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Underlayment: Eco-friendly materials give dealers ammunition to sell

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Nicole Murray

 

In keeping with offering customers a more environmentally friendly flooring package, underlayment manufacturers are developing the latest acoustical, sound-absorbing products out of various recycled materials, including fibers and rubber tires—to name a couple. These eco-friendly underlayments often tout low volatile organic compounds as well as indoor air quality and Greenguard certifications.

What’s more, these products are being created for various types of flooring—providing environmentally conscious options for all consumers. Following are a few of the latest green underlayments to hit the market.

Diversified Industries
The Floor Muffler One line from Diversified Industries is made from recycled rubber and tire crumbs. The product boasts high acoustical properties and is ideal for multi-unit, multi-floor and high-rise applications.

With Floor Muffler One, “sound travel, especially from floor to ceiling, is minimal; this gives multi-unit homes the allusion they are living in their own space with a sense of privacy,” said Colleen Gormley, national marketing coordinator.

What’s more, Floor Muffler One comes with an optional moisture barrier for below-grade applications. It can also be floated or glued down as well as put on top of all substrates and under all types of flooring.

“This is a fan favorite because it requires the installer to only bring one underlayment to the job site as opposed to many,” Gormley explained.

Also new is Diversified’s Eco Natura Elite, which is constructed in the U.S. from recycled needled fiber. It is deal for applications such as hospitality markets where temperature stabilization is a key consideration.

DriTac
DriTac Impact 8301 and Double Impact 8302 are the company’s latest eco-friendly polyurethane underlayments. The products complement the manufacturer’s adhesives, are compatible with radiant-heated floors and are part of the company’s Total Sound Reduction System.

DriTac Impact 8301 is 1mm thick and works best with LVT and resilient products. Double Impact 8302, which is 2mm thick, is geared toward wider boards and thicker materials such as hardwood or laminate flooring. Both products have very low VOCs, are hypoallergenic and are mold, mildew and bacteria resistant. They also boast high impact isolation and sound abatement with respect to typical floor to ceiling sound travel.

“Our entire package is green from top to bottom,” said Wade Verble, vice president of underlayment and business development. “There is only one source to question for any issues, and because there is no ability to finger point another source, issues [are kept to a minimum].”

Ecore
Ecore has combined its environmentally friendly underlayment, EcoSilence, and new luxury vinyl tile collection, Attain, to create AttainSilence, a resilient flooring system available in five configurations. The aim is to solve common acoustical challenges associated with multifamily or hospitality environments.

Then there’s EcoSilence, available in 2mm and 5mm thicknesses—ideal for wood—and also a 10mm option, which works best under tile. The underlayment is created by turning ground-up recycled rubber truck tires into underlayment.

“Rubber is the perfect material because its quality never fades,” said Bob Racioppi, director of sales commercial products portfolio. “So instead of existing in a landfill forever, the material is being put to good use.”

EcoSilence can be installed under virtually any type of finished flooring, has a crack isolation up to 1⁄8-inch and is compatible with radiant heat flooring systems.

Healthier Choice
SoundSolution and OmniChoice are acoustical underlayments made with soy-based polyurethane as well as other natural, recycled resources. Both products are Greenguard Gold certified for indoor air quality, contain anti-microbials and are hypoallergenic.

“These underlayments are protected from top to bottom,” said Andrew Stafford, director of marketing. “The microbials are infused while the products are in a liquefied state, which means it is practically impossible for mold, bacteria or mildew to grow after the flooring has been installed.”

Sound Solution is best used with laminates, engineered woods and hardwoods; and OmniChoice is designed to go under ceramic, stone, vinyl and wood. In addition, both OmniChoice and SoundSolution come with a “never crush” guarantee, which states the products will maintain 90% of their thickness. Consumers are also given the option of adding a Vapor Bloc, which is a laminated moisture barrier for an extra layer of protection.

MP Global
Quiet Walk Plus is the latest iteration of MP Global’s signature Quiet Walk brand of underlayments. The product made from small pieces of blue jean, carpet, cotton and polyester fibers, which are often too short to use in the manufacturing process and would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

“We have developed a patented process of repurposing what normally would have been deemed as trash into a high-performing underlayment product,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator. “MP Global is repurposing 20 tons of raw materials a day because what others see as garbage, we see as a flooring opportunity.”

Quiet Walk Plus also touts acoustical features, compression resistance, moisture protection and longevity. It is also certified for low chemical emission and has just recently been Indoor Air Quality certified with Greenguard and Greenguard Gold standards.

“This material can be nailed, floated or glued down, and it can be paired with a range of products including vinyl planking or WPC products,” Summers explained.

Schönox
Schönox’s signature “manmade gypsum” technology is twice as hard as concrete, doesn’t promote the growth of mold or mildew, and doesn’t shrink or crack, according to the company. This technology can be poured over all types of substrates and is found in Schönox’s AP and APF leveling compounds.

