February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18
By Lindsay Baillie
Las Vegas—In a category consumed by acronyms and new products, resilient flooring manufacturers are concentrating on making their products simpler to sell in 2019. At The International Surface Event (TISE) held here last month, manufacturers showcased their latest sheet, LVT and WPC/SPC introductions alongside brand new displays.
Many of the new displays aim to create destinations for retail sales associates, making it easier to guide the consumer to a product and visual that best meets her needs. In fact, many of these displays are designed to be one-stop-shops, providing the consumer with good/better/best options in a range of constructions and designs.
WPC and SPC products had the strongest presence on the show floor—with good reason as they are still the fastest growing segments within the resilient category. USFloors, a major player in this arena, highlighted the company’s largest rollout in its storied history. Chief among the new products was COREtec Stone, which features polished and matte visuals with a brand new, refined mineral core. Available in 12 x 24-inch, 18 x 24-inch and 18 x 36-inch sizes, COREtec Stone is rectified and has an easy click installation. “People have been very excited because it gives them the ability to really disrupt the market, which is what COREtec does,” said Natalie Cady, COREtec and hardwood category manager. “We wanted to make sure we created a product that really addresses the needs of both the consumers and dealers. Tile labor and installation, both in cost and time, have been a problem for the industry. We made sure we addressed those issues, but we also wanted to make the product look beautiful. COREtec Stone also has cork on the back for added comfort.”
COREtec Wood, another introduction, also features the new refined mineral core and is waterproof from the ground up. Due to the mineral core, COREtec Wood not only has some weight to it, but also has no flex. “We’re able to get it in 7 x 72 inches and we have both white oak sliced and a hickory sliced product,” Cady explained. “What’s great is we have varying visuals from a little bit more of that brown rustic visual to white under fill to a blanched visual.”
Another introduction from USFloors is its COREtec Pro program, which, according to Cady, makes it easier for consumers to choose an SPC product that is right for their situation. “We made it in a very easy display, super convenient. It has a logical story for upgrades for our RSAs and consumers. You go from a product that is a non-bevel to an enhanced bevel and then to an XL and HD. The consumer can see what she likes and can afford.”
Trent Busenbark, sales associate, Busenbark Flooring, Farmington, Mo., was particularly interested in COREtec Stone’s new mineral core. “I like that they’re looking for different core products outside their WPC,” he told FCNews.“It’s something new. Also, being that COREtec Wood is waterproof, I’m sure everyone is going to want it.”
Also increasing its WPC and SPC presence is Raskin Industries, which launched its new Brooklyn Reserve, updates to its Acrylx line as well as new displays. “We’re really excited about Brooklyn Reserve, which is inspired by Brooklyn, [N.Y.],” said Michael Raskin, founder and CEO. “We have eight colors in that collection. We featured the chevron on the floor to show something unique to attendees. This product took over one year to make and a lot of that had to do with the details and having the design work because it’s a mosaic format. It’s old Brooklyn, but with new materials.”
Acrylx GenCore is available in both 48-inch and 60-inch planks with painted bevels. New introductions feature a more texturized finish and embossing. To house these updates as well as Brooklyn Reserve, the company also updated its displays. “We started out with smaller displays and a limited line,” Raskin said. “With all of these new introductions you’re going to get better and bigger displays. This year, we’re really investing into the retailer with the right merchandising to show off the products.”
Rigid is all the rage
The focus for many manufacturers in 2019 is growing their rigid offerings. This includes Mohawk Industries, which added 42 new SKUs to its SolidTech line. “We had a very successful SolidTech launch two years ago and we’ve consistently added to it,” said David Sheehan, senior vice president, products management, Mohawk Industries. “Today, we’re finding in fashion that things are going lighter and grayer. In the new SolidTech line you’re seeing some of those grays and lighter visuals. We’re also adding multi-width products, painted bevel, tile formats and embossed in register (EIR).”
SolidTech Marquee, a new introduction for Mohawk available in 24 SKUs, will be made in the U.S. “It’s best in performance as it relates to impact, indentation resistance and then also ease of maintenance,” Sheehan explained. “We have this new technology called StainShield, which actually allows you to have stain and scratch resistance.”
Mohawk also launched Pergo Extreme, which gained the attention of many show attendees. What’s more, it is an exclusive program to Mohawk’s Edge dealers. Aaron Hartwell, owner, The Carpet Man, Indianapolis, Ind., for example, is looking forward to leveraging the product’s name recognition. “I’m really excited for Mohawk’s Pergo Extreme. The name recognition is going to be great. Having that in my store is going to help bring customers in.”
