Read the Flooring the Consumer Interview by Christine Whittemore
    Friday, September 18, 2009
    Meet Stuart Hirschhorn - Floor Covering Institute
    Series
    This series started in June 2009 and gives me the opportunity to introduce
    you to my talented and fellow consultants at the Floor Covering Institutewhich
    has just announced the addition of Stuart Hirschhorn whom I interview in this
    post. ---Christine Whitemore.

    Stuart is director of research and founder of Catalina Research Inc.,
    a name you surely recognize if you are associated with the floor covering
    industry, read the trade press and devour research on the industry.

    C.B.: Stuart, tell me about yourself.

    Stuart: With a degree in economics and marketing, I started at the birth of
    the information business working for a company publishing industry reports
    on a wide range of subjects. Over the decades, I became an expert
    compiling, analyzing, and presenting industry data and information to
    executives for actionable decision-making. In 1977, I started Specialists in
    Business Information (SBI) to offer executives this expertise worldwide. SBI
    was sold to a division of FIND/svp (now Guideline) that eventually became
    MarketResearch.com. In 2001, Catalina Research was formed to concentrate
    on publishing in-depth industry studies on the flooring, siding and roofing,
    plumbing fixture, and kitchen cabinet and countertop markets. A few years
    later, InformationGiant.com was established to provide an ecommerce
    platform for these reports. Clients can purchase on-shelf reports or they can
    sponsor a new report.

    C.B.: How did you get started in the Flooring Industry?

    Stuart: In the 1970s and the 1980s, I published separate reports on wood
    flooring, ceramic tile, and resilient flooring. In the mid-1990s, FloorCovering
    Weekly (FCW) approached me to provide a look at the entire flooring industry
    for their “Annual Statistical Issue” [Note: 2009 issue requires Silverlight].
    Their request was one of the early attempts to quantify the entire flooring
    industry, and the FCW “Annual Statistical Issue” quickly became the statistical
    standard for the industry. At the same time, I began to publish an annual
    report on the floor covering industry covering total and segment market sales,
    the industry cost structure and company market shares, end-use markets and
    consumer demographics, the floor coverings distribution and installation
    businesses, and the factors driving U.S. demand.

    Some years ago, Sandy Montero, the editor-in-chief of FCW, suggested that
    Catalina Research provide an analysis of floor covering industry trends on a
    timely basis. The result was the Catalina Floor Coverings Quarterly Update.
    This timely newsletter quickly became a valuable planning tool for the industry’
    s leading manufactures and marketers.

    As the Catalina Research reports and newsletter became widely used
    throughout the flooring industry, I was contacted to present the findings of
    our research at industry gatherings. I have had the opportunity to present at
    Surfaces, the China Wood International Export & Import Conference, the
    National Wood Flooring Association Convention, and the Resilient Floor
    Covering Institute Annual Meeting.

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

    Stuart: I find the flooring industry fascinating to analyze since the competing
    material sectors - textile, wood, ceramic, vinyl, rubber, etc.- each have their
    own set of sourcing economics and each provide the consumer with a unique
    set of advantages. You can see this play out at Surfaces, where the different
    types of flooring are displayed side by side, sometimes even within the same
    company booth. It is also interesting how competitors use technology, in what
    could be a commodity business, to provide consumers with higher end looks
    and longer lasting and easier to install flooring. It has been very exciting to
    see how technological innovations have played out in the wood and laminate
    flooring sectors over the past decade as manufactures offered glue-less
    installations and pre-finished products.  Continued below.
Stuart Hirschhorn
Biography
    Stuart Hirschhorn is a consultant with
    the Floor Covering Institute.  He
    founded Catalina Research to provide
    action-oriented executives with in-depth
    analyses of construction material and
    building equipment markets.  The
    Catalina Reports reflects Stuart’s three
    plus decades of experience compiling,
    analyzing, and forecasting U.S.
    Government and proprietary data to
    evaluate an industry or market.

    Catalina Research has investigated all
    aspects of the floor coverings industry.  
    The company’s U.S. Floor Coverings
    Industry report is used as the base of
    statistics for Floor Covering Weekly’s
    “Annual Statistical Issue”.  Stuart has
    been supplying this data to Floor
    Covering Weekly since 1991.