Products containing the synthetic gypsum leveling compounds have been verified for LEED credits including low-emitting material, building reused and recycled content. Another benefit is a minimal amount of dust emits when poured into a barrel.

“There is less mess and less time spent because this technology is made to go over the worst of the worst,” said Doug Young, executive vice president.

Schönox’s Hybrid Active Dry technology combines the speed and temperature tolerance of cement with the versatility of synthetic gypsum to form a fast and strong underlayment.

AP Rapid, which contains this technology, can be poured up to ½ inch. The product has low shrinkage and allows for flooring to be laid down approximately six hours after it’s poured.

WE Cork
WE Cork’s Warm & Quiet and Warm & Quiet Plus are made of cork from the bark of trees, which means these products have no off gassing, renew themselves every nine years and are moisture resistant.

Warm & Quiet is an 1⁄8-inch thick and is lighter than rubber underlayment of the same size weight. It is best used under laminates or in situations where thermal installation and sound control is required.

“You won’t hear residents walking or high heels clicking,” said Ann Wicander, president. “This product can even make a fake floor sound real. The density absorbs the reverberation of footsteps so the sound does not travel within the room or from floor to ceiling.”

Warm & Quiet Plus is ¼-inch thick and should be paired with laminates and hardwood floors. It is best suited for multifamily and second-story applications.

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Underlayment: Proper education is the key to closing sales

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Arming retail salespeople with the knowledge to prescribe and sell the right underlayment for the job is the key to success, suppliers say. Once a retail sales associate is properly trained on the latest products, he or she must make it a point to educate the consumer.

Following are a few key points to remember when selling underlayments.

Look for trade-up opportunities. Underlayments offered on a good/better/best platform provide retailers with twice the opportunity to upsell—once, when the consumer decides whether to purchase underlayment along with her floor, and again when she has the option to choose between underlayments of different qualities.

As Jeff Bonkiewicz, channel manager, Laticrete, explained, “Underlayment products are valuable accessories that help increase margins and generate higher ticket sales for retailers. Upselling from an entry-level product to a specialty underlayment is achievable through comprehensive product education. This focus on education starts with the dealer outlining the   benefits of using an underlayment before installing materials.”

Focus on the benefits, not features. Once a consumer learns about the characteristics of underlayment, the product will no longer seem like an accessory but rather a necessity. As most underlayment suppliers point out, qualities such as sound absorption and comfort sound great to a consumer who is looking to install new flooring.

“Sound absorption is extremely important in multi-story, single-family homes, condos, apartments and multi-story office and hotel buildings,” explained Jim Wink, vice president of sales and marketing, Foam Products. “In terms of comfort for hard surface flooring, a high-quality foam underlayment can soften the feel of walking on the floor, especially with thinner laminates and vinyl plank flooring.”

Underlayments complete the installation. When a consumer enters a store looking for flooring, she is typically only interested in the style and color of her new floors. Suppliers believe it is crucial for the retailer to slow her down and force her to think through the function of her entire application, including hidden problems that can occur within the life of the flooring materials.

“For example, when it comes to floating floors, most consumers and contractors know they need an underlayment,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global. “Problem solved, right? The trick is to understand the full installation and match the right performing underlayment that will be best suited for the entire makeup of the floor, not just the floor covering materials.”

In addition to its other characteristics, underlayments also  reduce the amount of floor preparation required for a successful installation. As Wade Verble, vice president of underlayment, DriTac, noted, “The associated labor savings will typically offset the cost of the underlayment and labor needed to install the pad.”

Padding extends the life of the floor. Since underlayment can protect installations in various ways—such as limiting water intrusion, damages and cracking as well as aiding in sound reduction—this accessory helps to present a better overall surface to adhere finished flooring. “Adding an appropriate underlayment could mean the difference between a three- to five-year installation and a durable lifetime installation,” Laticrete’s Bonkiewicz said.

Providing consumers with the proper underlayment can also create consumer trust. As DriTac’s Verble explains, “Peak performance for any flooring system is always optimal and underlayment is critical to achieving the highest level of results and customer satisfaction.”

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Proper education is the key to closing sales

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lindsay Baillie

Arming retail salespeople with the knowledge to prescribe and sell the right underlayment for the job is the key to success, suppliers say. Once a retail sales associate is properly trained on the latest products, he or she must make it a point to educate the consumer.

Following are a few key points to remember when selling underlayments.

Look for trade-up opportunities. Underlayments offered on a good/better/best platform provide retailers with twice the opportunity to upsell—once, when the consumer decides whether to purchase underlayment along with her floor, and again when she has the option to choose between underlayments of different qualities.

As Jeff Bonkiewicz, channel manager, Laticrete, explained, “Underlayment products are valuable accessories that help increase margins and generate higher ticket sales for retailers. Upselling from an entry-level product to a specialty underlayment is achievable through comprehensive product education. This focus on education starts with the dealer outlining the   benefits of using an underlayment before installing materials.”

