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Executive interview: New leadership emerges

Mannington’s Zack Zehner and Tarkett’s Andrew Bonham take the reins

January 21/28, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 17

 

Mannington Mills and Tarkett—two of the most venerable companies in the flooring industry, each with more than 100 years of history—enter 2019 with new leadership at the helm.

For Mannington, Zack Zehner has ascended to the position of president of Mannington Residential, while Andrew Bonham has taken the reins as CEO of Tarkett North America.

Both companies strive to be leaders in hard surface flooring and have ambitious plans in the offing for 2019. FCNews senior editor Ken Ryan sat down with the executives to discuss their plans for 2019 and beyond.

Zack Zehner

How do you see your company’s role in the industry today and going forward?
Mannington Residential continues to strive to be a leader in premium hard surface flooring through styling leadership, presentation excellence, sales and operational excellence and fostering relationships. We see a commitment to innovation, and quickly driving emerging trends and technologies to the marketplace as key elements of that leadership.

Talk about recent changes in distribution and the strategy going forward?
Our approach to distribution has remained consistent over the last several years. We’re committed to our aligned and performing distributor network and continue to see our distributors as our most important partners.

How do you see the company differentiating itself in the marketplace?
Differentiation is a core part of our product and market identity. This year, our major focus centers around driving new and exciting initiatives in the LVT and hardwood categories. The first is our approach to selling LVT at specialty retail through our new Adura Selling System. We just completed the initial rollout of that innovative new system, and it has been extremely well received. Its goal is to simplify the complexities of the LVT category for the RSAs. It gives them the opportunity to provide the consumer with the right look and construction for her home. The second area of focus is taking advantage of the recent investments we’ve made in our domestic hardwood capabilities in High Point, N.C. Through these investments we’re able to produce new formats and finishes.

Where will the company focus its efforts in 2019 and beyond?
We’ll continue to drive LVT and hardwood initiatives in 2019 as well as introduce domestic manufacturing of rigid core products. We’re excited by the progress our manufacturing teams have made on this front, and we expect to launch “Made in the USA” Mannington rigid core by year’s end.

What will the new/expanded LVT facilities do for the company and dealers?
Mannington has a longstanding commitment to domestic manufacturing. We believe providing jobs in the communities where we have operations is important and has a positive ripple effect into the local and regional economies. We also fundamentally believe domestic manufacturing allows us to control our own destiny. By making product here in the U.S., we have better control over the supply chain, can provide faster service and have the ability to respond more quickly to market changes.

How will the company differentiate its marketing in 2019?
Mannington Residential is focusing resources in 2019 on enhancing our digital reach. We’re investing in exposing our brand to the consumer by ‘meeting them where they are.’ As millennials begin their journey in exploring flooring options, we know the digital space is where they focus. We’re also rolling out a series of new, web-based tools for RSAs to help make doing business with Mannington easier and more efficient.

 

Andrew Bonham

How do you see your company’s role in the industry today and going forward?
Over the years Tarkett has built up this presence through acquisition of other brands—Johnsonite, Tandus Centiva, Desso and Lexmark. What we’re doing is merging all those brands into the Tarkett brand. With the recent acquisition of Lexmark, the time is right to do that. Going to market with a unified Tarkett branded portfolio provides clarity for our customers and delivers an enhanced experience.

Talk about recent changes in distribution and the strategy going forward?
Distribution will continue to be a key channel for us. Our challenge is trying to understand and working toward figuring out how we work with distribution and help deliver the right product and solution for end users in an efficient manner. We’ll continue to see evolution as everyone does; how we work to capture these benefits is key. We want to work with our distribution partners to figure out the best channel to bring value to the industry.

How do you see the company differentiating itself in the marketplace?
We look at the breadth of our product portfolio. How do we collectively communicate across all the things we do? We can supply a broad product portfolio in a timely manner at the right value in a way we can differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. People don’t realize how big we are as a company globally. We’re probably the biggest flooring company that many people don’t know about. We’re a $1 billion company in North America and $3 billion worldwide.

Where will the company focus its efforts in 2019 and beyond?
For us it’s continuing to drive LVT and rigid core, focusing on sustainability and recyclable materials and providing the best integrated solutions for our end users through our channel partners. Our main focus is to drive customer intimacy to be that valued partner through innovation and sustainability, and continue to provide leading-edge designs across multiple surfaces one space at a time.

What will the new/expanded LVT facilities do for the company and dealers?
Our investment and continued growth in LVT, coupled with our rapid design capability, is going to allow a broader breadth of solutions. I think of it as ‘Fit for Purpose.’ You can design product, but they are not designed for every space. We’re looking to provide greater flexibility in manufacturing and design capacity and still provide value to the end user.

How will the company differentiate its marketing in 2019?
Consolidating all the brands and starting to go to market that way. How do we come up with flooring solutions for different end-use applications? As we refresh product and our catalogs, we will be transitioning collateral over the ensuing months. The integration reflects Tarkett’s commitment to building the best future by uniting and empowering all those dedicated to creating happier, healthier and more productive spaces.