best techniques and new information—it was impossible not to like, he said.
Eventually Nymark started his own company, Nymark Custom Wood Floors (Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada). He soon realized, though, that he preferred instruction and inspection to running a business, and he scaled operations back to be a one-man operation so he could start consultation, training and inspections-focused Precision Wood Floor Services. Now, being an NWFA Regional Trainer is part of that equation.
"I look forward to just meeting the people that are out there; I like connecting with people from different areas, I've always enjoyed that," Nymark said. "I enjoy those teaching moments when you can see that somebody gets something they didn't before—that's my favorite."
"Every time I teach a class I feel I learn just as much as everybody else has. There is so much more to what we do than putting pieces of wood together," he adds.
This year Nymark led the Magna Hardwood Floors International Inc. (Alberta, Canada) school and will teach at the following workshops:
May 7–9: Certification School | Installation Certification | Sand & Finish Certification | Certification Testing | A & A Flooring (Toronto)
May 19–23: Moisture Mitigation & Water/Wood | Problems, Causes & Cures | Wood Floor Sales | Installation Certification Training | Sand & Finish Certification Training | Certification Testing | Portland, Oregon
Aug. 5–8: Intermediate Installation | E.J. Welch Company (Chicago)
Aug. 26–28: Basic Sand & Finish | Chattahoochee Technical College (Marietta, Ga.)
Oct. 6–10: Job Site Preparation | Estimating/Job Costing | Installation Workshop | CP Installation Testing | EPA Lead Renovators | Energyst-Solutions (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
To read more about the revamped NWFA technical schools and see the schedule for this year, click here. To register, click here.
The NWFA Regional Instructors for 2014 are:
(back row, L-R): Jay Daniel Moore, Daniel Boone, Scott Taylor, Jason Elquest, Roy Reichow and NWFA Director of Certification and Education Brett Miller; (front row, L-R): Jon Namba, Mike Dittmer, Kjell Nymark and Joe Rocco.
Schönox Distributes to Mid-Atlantic Through New Spartan Division
Schönox (Florence, Ala.) will distribute its products from Virginia to southern New Jersey through a newly created division of Spartan Surfaces, Spartan Distribution.
Spartan Distribution will carry Schönox's full line of subfloor products, including primers and moisture mitigation systems, patching and smoothing products, floor leveling compounds and adhesives.
"We took a close look at the important Mid-Atlantic region and concluded that the work ethic and forward-leaning business approach held by Spartan Surfaces paired with their new distribution division was a natural fit with us," said Thomas Trissl, Schönox principal, in a statement.
Recycled Whey Finish Nabs Green Award
Vermont Natural Coatings' (Hardwick, Vt.) naturally derived wood finish was named a Top Green Finish For Hardwood Floors by a sustainable forestry and consumer advocacy group in Virginia and Ohio, according to the company.
The nominating group, WoodRight Forest Products, chose Vermont's PolyWhey wood finish, as well as five other companies' finish products, because it specifically uses recycled whey protein from the cheese industry instead of petroleum-based ingredients.
“Our own Vermont Department of Health has articulated, clearly, the potential health hazards associated with the application and off gassing associated with traditional solvent-based floor finishes that contain toxins like benzene and formaldehyde,” said Vermont Natural Coatings Founder and President Andrew B. Meyer. “As a parent of two young children, I know the importance of improving air quality in public places, particularly in schools. It is imperative that we address the dangers of toxic fumes from chemical cleaners and newly finished floors.”
PanTim Hires Rick Knowles for VP Sales and Marketing
PanTim Wood Products Inc. (Scarborough, Maine), which develops and sells hardwoods from South East Asia in the American and Canadian markets, announced Rick Knowles as its vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to working at PanTim, Knowles was a hard surface executive at Shaw Industries (Dalton, Ga.).
“This move allows me to focus all of my energy on product development, an improved customer experience, and the growth strategy for the company," said Haro Jakel, PanTim's president.
HF Briefs: New Job Openings, ProTeam Training Software
There are new job openings in the HF Classifieds, including positions for experienced machinists, a general manager and salesman; click here to see the all the postings.
Distributors and representatives of ProTeam (Boise, Idaho) has begun an online training program called ProTeam University. Course topics include ProTeam's history; productivity and cost of ownership; using vacuums in food service, education and senior living markets; proper fit and motion; and routine maintenance.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Study: Social Benefits Bloom In Communities Near FSC Forests
Since the early 1990s, the Forest Stewardship Council certification has said it strives to certify forest operations that are environmentally appropriate, economically viable and socially beneficial. The Center for International Forestry Research wanted to examine that last goal.
In a peer-reviewed paper, CIFOR asked if FSC certifications create positive "relationships between logging companies and local populations and contribute significantly to local development"?
The short answer: Yes.
