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Armstrong hardwood sets design stage for retail

Lancaster, Pa.—Commercial designers, interior architects and visual merchandisers of retail spaces are turning to hardwood to create unique spaces and now Armstrong Flooring is expanding this design potential by bringing the warmth and natural beauty of wood from the floor to the wall at Global Shop, booth #2216.

“Hardwood is the most coveted type of flooring, so it’s no wonder that it’s also successful as an interior wall design in retail, whether in boutiques or restaurants,” said Sara Babinski, Armstrong Flooring, hardwood design manager. “On the wall, the carefully crafted textures and tones of wood bring natural warmth and authenticity into the retail environment.”

Many of Armstrong Flooring’s engineered wood products, such as Woodland Relics, can be used on walls. Woodland Relics captures the essence of reclaimed, weathered wood, as random and varied as nature itself. Every plank is crafted using hand-staining, sanding and woodworking techniques that showcase textures and tones. The collection includes a varied sampling of multiple species, widths, colors and textures, all of which are mixed together in random fashion to create a highly custom look.

On the floor itself, wood has an elegance beloved by customers and retailers alike, as a genuine hardwood can carry the motif and experience of the entire establishment. Designers can choose from durable, on-trend collections such as TimberBrushed, which offers artistic techniques like liming and deep etching; American Scrape hardwood, a rustic, hand-scraped look that features distinctive graining and knots in a vibrant palette of golds, grays, reds and browns for a rich texture; and Performance Plus, which combines the look of hardwood and commercial performance.

HomerWood, a premium hardwood brand from Armstrong Flooring, offers classic to contemporary designs for floors in a range of species, colors, styles, textures and surface treatments. New collections at Global Shop include fresh visuals that combine wire-brushing techniques with distinct color washes and variable width designs. The varied tones and random patterns capture the coveted essence of reclaimed hardwoods.

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Spring promos help dealers shake off winter blues

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Even though the winter weather is still putting up a fight in certain areas of the United States, flooring manufacturers and buying groups are getting into the spirit of the impending spring season with exciting seasonal sales and promotions.

Following are a few promotions and sales going on now.

Abbey Carpet & Floor/Floors to Go

Abbey Carpet & Floor and Floors to Go members are preparing for the national sale events taking place in May. When consumers are looking for the perfect place to purchase their new floor, Abbey makes sure its members have every opportunity to be top-of-mind with buyers. The campaign, developed with the support of Abbey’s supplier partners, offers consumers discount pricing in every product category.

Armstrong

Armstrong Flooring is hosting its “The Floor is Yours” spring promotion March 19 through May 14. During this period, consumers have the chance to save up to 10% on select hardwood, LVT and resilient sheet flooring collections as well as Alterna engineered tile, many of which feature the company’s Diamond 10 technology.

To qualify, the purchase must be made during the promotion period from a participating Elevate or Impact retailer. The maximum discount is $500 in the form of an Armstrong Visa card.

Carpet One

Carpet One’s second spring promotion highlights one of its most popular brands, Relax, it’s…Lees. The group will be relaunching the brand with 32 new products and special introductory pricing. The promotion will be supported by discounted pricing and consumer financing offers.

Carpet One will provide retailers with TV, radio, print and digital assets to support the promotion on a local level. The group will also support the promotion on the group’s website, Houzz, Facebook and a national paid search campaign. Carpet One’s promotional message will be “Lees—a carpet like no other,” offering the consumer a 25-year, no-exclusions stain warranty.

CarpetsPlus Color Tile

The CarpetsPlus Color Tile Spring into Savings sale comes into full bloom during April and May in member stores across the country. Select styles of their popular Destination brand carpets made with Anso nylon are being featured in this sale at participating dealer locations.

Members are also signing up for the second annual Shop for the Paws Animal Welfare and Rescue Awareness event, which will run after the group’s Spring into Savings sale. During this event, members donate money raised to their choice of local animal welfare charities. Many locations also collect dog and cat food, bedding, toys and additional monetary donations.

