Tag Archives: business

Flooring scams, carpet rip-offs, things you need to know before buying that new floor

I’ve been in the flooring business for nearly 15 years and one thing that constantly amazes me is the consistently poor quality of uniform information from different sales people. I’m not talking about blatant “bait and switch” scams of delivering a product other than what was sold.
What I’m referring to is a simple matter of obfuscation.
Even the mills seem to be in on the game by changing names of styles from store-to-store or big box, making it harder than heck to shop a product.
Well, I’m not going to accuse anyone in particular of doing anything wrong, but I am going to tell you how to spot, in the best case, a poorly-trained sales person, or in the worst case, an unscrupulous one.

First things first – get everything in writing.
You are entering into a contract and if you can’t get your understanding in writing, walk away.
Ask to see the warranty descriptions and know the difference between a “wear” warranty and a performance warranty (abrasive wear-through or texture retention).
If you don’t have at least a basic understanding of the protection you’re getting… think twice.
Second – make sure your pad (if you’re buying carpet) meets at least the mill’s minimum standard, or your warranty is worthless. Here’s an image of a very good piece of Karastan carpet totally ruined by inferior pad that didn’t meet the mill standard:

Base grade, foam pad ruined this carpet.

The above carpet was good quality… but the sales person, intentionally or not, killed it by specifying poor quality underlayment.
The pad above is a “builder-grade” (aka “crap”) 2.5-3 lb foam… and the mill minimum is 6 pound for cut pile, 8 pound for berber.
So, know what’s going under that fantastic floor as well.
Same goes for a floating floor where you may have expectations of sound-deadening, because all underlayments are not created equal.
I’ll be adding to this post, but you can add, too, by submitting your comments.
All the best,
Chris
Chris Moline, LEED AP, Residential Group Manager for Commercial Carpets of America

Chris is Residential Group Manager for Commercial Carpets of America & Alexandria Carpet One

Green Flooring In Northern Virginia and Washington DC – Where Do You Turn For The Most Accurate Information & No “Green-Washing”

I can say without a doubt that a zero-landfill, local, dedicated flooring business with 4 LEED AP’s and a LEED GA on-staff in Alexandria, Virginia just outside Washington DC would be your best bet.
Of course, I’m a bit biased, but the facts speak for themselves.
Are you looking for natural floors with no VOC’s?
How about un-dyed wool carpet with no added chemicals?
In fact, I’ve gone so far as to “put my money where my mouth is” so to speak and eat a piece of natural Marmoleum flooring, posting the video on YouTube!
Here it is

We’ll be at the DC Green Festival at the Washington Convention Center in a couple weeks, so come on out and let’s talk green floors!
Or, we can talk about biodiesel and solar energy since those are two of my hobbies as well.

All the best,

Chris

Chris Moline, LEED AP

 

Which LEED categories apply to wood flooring?

Though the type of certification may affect whether or not certain credits apply, the following should be a good guide.
Just be sure to use the latest USGBC regulations before making a decision.

