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Domotex asia/Chinafloor brings back popular features

Shanghai, China—To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Domotex asia/Chinafloor, show organizers will reintroduce the widely popular InnovAction Flooring Campaign, Materia and cadex educational conferences.

“InnovAction is a snapshot of the flooring industry’s future, and our goal is to highlight the importance of this,” said Kostas Chatzigiannis, InnovAction architect. “The human brain is naturally wired to fix attention on images and structures that stand out from everyday surroundings. With this idea in mind, we are building these custom areas because exhibitors are counting on our support to strengthen the promotion of their new concepts.”

The InnovAction Flooring Campaign and high-profile displays will be in three locations throughout the exhibition with the purpose of unveiling future, market-leading products in carpet, wood and resilient flooring. InnovAction exhibitors are automatically enrolled in the Top-10 Best Products Competition during the show. Over 55,000 fair attendees will have the opportunity to visit each showcase onsite and cast a vote for their favorite InnovAction products.

Materia at Domotex asia/Chinafloor is the one-stop shop to see and even touch the materials that make up the “DNA” of the finished goods used in office buildings and homes. Materia offers a preview of metals, ceramics, plastics, woods and more, all varying in texture, structure, resistance, weight and acoustics.

Cadex and Domotex asia/Chinafloor are creating a two-day platform geared toward providing global architects and flooring experts a meeting place to exchange ideas and best practices. In 2017, over 4,000 people attended the educational conferences to update themselves on current events and discover ways to collaborate on future projects in the Asian-Pacific region.

For more information, visit domotexasiachinafloor.com.

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Domotex asia/ChinaFloor: Shanghai is calling

DACF logo-01Shanghai, China—Domotex asia/ChinaFloor 2018 visitor registration is now open. Already the most prominent exhibition of its kind in the Asian-Pacific region, Domotex asia/ChinaFloor 2018 welcomes visitors from 100+ countries. Last year, the show increased its international attendance by almost 20%, from which, the top five visiting countries ranked: South Korea, Japan, the United States, India and Australia.

“I expect both our global visitor and exhibitor attendance to exceed last year’s results, especially as 2018 will mark our 20th anniversary,” said Shine Liu, project director of VNU Exhibitions. “The event continues to be the industry’s key meeting point in Asia and the international flooring community is noticing. We signed on new international pavilions (Croatia and Canada) and hope to organize more country marquees to join the ranks of Germany, France, India, Afghanistan, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States.”

To register visit: domotexasiachinafloor.com.

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NALFA celebrates 20 years of leadership, innovation

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 2.30.49 PMNew York—Current and long-time members of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) convened here earlier this month to mark a significant milestone—20 years in the business. The event included an update on the standards-setting group’s objectives and goals, a recap of the state of the laminate flooring industry and, most importantly, the unveiling of a new website more indicative of 21st century technology.

The improved website—nalfa.com—sports a brand new look and feel with updated content and improved mobile access. It is designed to enhance the experience of consumers, trade professionals and industry members.

“We are excited about the redesign of our website,” said Dan Natkin, NALFA president. “We have worked hard to make the website user friendly for consumers who are researching their floor options while continuing to be the voice for the laminate flooring industry. We are proud of the final product.”

A few highlights of the revamped site:

Fresh new look. Reflecting a more modern 21st century feel, the new-look nalfa.com site—which features the NALFA 20th anniversary logo atop the homepage—provides easier navigation by using the top tabs or clicking on the photos. “Consumers can also view all images on one site instead of clicking through to the various members’ sites,” said Barbara June, who in addition to handling legal/marketing matters for Swiss Krono also serves on the website committee.

More consumer oriented. More consumers are conducting research online before they buy. To that end, the site reflects the customer as opposed to NALFA corporate.

Better responsiveness. “We didn’t have a responsive, mobile-friendly website—now we do,” June stated.

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 2.31.18 PMThe next step in the site’s evolution, according to June, will entail a search tool that lists all certified laminate installers by state.

“I would like to thank all the members for their time and input, especially Dan [Natkin], Travis Bass [executive vice president, Swiss Krono] and Roger Farabee [senior vice president, laminate and hardwood, Mohawk]. They went above and beyond the call of duty.”

State of the industry

In his address to members and guests in attendance, Natkin provided an overview of the laminate category in the U.S. “In 20 years it has become a $1 billion-plus industry. Members in this industry employ hundreds of people who are involved in the production of laminate flooring, and

the retailers and installers employ thousands who service the end customer.”