EarthWerks is simplifying its lines to be more direct for RSAs and consumers. New to its SPC line is Stadium, which features eight colors in a 9 x 60-inch format and four colors in a 7 x 48 format. “It has everything—a painted bevel, EIR, fission backing, sound absorption as well as deeper embossing because it has the LVT top layer to it,” said Lindsey Nisbet, marketing director, Swiff-Train Company. “It’s 9 x 60 so you get the longer, wider visual without going to the 72-inch plank, which is great but is harder to manage.”
Novalis Innovative Flooring is also elevating its game in 2019, according to Steve Ehrlich, vice president, sales and marketing. As part of its focus on product, the manufacturer is launching updates to its popular Lyndon collection and rolling out a new collection called Maybree, a 7¾ x 60-inch plank. “It has 16 visuals per style, so you don’t really get any overlap in color or style,” Ehrlich explained. “It’s 6mm with a high-density core and has our NovaShield enhanced protection. We have one collection in the English oak and another in a wormy chestnut and rustic oak. It has longer planks, high-fashion and high-style.”
Novalis is also making selling simpler with an updated display. “We’ve taken all of our core products and put them in one display, so the customer has a destination,” Ehrlich added. “It’s really well lit, really high-style and gives a lot of information to the customer.”
Mannington Mills’ big launch in WPC was its AduraMax Apex. According to Jimmy Tuley, vice president, residential resilient business, Apex is an aggressive, out-there style and design line. “Our goal this year was to have people say, ‘Wow, you did that in a floating floor?’ This is in a 16 x 48-inch plank. It has the 5Gi drop lock so it’s really easy to install. We’ve also done some variable grout technology, so if you run your hand on top you get that smooth top and then the rough grout in between and all of that is EIR so you get a really realistic feel.”
In addition to planks and tiles, Mannington has created Loft, an updated parquet look available in four colors. This addition to Apex features EIR with every single plank having a registration mark. “When you look at that it looks like each individual piece was put together in the floor,” Tuley said. “There’s been such a crazy reaction to this product in the booth so far because parquet is an older look. With all that detailed design you don’t have to worry about how it’s installed.”
As a way to simplify selling its products, Mannington also developed the Adura Selling Solution, which it launched in mid-2018. “We think it’s a unique way to go to market,” Tuley said. “You have one display with 80 colors, and you can pick your color and then pick you construction. We also tell the corresponding technical story.”
At the CLEO booth, the company promoted its eco-forward product, which underwent a soft launch at last year’s TISE. In addition to highlighting its 56 SKUs, the manufacturer focused on its new CLEO website—which was built around SEO—and its new recycling program.
“Not only is the site beautiful, but we’ve looked pretty deeply into how consumers do their searches online for flooring and understanding what kind of content they want,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president sales, Congoleum. “We really wanted to be a design-focused brand beyond performance attributes. A lot of the website is about helping people understand how designs work and come together. We also tie back into Pinterest and other social tools.”
The recycling program will take CLEO product at the end of its lifecycle and incorporate it back into the product work stream. “What makes that so easy is the product is 85% limestone,” Denman explained. “We really want this product to have as many environmental benefits as it can. It truly is a Cradle to Cradle product.”
John Wooten, regional sales manager, CMH, a division of Haines, likes the CLEO line. “The dynamic patterns, the visuals and the durability of CLEO make it a great product. It’s unique to the marketplace.”
Karndean Designflooring showcased its new premium rigid, Korlok Select. The product features the company’s proprietary K-Core technology and is 100% PVC. What’s more, the product is available in three American barn wood-inspired colors in a 56 x 9-inch plank as well as a 24 x 6-inch herringbone parquet plank. “When installers are putting it in, they can cleanly score it and snap it with a utility knife,” said Katherine Caringola, communications manager. “It also has our HoldFast 5G locking system.”
Korlok Select caught the eyes of Jason Stafford, general manager, Stafford’s Discount Carpet, Redlands, Calif. “Karndean and their products are very unique in terms of styling and they really set themselves apart from the majority of manufacturers. Korlok Select is their first update to the collection, which they showed at Surfaces last year. They’ve provided us with everything from a barn wood, rustic looks all the way to tropical looks. They always do very well at giving you a broad range of styles from which to choose.”
