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S.C. Allows LEED After Taking Issue With Chemical Credit
South Carolina pulled one tooth out of LEED v4's mouth of credits earlier this month when the state's governor signed into law a bill that forbids green project builders from seeking a specific credit.

The first version of the South Carolina bill sought to ban LEED certification of most publicly funded building projects. Only after heated debates in the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives was LEED, minus one credit, allowed to remain an option for publicly funded projects at all.

LEED, the green building certification set by the United States Green Building Council, has been combed through by many state houses in the past few years as politicians, foresters, builders, chemical companies and environmentalists argue the certification's merits.

The bill that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed on April 7 lets LEED stay, but disallows major building projects to seek the MRc4 credit. This particular credit is new to LEED, and is considered to contain two of the most controversial points in the entire system, according to LEED online community and and credit database LEEDuser.com.

Specifically, the credit offers a maximum of two points to projects that use products that not only have been "verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances," but for which "the chemical ingredients in the product are inventoried," according to the USGBC.

The bill in South Carolina explicitly disagrees with this credit, saying projects "requesting third-party certification shall not be allowed to seek a rating credit or point for building product disclosure and optimization credit that requires material ingredient reporting."

Chemical manufacturing is a large industry in South Carolina, and chemical companies, associations and lobbyists have been actively trying to stop government use of LEED, according to BuildingGreen.com.

The credit ban will continue through any subsequent version of LEED, and applies to any current and future third-party certification initiatives.
New Single-Family Home Sales Drop in March
March new single-family house sales were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000, a decrease of about 15 percent from February's figure of 449,000 and a decrease of 13 percent from the number of sales in March last year, 443,000.

“We keep hearing from our members that tight credit conditions are preventing many first-time buyers and younger families from being able to buy a home,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “Congress must outline a clear policy on housing finance so that qualified buyers can get home loans. Otherwise, this continued uncertainty could threaten the housing recovery and overall economy.”

Regionally, sales in the Midwest in March fell 21.5 percent. The South and West saw decreases of 14.4 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively.

The median sales price for houses sold in March 2014 was $290,000.
Philly Floor Store Cuts Energy Budget In Half With New Lights
In celebration of Earth Day, Philadelphia Floor Store Inc. (Conshohocken, Pa.) revealed some results of the company’s decision to retrofit lighting fixtures in the showroom and warehouse.

The move came in 2013 after Joe Glavin, co-owner of PFS, took to the company's management team with the express goal of "improving customer and employee experience while saving energy and enhancing the environment," according to a statement.

How much energy savings has PFS reaped in the past year? The installation of new ballasts, long-life fluorescent bulbs, reflectors, motion and day-light sensors, resulted in a 40 percent energy savings and a light output 4 to 4.5 times greater than before.

And the company said that's a conservative estimate.

"Operational surveillance, energy consumption awareness and increased safety analysis go a long way in helping to support Philadelphia Floor Store's long-term business objectives," Glavin said.

In addition to the new light system from TerraSol Energies Inc., Glavin led PFS to Forest Stewardship Council's Chain of Custody certification. PFS also introduced a single-stream recycling program.

"This is just the beginning," said PFS founder Mike Glavin. "Throughout the remainder of 2014 and beyond, we will strive to implement sustainable practices that enhance our management systems, streamline operations, reduce costs and stimulate innovation in all aspects of our business."

NWFA Expo Volunteer Event: Members Lay Floor For Veteran
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From left, country music star and Awards Dinner entertainment Pam Tillis, U.S. Staff Sgt. Adam Montavon and wife Sasha. Photo credit: David Stluka Photography

On April 18, United States Staff Sgt. Adam Montavon, sitting in on the 2014 NWFA Expo's Awards Dinner, received a standing ovation. The next morning, a group of those wood industry men and women installed a wood floor for him.  

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency, in cooperation with Operation Finally Home, which since 2005 has been giving homes at no cost to wounded and disabled veterans, surprised Montavon a month ago with the news that he and his wife, Sasha, would be receiving a remodeled home in Clarksville, Tenn. NWFA members volunteered on the last day of the Expo to lay the wood floor.

