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Nox buys Hunter Douglas’ production facility in Korea

Acquisition expands manufacturing capabilities

 

At Surfaces 2019 Nox put the spotlight on Loom+ product, a product with a vinyl core topped with carpeting.

Las Vegas—Nox Corp., one of the largest worldwide manufacturers of LVT, recently announced the acquisition of Hunter Douglas Korea’s R&D center, production facility and window blinds business unit. The acquisition will allow Nox to continue developing new woven products and technologies such as carpets, rugs, mats and interior field surfaces.

Specifically, the acquisition will help Nox increase production capacity of its Loompremium woven tile brand, which was showcased here at TISE last month. The product—which closely resembles carpet but reported offers additional benefits over traditional soft surface tiles—utilizes a surface coating technology that aims to provide superior stain-resistance.

“Compared to regular carpet, Loom+ holds clear advantages: better durability and easier maintenance while being more eco-friendly,” said Jee Eun Lee, director, product planning and marketing team, Nox. “Loomdoes not cause odor or dust buildup, making it a more attractive choice than regular carpet.”

Nox’s purchase of the Hunter Douglas facility in South Korea reflects synergies with the company’s existing operations. For example, through this acquisition, Nox will be able to apply its integrated vertical production system to woven tiles as well. According to Lee, this allows the company the capability to manufacture the products completely in-house, including each component to the finished product. “Our competency lies in producing everything in house—from the top layer to printing to middle layer to lower layer,” Lee told FCNews. “When we launched Loom, we had to get supply from other facilities. “Now we can manufacture all the yarns and weaving together.”

With the acquisition of Hunter Douglas Korea’s R&D center and production facility, the company plans to establish NOX “Texterior,” a division that will operate as a separate entity within the corporation. By continuing to work closely with Hunter Douglas Korea, Nox Texterior will strengthen production and increase sales of its sunscreen business unit both inside and outside Korea.

“Our company’s vision is to expand our product portfolio,” Lee said. “The acquisition will also lower prices for our customers.”

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Credit: No-interest terms capture consumers’ attention

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

It’s no secret that offering financing to a consumer can be an important step in closing the sale. When purchasing big-ticket items such as new flooring, it can be easier for consumers to pay for the purchase over time rather than having to dole out thousands of dollars in one sitting. However, instead of simply offering a credit solution, dealers should consider what terms of financing truly capture consumer interest.

For Adam Pace, chief financial officer of Metro Floors in Lancaster, Calif., any "same-as-cash" offer works well with customers. “It is basically free money. The reason financing works well is it’s easier for a customer to swallow 18 equal payments of $278 rather than paying $5,000 all at once.”

Pace attributed consumer interest in monthly payments rather than one-time, big-ticket purchases to the auto industry. “Look at the fact that they have 84-month loans on new cars, just to make the monthly payment lower. No one looks at what they are paying in total—just the monthly payment.”

Many flooring dealers find success offering 12 to 24 months with no interest financing. Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa., for example, offers 12-, 18- and 24-month programs at 0% daily. What’s more, the retailer occasionally offers 36 months at 0%, which he said is the store’s most successful promotion. “We’ve run them twice annually since 2013 and they are always extremely successful,” Steve Weisberg, president, told FCNews. “Financing has become part of our DNA.”

While some retailers find success offering up to three years with no interest, some stores prefer to stay within the one- to two-year range. Case in point is Craig Phillips, president of Ohio-based Carpet Country in Twinsburg and Barrington Carpet & Flooring Design in Akron. Phillips noted 18 months is the longest term his stores will offer. “Our floor pricing does not accommodate the ability to pack on large interest rates for longer terms to the customer. Therefore, the most we offer is 12 to 18 months no interest. Interest charges for terms longer than 18 months are too expensive in our mind.”

Phillips said the only time his stores offer longer terms is when buy downs are available during manufacturer national sales. “Consumers will occasionally ask for longer terms, but not offering it doesn’t really have any negative impact for us,” he added.

Charles F. Zeigler & Sons in Hanover, Pa., offers its customers credit solutions through Synchrony Financial. “Our customers prefer one year or more with no interest,” said Bill Zeigler, president.

In addition to offering financing, Zeigler also tracks other home furnishing retailers in his area to determine what credit terms work best for them. “The stores offering 24 months up to five years with no interest seem to be charging much higher prices for their merchandise. I don’t necessarily agree with this method, but it is apparently working for them.”

George McMurtry, owner of America’s Carpet Outlet in State College, Pa., said a small but growing segment of customers are expecting the store to provide some form of free financing. For McMurtry, this includes extended terms such as six, 12 and 24 months, as well as other options. While the store does offer these terms, he said it sometimes encounters customers who expect to pay the same price as those who are not financing. “Customers who are interested in financing certainly do not want to feel they are paying a higher price vs. someone who is not financing the same purchase,” he explained. “However, we do see the occasional customer who knows we offer financing and demands a lower price if she chooses not to finance her purchase. Our approach is to simply suggest we don’t ask how a customer intends to pay before we tell her the final purchase price.”

Despite offering consumers the option of financing their purchases, America’s Carpet Outlet finds the largest percentage of its customers are more interested in using their own credit cards—many of which offer rewards such as cashback and gift cards. He noted that many of his customers demand and expect the store to take all major credit cards.

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Laminate Surfaces coverage: Suppliers leverage latest technological advances

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

By Reginald Tucker

 

Las Vegas—It’s no secret that much of the attention (and real estate) on the show floor during TISE was trained on LVT/WPC/SPC products. But that didn’t stop laminate flooring suppliers from showcasing their latest innovations as a means to regain market share from the red-hot resilient category.

Indeed, some of the industry’s top laminate flooring suppliers are utilizing technology to bolster the category’s already well-known attributes—durability, realism, ease of maintenance and, more recently, resistance to water incursion. The goal, suppliers say, is to remind retailers and consumers that there are legitimate alternatives to WPC.

Mannington, for example, is emphasizing the category’s performance aspects—even if that means de-emphasizing the word laminate. “We’ve taken the ‘L’ word out of laminate,” said Dan Natkin, vice president of hardwood and laminate. “We’re not really calling it laminate because there are some preconceived notions about the category. Instead, we talk about the category from the performance standpoint; it’s really one of the best residential—and even commercial— flooring products you can get in terms of indentation and scratch resistance and now even moisture resistance. It’s a product category that really performs and continues to grow for us.”

