NWFA Expo Raises the Bar in New Orleans

The 2024 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo occurred last week in New Orleans, Louisiana. The industry gathered there for education sessions, technical demonstrations, to see the latest products and trends, and to broaden their networks. This year’s theme was “Raise the Bar,” and the event embraced the fun and uniqueness of the Big Easy throughout the week, including a second line jazz band during the opening session.

Juan and Alejandra Zambrano of NewStyle Hardwood Flooring in Toronto, Canada, joined NWFA in February 2024 and were attending the Expo for the first time.

“I was looking to improve and dream bigger. I knew NWFA was the right path to grow my company,” said Juan Zambrano. “The networking has been the most important thing here. We can contact anybody by email or text, but face-to-face is a different story and experience.”

Alejandra Zambrano added, “Everyone has been so welcoming that we don’t even feel like new members. We went to the new member reception, and people were reaching out to us and telling us who we needed to connect with. People are so open to sharing their knowledge.”

On the trade show floor, manufacturers discussed how the market is performing and the trends consumers want. Jennifer Zimmerman, chief commercial officer for AHF Products, noted that things are shifting slightly to cleaner visuals and warmer tones.

“The hardwood industry is still alive and kicking and doing well. There are pockets of it that have seen a decline with the economy, but the people who are still spending money are still putting in hardwood as it is the aspirational product,” said Zimmerman.

Renee Tester, director of marketing for Kährs Americas, stated that wider and longer, and lighter, neutral colors remained at the top of customers’ wish lists at Expo.

“Traffic has been fantastic, with meaningful conversations at this show,” said Tester. “There are some really good contacts we used to do business with, and now we can rekindle that relationship, so it’s been great for us.”

During the Expo’s opening session, Michael Martin, president and CEO of NWFA, gave an update on the state of the industry. As part of that, he shared highlights from Hardwood Floors magazine’s 2024 Industry Outlook survey.

“Due to continued concerns with interest rates, inflation, and lack of home inventory, both in new homes and existing homes available, the wood flooring industry is currently treading a path of guarded optimism in 2024,” said Martin. “Specifically, 15 percent of respondents expect sales to increase significantly by 8 percent or more. About a third of professionals foresee moderate growth, with sales expected to be up somewhat, between 3 to 7 percent. And nearly a third of respondents predict that sales will remain unchanged compared to last year.”

Both the 2024 NWFA Service Award honorees and Wood Floor of the Year Award winners were announced during the Expo. A complete list of those recognized is included below, and more about these recipients will be featured in the upcoming June/July 2024 issue of Hardwood Floors magazine.

2024 NWFA Service Awards

  • Emerging Leader of the Year Award: Carlos Mongalo, National Flooring Contractors Apprenticeship Program
  • Hall of Fame Award: Jon Roy Reid, Trinity Hardwood Distributors
  • Hall of Fame Award: Chris Zizza, C&R Flooring

2024 NWFA Wood Floor of the Year Awards

  • Best in Circles/Curved/Bent Wood: D-Lux Hardwood Floors – Milwaukie, Oregon
  • Best in Color/Finish and Textured Wood: Floor Master Company – Crystal Lake, Illinois
  • Best Historic Restoration: Universal Floors Inc. – Washington, D.C.
  • Best in Marquetry/Inlays: Ourada Designs – Nine Mile Falls, Washington
  • Best Parquetry: H&M Flooring Design Inc. – Chicago, Illinois
  • Best Use of Technology: Czar Floors, Richboro, Pennsylvania
  • Best Staircase: Walk On Wood Inc., Winter Park, Florida
  • Manufacturer Spotlight: WD Flooring – Laona, Wisconsin
  • Member’s Choice: Universal Floors Inc. – Washington, D.C.

Be sure to save the date for next year’s Expo, which will take place April 15-17, 2025, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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