NWFA members who volunteered included Dino Luca, ADL Floor Inc.; Mike Betts, All American Hardwood; Anthony Palandro, Anthony Palandro Flooring Inc.; Terry Olin, Jeffco Flooring & Supply; Bill and Dorothy Harrington, Baker Hardwood Flooring Company; Wayne Lee, Middle Tennessee Lumber; Hollis Henderson, Flooring Pro Fastening LLC; Victor Mulbauer, Michigan Hardwood Floors Services; Dick Olesen, Olesen Floor Consulting; Keith Long, Thunderheart Flooring LLC; Reid Miller, Integrity Hardwood Floors; Peggy Tinsley and Kristin James, CDC Larue Industries; and Jeremy Farmer, Brunswick Custom Hardwood.

Also helping out were NWFA staff members Rusty and Tricia Swindoll, Anita Howard and Brett Miller.

NWFA member companies pitched in as well, donating gifts, money, tools and supplies, wood products and expertise. Here are the companies and their donations: 3M, a gift basket to the Montavons; All American Hardwood, oversaw the job site; BPI, helped with logistics; Bona US, donated a cleaning kit to the family; CDC Larue, made a monetary donation to Operation Finally Home; Flooring Pro Fasteners, logistics, tools and monetary donation to Operation Finally Home; Jeffco Flooring & Supply, logistics; Mohawk Flooring, wood flooring and underlayment; Precision Flooring Products Inc., reducers and quarter round; and Stanley-Bostitch, miter saw for installation and a compressor for Operation Finally Home.

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Companies Awarded For Community Leadership At Expo
More than 30 companies left the National Wood Flooring Association Wood Flooring Expo 2014 in Nashville, Tenn., with an award given for outstanding community service.

The companies were displayed on two enormous video screens hanging from the ceiling during the Expo's Opening General Session on April 16. They are:

3M
Absolute Hardwood Flooring Inc.
Armstrong Floor Products
BPI
Brookens Wood Floors Inc.
Burkhardt Wood Flooring LLC
C&R Flooring
Cal-Flor Accessory Systems
Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Training: Center Rockford Campus
Classic Wood Flooring
Coles Fine Flooring
Cottage Floors
Dickel Floor Corp.
DriTac Flooring Products LLC
Goodwin Heart Pine Co.
Hallmark Floors Inc.
Heppner Hardwoods
Horizon Forest Products
Ideal Hardwood Floors LLC
Imperial Home Services of WI
Lumber Liquidators
Michael Weinig Inc.
Moda Flooring & Interiors
Mohawk Industries
Mullican Flooring
Norton Abrasives/Saint-Gobain
Ogle's Hardwood Flooring Inc.
QEP
Real Antique Wood
Shaw Industries Inc.
Southern Hardwood & Floor Supply
Sullivan Floor Design
Tish Flooring
WD Flooring
Wood Pro Inc.
UFloor Hires Zeben Blau As Sales Rep
UFloor Systems Inc. (Aurora, Colo.) announced the hire of Zeben Blau to the company’s Pallmann brand division as a Pacific Northwest territory sales representative. Most recently, Blau was a sales manager for Portland, Ore.-based SeaPort Hardwoods & Flooring.

"We are excited to add such a quality individual to our team here at Pallmann," said Mark Wegloqski, brand manager for Pallmann. "Zeb's enthusiasm, business acumen and the relationships he has built over the years were major factors in our desire to include him onto our growing team."

Blau will be based out of Portland, and his territory will cover Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Utah and Northern California.
HF Briefs: Facility for sale, Flooring App Released
An engineered hardwood flooring plant in West Helena, Ark., is for sale. The facility comes ready-to-produce with three hot and cold presses able to output 75,000 square feet of panels per shift as well as milling, profiling and finish lines able to output 40,000 square feet. For asking price and contact information, see the ad in the HF classifieds.