Couristan

Couristan’s annual Outdoor Living Merchandising promotion is taking place March 19 through June 30. The promotion offers deals on the company’s full assortment of indoor/outdoor area rugs as well as two dynamic merchandising display options.

Also, back by popular demand, Couristan is offering its Outdoor Living Merchandising display box free with an initial order of 20 area rugs from its Afuera, Cape, Dolce, Monaco, Monte Carlo and Recife collections (size requirements apply).

Invista

Invista is hosting its 2018 Stainmaster brand Celebrate Spring Sweepstakes, which is set to run April 1 through May 31. During the sweepstakes, five customers who purchase Stainmaster PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring will win up to $10,000 back on their purchase and installation (excluding sales tax and delivery charges). Consumers can enter online at stainmastersweepstakes.com. Note: One entry per individual per purchase allowed. Winners will be chosen July 31.

Karastan

Quality, beauty and craftsmanship have all been a part of the Karastan legacy, and this year the manufacturer proudly celebrates its 90th anniversary of offering high-styled, quality floor coverings. Karastan’s 90th Anniversary Sale kicked off March 1 and continues through March 31, offering extensive promotional campaigns for Karastan retailers. Consumers can take advantage of savings on Karastan styles ranging from beautiful wool to family-friendly SmartStrand Forever Clean styles.

Lastly, from April 26 to June 2, Karastan will celebrate National Karastan Month. This sale promotes a consumer rebate offer to entice luxury buyers to purchase floor covering.

Mannington

One Mannington retailers can take advantage of the company’s “Spring into Summer Sale,” which runs from May 15 to July 4. For specific details about the promotion, One Mannington retailers are encouraged to contact their local distributors.

Mirage 

Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood flooring, is offering a Play & Win with Mirage Spring 2018 rebate for customers across North America (valid in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec) at all participating Mirage dealers from April 16 to June 9.

During this promotion, consumers will have the chance to save $0.50 to $1 per square foot  on Mirage flooring by playing an online game. This offer is valid on all Mirage products, regardless of species, color or width.

For more on the rules, visit miragefloors.com/rebate on or after April 9.

Mohawk

Mohawk’s Spring All Pet Sale, running from April 12 to May 24, aims to drive consumer awareness of the company’s Pet Protection warranty, covering all pets, all accidents, all the time. During the sale period, Mohawk will drive traffic to its participating retail partners by incentivizing in-market consumers with an in-store rebate and special financing offers. Mohawk also provides a variety of product discounts for its participating retail partners.

The promotions don’t end there. To seamlessly connect the online, in-store and product experience—and ultimately encourage retailer success—Mohawk has also featured this sale on Omnify.

Raskin

Raskin Industries plans to host two spring promotions for its dealers—one for Loft and the other for Ceramix. From March 15 through May 15, dealers have the opportunity to earn $5 on each carton of Loft purchased for residential use.

In addition, from April 1 through June 1, dealers can earn $5 on each carton of Ceramix purchased for residential use. Both rebates will be applied to an American Express card.

Shaw

From April 2 through May 12, Shaw will host its Spring for Green sale. Consumers will have the opportunity to earn up to $500 off on qualifying Shaw Floors products in the form of a manufacturer’s rebate. Note: The promotion is valid on a minimum of 500 square feet of qualifying products.

Shaw’s rebate aims to give participating retailers a competitive advantage in their respective markets as Shaw is covering 100% of the costs. Shaw Flooring Network retailers who registered on ShawNow by March 11 are eligible for the promotion.

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Armstrong sets diamond standard in solid hardwood

Lancaster, Pa.—Armstrong Flooring is extending its exclusive Diamond 10 technology to a new solid hardwood collection, Appalachian Ridge, which takes the warmth of wood to new heights with on-trend looks, rich colors and lush textures. With Diamond 10 technology, Armstrong Flooring is able to deliver a solid hardwood that is more versatile and durable for homeowners with busy lifestyles.

