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Malaysia’s Hardwood Floor Exports to U.S. Up, China’s Fall
The only country to increase its shipments of hardwood flooring to the United States in May was Malaysia, according to international web-based timber network Fordaq.

Malaysian exports of hardwood flooring to the U.S. in May increased by 27 percent compared with April, for a total worth of $700,000. Brazil and Vietnam also shipped more hardwood to the U.S. in May than in April.

Chinese exports of hardwood flooring to the U.S. decreased 34 percent, for a total worth of $0.4 million. All told, hardwood flooring imports from all countries decreased 8 percent from April to May, for a total worth of $2.9 million.

“Assembled flooring panel” imports were worth $11.7 million in May, a 25 percent increase from April. Chinese shipments of assembled panels increased to $5.8 million, a 25 percent jump from the month before.  

Hardwood plywood imports from some Asian countries increased more than 30 percent compared with April.

The jump in hardwood plywood imports in May was mainly due to product from Indonesia, which shipped more than 50 percent the amount it had in April for a total of 3.5 million cubic feet. Year-to-date, imports from Indonesia have jumped 38 percent above where they were in the same period last year.

The United States' hardwood plywood imports from China increased 30 percent to 5,225,090 cubic feet. Year-to-date imports from China are 3 percent below where they were in 2013.

In all, the United States' hardwood plywood imports were at 11,570,200 cubic feet, 30 percent higher than in April and 6 percent higher than in the same period last year.
NWFA Regional Instructor Profile: Jason Elquest
JasonElquest.jpgJason Elquest found himself “stuck” working hardwood floors at the age of 18, he says.

"And that's not a bad thing," Elquest says. "Once you start in wood floors you never really get out. It's that instant gratification of turning a floor from something hideous like carpet into something miraculous, and quickly."

He has his aunt to thank. He was 18 and unemployed when she had her floors finished by a pair of cousins. One cousin, she learned, was leaving the state, meaning there was a job opening. Elquest's aunt recommended him.

Twenty years later, Elquest is the owner of Blackhawk Floors Inc. and, starting this year, an NWFA Regional Instructor. Elquest has led two schools so far and will lead two days of workshops at the end of September at Philadelphia Floor Store's headquarters in Conshohocken, Pa.

He'll give keen insights and hands-on instructions for applying finishes and doing tool and machine maintenance on the job site.

Elquest says he gained the confidence necessary to teach a class of wood flooring industry professionals by running his own business and being a student himself. He is always learning, be it through NWFA training schools or reading industry literature on his own time.

That expertise allows Elquest to break procedures down to their key steps and explain the how and why, he says.

While basic wood floor finish techniques aren't brain science, Elquest says the detail work—creating a “French bleed,” for example—would tax even the smartest doctor.

Which is why training is so important, he says, especially for the guys who have been working for years: "You can do it your whole life and be doing it wrong your whole life."

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:

NWFA Regional InstructorsEDITEDlowres.jpg

(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.
Photos: Maple Reclaimed From the American Crayon Company
The historic American Crayon Company's life cycle isn't ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but kitchen to kitchen.

It was in a kitchen in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1850, that the brother of the city's first school superintendent was asked to make a better chalk for the district's teachers. The product grew into a business, and the business grew out of the kitchen and into a full-fledged factory.

A century later, the factory is no more. But before it was taken down, Pioneer Millworks (Farmington, N.Y.) was able to get in and salvage some 24,000 square feet of maple. Homeowners can purchase the wood through Millworks' Foundry Maple line, which can be installed throughout a house's living areas and, for the full-circle effect, the kitchen.

Editor's Note: If your company reclaims wood with a story, we want to hear about it. Send the story and a few photos to Read about wood reclaimed near the first navigable canal in America, this series' first installment.
Come September, Armstrong Flooring Products Gets New CEO
Armstrong World Industries (Lancaster, Pa.) yesterday announced that effective Sept. 26, Senior Vice President of Global Operations Excellence for Armstrong Donald Maier will be appointed executive vice president and CEO of Armstrong Flooring Products.