This unconventional marketing strategy is evident on all of Mannington’s laminate displays, which tout the company’s best-selling Restoration collection as opposed to traditional category identifiers. Display panels tout the line’s features and benefits, including the product’s waterproof attributes. According to Natkin, this is what consumers ultimately respond to.

“Outside of smartphones, I’ve never seen anything take off as quickly as this waterproof thing in terms of how it’s perceived in the minds of the consumer,” he told FCNews. “She walks into the store and asks, ‘Is it waterproof?’”

Some of Mannington’s dealer partners also conduct durability demonstrations on the show floor as a means to drive home the product’s advantages.

“Some of our RSAs take a ball peen hammer to a laminate floor to demonstrate the indentation resistance of the product,” Natkin stated. “This helps dealers get over that initial hurdle.”

The company is so confident in the performance of the product that it has updated its warranty coverage. “Two years ago we introduced technology called SpillShield, which dramatically improved the moisture resistance of laminate,” Natkin explained. “Now we’re able to apply even more and do some more things to make the product more waterproof. The level of moisture it can resist matches the level of any other type of flooring.”

The category rebranding strategy is not unique to Mannington. In fact, prior to Surfaces 2018, Mohawk made the move to designate a whole new category for products that, from a purely construction standpoint, might be considered laminate. And with that, RevWood was born.

“Last year we introduced RevWood here in a major move to rebrand the category and focus on what Mohawk does best—innovation in style and design,” said Adam Ward, senior director of wood and laminate. “Sales grew in a category that was flat or declining. All of that revolves around the story we’re telling—a real wood product that features the industry’s only waterproof solution. The reaction we got from customers was phenomenal.”

Mohawk dealers agree. “It combines the best attributes of laminate flooring—scratch resistance—with the waterproof attribute that has made LVT so popular,” said Matt Norman, owner of Norman’s Floorcovering, Newberg, Ore.

Richard Scherzer, owner of About Floors n’ More, Jacksonville, Fla., concurs. “The waterproof is the magic,” he said.

Looks good, too
Suppliers have also made strides in the aesthetic department. TISE served as the platform for manufacturers to not only launch new laminate products but also extend existing collections. Mohawk, for instance, added 14 SKUs to RevWood Plus this year and took the wraps off RevWood Select. (RevWood Select features standard bevel, while RevWood Plus boasts the GenuEdge bevel. Built on a step-up platform, Select provides a 10 year warranty vs. lifetime warranty with RevWood Plus.

The new lines and extensions bring the total RevWood offering to more than 50 SKUs. Antique Craft, a wider/longer option available in a 9 ½-inch-wide x 80-inch-long plank, was a key highlight at the booth this year, while Southberry, which is a similar looking product to Antique Craft but not as wide, made its official debut.

Then there’s Western Ridge, non-oak, wirebrushed pine look; Crest Haven, which boasts a reclaimed saw-cut visual; and Woodcreek oak, which aims to strike a balance between rustic and fashion forward.

“We’ve taken some of our best-selling designs in RevWood Plus and converting them to Select,” Ward said. “All of the latest style and color designs are in there.”

Dealers like what they’re seeing. “The realistic wood looks, the quality of the embossing and the length of the boards are all key selling points,” Scherzer noted.

Mannington also rolled the dice on new introductions. Its top-selling Acadia series gets two new colors (brown with a touch of gray and a true gray tone). Meanwhile, the featured installed floor in the laminate corner of the booth showcased an embossed in register plank in plank design called Station Pine. “We purchased some old reclaimed pine and then we scanned it and began manipulating it to create that plank in plank look,” Natkin said. “It’s going like gangbusters.”

Other major laminate suppliers have also expanded their best-selling lines to keep up with consumer demand. Inhaus, for instance, unveiled trendy, new realistic wood looks such as Danville, Parkwood and Eden. It’s all about giving retail and distributor partners more affordable options that still perform well compared to their resilient counterparts.

“Laminate has a lower cost of production than PVC and at the end of the day it is a good, old wood-based product that has some inherent value over plastic,” said Derek Welbourn, CEO. “We will continue to create an amazing amount of value with our laminate offering and focus on promoting the competitive advantages that laminate has over other categories—mainly, design, cost and wear. It’s an amazing value proposition that people shouldn’t forget about.”

Eye-catching new laminate looks and merchandising vehicles were also on display at the Legendary Floors booth. The company is so optimistic about laminate flooring’s potential in the U.S. market that it revamped its entire laminate program. The company is launching 12 new products—four 8mm products and eight lines in an 8mm format—both with a pad attached. Also, a revamped merchandiser features manageable samples with full room scenes on the back of the panel. The space-saving unit allows dealers to showcase 40 SKUs in a relatively small footprint.

“With all the SPCs and vinyl products out there, people are finding they are not the indestructible products people thought they were,” said Nathan Carter, West Coast sales manager, SEM Group, parent company of Legendary Floors. “We’re finding a lot of the builders want a laminate product with a water warranty on it. This means you can put it in a bathroom or kitchen as long as you put a silicone on the edges. Any topical water is covered for three days.”

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Wood Surfaces coverage: Introductions reflect imagination, design creativity

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

By Reginald Tucker

 

A subtle shift in the color palette from cool grays to warmer gray/brown tones. Creative surface texture treatments and applications of different stains and finishes. An influx of wood/SPC “hybrid-type” products entailing a thin-sliced or peeled real wood veneer over a non-wood rigid core structure. These were among the most visible trends that emerged from the hardwood flooring category at TISE 2019.

Case in point were some of the new introductions from American OEM, maker of the Hearthwood brand. The company rolled out nearly a dozen new SKUs spanning the spectrum from ½-thick engineered offerings to a brand new a 3⁄8-inch product that Allie Finkell, vice president, affectionately called the “tariff buster.” This price-sensitive item (with a suggested retail price point of roughly $4.99 per square foot) represents a slight departure from some of the company’s higher-end, step-up products.

“It’s an alternative, entry-level product compared to some of the imported product we’re seeing out there,” Finkell told FCNews. “It’s great for builder work or smaller areas—it’s not 8 feet long like the rest of our products. It’s 5 feet long by 60 inches and comes in four oak looks and four hickory colors.”

American OEM also extended offerings in its high-end Appalachian Spring line, which features a combination of texturing techniques. As Finkell explained: “One-third of the boards in the box are going to have circular band saw marks, some a little heavier, some a little lighter. Another third of the boards are going to have skip-sawn texture—again, some lighter, some darker. Then we have boards that don’t have anything except for nail holes. The idea is to create the look of floors that came out of the old manufacturing mills.”

