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Armstrong Flooring names 2016 Elite Retailers of the Year

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.03.32 AMLancaster, Pa.—Armstrong Flooring has named three companies 2016 Elite Retailers of the Year. Baker Brothers was awarded Gold; Riemer Floors received Silver; and WorldWide Wholesale earned Bronze. United Flooring Group and Floor Covering Associates received honorable mentions. The award is based on a variety of factors, including sales, lead conversion rates, overall program support, showroom quality and website excellence.

“With several hundred Elite showrooms nationwide, we wanted to recognize and thank the best of the best for their continuing excellence and commitment to the Armstrong Flooring Elite Program,” said Tom Cole, manager, Aligned Retailer channel marketing, Armstrong Flooring. “We are grateful to work alongside a great team of retailers who are engaged and excited about our vision to be the world’s best and most trusted flooring company.”

The 2016 Gold Elite Retailer of the Year, Baker Bros, has been flooring Arizona since 1945. All seven locations are locally owned and operated, and are committed to giving customers the best flooring has to offer, from product to installation.

Harry Riemer founded 2016 Silver Elite Retailer of the Year Riemer Floors in 1946. In the beginning, Riemer sold, measured and installed many of his jobs. As his business grew, he recruited a number of his former co-workers into the business. Ultimately, he expanded from retail into commercial and new homebuilder. Seventy years later, Reimer’s sons Dennis, Keith and Paul, and two granddaughters Kimberly and Ashlee, continue the business.

WorldWide Wholesale, Bronze Elite Retailer of the Year, was founded in 1991 and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The company is based in central/northern Jersey and services the market through three large format stores.

This year’s Honorable Mentions are Floor Covering Associates and United Flooring Group. Floor Covering Associates is a Shorewood, Illinois based, family-owned business that started in 1976 as a carpet store with only two employees. Today, FCA offers a full range of floor coverings and services. The United Flooring Group strives to provide clients with an unrivaled and smooth experience, leaving the customer with exceptional flooring and improved spaces. The company is the product of years of dedication and fearless pursuit for innovation by the owner and founder Carlo Garcia, who has 16 years of industry experience.

For further information, visit armstrongflooring.com.

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CARE names 2016 award winners

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.51.37 AMIndianapolis—Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), the non-profit organization charged with advancing market-based solutions for carpet recycling and landfill diversion, has named Dick Kruse and Interface the organization’s Person of the Year and Recycler of the Year for 2016, respectively. The two honors were awarded during the organization’s 15th annual conference, held here on May 10-11.

Kruse is a member of CARE’s board of directors and founded Kruse Carpet Recycling in Indianapolis. He boasts many years of experience in the carpet recycling industry and has been instrumental in developing CARE into the organization it is today.

“Over its 15-year life, CARE has been supported and enriched by a group of very distinguished individuals,” Brendan McSheehy, CARE board chair, said while announcing the award. “Dick Kruse stands tall among them. Over his many years of service as a board director, Dick has lent vision and wisdom. At the same time, he personally labored in the trenches of recycling, supporting his daughter Kasey as she grew and matured in the business. Dick is a shining example in a dark hour to our industry.”

As a CARE partner, Interface’s founder Ray Anderson adopted a bold vision that involved recycling and sustainability in 1994. Since then, the company has been one of the industry leaders in recycling carpet.

Interface became the first manufacturer to implement a process for the clean separation of carpet fiber from backing on modular carpet tiles. The program, ReEntry, began in 2007 and has processed millions of pounds of material.

“Many industries nowadays stand accused of greenwashing,” said Brendan McSheehy, CARE’s chairman of the board. “For some, the image and perception is in fact the reality. For others, commitment is barely skin deep. Yet, there are the few that take leadership roles in promoting recycling and disposal avoidance. Beyond this, there are even fewer that hold to that leadership through thick and thin—and in the face of several years of reduced oil and virgin polymer pricing, Interface’s continued commitment has never been more challenging or more worthy of recognition as CARE Recycler of the Year.”