Environmental Quality (EQ)
Environmental Quality (EQ) Prerequisite 2: Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control: To prevent contamination of indoor surfaces and systems, the project must be completely non-smoking or permit smoking only in limited, protected areas, even during construction.
Simply stated, no smoking on-site by crews.
On-site staff should have a designated smoking area for workers.
EQ Credit 3.1: Construction IAQ Management Plan:
This encompasses several areas:
• During Construction: The project manager will be concerned with anticipating and preventing IAQ problems resulting from the construction/ renovation process.
• Scheduling of Deliveries: Deliveries of wood and other absorbent materials are to follow dirt-, dust- and VOC-producing construction activities in order to reduce exposure to contaminants from other building materials.
• Source Control: Your highest dirt/ dust producing activities should be scheduled around other construction activities and could require you to work during “off hours”; the wood finishes and adhesives specified will be low-VOC or no-VOC.
• Pathway Interruption: The project documents may specify a dust containment system and your work area may be sectioned/sealed off and be exhausted directly to the outside.
• Housekeeping: for a wood flooring contractor, this is generally vacuuming and proper disposal of cut-offs and other waste.
EQ Credit 3.2: Construction IAQ Management Plan: Before Occupancy: This credit requires a flush-out of the air volume with outdoor air, or testing the air contaminant levels after the installation of all finishes but before occupancy to document that pollutants and contaminants referred to in 3.1 have been dealt with properly.
EQ Credit 4.1: Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives & Sealants: All wood flooring adhesives must comply with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule No. 1168, which specifies a VOC limit of 100 g/L less water. For subfloor adhesives, the limit is 50 g/L less water.
EQ Credit 4.2: Low-Emitting Materials: Paints & Coatings: All clear wood finishes, floor coatings, stains, primers and shellacs applied to wood flooring must not exceed the VOC content limits established in SCAQMD Rule 1113. Documentation of compliance and VOC limits are available from the manufacturers.
EQ Credit 4.3: Low Emitting Materials: Flooring Systems: All hard-surface flooring, including wood, must be certified as compliant with the FloorScore standard by an independent third-party or meet VOC emissions criteria developed by the California Department of Public Health, widely known as Section 1350.
EQ Credit 4.4: Low-Emitting Materials: Composite Wood & Agrifiber Products: For the wood flooring contractor, subflooring and engineered flooring fall under this credit. These materials, including their adhesives, must contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins. The credit allows for naturally occurring traces of formaldehyde.
Materials & Resources Materials & Resources Credit 2.1 & 2.2: Construction Waste Management: A project-wide plan will be in effect to divert waste from landfills. The wood flooring contractor’s cut-off waste and other un-usable wood materials, along with other construction debris, will go to a designated area for removal. If your flooring comes packaged, consider unpacking it at your company’s location. If possible, request that the manufacturer use the least amount of packaging while still protecting the product during shipping. This plan will also include cans, bottles and other food and beverage packaging brought onsite by construction personnel.
MR Credit 3.1 & 3.2: Resource Reuse: This involves something near and dear to my heart: wood flooring from reclaimed wood. Certification is not required for this but a statement of origin will be requested; a letter from a reputable supplier should suffice.
MR Credit 5.1 & 5.2: Regional Materials: To contribute to 5.1, flooring must have been milled within 500 miles of the project site; for 5.2, it must have been both harvested and milled within the 500-mile radius. If it is a salvaged wood (for MRc3) it must have been reclaimed from a building and milled within 500 miles. A statement of origin is required.
MR Credit 6: Rapidly Renewable Materials: For the wood flooring contractor, the only likely applicable product is bamboo flooring.
MR Credit 7: Certified Wood: FSC is the only certification accepted by LEED. FSC starts at the forest and goes via Chain-of-Custody (COC) certification to the manufacturer and distributor. Flooring contractors are considered the end user as it relates to COC. As LEED is written, if contractors install FSC-certified flooring they have purchased (and for which they have documentation—PO’s, invoices, etc.—showing the manufacturer’s FSC certification and FSC COC for all other parties in between), the flooring contractor does not need FSC COC certification. Reclaimed wood flooring is excluded from this credit.

Usually, a LEED AP assigned to work on a project will be aware of these facts, but it helps to be educated when shopping.

All the best,

Chris

Chris Moline, LEED AP

Chris Moline, LEED AP, Residential Group Manager for Commercial Carpets of America

Chris is Residential Group Manager for Commercial Carpets of America & Alexandria Carpet One

Hey Chris, Mr. Green Floor Guy, what’s your favorite floor?

I get asked this question repeatedly and I have one answer.
Whatever my wife likes!
Just kidding… I always say, “Depends on where it’s going and how old my kids/dog are at the time.”
Because it’s true.
There is no “perfect floor” because there is no perfect situation.
There is, however, a perfect dog, but that’s a discussion for another time 🙂


