Founder’s knack for styling, hot trends raises the bar
November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11
By Ken Ryan
Some flooring distributors openly worry that LVT and its subsegments WPC and rigid core—popular and successful though they may be—are becoming another commodity category with low barriers to entry. Others are concerned about what they view as a “sea of sameness” that permeates the landscape.
There are some companies that will never be confused with the status quo. One in particular is Raskin Industries, an innovator praised by its distributor partners for bringing freshness to the category with true style and design.
Eric Parrish, president of Midwest Floor Coverings, with four locations in three Midwestern states, explained the process to make designs for LVT/WPC/rigid core is not expensive for suppliers because it is a digital process. However, he noted, to actually make products requires steel plates to press the texture into the product, which can be very expensive.
In many respects, Raskin is willing to go that extra step. “There are digital film libraries for anyone to make a selection from,” Parrish said. “If you go to any of the flooring trade shows you are likely to see the same designs used by 80% of LVT manufacturers. Michael Raskin is unique by controlling the design process and putting his own stamp on color tones and trends for North America by investing in the plates.”
An example of that innovation would be Acrylx, a solid surface waterproof LVT product that Parrish began carrying earlier this year. “There is a flood of names confusing the market and consumers on what they are buying. People hear LVT, LVP, WPC and rigid core and wonder which is best. Acrylx is genius; it is what is best from each of those products. Instead of taking quality out like so many others do, Raskin puts integrity in by giving the products stability and a great hand.”
This month, Raskin Industries introduced a new branding effort to focus attention on the founder’s design expertise. “Design By Raskin” celebrates a series of Raskin hits. Among them are: Elevations, a fiberglass-reinforced, loose lay LVT; Acrylx; Ceramix, which will be introduced in late 2017/early 2018; and Acoustx—a soundproof loose lay LVT product slated for introduction in 2018.
Gilford-Johnson Flooring, a top 20 distributor, jumped on board with Raskin early on and has not looked back. “Our goal is to introduce our customers to the most state-of-the-art products, but they have to look the part and the consumer has to desire those looks,” said Jodie Doyle, vice president, product management. “Michael has always had the knack to move one step ahead of the market and really understand what consumers want from their floor. Having the visuals consumers want makes our job so much easier.”
Raskin has earned high praise from other distributor partners as well, including T&L Distributing of Houston, which carries Acrylx as well as FloorNation, Raskin’s first domestically produced LVT line. “Michael has dedicated his career to trying to make the perfect product—his sense of style and his dedication to making his products unique are difference makers,” said Scott Carson, director of products and marketing. “In my six years of having the pleasure of getting to work with Michael, he takes great pride in providing his distributors product visuals that we’ve never seen from anyone else. Raskin is in touch with tomorrow’s colors and understands the wants of today’s consumer. He does an incredible job at blending the two together.”
Raskin’s distributor partners also applaud his marketing prowess. J. Michael Welch of E.J. Welch Co. Earth City, Mo., said the industry too often gets caught up on price. But that’s not the case with Raskin. “Of course, certain segments of the market are price driven but overwhelmingly consumers buy based on color and design—which is why Raskin continues to prosper. He knows color and design. His styles are always at the front, in my opinion.”
But this is not the only consideration, Welch notes. “Equally important is performance and service, and we continue to have both after five years with Raskin. We jumped on early as a distributor and we’ll keep delivering as long as LVT is sold.”