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Frank Kroupa, NWFA Director of Technical Training, Retires From NWFA
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Frank Kroupa teaching during an NWFA bamboo workshop in 2012.

Frank Kroupa has retired from his position as director of technical training for the National Wood Flooring Association. His involvement with NWFA dates back to 1997, when he began volunteering as an NWFA technical school instructor. He became a fixture at NWFA Advanced Schools and traveled with the NWFA team that taught wood floor classes in Australia. In 2005 he was hired as an NWFA technical advisor, and in early 2011 he was named to his current position.

Kroupa has been in the wood flooring industry for close to 30 years, having worked in all aspects of installation, sanding and finishing, as well as sales. He has served on many NWFA committees and was chair of both the Technical Education and Technical Manual committees. He is NWFACP-certified in Installation and Sand & Finish, and also holds NWFA Craftsman, Master Craftsman, Vanguard and Advanced Master Craftsman degrees. Prior to his involvement in the wood flooring industry he was a middle school reading and math teacher; he attended Central Michigan University to earn his undergraduate degree and attended graduate school at Boise State University.

Jay Daniel Moore, now an NWFA Regional Instructor, first met Kroupa at an Expert School five year ago, and says he still remembers and follows Kroupa's instructions like gospel. “Frank is a pillar in the industry who has made an impression untold number of students and fellow instructors alike,” Moore said, adding that he had a practical yet thought-provoking teaching style. “He recognized and accepted alternative methods, but still insisted that the old methods be understood."

“Frank’s expertise and industry experience have made a lasting impact on many industry professionals,” said NWFA CEO Michael Martin.

Kroupa had this to say to the industry upon his retirement: “Thank you, NWFA, for your commitment to education, for giving me the opportunity to teach since 1996, and for paying me for what I love to do since 2005; thank you to all the instructors who drive the NWFA schools to continued excellence; and thank you, students, not just for your time and money invested, but for your passion and commitment to improving our industry.”

Kroupa is available for new opportunities in the industry; he can be contacted here.

Additional photos of Kroupa follow:

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Kroupa teaching during an NWFA Advanced School in 1997.

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Kroupa was part of the traveling team teaching technical schools in Australia; here he is in Sydney Harbor with fellow instructors Wayne Lee (at left) and Jack Campbell (at right).

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Kroupa teaching during the Sydney school in 1999.

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Kroupa discusses blade sharpening at an NWFA school in 2010.

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Kroupa helps student Keith Long during a Jigs & Medallions school in 2012.

S & P: Home Prices Show Highest Gain Since 2006
Home prices in October posted the highest year-over-year gains since February 2006, according to the S & P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Both the 10- and 20-city composites posted 13.6 percent gains compared with October 2012. This marks 17 consecutive months of annual gains.

Compared with September, the two composites gained 0.2 percent in October. Eighteen cities posted lower monthly increases in October than September.

“Home prices increased again in October,” David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. “However, monthly numbers show we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading … Other housing data paint a mixed picture suggesting that we may be close to the peak gains in prices. However, other economic data point to somewhat faster growth in the new year. Most forecasts for home prices point to single digit growth in 2014.”
New-Home Sales Fall 2.1% in November
The sale of newly built, single-family homes fell 2.1 percent in November to an adjusted rate of 464,000 units from October’s upwardly revised 474,000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Except for October, November had the strongest sales pace since July 2008.

"The previous three months for new-home sales have all been revised up, and the final quarter of 2013 is shaping up to be the best quarter since the second quarter of 2008," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a statement. "Historically low interest rates, affordable home prices and a healing economy are bringing buyers back into the marketplace."

The median price of new houses sold in November was $270,900, and the average price was $340,300. The estimated supply of new houses for sale was 167,000, representing a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
HF Briefs: Loba Renames Aqua OilCare; New Job Openings
Loba has changed the name of its Aqua OilCare to Lobacare NatureOil. The maintenance oil retains the matte finish of oiled hardwood floors. More information on NatureOil is available here.

Elmwood Reclaimed Timber Inc. (Peculiar, Mo.) has relaunched its website with interactive features and a new design. The new website features galleries of both residential and commercial projects; a new product selector to help navigate to exact product by collection, species, grade or color; and a completely redesigned Virtual Showroom, which includes flooring, table tops and paneling.

Johnny Harlow of Richmond, Va., is seeking employment as an installer and finisher, Brenco Exotic Woods (Hammond, Ind.) is hiring independent sales representatives to serve all major North American markets, and Courduff Hardwood Floors Corp. (Riverview, Fla.) is looking for an experienced hardwood refinisher; for more information, see the HF Classifieds.
Lumber Liquidators Faces Yet More Shareholder Lawsuits
Following reports that Lumber Liquidators (Toano, Va.) knowingly sold products harvested from protected forests in Russia as well as products with excessively high levels of formaldehyde, two more law firms have filed class action suits against the company, according to PR Newswire and the Wall Street Journal.

