Posted on

Carpet One members ‘engage’ with consumers, product

Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Orlando—The flooring industry has evolved coIMG_1411nsiderably in recent years and Carpet One Floor & Home’s 2016 winter convention, held at the Orange Country Convention Center here Jan. 9-10, was focused primarily on getting members and their sales associates up to date. “The path to purchase has dramatically changed within the last decade and we’re in front of it now,” said Eric Demaree, Carpet One president.

This year’s theme, “Engage,” consisted of engagement at multiple levels, whether it is between retailers and consumers or sales associates and products. “This whole convention is going to provide retailers with tools to get their employees engaged with our customers, merchandising, marketing and our products,” he continued, “and engaged with the proper level of training so they understand the world has changed.”

Windy Baker, Carpet One Floor & Home, Oro Valley, Ariz., understands adjustments need to be made to survive in the retail landscape. “It’s bringing up a conversation about engaging younger sales staff and millennials into the business not only as employees but also into our stores,” she said. “We need to learn how to relate to that generation and stay current with the times as far as which products we select and how we interact.”

Part of that stems from getting to the consumer earlier as she is searching for inspiration online. Today, over 85% of flooring buyers look to the Internet first for product education, positive reviews, room scenes and design ideas. To address these changed buying habits, Carpet One has developed One Stop Digital Plus—an updated content marketing program designed to help retailers be found online. The program helps with researching local keywords, writing marketing content, posting on social media, and managing ratings and reviews.

“I’ve learned digital marketing is the way our industry needs to go,” said Guy Pylypiw, Oshawa Carpet One Floor & Home, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. “The industry has been far behind for too many years. If we don’t focus on digital we are going to fall behind the big boxes and larger competition.”

In terms of product, Carpet One is introducing programs to keep retailers engaged with their audiences. Cutting Edge Custom Area Rugs is an area rug program that will capitalize on the hard surface category’s increasing growth since a large majority of hard surface purchases are often accompanied by an eventual area rug purchase. Offering custom area rugs to customers will allow dealers to capture more market share as broadloom sales are being lost to hard surface.

IMG_0805

This new program also features a rug calculator, which easily and quickly calculates the cost of any custom area rug, allowing dealers to instantly create rugs with their customers. The online tool can be used on any mobile device.

While area rug sales boast a compelling percentage of flooring sales (10% of the entire industry, which translates to $2 billion, according to Carpet One), dealers will have to think outside the box to switch consumer buying habits for area rugs from mass merchants and online platforms to independent retailers.

Sheila Norton, C.T. Carpet One Floor & Home, Charles Town, W.V., has some ideas. “We are definitely acquiring the new display to complement our hardwood business,” she said. “We are selling more hard surface now and I would like to create an area rug package to give to those customers. The average time a consumer waits to purchase an area rug after her hardwood floor is installed is three weeks so you can use that time to your advantage. It’s just about the same time you would send a thank you card or warranty information, so you can combine that with information on different trends and edging we offer.”

In addition, Innovia and Innovia Touch will receive display updates in the spring. As a naturally soft and durable product in Carpet One’s performance collection, the new graphics will focus on the notion of cleanability, an aspect that resonates heavily with consumers today.

Bigelow featuring Stainmaster will also revamp its display this spring. With three new wing card designs, each card will call out pet safe, active lifestyle or soft touch depending on which attributes apply.

“Everyone has done a good job of putting displays together and the programs are upscaled so that’s what I’m excited about,” said Wayne Kirby, Carpet One Floor & Home, Columbia, S.C., who has attended Carpet One conventions every year for the past 30 years. “We are going to take away how to upsell and sell better products and I think these displays will give us that.”

Posted on

Capri Cork hires Whipple

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 4.41.40 PM

Lititz, Pa.—Travis Whipple has been hired as director of national sales for Capri Cork, a newly created position.

With Capri’s expanded range of flooring products, which includes the recent addition of AVA by Novalis Innovative Flooring, a dedicated director of national sales is the next step to achieving Capri’s long term goals.

Whipple comes to Capri from Spartan Surfaces where he was a sales rep in upstate New York and Connecticut and sold a wide variety of flooring products, including Capri.