The highlight at the Home Legend booth was its entry-level SPC, Foundations. “We haven’t even sampled it or put it out in the marketplace and we’re already getting orders for it,” said Keith Wiethe, director of sales. “What we’re working on with our product assortment is a good, better, best selling proposition. We have to make it simple for the RSA to sell our products.”
New to the U.S. market is Beauflor USA. The company featured its latest SPC product with an attached pad, Boardwalk. “We wanted to keep the line simple, but we wanted to have different options within the line,” said Dana Nevens, regional manager. “We kept all of the price points the same, but we have multiple widths, some tile patterns and some reclaimed barn wood looks.”
Another company making its mark in the U.S. is Lico. The manufacturer featured two products, one of which was Hydro Fix Comfort Core, a Swiss quality product that will be made in the U.S. starting in June. “We’re some place between a WPC and an SPC,” said Rob Rebman, president. “We have the soft underfoot comfort of a WPC and are more dimensionally stable, light weight and very affordable in wonderful designs. Today we carry 50 different offerings, but we can also build custom design programs.”
The second product, Micodur, is a cement-based construction that is 100% dimensionally stable, according to Rebman. “It’s a clickable tile, with no PVC, it’s eco-friendly. It’s digitally printed. Today we have 30 SKUs, but because it is digitally printed, we can do custom designs.”
New in LVT, sheet
While SPC and WPC seemed to make a statement at almost every resilient manufacturer’s booth, the LVT and sheet segments saw a plethora of new introductions. One of Armstrong Flooring’s biggest launches was its VCT with Diamond 10 Technology. With the new technology, the already durable product is easier to maintain and does not require polish, according to the company. What's more, it’s available in a multitude of colors.
“From a design perspective VCT has a lot more to offer today than it ever has before. It’s really a durable low-cost floor that’s available in a ton of colors,” said Deb Lechner, vice president of marketing.
Grant Petruzzeelli, president of Universal Metro in Sante Fe Springs, Calif., welcomes the addition of Diamond 10 to the manufacturer’s VCT offering.“The fact that they’re rolling it out with Diamond 10 is fantastic and definitely a step in the right direction.”
Armstrong Flooring also introduced a new engineered tile, which is meant to compete with ceramic at a much lower price point. “The reason you’d want to do an alternative tile is the warmth compared to ceramic,” Lechner explained. “It is waterproof and has a little cushion to it. It’s also easier to sell to the consumer when she wants the look of ceramic, but not the cold properties.”
In 2019, Tarkett is focusing on providing “great spaces, one surface at a time,” according to Jeffrey Stefanov, segment strategy–residential. A part of this strategy is its recent acquisition of Lexmark, which now allows the manufacturer to offer its customers over 300 soft surface designs. On the hard surface side, Tarkett has launched seven new ProGen products as well as new TruTex designs. “ProGen is going to continue to be a great benefit to the consumer,” Stefanov said. “Our TruTex product is getting 20 new designs and it actually has a unique textile backing that dissipates water and resists mold and mildew. Our goal is to ultimately have everything for our customers.”
Forbo highlighted new designs in its Flotex line, which is a flocked 6,6 nylon product that is available in 10 x 40-inch planks, 20 x 20-inch squares and as a sheet good. It is 100% waterproof and can be permanently installed or put down with releasable adhesive. “It’s kind of a hybrid between the best benefits of a textile and the cleanability and performance of a resilient,” said Tim Donahue, residential division sales manager. “We’ve added five designs to the collection. Each one has about four to six colors, so you’re looking at 30 to 40 SKUs.”
When it comes to LVT, even those in porcelain and ceramic tile are getting into the game. At the show, MSI showed off its first LVT introduction, named Everlife. To support a more one-stop-shop approach to selling, the company expanded into the new product segment and even aligned its branding with its expanded product offering—just before the show, the company unveiled a new global brand identity that showcased its expanding focus.
On the glue-down LVT side, Karndean Designflooring launched Art Select in new wood visuals. The premium glue-down range features beveled edges and a 30-mil wear layer. “This is the first time we’ve really revisited this collection in over four years,” Caringola said. “This collection has a lot of our classic woods and we’ve added some new hickory and chestnut designs. We also have introduced a specific SKU in this line called Glacier Oak. It’s available in a 56 x 9-inch full size plank. We also offer it in an 18 x 3 parquet plank as well.”