Focus on the benefits, not features. Once a consumer learns about the characteristics of underlayment, the product will no longer seem like an accessory but rather a necessity. As most underlayment suppliers point out, qualities such as sound absorption and comfort sound great to a consumer who is looking to install new flooring.

“Sound absorption is extremely important in multi-story, single-family homes, condos, apartments and multi-story office and hotel buildings,” explained Jim Wink, vice president of sales and marketing, Foam Products. “In terms of comfort for hard surface flooring, a high-quality foam underlayment can soften the feel of walking on the floor, especially with thinner laminates and vinyl plank flooring.”

Underlayments complete the installation. When a consumer enters a store looking for flooring, she is typically only interested in the style and color of her new floors. Suppliers believe it is crucial for the retailer to slow her down and force her to think through the function of her entire application, including hidden problems that can occur within the life of the flooring materials.

“For example, when it comes to floating floors, most consumers and contractors know they need an underlayment,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global. “Problem solved, right? The trick is to understand the full installation and match the right performing underlayment that will be best suited for the entire makeup of the floor, not just the floor covering materials.”

In addition to its other characteristics, underlayments also  reduce the amount of floor preparation required for a successful installation. As Wade Verble, vice president of underlayment, DriTac, noted, “The associated labor savings will typically offset the cost of the underlayment and labor needed to install the pad.”

Padding extends the life of the floor. Since underlayment can protect installations in various ways—such as limiting water intrusion, damages and cracking as well as aiding in sound reduction—this accessory helps to present a better overall surface to adhere finished flooring. “Adding an appropriate underlayment could mean the difference between a three- to five-year installation and a durable lifetime installation,” Laticrete’s Bonkiewicz said.

Providing consumers with the proper underlayment can also create consumer trust. As DriTac’s Verble explains, “Peak performance for any flooring system is always optimal and underlayment is critical to achieving the highest level of results and customer satisfaction.”

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Underlayment: Education is the key to sales success

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Arming retail salespeople with the knowledge to prescribe and sell the right underlayment for the job is the key to success, supplier say. Once a retail sales associate is properly trained on the latest products he or she must make it a point to educate the consumer.
Following are a few key points to remember when selling underlayments:

Look for trade-up opportunities. Underlayments offered on a good, better, best platform that provides retailers with twice the opportunity to upsell—once, when the consumer decides whether or not to purchase underlayment along with her floor; and again when she has the option to choose between underlayments of different qualities.

As Jeff Bonkiewicz, channel manager, Laticrete, explains, “Underlayment products are valuable accessories that help increase margins and generate higher ticket sales for retailers. Upselling from an entry-level product to a specialty underlayment is achievable through comprehensive product education. This focus on education starts with the retailer outlining the many added benefits of using an underlayment before installing materials.”

Focus on the benefits, not features. Once a consumer learns about the characteristics of underlayment, the product will no longer seem like a simple accessory but rather a necessity. As most underlayment manufacturers point out, qualities such as sound absorption, comfort and protection all sound great to a consumer who is looking to install new flooring.

“Sound absorption is extremely important in multi-story, single-family homes, condos, apartments and multi-story office and hotel buildings,” explained Jim Wink, vice president sales and marketing, Foam Products Corp. “In terms of comfort, for a hard surface flooring a high-quality foam underlayment can soften the feel of walking on the floor, especially with thinner laminates and vinyl plank flooring. The underlayments Foam Product Corp. produces also act as a protector and offers a high degree of moisture vapor protection. This moisture vapor can pass up through concrete and wood joist floor and can severely damage laminates and wood flooring.”

Underlayments complete the installation. When a consumer enters a store looking for flooring she is typically only interested in the style and color of her new floors. Suppliers believe it is crucial for the retailer to slow her down and force her to think through the function of her entire application, including hidden problems that can occur within the life of the flooring materials.

“For example, when it comes to floating floors, most consumers and contractors know they need an underlayment,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global. “Problem solved, right? The trick is to understand the full installation and match the right performing underlayment that will be best suited for the entire makeup of the floor, not just the floor covering materials.”

1In addition to its other characteristics, underlayment also serves to reduce the amount of floor preparation required for a successful installation. As Wade Verble, vice president of underlayment, DriTac Flooring Products, noted, “The associated labor savings will typically offset the cost of the underlayment and labor needed to install the pad.”

Padding extends the life of the floor. Since underlayment can protect installations in various ways—ad such as limiting water intrusion, damages and cracking as well as aiding in sound reduction—this accessory helps to present a better overall surface to adhere finished flooring. “The addition of an appropriate underlayment may mean the difference between a three- to five-year installation and a permanent, durable lifetime installation,” Laticrete’s Bonkiewicz explained.

Providing consumers with the proper underlayment can also create consumer trust. As DriTac’s Verble explains, “Peak performance for any flooring system is always optimal and underlayment is a critical component to achieving the highest level of results and customer satisfaction.”