While gray tones dominated in recent years, Finkell said consumers are gravitating back toward a more natural palette. “We’re seeing the grays lightening up,” she explained. “It’s a little bit warmer, more tan than the cool gray we’ve seen for so long. With the new introductions we wanted to make sure we accommodated for that.”

At the other end of the same booth Emily Finkell, founder of the Emily Morrow Home collection, displayed her own brand of high-end, exquisitely styled hardwood looks. Inspired by a cross section of regions spanning from African deserts to other exotic locales, the expanded offerings aim to address consumer tastes for unique species, color tones and textures that make a statement. “I’m a designer, so I need to strike the right balance between something that’s both beautiful and saleable,” she explained. For example, she cited travel-inspired names such as Great Migration, which was inspired by a wildebeest herd she witnessed on a safari trip to Kenya; the Heritage collection, whose colors hearken back to America’s historical roots; and Lewis & Clark, which conjures images of the prairie and exploration. “None of these colors will never be dated,” she said.

Another company focusing on unique visuals is Provenza. A past Surfaces innovation award winner, the company sought to give its customers more of that unique style for which it is known in both specified commercial and high-end residential circles. While the company has been turning heads of late with its realistic LVP looks, wood is still its forte.

“In our genuine wood products we are featuring European oak with a shrunken face, which gives a very uneven veneer,” said Ron Sadri, principal owner. “It gives you a little bit of movement in the veneer to the point that you have some overwood and cracks, but it looks very natural.”

Provenza also put the spotlight on its herringbone pattern available in its custom line of ¾-inch engineered product. It’s also seeing continued interest in its Lighthouse Cove, which won a Best of Surfaces award in 2017. “It’s still moving fairly well, although it’s mostly going on the walls,” Sadri told FCNews.

Creative wall/flooring applications as well as a bevy of fresh new colors were also on display across the showroom floor at the DuChâteau booth. There, the company unveiled 12 new visuals across three collections: Grande Savoy, Herringbone and Varació.

The Grande Savoy collection is inspired by the expansive floors in European chateaus and castles, while Herringbone offers the visual interest and sophisticated wire-brushed textures. Varació, which comes in random width planks, aims to add sophistication to any space. All feature DuChâteau’s signature hard-wax oil finish, which provides an elegant matte finish and develops individual patinas as the floor ages. “Today’s customer is looking for elegance and individuality in their homes, and our new styles add that special touch,” said Mitch Tagle, CEO and co-founder of DuChâteau. “The pattern and width variations of our new collections create a truly distinctive look.”

Mixing it up
While some companies focused primarily on new colors, others experimented with mixed species and various-sized boards. That was the case at the Mannington booth, which turned heads with products like Triumph as well as a unique species called Bengali Bay. “We took a bit of a risk coming out with some leading-edge colors where we’re blending multiple colors in a carton along with a traditional brown and coffee,” said Dan Natkin, vice president of hardwood and laminate. “But the dealer reaction has been amazing.”

Jason Stafford, general manager, Stafford’s Discount Carpet, Redlands, Calif., was genuinely impressed. “What Mannington was able to do is in one box you get a maple, hickory and oak that are all stained the same color. So you get varying grains, visuals and slightly different colors due to the different species.”

This trend was evident in other spaces, including the Pinnacle/EarthWerks booth. All eyes were on the Calico collection, which features vividly contrasting colors, multiple species, varied textures and alternating widths. “It’s a calculated formula in terms of how it’s packaged in every box so when the installer takes it out of the box they don’t have to worry about it,” said Brenda Cashion, vice president of marketing, “It blends as well with one box as it does out of 60.”

Meanwhile, EarthWerks gets the Costa Brava collection, which features the natural grain and beauty of French white oak. The line boasts slightly beveled edges and ends that accentuate the width and length of individual planks, and incorporates burls, knots and mineral streaks for added character.

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Resilient Surfaces coverage: New displays, products aim to simplify congested category

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.”

Fresh faces
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.”

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Carpet Surfaces coverage: Mid-sized mills find ways to stake their claims

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

By Ken Ryan

 

For all the consternation and hand-wringing about the woes of the carpet industry in the face of a hard surfaces onslaught, you’d be hard pressed to find a mill executive at Surfaces bemoaning his place in the market.

Smaller mills have found a niche in higher-end goods with differentiated looks to keep growing their business, in many cases by taking market share. “The only upside to losing floor space to hard surfaces is when consumers are buying carpet they are buying a better priced carpet,” John Sheffield, vice president of marketing for Gulistan, told FCNews during Surfaces. “With that, the average selling price is going up. Better goods are easier to sell than ever before. When consumers are spending $4 [per square foot] for wood, spending $2 for carpet is not a big deal to them.”

In recent years, several carpet mills have branched out into hard surfaces—primarily WPC/SPC. However, carpet remains the primary focus for mills such as Engineered Floors. “Carpet is not dead,” said Joe Young, soft surface category manager for Engineered Floors, which saw its business increase more than 20%—or $200 million—in 2018.

Even as it expands its hard surface portfolio in residential remodel and Main Street commercial, Engineered Floors is first and foremost a carpet company with big ambitions. “We’re doubling down on where the growth in the industry is going—solution-dyed polyester,” Young said. “I don’t see anyone getting into anything else. These days, if it is not soft, multicolor polyester, it is hard to sell.”

In 2019, Engineered Floors is putting emphasis on its “destination showroom” for its residential brand (Dream Weaver) dealers. The new merchandising lineup includes three space-saving pedestal displays showcasing Dream Weaver for residential replacement, as well as Dwellings for new homes and Pentz for Main Street. Engineered Floors also updated its PureBac Destination color wall display.

Despite expanding its presence in the LVT space with new Stainmaster PetProtect offerings, Phenix Flooring’s roots are firmly planted in soft surfaces. That was illustrated at Surfaces with the introduction of Modern Contours, a line of 14 styles inspired by the fashion and couture bridal industries. “We’re getting tremendous response from our customers,” said Mark Clayton, CEO. “Our color direction and our pattern direction are getting the most notice.”

The materials and knitting techniques used to create Modern Contours are intended to create a high-end look to a room. Jason Surratt, senior vice president of product and design for Phenix, said the collection gives homeowners more flexibility and freedom to design creatively. “The design process Jason and his team have employed to create this collection is like nothing Phenix has ever explored before,” Clayton said.