Posted on

Carpet Design Awards finalists named

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 4.09.15 PMHannover—The finalists of the Carpet Design Awards 2016 have been named. In November, a jury nominated the best handmade designer carpets for the final round of the international competition. Presented in eight categories, the Carpet Design Awards honor the outstanding quality and design of the world’s best carpets. The number of entrants was particularly high this year, with a total of 320 carpets from 21 countries submitted vs. 250 entrants the previous year. Twenty-four carpets have made it through to the final round and will be on display at Domotex Hannover, slated for Jan. 16-19 here. The categories range from studio artist, classic/traditional and modern designs to best innovation. The winners of each category will be formally announced on Jan. 17 in the Innovations@Domotex area. Finalists are as follows:

Best Studio Artist Design

o    Re Orient, Studio Brieditis & Evans

o    Squeeze, Studio Brieditis & Evans

o    Beauty, Ayka Design

Best Modern Design Superior

o    Crystallized – Ice, Creative Matters

o    Aleph, Naziri OHG

o    Emerald 1, Art Resources

Best Modern Design Deluxe

o    Electric Taupe, Hossein Rezvani Design OHG

o    New Orleans from Bruno Moinard, Chevalier édition

  • Taittu, Free Verse, Jaipur Rugs

Best Traditional Design

o    Yildiz, Öz-kent Hali

o    Marta Stripe, Rug and Kelim

o    Suzani, Wool & Silk

Best Transitional Design

o    Secret Garden, Naziri OHG

o    Reflection, Choudhary Exports

o    Persy from Samuel Accoceberry, Chevalier édition

Best Modern Collection

o    Origami Collection, Ayka Design

o    Free Verse, Jaipur Rugs

o    Landscapes Collection, Wool & Silk

Best Traditional Collection

o    Sumak Spezial, Theo Keller GmbH

o    Pine Garden, Rug Star GmbH

o    Ottoman Collection, Wool & Silk

Best Innovation

o    Glow, Zollanvari AG

o    Stereogram, Thibault Van Renne BVBA

o    Canvas, Papilio by Prado Rugs N.V.

Posted on

Cork: Combination of technology, natural attributes create durable, quality floors

Aug. 17/24; Volume 30/Number 5

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.01.17 PM Although cork floors have gained popularity in the U.S. over the last 100 years, they have actually been in use for well over 300 years in Europe, where the product first originated. In fact, despite cork’s rocky start and reduced usage in the U.S., some cork floors installed in high-traffic areas like government buildings, banks and churches are still in service today, proving its ability to withstand scratches, dents and wear over time.

“The scratch and dent resistance of these floors is evidenced by many buildings from the early 20th century that still have cork floors in excellent condition in spite of their age and high volume of foot traffic,” said Deborah Hardin, chief customer officer, USFloors. “While no floor is bulletproof, cork floors are very durable and will continue to perform for many years after installation.”

While cork is known best for its sustainable and green attributes as well as sound abatement, comfort and warmth underfoot, most people—salespeople, dealers and consumers alike—don’t know that cork’s durability, impact resistance and resilience are key advantages of the category. “When people think about cork they just remember the bulletin boards, but there is an incredible number of solutions with different applications,” said Patrícia Fernandes, public relations and online marketing, corporate marketing department, Amorim Revestimentos.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.00.58 PMOne cause of this common misconception of cork is lack of education and awareness on both the sales and consumer fronts. Most people have not been exposed to modern cork and are unaware of the options that come with a cork floor. Since there have been countless advances in technology in recent years, cork floors offer a variety of finishes, veneers, colors, decors and visuals—all exceedingly durable.

“A majority of the public doesn’t know cork can even be used as a floor unless they are watching HGTV or other similar programming,” said Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork. “It’s not something that crosses the radar very often. It always goes back to education. If a salesperson is nervous about something or doesn’t know too much about a product, he will tend to shy away from it.”

USFloors’ retail training includes a program called “Bustin’ Myths and Takin’ Orders,” which highlights some popular misconceptions of cork and explains in detail the truth behind them. For example, cork’s durability is complemented by its water resistance as the raw material is naturally impermeable, a feature not known to many shoppers.

