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Ceramics: Functionality, style drive TISE 2019 tile introductions

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Megan Salzano

 

Las Vegas—While the tile and stone category has its challenges—think price points and installation—its evolution within the home has helped drive sales and the category’s overall value. No longer are consumers relegating tile and stone to kitchen and bath builds, they are looking to the category to support evolving home design trends such as decorative wall features, indoor/outdoor living and minimalistic design.

To fulfill these needs, tile manufacturers at this year’s Surfaces event showcased new collections that support 2019’s top design trends.

Indoor meets outdoor
Tile has wound its way across different surfaces within the home, but now it’s venturing outside as well. Manufacturers at the show were more than happy to oblige the current trend with new product collections boasting outdoor-rated products with matching indoor styles. Manufacturers were also quick to remind retailers of the growth opportunities this new trend is poised to bring.

MSI, for example, launched three indoor tile lines with coordinating outdoor pavers. “This is a whole new area, and we are trying to help the retailers see the opportunity,” said Manny Llerena, director of sales and marketing, MSI. “They traditionally think the outside is for the landscapers. We are telling them not anymore; not with porcelain. That really belongs to you now when you can connect the indoor to the outdoor.”

Some manufacturers added that while indoor tile may sell for $4 per square foot, outdoor tile may sell for twice as much. “It’s a great earning opportunity for the retailer,” Llerena added. “We think this is something that is going to really take hold and continue to grow, and we want to help them bring it along.”

‘Wood’ you look at that
When it comes to trending design, tile manufacturers agree wood looks are major sellers. What began just a few years ago as a nuanced style born out of advancing printing technologies has evolved into a full-fledged force to be reckoned with. With those advances in technology came not only the look of wood, but now the feel of hand-scraped or natural knots replicated on plank styles both large and small. This year, Emser tapped that technology to an even greater extent and partnered with Gensler to introduce its Yakedo collection.

“Wood looks are still an important part of the business, you can’t get away from it,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer, Emser Tile. “So, what we do now is look at new technologies, new techniques—different sizes, textured feels, the right color blends and price points. Yakedo is a really special product for us. It’s based on the Shou Sugi Ban technique. They take hardwood, burn it and then install it, and it gives it a certain dimension, texture and strength. We’ve set up different lines of the manufacturing processes because we know these different looks are important.”

Black and blue
When it comes to trending colors within the tile category, manufacturers agree that both black and blue are beginning to reign. However, even wood-look planks with stark black colorways are growing in popularity. In addition, manufacturers agreed black and blue colorways are shifting from just a trend to an applied trend, with consumers and designers using a stark black shade within their applications instead of just admiring its possibilities.

“The black falls under the dark interiors trend—art deco, Victorian, gothic atmospheres and minimalistic design,” said Laura Grilli, senior product development manager, Daltile. “We are definitely starting to see these dark colors; and this is the inspiration behind Geometric Fusion.”

Daltile’s Geometric Fusion features nine patterns designed to be installed randomly, which creates an intentional deconstructed, geometric look. Each tile features a decorative blend of metallic, matte and glossy finishes. It’s available in four distinct colors, including a stark black called Obsidian.

Concrete ideas
One product trend show attendees were certain to notice was the focus on concrete looks within the tile category. Manufacturers big and small launched traditional concrete looks in square sizes while others incorporated terrazzo looks. Other suppliers stepped outside of the box with planks.

Crossville, for example, launched its Reformation collection at the show. “The name Reformation came from reforming your thinking about what concrete should be,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing. “When we started to consider doing a concrete plank so many people [thought], ‘But concrete comes in a square, it should be a square.’ But who said it has to be a square? Why don’t we think outside the box and do something a little different? Now that we’ve done it, people are in love with it. We have 24 x 36, 6 x 36 and 12 x 36 in the four colors—warm and cool neutrals, and I love the dark colors.”

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Tech companies serve up digital solutions at TISE

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Flooring software systems were not the only digital innovations present at this year’s show. Several tech companies—Creating Your Space, Floor Force, Retail Lead Management and Podium, to name a few—introduced updates to programs designed to assist dealers with website development and management, lead generation and CRM.

Creating Your Space put the spotlight on its Visual AR collection, a package of tools allowing flooring dealers to sell multiple products from various suppliers and market them on their websites in a way that is simpler for the consumer.

“The new technology we have built in our system now allows the consumer to choose a product based on the color and style she wants and see it in a room or her own room,” Jay Flynn, vice president, explained. “The consumer can do that with several manufacturers’ products and it is all customized to the retailer’s store and the products that retailer carries.”

At the FloorForce space, updates to its growing product catalog were the focal point. It’s all about making it easier to manage sites. “Right now, if you search for hardwood, we show you all the hardwood available,” explained Todd Saunders, CEO of AdHawk, the company that recently acquired FloorForce. “What we want to be able to do is [predict] what hardwood or carpet the consumer is most likely to pick. Similar to Amazon’s recommended products, we’re coming out with our own based on what the retailer wants to sell and also what is creating the greatest conversion.”

In addition to updates with FloorForce, AdHawk has developed flooringstore.com, touted as one of the largest directories of flooring. “Our goal is to help get products in front of customers; this way consumers aren’t coming to the store to receive all of their education. We want to help them get all of their education online so that when they’re in the store they’re ready to buy.”

Other companies focused on the lead management aspect. To that end, Retail Lead Management increased its presence at this year’s show with its own booth. The goal, according to Jason Goldberg, the company’s creator who also serves as CEO of America’s Floor Source, was to get Retail Lead Management’s new system in front of flooring retailers to show them the possibilities.

“Most flooring retailers don’t manage their leads,” Goldberg told FCNews. “The average dealer manages his leads by pen and paper. If you were to ask the store owner how many leads he is managing, he would probably have no idea. Retail Lead Management allows the dealer and salesperson to track all of their leads, getting more conversion which makes the store more money.”

New updates to the Retail Lead Management system include an analytics package, which helps dealers quickly understand where their leads were captured. “We also just added a new calendar to our software,” Goldberg noted. “In the past we only had listing pages; now we have an actual calendar that allows dealers to see their employees’ tasks.”

In the realm of CRM systems, Podium showed TISE attendees a new tool that allows the company to take a retailer’s landline and turn it into a text-able number. As Luke Salisbury, senior account executive, explained: “This allows the sales reps to text conversations with their customer while that customer sees the landline as the number.”