Dave Snedeker, executive vice president, Bob’s Carpet & Flooring, Clearwater, Fla., also shared in Clayton’s enthusiasm. “Phenix’s new lines are their best introductions in years.”

At Stanton Carpet, new product development remains a core competency. The manufacturer/ importer showed off 112 styles and more than 700 SKUs with a phased rollout scheduled to launch in the coming months. Jonathan Cohen, CEO, said thriving in an age when hard surfaces is so dominant requires being aggressive and taking share. “You take calculated risks. Sometimes what you think is a single becomes a home run and what you think is a home run is a double.”

Cohen is confident that Cable Beach, a flat loomed, specialized polyester fiber that can be used indoors or outdoors, will be a big hit in 2019. “The look has gotten a lot of reaction. It’s our first non-machine made [product].” Stanton Street Decorative Commercial, a new collection of 17 high-fashion carpet tiles and broadloom tailored for the decorative Main Street commercial market, shows great promise as well.

The departures of Royalty Carpet Mills and Beaulieu, both strong Stainmaster players, created an opportunity for the likes of Gulistan to stake its claim. Now in its second year since the brand was resurrected, Gulistan is carefully introducing new Stainmaster products the company said it believes can provide solutions. “We’re not in a position to throw a lot of new products into the market if there is not a likelihood of success,” Sheffield told FCNews.

The Dixie Group, another Stainmaster player, grew mid-single digits in residential carpet last year. “We play in the residential replacement business and that business was down mid-single digits in 2018, so we were 6% to 7% ahead of the market,” said T.M. Nuckols, president, residential division.

To keep that momentum going, the company is hoping EnVision66, a collection of 10 products made with nylon 6,6 fiber, will be a standout. “It is a very simple program for retail sales associates to sell with common colors and a single price point.” Nuckols said nylon 6,6 provides a point of differentiation from other nylon products in the market.

Masland said it is expecting a strong year in nylon with Stainmaster PetProtect styles as well as a refresh of its wool offerings. At Fabrica, the goal is to build on its recent success in both nylon and wool, with new designs that round out and complement the current offerings.

In 2018, Marquis leveraged its new, state-of-the-art twisting and heat seating equipment to produce carpeting with lower profiles to meet consumers request. The process provides a high-density level for better performance and durability. Proof of that is a new 2019 offering called Phenomenal, a solution-dyed polyester. “It’s got the hand that consumers really want—not blown up,” said Chet Graham, president. “It has a nice, clean profile and twist rate.” Graham said dealers should expect to see additional color combinations using solution-dyed fibers to achieve more sophisticated styling.

Every flooring company touts differentiation, but few can truly define it the way Anderson Tuftex can as it pairs carpet and hardwood in its new introductions. Anderson Tuftex drew raves for both soft and hard surfaces. Unleashed features carpets made with Stainmaster PetProtect fibers with built-in stain protection and pet hair resistance to make clean up easier. “Anderson Tuftex fulfilled all my Stainmaster needs,” said Rob Elder, co-owner of Hiller’s Flooring America, Rochester, Minn.

These pet-friendly carpets have been curated with two new hardwood additions: Kensington and Buckingham. Crafted from white oak harvested in the Appalachian Mountains and manufactured in South Carolina, Kensington and Buckingham are premium, sawn-face, white oak floors designed to timelessly add refinement to any home.

Anderson Tuftex went so far as to visit pet stores to gather research and information on pets and flooring. “We learned that pet-friendly products will usually lack style and design while it will have performance and durability,” said Katie Ford, director of brand strategy. “We have the style and design and performance.”

Southwind insists it is a carpet mill, but its mix of hard surface to soft is now 60/40. At Surfaces, Southwind pushed Classic Traditions, a solution-dyed polyester that provides an upscale look at a value price point. The company occupied a larger booth than previous years, and that may have contributed to an increase in activity. “We did more business in the first day than we did the entire show last year,” said Richard Abramowicz, executive vice president of sales and chief marketing officer.

 

Mohawk shows off its technology, marketing might
Las Vegas—Mohawk backed up its massive booth presence at Surfaces with an impressive array of technology and new products. At the top of the list on the soft surface side was ColorMax, its innovative dyeing process used on select SmartStrand and Karastan styles.

ColorMax, which won a Best of Surfaces award for innovation (see story on page 14), stands out for its ability to provide blended colorations, superior color clarity, enhanced color saturation and maximum performance. “ColorMax is high-definition carpet,” Jamie Welborn, vice president, residential product management, told FCNews.

For 2019, Mohawk is introducing four ColorMax styles in the SmartStrand Silk Reserve product portfolio. In addition to the infusion of ColorMax products, the Silk Reserve line is also expanding with more patterns. Three additional ColorMax styles are being added to Mohawk’s revamped Ultra Colorwall. They will join four new solid products featuring an updated 48-color palette and two new tailored tonal styles that offer subtle tone-on-tone colorations. All styles in the Ultra collection feature Forever Clean and All Pet Protection.

Air.o
As Air.o gains traction in the retail channel, Mohawk is beefing up marketing efforts around the hypoallergenic soft flooring for 2019. The manufacturer is providing dealers with five reasons why they can succeed with Air.o.:

  1. Double your market opportunity for soft flooring.
  2. Maximize the volume of your highest-margin category.
  3. Separate yourself from your competitors.
  4. Simplify your installation process.
  5. Increase customer satisfaction.

“The environmental story, the hypoallergenic story with Air.o really resonates with millennials,” Welborn said. “I see it as the future of soft flooring.”

Four new multicolor Air.o styles will be added to the current 12-style assortment. With multiple price points and thicker weights, these additions provide customers with greater design options while offering an easy-to-clean, VOC-free floor.

New Air.o additions—Rest Assured I (40 oz.), Rest Assured II (50 oz.), Peaceful Moments I (45 oz.) and Peaceful Moments II (55 oz.)—offer innovative styling with new multicolor yarns.

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Exhibitors rise to the occasion at TISE 2019

Vendors give retailers the tools they need to succeed

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

By FCNews staff

 

Las Vegas—Long touted as the flooring industry’s “main event,” TISE 2019 (The International Surface Event) lived up to its pre-show billing by virtually every metric—retailer enthusiasm, vendor participation and educational session attendance, to name a few.

