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Best of Surfaces: Annual competition recognizes excellence in style, product innovation, booth design

February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18

 

Las Vegas—During the recent International Surfaces Event, held here last month, six manufacturers were named winners of the 2019 Best of Surfaces competition, a contest sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa Exhibitions, which owns and operates the event.

The awards program, now in its eighth year, highlights new product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show. The categories include: Innovation; Style & Design; Sustainability; Technology; Best Booth Design (more than 1,200 square feet); and Best Booth Design (less than 1,200 square feet).

The awards program was judged by a panel of flooring retailers who were tasked with choosing six finalists within each category from scores of entries before the start of Surfaces. Each were asked to explore all submissions and select their top picks that they believed best represented the category in which they were entered. The most popular selections made it to the final round.

Following are the winners, which were announced on the show floor at TISE.

Innovation
Mohawk Industries – ColorMax
Debuted in SmartStrand, Mohawk’s ColorMax is a dyeing process said to provide beautifully blended colorations, superior color clarity and intense color depth in every fiber. SmartStrand ColorMax also boasts maximum fade and stain resistance, outstanding spill protection and long-lasting durability along with All Pet Protection.

“When you ask our customers what we’re known for, one of the words they typically use is innovation,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of product development. “This is another step in bringing our dealers and the consumers cutting-edge technology and great products.”

Welborn said Mohawk wanted to add a little more excitement to carpet this year. “We did things out of the box. We wanted to wake up the consumer and say, ‘This isn’t your grandma’s carpet.’ We want people to go into the store and say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen this before. I have to consider soft surface again.’”

Welborn said ColorMax is an opportunity to entice consumers back into the category while giving dealers an opportunity to grow sales. “We think it will bring value to the dealers and give people a reason to trade up into that next category of carpet outside of commodity or opening price point carpet. This ColorMax looks so much better than anything being done in that arena.”

When it comes to what’s next, Welborn said the possibilities are endless. “We’ve just scratched the surface. Over the next few years you’ll see a lot more ColorMax styles that look different than this but will still apply the same technology.”

Welborn said the Mohawk team is very dedicated and passionate in their jobs and stays connected to the market, manufacturing and technology. “We strive to bring step changes for the good of our customer. Obviously, we’re very proud and thankful for winning, and we think it is validation for all the hard work the team has done. It means a lot to us, and I would like to thank our team for the hard work and dedication in making it happen.”

Style & Design
Emser Tile – Rhapsody collection
Taking the gold in Style & Design for the second straight year, Emser Tile’s Rhapsody collection is touted as customizable statement surface art featuring porcelain tiles in 13 x 13 patterns that can move from floor to wall resulting in unique chevron, kaleidoscope-inspired and alternating installation. (Emser Tile won Best of Surfaces for Style & Design in 2018 for its Lakewood/Lakehouse collection, now known as Beach House and Beach Wood.)

“It is a true honor to win Best of Surfaces, and it means even more to receive Best of Surfaces for two consecutive years,” said Crista Tekstra, senior brand manager. “It inspires us to continue to bring dynamic collections to market and see how they, in turn, inspire designers to rethink how tile can elevate living environments. Winning this award immediately elevates Rhapsody in the marketplace. The award signals that it is not only on trend but defining trends for indoor and outdoor living through the very aesthetic it brings.”

The collection also marries a distressed finish with modern indoor/outdoor design flexibility with white and black diagonal and floral patterns that strive to transform any space into a contemporary yet rustic retreat. “We are committed to continuously expanding our product portfolio with design-forward tile and stone,” Tekstra said. “Rhapsody combines all the aspects we look to provide in a collection—captivating design qualities, customization opportunities for designers and a quality, durable product for end users.”

Upon first glance, Tekstra noted, Rhapsody is a stand-out collection. “It features dynamic contrast with its white and black geometric designs, and it is also design-friendly. Designers aren’t restricted to a specific installation pattern, they can truly be creative with tile layouts and create statement surface art.”

Sustainability
Dream Weaver Carpet – PureColor
Dream Weaver Carpet’s PureColor is a premium, solution-dyed fiber that uses 30% less energy, 42% less greenhouse emissions and 87% less water than traditional carpet manufacturing processes.

