September 16/23, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 7
By Reginald Tucker
In the sea of LVT sameness, one company is looking to stand out from the pack. That would be none other than Quickstyle Industries, a leading hard surface flooring importer, distributor and manufacturer based in Montreal, Canada. The company’s not-so-secret weapon is a novel product line called True Grout, a vinyl plank and tile collection that boasts integrated grout lines. Comprising a highly UV-resistant, 20-mil polyurethane vinyl wear layer fused to a rigid densified foam core backing (DFC), the product is waterproof and stands up to mildew. What’s more, the product is FloorScore Certified and does not contain VOCs or phthalates.
“What we offer is something that’s truly unique in the market, aesthetically pleasing with a price point that is affordable,” said Mike Alfieri, vice president of sales and co-owner of Quickstyle Industries.
The USPTO awarded Quickstyle Industries the patents for the True Grout technology on DFC and SPC in April and November of 2018. Quickstyle intends to guard its patents fiercely. “While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, we fully intend to protect and defend our patented Grout Line Technology against anyone who would violate its intellectual property rights in the U.S. and around the world,” Alfieri stressed.
Already a smash in Canada, True Grout is looking to make its mark in America. According to Alfieri, Quickstyle Industries’ innovative Grout Line Technology was embraced by the flooring industry when it was introduced to the Canadian market and is now experiencing exponential growth.
“It’s doing very well in the specialty retail segment and the commercial side of our business,” Alfieri noted.
Quickstyle is banking on duplicating the products’ success here in the States. The go-to-market strategy entails a two-fold approach: aggressively courting the specialty retail channel via distributor partners while supporting other manufacturers on a private-label basis. There are also negotiations to develop separate, non-competitive offerings for mass merchants, and the company also has a few technology licensing agreements in place.
“We have some major market penetration in Canada, but we’re looking to expand in the U.S. and build on our distribution,” Alfieri told FCNews. “Our goal is to grow market share and create strong brand recognition, but we want to choose the right partners to get us to the next level.”
U.S. distributors who have added the True Grout product to their lineup like what they’re seeing so far. For Tony Benvenuti, CEO of Wood Pro, a distributor based in Auburn, Mass., Quickstyle True Grout is a keeper. “The product line is really good quality,” he said. “It’s something that separates us from everybody else, and it gives us a leg up on the market.”
With the surge in vinyl sales and all these different products coming to market, Benvenuti said there’s a lot of me-too products out there. “This line really allows us to go to the market and sell specific features that other lines don’t have,” he noted. “Plus, they’re just great people to do business with.”
More importantly, True Grout gives Wood Pro’s customers a product they can make money on. (MSRP is $4.99 per square foot.) “We use it as a step-up product to the entry-level vinyl products out there,” Benvenuti explained. “You can promote the quality of the product in combination of the True Grout feature as a way to step up the customer so you’re not getting in the game of battling based on price.”
Retailers like Joe Bair, vice president of Long Island Paneling, Ceilings and Floors in Lindenhurst, N.Y., get it. “We market Quickstyle True Grout as a mid-level product, and we’re doing very well with it,” he told FCNews. “It’s a look no one has.”
Both Benvenuti and Bair see True Grout going into residential replacement applications as well as new construction projects. “It’s being installed by dealers and home builders alike,” Benvenuti shared. “We’ve had True Grout for about two years now, and we’ve been adding new products as they have come out.”
In anticipation of higher demand for the True Grout offering—and to make it easier for both existing and potential distributor partners to replenish inventories—Quickstyle is expanding its warehousing facilities in Baltimore, Md. The company is also looking to generate momentum by unveiling new offerings at major U.S. trade shows next year—Surfaces 2020 among them. “We’re going to have a big presence at the show,” Alfieri said.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Quickstyle is also looking to continue adding new enhancements to the True Grout offering. Alfieri hinted at the development of a unique and innovate “shield” that would render the grout lines stainproof and consistent in color for the period of the warranty.