The right flooring professional will spend more time listening to you describe your lifestyle, previous experience and preferences before even thinking about recommending a floor.
Unless it’s the end of the month and their shy of hitting their number, in which case, you may wind up getting a stock deal or special buy crammed down your throat.
But that won’t happen in my showroom… because if it does, I’ll hear about it and that will be the end of that.
So, before you go floor shopping, think about how you live in your home.
Do you have pets?
If so, what kind and are they active or lap-dwellers.
Do you take off your shoes when you come inside or do you want a floor that doesn’t care about that (but I really recommend taking your shoes off.)
Do you want a floor that will hide the “everyday” spots and smudges until you get around to them?
If so, stay away from solid, light tones… as a former Marine, I’m still fond of camoflauge for that reason.
Do you stand a lot (as in your kitchen) and want a comfortable floor?
If so, I recommend cork or a cushion-back resilient piece.
I have cork in my kitchen and sunroom and absolutely love it.
It also hides a wealth of spots until we can get around to them.
And with three active kids, a German Shepherd, and a stupid cat… I mean, a cat, it may take some time to get to a spot or smudge.
Have you ever experience the sheer joy of stepping onto a heated floor barefoot?
Oh, I’m going to break my own rule and say that could possibly be the perfect floor… 🙂
Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you’re near the Washington DC-metro area, stop in, call, FaceTime, Skype video, or email and we can talk about what would make a floor perfect for you… because that’s what really counts.

All the best,

Chris

Chris Moline, LEED AP, Residential Group Manager for Commercial Carpets of America

Social media and the retail flooring business

I’ve been involved with social media since the early days and have nearly 15 years of experience using the internet for business.
Why?
Thanks to Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children (USMC for short), I started college late and once I graduated there was no time to waste… I’d just gotten married.
In my effort to secure a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, I found myself surrounded by guys younger and more tech-adept than I.
But we got along great and since the Usenet groups and ezines in their earliest forms were what I cut my teeth on.
It was this early access to emerging tech that proved the biggest assett as I grew my flooring business and eventually was able to sell it.
Frankly, the flooring industry is behind in using social media and many websites still look like ads… silent, still ads.

If you have a retail flooring business and need help, send an email and we can talk.
Some of the things I do are so effective, I’m just not going to share them with some folks.
But, odds are you’re not one of them 🙂

All the best,

Chris

A bright, US-made, light in the LED industry… an eco-geek’s hot spot

In this video, Robert Scoble interviews the CEO of BridgeLux, the only US-based manufacturer of LED lighting.

Easy-Eco-Blog-LED-Light-Bulb

Image by EasyEcoBlog via Flickr

If you’re familiar with LED’s, you’ll know how cool this is.
If not, let me help with your education curve.
LED is an acronym that stands for Light Emitting Diode, and it represents the most efficient way to generate artificial light.
CFL’s (Compact Flourescent Lights) are the more widely-known counterpart to energy-hogging incandescent bulbs and are a fanstastic way to reduce energy use.
For instance, a typical 100-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced by a CFL that uses only 20-30 watts yet still produces the same amount of light (lumens).
An LED can produce the same amount of light using less than 10 watts… now THAT’S cool!
Add to this the lower overall carbon footprint of the product by not having to ship them across the Pacific Ocean.
I truly believe, as many others in my field do, that every light in the near future will be LED. It’s just a matter of time.
All the best,

Chris

Using technology to improve the flooring business process… and social media to tell you about it

Sometimes I take for granted all the tools we have at our disposal.
But since we operate worldwide, we need the latest technology (or the greatest if the latest isn’t fully vetted).
In this case, we’re using a tool called “the digitizer” in concert with measuring software by RFMS, on whose platform we operate our entire operation.
We’re using it today to convert images to a scaled digital format for Chris Pirillo… someone you may have seen if you watch CNN Live Tech or are at all involved in social media.