Both Bernstein Liebhard LLP and Pomerantz, Grossman, Hufford, Dahlstrom & Gross LLP are filing suits on behalf of all people or entities who bought Limber Liquidators securities between Feb 22, 2012, and Nov. 21, 2013.

Both suits allege, much like those before them, that the defendants made false or misleading statements and failed to disclose that certain of the company's products failed to comply with applicable laws and regulations governing formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products; that the company imported flooring products sourced from illegally logged wood in the Russian Far East in violation of the Lacey Act; that as a result of the foregoing violations, the company faces the risk of large fines, penalties, forfeitures, judgments or settlements in connection with government regulatory actions or consumer class actions; and that as a result, the company's statements were materially false and misleading.
Oshkosh Designs Collects More Than 4,000 Toys for Tots
Oshkosh Designs (Winneconne, Wis.) completed its sixth year of collecting and delivering toys in support of Toys for Tots. The more than 4,000 toys were distributed by the Salvation Army to more than 300 families in the Fox River Valley area.

Tracy Muller Joins QEP as Adhesives Product Manager
QEP Co Inc. (Boca Raton, Fla.) has appointed Tracy Muller senior product manager of adhesives. Most recently, Muller served as product manager of ceiling suspension systems at Chicago Metallic Corporation, and, before that, she worked with adhesive lines at H.B. Fuller.

“We are looking forward to Tracy’s contributions and the experience she will bring to our organization,” said Jamie Clingan, senior vice president marketing, in a statement.
Shaw, Make It Right Foundation Turn School into Housing
Shaw Industries (Dalton, Ga.) donated carpeting and its Epic engineered hardwood flooring to the Make It Right Foundation’s effort to turn an abandoned school in Kansas City, Mo., into 50 housing units. Shaw’s green flooring contributed to the Bancroft School Apartments’ LEED Platinum certification.

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(Photo by Chad Jackson Photography)

“We’re proud to continue our partnership with Make It Right, building upon our initial work together in New Orleans with this latest project in Kansas City,” said Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs at Shaw Industries, in a statement. “Make It Right’s efforts to create affordable, high-performance, well-designed homes is not only in alignment with our focus on Cradle to Cradle in our manufacturing and flooring product design, but with our corporate vision to create a better future.”

Built 109 years ago, the Bancroft school had been boarded up for more than 13 years. It now offers 50 affordable residences, an auditorium, gym, computer lab and gardens to people in need, including disabled veterans, youth transitioning out of foster care, senior citizens and low-income families.
Chamber of Commerce Honors Chris Zizza & Co-Founders
The Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce has named Chris Zizza, Lynn Bucossi and Kevin Ryan, co-founders of the non-profit Friends of the Valley Foundation, the 2013 Chamber Member of the Year.

“To quote the late Laramie Bucossi, father of my fellow award recipient, Lynn Bucossi, ‘You don’t do things for credit, you do them because they have to get done,’” said Chris Zizza, president of C & R Flooring Inc., in a statement. “However being recognized by the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce is a remarkable validation for our foundation and I couldn’t be prouder. The Valley has truly been a very special place for Lynn, Kevin and me and we are blessed to be a part of such a grounded, close-knit community and we want thank the entire Valley for their past, current and future support.”

The Friends of the Valley Foundation raises funds to help the Deerfield Valley, Vt.-area. Its annual golf tournament raises money for grants and scholarships, and the foundation was instrumental in repairing businesses damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

More information about the organization is available at
November Existing Home Sales Fall Below Year-Ago Levels
For the first time in 29 consecutive months, existing-home sales fell below year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales in November fell to 4.90 million, down 4.3 percent from October and 1.2 percent from November 2012.

The national home prices, however, continue to climb. The median price rose 9.4 percent from October to $196,300. Total housing inventory declined 0.9 percent to 2.09 million existing homes for sale, representing a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

“Home sales are hurt by higher mortgage interest rates, constrained inventory and continuing tight credit,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a statement. “There is a pent-up demand for both rental and owner-occupied housing as household formation will inevitably burst out, but the bottleneck is in limited housing supply, due to the slow recovery in new home construction. As such, rents are rising at the fastest pace in five years, while annual home prices are rising at the highest rate in eight years.”
Judge: Three Companies Must Pay $1.1 Billion for Lead Paint
A California judge has ordered Sherwin-Williams—parent company of DuraSeal—NL Industries and ConAgra to pay $1.1 billion to help nine of the state’s cities and counties remove lead paint from homes, deciding that the companies violated public nuisance laws by promoting the use of lead paint while they knew it was dangerous, according to Legal Newsline. (Editor's Note: The lawsuit is specific to old paint products, not wood floor finishes or the DuraSeal brand.)

The decision in the 13-year-old case was filed Dec. 16 by Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg.

“The People sought to prove that defendants assisted in the creation of this nuisance by concealing the dangers of lead, mounting a campaign against its regulation, and promoting lead paint for interior use,” Kleinberg wrote in his decision. “The People further claimed defendants did so despite their knowledge for nearly a century that such a use of lead paint was hazardous. Had defendants not done so, it is asserted, lead paint would not have been incorporated into the interiors of such a large number of structures and would not have created the public health hazard that the People contend now exists.”

