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Best of Surfaces sets benchmarks across categories

Las Vegas—Six companies brought home the hardware in the inaugural Best of Surfaces competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Surfaces. The awards are certain to set a new benchmark for product innovation and booth design in the years to come at the industry’s premier trade show.

The winners were:

•Innovation: Raskin Industries’ Elevations Floors

•Style & Design: Emser Tile’s St. Moritz

•Sustainability: Architectural Systems’ Eco-Dimensions Bamboo Wall Panels

• Technology: Kleenwrap

•Best Booth Design Over 1,200 square feet: Dal-Tile

•Best Booth Design Under 1,200 square feet:

HomerWood Premium Hardwood Flooring

The judging was conducted by a panel of retailers who were initially tasked with narrowing the entrants in each category to a manageable number by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were asked to delve through all submissions and select their top five in each category. The five most popular selections in each category made it on to the final round, where four judges viewed each finalist live on the first day of Surfaces. They convened at FCNews’ booth at the close of the day and openly discussed their opinions with each other for the first time. From these discussions emerged the Best of Surfaces winners.

 

STYLE & DESIGN: St. Moritz from Emser Tile

Chic and elegant with a cosmopolitan ambiance, St. Moritz is a glazed porcelain series which recalls the natural beauty of St. Moritz, Switzerland. With subtle color shading and delicate veining, St. Moritz exudes refinement and finesse. The line comes in five colors—ivory, silver, tan, cream and olive—in 12 x 12, 18 x 18 and 12 x 24 sizes in addition to a mosaic blend.

“St. Moritz was voted a Best of Surfaces winner in Style & Design by trendsetting on the cosmopolitan look that is becoming increasingly popular in both residential and commercial applications,” said Ray Shrader, Integrity Interiors, Olathe, Kan., one of the judges. “I feel the mosaic blend will quickly become a look that sets a standard in this product collection. I also think other tile manufactures will soon enter into this urban cosmopolitan look.”

Becky Thompson, owner of Thompson’s Century Floors in Lewisville, Ohio, and another Best of Surfaces judge, added, “I’m a huge tile fan, but there are 15,000 manufacturers making the same products. St. Moritz was probably the closest to resembling real stone than anything I’ve seen. And Emser had a lot of things to mix such as listellos and mosaics so it lends itself to customization.”

Bob Baldocchi, director of marketing at Emser Tile, said Surfaces was a tremendous success for the company. “We are excited to be recognized by Floor Covering News for our new St. Moritz porcelain line. “The focus for our show this year was new products, and we were able to proudly display in excess of 50 new products and collections to our customers.”

 

INNOVATION: Elevation Floors from Raskin Industries

Innovation lies in Elevation’s luxury vinyl planks and tiles simplicity as the first truly loose lay resilient modular flooring on the market. With an anti-skid rubber Gravity Grip backing system and 25% more weight than competing products, double-sided perimeter fastening tape secures Elevations to the subfloor firmly without any additional tools or materials.

“Of all the new products at Surfaces, Elevation Floors perked my interest,” said judge Steve Lewis, owner of Lewis Floor and Home, Northbrook, Ill., “The ability to loose lay a vinyl floor without having to deal with either gluing the strips together or clicking boards together is a real breakthrough.”

Lewis also believes Elevations is a good product for basements. “The concept of the product is great. In Chicago we have a lot of problems with basements flooding. With Elevations, even if you have a flood, you can lift up the tiles or planks, clean them off and put them back down. Theoretically, if you sell your house, you can take the floor with you like they do in Europe.”

Lewis also cited environmental and installation factors in selecting Elevation Floors with a Best of Surfaces award. “There are no adhesives and no VOCs, so you don’t have to worry about smells or offgassing. And it’s also incredibly easy to install. You don’t have to mess with click systems or gluing the tabs. It really is an innovative product that has tremendous potential.”

Peter Messner, president, Messner Flooring Resource, Rochester, N.Y., agreed. “What I liked most about Elevation Floors was the installation system. Essentially, it is a loose lay product that I would have confidence using because of its weight and stability. I am not confident with many of the other loose lay systems out there, but Elevations has a believable story.”

Michael Raskin, president of Raskin Industries, told FCNews that winning a Best of Surfaces award in the Innovation category “validates all the hard work we put in the product and shows us we are on the right track. The technology is superior due to the components we put in our product such as a fiberglass sheet. Along with our styling and marketing, I believe we can stand out in a very crowded marketplace.”

Raskin added that the company is constantly looking for ways to innovate and add value with technology, styling and marketing. “This added value will increase profit margins for our partners. Elevations is the right product at the right time.”

 

SUSTAINABILITY: KleenWrap Commercial from Kleendeck

KleenWrap Commercial is a reusable and recyclable temporary protective material for all types of floors. This tough, thin and tear- and skid-resistant material is breathable yet has extremely high water resistance. In addition, it is recyclable, is good for the environment and will save flooring contractors time and money.

“It is not often that a floor protection product earns significant praise, but  Kleendeck has something that is revolutionary,” Messner said. “Its MagiKling product is unique because it is truly non-adhesive and able to be reused. I have an immediate need for this product.”

Lewis agreed. “I thought it was innovative and something you can use in a lot of different environments.”

 

BEST BOOTH:  (over 1,200 square feet) Dal-Tile

Dal-Tile subscribes to the philosophy that the best way to show its products is in actual applications, hence the many vignettes that are always the centerpiece to its trade show presence.

“Dal-Tile always dazzles me at market,” Messner said. “The way it showcases its products in beautiful room settings with every detail covered is always on my Surfaces agenda. These room scenes show the beauty of Dal-Tile’s products and stretch their applications outside the typical boundaries.”

Style, design and quality represent the cornerstones of Dal-Tile products, according to Lori Kirk-Rolley, senior marketing director, who explained the company wasn’t shy about bringing these looks to the market. “With our booth, we strive to capture all these attributes. We are honored by this recognition and hope our product selections and room vignettes inspired booth visitors to be able to design with confidence.”

 

BEST BOOTH: (under 1,200 square feet) HomerWood

Making its return to Surfaces for the first time since 2006, HomerWood proved that bigger was not necessarily better with its Best of Surfaces small booth award.

“What was attractive to everyone was the Amish buggy it brought to Las Vegas,” Thompson said. “It drew attendees to its booth. You almost were waiting for a horse to pop out from behind the buggy. It was very clever.”

 

TECHNOLOGY: Eco-Dimensions Bamboo Wall Panel from Architectural Systems

The next level in dramatic and sustainable collections arrived at Surfaces in the form of Eco-Dimensions Bamboo Wall Panels. Made from pressed bamboo pulp, these three-dimensional panels are lightweight, seamless, flexible and durable, with sound-absorbing qualities. Available unfinished in six intricate patterns, the wall panels can be painted or stained for a modern design direction.

“In reviewing Architectural Systems’ entry of Bamboo Wall Panel, I would attribute its victory in the Technology category to its unique look, which is the result of a three-dimensional process which creates an effect that sets it apart from other products,” Shrader said. “Additionally, with this product being available in six patterns it fits into almost any type of design application. It is an all-natural product that adapts to today’s lifestyle requirements.”

Ron Jackson, CEO, Architectural Systems, Inc. (ASI), was honored to be recognized with the Best of Surfaces award. “The panels are the perfect addition to our inspirational and sustainable family of ‘What’s Next’ in materials.”

Nancy Jackson, ASI’s president, said the company is “known for bringing innovative solutions to market that are sensitive to the environment, which is one reason why we utilize the What’s Next tagline. We have a reputation for having products that are original, yet functional.”