He will replace Thomas Mangas, who stepped down to leave Armstrong and become executive vice president and CFO for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Maier started with Armstrong in 2010. While there, he oversaw the consolidation of facilities in the United States and the opening of plants in West Virginia, as well as in China and Russia.

Maier, before Armstrong, worked for private equity investment firm TPG Capital Advisors. He also worked for health care manufacturers Hill-Rom from 2002–2008.

Armstrong World Industries CEO Matt Espe said in a statement, "I would like to thank Tom for his many contributions to Armstrong and wish him well in his future pursuits. In Don Maier, we have a leader with a great combination of P&L and operations experience, as well as a strong understanding of the key issues and opportunities for our flooring business."
S&P: Slowdown in Home Price Gains Sustained Through June
The S&P Home Price Indices showed price increases slowed down in June, continuing the trend reported by S&P for May.

The National Index gained just 6.2 percent in the 12 months ending in June, and the 10-City and 20-City Composites grew only 8.1 percent—figures that mean growth has "considerably" slowed down from May, the S&P report noted.

“Home price gains continue to ease as they have since last fall,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement. “For the first time since February 2008, all cities showed lower annual rates than the previous month. Other housing indicators—starts, existing home sales and builders’ sentiment—are positive. Taken together, these point to a more normal housing sector."
The Academy Offering Two Courses For IICRC Certification
The Academy of Textiles and Flooring is inviting industry professionals to register for classes offered this fall. Two courses relevant to the wood flooring industry and certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification take place in August and October.

On Aug. 26–27, Stan Hulin will lead a Fundamentals of Floor Maintenance course. The course is separated into five segments that feature a combination of classroom and hands-on training. A written exam is required for certification through IIICRC. The course is located at Hard Rock Tool in Anaheim, Calif. Fill out this form to register.

On Oct. 2–3, Claudia Lezell will lead an Introduction to Substrate and Subfloor Inspection course covering floor system components, causes of failure effects of moisture, alkalinity and humidity and industry standards and publications. The course is located at Ardex America's manufacturing facility in Mansfield, Texas. Fill out this form to register.
Haines Moves Into Florida Via Wheeler Supplies Center
Haines & Company Inc. (Glen Burnie, Md.) began its flooring supplies division's expansion into the Florida market with the opening of the Wheeler Supplies Center in Orlando.

Haines already operates 26 Supplies Centers throughout the Mid Atlantic and Southeast. Its supplies division began with the acquisition of Allied Products in 2013 and grew in 2014 with the acquisitions of CMH Space and Ellis Flooring.

Leading the Florida expansion is Wheeler Supplies' Jed Collins, flooring supplies sales manager.

Haines CEO Bruce Zwicker said in a statement: “Our goal is to become the premier flooring supplies company within our territory. This will not happen overnight. We will achieve our goal through acquisition, organic growth, greenfield expansion of supplies centers, and building the best supplies team and business model that we can. We are new to the supplies business and have a lot to learn and do.”
Philly Floor Store To Host Color/Finish, Machine Maintenance Workshops
Philadelphia Floor Store will hold two NWFA workshops at its Conshohocken, Pa.-based showroom at the end of September.

On Sept. 25, NWFA Regional Instructor Jason Elquest, owner of Blackhawk Floors Inc. in Arizona, will lead a Finish Application/Color workshop. The workshop will address chemical treatments, application of oils, waxes, stains and dyes, acid cures, site-cured UV finishes and common finish problems.

On Sept. 26, Elquest will lead a Machine Maintenance workshop. The workshop covers job-site maintenance of sanding and installation equipment. Participants are encouraged to bring their own tools for hands-on maintenance.

Both workshops run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information and to register, click here.
QEP Gets FloorScore Air Quality Certification
QEP Co. Inc.'s (Johnson City, Tenn.) engineered wood flooring has joined the list of products that meet the indoor air quality qualifications of FloorScore's independent certification program.

In addition to FloorScore, QEP's engineered products meet the indoor quality emissions criteria of LEED v4, Collaborative for High Performance Schools and the Green Guide for Health Care, among others.