“The exhibitors that we talked to said it’s been a really good show—a lot of traffic,” Amie Gilmore, SEM, Surfaces show director, told FCNews on the third day of the show. “More importantly, exhibitors said they were seeing the right people, too, so they were happy about that. There were fewer companies, but a lot of exhibitors reserved more space to show more product. We’ve had a couple hundred re-sign for next year’s show already.”

While registration figures were not available as of press time, Informa—which manages TISE—believes anecdotal information bodes well for the event.

“Right now we don’t have numbers, but the feel of it was good,” Gilmore stated. “What we have found over the last few years is retailers are sending more people. Instead of sending their top two people, they will also bring, say, their marketing and sales team and have them attend some classes. Just as the building and construction industry has gotten more positive and grown it has allowed the retailers to be more profitable and afford to bring more people.”

Show management noticed a lot of delayed flights into Las Vegas, which may have impacted the first wave of the busy first morning of the show. But according to Gilmore, attendees arrived a little bit later than usual, but the floor was still busy at 5 p.m. “Some companies have parties or happy hours at the end of the day and that keeps a lot of people on the floor,” she stated. “That really helps, and we encourage it.”

While there are countless reasons to attending Surfaces (i.e., the educational sessions, networking opportunities and social events), it all goes back to the latest and greatest innovations in flooring. “New product introductions are always talked about, but there’s buying, too,” Gilmore said. “A lot of people come here and do their buying for the year. A lot of that [buying] happens on the last day—that’s when they get the deals.”

But it’s not the only draw. Informa reports attendance at its technical sessions was up as well.  “Attendance was up from last year for sure,” Gilmore said. “The session schedule could have also been part of the buzz on the floor, as classes weren’t held all day. Plus, we still had a full day of education the day prior to the show. The way we had it set up also meant there was more opportunity for networking. One reason we changed it up was to bring in more speakers. Of course, we bring back the speakers who are popular year after year, but we also wanted to shake it up a little bit. We also wanted to make it easy—we only had three classes going on at the same time. If you were in one class and decided it wasn’t for you, you could walk across the hall to something else. We wanted to cater to the attendees, and I think it was more successful for the most part.”

Following is an overview of some of the most notable trends seen across the various flooring categories. (For more specific details on the respective product segments, see each beat section within this issue.)

Carpet
Market research shows carpet continues to lose share to hard surfaces, but anecdotal evidence suggests carpet mill executives aren’t throwing in the towel. Instead, they remain determined to find ways to succeed in the flooring industry, which was evidenced at Surfaces 2019 where higher-end goods featuring textured patterns and new colorways seemed to be everywhere.

“I can’t say we are in the carpet business—we are in the fashion business, we make statements,” said Len Andolino, executive vice president – residential division for Couristan, which showed 84 different styles at Surfaces.

Couristan was among several mid-sized mills who showed off eye-catching products at Surfaces. For some, the emphasis at the show was not so much on the product but the display as several new merchandising displays were shown from the likes of Couristan, Engineered Floors and Anderson Tuftex.

Technology was another focal point in carpet. Mohawk’s ColorMax—an innovative dyeing process that is used on select SmartStrand and Karastan styles— won a Best of Surfaces award for technology (see page 14).

ColorMax, which produces what the company called “high-definition: carpet, stands out for its ability to provided blended colorations, superior color clarity, enhanced color saturation and maximum performance.

For 2019, Mohawk is introducing four ColorMax styles in the SmartStrand Silk Reserve product portfolio. In addition to the infusion of ColorMax products, the Silk Reserve line is also expanding with more patterns.

Engineered Floors, already a top three carpet mill, enjoyed growth rates of between 20% and 30% in 201, and is doubling down on solution-dyed polyester. “That’s where the growth of the industry is,” said Joe Young, soft surface category manager. “These days, if it is not soft multicolor polyester, it is hard to sell.”
Several smaller mills have expanded into hard surfaces in recent years, but virtually all of them have not lost sight of what got them into the business in the first place—carpet. Phenix introduced 40 new carpet products and drew praise from flooring dealers for its Modern Contours collection 14 styles grouped into three designer-curated palettes. Phenix employs unique yarn technologies to create this vivid aesthetic, all part of its strategy to deliver diversification of design to the market.

Resilient
In addition to presenting a plethora of new products spanning from vinyl sheet to LVT to rigid core, resilient manufacturers focused on updating merchandising displays to assist RSAs in selling the increasingly congested category.

Manufacturers such as Raskin Industries, EarthWerks, Mannington, Mohawk, Novalis and USFloors—to name a few—made major investments in merchandising. The days of multiple resilient merchandising displays are slowly fading as these new displays provide flooring dealers with a one-stop-shop for all or most of the segment’s flooring, experts say.

One of these displays was Mannington Mills’ Adura Selling Solution, which was launched mid-2018. “You have one display with 80 colors,” said Jimmy Tuley, vice president, residential resilient business. “You can pick the color and then pick your construction. You can have a glue-down LVT, a rigid product or a WPC product all in the same visual. We also tell the corresponding technical story.”

In terms of product, rigid core stole the show with more manufacturers taking on the segment. USFloors, for example, launched COREtec Stone and COREtec Wood—the manufacturer’s latest product lines made with a refined mineral core. Both products received significant attention from show attendees, including Ben Morris of Carpet Corner, Gearhart, Ore. “We do a lot of business with COREtec. We’re really interested in the waterproof wood flooring. We’re ordering both the new COREtec Wood and COREtec Stone displays.”

While rigid products seemed to make an appearance at nearly every resilient booth, sheet and LVT/LVP products were not forgotten. Jody Robison, president of Red Mountain Flooring in Idaho Falls, Idaho, cited Karndean Designflooring’s Art Select premium glue-down product. “We have two resort areas within 90 miles of us that currently use hickory and pine in a lot of their vacation properties. We’re excited to be able to offer a new product that will be more suited for the climate, with a lot less maintenance, while still having the look of real wood.”

Jeff Macco, CEO and treasurer, Macco’s Floor Covering Center, Green Bay, Wis., took note of Armstrong Flooring’s latest luxury vinyl offerings. “We’ve been an Armstrong customer for 50 years. It’s exciting to us to see Armstrong refocus on something that they were always an industry leader in. Some of their LVT and LVP products are new and exciting.”

Tile
It’s undeniable that the tile category is a challenge for the industry—price points are high and installation is not only a skill but a science. However, tile manufacturers say they are anything but weary of the upcoming year.