Tec released a free mobile app that includes a version of the Coverage Calculator, which can estimate the amount of flooring products needed for a specific job. The app, Tec Installation Systems Coverage Calculator App, also includes product videos and contact information and is available in the Apple App Store.
UFloors Pallmann Brand To Host Contractor Seminar in Tenn.
Pallmann, a UFloor Systems Inc. (Aurora, Colo.) brand, will host a contractor seminar at Nashville, Tenn.-based Jeffco Flooring and Supply Inc. on April 30.

The seminar will start at 11 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. Training will be hands-on and cover topics from concrete and substrate penetration to finishing techniques and the proper application of Magic Oil 2K.

Cost, which includes lunch, is $25. To register, contact Jeffco Flooring and Supply Inc. at (615) 726-3301 or Josh Neuberger at josh.neuberger@ufloorsystems.com. Space is limited.
Based on History, Existing-Home Sales Underperforming
Current sales of existing homes are, using history as an gauge, underperforming, according to economists from the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales remained the same in March as they were in February, falling only 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million. Sales were up 7.5 percent—4.96 million units—in March last year.

"There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in a statement. "In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory changes."

Housing inventory rose 4.7 percent to 1.99 million existing homes available in March. Homes were typically on the market for 55 days, down seven days from February.

First-time buyers comprised 30 percent of purchases, an increase from February's 28 percent. NAR President Steve Brown hinted that the increase in first-time buyers could be due to a gradual easing of mortgage underwriting standards and a growing inventory in the lower price ranges as once first-time homeowners begin leaving their starter homes for new ones.
Rick Holden Receives NWFA Honorary Vanguard Degree
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Rick Holden receives an Honorary Vanguard degree from NWFA Chairman John Lessick. Photo credit: David Stluka Photography

The Honorary Vanguard degree, given to National Wood Flooring Association members who have contributed significantly to the NWFA and the wood flooring industry, was awarded at this year's Wood Flooring Expo to Derr Flooring Company's (Willow Grove, Pa.) Chief Operating Officer Rick Holden, who completed his tenure on the NWFA’s executive committee during the Expo.

Holden began working for Derr Flooring after he graduated college in 1980. His 34 years with the company have been dotted with volunteer work, including many years on the NWFA board of directors and serving as its chairman from 2011-2013, a time of great transition for the NWFA.

"It was a total surprise. I never expected that I would receive the award and it has very special meaning to me," Holden said. "My grandfather, Chester Derr, received the award posthumously in 2001. To be listed in the same company as him and other recipients, many of whom I consider friends, is amazing and humbling."

Holden is currently on the board of the Hardwood Federation and the Hardwood Federation PAC.
Robin Crow Electrifies NWFA Attendees at Keynote
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Photo credit: David Stluka Photography

Robin Crow, founder of Nashville, Tenn.-based Dark Horse Recording and former recording artist himself, gave an electrifying keynote presentation during the National Wood Flooring Association 2014 Wood Flooring Expo's Opening General Session luncheon.  

He began the keynote with a rowdy guitar performance that had him tapping the strings while climbing on top of a table in the middle of the audience, then told the audience the story about Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, which crashed into the Everglades after the crew became preoccupied with a minor maintenance issue. In the crew’s obsession with the little issue, they didn't notice the beeping that signified altitude loss. They didn't notice until it was too late, and the plane hit the ground, killing 101 of the 176 people on board.

Mission-critical problems are far more important than trivial nuisances, Crow said, and the mission critical problems for any business are: adapting to change, focusing on customer loyalty and creating a company culture of passion through employee praise and recognition.

Adapting To Change

Navigating through all the complexities of a business boils down to being able to creatively innovate and problem-solve, Crow said.

When Crow started Dark Horse Recording 20 years ago, the industry in Nashville was booming. Garth Brooks, he said, was selling more copies than the Beatles.

The wells were about to dry, though. In the late 1990s, the digital revolution struck and sent the recording industry into a tailspin. Major recording studios were going bankrupt left and right, Crow said.