“This certification is just another step in differentiating Q.E.P. Co., Inc.’s products from the competition, by providing healthier, cleaner air inside your work and home environments," said Renee Tester, QEP's product marketing and technical services manager, in a statement. "Choosing a product with the FloorScore logo assures you that your new flooring contributes to good indoor air quality."
Court Brief: ITC Wrong on Chinese Plywood Imports
An advocate for plywood produced in the United States recently appealed to the U.S. Court of International Trade that the industry has been harmed by imports of subsidized Chinese plywood, contrary to a ruling last November by the United States International Trade Commission.

The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood made the appeal after the U.S. ITC’s November ruling that, despite testimony to the contrary from the U.S Department of Commerce, the hardwood plywood industry is not hurt by imports of subsidized Chinese plywood.

The CFTHP asked that the court remand the ITC's determination for further analysis. Read the full brief filed with court here.
WWF: EU Countries 'Failing to Halt Illegal Timber Trade'
Just 11 of the 28 countries in the European Union have adopted national legislation robust enough to control the legality of timber products, according to a report by the World Wildlife Federation.

The countries that have implemented policies, as identified by the WWF, are Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and the UK.

The other 17 countries have either not adapted their laws to an EU law governing timber trade that came into force more than a year ago or "have adopted legislation where low sanctions or dysfunctional prosecution systems are considered obstacles for an effective implementation of the law," according to the WWF.

To see the entire report, click here.
Single-Family Home Sales Dip in July
New single-family home sales in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412,000, a 2.4 percent decrease from June's 422,000 rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"We are somewhat surprised by this dip, considering builder confidence and new-home starts are on the rise," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement. "However, builders are increasing their level of inventory in anticipation that sales will gradually improve during the rest of the year."

Despite a month-to-month drop, July's rate was 12.3 percent higher than the amount of single-family home sales a year ago (367,000).

The median sales price of a new home sold in July 2014 was $269,000, and the average was $339,100.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for new houses for sale at the end of July was 205,000, representing a supply of 6.0 months at the current sales rate.

"Though new-home sales is a volatile metric that can fluctuate significantly from month to month, the economic fundamentals are in place for an ongoing housing recovery," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Consumer confidence continues to improve, mortgage rates are at yearly lows, and the labor market is healing. These factors should help spur pent-up demand."
Video: HF Editor Kim Wahlgren in Ice Bucket Challenge
For those of us who cover marketing and social media every day, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge represents the holy grail: a viral social media phenomenon. The campaign is sheer genius, and it couldn't be for a better cause: finding a cure for ALS. (As of today, just one of the ALS nonprofits involved, the ALS Association, says it has raised $79.7 million since July 29, compared with only $2.5 million during the same period last year.)

For the handful of people who still don't know about it, people are dared to dump ice water over their heads or donate to ALS research (or both). They then pass the same challenge on. The dare has been taken on by everyone from former President George W. Bush to Bill Gates and Jimmy Fallon. This week I received the challenge from my friend Joshua Crossman of PTL Hardwoods in Yelm, Wash. Here goes:

I look forward to seeing the videos from my industry friends I nominated: Michael Martin of the National Wood Flooring Association, HF blogger Wayne Lee of Middle Tennessee Hardwoods and NWFA BOD member and regional instructor Joe Rocco of Artistic Floors by Design in Parker, Colo.!

When Joshua nominated me, he also nominated HF blogger Scott Avery. You can see Scott take on the challenge and pass it on to three more hardwood flooring friends here:

If you'd like to donate, with or without dumping ice water on your head, there are many options, including the ALS Association and the ALS Therapy Development Institute, which targets 100 percent of its donations to ALS research.
HF Briefs: Sander and Business For Sale, Lumber Liquidators
A Bona US 10-inch belt sander is for sale in Hawaii. The machine includes a dust control system. The seller said the machine is in good condition and that he's only selling it because he is downsizing. See the HF Classifieds ad for more information.

A retiring hardwood flooring business owner is selling his western Wisconsin-based business and showroom, and he said he is willing to finance a buyer. For more information, see the HF Classifieds ad.