He also reminded attendees how the category has withstood intense pressure from competing flooring segments, particularly wood, LVT and, now, WPC.

“People forget laminate is one of the most environmentally sound products—and that’s coming from a wood guy. Laminate comprises 95% renewable content.”

More importantly, Natkin cited the high level of cooperation of NALFA membership, which includes the likes of Arauco, Armstrong, DMX Underlayment, IVC U.S., Kronospan, MP Global Products, Mannington, Mohawk, Pak-Lite, Pergo, Quick-Step, Sealed Air Floor Care Products, Selit Foam Solutions, Shaw Floors, Swiss Krono and Torlys. These companies, he said, represent the vast majority of laminate flooring sold in North America.

“There is a higher level of engagement in NALFA than any other trade organization in which I’m involved,” Natkin stated. “And as we enter our third decade of existence we’re continuing to serve as the police of the industry. We’re unique in that we are led by the members. The individual voices come together as the collective voice of NALFA. Each leader in this room dedicates an amazing amount of time, effort, energy and passion toward advancing our message around the goals of standardization and the benefits of laminate flooring to both the consumer and the industry.”

Not the same old laminate
“Both regular and associate NALFA members are continuing to invest millions of dollars in the production of laminate flooring in support of continued demand among consumers,” Natkin said. He cited a number of innovations, including water-resistant coreboard technologies, improved visuals and surface technologies. “It’s not the laminate flooring of 20 years ago,” he told attendees.

Mohawk’s Farabee agreed, adding the group is focusing on building a platform for the future. “It’s our job to remind people of the incredible benefits this category offers. It’s a wood-based product; it’s the most durable hard surface product outside of ceramic; it’s the easiest to install; it’s the most cost effective product on an installed basis; and it offers the most realistic visuals of any ‘replica’ product on the market. For consumers today, the potential for future sales is greater, particularly as we focus on new aspects such as moisture resistance. There’s a role for the laminate category to play with respect to the new products that are starting to emerge.”

 

Tribute to a colleague and a friend

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 2.33.22 PMNew York—The 20th anniversary celebration of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) came to a close with a touching tribute to Bill Dearing, the man who served as its president from the group’s inception in 1997 until his passing in late 2016. Dearing, who not only presided over NALFA’s evolution but was also instrumental in bringing the Pergo brand to the U.S. market, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 75.

“We are members today because of Bill,” said Peter Barretto, president of Torlys, a long-time NALFA primary member. “He was a class act and gave to everyone in this room. He was the glue.”

Dan Natkin, current NALFA president who also serves as vice president of hardwood and laminate at Mannington, concurred. “Bill was always there for you if you needed anything. I considered him a colleague and a good friend.”

Natkin credited Dearing for bringing standardization to the laminate industry, eliminating the “Wild West” mentality that existed around claims. “He lived and breathed laminate flooring; he was passionate about it. He became synonymous with laminate flooring.”

Jack Boesch, marketing director for MP Global Products, a long-time NALFA associate member, recalled his early interactions with Dearing. “We were the first company outside the flooring manufacturers to get involved with NALFA, so naturally I asked a lot of questions about the laminate category. Bill welcomed me with open arms.”

Lars von Kantzow, former CEO of Pergo, hired Dearing in 1990 to help launch the Pergo brand in the U.S. “Dearing was literally Pergo’s first sales rep for Pergo,” he said (FCNews, Oct. 24/31, 2016). “He mapped out our distribution strategy and made the first contacts. He brought in retailers Carpet One and Color Tile, and then distributors such as Misco Shawnee, Bayard and William Bird. He was absolutely instrumental in putting Pergo on the map.”

Many industry members and associates were on hand for the tribute, including Roula Dearing, Bill’s wife of many years.

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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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Alliance Flooring marks 20 years of growth

February 27/March 6, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 19

By Ken Ryan

 

Atlanta—This year’s Alliance Flooring conference coincided with a significant milestone: 20 years in the business. But the event also provided a glimpse into what’s shaping up to be a promising future for the nearly 400-member group.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.39.54 AM“We know who our team is, what our core is,” Ron Dunn, co-founder and co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, told CarpetsPlus, Color Tile and Carpetland members during his keynote speech. “We are going to grow. This room is going to get bigger, and we are going to grab more market share.”

While Ron Dunn and Jon Logue, the co-founders and co-CEOs, are the current leaders, the next generation—Ryan Dunn and Kevin Logue—has been actively involved in running the business for years and is poised to carry the baton in the future.