That, manufacturers agree, is not only because the look and feel of tile has evolved greatly over the past few years—thanks to advancing technologies—but because tile’s place in the home continues to evolve as well. No longer is tile relegated to the kitchen and bath. Now it has wound its way across a number of surfaces within the home.

“If you were just dealing with the floors, and that was the only category, I’d probably say [tile] was down to low single digits as it relates to the industry,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer, Emser Tile. “However, the applications are expanding, people have moved to indoor/outdoor, up their walls and to feature spaces. It’s a lot easier to install, too—the setting material industry is there. We’re developing more wall products with coordinating, floor-rated collections.”

Manufacturers agree the indoor/outdoor phenomenon has moved beyond a trend and has become a new design driver for some homeowners. The desire to expand the living space into the outdoors means new introductions capable of withstanding the elements while retaining tile’s nuanced design features. Vendors at the show launched numerous collections touting outdoor durability interwoven with eye-catching style.

Large formats also continue to dominate, as several tile vendors at the show launched new lines boasting large plank or slab styles. Plank sizes such as 12 x 24 remain popular with formats such as 12 x 48 gaining momentum. However, vendors note that larger-sized mosaic tiles are also starting to see success. Sizes such as 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 were seen in different colors, textures and materials, launched across brands.

When it comes to design, wood looks also continued to dominate at this year’s show as both vendors and retailers noted the style’s demand among consumers. However, instead of just replicating the look of wood, more vendors can now boast textured tiles as well.

In terms of color, vendors believe the noir fad has faded and evolved into a full-fledged style statement. Black is the new gray in today’s market, and vendors agree the color is here to stay. Many launched a variety of versatile collections boasting the stark colorway.

As the year continues, both vendors and retailers agree the evolution of tile, and the technology used to style it, will continue to bring value to the category.

Wood
Arguably the most aspirational product—although it has ceded some market share to look-alike product categories—hardwood still continues to evolve. Surfaces 2019 served as the launchpad for a variety of products featuring innovative surface finishing techniques, low-luster yet durable finishes and longer/wider boards featuring different species, widths, colors and stains.

Ian Newton of Oxnard, Calif.-based Flooring 101, an NFA dealer and long-time Armstrong Flooring dealer liked what he saw in the Armstrong Flooring/AHF Products space. Featured products included popular collections like Timberbrushed, which initially launched in 2017 but has been upgraded with deeper brushing characteristics, largely based on retailer demand and consumer feedback. Other winning lines included Paragon, which boasts scraped and smooth visuals, and Appalachian Ridge, which is both scraped and wirebrushed, although it’s more refined and less rustic than collections like Timberbrushed. And let’s not forget about HomerWood, AHF Product’s premium brand created by Amish craftsmen. These high-end, custom products come in both solid and engineered visuals with the latter available in a hefty 5/8-inch thickness, 4mm veneer in widths up to 12 inches.”

“This is a product that will sell well in our market,” Newton said.

The Buckingham and Kensington hardwood lines from Anderson Tuftex also caught Newton’s eye. Crafted from white oak harvested in the Appalachian Mountains and manufactured in South Carolina, Kensington and Buckingham are premium, sawn-face, white-oak floors that cater to discerning consumer tastes. “The line has really good looks,” Newton said. “The Anderson Tuftex brand has really come up to speed fast.”

Another show stopper was the True collection from Hallmark. The line incorporates tannins, salt and minerals—combined under high pressure and heat to change the colors—to deliver not only rich, natural colors inspired by barns and riverwoods, but also stains that penetrate through the entire depth of the wood plank. “This means you can sand it and it still remains the same color,” said Sylvia Bulanek, marketing director. “If you scratch these floors, you can easily repair it with our oil finish. You not only get these incredible colors but also the natural depth and richness of the color as well. The grain isn’t hidden by the finish we put on it.”

Other highlights included new longer/wider, premium-sawn face hardwood flooring products from Mohawk. These included three new 3/8-inch-thick x 6 ½ inch-wide collections such as Cherokee Ridge, which complements 2018’s Canyon Lodge; Highland Trench, a maple product available in lighter colorations in gray tones; and Spring Valley, a rotary-peeled oak with a subtle wirebrushed texture and standard micro-bevel edges.

“The goal was to come out with some other products to hit additional price points and updated colors our customers have been asking for,” said Adam Ward, senior director of wood and laminates. “And since it’s made in our Danville, Va., plant, it gives retailers a product out of the U.S. that helps avoid some of those tariff issues. Support Made in the USA products resonates with consumers and retailers alike.

Another standout was Mannington’s Triumph collection, which gives the consumer a mixed species look that still works well together visuals. (Suggested retail price is $8-$10 per square foot. “We wanted to do something that was natural yet subtle,” said Dan Natkin, vice president of wood and laminate. “Here we have white oak, maple and hickory all blended in the carton together (a third each) and we tie them together with the same texture and color across the product. Because each species takes color differently, we diluted the stains so they are very translucent. The color shifts and bends depending on the angle of the wood.”

Laminate
The industry’s major laminate flooring suppliers are reaching in the innovation toolbox to develop products to fend off competition from the unrelenting resilient category, particularly LVT. Manufacturers are utilizing technology to bolster the category’s already well-known performance attributes.

Across the show floor retailers were able to see an abundance of laminate flooring products that have eclipsed their predecessors from the early days of laminate in the 90s. Standout products include: CFL’s Atroguard; Mannington’s Restoration collection; Inhaus ultra-realistic, high-performance laminates; and, of course, the ever-expanding and evolving RevWood line from Mohawk (just don’t call it a laminate.).

Suppliers have also made significant advancements in terms of product visuals. More than ever, consumers and retailers alike are hard pressed to tell the difference between real wood and look-alike laminates just by looking at the product. And thanks to innovations in embossing technology and surface ticking, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference even when a consumer reaches down to touch the floor.

Hybrids
Surfaces 2019 also provided the platform to showcase a host of so-called “hybrid” wood floors. These included products like Wellmade Performance Flooring’s Opti-Wood, which features a real wood veneer over a high-density plastic core; and Raintree, an American OEM product featuring a 1.2mm sliced wood veneer over a rigid core, which is then encapsulated with the company’s Ninja PetGuard finish that acts as a sealant that wraps around the pores of the plank’s core. Suppliers say it’s all part of the race to keep up with competing products that offer waterproof capabilities.