The defendants have 15 days to appeal the decision, and Bonnie Campbell, spokesperson for the three companies, said in a statement that they do plan to file objections with the trial judge.

"The judge's decision says that there is a lack of government resources to remove all lead paint from inside homes,” Campbell said in a statement. “But no plaintiff has asked the legislature for more money, and state and local law permits intact lead paint to remain safely in place, because removing the lead paint is unnecessary and can create hazards to children. It is also not the role of the courts to create or expand public policy programs established by the legislature and funded through regulatory fees. This decision overreaches, oversteps the role of courts, and is wrong.”

Campbell also noted that the public nuisance cases filed in seven other jurisdictions—Ohio, Rhode Island, Missouri, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and Wisconsin—have all been rejected by the courts, rejected by the jury or voluntarily dismissed.

“In Rhode Island, the Supreme Court said in a ruling that 'the public nuisance claim should have been dismissed at the outset' because the State cannot allege that the defendants' conduct interfered with a public right or that the defendants were in control of lead pigment at the time it caused harm to children,” Campbell said.

ARCO and DuPont were also named in the lawsuit, but Kleinberg dismissed them from liability because they were the result of prior mergers and acquisitions.
First NWFACP Certification of 2014 to be Held Jan. 16-18
The first NWFA Certified Professionals Installation and Sand & Finish certification training and testing of 2014 will be held Jan. 16-18 at Goodwin Heart Pine’s facility in Micanopy, Fla. Daniel Boone of Daniel Boone WFT Inc. (Jacksonville, Fla.) will lead instruction on Thursday and Friday and proctor the hands-on testing on Saturday.

Students will receive detailed training on unfinished strip installation, glue-down engineered installation, floating floor installation, board replacement, patterned floor/herringbone layout, job-site prep, safety, abrasive sequence, final sanding methods, stain application, sealer application, intercoat abrasion and final coat application.

Registration and more information on the certification school is available online at Students must complete an online exam prior to attending the certification school.
Bob Chananie to Resign from Stauf USA
Bob Chananie will resign from his position as Northeastern regional director at Stauf USA effective Dec. 30, though he will continue to take calls and emails from customers until mid-January. Chananie worked at Stauf for five years, following many years at flooring distributor Elias Wilf Corporation.

Customers in Stauf’s Northeast region can call the company at (901) 820-0007 for support and technical assistance. Stauf is looking to fill Chananie’s position; for details see the HF Classifieds.
Housing Starts Hit 5-Year High in November
Single-family and multifamily housing starts reached their highest rates since 2008 in November, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Privately owned housing starts were at an adjusted rate of 1,091,000 in November, up 22.7 percent from the revised October rate of 889,000 and 29.6 percent above November 2012’s 842,000. Single-family starts reached a rate of 727,000, up 20.8 percent from October. Multi-family starts rose 26.0 percent to 354,000.

"Single-family and multifamily starts are at five-year highs, providing additional evidence that the recovery is here to stay," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a statement. "We hit a soft spot this fall when interest rates jumped and the government closed down, but mortgage rates still remain very affordable and pent-up demand is helping to boost the housing market. We expect a continued steady, gradual growth in starts and home sales in 2014."

The number of privately owned housing units authorized by permits dropped 3.1 percent from October to 1,007,000. Single-family permits rose 2.1 percent to 634,000.

Housing completions in November were at a rate of 823,000, which is 0.1 percent below October. Single-family completions fell 3.2 percent to 596,000.
Builder Confidence Up 4 Points in December
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved four points to 58 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for December. The HMI is up 11 points since December 2012.

To calculate the HMI, the NAHB asks builders to rate sales, expected sales and buyer traffic as good, fair or poor. A number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. The HMI has been above 50 for the past seven months, and all three components showed improvement in December.

"The recent spike in mortgage interest rates has not deterred consumers, as rates are still near historically low levels," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, in a statement. "Following a two-month pause in the index, this uptick is due in part to release of the pent-up demand caused by the uncertainty generated by the October government shutdown. We continue to look for a gradual improvement in the housing recovery in the year ahead."
Lumber Liquidator Continues Support for National Braille Press
Lumber Liquidators (Toano, Va.) has donated more than $850,000 since 2006 to the National Braille Press, a non-profit publishing house focused on literacy for visually-impaired children and adults, it says.

"Our partnership with Lumber Liquidators helps promote literacy among blind children and provides access to information for blind and visually-impaired people. Braille remains relevant, especially in the digital age," said Brian MacDonald, president of National Braille Press. "Lumber Liquidators makes a positive impact in the lives of many people through our partnership and we're grateful for their support."