“USFloors has been on a campaign for the last year to make a concerted effort to educate retail salespeople of the features and benefits of cork so that they will sell this [viable] flooring option with confidence,” Hardin said. “Cork naturally repels water. Think about some of the most common uses for cork: wine bottle stoppers and fishing floats. Both of these applications require that cork will not allow liquid to be absorbed.”

Cork’s durability comes from a combination of natural, inherent attributes with advanced technology. “One of the characteristics Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.01.09 PMof cork is that it has an elastic ‘memory’ and therefore recovers well from compression, very much like how a wine cork stopper being pulled out of a bottle expands,” said Mário Pinho, vice president of sales for North America, Amorim. “Due to its resilient qualities, cork flooring has the ability to bounce back from hard impacts. A durable surface finish further protects the cork and allows for easy maintenance.”

A number of highly durable, scratch-resistant floor covering options available in the hard surface market today are rough on the feet. Not only are cork floors soft underfoot, they are also recommended for people with joint pains or arthritis, without compromising its durability.

Amorim, a pioneer in offering cork-based floors suitable for both residential and commercial high traffic applications with 145 years of experience, recently launched Hydrocork by Wicanders, which offers maximum durability by combining LVT with a cork core. “It also has the unique PressFit vertical installation system that takes full advantage of cork’s inherent properties—flexibility, elasticity and compressibility—functioning exactly like a cork stopper,” Pinho explained. “It is the perfect product for heavy traffic commercial jobs and also for DIY residential applications.”

WE Cork also uses technology to enhance the durability of its cork floors. Its most recent launch, the Serenity collection, is available in both glue down and floating formats and features a high density and new generation of finish technology while retaining cork’s natural cell structure (closed air cells allow for thermal and acoustic insulation). The trifecta results in an AC rating of 5, which surpasses the performance of LVT.

“With this we can offer custom visuals and 10-year warranties with no fading,” Wicander noted. “At the same time it’s still green, comfortable, quiet and extremely dent resistant.”

USFloors’ Endura AR high performance UV-cured aluminum oxide finish provides advanced abrasion resistance for the company’s cork floors. Endura AR protects these floors from everyday wear, making sure they look new after many years of use. “State-of-the-art finishes like Endura AR protect the floor and make it as durable as any prefinished or site-finished hardwood floor,” Hardin said.

While cork does not lose its strength over time, reasonable care needs to be taken regarding furniture and heel protection to ensure that the floor is not damaged, as with all hard surface flooring. Pinho noted that most cork floors are prefinished, meaning they can offer long wear warranties without the need of applying any additional coats on site.

Posted on

Wicanders introduces Hydrocork

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.01.22 PMPaio de Oleiros, Portugal—Wicanders, the premium brand of Amorim Revestimentos, has introduced Hydrocork in the U.S. after its initial success in Europe earlier this year. Hydrocork is an innovative engineered product that combines premium LVT with waterproof cork featuring maximum durability and up to 51% noise reduction.

Hydrocork is available in 48 x 5 ¾ planks and ranges from light shades of white and gray to intense tones of brown in trendy wood visuals and realistic textures.

Posted on

Expanding the visual capabilities of cork

April 13/20, 2015; Volume 29/Number 1

By Amanda Haskin

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 5.48.02 PM Manufacturers have been touting cork’s benefits for years, namely its durability, comfort, sound control, thermal capabilities and, of course, its green and sustainable properties. But to their bafflement, this category has not picked up as quickly in the U.S. as it has in other countries, where cork is a well-known and respected product.

Bo Barber, vice president of marketing and business development for Ecore, describes his relationship with cork as a love affair. “[In Portugal], when you witness these old, grizzled guys cutting the cork off the tree who treat that process with such care, you fall in love with it. You’re taking and getting all the benefits of wood—the warmth, the organic simplicity, the naturalness—and you’re not cutting a tree down. It’s this wildly harmonious thing.”

He added that cork has been popular in commercial health care projects becuase of cork’s healing capabilities, and, on a practical level, its warmth and softness underfoot makes it ideal for these installations.