That his business is strong today is a testament to his ability to adapt to the change and innovate. How did he do it?

Customer Loyalty

Crow gave a memorable example of one simple way he created customer loyalty: He'd make sandwiches for his clients, and his clients raved about them. One day, he was apprehensive to tell Faith Hill's manager that he was going to have to bump the studio rate in the middle of production, but Hill herself told him the sandwiches alone were worth the increase in cost.

Crow had an epiphany. It wasn't the high-tech equipment he provided for his clients or the soundproofing. He realized he wasn't in the recording business, he was in the customer service business, he said. Increasing customer loyalty was how he'd weather the digital download storm.

He began investing in comfy lounge furniture, meals and drinks, DVDs for clients to watch, he started serving his clients BBQ—it was all about providing them with an unforgettable experience.

"I can tell you so many years later that these changes have been the key to keeping our business alive and thriving," Crow said.

Find ways to exceed your client's expectations, he said.

Creating a Company Culture of Passion

There's nothing that will light your organization on fire more than enthusiastic employees, Crow said, but how do you get there? By constantly praising and recognizing your employees and by keeping your house clean of any bad eggs who gossip, use work time for personal ventures or cheat the company of money.

Crow ended, fittingly, by striking the opening "cord" of the NWFA Expo with another guitar solo.
Twenty NWFA Members Receive Degrees at 2014 NWFA Expo
Degrees were awarded on the last day of the National Wood Flooring Association Wood Flooring Expo to a number of NWFA members who have sought to further their flooring expertise through education and volunteering.

Those receiving a Craftsman Degree (for individuals who have attained 25 credits for education, achievement and service, of which 15 must be in education) were: Bill Harrington, Baker Hardwood Flooring; Dinu Luca, ADL Floors; Jared Mohler, Mohler’s Custom Wood Floors; Victor Mulbauer, Michigan Hardwood Floors Services; and Roy Reichow, National Wood Floor Consultants.

Once a Craftsman, members who receive an additional 25 credits, 15 of which are for achievement, and have attended or served as an instructor for an NWFA Advanced of Expert School or received an NWFA Floor of the Year Award, can obtain a Master Craftsman Degree. This year's Master Craftsman Degree holders are: Donald Bouchard, Perfection Home Flooring; Steve Lima, MAPEI Corporation; Daniel Moore, Antique Floors; Jimmy Nguyen, Dan’s Custom Hardwood Floor; Jeff Pope, Jeff Pope Inc.; and Joe Rocco, Artistic Floors by Design.

The next degree, Advanced Master Craftsman, is awarded to Master Craftsman recipients who have earned an additional 25 credits. This year's degree recipients are: Jon Namba, Namba Services; Kjell Nymark, Precision Hardwood Floors Services; and Rob Zehnder, Basic Coatings.

Vanguard Degrees go to members who have received 25 credits, 15 of which are for industry service or achievement. Mike Bailey, Harris Wood Floors; Darin Nesline, Bona US; Julie Russell, Glitsa; and Chris Zizza, C&R Flooring, received this degree.

Vanguard recipients who obtain an additional 25 credits for service to the industry qualify for an Ambassador Degree. New Ambassador Degree holders this year included Tommy Maxwell, Maxwell Hardwood Flooring, and Todd Schutte, Bona US.
Thousands at NWFA's 2014 Wood Flooring Expo in Nashville
The National Wood Floor Association's 2014 Wood Flooring Expo “Struck a Cord” last week at the enormous Music City Center convention complex in country music's mecca—Nashville, Tenn.

This was the 29th annual expo. Attendance, which had been affected by the nation's economic downturn, was back to pre-2007 levels. A total of 3,036 people attended the three day event from April 16–19, a 30 percent increase from 2013.

Wayne Cotton who, together with Don Finkell, used the Expo to launch new company American OEM Wood Floors, has never missed an Expo. He said early Expos paled in comparison to the booths, educational sessions and Inspector Symposium seminars at last week's Expo.