What are we doing?
Well, I’ve been involved in using the internet for business since I launched my first startup in 1996. Social media in its many forms has played a substantial role in moving forward at a solid and fast pace. Just recently, social media, specifically Google Buzz, was the avenue where I learned about a predicament Chris (the other, far more popular Chris) was in.
A painter had allegedly done some sub-par work at Chris’ Seattle home and he was venting on Buzz. I say “allegedly” because it’s an old habit from journalism school. I caught that “Buzz” and immediately touched base with Chris to let him know I could help.
Hey, ready, fire, aim, right?!
Actually, through our network of Carpet One retailers, I knew I could contact a Seattle-area business owner and find a fantastic painter to help Chris, so I “assumed the sale” and made it happen.
Then Chris and I started talking about his floors.
The thought hit me to leverage our expertise with his – flooring (high-end) and social media/all things “web.”
Chris has allergies and wanted to get rid of his carpet.
I had the key.
What was the key?
Dust-free refinishing of hardwood that we would supply and install, all coordinated from my office outside Washington, DC for his home in Seattle, WA. As a US Green Building Council LEED AP, I push this system because it’s very IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) and user-friendly because of the high-efficiency dust-containment system and water-based, low-voc finish that dries very quickly and is extremely durable.
And here we are, pressing on and getting this ball rolling.
Check back for updates because we’re going to document the entire process online through different avenues of social media – this blog, YouTube, facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google Buzz, etc…
Hang on to your hats!

All the best,

Chris

Using Skype video for a virtual flooring showroom tour and product selection

I’m embedding a video from YouTube here and… I’ll apologize… it’s sideways, but you’ll get the concept.
I took my trusty laptop and used an external USB webcam to Skype my wife at home.
She’s looking to re-do the flooring in our laundry and furnace rooms (I don’t ask why, I just do:)
Instead of having her come all the way to my office and Alexandria showroom, I asked if she’d be open to video conferencing with Skype video.
Since she’s quite cool and tech-savvy, she said, “Yes!”


The images were nice a clear and she was able to narrow down to three of thousands of selections.
When all was said and done, I asked her if she liked the process.
What was the verdict?
She absolutely LOVED it.

I hope more clients will as well, because we’re sprinting into the 21st century and having a blast 🙂

All the best,

Chris

Using Twitter for a green flooring business

Twitter is one of my favorite social media tools.
Why?
As a journalist (University of Maryland College of Journalism ’95) I love it when people get to the point.
A 140-character limit makes that a necessity.
And in a world full of greenwashing and marketing blah, I can tell exactly who’s teaching and spreading good information vs. who is spreading “manure.”
When I tweet, I try to quote someone worthy of quoting, or include a link to something useful. Followers will only stand for useless information for a short time.
Think about it, when I sift through the tweets of people who follow me on Twitter (here is a link) I can tell who I want to “consume” and who I want to block.
“Consuming tweets” is tech lingo for digesting them… I mean, actually reading them, num, num, num!
I maintain lists of Twitter users who routinely spam the forum, and Twitter pays attention to that list. In fact, I’ve added spammers and watched as their accounts were then suspended. Not that I’m proud of that, but, well, heck yeah!
Here’s an example of pure crap on Twitter:
Username @BuyAccounts
Description – ready made Twitter accounts with as many as 1,000 followers for as little as $6.
So, tell me, does this sound “social” to you?
So why would a user like this follow 1900 and have only 650 followers?
Beats me.
So, if you’ve set up a Twitter account for your business and aren’t seeing things move along as fast as you’d thought, maybe it’s because you’re boring (online).

I can help.

All the best,

Chris

Using technology in our retail flooring business to be the best for our clients

I just got a fantastic new toy for my showroom… but it’s not mine!
Actually, it’s for our clients to use and it’s a fun one – a touch-screen, beautiful HP TouchSmart pc with fantastic information on natural wool fiber.
Talk about a cool tool for business.

image of two computers for customer use in retail showroom in dc area alexandria carpet one
There are times when my sales staff are maxed out and we have too many clients in the showroom (well, there’s no such thing as too many) and this gives them some time to do some self-learning. It’s also a good tool for my team to brush up on their knowledge.
With instant access to information, we use every tool possible to stay on top of our game and this is just one more example of how we do it.
Another toy I’ve had for some time is a similiar pc (but not a touch screen) that I use to loop informative videos.
One specific example is the Mohawk “Ricko the Rhino Challenge” with Sorona / SmartStrand fiber.
Since that video has been “looping” our sales of this unique fiber have gone through the roof.

Think about it.


Don’t you ever feel over-accessed by radio, tv, smartphones, email, etc…?
This looping video has provided my team with the repetition necessary to truly understand at least one line of product.
I’ve even started inter-mixing other lines and have heard the showroom chatter change with it.