Since cork is still somewhat bound to the green niche category, the goal for manufacturers today is to make it a mainstream flooring choice, selected for its beauty and high-performance attributes, not just for its sustainability.

But many consumers and industry professionals alike are confused by the category and have a predisposed expectation that cork flooring will look like a bulletin board and have the durability of a bottle cork. In reality, cork flooring can be extremely durable and stylish, and the range of design options continues to widen as advances in innovation and digital printing technology grow.

Classic cork looks

There are many in the industry who would argue that, despite advances in design capabilities, the classic cork look is the style that will withstand the test of time. One such company is Ecore, which recently relaunched an eScreen Shot 2015-05-29 at 5.47.54 PMxclusive line of cork products under its heritage brand, Dodge Cork. With the brand going back to 1871, the company’s perspective is that cork should be “traditionalist, purist and timeless,” said Bo Barber, vice president of marketing and business development for Ecore.

“We have the Original Collection, which comes in three shades—light, medium and dark,” he noted. “That is how cork was born; three shades, a couple of different finishes, that’s it. And in the Luxe Collection the patterns are simple and timeless. When you talk about fashion, the tendency is to attack the trends. If we can sell cork in its purest form, the opportunity to grow the market is better than trying to spread cork out to be more than what it is.”

Courtney Brophy, marketing manager for Expanko, has a similar point of view. “The classic look of homogeneous cork flooring is one that has withstood the changing tides of design trends over the decades,” she explained. “Expanko Light, Medium and Dark glue-down cork floors have been a staple in American design for more than eight decades. While we work to be responsive to current market conditions, our highest sellers have always been Light, Medium and Dark. These looks offer a traditional, naturally warm design aesthetic that works well in many different commercial markets.”

 Design without sacrificing purity

Cork manufacturers are trying to push the boundaries of design while staying true to the look of the natural product. One such line is USFloor’s Cork Deco line, which uses layering techniques that accentuate the textures and rustic feel of the cork itself.

“Cork Deco takes some of the ‘tried and true’ cork visuals and enhances them using various production techniques,” said Gary Keeble, product and marketing manager. “For instance, the Cubis series employs a layering technique that adds depth and interest to the veneer pattern and puts a new spin on the traditional block pattern. The color palette throughout the collection incorporates current and emerging trends with varying shades of gray and white, in addition to the more traditional brown tones.”

Another company utilizing unique design techniques is Capri Cork, known for its award-winning Mediterra Rigato line. The collection features handcrafted homogeneous patterns with strips of cork, creating linear looks that can be used across an entire space or as design accents.

“We want to encourage peoplScreen Shot 2015-05-29 at 5.47.48 PMe’s creativity with what we have to offer,” said Margaret Buchholz, marketing and design director. “You can still see the cork and it’s a homogeneous construction, which means the pattern goes through the thickness of the entire tile or plank.”

Digital printing for enhanced visuals

Advances in digital printing technology have brought the benefits of the category to consumers and designers on the market for specific looks.

“We do understand that [classic cork looks] are not the right choice for every project and designers want more options that can incorporate the high performance attributes of cork into their designs,” Brophy said.

“In response to this demand, Expanko has recently expanded its Vallarex floating cork flooring line,” she continued. “With this expansion, we have introduced 24 new visuals, including both patterned cork looks and digitally printed designs. The options of where to use cork floors has certainly expanded. We are seeing increased interest particularly in retail, hospitality and corporate markets.”

EcoTimber has added digital printing technology to its cork collection with Designer Series in four designs; two wood looks and two stone.

“Cork is a natural product so you can change the way it looks but you can’t change the material,” said Bruce Graye, product manager of cork products for TW FlooringScreen Shot 2015-05-29 at 5.47.58 PM Group, parent company of the EcoTimber brand. “Digital printing is how different cork manufacturers will stand out in the industry. We are able to provide looks and patterns that are current with the added value of it being on cork. The natural cork look will stand the test of time, where the digital printing will probably evolve according to the trends of the moment.”

WE Cork’s Serenity Collection brings this progressive technology to a new level, featuring digitally printed cork floors in wood and stone visuals while offering unlimited customization options. Any design or image can be printed with clarity right onto the cork.