Appalachian Ridge transcends the typical. Scraped and brushed artisan effects are harmonized with gentle sanding to create a refined, tactile canvas, brought to life with carefully selected stains and color washes. This fusion of soft focus texture and unparalleled, multi-tonal colors creates a designer floor with subtlety and sophistication.

“Our research consistently shows solid hardwood is the most coveted flooring choice by consumers for its timeless beauty and the considerable value it adds to a home,” said Michael Bell, vice president – wood. “But, a factor preventing some from purchasing is concern over scratches and maintaining that beauty over time. When investing in hardwood, consumers seek peace of mind that their floor will look beautiful for the long term. For many consumers, scratch is a top factor when considering the durability of the floor.”

Both Appalachian Ridge and Paragon are made from 100% solid Appalachian hardwood with patent-pending Diamond 10 technology. Unlike many protectants that can leave a cloudy finish, Diamond 10 technology provides clear scratch protection allowing the natural allure and beauty of the wood to shine through. It forms a hard traffic-and-wear-resistant barrier on the surface that also protects the wood from soils and stains.

For information, visit armstrongflooring.com.

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Westboro Flooring & Décor receives Armstrong Flooring Elite status

Lancaster, Pa.—Armstrong Flooring’s newest Elite Retailer is Westboro Flooring & Décor of Ottawa, Canada, a company that has been proudly providing Ottawa with flooring and window coverings in the commercial, new home building, residential and commercial markets since 1962. It is the first Elite location for the Ontario retailer.

Westboro Flooring & Décor is a family owned and operated business which has grown and diversified over the years to become one of the largest flooring companies in the Ottawa region. Every day its team of flooring consultants, interior designers, decorators, installers and service technicians deliver top quality, affordable fashions to thousands of Ottawa homes and offices, while always honoring a strong family tradition of service and quality.

“The Elite program has presented us with an opportunity to grow our relationship with Armstrong Flooring in a way that will benefit not only our company, but also our customers,” said Barb Champagne, vice president of operations, commercial/retail divisions, Westboro Flooring & Décor Inc. “We will be able to offer a wider variety of Armstrong Flooring products and our team will be experts in the product benefits, installation and maintenance. Armstrong flooring has a reputation for excellence in terms of product quality and service. In all our previous relationships with Armstrong, we have received outstanding support and service.”

Westboro Flooring & Décor offers a wide range of services from its design center including all flooring finishes, blinds, drapery and upholstery. The team services all sectors of the market including residential retail clients, contractors and renovators, commercial and institutional clients as well as new home builders. The sales team includes on-staff decorators who are available to help customers with selections from flooring and window coverings to paint and finishes.

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Armstrong, Bondi to part ways

Lancaster, Pa.—Joe Bondi has announced his resignation from his position as senior vice president and chief product officer at Armstrong, effective Feb. 1. However, he will continue working with Armstrong Flooring through May 31, 2018, as he focuses on executing this strategic transition and other projects.

“Joe has provided valuable leadership as we established Armstrong Flooring as an independent company,” said Don Maier, president and CEO, Armstrong  Flooring. “He has been instrumental in developing initiatives to strengthen our brand, our commitment to innovation and our customer focus. We look forward to his continued insights during this transition.”

Bondi joined Armstrong in 2014, serving as the company’s vice president and general manager. Nearly two years later he was elevated to the position of senior vice president before taking on his current role in 2017. In the spring last year, Armstrong Flooring announced plans to unite its commercial and residential business operations. The move entailed the integration of the company’s residential and commercial sales, marketing and product management teams, and it resulted in the combination of the company’s resilient and wood manufacturing operations. During this integration, Bondi was responsible for R&D, design, resilient and wood product management, marketing, customer service and pricing, among other tasks.

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Resilient: Felt finds its place within key market sectors

December 18/25, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 14

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Anecdotal research shows fiberglass sheet vinyl continues to capture market share from felt products. But that’s not deterring manufacturers from supporting the sub-category. Many resilient flooring executives believe the product is still finding favor in various markets. What’s more, executives say felt’s unique characteristics will help it stay afloat in the sea of resilient products.

