Biography

    Carl Ruland is President of Global Flooring Consulting  (Bonn, Germany) a consultancy whose primary objective is to provide
    companies with strategies to sell their products throughout Europe. He has been active in the U.S. and European flooring
    industry holding executive positions with Akzenta Paneele & GmbH Classen Gruppe and Domo Cushion Vinyl, which was
    recently sold to IVC Group.

    Ruland was responsible for introducing Classen to the American market and initiating a container direct business with CCA
    Global Partner’s GCO and Global Direct divisions.  He also established OEM programs between Mannington and other
    manufacturers.  At Domo, Ruland was responsible for a $20 million retooling project, installing state of the art machinery to
    produce up to 30 million square meters of glass backed sheet vinyl.  Ruland defines himself as “a discrete, efficient
    consultant whose primary concern is to develop business strategies for companies seeking opportunities in the global
    market.”  He most recently collaborated with the Institute on a review of Europe’s DIY markets.  Mr. Ruland can be
    contacted global.flooring@t-online.de Office  +49 (228) 617 796 94 Mobile  +49 (173) 525 6074
    Carl Ruland is President and founder of Global Flooring Consulting  (Bonn, Germany) a consultancy whose primary
    objective is to provide companies with strategies to sell their products throughout Europe. He has been active in the U.S.
    and European flooring industry holding executive positions with Akzenta Paneele & GmbH Classen Gruppe and Domo
    Cushion Vinyl, which was recently sold to IVC Group.  Ruland was responsible for introducing Classen to the American
    market and initiating a container direct business with CCA Global Partners'  GCO and Global Direct divisions.  He also
    established OEM programs between Mannington and other manufacturers.  At Domo, Ruland was responsible for a $20
    million retooling project, installing state of the art machinery to produce up to 30 million square meters of glass backed
    sheet vinyl.  Ruyland defines himself as a "discrete, efficient consultant whose primary concern is to develop business
    strategies for companies seeking opportunities in the global market."

    Contact:    global.flooring@t-online.de        Office: +49 (228) 617- 79694    Mobile: +49 (173) 525-6074

    Read Christine Whittemore's
    interview with Carl Ruland
    Friday, June 12, 2009 on Flooring the Consumer


    Meet Carl Ruland - Floor Covering Institute Series

    Christine: "I am fascinated with the glimpse that Carl offers us of the European marketplace and its complexity as well as his
    perspective on the opportunities ahead for the flooring industry."

    Back in April, I announced in Whittemore Joins Floor Covering Institute that I've become part of the Floor Covering Institute
    - Jim Gould's global flooring consultancy. We've started discussing, planning and imagining exciting possibilities and I'm
    discovering how talented my fellow members are. So much so that I thought you might enjoy 'meeting' them and learning
    more about them. I plan, then, to introduce each one to you individually, starting with Carl Ruland.

    Carl Ruland is president of Global Flooring Consulting, based in Bonn, Germany. A true European, he speaks many
    languages in addition to his native German [an opportunity for me to brush up on the German I learned many years ago in
    my French-speaking school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast! Luckily, he also speaks French...]. He also has an affinity for cultural and
    marketplace differences that can make products like flooring challenging to sell -- as you can appreciate from his responses
    below -- if you don't know the lay of the land.

    C.B.: Carl, please tell me about yourself - your business, your expertise, etc.

    Carl: Yes, indeed, I am a true European and Europe is a fascinating continent with 27 countries, 25 Languages, 500 million
    people.

    Consumers in Italy like tiles and natural stone; in the UK they install broadloom carpet even in bathrooms; in Austria they
    buy mainly wood floors.

    In Germany you have the highest density of DIY stores in the world; in the UK the majority of flooring is sold through
    wholesale and in the Netherlands you have the small shops-around-corner.

    There is a CE mark, which marks the European conformity of products; however if you want to sell to the public building
    sector in Germany you need additional certifications which are different from the ones you additionally need in France.