 

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Latest cushion products promote performance enhancements

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Nicole Murray

As consumer flooring trends continue to lean toward hard surfaces—specifically LVT, WPC and SPC—underlayment manufacturers are innovating to stay ahead as well as provide dealers with upsell opportunities. During Surfaces earlier this year, a host of underlayment manufacturers exhibited their latest products made for all types of flooring.

Amorim showcased its underlayment for LVT and WPC applications. “We have tweaked what we are offering to now include other products for WPC constructions,” said Larry Lyons, director of sales and marketing. “For our hard surface underlayment program, we have a lightweight product that’s very specified and everyone is using it because it is easier for laying down WPC.”

Lyons explained the benefits to using the product. “On the LVT side, if you have a connection with a property management client, there is an education opportunity for a retailer. A lot of the property management clients want LVT but don’t know about the potential sound issues. We have tools for retailers to help educate the end user about why they need the underlayment.”

Floor Muffler is also riding the wave of LVT/WPC growth with its new Floor Muffler LVT underlayment. The product is 1mm thick and features acoustical and moisture barrier properties.

“Once we started seeing LVT grow popular in apartment buildings, there grew a need for sound reduction,” said Collen Gormley, national marketing coordinator, Floor Muffler. “LVT is growing in the industry; therefore, it is growing for us. The underlayments that are already attached to LVT products may be more convenient, but then you are not using the best quality product with the best ratings available.”

Pak-Lite showed its one-of-a-kind fan fold underlayment applications made specifically for the vinyl and laminate industry. One of its key selling points is its ease of installation. “It is one of the easiest products to install and we have heard that from flooring experts themselves,” said Kimberly Liemkeo, marketing manager. “It is a doable installation process for those who are not very experienced, and the process itself takes out imperfections that exist within the flooring.”

WE Cork highlighted underlayment made for various floors. New to Surfaces was the company’s Warm and Quiet Plus, a 6mm cork underlayment that offers sound control under carpeting, wood and laminates.

Being that it is made from cork, this underlayment is lighter than other products with similar thicknesses. It also has no off gassing and offers a new level of comfort, especially when applied underneath hardwood flooring.

“Cork consists of 200 million closed air cells per cubic inch,” said Ann Wicander, president. “When you walk on cork, it will take a bit more concussion and will be that much more comfortable. While rubber is being used for a lot of multifamily situations, cork overall has a better performance and is more affordable.”

MP Global’s new addition, Quiet Walk Plus, was promoted throughout the show as a “one-stop-shop” underlayment billed as an upgraded version of its original Quiet Walk. Quiet Walk Plus has greater acoustic performance, compression resistance, moisture protection and longevity due to its fiber composition. It can also be paired with more flooring categories and types of installation.

“Quiet Walk Plus becomes your Swiss army knife that can handle being nailed, floated or glued down,” said Deanna Summers, marketing manager, MP Global. “The material is dense enough to support vinyl planking or WPC products and will not crush over time like we have seen with foam underlayments.”

Among the higher-end releases was Laticrete’s new Strata heat floor warming line, designed to be used under tile flooring. It’s controlled by a thermostat that can be adjusted through a smart phone app.

“A wire is placed throughout a mat that goes underneath the tiles, so the material will heat much faster,” said Maria Oliviera, corporate marketing manager, Laticrete. “This technology is best designed for bathrooms or kitchens and offers yet another level to upsell because of its ease for installation during an already existing project.”

To provide dealers with upsell opportunities is DriTac’s new “all-in-one” Total Sound Reduction System, which includes the 8301 Impact underlayment made for resilient and 8302 Double Impact underlayment for wood and laminates. The package comes with a lifetime warranty, enhanced moisture control of up to 10 pounds calcium chloride and 95% relative humidity. All the products come from one supplier. 

“We are marrying our underlayments with our adhesives to offer an enhanced system package that we can get fully behind,” said John Lio, vice president of marketing, DriTac. “It avoids any finger pointing because we know this package inside and out. It gives us all the more reason to stand behind these products because we make it a point to only release premium-level options.”

Similar to a few manufacturers, Centaur Floor Systems not only manufactures a variety of finished products mainly for commercial interiors, but it also provides the underlayment that goes underneath the flooring. Case in point is its Sound Reducer line, which is engineered to provide exceptional impact sound insulation results, even under hard surface flooring for concrete or wood-framed construction.

Also available with a waterproof membrane, Sound Reducer can be installed under most types of grouted, glued and floating floors—including hard tile, hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, LVT and carpet. It’s available in 48-inch-wide rolls in a variety of both standard and custom thicknesses (vapor barrier option available upon request).

Some of Centaur Floor Systems’ products already include the underlayment as a pre-attached backing. This includes the company’s Triple Threat line, which consists of a vinyl wear layer with a 7mm-thick recycled rubber underlayment. According to the company, the product saves time and money because installers only need to put down one material. “We fusion bond the vinyl to the recycled rubber backing so only one material is getting installed as opposed to two different products being laid on top of one another,” said Garnet Sofillas, public relations and communications manager. “Underlayment is always suggested for vinyl, so you can glue down our Triple Threat product directly over the subfloor, saving an installation step.”