 

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Retailers cite standout intros of 2016

April 24/May 1, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 23

By Lindsay Baillie

When asked to identify the best flooring introductions of 2016, retailers cited a bevy of wood, laminate, carpet and LVT/WPC products. One highly regarded product was Mannington’s Adura Max, which received praise from multiple retailers for its new visuals. Other notable 2016 introductions touched on key product innovations spanning wood, laminate and resilient lines, soft carpets/rugs and industry-wide updates to styles and designs. Following is an overview of the new products that stood out in 2016:

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.02.33 AMScreen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.02.52 AMScreen Shot 2017-05-01 at 12.19.30 PM

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Jaeckle Distributors wins Mannington’s 2016 President’s Award

2016 Mannington Award PhotoMadison, Wis.– Jaeckle Distributors, a Madison based third-generation, family-owned company was recently awarded the prestigious 2016 President’s Award for its residential sales performance in 2016 from Mannington Mills at the recent Surfaces trade show serving the floor covering industry. This is the second year in a row that Jaeckle Distributors has won this award.

“Mannington is our largest supplier and we are honored to be a top performer amongst our peers,” said Jeff Jaeckle, president of Jaeckle Distributors. “Achieving this award two years in a row directly reflects the dedication and commitment to excellence of our entire staff and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Mannington.”

 

Pictured accepting this award is Jeff Jaeckle, president of Jaeckle Distributors (left), Ed Duncan, president of Mannington Residential (center) and Torrey Jaeckle, vice president of Jaeckle Distributors (right).

 

 

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EFI reports record Q4, full year 2016 results

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 9.49.31 AMFremont, Calif.—Electronics For Imaging, Inc. (Nasdaq:EFII), a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, today announced preliminary results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2016.

The company reported record fourth quarter revenue of $266.7 million, up 4% compared to fourth quarter 2015 revenue of $256.5 million. GAAP net income was $20.5 million, up 99% compared to $10.3 million for the same period in 2015 or $0.43 per diluted share, up 105% compared to $0.21 per diluted share for the same period in 2015. Non-GAAP net income was $36.3 million, up 23% compared to non-GAAP net income of $29.4 million for the same period in 2015 or $ 0.77 per diluted share, up 26% compared to $0.61 per diluted share for the same period in 2015. Cash flow from operating activities was $65.2 million, up 141% compared to $27.1 million during the same period in 2015

EFI also reported revenue of $992.1 million, up 12% year-over-year compared to $882.5 million for the same period in 2015. GAAP net income was $45.5 million, up 36% compared to $33.5 million for the same period in 2015 or $0.95 per diluted share, up 36% compared to $0.70 per diluted share for the same period in 2015.  Non-GAAP net income was $116.8 million, up 19% compared to non-GAAP net income of $97.9 million for the same period in 2015 or $2.44 per diluted share, up 20% compared to $2.03 per diluted share for the same period in 2015.  Cash flow from operating activities was $121.1 million, up 77% compared to $68.3 million during the same period in 2015.

“EFI delivered another record revenue quarter and our team’s execution drove significant improvements in margins, cash flow and earnings per share, despite the negative impact of foreign currency,” said Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI.  “As we start the New Year we are even more excited about the road ahead, especially with our upcoming introduction of the Nozomi platform targeted at digital printing for packaging.”

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Michael Halebian & Co. receives American Biltrite’s 2016 Outstanding Performance Award

haleiban-outstanding-perf-2016Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada—American Biltrite, a North American manufacturer of specialty commercial flooring products, presented its Outstanding Performance Award for 2016 to Michael Halebian & Co. at their offices in Carlstadt, N.J. on Dec. 20. The award is presented annually to the American Biltrite distributor that achieves the highest growth during the year.

“The decision to present the award to Michael Halebian was an easy one,” said Jean-Pierre Benoit, general manager for American Biltrite. “They had an outstanding performance in 2016 in all product categories and we look forward to our mutual success in 2017.”