For more information on Lumber Liquidators’ philanthropic programs, see the company’s Lay It Forward blog.
HF Briefs: New Classified Ad
Stauf USA (Arlington, Va.) is seeking a regional sales manufacturer’s rep to serve its Northeastern territory; for more information, see the HF Classifieds.
Empire Today Sues Former Executives, Seeking $25 Million
Empire Today (Northlake, Ill.) has filed a lawsuit against two of its former top executives, seeking $25 million in damages, according to the Cook County Record. The company alleges former chief executive officer Steve Silvers and former chief financial officer Judd Feldman ran a fraud scheme that diverted millions of dollars in workers compensation reimbursements from insurance companies to their personal accounts.

According to the complaint, the pair ran the scheme from 2005 to 2011. Empire states in its suit that it used various subcontractors to install flooring and window treatments for its customers in California. As part of the arrangement with those subcontractors, Empire agreed to pay the entire cost of workers’ compensation insurance premiums for those installers’ employees.

The premiums for those policies, known as “retrospectively-rated” policies, were based, among other items, on an estimate of the total number of hours the subcontractors’ insured employees would work during the policy period.

After actual payroll was calculated, the suit states that any overpayment made by Empire to the subcontractors was to be refunded by the insurance companies, back through the subcontractors, to Empire. However, Empire alleges in its complaint that about $5 million of those refunds never made it back to the company and were instead diverted to Silvers and Feldman via shell companies the two men had created.

The alleged scheme was uncovered earlier this year after one of the insurers filed suit against Empire’s subcontractors, seeking to find out where its money was actually going.

Empire asserts that it is owed $18 million in damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as $4 million it had paid Silvers and $3 million it had paid Feldman in wages and other compensation during the time the two men were allegedly running the scheme.
Action Floor to Raise Prices Dec. 16
Action Floor Systems (Mercer, Wis.) will increase the price of all maple flooring 5-7 percent, effective Dec. 16.

“Lumber costs have increased dramatically during the past two years due to constrained supply and greater market demand,” Tom Abendroth, president of Action Floor, said in a statement. “Increasing our pricing at this time is necessary to maintain the level of product quality and service our customers expect and to continue our commitments to new product development and sustainable forests. If lumber prices continue to rise, and we think they will, additional increases may be necessary.”
National Paint Industries Purchases Petri Paint Co.
National Paint Industries (North Brunswick, N.J.), maker of specialty coatings, including the Garco, Harco and Wilson Imperial brands for the hardwood flooring industry, has purchased the assets of the Petri Paint Company (Newark, N.J.), manufacturer of clear finishes for the hardwood flooring industry.

National will manufacture all Petri products, including its lines of water-based, oil-modified and moisture-curing polyurethanes as well as quick-drying sealers.

“We are excited to have a company of Petri’s reputation for premium products join our growing family of coatings.  Petri is an approved vendor with Sherwin Williams, and the products are available from over 3,500 store locations across the USA,” said Mike Schnurr, president of National Paint, in a statement.
A & M Supply Acquires Atlantic Plywood’s Distribution Center
A & M Supply Corporation (Pinellas Park, Fla.) has acquired Atlantic Plywood’s Richmond, Va., distribution center. With the addition of the Richmond branch, A & M Supply will operate 12 distribution centers. Atlantic Plywood will continue to serve its customers from New Jersey to Maine.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunities to increase our service area in Virginia and to expand the manufacturing capabilities of the Richmond location into the Southeastern region of A&M Supply,” Raymond Prozzillo, A&M Supply’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Atlantic Plywood is a tremendous company and the quality of their personnel, combined with their strong emphasis on quality products, will continue to provide customers in the northeast with exceptional customer service well into the future.”
Report: Even Approved Finishes, Flooring Could Cause Asthma
The Healthy Building Network released a new report on the links between building products and asthma, titled “Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection.” It notes that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) testing standards currently do not cover more than 70 percent of the asthmagens—agents which cause the onset of asthma in someone who did not previously have the condition—HBN identified in building materials.

Among the chemical identified as asthmagens are the familiar formaldehyde and isocyanates as well as acid anhydrides, which are used in varnishes and adhesives; acrylates, which are in acrylic lacquers, varnishes and flooring finishes; and Bisphenol A Diglycidyl Ether, which is used in epoxy adhesives.
QEP Employees Donate Toys to Holiday Gift Drive
QEP Co. Inc. (Boca Raton, Fla.) is donating toys to the Spirit of Giving Network’s Holiday Gift Drive. The community-wide drive distributes gifts to 4,000 children ages 1-18.

“It always means a lot to be able to give back throughout the year and especially around the holidays to make sure that every child in our community has a magical holiday. I am amazed and pleased with the response from our QEP employees. The support and caring in participating in fulfilling these children’s wishes was overwhelming,” said Jamie Clingan, senior VP of marketing, in a statement. 

HF Briefs: New Classified Ad
Johnson Premium Hardwood Flooring (City of Industry, Calif.) is hiring regional sales agents to serve the Pacific Northwest, the mid-Southwest and New England; for more information, see the HF Classifieds.
Two More Class Action Lawsuits Leveled Against Lumber Liquidators
Two additional class action lawsuits have been filed against Lumber Liquidators (Toano, Va.) due to claims that the company sourced products from protected Russian forests and sold products with illegally high levels of formaldehyde.