As Allie Finkell, vice president, American OEM, put it:For wood people like us, with our legacy, there’s not a lot of value introducing a WPC type of product in a faux visual, but we feel this is a great opportunity for us to get into that waterproof market while maintaining our legacy and integrity in wood.”

Dealers seem to embrace the technology. “We are excited about the new, real wood waterproof floors,” said Penny Carnino, owner of Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile & Hardwood in Tulsa, Okla. “It gives the consumer that has moisture concerns but wants real wood a product.”

 

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SFN dealer partners are in it to win it

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

By Reginald Tucker

 

Danny Crutchfield, SFN vice president, shared his new vision for the group.

Orlando—Of all the issues Shaw Flooring Network dealers need to contend with over the normal course of doing business on a day-to-day basis, fear of commitment is not one of them. That’s because Shaw is giving dealers a slew of reasons to remain loyal to the brand while simultaneously increasing their ownership stake in the network’s success.

Hence the theme of this year’s SFN conference—Commit 2019. As SFN vice president Danny Crutchfield explains, it’s a four-way commitment: “Shaw commits to its SFN members; dealers commit to Shaw; members commit to each other; and dealers commit to the consumer.”

A key aspect of that strategy is encouraging retailers to take control of their own destinies. “We’ve always had a passion for SFN, but we felt we could do more for our retailers and transfer ownership to them,” Crutchfield told FCNews. A big part of that transfer of ownership, he said, was empowering the group’s 18-member dealer council to have much more say in development and direction of SFN’s programs and initiatives. “We wanted this current council to own the network.”

It’s not just lip service. The message of ownership and empowerment was immediately evident from the start of the biennial convention. Rather than having top Shaw Floors executives pontificate about the value of the network to members in attendance, the bulk of the presentations during the general sessions were conducted by SFN dealers—many of which sit on the dealer council.

“The power of the network is the network,” Crutchfield said.  “I am honored and grateful to lead this network. Many of the programs and concepts being rolled out at convention were based on ideas and feedback generated directly by the dealer members.”

SFN dealers in attendance welcome the new approach. “We have been more involved in creating the new SFN than I ever thought we would be,” said Jason Jabara, owner of Jabara Carpet Outlet, Wichita, Kan. “The new SFN is truly dealer driven, so what better way to do that than to hear it directly from us. I’ve been a member of the SFN network for 12 years and a member of the dealer council for five years; I am more excited today than I’ve ever been. The reason why is I’ve seen how Shaw is talking to members, listening to us and working with us to build solutions for our business.”

Jabara is not alone. Mark Carr, owner of Conroe, Texas-based Color Interiors, an SFN member since 1999, is also a believer. “Shaw is a true partner in our business. They listen to our needs and concerns better than any manufacturer out there—whether it’s different displays or classes to teach us at convention.”

John Pierce, owner of Pierce Flooring, Billings, Mont., couldn’t agree more. A long-time Shaw Floors partner and a former SFN council member who sat on the board for 10 years, he has noticed a significant change over the years. “Shaw listens to the council members, and they have responded. There’s never been a time in this industry when the culture of caring and commitment has been better. Whether you are a one-store operation or multiple store, we all have challenges in our business. With Shaw, we can pick up the phone and say we need help here. It’s an incredible value.”

Pierce provided a specific instance where Shaw went above and beyond to address his needs and concerns. “Years ago, we found we needed help in running our company better, so we shared our financials with Shaw so they could serve as sort of a consultant. Six executives flew out to our location, dissected our business and came up with valuable input. Shaw also helped us with some of our technical challenges early on. They’re not just a manufacturer; it’s a partner and a resource.”

Shaw also listened closely to its SFN dealers when they said they wanted more exclusive products—something the company was hesitant to do in the past. “We had a blank slate in terms of what we as dealers thought SFN should be, and we immediately asked for exclusive products,” Jabara stated, citing the newly launched COREtec ColorWall as an example. It represents and extension of the soft surface ColorWall, the signature merchandising unit of the Shaw Flooring Network and one of the longest running displays in the industry. “I’m proud to say Shaw now has exclusive products. And it’s an example of what we mean by the term dealer driven. It’s an illustration of the fact that Shaw is listening to us and is willing to build programs that fit our needs and are beneficial to our businesses.”

For Shaw executives, that was precisely the point. As Tim Baucom executive vice president, residential, told attendees during the general session,“We are committed because you are important to us. We’re bringing our best for our best and prioritizing our best product and services. From our first convention, Discovery 98, we sought to create a unique and sustainable bond and balance your independence with the power of being connected to something bigger than yourself. SFN brings scale to your entrepreneurial passion.”

Shaw is looking to leverage that passion by taking the Shaw Flooring Network to a whole new level. “I truly believe this network is a great opportunity to grow, and our ambitious goal is to reach $1 billion by 2022,” Crutchfield shared. (At present, roughly 1,600 SFN members generate more than $800 million in business for Shaw.) “We can get there if we’re committed. But to make that happen, we realize we need to strengthen the value proposition of the network.”

Products, programs galore
Part of Shaw Floors’ plans to grow the business for its dealer partners entails a slew of products, displays, programs and various initiatives. Following is an overview of some of them:

Velocity. Currently in its pilot phase, this sophisticated lead-generation program aims to help SFN dealers not only increase their exposure online but also generate (and convert) genuine leads. To help execute the program, Shaw Floors tapped Mobile Marketing, a full-service digital marketing and social agency focused specifically on flooring. The company has a stellar track record. Over the last five years, it has delivered 158,000 leads in market flooring consumers to its clients—that translates into roughly $8.2 million in business.

“We’ve partnered with SFN to figure out how to put together best-in-class flooring solutions for retailers,” said Carole Cross, Mobile Marketing president and CEO. “The strategy lies in how do we find them, engage them, convert them and manage them through the leads process and ultimately how we get them to tell others and share that information through ratings and reviews process.”

Although the pilot program only launched back in early December, SFN retailers are already seeing positive results. “Just 10 days into the program, the phones were ringing and the emails were coming in,” said Reagan Echols, owner of I.Q. Floors, Colorado Springs, Colo. “These were real, legitimate leads. In the past I’ve tried them all—Porch, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, etc. You hope you get legitimate leads every now and again, but these were solid leads—calls from local churches and restaurants.”

Jeffrey Rohal, owner of A&S Carpets, Tratford, Pa., also had a positive experience after only a short time using Velocity. “We got 900 unique visitors to our website the first week in January and we got 33 new leads in the first 10 days in January. It was a title wave—completely unexpected.”