“Our members can rest assured the future leadership is already in place—no other buying group can say that,” said Ryan Dunn, co-COO and vice president of sales. “We have many second-generation businesses in our group—probably 35% of our members are second generation. Kevin and I are second generation so we have grown up together with many of our members.”

Raising the bar was a major theme at the conference. To illustrate the point, an actual pole vault apparatus was set up on stage. Interestingly, Jon Logue was a pole vaulter in high school and he took the stage to make a mock attempt at clearing the bar. Touching on that theme, Ron Dunn asked members, “We have three choices: We could walk away, we could lower the bar or we could raise the bar. With this group we are going to continue to raise it.”

One important component in raising the bar on retail performance is through the Destination showroom concept. The Destination portfolio includes up to 10 private-label displays offering the best products from the premier carpet mills and hard surface manufacturers in easy-to-use, easy-to-sell formats emphasizing style, design and larger samples. Here’s the best part: Alliance dealers are not forced to take any displays if they don’t want to.

Prior to convention, 28 members had signed up for the Destination program. Alliance Flooring executives hoped to pull in another 20 or so. By the convention’s second day it had already signed 37 members, bringing to 65 the total number of Destination dealers.

“We knocked it out of the park,” said Kevin Logue, co-COO and vice president of marketing. “We don’t tell members what to do; it’s their choice. However, in today’s market you have to keep improving your showroom. Flooring is about fashion and design, and the Destination concept offers the tools to help our retailers evolve their businesses and achieve those goals.”

Josh Elder, co-owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, sits on the buying committee that helped develop the program. For him, the best part of the Destination program is the 56-pin carpet displays because they free up so much room. “Every inch of my showroom has a cost associated with it, and I want the biggest bang for my buck.”

Eric Langan, president/ owner of Carpetland USA (The Langan Group), Davenport, Iowa, said his main takeaway is the Alliance Flooring group still puts an emphasis on networking and collaboration within the group. “The sense of family was mentioned frequently here. While we have freedom to make whatever decisions we deem best for our business, it is important to know we can get more accomplished more quickly if we march together as a group instead of individual store owners.”

Mike Montgomery, vice president of Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus Color Tile, Venice, Fla., said the beauty of this convention is members are fully invested in the group. “Unlike some groups, they don’t withhold our rebate checks unless we come to convention. Our members genuinely want to be here.”

Alliance Flooring, which welcomed 20 new members in 2016, converted two prospects at this year’s show. The expectation is for at least double-digit member growth in 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.40.00 AMObservers attribute Alliance Flooring’s success to its laser focus on members’ success and the close relationship management has with its retail partners. “Their leadership is amazingly approachable not only to their members, but also to vendors and all who are committed to success,” said Scott Humphrey, WFCA chairman and CEO, who also delivered a keynote presentation during the conference. “Ron and Jon bring vast experience to the table. They are not bound by traditional ways of doing business in the flooring industry. By far the greatest trait that makes doing business with CarpetsPlus a pleasure is the fact that their leadership is truly committed to the success of the members. They care at the personal and professional levels. That is rare in the business world today.”

Suppliers’ support

In addition to new retail members, Alliance Flooring announced four more suppliers to the group: Beauflor (LVT, rigid core), Bolyu Commercial (commercial carpet, LVT), Southwind (residential carpet, WPC and dryback LVT) and Tarkett (luxury vinyl plank and tile, resilient sheet and laminate).

Beauflor has received plaudits recently for its Pure Click featuring a patented 360 locking system that allows mechanics to install the product in patterns, boarders or quarter-turn the material from one room to the other without the need for transitions. Kevin Logue sees Beauflor as the next USFloors or another IVC. “In three years they are going to be huge—once they get distribution up and running.”

Likewise, existing vendors attested to their strong partnership with Alliance Flooring dealers. Sam Ruble, vice president of sales for USFloors, called the relationship “refreshing.” It doesn’t hurt that USFloors doubled its business with the CarpetsPlus group in 2016 and is poised for an even bigger 2017. “I am a farm boy from Ohio, and to me these people are so down to earth and genuine, they really make me feel like my neighbors.”

Karndean, a longstanding member with CarpetsPlus, was named Hard Surface Supplier of the Year by the CarpetsPlus membership at the show. Throughout the past year, the prominent LVT supplier has worked closely with CarpetsPlus to produce Design Destinations, a private-label merchandising system that is part of the Destination program. “We love these guys,” said Tim Hanno, vice president of retail sales. “We have a great relationship with this group. They more than meet us halfway. There is a level of trust here.”