Yesterday the firm Glancy, Binkow & Goldberg LLP filed a separate class action suit against the company on behalf of investors, according to Business Wire, claiming that company and certain of its executive misrepresented or failed to disclose that certain of the company's products failed to comply with applicable laws and regulations governing formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, and that the company imported flooring products sourced from illegally logged wood in the Russian Far East, in violation of the Lacey Act.

This suit comes after investor Gregg Kiken filed a suit at the end of November alleging that company executives made false and misleading statements about the sourcing of its wood products.

Meanwhile, a different suit was filed last week with the Virginia federal court, according to Legal Newsline, in which homeowners allege that a line of Chinese wood flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators emits “excessive levels” of formaldehyde.

“Indeed, contrary to Lumber Liquidators’ repeated, detailed representations that its flooring complies with strict formaldehyde standards on its product labels, website, and elsewhere, the toxic formaldehyde emissions from the company’s Chinese flooring products are multiple times the maximum permissible limits set by those standards at the time of purchase,” plaintiffs Donnie Williamson, Melissa Stini and Jennifer Hogencamp wrote in their 53-page complaint.

The plaintiffs installed the flooring in their homes and contend that their homes are now “markedly less valuable.”

They are seeking damages—for installation and removal costs, remediation costs, restocking fees, loss of use and diminished value—attorneys’ fees and costs, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest “at the highest rates allowed by law” on the damages awarded.

In September, federal authorities executed sealed search warrants on Lumber Liquidators that may have been related to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). The EIA report concluded that Lumber Liquidators knowingly imported wood flooring products harvested from protected lands in Russia’s far east.

When reached for comment, a Lumber Liquidators spokesperson said the company does not comment on pending or in-progress litigation.
Deanwood International Increases Production
Deanwood International (Leland, N.C.), which purchased all the assets of Dean Hardwoods in August 2012, plans to increase production. In its first year, Dean International has grown its staff from 7 to 15 people, most recently adding Mary Blankenship Sigmon to the sales team.

“We are very excited to continue the Dean family heritage as the fourth generation in the wood products industry,” Tom Dean, vice president of Deanwood, said in a statement. “After Dean Hardwoods closed we sat down and created a new business plan based on a vision of doing what we do best: provide the highest quality products at very competitive prices while delivering extraordinary levels of customer service.”

Deanwood manufactures flooring, stair parts and moldings in red oak, white oak, hickory, walnut, Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, sapele, Brazilian walnut and other domestic and imported woods.

Deanwood is located at 9244 Industrial Blvd. in Leland, N.C., and the office phone number is (910) 763-5409. Sales inquiries can be directed to Tom Dean at (910) 512-0088 or, or to Mary Sigmon (276) 252-3500 or
Mullican Donating Up to $5,000 to Toys For Tots
For every new “like” its Facebook page receives from Dec. 10-22, Mullican Flooring (Johnson City, Tenn.) will donate $5 to the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, up to $5,000.  

In the first day of this year’s 12 Days of Christmas campaign, the page received 51 “likes,” which equates to $255 for the charity. Last year Mullican reached its $5,000 goal in the 12 days.

To participate, click the Like button on Mullican’s Facebook page and share one of the 12 Days of Christmas posts with others.

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Mohawk Hard Surfaces Launches New Sales Platform
The Mohawk Hard Surfaces (Dallas) sales team will launch its “New MHS” sales platform at the 2013 Mohawk Solutions Convention Dec. 12-14 in Dallas. The New MHS plan emphasizes the customer experience, focusing on equipping Aligned Program retailers for success.

“Our team has new executive leadership and fresh ideas, ushering in an increased level of excitement and executional excellence for our Aligned retailer partners.” said Rodney Mauter, director of sales operations for Mohawk Hard Surfaces. “Our New MHS sales program is laser beam focused on providing new products, the best services, unsurpassed product training, and effective programs.”

At the helm of the New MHS executive sales leadership is Jamie Byrne, senior vice president of hard surface sales. Partnering with Byrne out of the Mohawk Hard Surfaces headquarters in Dallas is Mauter. Leading the team nationwide are regional vice presidents and a general manager including: Craig Cook (Southeast), Bob Nichols (Northeast), Rich Owen (West Coast), Gary Phelps (North Central), Dave Slough (Northeast GM), Patrick Warren (South Central), and Jeff Wilson (Florida).
Shaw Named College, Career Academy Partner of the Year
Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle named Shaw Industries Inc. (Dalton, Ga.) the 2013 College and Career Academy Business Partner of the Year at the 2013 Lt. Governor’s Business and Education Summit.

“When it came time to select our first ever College and Career Academy Business Partner of the Year, Shaw Industries was an obvious choice,” said Cagle in a statement. “Their commitment to and passion for improving the quality of education opportunities available to students in their local communities is a great testament to the values they live up to as a company.”