While felt is part of a mature market, executive say it still provides greater durability over similar fiberglass backed vinyl sheet products. As Bill Furman, product marketing manager, Armstrong, explained: “Segments such as property management and builder still put a high value on rip, tear and gouge performance, and felt products continue to do well with these customers.”

Beyond the product’s use in those key end-use markets, felt also appeals to consumers looking for overall value. “Price, design and performance all come together to make it one of the best values in flooring,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales, Congoleum. “It is incredibly durable and is the original child-proof, pet-proof, waterproof flooring.”

Installation is another key factor driving felt growth, experts say. Unlike other types of flooring, felt can be installed with a perimeter fasten. Suppliers say this type of installation is ideal for consumers looking to do a full kitchen remodel or install flooring before cabinets or an island. “Many other types of flooring—fiberglass-backed sheet included—cannot have a perimeter installation,” said Mary Katherine Dyczko-Riglin, product manager for resilient sheet vinyl, Mannington. “This feature can make an installation job much simpler.”

By utilizing felt’s well-known installation benefits and value proposition, manufacturers are able to provide flooring solutions for any budget.

The fate of felt
FCNews research shows felt fell 6% in 2016. Despite this market-share loss, suppliers say felt will continue to hold its own. This is a result of felt’s continued use in particular flooring markets as well as the product’s construction.

“The move from felt to fiberglass is definitely continuing,” Mannington’s Dyczko-Riglin said. “As a large supporter of the felt-backed products, we have experienced a slower switch. However, we are continuing to see increasing demand for fiberglass. We believe there will continue to be a place for felt-backed products in the market.”

Armstrong has also taken note of the slight shift and is taking steps to provide enticing solutions for both product types. “There is a place for felt, just as there is a place for fiberglass, LVT, VCT, etc., as long as it delivers on true value and innovation,” Furman explained. “Not only do certain segments—such as property management or builders—continue to use felt-backed products, but some regions of the country prefer the price and durability benefits they offer.”

Some executives believe the basic elements of construction for felt and fiberglass are relatively similar. For example, both products contain a base or carrier layer, a gel and print layer and a wear layer. However, the real differences between these two constructions can be found in what goes into each layer. “Congoleum uses natural limestone as the base,” Denman explained. “As the name implies, limestone makes for a very dense foundation that does an incredible job of resisting indentation. When we add our UltraTec backing as in our AirStep products, you now have [more] versatility—fully adhered, perimeter install and loose lay. Unlike fiberglass, the limestone base eliminates any restrictions on seaming.”

Even though fiberglass continues to capture market share, its limitations in construction will allow for felt to recapture a certain percentage of market share. As Denman explained: “We have enjoyed significant growth in manufactured housing and the recreational vehicle markets and modest growth in the builder and multi-family segments. Our retail business has remained flat while others have seen significant declines. All told, that means we’re taking back market share.”

To help felt gain market share in a heavily saturated market, manufacturers are developing new products as well as new designs for existing flooring. “2018 is a year of felt revitalization for Mannington,” Dyczko-Riglin said. “We are overhauling the Mannington felt offering to allow retail salespeople to better focus their selling efforts on what consumers want—the most popular patterns. We started this effort this year by offering the Revive collection in base-grade felt lines to allow these high-fashion looks to be accessible to as many budgets as possible. In 2018, we will continue this commitment to style leadership by introducing new patterns into these lines to keep them fresh.”

Armstrong, for its part, continues to see success with its StrataMax flooring, which is the company’s proprietary, limestone-encapsulated, felt-backed product. “StrataMax offers enhanced durability over traditional felt products, and it can be loose laid like a fiberglass-based product, offering the best of both worlds,” Furman noted.

In developing new products for the category Congoleum is taking into account all of felt’s appealing attributes. “In addition to our relentless pursuit of design leadership, we are careful to control costs to ensure our products are competitively priced and deliver exceptional value without any compromise to our long-standing commitment to quality and performance,” Denman stated.