EarthWerks also increased its glue-down offerings with the launch of Chassis, a set of trendy planks in six colors with Tuff Shield protection. The complete collection features Chassis (2mm x 6 mil), Chassis Advantage (2mm x 12 mil) and Chassis Pro (3mm x 20 mil).
Mohawk is also rebooting its offerings to tap into the market of consumers who still desire sheet goods. “What we have is a good, better, best offering,” Sheehan said. “We have 51 visuals that are all available in the VersaTech, VersaTech Plus and VersaTech Ultra. We’ve also mounted the samples on Masonite, so the consumer gets the impression of how it’s going to feel on the floor.”
IVC, a division of Mohawk, continues to evolve its sheet offerings as well. “Within our sheet vinyl line, we’re doing some really amazing things with the visuals, painted tile looks, taking our platform of seamless solutions and really highlighting not only great design in tile, but great design in wood,” said Jason Sims, brand marketing director, Mohawk Industries. “We’re also launching some LVT product and expanding IVC’s footprint.”
Beauflor USA relaunched its Blacktex collection as Blacktex HD. The redesigned luxury vinyl roll collection expanded by 10 SKUs, now encompassing 30 SKUs total. “Because of its textile backing it is very rip and tear resistant compared to the other sheet vinyl out there,” Nevens said. “Very limited subfloor prep is needed, which is also key. You don’t have to worry about telegraphing coming up through and it looks like an LVT.”
In addition to Mannington’s WPC product and Adura Selling Solution, the manufacturer has launched new sheet products. One of its new products is Morocco, a 6-inch encaustic tile from Mannington’s Revive collection. “We have put a couple of encaustic looks in in the last couple of years and they’ve worked really well for us,” said Mary Katherine Dyczko-Riglin, product manager, residential sheet. “We have this nice 6-inch look and it varies all the way across the sheet so you can get a really nice customized look. The trend with this Revive introduction is it looks like a custom tile installation with sheet.”
Make way for the mills
Carpet mills continue to increase their presence in the waterproof luxury vinyl segment, with new offerings in WPC and SPC shown at Surfaces. Among mills not named Mohawk and Shaw, no one was more ambitious than Engineered Floors, which entered the LVT segment in 2018, and has 60 SKUs slated for 2019.
Key offerings include Bella Sera, an SPC under the Triumph collection that features an attached pad, EIR and painted bevel. Ana Torrence, hard surface category manager, called it, “the best value for a high-end plank.”
For 2019, EF has a generous assortment of click, loose lay and glue-down products, from opening price points to super high end. The strategy tied in with the company’s efforts to be a full-service line for its dealers. “We know our bread and butter is [PureColor, our proprietary solution dyed fiber], but we also want to offer the retailer a comprehensive assortment, which includes hard surfaces,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing.
Pietra, which means stone in Italian, is a 2019 hit that includes an embedded grout line that can be installed over existing tile in a matter of hours, not days. “It looks like real tile without the hassle of tile,” Torrence explained.
The bread and butter of Marquis Industries’ may be WPC; however, the company’s newest introduction is Cheyenne, a SPC click product featuring a 20-mil wear layer, attached cushion and multi length boards.
Phenix Flooring is entering its third year in the hard surface segment with a goal to introduce price sensitive product to drive volume. Case in point is a new 12 mil SPC with a painted beveled edge that it showed at Surfaces.The rigid core plank and tile offerings—under the names Velocity, Impulse and Momentum—feature Corex, a rigid thermoplastic extruded core with stone technology. Impulse and Momentum utilize a cork backing while Velocity combines Corexwith an EVA foam backing, which eliminates the need for any additional underlayment.
The Dixie Group is still in its infancy as a hard surfaces’ supplier, according to T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division, TDG, but is poised to expand. At Surfaces, the company showcased a new SPC line from its Masland Energy collection called TruCor, as well as 5-, 7- and 9-mil products—27 planks and 16 tiles in all.
Whereas other mills dabble in hard surfaces while continuing to emphasize soft offerings, Southwind has moved steadily in the direction of hard surfaces, which now accounts for 60% of its overall mix.In addition, while other waterproof vinyl companies continue to show wide planks, Southwind is going retro with a smaller 3 1/4-inch offering. Called Classic Strip, these 20-, 40- and 60-inch long boards come with 20 mil wear layers. “People are getting tired of the wide looks,” said Tim Gilmore, Southeast regional vice president for Southwind. “We can go 100 boards before a pattern repeats – that’s unheard of.”