Michael Halebian & Co. distributes American Biltrite products throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Pictured from right to left: Lou Soscia, commercial sales manager, Halebian; Jean-Pierre Benoit, general manager, American Biltrite; Michael Halebian, president; Joe Choflet, general manager, Halebian; John Kronemeyer, VP sales & marketing, American Biltrite.

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Mercier congratulates its partners for another year

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-11-22-50-amMontmagny, Québec, Canada—Mercier Wood Flooring recently awarded the winners of the Annual Mercier Acknowledgement Awards. For the first time in its history, Mercier acknowledged its American partners alongside its Canadian ones in a grand partner meeting at the Sofitel Montreal on Nov. 10.

Three awards were given to Mercier’s American partners. The Best Continuous Sales Growth award was given to Intermountain Wood Products. Brad Myers of Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors in St. Louis, Mo., won the Best Salesperson of the Year. And for the 3rd straight year, Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors was awarded as Distributor of the Year at Mercier.

Mercier is proud to do business with all of its partners in the U.S. and congratulates the 2016 award winners.

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Ceramic: State of the Industry—Housing strength, buying trends boost consumption

November 21/28, 2016: Volume 31, Number 12

By K.J. Quinn

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-02-48-amWhile much excitement in the U.S. flooring industry surrounds innovations in LVT, the irony is most of these faux designs resemble a product requiring no introduction: ceramic tile. The category is making some noise of its own, as new digital printing technologies and larger formats are driving pent-up demand in the residential market.

“Speaking with various manufacturers and tile distributors at TSP, everyone seems busy and their sales are up,” said Donato Pompo, president, Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants. “Everyone seems to be looking forward to continued growth in 2017.”

While industry sales and consumption projections vary widely due to fragmentation, the category is on pace to post 10% growth in sales and volume in 2016 and similar results are expected next year, according to industry estimates. Tile is also more accessible to consumers than ever before, as nearly all flooring retail channels sell it.

“We have seen positive growth in the domestic residential ceramic tile market, particularly in the new residential segment,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile.

Tile of Spain is bullish about category growth, noting U.S. residential and commercial tile sales have been strong the past 36 months. Year-to-date U.S. ceramic imports from Spain increased 35.5% in value and 46% in volume. “Tile of Spain feels it is going to be a great year for Spanish ceramic tile manufacturers, consolidating a growth that started in 2011,” said Rocamador Rubio Gomez, director of Tile of Spain U.S.

Traditional metrics used to gauge the state of ceramic—such as strength of the U.S. economy, lending and unemployment rates—are pointing in the right direction. But what really has industry members excited regarding prospects for next year is good news from the home front. New single-family housing, the single-largest economic indicator for the residential market, rose 3.1% in September to a seasonally adjusted rate of 593,000 units and is up nearly 30% over last year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau. “In recent years, single-family homes have continued to grow larger in size, which is positive for the ceramic tile market, since the category represents a greater percentage of the flooring used,” Mattioli said.

While the builder business remains on solid ground, it still lags behind growth rates prior to the 2008 recession. “The market is fairly good, even if residential housing is still stuck below the normal [annual] level of 1.5 million housing starts,” observed Donato Grosser, president and chief consultant, D. Grosser & Associates. “If housing starts were up to 1.5 million, you’d see a lot more tile sold.”

Indeed, there remains plenty of room for growth, as the U.S. market has only scratched the surface in per-capita use of ceramic. Tile as a percentage of total flooring in new homes continues to rise as it finds more applications in spaces such as patios, garages and basements. “We are also seeing an increase in overall dollars per home sales, so that means more premium finishes—which benefits tile,” noted Sean Cilona, director of marketing and product development, Florida Tile.

Issues impacting growth
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-03-11-amWhile the builder market is the biggest driver of U.S. residential tile consumption, there are other issues emerging which stand to impact sales and volume in 2017. For example, the stronger U.S. dollar is reportedly reducing the cost of imported products. “The increase of lower-priced imports is affecting overall price and competition with domestic suppliers,” Cilona stated.