Triple Threat’s maximum potential, according to Centaur, is utilized when applying the product to areas designed for exercise and physical activity—gyms or basketball courts, for example. “The material is very forgiving on the hips and joints,” Sofillas added.

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MP Global event celebrates 20th anniversary

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.03.29 PMNorfolk, Neb.—MP Global recently commemorated 20 years in the business by holding a special “employee appreciation” event to mark the milestone. The event included a golf outing, special recognition of longtime workers as well as food, fun and activities.

Beyond the fun-filled festivities, the event provided an opportunity to reflect on the company’s storied history. When Al Collison, founder and president of MP Global Products, inserted the key for the first time into the large vacant building that is now the headquarters, he stopped before pushing the door open and asked himself out loud, “Well, I wonder how this one will turn out?” Having just sold his shares to his cellulose insulation company he ran for many years, he felt there was more he could be a part of and build.

Fast forward 20 years, MP Global Products has stood the test of time, positioning itself as a leader in the underlayment industry. Starting out, MP Global made carpet padding, which Collison admits now that floating floor underlayments were the farthest product from his mind. “QuietWalk was discovered almost by accident,” he recalled. By his account, a former colleague said he was onto something with this thin, dense pad with a vapor barrier on it that could be installed under laminate, a product category that was soaring in popularity in the late ’90s. Once the new product was tested and developed further, it quickly became the underlayment many installers preferred under floating floors.

“What makes QuietWalk so different than other underlayment products out there is it’s made from 94% recycled textile content,” said Jack Boesch, MP Global’s marketing director. “We like to say we were green long before being green was popular.”

Because of the natural fiber makeup of the product in the patented manufacturing process, MP Global’s fiber-based underlayments inherently have zero off gassing and are third-party certified for clean indoor air quality, passing all California requirements for clean air.

Legacy of innovation
Since the early days, MP Global has evolved products into what flooring trends have demanded. The company recently launched QuietWalk Plus, which—unlike like its older sibling, QuietWalk—can be used under floating applications. QuietWalk Plus also offers one universal underlayment that can be floated, glued or nailed down. The secret is in the vapor barrier, which is engineered to accept glue or a mechanical fastener. “So many things have changed in recent years with flooring innovations, we realize we need to adjust to those changes as well,” Collison said.

Having many new innovative products to offer, MP Global is positioned to be the one-source underlayment provider for all dealers’ or distributor needs. “Because of our vast assortment of underlayments for virtually any type of flooring on the market, we can mix one truck with all the different products,” Boesch added.

More importantly, MP Global cited the teamwork employees exhibit day in and day out as its greatest asset in the last 20 years. “We are all in this together,” Collison said. “It is pretty special that we have enjoyed success, and it could not have happened without every member of our team.”

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MP Global event celebrates 20th anniversary

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.03.29 PMNorfolk, Neb.—MP Global recently commemorated 20 years in the business by holding a special “employee appreciation” event to mark the milestone. The event included a golf outing, special recognition of longtime workers as well as food, fun and activities.

Beyond the fun-filled festivities, the event provided an opportunity to reflect on the company’s storied history. When Al Collison, founder and president of MP Global Products, inserted the key for the first time into the large vacant building that is now the headquarters, he stopped before pushing the door open and asked himself out loud, “Well, I wonder how this one will turn out?” Having just sold his shares to his cellulose insulation company he ran for many years, he felt there was more he could be a part of and build.

Fast forward 20 years, MP Global Products has stood the test of time, positioning itself as a leader in the underlayment industry. Starting out, MP Global made carpet padding, which Collison admits now that floating floor underlayments were the farthest product from his mind. “QuietWalk was discovered almost by accident,” he recalled. By his account, a former colleague said he was onto something with this thin, dense pad with a vapor barrier on it that could be installed under laminate, a product category that was soaring in popularity in the late ’90s. Once the new product was tested and developed further, it quickly became the underlayment many installers preferred under floating floors.

“What makes QuietWalk so different than other underlayment products out there is it’s made from 94% recycled textile content,” said Jack Boesch, MP Global’s marketing director. “We like to say we were green long before being green was popular.”

Because of the natural fiber makeup of the product in the patented manufacturing process, MP Global’s fiber-based underlayments inherently have zero off gassing and are third-party certified for clean indoor air quality, passing all California requirements for clean air.

Legacy of innovation
Since the early days, MP Global has evolved products into what flooring trends have demanded. The company recently launched QuietWalk Plus, which—unlike like its older sibling, QuietWalk—can be used under floating applications. QuietWalk Plus also offers one universal underlayment that can be floated, glued or nailed down. The secret is in the vapor barrier, which is engineered to accept glue or a mechanical fastener. “So many things have changed in recent years with flooring innovations, we realize we need to adjust to those changes as well,” Collison said.