    I have gained considerable experience from 25 years in senior positions in companies that produce solid wood, engineered
    wood, laminated flooring, broadloom carpet, vinyl sheet and vinyl tiles and can help flooring manufacturers that want to do
    business in Europe better understand the marketplace. Perhaps they need help with a market survey, market research,
    M&A, strategic sales network, portfolio strategy, or even product certification.

    I speak 5 languages [see Carl's LinkedIn profile: German, English, Dutch, Danish and French], I have worked and lived in
    three European countries; I have travelled to all of them and done business in most of them.

    Some examples of my work: I have established original equipment manufacturing business for a European manufacturer in
    the US, pioneered laminated flooring in China, realized a multi-million Euro investment in a manufacturing plant in Europe
    and help different management team positions including product management, sales- and marketing management and
    general management.

    C.B.: How did you get started in the flooring business?

    Carl: 25 years ago as a manager of retail sales at a wood wholesaler and retailer in Bonn I noticed a growing demand for
    engineered wood floors. This growing demand was driven by consumers while the installers still wanted the traditional
    stuff: 1 inch thick, 2 inches wide and about 24 inches long solid parquet.

    So I began to realize that the core of contention was not between industry with pre-finished products but with installers
    with their experience and craftsmanship. It was the beginning of a new business model for my traditional wholesale
    company: we began to import directly from producers in Sweden, Finland, Italy and Malaysia and started distributing this in
    Western Germany to installers. I had left sales and was in business.

    C.B.: What do you like most about flooring?

    Carl: Unlike most other industries where you always meet limited users, literally everybody on this beautiful planet stands
    on a type of flooring. So this will be a never ending learning curve about differences in climate conditions, architecture,
    engineering, design, taste, application..... (this sounds a little bit like Bubba in Forest Gump).

    C.B.: What do you like least about flooring?

    Carl: Poor quality that destroys consumer acceptance, leads to no-profit and produces even poorer quality.

    C.B.: What opportunities do you see for the flooring industry?

    Carl: The biggest opportunity for the industry is that flooring provides the biggest surface in a building that remains
    unchanged and unmanipulated. Flooring will be installed as manufactured and supplied by the industry. In other terms: the
    industry itself determines the quality, design, life cycle, etc. of the floor. This is a huge opportunity and a huge responsibility.
    I see, and maybe this is a very European vintage point, the opportunity from three main areas:

    Ecology

    In the future not only the use of ecologic material is important but the ecology along the entire value chain, from raw
    material, production, transport to the point of sale. What seemed to be the whim of a relatively limited group of LOHAS
    consumers will be more and more KO criteria for the entire business model. Reach, Leed, Low Carbon, etc. are regulations
    that force the industry to look at things through green glasses. Those companies that realize the importance of this
    approach and that are able to adapt their current business to this future model will not only survive but will make profit. It
    offers the chance to reformulate the business strategy to either differentiation with low volume and high profit or
    penetration with high volume and high profit.

    Quality, Design and Sustainability

    I see a big opportunity in the respite of this current crisis. Product quality, design quality and architectural sustainability
    should be big drivers for the flooring industry in the future. Value for price should matter again, world class designers
    should create appealing floors and all application should be sustainable in the sense of: if I am installing this can future
    users continue to use this or change it with reasonable efforts?

    Re-cycling

    A German professor, now teaching in the Netherlands, asked the question why most people mean downcycling when they
    speak about recycling. We all know that recycling cost money both in landfill and re-use. Other than in the past where the
    value chain for the flooring industry stopped at the cashier the chain should continue, as all flooring removed from a building
    can be converted into another flooring. This costs money, but could generate contribution for our industry.

    C.B.: What do you see being the greatest advantage that the Floor Covering Institute offers?

    The big advantage of the Floor Covering Institute is the versatility of the expertise you can find there. Where else outside a
    company do you find a group of experts in flooring that go from 'is the subfloor good enough for installation?' to 'how do
    you think should I approach the market for my high end product?', and from 'can you help me to find a source in China?' to
    'do you think this would sell in Russia?'

    Danke schön, Carl!
Carl Ruland
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