 

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Armstrong donates sheet vinyl for hurricane relief

Lancaster, Pa.—Lancaster-based Armstrong Flooring is donating 270,000 square feet of flooring through Good360, a nonprofit that matches product donations with community organizations, many of which are engaged in disaster recovery this holiday season and throughout 2018. Employees at Armstrong Flooring’s Lancaster distribution center loaded two tractor-trailers with rolls of vinyl sheet flooring being donated to help with the rebuilding efforts in areas of the country that were devastated by hurricanes this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wood: Anticipating trends is the key to successful product development

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Reginald Tucker

 

Fashion trends come and go, but hardwood flooring installations are designed to last for many years. For manufacturers, that poses a challenge: How to accurately forecast color/style design trends several years in advance of actual product rollouts?

“The biggest challenge is always developing a product inspired by a home fashion trend that’s too early for the market,” said Joe Amato, vice president, residential styling, Mannington. “A perfect example is the color gray. We followed gray-colored hardwood products for years prior to introducing the color in the United States. As the color family started to become popular in furniture and cabinetry, we knew it was time to launch it in hardwood. The gray story was popular in Europe and Canada well before becoming popular in the States.”

When attempting to accurately forecast hardwood flooring color trends and patterns, many stylists and designers look to take their cues from the fashion industry. But it’s important to remember that one dress doesn’t fit every Betty; with wood flooring, patterns, colors and styles are still largely a function of regional tastes. “Regarding fashion and hardwood trends, it is not so much about design and patterns but more about color,” Amato explained. “A perfect example would be the popularity of warm grays in flooring as well as fashion. Wood flooring trends have a bigger connection to regional trends more so than fashion trends. An example would be areas of the Midwest region still supporting refined rustic looks while sections of the East Coast now moving to urban looks that are not so rustic and have less character.”

The ability to accurately forecast trends goes well beyond shades or stains. “As well as color we follow wood formats, surface texture, wood species and surface gloss, and we try to time the development to the market needs,” Amato said. “You don’t always need to be the first, but you need to be ready to respond when the timing is right.”

Manufacturers across the spectrum are working hard to do just that. Beyond color, suppliers are taking into consideration changing trends relative to product format, i.e., engineered vs. solid. As Michael Bell, general manager, hardwood, Armstrong, explains: “The dynamics are different in solid vs. engineered. In engineered we see much of the growth occurring on the bookends of the market, with significant increases in the opening price point/value engineered products and the best/premium sliced- and sawn-face engineered products. Solid is similarly seeing increased activity on the best/premium side of the market.”

Other executives still see the pendulum tilting toward engineered. “From a product level, we’re seeing continued growth in engineered hardwood sales as the industry shifts in preference from solid to engineered hardwood,” said Drew Hash, vice president, hard surface, Shaw Floors. “This shift is happening for a variety of reasons, namely due to engineered hardwoods’ versatility and enhanced performance story. We also see great opportunity in high-end hardwood products for next year.”

Some manufacturers believe growth will be driven by products that successfully combine innovation in aesthetics and performance, which are the No. 1 and No. 2 factors driving consumer demands for hardwood. “On the design side, we see trends moving away from more rustic to more refined visuals and the continued shift to wider and longer plank sizes,” Armstrong’s Bell noted. “On the performance front, scratching remains the primary concern for consumers shopping for hardwood.”

That’s a trend that suppliers don’t see changing anytime soon. “While we believe the bulk of customers desire the authenticity, permanency and unique beauty of a real hardwood floor, performance factors may drive them toward wood-look flooring options,” Bell added. “At Surfaces 2018 we will be launching a brand new collection of solid hardwood, Appalachian Ridge, with Diamond 10 Technology. We originally applied this proprietary technology with our LVT flooring and have now expanded it to hardwood. By providing enhanced scratch and stain resistance, we are addressing one of the key performance attributes that is important to consumers: durability.”