With this tool, all of the employees are able to manage their conversations independently. What's more, the customer’s information is saved to the company’s database instead of an employee’s personal phone, which protects the retailer in case an employee leaves the business. “We also have a tool on the company’s website that says ‘Have a question? Text us here,’” Salisbury said. “The customer enters in her name and question, and instead of her having to stay on the website, this starts a text conversation.”

Podium also has new integrations with RFMS and QFloors. These new relationships help the company assist dealers with various CRM processes including collecting reviews. “In RFMS once they mark the job as finished an automated text message comes from Podium asking for a review,” Salisbury said.

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Technology: Flooring software aims to provide intelligence, increase productivity

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Las Vegas—The show floor at The International Surface Event (TISE) is packed with just about everything a flooring dealer needs to be successful in the coming year. Beyond viewing product and tool innovations, retailers have the opportunity to learn more about the various flooring-specific software companies that are looking to help the industry streamline processes and make more money.

Some of the latest software innovations seen at TISE aim to provide flooring dealers with easily digestible business insights—curating infographics that allow industry members to analyze metrics at a glance. Others are looking to make it easier for retail sales associates to close the sale as well as conduct day-to-day processes.

Following is an overview of some of the new programs and apps unveiled at TISE 2019.

Comp-U-Floor
The most important thing Comp-U-Floor has done is translate 40 years of experience into newer web and mobile technology. That’s according to Edgar Aya, the company’s CEO, who said he believes Comp-U-Floor’s latest innovations make it easier for users to complete day-to-day processes both in store and in the field.

“We are now using new tools and new designs that are more appealing to the users,” Aya said. “For example, if I’m an installer, I can now get my jobs automatically on my phone. I am also able to take a picture inside the customer’s home and upload it to the office. The technology is all cloud-based now and can be used on any mobile device.”

In addition, Comp-U-Floor software can be integrated with Measure Square’s technology.

Measure Square
One of Measure Square’s latest innovations includes an automatic takeoff program to help simplify the estimating process for commercial contractors.

“When a contractor uses this software it automatically finds the rooms and windows using AI technology,” Steven Wang, president, explained. “Once the room is identified, the user can drag a flooring product into the room and get the measurements. It saves people a lot of time.”

Another new application for the commercial flooring industry allows the user to create a 3D path through the floor plan. With this feature the user is able to determine how he or she wants to walk the customer through the project.

Pacific Solutions
Pacific Solutions said it has revolutionized its takeoff software in an effort to make it easier for commercial contractors to locate the edges of each room in a floor plan.

According to Bob Noe Jr., president, the old way to digitize a floor plan involved the user clicking on one corner of the room at a time to manually identify the walls.

“We’ve come up with a wall finder tool so all the user has to do is click once in the room and it locates the edges,” Noe explained. “It saves a ton of time by evaluating the print and determining what is a legitimate wall. It’s a game changer. It’s way faster than going through it by the perimeter.”

In addition to determining the edges, this application is design to let estimators know how much flooring is needed for each of the rooms.

QFloors
QFloors has developed QView—the company’s latest innovation—to help provide CEOs, presidents and CFOs with a simpler way to analyze business insights. This program, which took about a year to develop, provides flooring executives with multiple reports (in the form of widgets) on just one screen.

“In QFloors you’d pull up each one of these reports individually,” said Chad Ogden, president. “Instead of having to do that we’ve put them all on one screen for QView. An owner doesn’t have to search through reports—he or she can just look on one screen and then double click the widgets for more information.”

In addition to QView, QFloors talked to show attendees about its QPro cloud software, which was first introduced during the 2018 show but is now officially open to the public. “With QPro there’s really only two screens but it does all of the user’s invoicing, sales orders, inventory management, job costing—so we can teach [him or her] very quickly how to use it,” Ogden explained. “It’ll do the user’s b2b and all of these flooring-specific processes that programs such as QuickBooks can’t do.”

What’s more, Ogden noted, is the user doesn’t have to install anything because QPro is a browser-based application. The user is simply given a username and password to access company information.

RFMS
This year RFMS is focusing on mobility. That’s according to Madeleine Bayless, director of human resources, who shared that a lot of dealers are looking for all of the functionality they have in the office to be on their mobile devices.

“We’re building things with our measure estimating software where users can show renderings of preset homes as well as 3D renderings when they’re in the customer’s home,” she explained.

Fred Kotynski, CIO, sees mobility as a game changer for the flooring dealer. For example, through the company’s latest mobile applications salespeople have a checklist they are able to follow when closing a sale. “You can bring a novice salesperson into a sales position and it’s not going to take them months to get to the point where they can make a sale,” he explained. “This is going to steer them through the process. The people who have implemented our measure and RFMS mobile apps, both in the store and in the field, have resulted in increased margins. Bottom line has gone up by points.”

Beyond mobility, RFMS is redesigning its API to better integrate with more products. “We’re just trying to give the customers what they’re asking for,” Bayless said. “More mobility and more access to their data so they can pull out what they need.”

RollMaster
At TISE, RollMaster put the spotlight on RM Data Analytics, its new data visualization and business intelligence created to make retailers not only more productive but also profitable.

“Powered by Tableau, it takes our sales analysis, which normally people could look at either on screen in a report or Excel, and turns those numbers into images, bars and charts,” Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator, explained. “With this plugin users can see and compare salespeople, accounts receivable, etc.”

RM Data Analytics aims to make it easier for dealers to look at their businesses as a whole. The company creates the dashboard that displays the analytics, and the application is available as a plugin to the RollMaster system. “The users don’t have to do anything extra except add the API,” Oechslin said. “We’ve automated every aspect of the flooring industry, and now we’re looking at ways to enhance the business with online reviews, credit card processing, email marketing and e-commerce.”

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Installation: Molding intros tout form and function

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Megan Salzano

 

Consumers can sometimes forget the finishing touches necessary to complete a new flooring installation. Accessory items, such as trim and molding, not only help to create a flawless installation but also add to a retailer’s overall project sale.