    Catalina also publishes reports on
    Wood Flooring, Laminate Flooring,
    Ceramic Tile, Resilient Flooring and
    Stone Products.  The National Wood
    Flooring Association is the sponsor of
    the Wood Flooring report.  In addition,
    Catalina Research publishes the Floor
    Coverings Quarterly Update.  All
    Catalina Reports cover product
    shipments, imports and exports, pricing
    trends, end-use markets, distribution
    channels, contractor data, plant
    operating ratios and profit margins, and
    the competitive environment.

    Stuart works closely with the leading
    worldwide floor coverings manufacturers
    and distributors in analyzing sales
    trends, import/export opportunities,
    distribution channel strategies, and
    plant cost structure.  Stuart has been a
    speaker at leading trade shows
    including the annual Surfaces show in
    Las Vegas, Nevada.  Stuart was also a
    featured speaker at the October 2007
    China Wood Flooring Export/Import
    Conference in Hangzhou, China.

    Stuart also provided this type of data
    and information as president of
    Specialists in Business Information
    (SBI).  SBI was founded in 1977 and
    sold to FIND/svp (now Guideline), a
    research-consulting company, in 1994.  
    Stuart remained president of SBI until
    2001.  

    Stuart’s experience began in the
    formative years of the information
    industry, when he became a research
    analyst at Morton Research Corporation
    in 1969.  Stuart’s background includes a
    bachelors degree in economics from
    Baruch College, New York, New York and
    a masters degree in Information
    Studies from C. W. Post, Long Island,
    New York.
Read Christine Whittemore's interview with Stuart at
Flooring the Consumer
Interview continued...
The past decade has also seen the globalization of the flooring market. When I first starting analyzing the flooring industry there were
many regional players. Regional players became national suppliers, and now national suppliers are forming global distribution. Today,
flooring materials are being sourced on one continent, manufactured in another, and sold in a third world market.

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

Stuart:
As in many other markets, the selling of low-priced, low quality products hurts the reputation of flooring materials. When I was in
China, I was asked why Chinese wood and laminate flooring was considered to be low quality. The problem is the marketing strategy of
Chinese manufacturers is primarily based on selling on price. However, eventually prices are lowered enough for the customer to question
the quality of the product. I told the Chinese manufacturers they must develop brand recognition in order to convey the quality of the
product to the customer.

C.B.: Stuart, what five opportunities do you see in the flooring industry?

Stuart:
Currently, there are two trends in the flooring industry that are providing selling opportunities. One is the growth in consumer
preference for lower priced flooring as consumer incomes suffer from the recession, and the other is the growth in export shipments as the
U.S. dollar weakened. As a result of these trends, manufacturers and marketers should:

1. Market to the large population cohort that was born since 1975. These are the first time homebuyers taking advantage of the $8,000
tax credit and are the ones driving the recent increase in existing home sales.

2. Improve the quality of your lower end product lines to excite these younger buyers, who also have lower incomes than their baby
boomer parents.

3. Expand international marketing to take advantage of the growing emerging markets.

4. Develop a global brand to bring meaning to your product line to the millions of consumers world wide entering the middle class.

5. Prepare for the turnaround in U.S. floor coverings sales in the second half of 2010 due to the rise in existing home sales in recent
months. Some 10% of consumers purchasing a home today will be purchasing new flooring a year from now.

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

Stuart:
The Floor Covering Institute provides the industry with a one-stop consulting group that can assist manufacturers and marketers
build their brands globally.

C.B.: Stuart, is there anything you'd like to add?

Stuart:
Please visit our web site at www.InformationGiant.com to review the contents of the Catalina Reports and newsletter.

Thank you, Stuart!
Consultants'
Pages

    Stuart Hirschhorn is the founder of Catalina Research which provides in-depth analysis of construction
    materials and the building equipment markets including floor covering. The Catalina Report is a core
    industry resource that incorporates U.S. government and proprietary business statistics and includes
    analysis and forecasting for shipments, imports, exports, pricing trends, end-use markets, channels and
    more.  Stuart works closely with leading flooring manufacturers and distributors to analyze sales trends,
    import/export opportunities, distribution channel strategies and plant cost structure. Stuart has been a
    speaker at leading trade shows including the annual Surfaces show in Las Vegas, Nevada and was a
    featured speaker at the 2007 China Wood Flooring Export Import Conference in Hangzhou, China.  His
    experience as a research analyst began at Morton Research Corporation in 1969. He has continued in this
    genre for 30 years becoming one of the country's most prominent resources for the flooring and the
    greater home construction industries.

    Contact: Ph: 561-988-0853      shirschhorn@InformationGiant.com
Stuart Hirschhorn