Hardwood manufacturers point to another trend that stands to impact future product development: The popularity of sawn-faced veneers in the production of engineered floors. “We expect wood flooring will grow at about 6% in 2018, and the continued popularity of wide and long boards will fuel most of that growth,” said Don Finkell, CEO, American OEM. “We’re seeing the continued growth of sliced veneer faces over rotary-peeled veneer faces along with more complex finishing techniques—technologies at which we excel.”

American OEM is not the only company seeing increased demand for sawn-faced product. Mohawk, which recently expanded its Melbourne, Ark., plant, is banking on it. “We have built the largest sawn-faced plant in the United States,” said David Holt, senior vice president, builder and multi-family. “We have also added a brand new cold press to the line. We believe we have come up with a better product that’s more dimensionally stable than other hardwood floors on the market.”

One of the first products to roll off the new lines at the Melbourne plant is Mohawk’s new Vintage Elements collection—an offering that reflects “Old World” styling in a family of six wire-brushed, cerused oak species. Boasting a high-fashion color palette, Vintage Elements comes in a 7-inch-wide, ½-inch-thick format in random lengths up to 6 feet.

Others are also looking to capitalize on the sawn-face craze. Mullican Flooring, known for its innovative approach to manufacturing, has expanded its American-made engineered product line with two new collections, Wexford and Nature. Wexford, a “Euro-sawn” line, combines three traditional North American sawing techniques to create a classic European look. This 1⁄2-inch-thick product is offered in 7-inch widths and random lengths up to 7 feet. The collection’s prefinished version is available in six selections of white oak.

“We have mastered the Euro-sawn cutting technique, which produces a highly desirable look that is gaining prominence throughout the market,” said Pat Oakley, vice president of marketing. “We are proud to integrate this process into our robust Made-in-the-USA portfolio, which offers customers superior materials, shorter wait times, sustainable manufacturing practices, and premier beauty and quality.”

 

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Executive forecast: Industry leaders look forward to robust year ahead

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Ken Ryan

 

Words like “sluggish” and “tepid” to describe growth in the flooring industry are being replaced by “healthy” and “sustainable” as some of flooring’s top executives see an industry that is now accelerating to a respectable cruising speed as we approach 2018. The catalyst driving this momentum is winning products—the still-booming LVT market and across-the-board innovations in other segments.

We expect 2018 will be even better than 2017. Continued GDP expansion, employment growth and rising wages will drive consumer spending. Residential new construction and refurbishment growth is responding to demographics, and lack of housing inventory with mixed use development continues to shine. After a lackluster 2017, commercial should be stronger in 2018 with rising business confidence.

The big unknown for 2018 could be corporate and individual tax reform. This could be an accelerator for all of the above.

In terms of the biggest challenge facing the industry—short and long term—it is adequate supply of qualified installation. Manufacturers are responding with easier-to-install flooring, but attracting and retaining qualified installers must be dealt with on a local basis. In general, the greatest opportunities are for manufacturers to truly understand consumer and end-user needs and requirements, which result in innovations with real solutions. Also, manufacturers need to transparently provide information and tools for consumers to make better flooring decisions.

We continue to invest and spend capital at record rates, [dedicating resources to] new businesses, new manufacturing platforms and new technology. We will continue to expand our revolutionary StrataWorx carpet tile platform with new looks and new installation methods. We are also investing heavily in our key brands with the rollout of the new Anderson Tuftex brand, a new consumer campaign on COREtec and exciting soft and hard surface introductions from Shaw Floors.

As an industry, we must be diligent about changing consumer purchasing habits—the move to digital, her desire for transparency and ease of transaction, and the reputation and integrity of our products. If we acknowledge and understand the consumer, and offer products, services and selling environments that relate, we will continue to prosper.

 

The variables that tend to drive the success of our business—employment and income, the equity markets, inflation, consumer confidence—are in a good place.  Flooring is a discretionary purchase; therefore, [consumer] confidence is important. If you look overall at the market there are a lot of things that are favorable for the consumer. The GDP is now tripping above 3%, so all things collectively are positive for the floor covering business.