At this year’s International Surfaces Event, held in Las Vegas in January, trim and molding manufacturers showcased innovative new products meant to help retailers grow sales while also supporting a flawless installation that will keep customers happy. Some suppliers focused on rounding out existing collections in an effort to help retail offer a one-stop solution and account for multiple design trends. Others tapped current floor trends, such as waterproof designs, in an effort to better service the market.

Whether looking to add new SKUs to existing trim and molding offerings or break into the category to help boost the final sale, retailers should keep these accessories top of mind when discussing new projects with their customers. Following is a curated selection of some of those new trim and molding innovations.

Seneca Millwork
Seneca is adding to its SignatureEdge collection with three new stair tread edge profiles. Its eased edge tread has a 3⁄16-inch slightly rounded top front edge; its chamfered edge design showcases a 1⁄4-inch angled top front edge; and the double chamfered design features the 1⁄4-inch angled edges on the top and bottom of the tread.

“Currently, a consumer has basically two stair tread design choices—a bullnose or square front,” said Mark Pacacha, national sales manager. “We feel that adding three additional edge options brings pizzazz and an important variety to our SignatureEdge collection. The eased edge is similar to the square edge but with a smoother, more rounded appearance. The chamfered edge and double-chamfered edge profiles are perfect for an ultra-modern appearance on consumers’ staircases.”

Pacacha noted that by adding more edge designs, the company now has a complete stair package selection for both traditional and modern looks. “Change is happening so quickly in the trim and molding business, and with all the homework a consumer does before making purchases our SignatureEdge collection gives our partners an ‘Edge’ for their customers.”

All treads are manufactured in the USA and are available unfinished or prefinished. Seneca can stain and finish stair treads to match thousands of flooring brands and colors. This includes specialty finishes such as sculpted, wire brushed and glazed. Seneca’s solid wood treads are built to last with only two to three glue lines per tread, and they are coated with a durable, water-based, phthalate-free formulated polyurethane topcoat finish.

Artistic Finishes
Artistic Finishes has added a new look to its Enduracor Stair Nose line of molding. Profile 340 has a square-edged design and fits 5mm to 7mm floors. With this new profile, the company’s Enduracor waterproof line now offers 17 profiles for floors ranging from 2.5mm to 15mm.

“There is always a demand for flush stair nosing when it comes to molding for multi-layer floors. This fits 5mm to 7mm thick floors, which is the largest thickness option in the multi-layer flooring industry and fulfills that need where it’s often found lacking,” said Bill Treiber, technical sales and education manager. “This square-edged nosing gives our customers another option of stair nosing in our Enduracor waterproof core collection with a modern twist. The squared look of the bullnose is the latest trend our customers are requesting to give their staircase a fresh, bold look.”

Selling is about options and staying current with the trends in the industry, Treiber explained. “This sleek new profile is a unique design while still creating durability. It gives our retailers and dealers the flush nosing option their customers need and want for multi-layer floors at a cost-effective price.”

This new profile will be available in April.

Pennwood Products
This year, Pennwood has grown its White Goods assortment of molding products—painted and primed molding in baseboard, quarter round and shoe. “Retailers, builders and consumers are looking for molding that have universal usage and at the same time give a great visual appearance as well as good value,” said Steve Cratch, business development. “The retailers and consumer think white molding actually make the floors contrast better. The retailer controls and turns their inventory better and the installer likes the fixed lengths. Builders like that it is available already painted or primed. Everyone is a winner.”

In addition, Cratch noted it was important to offer retailers a molding line that works with all flooring types, including ceramic, hardwood, vinyl and LVT. “Distributors and retailers today are always looking for items that turn well and help their bottom line. Painted and primed molding help consolidate where necessary and at the same time offer a product that saves time in installation.”

Currently offered in a 12-foot fixed length, the company is set to launch an 8-foot fixed length in the second quarter.

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Carpet: Retailers explore ways to keep category relevant

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

As the industry knows all too well, the replacement cycle for carpet is many years earlier than that of hard surfaces, which translates to more transactions—and higher margins—for specialty dealers. Conversely, a customer who buys a rigid vinyl floor today may not need another floor for a generation. For the long-term health of the specialty flooring channel, dealers agree, carpet needs to remain vibrant and viable.

Carpet, too, is not just another product in a dealer’s showroom, industry observers say. For some, carpet was the first product sold—the product that launched their business. Today, even as hard surfaces continue to grow—with the LVT segment taking share from carpet—retailers remain resolute in keeping carpet top of mind as a mainstay business that they can’t live without.

“Carpet is the most profitable part of our business, and it is the product we have the least amount of problems with as far as installation is concerned,” said Paul Johnson, president of Johnson Carpet One, Tulsa, Okla.

However, dealers are not in this fight alone. Industry executives believe it is incumbent upon manufacturers to bring true innovation to this category to excite consumers. “We have to give the consumer a better story and solution,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk residential. “We have to excite those in the trade and make it exciting and fun for consumers to buy carpet.”

To that end, mills are getting smarter with their investments—focusing more on capability and process efficiencies than on capacity, such as advanced tufting machines that can do more with texture and color. This gives dealers much more to work with in their conversations with customers.

Hiller’s Flooring America in Rochester, Minn., displays about 25 carpets on its showroom floors, spanning many different patterns and textures. “It’s much easier to sell when you can see it, feel it and imagine it in your own home,” said Rob Elder, co-owner. “We do a large amount of business in commercial, and we are caught up in the LVP/LVT gold rush as well. But when you get right down to it, carpet is still our industry’s bread and butter.”

Carpet has typically fared better in colder climates such as Minnesota. However, it has its place in California as well as the Southwest, dealers say. Anthony Maye, vice president of sales, Yates Flooring Center, for example, said the market in west Texas has historically been strong, and that has continued even as carpet has gone through market changes. “We see that carpet has transitioned to a complementary category to the hard surface types,” he told FCNews. “The middle weights and class of carpets have moved down, but multi-family base grades have moved up and our higher-end carpet from specialty mills has greatly increased. The trend is: consumers want less carpet, but better carpet.”

To meet that need, Yates is expanding its selection of higher-end carpets, patterns, softs and wools and creating a showroom to showcase that selection and tap that market. “The mills are doing a great job of helping to disclaim the ‘carpet-holds-dirt’ mentality of the consumer with easier-to-clean, pet-friendly and hypoallergenic innovations,” he added.