In the areas studied, the presence of a certified forest management unit almost always coincided with better working and living conditions. Water supplies and medical services were guaranteed for workers and their families living in company accommodations near the sites.
Certified FMUs provided ways for the local population to communicate with the logging companies on a regular basis, and mechanisms existed to compensate the rural population if harvesting operations caused them loss.
They looked at nine certified and nine non-certified forest management units, three in each category in Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo (with 5.3 million hectare the Congo basin contains the largest area of certified natural tropical forest in the world), and found large discrepancies.
Health and life insurance was provided to 100 percent of staff at certified FMUs, but only 25 percent of staff at non-certified FMUs. Local medical facilities existed at 100 percent of certified FMUs, 38 percent at non-certified.
Only a quarter of non-certified FMUs had ways to provide compensation to rural populations for damage, compared with 100 percent of certified FMUs.
Considering these certified FMUs are competing against neighbors who sell in the same markets with lower investments, the study's authors write, "the evidence presented indicates that certification in the Congo basin has been able to push companies toward remarkable social progress."
Armstrong to Increase Solid, Engineered Hardwood Prices Again
Armstrong (Lancaster, Pa.) announced it will increase prices on solid and engineered hardwood products by 4-10 percent effective with shipments on June 9, the fifth time the company has raised its prices since March 2013.
“As with prior price increase announcements we are taking this action after serious consideration of the alternatives and options," said Kevin M. Biedermann, senior vice president, Armstrong Residential Floor Products in a statement.
He added that lumber costs have continued to grow since the company announced a 6-12 percent price increase on solid and engineered wood that went into effect this February.
The company’s year-end financial report released in February showed an 8 and 17.4 percent increase in consolidated net sales and net income in 2013, respectively. But operating income declined about 12 percent, the result of rising manufacturing and input costs due to increases in lumber prices and Russian plant start-up costs, company officials said in the report.
HF Briefs: Rubio Adds Distributors, Erickson’s Hosts Bona Demos
Rubio Monocoat USA LLC (Oxnard, Calif.) is now being distributed by Belknap White in Woburn and Avon, Mass., and Patriot Flooring Supply (Mansfield, Mass.) in Pompton Plains, N.J.
Erickson's Flooring & Supply (Ferndale, Mich.) will demonstrate Bona US (Aurora, Col.) products at a number of locations. Demonstrations with Wayne Highlander will be held between 8 a.m. and noon on May 6 at Erickson's Indianapolis location, May 8 in Grand Rapids, Mich., and May 9 in Ferndale, Mich.
Galleher Hardwood Co.’s San Jose branch has moved, according to a tweet on the company’s Twitter feed. The new location opens April 14, and the address is: 1714 Junction Ave., San Jose, CA 95122. The branch’s phone number is (408) 280-0222.
Trinity Hosts NWFA School in Houston
Trinity Hardwood (Dallas) hosted a school March 31-April 3 in Houston, Texas.
Daylong workshops included Job Site Preparation, Wood Floor Repair, Finish Application/Color, Certification Testing, and Problems, Causes & Cures.
Eleven students attended, representing nine companies in Texas.
Instructors were led by NWFA Regional Instructor Daniel Boone (Daniel Boone WFT Inc.), Brett Butler (Bona US), Mark Horash (Mohawk Finishing), Gene Jarka (Powernail), Mark Lamanno (Franklin International), Greg Mihaich (Norton Abrasives), Ed Reyes (DuraSeal), Jason Spangler (Wagner Meters), and John Thafvelin (Woodcare USA).
‘Truth About Trees’ Nominated For Environmental Award
The Hardwood Forest Foundation, as a result of its video program aimed at teaching children about how harvesting keeps forests healthy, received a nomination for one of the most prestigious environmental honors in Tennessee.
Foundation spokesperson Tommy MacDonald interviews a Tennessee tree farmer during the filming of the “Truth About Trees” video
The State of Tennessee Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards recognize organizations in the state that succeed with environmental projects and conservation measures.
"We work tirelessly to teach children about the good the forest produces industry does and to be recognized in this manner only exemplifies the excellence the curriculum provides in educational outlets," HFF spokesperson Tommy MacDonald said in a statement. "’Truth About Trees’ simplifies topics such as carbon sequestration and selective harvesting by offering a commonsense approach to learning and making fun mandatory."
The program is displayed annually in Memphis and surrounding Shelby County through a series of tree plantings and educational presentations, in partnership with Lumbermen's Club of Memphis, Morgreen Nursery and National Hardwood Lumber Association.
The program will also be presented at this year’s NWFA Expo, which will be held in Nashville, Tenn., April 16-19. The Truth About Trees program will take place April 17 at 12:30 p.m. on the show floor.
The Foundation was nominated for the honor by the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability. Governor Bill Haslam will present the awards in June.