Hardwood Dimension and Flooring Mills

SIC 2426

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This classification consists of companies that primarily make hardwood dimension lumber and workings there from and other hardwood dimension, semifabricated or ready for assembly; hardwood flooring; and wood frames for household furniture. Companies that primarily make stairwork, molding, and trim are classified in SIC 2431: Millwork; and those making textile machinery bobbins, picker sticks, and shuttles are classified in SIC 3552: Textile Machinery.

Hardwood flooring and furniture components make up the largest shares of output in this industry segment. The remaining output includes many items, such as skis, golf clubs, and tool handles. Wood blocks for bowling pins and textile machinery accessories, rounds or rungs for ladders, and spool blocks and blanks are also produced by this industry.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 2,101 establishments manufacturing other millwork, including flooring, in 2007, with 43,146 employees earning an annual payroll of $1.4 billion. After increasing steadily throughout the late 1990s, the total value of shipments for millwork, including flooring, declined from $4.81 billion in 2000 to $4.7 billion in 2001, before rebounding steadily over the next few years, with shipments totaling $7.2 billion in 2007.

Dun and Bradstreet reported that 1,763 hardwood dimension and flooring mills operated in the United States in 2009. North Carolina was home to 183 of these establishments; California had 166 and Pennsylvania, 100. North Carolina also employed the most workers in the industry, accounting for 3,913 employees, or 13 percent of the total 21,127 employees working in such mills. Other top states in terms of employment were Pennsylvania (3,161 workers), Tennessee (2,619 workers), and Kentucky (1,897 workers). North Carolina also had the highest percentage (13 percent) of total sales in the nation, with $309.9 million. Following at a distant second was Pennsylvania with $195.3 million, or 8 percent of the total $2.4 billion. Rounding out the top five states in terms of revenues in 2008 were Kentucky ($186.8 million), Wisconsin ($173.0 million), and Mississippi ($139.9 million).

Because the health of this industry is tied closely to housing starts in the United States, the strong economy of the mid- to late 1990s brought rising revenues. Even when the economy declined in the early 2000s, housing starts remained strong due to record low interest rates. In fact, housing starts, which reached a 25-year high of 1.84 million units in 2003, according to the National Association of Home Builders, continued to rise into the middle of the decade. More than 2 million housing starts were recorded in 2005, up from 1.96 million the previous year. This trend bolstered many segments of the construction industry, including hardwood flooring. The new housing construction took a downturn however, along with the economy, as the decade progressed, and 2008 saw only 905,500 new housing starts.

The industry was helped by other trends in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including the tendency for new houses to be bigger than those built in the early 1990s (the average square footage of a new home in 2005 was 2,434, compared to 2,230 in 2002); the growth of interest in restoration and repair; and the increase in popularity of hardwood flooring. Wood flooring reached an industry low in 1982, but in the 1990s the installation of hardwood flooring increased nearly 10 percent. By the early 2000s, a total of 11 percent of new single-family homes were built with hardwood flooring. Oak, beech, birch, maple, and pecan were the species most often used in furniture and flooring manufacturing in the United States. Ash, cherry, poplar, and walnut also were frequently used. The four more common types of wood flowing produced were strip, parquet, plank, and laminated.

Hardwood dimension and flooring generally account for 8 to 10 percent of hardwood lumber exports by value. Canada, Japan, and Taiwan are the most frequent destinations of dimension and flooring exported by the United States. In the late 1990s, about 12 percent of the dimension and flooring used in the United States was imported; Canada and Japan were the largest suppliers.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Armstrong World Industries was an industry leader in the late 2000s, with 2008 sales of almost $3.4 billion and 12,200 employees. Armstrong made hardwood floors under the brand names Bruce, Hartco, and Robbins. The company's cabinet division produced wood cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms with brand names such as Ultrawood, Baseline, and Gemini. The company became independent in 2006 when it broke ties with former parent Armstrong Holdings. Former industry leader Crown Pacific Partners of Portland, Oregon, was dissolved in the early 2000s after filing for bankruptcy.

Several issues indirectly or directly affected the hardwood dimension and flooring industry into the late 2000s. These included stricter regulations on logging and land management and more stringent air pollution laws, as well as slow economic conditions. The hardwood flooring industry also faced increased competition from laminate products, which were considered more durable and less likely to scratch.

One emerging trend in the late 2000s, primarily as a result of environmental concerns, was the refurbishing and marketing of antique floor and wall boards salvaged from condemned or otherwise unusable buildings. These "reclaimed" floors became the focus for some businesses, such as Enmar Hardwood Flooring in Mesa, Arizona. According to coprincipal Tricia Thompson, "These days, everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon," and the fact that reclaimed flooring does not require the cutting of any trees boded well for its future.

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News and information about Hardwood Dimension and Flooring Mills

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