There are few people who are bigger advocates of carpet than Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home in Westland, Mich. Buchanan touts the importance of soft surfaces any chance she gets. “As a Carpet One retailer, our name says it all. So, no, we couldn’t survive without it nor would I want to. There is a place for carpet and there always will be, especially in the colder climates of our country. There is nothing better than the warmth and cozy atmosphere carpet emits. The ambiance and sound absorption is a necessity with a house full of kids. Carpet is also safer on steps and much more conducive to bedrooms.”

There is some talk in the industry that the dominance of hard surfaces over carpet may slow and carpet share may start to reverse the recent trend. One explanation is new home builds. Newer homes tend to have higher ceilings than previous iterations, thereby causing noise reverberation against a hard surface backdrop. The noise issue is also impacting some commercial environments, including corporate office spaces. While area rugs can help, carpets act much better as sound absorbers, executives say.

Carpet One’s Buchanan said the threat against carpet is nothing new. She recalled a time in the 1990s when hardwood was the go-to floor and led to a resurgence in hard surfaces. “All of a sudden carpet came back into the limelight because every home was loud, hard and cold. I think this will happen again.”

Buchanan said the introduction of Mohawk’s SmartStrand was brilliant because it answered concerns about stains and pets. “My staff is very confident selling this yarn system and other similar [systems]. I wouldn’t count carpet out. It’s easier to install and offers much better margins.”

Hiller’s Elder added that installation is also easier and smoother with carpet than all other hard surface options. “If I can make more money, have fewer callbacks and make my end user happy, why wouldn’t I push carpet? Tack on the fantastic warranties that carpet manufacturers and yarn companies offer, and I think you have a winner.”

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Abbey reenergized: New show format, programs provide a spark

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Megan Salzano

 

Phoenix—Abbey Carpet & Floor’s 61st annual convention, held here Feb. 23-25, gave members the chance to discuss hot topics such as new products and the ever-evolving digital age, but it also brought something new to the table that attendees said helped reenergize the room—a convergence of both its Abbey and Floors To Go members.

Furthering its focus on “Partners in Excellence,” the organization sought to drive increased communication between its full member collective by joining the two groups. Up until this point, the organization’s two groups attended an extended version of the event, but separately. Abbey members would meet with suppliers—and each other—for the first three days, while Floors To Go members would arrive on the last three days.

“It certainly makes sense for both organizations,” Bill Wilson, vice president, marketing and advertising, Abbey Carpet & Floor, told FCNews. “We have such a strong bond and strong partnership with both groups. Our services are equal to them. They’ve always enjoyed networking with fellow members, and they are all successful retailers. Now they get to take advantage of having those numbers. They all have success stories, and sharing those stories is something that strengthens our group.”

Retailers at the show said the added retailer-to-retailer connections were a major plus this time around. “We like it a lot,” said Sam O’Krent, principal, O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring Center, San Antonio. “It makes sense to have more retailers to talk to. There’s no difference between Abbey and Floors To Go. We’re all in the retail business; we all have the same issues. The more people you can talk to the better. There’s no downside to it, in our opinion.”

Members also noted an increased level of energy at the show, which helped uplift the mood and attendance overall. “I like the merger,” said Robert Rogers, owner, Carpet Trends, Rye, N.Y. “I was always on the tail end of the show, being a Floors To Go member. I was here after everybody else had a lot of fun. Everybody was tired, and they all wanted to go home. Now that it’s merged together, I think it makes a lot more sense. I think it’s still intimate, but it used to be very quiet and low energy.”

Vendors also took note of the change and voiced positive experiences with the merger. Some noted the increased energy levels and added buying power, while others touted the benefits of a shorter show—less time away from the office and obvious reinvestments into the event itself.

Piet Dossche, CEO, USFloors, said, “I think it’s really the best thing they’ve ever done because it really shows the strength of the entire group rather than splitting it up. Each group was excited to meet the other. I think there’s been good comradery and good activity. Not only is it good for Abbey and Floors To Go, but it’s good for the vendor community. You have two to three days where activity is meaningful, whereas, in the past, we stretched it over a week.”

Scott Sandlin, vice president, business development, hard surface, Shaw Industries, noted the shows increased energy. “I think when you have more people buying there’s a buzz, and when there’s a buzz people keep buying and selling improves. People feed off energy, so I love it. To me, more upbeat, more efficient and having more energy is always better.”

Keith Anderson, senior vice president of sales, Congoleum, said the increased energy was definitely welcome, but he also noted the benefits of a shorter show. “In the past, the show itself was one full week. Add two days on each end for setup and tear down. Now, we’re able to bring four guys to this show whereas we would bring six to split it up and get our people back in the field. I’m glad they took all of that into consideration.”

A new portal to success
Not only did Abbey Carpet & Floor merge its two groups in an effort to grow retailer interactions, but it also provided tools to help in that endeavor. Ted Dlugokienski, CFO, Abbey Carpet & Floor, said since it might be difficult to pick everyone’s brain over a three-day period, the organization set up a new electronic portal to capture ideas during the show—these ideas would be disseminated to all members after the convention.

“Think of this portal as your one best idea—a suggestion box of sorts,” he explained. “A place where you can highlight your successes and share the necessary steps as well as any hurdles that you might have overcome in order to have that success. Maybe a staffing or commission structure, inventory or pricing strategy, capturing market share—the list is virtually endless and we welcome them all. Don’t be shy, be proud. And by all means, if more than one thought or idea comes to mind, have at it and let us all share in your success.”

The portals were accessible on the convention floor at the computer kiosks and marketing services area. The portal was also accessible through the convention app, further demonstrating the organization’s digital mindset.

Speaking of digital
The conversation surrounding digital marketing and advertising and its importance to a retailer’s business has been happening for years now, but at this year’s show the conversation clearly evolved from “why” to “how” as more retailers took to the Internet to grow their businesses. In order to help retailers answer the question of “how,” the organization put a heavy focus on its digital initiatives and laid out several programs available to its members.

“Digital marketing technology continues to be one of the most strategic investments a company can make,” Wilson said. “The way consumers research and formulate opinions and make decisions on where to shop has changed dramatically over a very short period of time. This shift has brought about the need for businesses to not only have a digital presence, but also to be in front of the consumer at the moment she begins her research to the moment she is ready to find a source location. This is where digital marketing is born and continues to evolve pretty much at break-neck speeds.”