“We’re showing more customization possibilities for commercial applications,” said Ann Wicander, president. “If you have customers who want to brand themselves, this is the way to do it. If you want the forest floor, we can give you the forest floor.”

Posted on

USFloors educates with cork certification training program

January 5/12, 2015; Volume 28/Number 14

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.07.10 PMIn an effort to revitalize the industry’s interest in cork flooring options, USFloors launched a cork certification training program in the summer of 2014. To help continue the momentum the category has gained, USFloors will continue to host educational trainings for both its sales associates and dealer partners throughout 2015.

“The goal was to reinvigorate and reenergize interest in cork,” said Gary Keeble, product and marketing manager. “One of the obstacles that’s most difficult to address, partially because of turnover, is the retail salesperson on the frontline selling the consumer having a strong comfort level with cork as a flooring choice. It’s human nature to gravitate away from things you don’t understand, especially in a selling situation where you want to be successful. [RSAs] will move toward products they have confidence in selling because they know features, benefits, proper application, etc.”

In order to educate and certify retail sales associates, USFloors has sought to educate its sales force first. In the summer of 2014 the company took its sales reps to Portugal, the largest producer of cork in the world, to learn about its harvesting, processing and manufacturing of cork-based products.

Once they fully understand the life of cork, USFloors associates offer cork certification training to retail salespeople through three educational modules. First is the “Nature of Cork,” providing information about the harvest, what cork means from a sustainability standpoint, its socioeconomic implications for regions in Portugal, the various industries that use cork (other than flooring) and more.

The second module introduces the various USFloors Natural Cork product collections and their features, benefits and performance attributes. This portion is specific to USFloors and why its products outperform other cork flooring options. It also addresses why cork makes sense in certain rooms and installations vs. other flooring types.

The third and final step meets the RSA on the store level, explaining how to sell cork based on different types of consumers, and what they may be looking for according to certain criteria such as lifestyle. To help educate in this module, USFloors has created pocket guides that act as “cheat sheets” for retailers, allowing them to keep something on hand with the guidelines and tips for selling cork. The guides specifically address how to sell cork for different room applications and how to debunk cork myths and misconceptions, like the belief that cork absorbs water.

To date, USFloors has certified over 3,000 retail sales associates, called Certified Natural Cork Specialists. Once certified, retail locations receive a certification kit—delivered by a USFloors rep—that includes a door decal that identifies the store as a Certified Natural Cork Retailer, certificates for the store and certified retail salespeople, cork magnets, a cork dealer manual and additional pocket guides for future salespeople to use as reference.

“The certification program opens your eyes to more possibilities with cork and presents a selling opportunity for us, but also, at the very least, it allows retail sales associates to know how to sell cork,” Keeble noted. “If a customer asks questions, they can provide service with confidence.”

Posted on

Cork: Latest looks

Volume 27/Number 24; March 31/April 7, 2014

As environmental awareness spreads throughout both retail and commercial markets, an increasing amount of manufacturers have created products to help meet the needs of green-minded customers and end users. Recently, numerous cork companies have refreshed their offerings to include the latest from the sustainable, fashionable and practical category.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 11.17.34 AMExpanko

Over the years, the look and feel of classic homogeneous, gluedown cork has evolved through everything from patterned cork to colored cork. Recently, Expanko has noticed a trend toward the use of cork planks, an evolution from the more traditional square tiles.

By utilizing plank dimensions, designers are able to increase the creative possibilities of cork and pay homage to the look of traditional hardwood floors. Expanko has recently added 4- and 6-inch-wide plank dimensions to its Heirloom and Prestige cork lines. The company also offers the option of custom dimensions to suit any project’s needs.

By utilizing plank dimensions for unique designs rather than mixing colors of cork within a single tile, Expanko is able to maintain the inherent structural integrity of cork to create a strong, long-lasting floor.Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 11.18.06 AM

Wicanders

Following the latest décor trends and maintaining the uniqueness achieved by integrating the Corktech label, Wicanders has introduced a new plank size in the Artcomfort collection and expanded its Vinylcomfort product line.

Artcomfort, which uses the latest optic image technology to reproduce appealing and realistic visuals, now features a longer board at about 6 feet long. The long board is emphasized by four sides of beveling and reinforces the authenticity of the wood planks, creating a more refined atmosphere.