"There's no other show that segments into the wood flooring market, so for us that's important," Cotton said. "[W]e can meet with our customers, potential customers, and they're interested in one thing—wood flooring."

One change to the Expo that Roy Reichow, owner of National Wood Floor Consultants, said could have caused the attendance boost was moving the NWAFCP Inspector Symposium to the first day of the Expo instead of the last. The new schedule, Reichow said, encouraged Symposium attendees to stick around for the show.

Next year, the Expo is celebrating its 30th birthday by returning to St. Louis April 28–May 1, 2015. The show will take place on the field under the Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams.
NWFA Board of Directors Reduced to 16, New Members Elected
During the opening session of the 2014 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo in Nashville, Tenn., outgoing NWFA board of directors member and former chairman Rick Holden led the election of two new NWFA board of directors members, Julie Russell of Glitsa, a division of Rudd Company, and Scott Sandlin of Shaw Industries Inc., for three-year terms.

Also during the show, NWFA Chairman John Lessick’s term came to an end, and former board of directors Vice Chairman Jeff Fairbanks, Palo Duro Hardwoods Inc. (Denver), took over as chairman. The other members of the new executive committee are:

Tommy Maxwell, vice chairman, Maxwell Hardwood Flooring (Monticello, Ariz)
Chris Zizza, treasurer, C&R Flooring (Hayward, Calif.)
Kim Holm, secretary, Mannington Wood Floors (Salem, N.J.)
John Lessick, immediate past chair, Apex Wood Floors (Downers Grove, Ill.)

As part of restructuring of the NWFA, the board size was reduced from 21 to 16 people. Member who completed their terms at the Expo are:
Wayne Cotton, American OEM Wood Floors (Boca Raton, Fla.)
Mark Elwell, Bamboo Flooring Hawaii LLC (Honolulu)
Enos Farnsworth, Denver Hardwood Company (Denver)
Barry Gork, ATOM Ventures LLC-Gork's Goodfilla
Rick Holden, Derr Flooring Company (Willow Grove, Pa.)
Jamie Lupresto, Diamond Flooring (Elizabethtown, Ky.)
Jim Schumacher, 3M (St. Paul, Minn.)
Rosana Chaidez, J.J. Haines & Co. (Glen Burnie, Md.) and
Erika Wexler, Certo (New Orleans)

Members beginning a one-year term as an ex-officio director are:
Brenda Cashion, Pinnacle Interior Elements Inc. (Carrollton, Texas)
Jim Gould, Floor Covering Institute (St. Louis, Mo.)
Avi Hadad, Avi's Hardwood Floors Inc. (El Sobrante, Calif.)
Keith Long, Thunderheart Flooring (Greeley, Colo.) and
Jon Smith, Smith Flooring Inc. (Mountain View, Mo.)

Continuing members of the board include:
Craig Dupra, Installers Warehouse Inc. (Rochester, N.Y.)
Kevin Murphy, Trinity Hardwood (Dallas)
Joseph Rocco, Artistic Floors by Design Inc. (Parker, Colo.)
John Wooten, CMH Space Flooring Products Inc. (Wadesboro, N.C.)
HF Briefs: EPA Reopens Formaldehyde Comments, Jobs Posted
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reopened the comment period and is seeking input on the requirements for formaldehyde standards of composite wood products. All comments are due by May 8. A public meeting will be held April 28th.

Armstrong (Lancaster, Pa.) awarded The Floor Store (Richmond, Calif.) its highest retailer honor, the gold in its 2013 Elite Retailer of the Year. Silver went to AJ Rose Carpets & Flooring and bronze went to Long Island Paneling Ceilings and Floors.

A Mr. Sandless franchise is for sale in northwest Connecticut. The current owner wants to sell the territory, equipment and two months worth of product. See the HF classifieds for contact information.

Companies are seeking a wood floor sanding and finishing professional and a technical service representative. For details, see the HF classifieds.