Retailers at the convention agreed that digital has become increasingly more important to the success of their businesses. “I think any company or organization that doesn’t think about that as part of their business is going to be out of it,” said Heather Dorman of Flagship Floors, League City, Texas. “That’s what the world is moving toward. There are multiple touch points now. If you can’t offer those and you’re not up to speed, you’re going to lose business. You have to make that a big part of your business.”

A few of the major programs the organization touted were social media engagement, digital display advertising and remarketing. The organization also noted its pay per click program, now in its fifth year, as its most successful program to date. “These are ever-evolving programs,” Wilson noted. “They’ve all been developed with one common thread as it relates to the consumer shopping experience: your website. These are designed to get the consumer onto your website as soon as possible and deliver content to them.”

Heather Schandl, owner/ designer, Floor Express Abbey Carpet, Tumwater, Wash., told FCNews that the store utilizes many of the organization’s digital programs, and was there to learn more. “We make an investment every month on digital, and I love it. A lot of people who call my shop will refer to something they’ve seen on the website. They’ve already done their research and then they come and search it out with us. That’s something they’re helping us manage.”

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the organization rolled out website analytical reporting—information collected to supply a benchmark to explore possibilities in digital marketing. Wilson noted that the information obtained by such analytics could even help reshape current strategies.

Moving forward, Wilson said the organization is currently working on new website technology that it hopes to launch in the near future. “You can’t let that sit, you have to continually invest in website technology to deliver that consumer experience, and we’re working fast and furious to develop and implement some new technology,” he explained.

Show stoppers
The convention’s goal is also to align retailers with both established and new vendor partners in an effort to grow the businesses of both. This year, the convention welcomed four new vendors and a host of new products from returning vendors.

To help members navigate the myriad new products, Hardy noted an updated Brand Showcase that helped retailers navigate new private label programs.

In addition to private-label programs, a variety of new products were introduced to members. USFloors, for example, launched 24 exclusive COREtec offerings, including 12 COREtec ProPlus, an SPC product, and 12 COREtec Plus Enhanced, a WPC product. “The products are 100% exclusive to Abbey and Floors To Go,” Dossche told FCNews. “We wanted to do that with COREtec because it gives retailers an opportunity. When a consumer comes in and asks for COREtec, or a waterproof product, RSAs can take that consumer to the display knowing for sure that she’s not going to shop somewhere else because it’s not available anywhere else. For retailers, it’s an opportunity for them to keep their margins up and keep the profitability at a higher level.”

Joseph LaMaestra, sales manager, A&J Flooring Outlet, Turnersville, N.J., said USFloors is a go-to source. “COREtec—that’s a home run. We love it. We have all the displays. In fact, we bought five pallets of COREtec yesterday.”

New vendors to the show included Peerless Carpets, Anderson Tuftex, HRI Rugs and SLCC Flooring. Retailers noted several collections of interest from each new vendor. However, the constant flurry of dealers at the SLCC booth was hard to miss. By the end of the convention, the manufacturer was a force to be reckoned with. “This has probably been one of the best shows I’ve ever had,” said Chris Dillion, vice president, marketing and sales, SLCC Flooring. “There hasn’t been a time where there’s been nobody at the booth. I’m really pleased, and you can really feel a good vibe here.”

Sean Beville, vice president, Kent Island Abbey Floor Covering, Stevensville, Md., said the store was particularly impressed with the company’s WPC product. “Their prices are landed and the looks they have are what people are looking for in our area. Where we are specifically in Maryland, a lot of people live near the water, too; it’s a wet area. The engineered products need to resist the water. That’s what we need and that’s what people are asking for, and they have it. We picked up all of their stuff.”

At the finish line, both vendors and retailers touted the show’s success. Wilson added, “I’m in my 20th year with the company and I get reenergized when I see their energy coming in here, and I saw that yesterday and today. I’ve heard business is very good, and that’s exciting to hear. What we hope they take away from this is that we are their partner, and everything we’ve put together and organized and orchestrated and negotiated is on their behalf to better their businesses.”

 

 

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Laminate: State of the industry—Fighting back against barrage of LVT, WPC, SPC

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Reginald Tucker

 

Of all the competing hard surface categories facing pressure from the red-hot LVT sector, none has felt the squeeze more acutely than the laminate flooring segment, industry observers say. However, several of the major suppliers—many of which participate in these alternative categories—are looking to regain some of that lost market share.

For many laminate suppliers, priority No. 1 is recouping some of the showroom space lost to LVT, WPC and SPC over the years. “During laminates’ heyday—we’re talking about the run the category had between 1996 and 2003-04—the average retailer had five-plus laminate displays on the showroom floor,” said Drew Hash, vice president, hard surface product/category management, Shaw Floors. “Now you’re lucky to see one laminate display on the show floor.”

Ask anyone who hasn’t been asleep at the wheel for the past five to six years, and they will tell you the popularity of LVT is the primary reason for laminates’ loss of share. “Without a doubt, competition from WPC/LVT/SPC is the biggest challenge facing the laminate flooring category today,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate, Mannington. “These categories have grown tremendously in the past 10 years and have presented some headwinds for the category.”

Natkin is not alone. Keith Wiethe, director of sales for Home Legend, which participates in several hard surface categories, concurs. “Over the past couple of years there has been a definite reduction in showroom space for laminate. There is a perceived value that WPC/SPC products are a better option.”

Therein lies the main challenge, suppliers say—convincing retail sales associates that it’s not only worth taking another look at the category but that it can also be beneficial to devote more square footage to the category.

“With recent technological enhancements in the laminate category, this product now has its own water-resistance properties,” Wiethe said, referring to what is arguably the biggest selling point of the WPC/SPC-type products that have challenged laminates so fiercely in recent years.

Reading the writing on the wall, several companies that produce laminate flooring saw the increased competition from the likes of WPC and SPC as an opportunity to invest in the category. Such was the case with Mohawk, which—via the launch of RevWood—sought to not only vastly improve the product’s performance and aesthetic characteristics but also attempt to redefine the category in the process.

Jeff Juzaitis, vice president, product management, Mohawk, cited the combination of advanced Uniclic locking technology, edge sealers and coreboard construction that work in tandem to create what he called a “waterproof matrix” that doesn’t allow moisture to permeate the product.