Representatives from Shaw serve on the board of Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and Gordon County College and Career Academy. Also, Brian Cooksey, Shaw’s director of operations, training, and development, spearheaded the development of the Mechatronics curriculum and wrote the standards approved by the Department of Education for use across Georgia. Students in the Mechatronics program will have the opportunity to complete post-secondary work in industrial systems and take advantage of work-based learning opportunities at Shaw and other manufacturers.
Malaysian State Says No to VPA with EU
See Chee How, vice chairman of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, said his state is not interested in entering a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union because it can rely on demand from Asian importers, according to The Borneo Post.

With the state opting not to sign the VPA, its timber will not be legally allowed into markets of the EU’s 28 member nations; however, the major importers of Sarawak timber are Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, none of which is bound by VPAs.

Peninsular Malaysia, on the other hand, is working to create a VPA with the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program.

USGBC Releases Final LEED in Motion Report
The U.S. Green Building Council has released its third and final LEED in Motion report titled “Impacts and Innovation.” The report describes the business and human health impacts of projects using the LEED system as well as new green building technologies.

“’LEED in Motion: Impacts and Innovation’ highlights the revolutionary thinking that has been the catalyst for the transformation in the built environment we are witnessing worldwide,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, in a statement. “Even as LEED is in itself an innovation, it has and will continue to serve as a gateway to further advances in the movement to create healthier, high-performing buildings and vibrant, resilient communities.”

“Impacts and Innovation” also features LEED project energy data, revealing that 450 LEED projects that reported data over a 12-month period experienced an energy use intensity (EUI) that was nearly 31 percent lower than the national median source EUI.

The report is available exclusively to USGBC members here.
Wood Pro to Host Arboritec Open House in Rhode Island
Wood Pro Inc. (Warwick, R.I.) will host an open house Dec. 11 featuring Arboritec’s UVElite finish and Miracle Oil in its facility at 85 Byfield Street in Warwick. The open house will include UV finishing demos.

Lumber Liquidators Partners with VCU Athletics on Practice Facility
Lumber Liquidators (Toano, Va.) has entered a multi-year partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Athletics Department, according to a press release from the university. Lumber Liquidators has agreed to provide up to $1 million in hardwood flooring for the new VCU basketball training facility and other athletics buildings.

“VCU Athletics is excited to continue our partnership with Lumber Liquidators. In spending time with Rob Lynch and his staff over the last year, it became very clear that both organizations are passionate about the city of Richmond and about achieving at the highest level,” Ed McLaughlin, VCU director of athletics, said in a statement. “This partnership will move us closer to our goal of building a first-class basketball practice facility for our student-athletes that will enable them to succeed athletically and academically."
Mohawk Hard Surfaces Hires Reddington, Promotes Cook
Joe Reddington has been named the new director of national accounts and business development of Mohawk Hard Surfaces/Unilin, and Craig Cook has been promoted to regional vice president for the Southeast, both effective today.

Reddington brings more than 30 years of floor covering industry experience to the position, having worked at BPI for the last 10 years and at Armstrong before that. Reddington’s office is at the Mohawk Hard Surfaces/Unilin headquarters in Dallas, and he reports to Jamie Byrne, senior vice president of Mohawk Hard Surfaces and Bob Leahy, senior vice president Unilin sales. Reddington can be reached at

Cook brings 20 years of experience to the position; he has been at Mohawk Hard Surfaces for five years and also previously worked at Armstrong. Cook is based out of Charlotte, N.C., and reports to Byrne. Cook can be contacted at

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Craig Cook (left) and Joe Reddington (right).
HF Brief: Vendor Registration Open for The Market Show
Vendor registration is now open for Flooring Association Northwest’s The Market trade show March 4 at the Lynnwood Convention Center in Lynnwood, Wash. Registration forms are available here.
Stauf to Increase Prices as of Jan. 1
Stauf USA LLC (Arlington, Tenn.) announced that it will increase prices for the first time in three years. The company reports that cost of raw materials has steadily increased even in the down economy, and until now it has been able to hold off on any increases that have been passed down from those suppliers. The increase will go into effect Jan. 1 on products shipped from any of Stauf’s U.S. warehouses and will be effective on anything ordered in container quantity after Dec. 6.
New Residential Sales Jump 25.4 Percent in October
Sales of new single-family homes were at a rate of 444,000 in October, a 25.4 percent increase from September’s rate of 354,000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The October rate is 21.6 percent above October 2012.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October was $245,800, and the average sales price was $321,700. There were an estimated 183,000 new homes on the market at the end of October, representing a 4.9-month supply at the current sales pace.

"The strong October results return us to the sales levels we saw earlier this year and negate the pause caused by the sudden jump in interest rates," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a statement. "We expect sales to continue to rise as pent-up demand is released and first-time home buyers creep back into the market."
Scott Banda Promoted to Bostik Director of Marketing
Scott Banda_Photo_rev.jpgScott Banda has been promoted to director of marketing for Bostik Inc.’s (Wauwatosa, Wis.) Consumer and Construction Business Unit. He will direct product management, marketing communications and strategic partnership efforts for the unit. Banda has served in a variety of roles in his 10 years with Bostik.

