Specialty Flooring v. Stock Flooring

Some flooring products are classified as stock flooring.  That is, the manufacturer maintains large quantities of their products in their warehouses.  Other flooring products are classified as specialty flooring.  That is, the manufacturer retains no substantial quantity in inventory or cannot readily resupply.

Factor:  Special Performance or Special Appearance

Some of our flooring customers need a product of special performance or one of special appearance.

Special Performance

This week, we have been working on four commercial staircases, stairs which need rubber treads, risers, stringers, and nosings.  We have done many staircases, but flooring retailers and distributors do not commonly stock these infrequently needed flooring products.

Special Appearance

Wolfe Flooring specializing in custom-made carpets.  We integrate the colors within the client's upholstery, paint, logo, etc. into their carpet.  When we order, we are always subject to production overages.  Each carpet mill must retain such a policy that requires us to purchase overages because the mill would likely become saddled with the excess carpet of unique colors which may never be of benefit to another buyer.  The benefit to our customer is that our clients receive excess material.  To further explain, custom-made carpets, as would be common from Durkan, Brintons, Tai Ping, Desso, and others, cannot be ordered in small quantities.  Furthermore, custom carpets take four to eight weeks to manufacture and ship.  So, if they experience major damage (e.g., bleach, burn, or flood), they will not be able to easily replace the carpet with a perfect match.

Factor:  Speed of Availability

Narrow Source

This morning, a special color of travertine, which was available yesterday, sold out before we could place our order tomorrow.  The replenishment of the stone will be nearly a month because it is an overseas shipment.  Only certain quarries can provide this particular coloration.

Large Order

Interface makes a modular carpet tile, of which, we wanted about 700 square yards.  They had stock, but they did not stock 700 square yards of one dye lot in their inventory.  The lead time is four to six weeks.  Thankfully, our client was willing to wait.  In contrast, Mohawk had about 1,000 square yards of a more generic, commercial, nylon broadloom in seven rolls on the shelf and ready for shipment.  The Aladdin carpet arrived about five days after the order was placed.  If you have a large order, you are more likely to face a delay.  Plan ahead.

Simple Product of Limited Inventory

Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is a relatively simple product of low cost.  Yet, VCT is held in small quantity at distributors and even smaller quantities by retailers.  Although we have overages of VCT and other specialty goods, we do not intentionally stock various colors of VCT.  The reason is because the requests for VCT are irregular in both color and quantity.  When you purchase VCT, you want all of the VCT to be of the same dye lot.  Stocking VCT would naturally lead to being stuck with a variety of dye lots that the retailer or distributor would own for years.

Factor:  Duration of a Running Line

Popularity differs within a flooring manufacturer's products.  Take Johnsonite for example.  Johnsonite makes some of their rubber flooring, vinyl wall base, transitions, and accessories of the same crossover colors under their ColorMatch system.  But, Johnsonite also offers specialty colors and customized colors (outside of their ColorMatch system) for which only some products are made.  Johnsonite has maintained their ColorMatch colors for many years.  It is reasonable to expect that 20 years from now, Johnsonite will still offer their products in the color 18 Navy Blue.

By contrast, many flooring products have a production run of only a year.

Factor:  Cost of Materials

One of our beachfront customers fell in love with a rare hardwood which was only available through a supplier in Canada.  The hardwood also cost much more than a common domestic hardwood.  The look was perfect!  So, we wait.  We wait for clearance through U.S. Customs, and we wait for shipping.

In Summary

In summary, your specialty products will enable you to meet special performance demands and create special looks.  Stock flooring will have greater availability.  Popular running lines of stock flooring can be reordered at a later date if needed.  Specialty flooring products will normally cost more per square foot.

So, when you are shopping, be mindful of the differences between specialty flooring versus stock flooring.  A customer, who possesses long-term interest in a home or building, should purchase attic stock (i.e., excess materials).  The need for excess is especially true for one who is purchasing specialty flooring.  The more common the flooring product and the lower the quantity, the more readily available the product will be.

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