“With RevWood, consumers have the expectation that they can live on it, spill a glass on the floor or walk in from the outside with wet feet and not have any of the problems associated with laminates in the past,” he told FCNews. “This has made the entire category see a resurgence especially in the specialty retail space.”

Other major suppliers of laminate flooring point to their own innovations in the area of water resistance—advancements that have already reaped benefits. “For the last five years, CFL has been focusing on water-resistant laminate with special features, benefits and designs, and it has been doing well year over year,” said Barron Frith, president, CFL, North America, citing the company’s popular Atroguard line.

A thin line
As more laminate manufacturers look to leverage the category’s improvements in the area of resistance to water incursion and moisture, the chorus of respective product claims has grown ever louder. On one side of the coin you have those who tout their products as “waterproof” vs. others who say their laminate floors are “water resistant.”

But that begs the question: Is this a good thing for the laminate category, which, historically, faced some criticism for overblown claims during the height of the product’s popularity back in the mid- to late 1990s? Supplier views remain mixed on this particular issue.

“We don’t see any worry in calling our products waterproof once they’ve been installed correctly on the floor,” Mohawk’s Juzaitis explained.

CFL’s Frith, in speaking for his own company, attested to the advancements made in this regard. “Water-resistant laminate is far from new for CFL. The ‘bulletproof’ reputation has proven to be a huge positive for us since we launched Atroguard five years ago. It combines the strengths of laminate with the water resistance features of all the vinyl categories recently growing in popularity.”

Mannington’s Natkin, who also serves as the president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA), said this kind of marketing is helpful. “The category is already more indentation and scratch resistant than virtually any other flooring type, so the renewed innovation is definitely a positive step,” he said.

Other industry executives, however, strike a more cautious tone. “I can only speak to this issue from Shaw Floors’ perspective, and within our company we have a very robust protocol when it comes to product testing,” Hash explained. “We feel it made the most sense to utilize the ‘water-resistant’ verbiage when promoting our products. What others want to do is their prerogative.”

Then there are those like Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus, who views the matter as a double-edged sword. “We enjoy the additional focus brought to the laminate category by these water-resistant—or, in some cases, waterproof—claims. However, we view any statements that oversell a product’s attributes as ultimately harmful to the business. The truth is that laminate—although water resistant and in some cases highly water resistant—is not waterproof. Laminate is based on a fiberboard core and will ultimately fail if soaked with water over time.”

Travis Bass, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Swiss Krono, also warns against the temptation to oversell the product. “Responsible moisture-resistant marketing will help; touting the product as moisture proof may be harmful,” he noted.

Home Legend’s Wiethe embraces a similar philosophy. “Anytime you oversell a product, the experience by the end user may not be favorable,” he told FCNews. “Proper expectations should be set especially in today’s environment where consumers are more intelligent about products due to the information that is easily accessible to them.”

Pressure from within
Threats from competing categories is not the only major challenge facing the laminate sector. Industry observers also point to issues taking place within the product category itself—namely cannibalization by lower-end products. For many suppliers it represents a two-fold battle: competing against entry-level laminates within the category while still challenging the likes of WPC and SPC products—all of which continue to evolve at a rapid pace.

For companies like Shaw Floors, the greatest opportunity lies in step-up products. “Sales of our better-end, moisture-resistant products—which we classify as Repel—are doing very well in the market,” Hash explained. “Where we have had more challenges within the laminate category, quite frankly, is on the entry-level side where there’s more pressure from inexpensive 7mm-8mm products vs. the higher quality 12mm option, which accounts for a much smaller piece of the pie.”

The goal, according to suppliers like Shaw Floors, is to put more “distance” between the types of laminate products primarily sold at home centers vs. the more differentiated, higher-margin goods predominantly sold by the independent specialty retail channel. “At Shaw we have launched 72-inch laminate boards, which have come a long way compared to a time when everything was 48-inch, fixed lengths. Also, with laminates today, the depth of the embossing is much better and the visuals are much stronger than they were in the past. When you take into account the apparent value of the products along with the visuals—along with the water-resistance story tacked on—it’s still a great value for the product.”

CFL’s Frith also sees technological improvements as a way to make greater distinctions—especially in the minds of the consumer—between the various product tiers. “Laminate allows us to offer a broad range of fashion-forward design visuals available in varying lengths or random widths across many species. One of our biggest advantages is the depth of unique visuals we offer—products that are more realistic and show fewer repeats than cheaper products.”

Ditto for Mohawk, which continues to invest heavily in the laminate flooring category. According to the company, this not only gives the consumer better design options, but it also instills in RSAs a greater sense of confidence in promoting the category. “We have a breadth of design styles that satisfy almost every design whim,” Juzaitis said, citing both the level of realism of the product as well as improvements in surface textures.

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Tariff update: Postponement gives suppliers room to breathe

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

President Trump’s decision to postpone the scheduled March 2 increase in tariffs from 10% to 25% was welcome news by flooring industry executives, many of whom expected a delay but were nevertheless relieved.

No new tariffs deadline has been set. However, the positive tone coming out of Washington that talks were “very productive” cleared up much of the uncertainty that executives were dealing with.

“Despite the fact this outcome was highly expected, I was still very happy and relieved to hear no additional tariff increases would be imposed on March 2,” said Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors and executive vice president of hard surfaces for Shaw Industries. “I am fundamentally against tariffs as they are a hidden consumer tax and, therefore, a risk of destabilizing and slowing down consumer demand. I am in full agreement with our President and administration: trade agreements with our global trading partners need to be reviewed from time to time. Countries over decades can change dramatically in their economic development and can turn from underdeveloped status into a highly developed economy no longer in need of the same stimulus and preferential trade status as when the original agreements were implemented. Tariffs are not the solution—negotiations and a willingness to compromise from all participants when needed will bring resolution.”

While the resilient flooring category drew much of the attention during the tariff tiff between the two countries, hardwood flooring was also impacted. To that end, Michael Martin, president and CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), said no matter which side of the debate people were on, “all agree the uncertainty created an unnecessary burden on the entire industry, making it extremely difficult to plan effectively for both their immediate needs as well as their long-term goals.”