Ceramic, like all floor coverings, is losing an untold number of opportunities to LVT. Nonetheless, suppliers are convinced tile’s position as a premium, natural product will win out, as there are products for all shopping budgets. “Tile is better than any other floor and can last longer,” Grosser said. “If someone is buying for the short term, they may buy a cheaper product which may have to be replaced in five years.”

Another issue is the perennial shortage of qualified installers. “Tile installers typically don’t have a formal education in how to properly install tile and they don’t know the industry standards,” Pompo explained. “Standards are created by a consensus group of tile installers, manufacturers, distributors, scientists and consultants in order to prevent reoccurring problems.”

To that end, the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) offers an online course, “Tile Installers Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification,” to teach floor layers the industry standards. “Installers who are ITS verified are more likely to provide quality workmanship and tile installations,” Pompo said. “This course is offered through CTDA, NTCA, TTMAC and Fuse Alliance.”

Cultivating and recruiting qualified labor is an issue vendors take very seriously—and for good reason. “It’s essential that there are plenty of experienced contractors to meet growing demand for tile installation,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “It’s also essential for those installers to invest in training and education to successfully work with new products, particularly the increasingly popular porcelain tiles.”

Crossville has been proactive in helping to address this issue by participating in, hosting and leading training sessions for installers. “Whether holding training at our plant in Tennessee or providing hands on support for workshops at the regional level in partnership with our distributors, we are committed to helping installers achieve success with our creative solutions,” Waldrep said.

Continuing education among installers is important when you consider the plethora of new tile products hitting the market each year. “New technologies and new products may [not] impact the supply chain, if all agents involved do not have proper knowledge about applications, installation and many other factors,” Gomez pointed out. “That is why, for Tile of Spain, education has always been so important. We place a priority on informing the tile community of new technologies to the U.S. market as soon as the manufacturers put them into the supply chain.”

Innovation improves value
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-03-04-am2016 saw investments made in digital printing technologies which enabled producers to introduce game-changing formats and designs. These innovations have completely transformed the category, allowing manufacturers to supply consumers with high-quality floor tiles that resemble concrete, wood planks, stone and marble.

“Cersaie 2016 demonstrated many of the new technologies in tile which illustrated the versatility of porcelain/ceramic in applications,” said Raj Shah, president, MSI. “This includes not only porcelain/ceramic flooring in differing but realistic looks, but also in numerous shapes and sizes that were never available before.”

The digital printing process has become so sophisticated that manufacturers are creating tile that varies from piece to piece, much like the real products. Size does matter as vendors continue churning out larger formats such as 16 x 16 and 24 x 24 inches and shapes to accommodate demand. “New sizes and shapes are opening new markets,” Shah pointed out. “Large-format tile, hexagons, planks, etc., are all available in tile today.”

The latest porcelain tile panels are opening up possibilities for creative applications in residences as well as installation efficiencies, observers say. These products are generously proportioned—available in sizes as large as 72 x 120—so they cover lots of surface area with minimal grout lines for a sleek, sophisticated look. “These large tiles require a whole set of new tools and methods for installing, transporting and storing,” Pompo said. “They can be installed over existing tile surfaces or over properly prepared wall or floor substrates.” UofCTS offers online courses on Thin Gauged Porcelain tile so architects, installers, distributors and industry members can stay updated on these new products.

In order to meet future market demands, suppliers are closely following shifts in the segment to ensure they are providing products that meet customer demands. “Many of the trends in the residential segment are positive signs for the ceramic tile industry, as they will lead to increases in sales,” Mattioli said.

Meanwhile, suppliers continue investing in manufacturing to bolster production efficiency and speed to market. “We have added a new rectification line to our manufacturing facility that allows us to offer this new style of product manufactured inside our facility without sending it out for a third-party application or purchasing it from our companies overseas—both of which add to the final cost,” Cilona said.

