What keeps distributors up at night? These days it can be a host of issues ranging from interest-rate hikes to oversupply of inventory. But at the top of the heap is inflation, which is at a four-decade high. On the other hand, the nation’s leading wholesalers also expressed optimism that its strong ties with vendors will bode well for 2023 and beyond.
Here are their thoughts:
On enforcement of California AB5…
“Inland freight—getting from ports to warehouses—has worsened since California AB5 has been enforced, which declares that there are no longer independent drivers. We have lost many drivers as a result. The delay from receiving goods—and what they are charging now—affects anybody pulling from California. Just getting it from the port to where it is going is a challenge.”
—Dave White, Tri-West Ltd., Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
“Inflation is a major factor as vendors are constantly raising prices without notice. Fortunately, in most cases, we have enough inventory to hold prices for our customers so we can give them fair warning for their pending jobs.”
—Steve Kleinhans, Big D Floor Covering Supplies, Phoenix.
“The obvious challenge at retail is the impact of inflation with food and energy as this forces postponement for consumers in purchases of larger ticket discretionary spending such as new flooring. Whether inflation gets more heated—or it starts to subsidy—will have a substantial impact on what we can expect for 2023.”
—Jeff Striegel, Elias Wilf, Owings Mills, Md.
“Labor is a huge issue. Until there is a definitive immigration policy, we will continue to see shortages at our entry-level positions.”
—Bob Weiss, All Tile, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
On business conditions…
“I am optimistic about the long-term success of our company because we fare well in periods of boom or bust.”
—Wally McAlexander, BPI, Memphis, Tenn.
“Supply chain issues are easing and inventory levels are starting to return to more normal levels. We remain very optimistic as the need for single-family housing is still very strong in markets we serve. Once these short-term economic issues are under control, we expect demand to increase.”
—Ted Kozikowski, Galleher, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
“We are optimistic that the builder segment will continue to be strong since there continues to be a shortage of housing units. Although interest rates and material costs are up, we believe the segment will be strong through 2023.”
—Paul Castagliuolo, Belknap Haines, Mansfield, Mass.
“Feedback from our customers remains positive as we continue to meet their demands of fulfilling orders as well as offer competitive pricing through continuous negotiations with our vendor partners. The flooring industry has had its share of challenges over the years and has always successfully bounced back. I believe our future looks very bright.”
—Terry Gray, NRF Distributors, Augusta, Maine.
“We are blessed to offer great products from great vendor partners and have outstanding people at FlorStar who provide a host of needed services. That is a positive and winning combination.”
—Scott Rozmus, FlorStar Sales, Romeoville, Ill.
On freight costs…
“Freight continues to impact our business, although the supply chain shortages have improved. On the positive side, container costs have come down and port delays are easing up.”