Dealers, distributors applaud industry’s innovative offerings
January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17
By Nicole Murray
Las Vegas—By most accounts the 2017 International Surface Event (TISE) was a success on several different fronts: Vendors witnessed brisk booth traffic, particularly on the first two days of the exhibition; retailers expressed genuine interest in the depth and variety of products unveiled at the show; and show management reported increased participation in terms of both exhibitors and attendees.
According to Informa Exhibitions, which manages the show, there was a 10% increase in exhibit space booked, with a total of 734 companies taking up 386,000 square feet. Amie Gilmore, TISE show director, was pleased with the final outcome of the show based on the positive feedback from exhibitors and attendees alike. “You can really feel the energy on the floor,” she told FCNews. “This show is indicative of the industry and sets the tone for the year in terms of new products and business. If the vendors have a good show it really motivates them for the year.”
For the most part, exhibitors and attendees interviewed by FCNews supported Gilmore’s observations. “There was a large increase in traffic this year, which has made people much more optimistic,” said Amir Majard, Aladdin Carpet, Rockville, Md. “My goal was to find new products and opportunities for my business, and I have accomplished both.”
Other dealers agreed, citing not only the many products on display but the high level of professionalism among attendees. “The quality has been amazing and the showroom is filled with friendly people simply trying to do business,” said Jorge Contreras of Unique Design Coverings, Chula Vista, Calif. “I am using this opportunity to improve and learn how to open up my own showroom floor with quality products based on the advice given by professionals.”
In addition to a welcoming environment, attendees easily managed to browse through the booths without feeling any pressure to finalize any purchases.
“I am impressed with all of the vendors and how they are not too pushy toward everyone who enters their booths,” said Deanna Turner of G & D Turner of Clamath Falls, Ore. “This gave us the opportunity to look around and purchase the product we truly wanted.”
Another helpful aspect of the show, attendees say, was the organizational layout, which eased logistical issues. “We were warned that our first year [at TISE] might be overwhelming but the format was very well done and a lot of information has been made easily available,” said Lake Killian of Applied Surfaces Technology, Clarkson, Wash. “They make everything easy, even for first-time attendees.”
Following is an overview of the major trends in the major product categories. (See each respective beat sections for more specific details on new product introductions.)
Manufacturers of LVT, LVP, WPC and sheet vinyl are all innovating and differentiating their products with the consumer in mind. With the hopes of cutting the number of customer calls post-installation, new products are marked by design with specific innovations in waterproof, scratch- and heat- resistant capabilities. In terms of style, newer tile patterns, improved wood looks and varying lengths and widths of planks were prevalent.
As the category continues to evolve companies are looking to keep resilient on par with the natural elements it mimics. This includes better wood, tile and stone visuals for consumers who want the look but are hesistant to spend more money.
Those who attended the show were intrigued by what they saw. “DreamWeaver has some new LVT products coming out and those are interesting because they provide the visuals that are nice but they also have the texture which we haven’t seen in much of the products out there,” said Rick Barton of M&D Carpets, Vacaville, Calif.
Florence Matthews of Imerys, Roswell Ga., was interested in the new WPC products. “I think there are some very unique designs and very creative ideas that are being presented so I’m very interested to see how they go in the marketplace.”
Bill Murray of Quality Flooring Co., Richfield, Ill., took note of the wide selection of new products both in hard surfaces and with respect to resilient. He also commented on the tension between resilient and laminate. “There seems to be a lot of competition between the new luxury vinyl products and the waterproof laminates so it’s kind of interesting to see those two and what they’re coming out with.”
With respect to WPC, there was much talk at Surfaces about whether the category, which is dominated by COREtec and Shaw’s Floorte (some estimate their market share at 60%) is already saturated. Some dealers worry that WPC will follow the same path as laminate and will be cannibalized in a few years by sharp pricing degradation. However, others are not buying that argument, believing that as long as companies can bring innovative features to the market, the category can continue to grow and prosper for retailers.
In terms of unique offerings, Beauflor stood out with its rigid core product featuring a 360-degree profile, patented tongue-and-groove locking system. This specific locking system is exclusively Beauflor’s, and the company is not licensing it. The floor can be installed in multiple directions, starting from the center of the room if necessary, giving installers greater flexibility. Each plank is 6 feet long and 8 inches wide.
Mannington and Mohawk certainly have the marketing prowess to muscle its way into retail showrooms with its WPC products. Mannington showed three of them—DuraMax, Max Prime and a commercial WPC product, City Park, which includes a rigid design that passes all commercial specifications.
Mohawk SolidTech rigid core line uses the company’s Uniclic multifit technology in three collections. Mohawk demonstrated the products’ durability and waterproof qualities at the show.
The market shift change from soft surfaces to hard surfaces was noticeable at Surfaces, which has fewer carpet vendors on the show floor than existed 10 or even five years ago. Still, the soft surface products that were displayed never looked better or performed better, carpet executives said. Mohawk is a case in point. The company reported positive responses to SmartStrand Silk Reserve, its luxuriously soft carpet, and Airo, its carpet installation system. Flooring dealers also noted that Karastan had many stunning new introductions, along with the Dixie brands Fabrica and Masland launched at the show.
For Engineered Floors, Lexmark and Kane Carpet, Surfaces was as much about launching new displays into the market as it was offering new products. In a stagnant market, fresh innovative displays can prove effective in drawing consumer attention to the showroom. “We are not in the fixture business but we needed a vehicle to drive our message,” said Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Lexmark.
Many of the dominant themes from Surfaces 2016—longer boards, wider widths, innovative surface texture treatments—carried over into 2017. Many suppliers also broadened their offering of species to provide variety.
At the Mannington space, for example, the latest introductions and product line extensions reflected wide, long planks that are subtly textured and distressed, then stained in an on-trend color palette. Tracy Pennington, M&D Carpets, Vacaville, Calif., liked the new hardwood introductions. “Mannington is probably the most impressive,” she said.
It seems everywhere you looked, laminate suppliers were incorporating some new water-resistant or waterproof attributes in their product lines. In illustration, water-resistance tests were conducted at the Quick-Step booth as well as the Mannington space. From an aesthetic standpoint, many laminate suppliers took visual cues from their sister hardwood offerings.
The trend toward larger, more dramatic sizes was readily evident across the various tile booths at Surfaces. Suppliers also showcased their capabilities in the area of digital printing. This technology lets suppliers scan in virtually any image and reproduce that image on tile, allowing for the replication of virtually any visual on the surface.