Having many new innovative products to offer, MP Global is positioned to be the one-source underlayment provider for all dealers’ or distributor needs. “Because of our vast assortment of underlayments for virtually any type of flooring on the market, we can mix one truck with all the different products,” Boesch added.

More importantly, MP Global cited the teamwork employees exhibit day in and day out as its greatest asset in the last 20 years. “We are all in this together,” Collison said. “It is pretty special that we have enjoyed success, and it could not have happened without every member of our team.”

 

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Mohawk covers all bases with broad cushion portfolio

August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Lindsay Baillie

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 4.01.29 PMOver the years, Mohawk has diversified its flooring offerings to cover the gamut of both soft and hard goods. At the same time, the company is also garnering attention by helping floor covering retailers sell the total installation project via a broad selection of cushion products.

“We are the only U.S. carpet manufacturer that has its own carpet cushion production,” said Al Buniak, director of pad and cushion business operations, Mohawk Industries. “We currently make everything from a basic product to a premium memory foam cushion, including synthetic fiber pads for the growing area rug market.”

Mohawk, which entered the cushion manufacturing business after it acquired Alliance Pad in 2002, manufactures every type of carpet fiber from wool to synthetic in all different constructions. This allows the manufacturer to pair each type of carpet with a specific pad to offer the overall best performance. In addition, Mohawk operates an efficient distribution network that allows for a single delivery of both cushion and carpet, which cuts down wait time for various products.

“People spend a lot of time selling carpet, but the cushion is really an extremely important component of the sale,” Buniak explained. “It’s the piece that helps the carpet maintain its texture and appearance, so we provide all of those different types of cushions to leverage our carpet products’ features.”

Following a good/better/best model for its cushions, Mohawk offers retailers its most premium product, SmartCushion, with the added bonus of giving back to a key foundation—Susan G. Komen. With each purchase of its SmartCushion preferred product, Mohawk makes a donation to Susan G. Komen. What’s more, SmartCushion is pink in color and its packaging contains the Susan G. Komen logo—all of which drives further awareness of the cause.

“Mohawk partners with many non-profit organizations throughout our various communities, and Susan G. Komen was one we started with approximately six or seven years ago,” Buniak explained. “It is a wonderful organization and we are excited to be a part of helping the organization achieve its goals of bringing an end to breast cancer. It’s one of the top recipients of Mohawk’s support.”

SmartCushion is a win-win in other aspects. For many retailers, it helps increase margins. Just ask Joe Zago, president of The Carpet Guys in Troy, Mich. The dealer has been selling the product for about three years with excellent results. “It’s a great thing for any retailer to carry. Not only are you doing a great thing, but people like doing business with people who like to do good things. When people in the community see us taking part in a lot of these events, it really helps the business.”

Jeff Balsom, owner of Kenny Enterprises in Buffalo, N.Y., has also noticed a positive response to Mohawk’s SmartCushion. “Our sales are good and the performance of the pad is very good. The Susan G. Komen story has been very good [for business]. Our customers seem very happy with what Mohawk is doing and what we’re doing to support the entire organization.”

As a premium product, SmartCushion provides retailers with the opportunity to upsell, creating higher margins. In addition to the product’s story, its overall quality and characteristics make SmartCushion an easy sell.

“Of all our cushion it is our top-selling product,” said Fred Gaines, owner of Bells Carpets, Raleigh, N.C. “We train our salespeople to take consumers to the best option first. We always stress to our customers that the cushion is the foundation of their carpet purchase. If you don’t start with a good foundation you’re not going to get the performance of the carpet you want over the years.”

For many retailers, having an entire package helps generate higher margins. For example, Tommy Hughes, general manager, Kelly’s Carpet, Omaha, Neb., sees value in giving his customers Mohawk-branded carpet and cushion along with Mohawk-certified installation. “SmartCushion is packaged with some of our higher-end carpet collections. It’s a premium pad that’s going to perform well under the carpet.”

Hughes also sees value in offering a product that ultimately gives back to the community. “It’s important to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and [SmartCushion] is one way, as a store, that we can support them and that our customers can support as well.”

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Underlayment: Suppliers serve up solutions for multi-family applications

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.04.52 AMUnderlayment suppliers are focusing more of their attention on the all-important multi-family sector of the housing market. Specifically, they are developing products that aim to meet or exceed the stringent building code requirements for multi-family dwellings while complementing the vast array of flooring products designed to coordinate with them.

That’s certainly the focus of companies like MP Global Products, maker of the well-known QuietWalk brand of sound-deadening underlayment products designed to quiet noisy floating floors such as laminates. “Our company has concentrated on acoustic underlayment almost since our founding 20 years ago—which incidentally is exactly the same year the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) was formed,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing. “Together with NALFA, we helped the manufacturers of laminate flooring establish standards for underlayments with regard to several attributes, including sound attenuation.”