Martin said many hardwood suppliers—unclear about how the tariffs might impact their businesses—reduced production due to decreased orders as purchasers waited to see exactly how the tariffs would be implemented, and how the Chinese government would respond. “NWFA has always advocated for a level playing field for wood flooring suppliers, no matter where the product originates,” Martin said. “These negotiations will have a tremendous impact on accomplishing that goal.”

Not every executive was holding his or her breath waiting for a deal or decision to be struck. Jeff Hamar, president of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Galleher LLC., a top five flooring distributor, said he never expected the increased duties to 25% to go into effect. On the other hand, he is happy it didn’t take place. “The disruption that would have caused to the economy and stock market would have been very negative, and it’s clear Trump doesn’t want any pullback in either of those two areas. The two countries need to wrap up and get a deal that all sides think is fair and right. The Chinese clearly need to make bigger moves on IP and technology, but we will have to give a bit as well.”

Hamar said the “real question” is what happens to the 10% that is currently in effect, “as this has big implications in several short- and long-term areas.”

In his role as CEO of the Decorative Hardwoods Association, formerly known as Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, Kip Howlett represents the hardwood plywood, hardwood veneer and engineered hardwood flooring industries. His take is that over the last several decades China has taken advantage of the U.S. in trade, “and the president is trying for the first time to level the playing field. This delay signals progress is being made but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Don Maier, CEO, Armstrong Flooring, said the delay in implementing a potential tariff increase will allow for continued negotiation without an immediate impact to costs and pricing across the industry. Even before tariffs became a headliner, Maier said Armstrong had made substantial investments to expand its capacity in the U.S., including developing LVT production lines at plants in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Oklahoma.

Specifically to U.S.-China trade, USFloors’ Dossche said he wants the U.S. administration “to play hardball” in these negotiations with China and truly achieve some major reforms, not only in tariffs but also in the way IP is respected and businesses can invest in China freely.

“Healthy trade between partners must be a win-win situation for it to thrive and last,” he said. “During the last several decades we have seen our position deteriorate. It is time to take a firm stance and bring back equilibrium. Not through tariffs but with dialogue and negotiations where all parties can walk away from the table knowing they have been treated fairly.”

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Fuse Alliance convention: Optimism abounds amidst bright industry outlook

By Reginald Tucker

 

Geoff Gordon, Fuse Alliance executive director, provided members with an update on the group’s activities to date during the general session.

Orlando—The 2019 Fuse Alliance conference hosted a record turnout of contractor members here earlier this month—a clear indication of not only the value that membership brings but also reflective of the prospects of the contract commercial industry.

Hence the theme of this year’s convention, “Rise of the Contractor,” which stressed the growing importance of Fuse Alliance members in the execution and facilitation of commercial flooring projects around the country. “The world is changing and our role has gotten bigger,” said Geoff Gordon, Fuse executive director, during his opening remarks to attendees. “In this changing environment, there’s strength in numbers.”

Gordon attributed the good fortunes commercial flooring contractors are experiencing—and, by extension, the fortunes of the association at large—to several key factors. The most prominent being the shift in the types of products being specified for many projects today. What was primarily carpet tile and sheet vinyl decades ago has evolved into higher-end hard surface products such as ceramic tile, porcelain, hardwood new high-performance resilient offerings as well as innovative surface treatments such as stained and polished concrete.

“We’re probably 60/40 hard surface to soft surface today,” Gordon stated. “And lot of it has to do with the changeover in products and what’s being specified in projects across the country.”

That shift is also inherent in the sales activity Fuse Alliance contractor members are seeing within their lineup of 43 preferred vendors—seven of which were added in 2018 alone. “Our sales with the suppliers in the group were up 10.5%, while the commercial contract flooring industry was only up 3%,” Gordon stated. “In fact, we grew with almost every supplier except two, and essentially all that growth was in hard surface.”

Juxtaposed with that 10.5% growth across the board, Gordon said the group was down 20% in broadloom sales and 5% in carpet tile. “With all that we still grew more than 10%. We can clearly see the transition to hard surface in our numbers. Not that carpet is going away, but we’re seeing a shift for sure.”

One could argue that Fuse Alliance also had a banner year with respect to growth amongst contractor members. According to Gordon, the group added 10 new members since the last convention, with another 15-some-odd members in the queue awaiting review. One Fuse newcomer is All Commercial Floors (ACF), based in Grand Prairie, Texas. ACF is a national floor covering solutions company whose experience resides in the healthcare market as well as general commercial segments including universities and major sports complexes.

“The Fuse Alliance is aggressively and proactively working on what we consider to be one of the primary challenges in our business today—finding and training labor to the high standards we and our customers demand,” said Kevin Jones, president and founder, ACF. “The educational resources Fuse provides will greatly assist our efforts in continuing to sustain the very best operations and installation teams across the country.”

Gordon attributes the increased participation in Fuse—which currently stands at 110 members strong and representing roughly $2 billion in sales—to a need to be a part of something bigger. “We’ve seen a lot of contractor interest in the Fuse network,” Gordon told FCNews. “A lot of it has to do with the value and expertise we bring as an organization, but it also reflects the angst we’re seeing in the business right now regarding tariffs, industry consolidation, etc. I’m very excited about the momentum we’re building.”

Ongoing evolution
Another trend Fuse Alliance management is seeing is an expansion of services contractors are offering. In the old days, a contractor may have specialized in one product category or another. But all that is changing—these days professional contractors are not only rapidly expanding into other, high-margin product categories but also adding post-installation services such as maintenance.

A panel of Mohawk Group executives—led by Mike Gallman, left, the newly appointed president of the commercial division—fielded some tough questions from attendees.

“A lot of our members are still true flooring contractors, but they have expanded beyond carpet and vinyl and they’re getting into other categories such as rubber, ceramic tile and polished concrete,” Gordon said. “As they get more involved with different flooring products—which come with their own lingo, floor prep techniques and so forth—they’re also looking to join organizations and partner because their businesses have become more complicated. Many of our members today are more well rounded because they have to be. Ten years ago a general contractor had to hire a tile contractor, a carpet flooring contractor, etc. Now they want one contractor to do all of that. You could have 30 different finishes on a given project today.”

One such contractor is Seattle-based Legacy Group, which counts Microsoft, Starbucks and companies of that ilk among its client base. According to John Finch, principal owner and founder, the company offers additional services such as furniture dismantle and assembly on top of its traditional carpet tile jobs. “We’ve been known to go into an office space over the weekend and rip out and replace all the carpet and put together new furniture while we’re there,” he said.