“Scott is a tremendous example of what can be accomplished through perseverance, hard work and innovation,” said Mike Jenkins, business director of Bostik’s Consumer and Construction Business Unit. “He has been a key leader in our business’ continued growth and success. I am confident that he will continue to be a positive influence on our division’s future.”
NAHB: Markets Slowly Return to Normal in October, November
Markets in 54 out of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in October, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI). This is up two points from September.

The nationwide score of 0.86 indicates that, based on permits, prices and employment data, the market was running at 86 percent of normal economic and housing activity.

In November, 55 housing markets were operating at or above their last normal levels, and the nationwide market was operating at 85 percent of normal growth.

LMI data for the two months were released simultaneously because of the delay in collecting data during the partial government shutdown in October.

Noting that smaller metros accounted for most of the 54 markets on the current LMI that are at or above normal levels, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement that "smaller markets are leading the way, particularly where energy is the primary economic driver. Nearly half of the markets in the top 54 are in the energy states of Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana."
Indonesia Proposes Forest Certification System
Indonesia has become the third Asian country to seek support from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the Indonesian Forestry Certification Co-operation’s (IFCC) compliance with PEFC International’s sustainability benchmark by Feb. 1.

“We appreciate the opportunity that PEFC is providing independent national forest certification systems such as IFCC to develop its own standards tailored to our national and local political, economic, social, environmental and cultural realities,” Dradjad Wibowo, chairman of the IFCC, said in a statement. “PEFC’s bottom-up approach has enabled Indonesian stakeholders to develop a robust standard that considers Indonesia’s unique needs and therefore has the potential of wide adaptation.”

PEFC stakeholders can find the IFCC proposal and comment on it here.
Armstrong to Raise Hardwood Prices Again
Armstrong World Industries (Lancaster, Pa.) plans to raise the prices on select solid and engineered hardwood products 6 to 12 percent in the U.S. and Canada. The new pricing will take effect on Feb. 3.

“We are taking this action after serious consideration of the alternatives and options but this increase is the minimum necessary to secure the raw materials required to service our valued customers as we move into 2014,” Kevin Biedermann, senior vice president of Armstrong Residential Floor Products, said in a statement. “The continuing record-levels of raw materials costs increases on both veneer and lumber, combined with constrained lumber supplies for certain species of lumber, necessitate this price increase. We are doing everything we can to compensate. We truly understand how difficult it is to pass along price increases to customers. Our focus continues to be delivering quality, innovation and service that drive growth for our customers.”

This is the latest in a series of price increases, the most recent of which went into effect on Sept. 13.
Al Maghes to Retire from Erickson’s Flooring
Al Maghes, Erickson’s Flooring & Supply’s (Ferndale, Mich.) account manager for the east side, has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31.

Maghes started with the company in 1989 as an account manager in the Detroit metro area, working for Dick and Diane Walters. Through the following 25 years, he served as sales manager, general manager, VP of sales and VP of product development. The company credits Maghes with transitioning Erickson’s from a one-facility organization to a company serving five states from its five facilities.
Horizon Forest Products to Distribute Pallmann Products
UFloor Systems announced that Horizon Forest Products (Raleigh, N.C.) is the newest Pallmann distributor partner. Horizon will carry the new Hardwood Complete range of Pallmann product systems throughout its nine-branch distribution network in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia.

"We are excited about adding what we consider to be truly one of finest distributors in our industry to our growing network of distributor partners," said Mark Weglowski, Pallmann brand manager, in a statement. "Their goal of providing 'the best products and the best service to their customers' mirrors our own hands-on approach that we take with the Pallmann brand."

The Hardwood Complete range includes primers and moisture mitigation products, leveling compounds, adhesives, sanding machines and tools, finishes and floor care products.
Surfaces to Feature “Truth About Trees” for Children
The International Surface Event and the Hardwood Forest Foundation will present a new education program, “Truth about Trees,” to teach school-age children about the benefits of properly harvesting resources. The program, to be held at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 29 on the Event Main Stage at Surfaces 2014, is a result of a partnership between the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA).

“Upon attending a similar event at the recent NHLA Annual Convention & Exhibit Showcase in Ft. Worth, Texas, I knew NWFA needed to host the foundation and its educational program, ‘Truth About Trees,’ at The International Surface Event. It’s amazing what this program can teach young people in a short period of time through keeping them engaged with scientific resources and everyday common-sense learning,” said Michael Martin, president and CEO of NWFA, in a statement.

Children will be shuttled to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and they will have the opportunity to talk to professionals in the hardwood industry.

For more information on the shows and sessions taking place during The International Surface Event, visit the Surfaces website at
TEC Launches Expert Advice Blog
TEC has launched its Expert Advice blog, available on the company’s website ( and through email subscription. The blog features technical tips from tile and flooring industry experts as well as how-to videos.

The blog aims to help tile and flooring contractors overcome specific installation hurdles. The blog also highlights projects featuring TEC products, demonstrating how a specific construction problem may have been solved, and how particular projects have achieved creative, ambitious designs.
NAFCD Announces Officers, Directors
The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) announced its 2014 executive officers and directors at the NAFCD Annual Member Business Meeting in Chicago Nov. 13.