Lumber Liquidators' (Toano, Va.) President and CEO Robert Lynch will present at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference on Sept. 4 in New York City. Lynch will present alongside the company's chief financial officer, Daniel Terrell. A live webcast can be viewed via the company's website in the Investor Relations section. The presentation begins at 1:40 p.m. EST.
Resource Book: NWFA Members, Check Listing for Accuracy
The deadline to make changes and revisions to your Hardwood Floor magazine Resource Book listing is Aug. 29.

NWFA asks that you review and update your company’s information via the NWFA members-only site.

Only NWFA members are included in the Resource Book. If you’re not an NWFA member, you can join via the NWFA website here or by calling (800) 422-4556.
Home Depot Profits Jump By $300 Million in Q2
Home Depot boosted its profits in the second quarter of 2014, sporting an increase of $300 million from the same period last year.

Sales for the second quarter were $23.8 billion, a 5.7 percent increase from 2013’s $22.5 billion.

The amount of customer transactions was also up, 409.7 million versus 392.2 million from last year.

"In the second quarter, our spring seasonal business rebounded, and we saw strong performance in the core of the store and across all of our geographies," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO, in a statement. "I would like to thank our associates for their hard work and dedication, especially at this time of increased demand."
HF Briefs: Bona Equipment for Sale, Sales Job Available
Used Bona US equipment is for sale on the HF Classifieds page. Items for sale include a 12-inch Bona belt, a three-year-old Bona Edge and three-year-old Bona DCS vacuum, among others.

Horizon Floors Inc. seeks a sales representative to work its East Coast territory. The company is looking for someone with a minimum of two years of experience. Visit the HF Classifieds page for more information.
Video: School Fire Due to Spontaneous Combustion of Oily Rags
The start of school for a number of high school students in Green Bay, Wis., will be delayed until mid-September due to smoke damage from a fire that started after rags used to clean up a refinishing job spontaneously combusted in the middle of the night.

Green Bay Metro Fire Lt. Nick Craig told local media at a press conference that school district employees put rags “used to clean up the refinishing product” in a garbage can lined with plastic that was sitting next to the gym’s bleachers. The rags combusted, starting the garbage can on fire.

The fire started at 1:20 a.m, Aug. 8, in the Preble High School gymnasium. The video below comes from a security camera in the gymnasium, and captures the fire as it began.

The local fire department was able to contain the fire in the area, but the rest of school received heavy smoke damage. The school will remain closed until Sept. 15.

The same thing happened a year ago at a high school in Waukesha, Wis.

Take it from HF blogger Wayne Lee, who has seen two fires start due to spontaneous combustion while working on wood floors: "I cannot tell you the seriousness of spontaneous combustion." His video blog post on the topic is here.
Housing Starts Pass 1 Million Mark in July
Nationwide housing starts in July were at their highest level since November 2013 thanks to strong single- and multifamily growth that pushed housing starts up 15.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.093 million units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Single-family housing starts were up 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 656,000 units in July, and multifamily production boosted upward 28.9 percent to 437,000 units.

"A return to production levels over one million confirms that consumer confidence continues to improve," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement. "Propelled by a healthier economy, more and more people are feeling ready to buy a home."

Building permits increased 8.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.052 million units, with multifamily permits accounting for 412,000 units and single-family permits for 640,000 units.

Although the Midwest posted a 0.6 percent loss in permits issued, the Northeast, South and West sported gains of 18.8 percent, 9.6 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.
Caption Contest: Lady A' Looking Down an Old Plank Road
In July, we asked our readers to select the best caption for the photo of a few lumbermen waking up in a forest with a few glugs of hard cider.

The votes have been counted. The winner of the best quip is Jeff Katz. The caption?


Caption contests never get old … relative to the pictures we've asked you to caption. And our next photo is no different. It's time for another contest.

Come up with your best quip for the image below and you could win a T-shirt, a mention in the next issue of Hardwood Floors magazine and a story that will make your in-laws proud.

Leave your caption in the comment section below and keep your eyes peeled for a future E-News article asking you to vote for your favorite.