 

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My take: The times they are a changin’

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

By Steven Feldman

 Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.30.30 AMSo how’s your November going? Pretty mundane, I know. Yeah, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, setting off what was arguably the biggest sports celebration in our lifetime. And yeah, we had that little thing called the Presidential election, where a man for the first time was voted to lead this country without any government or military experience, all the while trailing in just about every poll leading up to the election.

So the voters have spoken. What were they trying to say? My gut tells me the election results were a vote against something, not a vote for something. A rejection of Secretary Clinton, certainly. A rejection of the traditional political party machines. A rejection of the status quo.

Republican voters already rejected their own party when they nominated President-elect Trump last summer. The party has since splintered and spluttered and struggled to find its center.

But this election turned on states where the new economy has not arrived, where the manufacturing economy collapsed over the past three decades: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Trump proved to be stronger in those states than any pollster predicted. And what does this say about the countless polls that simply got it all wrong?

Maybe this was a referendum on the state of the union. People seemed to say, “We are tired of Washington, D.C., we are tired of broken promises. We want wholesale change.”

What does this all mean for us? For business? I don’t know if anyone can say for sure, but here are some guesses broken down to its simplest form based on what I’ve read.

First, we know President-elect Trump wants to slash business taxes, eliminate Obamacare and curb illegal immigration. But he’s also called for increasing the standard deduction for middle-class earners. And he’s called for guaranteed paid leave for new mothers.

Taxes: A big part of Trump’s plan for boosting the economy has been to lower taxes. He would start by increasing the standard deduction (what you use when you don’t itemize) to $30,000 for joint filers, from $12,600 now—ensuring that families earning less than that would owe no income taxes.

To simplify the tax code, he wants to pare the current seven brackets, which range from 10% to 39.6%, to three. He also wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% and has floated the idea of applying that lower rate not just to large corporations but small business owners—including doctors, lawyers and even freelancers.

Under this scenario, middle-class earners—those making roughly $50,000 a year—would keep, on average, an extra $1,000 a year. By contrast, those who make $450,000 and up would get more than $100,000 on average.

Trade: A big part of Trump’s appeal was his promise to bring back middle-class manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the past generation. To do that, he aims to renegotiate trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports and 35% on Mexican goods. That could have a huge impact on our industry and boost domestic manufacturing.

Healthcare: With premiums set to rise and some insurers leaving the market, Obamacare has had its share of problems. Trump believes the program should be dismantled.

As a partial substitute for a defunct Affordable Care Act, he would let you deduct health insurance premiums from your income taxes. In addition, Trump has argued that doctors and hospitals need to make prices more transparent so patients can more easily shop for the most cost-effective care.

Childcare and family benefits: To ease the burden once new moms return to work, Trump has also called for making childcare spending deductible, up to the average cost in each state. That deduction would be available to singles earning less than $250,000 and couples making less than $500,000. He also wants to add a new credit of $1,200 to the existing child tax credit. On the flip side, his maternity leave plan, paid through unemployment insurance, would offer relatively modest benefits of $300 a week on average—about one-third of U.S. median weekly earnings of $824.

As with most Presidential elections, about half the country wakes up unhappy the morning after. Only time will tell whether America got it right.

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Novalis previews new AVA products at NeoCon East 2016

ava-booth-neoconeast2016Philadelphia, Pa.—For the second consecutive year, Novalis Innovative Flooring had a few surprises at NeoCon East with its AVA Commercial LVT line.

“Last year, we actually formerly introduced AVA at NeoCon East,” said John Wu, president and CEO of Novalis. “This year, we previewed an expanded product offering for 2017.”

Currently, the AVA brand is made up of three collections, each designed and targeted for specific kinds of installations. AVA DSGN is a range of LVT designed for corporate, retail and hospitality sectors; AVA SNSE was created for education and healthcare, while AVA STYL was made for apartment and condominium living.

New for 2017 will be AVA SPRK, a new tile line for healthcare and education, and AVA SMPL, a High Performance Core (HPC) plank collection with an attached cork underlayment.

“We received extremely positive reaction to these products,” Wu said. “With more to come next year.”

Learn more about AVA at AVAFlor.com.