Executive officers appointed for 2014 include:
• President, Craig Folven (Herrigan Distributors)
• Vice President, Chris O'Connor (CMH Space Flooring)
• Secretary, Torrey Jaeckle (Jaeckle Distributors)
• Treasurer, Rosana Chaidez (J.J. Haines)

George Roth (Lockwood Flooring) will serve as NAFCD immediate past president and Michelle Miller will continue to serve as NAFCD executive vice president.

NAFCD directors for 2013 are:
• Flavia Baggio (IndusParquet USA)
• David Ford (Stauf USA LLC)
• Jeff Garber (Ohio Valley Flooring)
• Duane Goetze (Shaw Floors)
• Robert Hagood (William M. Bird & Company)
• Michael Halebian (Michael Halebian & Co., Inc.)
• Heidi Cronin Mandell (The Cronin Company)
• Dave Powell (Erickson's Flooring & Supply Company)
• Scott Rozmus (FlorStar Sales, Inc.)
• Alex Shaoulpour (Horizon Floors)
• Goeff Work (The R.A. Siegel Company)

The NAFCD board of directors also acknowledged two board members at large: Sean Swanson (Kährs International) and Dave Darche (Bona USA). Finally, recognition was provided for the contributions of retiring board member Shane Calloway (Unilin) and NAFCD past president David Williams (Horizon Forest Products).
HF Briefs: New Job Posting
Hardwood flooring manufacturer Schafer Hardwood Flooring Co. (Tecumseh, Mich.) is hiring an operations/production manager; for more information, see the HF Classifieds.
Shareholder Files Lawsuit Against Lumber Liquidators
A shareholder of Lumber Liquidators (Toano, Va.) has filed a class action lawsuit with the U.S. District Court alleging that company executives made false and misleading statement about the sourcing of its wood products, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Lumber Liquidators has been investigated on suspicion of importing illegally logged wood products from Russia and China as well as importing wood flooring with formaldehyde in excess of CARB limits.

The investor, Gregg Kiken of Florida, is seeking damages for unspecified losses.

Lumber Liquidators does not comment on pending or in-progress litigation, according to the company.
Demolition Surprise: Original Texas A & M Basketball Floor Uncovered
In the final hours before the demolition of Texas A & M’s historic G. Rollie White Coliseum, the facility’s basketball floor (circa 1992) was excavated for online auction, revealing a previously unknown sub-layer floor believed to be the original wood court from 1954, according to Texas A & M Athletics.

Several sections of the old floor were salvaged, and the school put them up for online auction Nov. 27. The school plans to keep some sections of the original floor to be featured in the new letterman’s facility.

“I would equate uncovering the original G. Rollie White floor to finding a buried treasure that no one knew existed,” said Clint Netherland, facility manager for Texas A&M Athletics. “Our team was extremely excited to not only discover the floor, but also have an opportunity to share it with other Aggies.”

At the time this article was posted, the top bid for this 121-by-110-inch section of the original G. Rollie White basketball court was $1,500.

Construction Spending Hits 4-Year High in October
Construction spending increased 0.8 percent to $908.4 billion in October, however, spending on private construction was down 0.5 percent to $625.7 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Residential construction was at a rate of $326.9 billion, down 0.6 percent from September. Nonresidential construction was also down 0.5 percent to $298.9 billion.

Public construction spending was $282.7 billion, 3.9 percent above September, with education spending up 8.5 percent to $64.0 billion.
Wood Finish to Hit Motomaker in Time for Holidays
Wood smartphone cases are nothing new, but now customers can get the beauty of wood on their phones without a clunky case.

The company will add wood finishes for the Moto X cell phone to its Motomaker phone-designing program, according to Reuters’ Sinead Carew. While the company missed its Thanksgiving release target, customers should be able to get phones with teak, ebony, rosewood, and bamboo panels in time for holiday shopping.

Moto X.png
IICRCA Reopens Nominations for Board of Directors
The International Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Council of Associations (IICRCA) has reopened nominations to fill its seven board of director positions. Nominations can be submitted here and must be received by Dec. 10. Self-nominations are accepted.
FSC to Use Forensics to Fight Illegal Logging
In order to verify environmental claims about forestry products, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is teaming up with the USDA’s Forest Products Lab (FPL) to test composite wood and paper products for fibers from endangered species or genetically modified organisms, according to

While Brad Kahn, communications director for FSC-US told BuildingGreen there is no reason to suspect FPL will find anything out of the ordinary, he added, “we want to make sure we are keeping our system as rigorous and credible as possible.”

FSC plans to publish its findings, according to Kahn, unlike large companies that already do their own testing.
HF Briefs: Lagler Redesigns Website; Michelman Offers Chinese Language Website
Lagler has redesigned its website. See the updated English-language website at

Michelman, maker of water-based wood stains and sealants, has launched a Chinese language version of its website at The site is designed and written for the company’s growing Chinese customer base.