For sale: a 2005 Hummel drum sander, Clarke edger and buffer, toe-kick sander and vacuum, and two nailers. The seller is located in Shiocton, Wis. More information is available here.
US Buys 36 Percent of China's Wood Floor Exports
While China continues to export huge numbers of wood flooring products, the country is also facing a materials price increase as countries around the world have started enforcing restrictions on wood cutting and exports to protect the environment, according to a new study.

The study, Global Research on China Wood Flooring Industry Report 2013–2016, says China manufactures 20 percent of the global wood flooring market. Sales grew 6 percent year-over-year to 400 million square meters in 2013.

China exports $660 million USD of wood flooring each year, with the United States importing about 36 percent of that flooring.

The study is available for purchase here for $2,400.
Harvard: Remodeling Activity Could Slow At the End of 2014
Recent rapid growth in the home remodeling market is expected to taper off at year's end and reflect its longer-term average, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Researchers with the JCHS said home remodeling's double-digit growth will last through the third quarter, but a slow housing market, specifically home sales, could cause a return to single digits in the fourth quarter.

"The housing recovery has at least temporarily lost some of its momentum," said Eric Belsky, managing director of the JCHS, in a statement. "And as a result, remodeling spending is expected to follow suit and see slower growth beginning later this year."

The prediction is based on the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity, which estimates how much money national homeowners will spend on improvements to their homes during the current quarter and the three following quarters.
Glen Miller Joins Staff at Middle Tennessee Lumber
Glen Miller Middle Tennessee Lumber.jpgAs of today, Glen Miller has joined the staff of Middle Tennessee Lumber (Burns, Tenn.) as quality manager. Miller has extensive experience in the industry, most notably spending 10 years as director of mill inspection services for NOFMA: The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association, followed by five years as manufacturer division manager at the National Wood Flooring Association. Miller was most recently at Westby Hardwood Products in Westby, Wis., as production foreman. Miller is an NWFACP-Certified Wood Flooring Inspector, Installer and Sand & Finisher, and he has earned his NWFA Craftsman and Master Craftsman degrees.
Wood Floor of the Year 2014 Winners Announced
NWFA President and CEO Michael Martin announced the 2014 Wood Floor of the Year winners during the Awards Dinner at  the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo in Nashville, Tenn., on April 18.

The coveted Members' Choice award went to Ourada Designs for its residential wood floor, and repeat winner Wood Floor of the Year winner Precision Floorcrafters Inc. took home two awards.

Here are photos and brief descriptions of all the winners:

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Members' Choice: Ourada Designs
This solid plank wood floor was glued down and finished on site. The design uses a mix of pine, ash and cherry wood.

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Best Residential: Natural Wood Floors and Design
This solid, nail-down project was finished on site for a homeowner in Florida who wanted a floor that would highlight his art collection.

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Best Reclaimed: Precision Floorcrafters Inc.
About 2,000 square feet of antique heart pine reclaimed from old buildings went into this floor.

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Best Limited Species: Precision Floorcrafters Inc.
This floor features river reclaimed cypress rounds with water washed edges. The cypress trees had been ax-cut in the 1800s and were lost in the river during transportation to the sawmill.

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Best Commercial: Archetypal Imagery Corp.
The hallway of this traditional brandy tasting club in Armenia is made of thousands of 5-by-5-inch wood end-grain wood blocks cut from 150-year-old barn beams and hand-pillowed on site.

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Best Restoration: Brookens Wood Floors Inc.
The company used quartersawn red oak, beech, afrormosia and kempas wood to replicate a 1914 linoleum floor in a Sears catalog home.

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Best Extreme Makeover: Czar Floors
This Boston Celtics medallion was placed in a client's "man cave," and uses maple, walnut and ash, along with a custom green stain.

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Best CNC/Laser Cut: MP Carroll Hardwood
This laser-cut wood floor is located at the company's showroom in Buffalo, N.Y., and uses white oak, wenge and walnut.

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Best Manufacturer Factory Finish: WD Flooring
This floor, a mix of white and red oak wood, was finished with a UV-cured hardwax oil from Rubio Monocoat.
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.

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