Final Coat: Expo Provides Industry Indicators and Insights

In Mid-April, the 2022 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo took place in Tampa, Florida. With a theme of “Navigate Your Future,” the event’s sessions centered around providing attendees with information to help them succeed in the ongoing uncertainty of today’s business environment.

Whether it’s inflation, continuing COVID-19 concerns, or a lack of materials that are keeping you awake these days, it was covered at Expo. While the industry was able to come together to celebrate the success of the marketplace, talk about new opportunities, and see new product developments, the impact of ongoing supply chain issues and labor shortages were top of mind for attendees as they navigate planning for the future.

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. and chief economist for GraphsandLaughs LLC (also known as the Bowtie Economist), took a deep dive into all the factors impacting the economy during his keynote address. Additionally, Dr. Brian Beakler of Beakler Consulting Services hosted an education session, “Industry Issues in a Post-Covid World,” to discuss the impacts of war, COVID-19, inflation, supply chain issues, worker shortages, and more.

In general, the overall feeling from both exhibitors and attendees on the trade show floor was optimistic. At the same time, there was discussion about the challenges facing the industry, as well as the ways NWFA and its members are seeking solutions and taking advantage of consumers’ goodwill toward real wood. Industry leaders shared that a growing emphasis on health in the home and the narrowing of the pricing gap between real wood and alternative flooring products will be key factors in the resurgence of consumer demand for wood flooring.

While some importers, distributors, and flooring manufacturers quickly have been trying to determine their next move regarding the impact the Russia and Ukraine conflict has had on the engineered wood flooring industry, others we spoke with are not necessarily feeling the supply pinch because they source from other countries or use different core materials.

During Expo, NWFA hosted its first Women’s Industry Network breakfast. The group of about 100 attendees was welcomed by Barbara Titus, Women’s Industry Network committee chair and Julie Russell, NWFA Board Chair, who shared their experiences with working in wood flooring. Kayleen McCabe, a television host, advocate for skilled trades, and licensed contractor, spoke about ways to encourage more women to enter the trades. After hearing about the career paths of McCabe, Russell, and Titus, other women shared their journeys with the group.

To help address the labor shortage, the NWFA Emerging Leaders Council hosted a student event to highlight career paths in the wood flooring industry. Around 40 local students had the opportunity to walk the trade show floor and attend a career panel discussion.

If you weren’t able to attend, you still can benefit from many of the insights provided during the event. A recap of Eisenberg’s presentation is available on the NWFA Real Answers podcast. A video recapping the 2022 NWFA Expo is on this magazine’s website, photos are available in a gallery on our Facebook page, NWFA/Hardwood Floors magazine, and education session recordings now are available in the NWFA University.

We want to keep building on the momentum of such a successful Expo. Mark your calendars now to join us next year in:
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
May 2-4, 2023 | nwfaexpo.org

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