“We believe the judges were surprised by PureColor’s sustainability attributes,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing. “[Those attributes] can certainly sound unbelievable. However, we believe it is our responsibility to continue to advance our sustainability story and their attributes. While we fully appreciate the recognition of this prestigious award, we do not take our stewardship lightly. PureColor and its environmental attributes exemplifies our people, our company, our community and our environment in which we live and work.”

In addition to its environmental features, the company said PureColor will not bleach from spot cleaning, fade from sunlight exposure or wear in high-traffic areas. Furthermore, it can resist harsh stains. “In 2009, when we first started production, there was a clear opportunity in the market for a solution-dyed fiber system that performs to the level PureColor does,” Sanderson explained. “From a performance perspective for the consumer’s sake to an environmental perspective for the planet’s sake, we have one mission: make the best carpet in the world.”

Technology
FloorForce – Flooringstores.com
Flooringstores.com by FloorForce, which was recently acquired by AdHawk, is designed to equip flooring retailers with the requisite tools to succeed online and provide consumers a digital destination to make informed buying decisions.

“Flooringstores.com is going to be the largest directory site in the floor covering industry,” said John Weller, cofounder of FloorForce and CIO of flooringstores.com.

Weller compared the site—which is scheduled to go live in the second quarter of 2019—to the likes of cars.com or autotrader.com in that it will introduce consumers to manufacturers, products and retailers in one simple environment. “As the consumer gives us more information about what they are looking for and where they live, it’s going to start filtering through the catalog to give them all the options available and the retailers associated with those products in their market.”

Once the consumer chooses a particular retailer, she will be taken to a retailer page that reflects everything she is interested in, including the product catalog, store history, hours of operation, phone number, etc. “Right now, manufacturers face so many issues they can’t control, such as what happens in the retail store or on a retailer’s website,” Weller added. “They don’t have insight as to what happens on the phone between the retailer and consumer. All those things are controlled in our environment. Here, we can help the manufacturers educate a consumer, introduce them to their aligned retailer and deliver that consumer into a retail store knowing exactly what she wants.”

Best Booth (>1,200 square feet)
Wickham
Continuing its two-story design concept, Wickham’s booth emulated a rustic feel, which harmonized with the products on display such as the company’s hand scraped, high-end wood. “It’s an attention grabber,” said Paul Rezuke, vice president of U.S. sales. “The purpose of that is two-fold: it promotes the brand and at the same time it showcases quality using a rustic approach. When people see the booth, they see attention to detail and they see quality, which obviously lends itself to people stopping in and discussing product, and then we get to showcase unique aspects of our collections.

“A lot of time, effort and design went into our booth. It’s the same qualities we think we bring to the manufacturing of our products.”

Wickham’s 20 x 30 booth at this year’s show certainly attracted attention from across the floor. Its unique two-tier approach lifted it above the competition and drew in those near and far. Rezuke noted that at least 40 to 50 people stopped to have their picture taken in the booth while almost every passer-by snapped photos. “That’s flattery, absolute flattery. That’s gratifying. And the award is the acknowledgement of all that hard work. It’s the ultimate reward.”

As attractive as this year’s booth was, the company is already looking to raise the bar for next year. “We started with a 10 x 10, now it’s 20 x 30,” Rezuke stated. “Next year, we’ve already made arrangements for a larger booth. So, look out for what next year brings.”

Best Booth (<1,200 square feet)
Eternity Floors
The Eternity leaf and nature served as inspiration for Eternity Floors’ 2019 booth design, according to Jessica Palma, director of operations. “Simple yet complex—the iconic Eternity leaf is a symbol of our brand’s commitment to creating fresh, exciting and environmentally safe products,” she explained. “We wanted our floors to steal the show, and our booth was created with this mission in mind. The open floorplan and large-format display boards naturally brought us traffic. It was easy for attendees to roam through each area of our booth and comfortably spend time learning about our new product lines.”

Palma noted the simple, yet modern archways coupled with soft, green lights and clean white accents allowed the company to make heads turn without being ostentatious.

“Each year we put so much thought and hard work into how we will showcase our products,” said Greg Geiger, vice president of sales. “Winning is an honor and we are very grateful to be recognized. This is an example of what can be accomplished with visionary leadership, innovative products and extremely loyal customers.”