January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Reginald Tucker
To say that HF Design is excited about its new programs for 2017 would be an understatement. Given the scope of what it has in store for its channel partners this year, the company is betting the house that its distributors and retailers will be thoroughly pleased.
“We expect Surfaces 2017 to be the biggest show ever for us, not only in terms of turnout but also flow-through business afterwards,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president. “This past year we’ve been working on hardwood, laminate and waterproof core updates and new collections that will be unveiled at Surfaces. We’ve been fortunate in that many of the programs and Q1 launches that we’ve already previewed for our distributors have all been marked with five-star reviews from our customers.”
Among the highlights: American-made laminate flooring at imported pricing; WPC products featuring beveled and painted edges that are embossed in register combined with new rigid core technology; and an expansion of its thermal-treated specialty wood flooring offerings featuring different texture treatments and new visuals.
With respect to its laminate offering, HF Design announced a partnership with Kronospan whereby HF Design will serve as the marketing arm for the Germany-based supplier. The move comes on the heels of Kronospan’s recent acquisition of Clarion, a U.S. private-label laminate supplier. “This opens up doors to domestic production/made in America, which will certainly add value to the program,” Shaoulpour said.
The program is extensive, indeed. The laminate offering—which will be branded as Kronospan products, not HF Design—will entail 94 new styles. “Kronospan selected HF Design to handle the sales and marketing for distribution and specialty retail,” said Jeff Garber, HF Design’s vice president of sales and marketing, who helped broker the deal. “In the past they were OEM only. Now they have doubled their production capacity and they are ready for us to take on the distributor and large retailers. That’s going to give distributors the opportunity to buy ‘Made in America’ through German engineering at import pricing. That’s never been offered before.”
According to Garber, these products are either going to be unbranded (private label) for distributors or positioned under the Clarion/Kronospan brand. “We can bring a lot of value to the U.S. laminate flooring market in those terms,” he said.
Specifically, HF Design will provide in-house, turnkey marketing for all of its programs. The goal is to make the process of new product development and marketing as easy and cost-efficient as possible for distributors and retailers. “One of the most important factors in that equation is speed to market,” Shaoulpour stated. “Shortening that gap for our customers is an important directive.”
New in wood
In the hardwood department, which is HF Design’s forte, 52 new styles will be introduced. These include updates to existing lines designed to “freshen up the offering and also to stay ahead of the curve,” in Shaoulpour’s words, as well as an entirely new collection called American Relics. This line offers products that feature a multi-texture, dual hand-staining process that delivers a greater degree of variation from plank to plank.
“It’s important to manage color variation as the industry moves more quickly in this direction,” Garber explained. “The challenge is managing the consumer’s expectations so the samples match what she sees on the show floor.”
Lastly, HF Design has updated its private-label WPC program with new selections. The company plans to preview a beveled, painted-edge WPC offering, and it is also working with its suppliers on next-generation rigid board technology. “We’ll be unveiling both those new products/concepts at Surfaces,” Shaoulpour said.
With these introductions, HF Design is looking to build on the momentum it generated in 2016—a period in which it grew sales more than 50%. “We’re working 24/7 around the clock to ensure everything from product development to mass production to our marketing team and logistics teams fulfill their roles to satisfy the expectations of our customers,” Shaoulpour said. “We are heading into the new year at a strong pace.”