QuietWalk, MP Global’s hallmark product, is branded as such for its ability to draw sound in and deaden it. “The original train of thought was to help deaden the ‘clicky’ sound of laminate flooring within the room and make it sound more like solid wood,” Boesch explained. “During that process we also discovered that architects and designers loved our underlayments for use in condominiums and apartment buildings.”

Other major suppliers of underlayment products are busy at work tackling the noise-transfer issue in multi-family applications. For example, Diversified Industries, manufacturer of the popular FloorMuffler line of products, is looking to make sure it has all the bases covered in that respect.

“While flooring suppliers are working to develop products with better sound characteristics, the best solution for noise reduction is a quality underlayment,” said Colleen Gormley, national marketing coordinator. “We are continuously testing our products with the most up-to-date building code requirements to ensure flooring suppliers have a proven underlayment to partner with their flooring.”

Due to the advances in sound-reduction technology, Gormley is seeing the use of hard surface flooring becoming much more prevalent in multi-family construction than ever before—which is guiding much of the new product development within the company. “We have developed an entire line of products to provide superior noise reduction for every type of hard surface flooring installation. This includes our new line of rubber underlayments, FloorMuffler FLEX, which can be used under anything from tile to hardwood flooring.”

Dan Davis, national retail business manager, multi-family sector, HPS Schönox North America, also sees the multi-family market moving away from carpet and toward LVT. For its part, Schönox has developed several underlayments to address this trend. Chief among them is Schönox TS, an impact, sound-deadening underlayment made of cork and recycled urethane granules that not only provides impact and sound attenuation but also comfort underfoot. “This is used underneath LVT floors so the residents living below won’t hear anything,” he explained.

Schönox takes it a step further by focusing on the condition of the substrate prior to the application of a sound-deadening underlayment. To that end, the company offers AP, a dust- reduced synthetic gypsum compound that’s suitable over gypsum-based cement floors common in multi-family applications, and APF, a fiber-reinforced self leveling compound. “These are high-performance products that are proprietary to us and designed to go with these gypsum subfloors,” Davis said. “Our products are specifically designed to bond with gypsum subfloors, not separate or push away from them.”

Future Foam is also keeping a close eye on trends in the multi-family sector and is responding accordingly. “Multi-family is a very interesting sector for carpet cushion companies, including Future Foam,” said Mark Foster, regional manager. “We are often challenged by economic hurdles with carpet cushion, but we have seen an uptick in interest for sound abatement and comfort under LVT flooring.”

Builders, Foster notes, often lose sight of the advantages of providing a cushion under LVT floors. “Acoustical properties play a big role in deciding what is to be used in multi-family dwellings today, so Future Foam provides sound ratings for applications under numerous hard surface products. A cushion that provides comfort and sound absorption are the keys to these projects.”

Soundseal, which offers a range of underlayment products specifically for certain flooring categories, is also keenly focused on the red-hot LVT segment. “As new products become available we endeavor to find suitable products to use under them,” said Dale Asp, business development manager, Impacta Floor Underlayments. “We developed VC300 and Probase Vinyl to be used under LVT products in multi-family dwellings. We also offer our Cerazorb and Probase Rubber underlayments, which can be used under a broad base of flooring products.”

In that same vein, the increasing popularity of LVT has led WE Cork to its latest introduction, Silently-LVT, which provides a low-profile sound solution under floating and glue-down LVT. According to Ann Wicander, president, “Silently-LVT can also be used as a single-stick method over hard-to-glue to substrates—such as lightweight concrete or surfaces that are expensive to remove like asbestos tile—by loose laying the Silenlty-LVT over the floor and gluing directly on it. This method saves time and money during installation, and is the perfect underlayment for apartments offering a high sound insulation rating of Delta IIC 20.”

WE Cork has a long track record of developing products for the multi-family sector. Back in 1978, when condominium development began to take off, WE Cork initially offered sound-control products for ceramic tile applications under the WECU (WE Cork Underlayments) brand. That paved the way for Soundless +, a product Wicander called “the highest performing product under ceramic tile applications in a concrete structure without a suspended ceiling.” WE Cork then went on to introduce the Warm & Quiet product line for use under hardwood and laminates. “This offers an easy-to-install, lightweight yet highly insulating solution that meets all requirements in the U.S.”

 

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Underlayment: Education is key to upselling consumers

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.07.00 PMUnderlayments are more than essential components that complete a hard surface or soft surface installation. They are also valuable accessories that help increase margins and generate higher ticket sales for specialty retailers.

According to various underlayment manufacturers upselling from an entry-level product to a specialty underlayment is achievable through comprehensive product education. This focus on education starts with the retailer and follows through to the customer.

“Retailers should take the time to educate themselves and their team on the benefits of a good quality carpet cushion,” said Todd Betz, territory manager, Innocor Foam Technologies. “Then they can help educate the consumer on all the benefits of a better cushion such as how it will last longer and make the carpet feel better underfoot.”

Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global, explained that there are many features to talk about when upselling underlayment. It is important for retailers to learn the various underlayments they sell and share that knowledge with others. To help retailers learn more about underlayment, she suggests talking to the underlayment manufacturers as they should be able to help with point-of-purchase information.

“A retailer will likely have more opportunity to create interest in value-added underlayment, a product many customers may not even know about but should,” Summers said. “Oftentimes the customer will be much more particular on color and style vs. performance. Underlayment upselling is a way to hone in on performance characteristics the customer may not have given much thought to.”

Once a retailer is properly educated in underlayments, he or she should make it a point to include it in the conversation about flooring. “Making the subfloor an integral part of the discussion for any flooring project is the best way to ensure the customer gets what is needed for the subfloor, and the flooring professional maximizes the overall product offering in the sale,” said Thomas Trissl, principal, Schönox. “It’s a clear win for both.”

In addition to educating retailers and RSAs, experts say consumer education is also necessary. “Offering consumers product options and educating them on the difference in these options allow them to make more informed buying decisions,” said Colleen Gormley, marketing coordinator, Diversified Industries. “In order for a consumer to invest more in her purchase, it should correspond with some distinguishable value.”

That distinguishable value is what MP Global’s Summers believes makes upselling underlayment easy and rewarding. Once fully explained, the products essentially sell themselves. “Upselling underlayment for new hard surface flooring is a win-win opportunity every salesperson should take advantage of as often as possible.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.10.03 PMProponents believe premium underlayments can enhance a newly installed floor in terms of wearability and lifetime performance. They can also provide noise reduction, insulation, moisture dissipation and greater comfort underfoot.

“Other talking points can be specific to the type of floor in which the customer is interested,” Summers added. “For example, underlayment selected for use under laminate flooring should be both firm enough to support the overlaying floor but offer sufficent flexibility to smooth out little subfloor imperfections, helping eliminate any rocking of laminate panels.”

Another advantage Sarah Remillard, product manager, sports and reaction surfacing, Ultimate RB, pointed out is a quality rubber underlayment can make an inexpensive laminate or engineered wood floor sound like an expensive wood floor—adding even more value to the customer’s purchase.

Ultimately, providing customers with accurate product knowledge to make informed buying decisions help RSAs gain customer loyalty. “Not only do you increase your profit from the upsell of one product, but you retain that customer for future purchases,” Diversified Industries’ Gormley explained. “Additionally, customer satisfaction should increase when using a higher quality product.”

While educating customers on the various products can help upsell underlayment, it is also important to ask the right questions. This is crucial for purchases involving ceramic and stone underlayment which are all based on specific applications. As Julia Vozza, marketing manager, M-D Pro, explains: “The retailer simply needs to know the right questions to ask their customers when selling tile underlayment so they can find out the specifics about the particular application their customer is buying for.”

Some of these potential questions may include: Is the underlayment being installed below grade or in areas where moisture is a concern? Is the tile installation in an area where the tile would need to transition up to a thicker flooring surface like hardwood? Is there a need or desire to install an in-floor radiant heating system?

Dale Asp, business development manager, Impacta Floor Underlayments, suggests retailers also find out what the customer is looking to achieve with her new floor covering. From there the retailer can discuss the different options available while presenting underlayments that possess the greatest value. “When looking for a quality underlay product the benefits must be worth the increased cost. A quality underlayment can provide superior support for the flooring above, thus ensuring the new flooring will look and perform well for many years to come.”

Good, better, best
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.09.21 PM
Another proven strategy retailers can utilize is the tiered model, experts say. “Most retailers are familiar with the selling of the good, better, best [flooring] options for their customers,” said Ann Wicander, president, WE Cork. “Retailers who are successful in selling our underlayments use the same principle.”

When presented in the showroom, this model can help customers understand the differences between entry-level and specialty underlayments, along with the varying price points. “We’ve seen dealers really make it easy for customers to see the benefits by putting out a cushion walk in the store so they can feel the difference between a good, better or best cushion, which really helps them to realize the benefits of a higher-end product,” Innocor’s Betz explained.

In addition to using a cushion walk, Future Foam recommends showing customers a sample book—some of which can be custom made for each dealer. “These sample books fold up nicely so they are very portable,” said Mark Foster, Midwest sales manager. “They show the features and benefits while providing a walkable demonstration. Assisting the customer in an actual demonstration on how her carpet will feel over selected cushions is always a good way to help her decide what she truly wants and to show how more comfort can come from choosing the right cushion.”

Jack McMahon, vice president, Carpenter, suggests retailers flip the good, better, best model on its head and start with showing customers their best quality underlayment. He then recommends briefly explaining the cushion’s merits and closing the sale with the confidence knowing the RSA has offered the customer long-term value. “Better cushion will increase the consumer’s satisfaction with her carpet. Additionally, successfully selling better cushion is another way to reflect well on the retailer’s status as a strong business that believes in adding value to each sale.”