Rohal encouraged other dealers who might be hesitant to try Velocity for themselves. “I’m 64 years old, and I chose to embark on this journey. Carole [Cross] and her team led us through the entire process.”

Emphasis on Anderson Tuftex. It’s not so much about launching a slew of new products, but rather curating existing hard and soft surface collections. That’s according to Teresa Tran, director of soft surface portfolio management, and Katie Ford, director of brand strategy, Anderson Tuftex.

“Everything we’re doing is about pairing hardwood and carpet,” she said, citing the voluminous, 346-page Art & Play product catalogue the company unveiled at SFN conference. “Everything is combined so customers can see how it looks in the home. The average homeowner has multiple surfaces in their homes. The average homeowner has multiple surfaces in their homes; she doesn’t look at it as one product for that room or this one.”

Ford drew particular attention to carpet collections like Reverie, a super soft product paired with lighter-colored hardwoods in the Anderson Tuftex line. Then there’s Unleashed, Shaw Floors’ biggest collection this year. “Everything is made with PetProtect fiber and we’ve had good success with it,” Ford said.

Eye-catching new hardwood products include Metallics, a white oak that Ford described as having been “been kissed with a little bit of metallic shimmer.”

The line also features Shaw’s naturally oxidized aging process (NOA), which speeds the aging process to render a more natural wood tone. Suggested retail price is $13-$14 per square foot.

Other highlights showcased at convention included the new COREtec Stone line from USFloors, a division of Shaw, as well as Floorte- and Repel-branded hardwood offerings. Previously, these collections were relegated to LVT and laminate products, respectively. Also new is a breathtaking array of ceramic tile and stone imported from Mexico, Spain, Turkey, Italy and China, with some products produced locally in the U.S.

Then there’s Floorigami, a modular, peel-and-stick carpet tile previewed for SFN dealers at the 2017 conference. The product features adhesive that easily releases without leaving any residue on the floor, thereby enabling consumers flexibility in design.

 

 

SFN Invoicing 365: Rebates made simple
In keeping with developing programs to make life easier for its dealer partners, Shaw Floors has unveiled Invoicing 365, a new program that dramatically simplifies how dealers track rebates they earn on qualifying products.

As Danny Crutchfield, vice president, SFN, explains: “With all the different products Shaw offers, we would typically send dealers multiple invoices for new displays or new merchandising systems, which have different types of rebates with different percentages based on certain kind of products. For retailers, it was really confusing to get all these invoices and not be able to easily reconcile with the rebates they earn. In keeping with listening to our partners, we felt there was a better way to do it.”

Now, everything is contained in one invoice and retailers get a full 12 months to pay, meaning there's no upfront payment. “Dealers get one rebate and it's a really simple—5% on all qualifying products. The dealer can track that every month, and we send an official quarterly statement that shows them what their initial invoice was along with their remaining balances.”

Brent Zeigler, owner of H&R Carpets, Waunakee, Wis., like the plan. “It gives me one invoice with one year to pay.”

More importantly, the program—which entailed input from members—reflects the fact that Shaw takes dealer feedback seriously. “People can talk about a lot of different things but we've put a lot of talk into action,” Crutchfield stated. “We believe Invoicing 365 is really a big step for us.”

 

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NFA showcase: Fewer vendors, more time for partners

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

By Ken Ryan

 

Ross Oliver and Luxia Hong of Amaz Floors, a new NFA vendor, sample some of their signature products for dealers.

Las Vegas—After years of increasing vendor participation, including a record 49 exhibitors in 2018, the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) decided a little downsizing would yield a more meaningful—and intimate—vendor show.

To that end, the 2019 vendor show, held one day prior to The International Surfaces Event (TISE) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, was trimmed by about 25%.

“Last year’s vendor show was too big; it did not allow retailers the opportunity to spend quality time with each vendor,” said Jason McSwain, NFA president and owner of Cincinnati-based McSwain Carpets and Floors. “This paring down [to 37 vendors] gives us more time and more elbow room in which to work.”

McSwain, who in November 2018 was elected president for a two-year term, said the group’s aim in 2019 is to enhance the profitability of the 42 members in the mix. “That’s what we are tasked with here. Fortunately, the health of the organization is excellent.”

Many retailers felt the new, smaller showcase worked well for their needs. “It’s a win-win situation for us and for the vendors,” Jimmy Poulos, president of Flooring 101, Oxnard, Calif., told FCNews. “The format here is good—it works. What we can do in four hours here would normally take two days to do.”

Kelly Taylor, owner of Ambassador Flooring Co., Chesterfield, Mo., said the easy pace allows for more effective dialogue with vendors. “This is a great way to do it. This is a no-rush, no-pressure situation. We can openly talk in this room because it is all NFA. We don’t have to worry about Joe’s Carpet Mart down the block listening in on our conversations. It makes it easier to do business.”

Tom McConnell, co-owner of Custom Carpet Centers, Buffalo, N.Y., said he loves the intimacy of this environment compared to busy trade shows. Likewise, A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of AJ Rose Carpets & Flooring, Burlington, Mass., makes it a point to visit with each vendor, adding that meeting with 37 vendors vs. 49 allows for more productive conversations.

Elated exhibitors
Vendors appreciated the opportunity to spend that quality time with an elite group of 42 of the industry’s most successful flooring dealers. That fact was not lost on Paul Dominie, vice president of sales at Mobile, Ala.-based Bella Flooring Group, a new vendor at the show. “We are thankful for the feedback and honesty we get from the NFA,” he noted. “They can help you craft programs that will be successful.”

Matthew Siler, chief revenue officer of Bella Flooring Group, said the company’s first-year goal is to build a program of “full-service” visuals. “We are going to stick with the things we know work, bring the most value we can with tremendous visuals that our retail partners can sell successfully and make a good margin.”

DuChâteau was another new vendor at the NFA show. However, no new introductions were needed for retail veteran Gary Cissell, the company’s first buying group and national programs manager, who himself is a former NFA president. During the show, Cissell who was once an executive at Nebraska Furniture Mart, held court with numerous former colleagues. “It’s like old home week for me catching up with a lot of friends,” he told FCNews. As for his new post, he said he was fortunate to land with DuChâteau. “They were looking for a retailer translator—that’s literally what I am. Our proposition is to help the retailer increase their average selling price.”

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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