The new board is available in seven wood visuals ranging from light to dark tones. All options are protected with Natural Power Coat (NPC), a highly wear-resistant and eco-friendly top layer that offers a higher standard in wear warranty with up to 20 years of coverage.

In the Vinylcomfort product line, five new visuals have been added with exclusive wood patterns, reflecting the trends in interior design. From natural and light pastel shades to gray and black tones, the new pallet range is available with a 0.3 mm wearlayer for domestic areas in planks measuring approximately 7 inches wide by 4 feet long.Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 11.18.28 AM

WE Cork

The Serenity Collection from WE Cork is a cork floor with a high definition, 3-pass, digital print technology that reproduces the essence of wood or tile on a cork substrate, offering the best of classic beauty with the resiliency and comfort of cork.

The Serenity Collection allows the end user to use her imagination as any image she can conjure up can be printed with great clarity and vibrancy, turning a cork floor into a truly unique focal point for any space.Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 11.18.45 AM

USFloors

Over the last six months, USFloors has introduced several new looks in cork from traditional square-edge planks to beveled-edge 18 x 24 tiles to, most recently, digitally enhanced (printed) cork with hardwood plank visuals, representing an expansion of the Cork Canvas collection. Cork Canvas was launched in 2012 as part of USFloors’ Green Island collection with four square-edge, 18 x 24 tiles featuring slate and stone visuals.

This year, the Cork Canvas collection has been updated with four new beveled-edge, 7 x 48 x 10.5 mm hardwood plank decors in an engineered locking construction with the 2G CorkLoc profile.

Digitally enhanced Cork Canvas takes a sustainable Natural Cork floor and replicates the look of natural stone or travertine directly onto the surface of the cork with the advanced digital imaging optics of Enhanced Realism Technology (ERT).Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 11.19.06 AM

EcoTimber

EcoTimber, a leader in the supply of sustainably sourced wood and bamboo flooring since 1993, recently added cork to its portfolio of natural-growing products. In adding cork, EcoTimber has partnered with Corksribas, a Portuguese manufacturer, as its supplier.

EcoTimber, in addition to a sizeable selection of traditional cork tiles and planks, also offers stone and wood looks, underlayment and is adding new collections of wider and longer plank wood options, as well as rustic cork wall treatments.Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 11.19.35 AM

Capri Cork

In its gluedown cork flooring business, Capri Cork is seeing trends develop with its Pick-up Strips selections.

The Pick-up Strips Dark pattern is part of Capri’s Mediterra Rigato collection and offers a random linear pattern. The entire Mediterra Rigato collection includes similar features ranging from subtle to bold. According to Margaret Buccholz, who is part of Capri Cork’s marketing and design team, the company is seeing annual increases in Mediterra Rigato sales.

In addition, a collection of Mediterra Planks includes 34 patterns and colors available in 4 x 18, 4 x 24, 6 x 18 and 6 x 24 gluedown selections. As with Mediterra Rigato, sales of the Mediterra Planks are increasing annually.

All Mediterra cork products come prefinished with three coats of water-based, commercial-grade polyurethane; have an anti-curl back coating, and are FloorScore certified.

 

Posted on

Cork: A smart, sustainable choice

Manufacturers highlight inherent benefits, new designs to retailers

Nov. 4/11 2013; Volume 27/number 14

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 6.25.21 PMHicksville, N.Y.—While top players across all categories, from wood to carpet to LVT, work to create a more sustainable flooring option, the major manufacturers in the world of cork flooring can sit back and relax as their products are inherently environmentally friendly and made of rapidly renewable material. Continue reading Cork: A smart, sustainable choice

Posted on

Amorim works to expose cork flooring to the world

Visuals, performance, sustainability highlighted

Oct. 7/14 2013; Volume 27/number 12

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 1.42.57 PMS. Paio Olerios, Portugal—Consumers today have many options when they walk into a floor covering store. Ironically, the one product with which most shoppers—and in many cases, retail salespeople—may not be familiar could be the perfect choice: cork. Continue reading Amorim works to expose cork flooring to the world