The same philosophy applies to maintenance services. After all, what better way for contractors to keep a client in the purchasing loop by maintaining contact with clients over the life cycle of the products they installed? For Fuse, which is putting more emphasis on building a larger scale and reach to service national accounts, this is a high priority.

“If I were to speculate, I would say 60% of our members offer maintenance services—although some are more active than others in this regard,” Gordon stated. “But through our committee efforts we are going to put more energy into maintenance so we can offer it on a national level for big, multi-use clients while educating our other members in the process.”

Abby Reinhard, owner and president of Pittsford, N.Y.-based GP Flooring, who also sits on the Fuse maintenance committee, emphasized the importance of expanding service offerings. “Maintenance makes us more valuable to our suppliers and keeps us in front of our customers more frequently,” she said. One of the main goals, she said, is to establish standard operating procedures to help make it easier for members to get on board with maintenance. “We are trying to use that network of expertise that we already have and gain national accounts.”

Another way Fuse is looking to build on the collective wealth of expertise that exists among its members is the launch of Fuse Technical—a sort of a “hotline” for A&D professionals to utilize with they have tough questions that arise during the product specification phase. Mike Hutton, senior vice president of Fuse, said all too often designers scout out answers from questionable sources online (or they simply call on other designers) when they have questions. But with this new program, he said, designers can reach out directly to Fuse directly. “If I can’t answer any question myself, then I will forward those questions to a Fuse member who operates in a market where the caller is based. You are the experts in your respective fields, and we need to leverage that expertise.”

2019 commercial outlook
Fuse is looking to build on the momentum generated last year and carrying those gains into 2019. Despite ongoing challenges facing the contract commercial marketplace (moisture/mold mitigation, labor shortages, reclamation, pollution control and claims issues chief among them), the group is predicting members will finish the year strong.

“Most of our members expect 2019 will be up as well based on an average five-to-six month backlog of projects already in the pipeline,” Gordon said, citing activity across most sectors, including healthcare, hospitality, education and corporate. The only caveat is retail, which he says has seen some softening. “But as an organization, we are budgeting for double-digit growth.”

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Ceramics of Italy identifies overseas tile trends

Bologna, Italy—Ceramics of Italy recently unveiled its tile trend report, which highlighted new trends the organization saw during Cersaie, the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings held here. Following are seven of the biggest tile trends, according to Ceramics of Italy, as seen in the hundreds of new collections from member manufacturers at the 36th edition of Cersaie.

Systems
For years, Italian tile manufacturers have been expanding the definition of a product, offering specifiers a whole suite of surfacing tools around a single idea or design. At first, it was a range of colors, finishes, and sizes as well as complementing decors and trims. Now, with continued investment in production equipment, many companies are expanding their range of thicknesses—and thus applications—with tiles ranging from 3-30mm including a new 12mm thick porcelain tile specifically designed for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, tables and outdoor kitchens.

Tile play
From three-dimensional tiles that look such as giant Lego bricks (Marca Corona Bold) to popular cartoons illustrated on ceramic (Del Conca Felix the Cat), when projects call for playfulness, Italian tile answers in full. Companies are continuously experimenting with color, size and patterns to create one-of-a-kind surfacing for architects and designers. They also offer tailor made solutions such as Ornamenta’s ability to print large porcelain slabs in any Pantone color.

Lunar marble
Moving beyond common varieties of stone such as carrara, statuario and travertine, Italian tile producers are scouting quarries throughout the world to find obscure marble full of color and character or digitally manipulating the look of natural stone to create something that is literally out-of-this-world. For Sicis’ ever-evolving Vetrite collection, the enchanting magic of 13 gemstones are captured and amplified in between giant sheets of glass to create lunar-like landscapes for the Gem Glass line. Meanwhile, Refin Stardustcombines the nebulous veining of alabaster with elegant metallic surface effects to create a line of porcelain tiles inspired by the nighttime sky.

The blues
Whether soft or electric, blue is one of the hottest hues in tile design this year, offering a revitalizing pop of color to a variety of interiors. Some, such as Cedit’s Rilievi sculptural ceramic wallcoverings, are the kind of hyper blue associated with contemporary artists Yves Klein and Frida Kahlo. Others, such as Refin Creos and Provenza Vulcanika, conjure the feeling of vacation and the shallow teal waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Big patterns
Italians are known for their rich artistic heritage, which are now rendered on big porcelain slabs with minimal grout lines to create the alluring effect of wallpaper with the technical benefits of ceramic. In fact, some companies are even marketing their products as ceramic wallpaper, offering an expansive catalog of patterns digitally printed on tiles up to 5.25 x 10 feet. One example is ABK who introduced Dark Edition as a capsule collection inspired by the Gothic side of nature for its ever-expanding Wide&Style line. Another company is Fuoriformato who offers an explosion of color and pattern on large ceramic surfaces that can also be used as furnishing elements.
Neu surfaces
This year, it wasn’t just the patterns and sizes that impressed with their seemingly endless variety and sense of inventiveness. Tile producers have completely upped the ante in terms of surface design, which can be seen in dozens of awe-inspiring, new finishes and textures designed for aesthetics as well as functionality. Two collections that artfully demonstrate this trend as well as ceramic tiles’ chameleon capabilities include Ceramica Sant’Agostino Lakewood that conjures oiled wood planks with a hand planed surface and Vallelunga Cavawhose marble design and satin finish looks such as an ancient European church floor.

Tradition
From ancient forms and 18th century patterns to tiles inspired by charming places seemingly stuck in time, Italian tile manufacturers are finding creative ways to make the old feel new again. Mixed and matched patterns, such as those of 14oraitaliana’s Folk and Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s Vita collections, evoke the imagery and vibrant colors of Italy’s most famous and beloved territories. Fioranese’s Liquida slabs resemble 1950’s-style wallpaper, while the earthy tones and textured surfaces of Provenza’s Terraquea collection recall traditional terracotta ware. Designed with nostalgic sentiments, each of these collections combine the aesthetic and cultural qualities of the past with the technological innovations of today.

Many of these and other new tile lines available in the U.S. market will be showcased at Coverings, taking place April 9-12 in Orlando, Fla.