What’s driving it? Never has there been more innovation nor excitement than we see today. Every category is being impacted by true product innovation. We think that is weighing in on stimulating the consumer to come into the category. Air.o is just one example of an innovation that is driving industry growth. To be successful innovation has to be understandable—it has to be executable on the retail end, and it has to be promoted.

Our biggest challenge as an industry is standing out in front of a very inundated consumer. Of all the things that keep me up at night it is that flooring [must] stay top of mind. Are we, as manufacturers, doing everything we can to make the product exciting? Are we adding value and making it relevant at a time when that consumer is about to part with $1,000 to $3,000? Are we continuing to excite consumers? (And that starts with first exciting our retail partners.) The charge of the industry is how do we stand out in front with the most innovative products—not just vis-à-vis flooring but vis-à-vis other big-ticket products like electronics or refrigerators with Internet capability.

As a company, we are going to continue to refine and improve our execution in digital marketing and consumer lead generation in conjunction with our retail partners. Most consumers are starting out in the digital universe in their journey. Mohawk wants to be front and center in that process so our retail partners win in that selection process.

Our whole business culture is built on product innovations that are brought to market with exciting stories and opportunities for our retail partners to upsell their customers. As for big initiatives for 2018, you’ll just have to stay tuned for January.

 

Across the industry, we expect to see a continuation of the measured growth we’ve seen this year, with ongoing migration to hard surface flooring and continued robust growth in the LVT/rigid core category. At Armstrong Flooring we are well positioned to capitalize on the market surge in LVT with the recent increase in our domestic LVT production capacity and leading the way with the introduction of revolutionary new products such as our Diamond 10 Technology, rigid core and exclusive Pryzm LVT flooring.

There are tremendous opportunities out there. As one example, we recently repurposed part of our Stillwater, Okla., resilient sheet plant to produce LVT. This increases our domestic LVT production and leads to better capacity utilization for our sheet business.

Ongoing challenges within the industry include recruiting experienced installers and retail associates to help educate the consumer/end users on their purchase decisions.

As our economy heats up, likely increases in raw materials, energy, transportation and operating costs would likely need to be covered with increased pricing. Additionally, the industry is dealing with overcapacity in some product categories.

Our strategy in 2018 is to improve our mix of sales to higher-growth products like LVT and rigid core, while maintaining strong competitive positions in our legacy categories. At Armstrong Flooring, we’re focused on innovation—not just in products themselves—but in the way we do business. Our marketing campaign, “The Floor Is Yours,” goes beyond illustrating the design and performance of our floors and enables us to tell stories that really connect with consumers. We recently launched a new website to inspire homeowners and guide them through the purchase journey, and we will continue to collaborate with our distributor partners and aligned retailers to ensure we are delivering not only exceptional products but also an exceptional experience for our customers.

One initiative in 2018 is our retailer-centric program, Elevate, which helps independent specialty retailers grow their businesses. Elevate offers resources to drive store traffic, maximize the in-store experience and enhance sell-through via an aligned connection with Armstrong Flooring. We will continue to expand that program in 2018.

 

Overall, we anticipate the industry in general—and Mannington specifically—will continue to see good growth in the residential market. We expect to experience a similar pace as we’ve seen over the past 18-24 months: Roughly a 10% increase in single-family starts and a 4%-5% increase in remodeling activity. LVT/WPC will continue to be the stars of the show. There is nothing on the horizon right now that will change the momentum of that category relative to the other categories. All the other product segments are more aligned with the growth curve in remodeling.

Whereas the economy has driven consumer sentiment in the past, today I think the wild card is the political scene. The X Factor, I think, is tax reform and its impact on both spending and investment decisions.

The biggest challenge we face in the industry is the rapid change and shift in consumer preferences. I can’t think of a time the industry has seen such a shift between categories like we’ve seen over the past two to three years. There’s been incredibly rapid growth in LVT coupled with the emergence of WPC as a major category in and of itself. It has literally changed the game overnight, and that continues to evolve. With so much change in the product mix, retailers and consumers alike are finding it confusing. Our greatest opportunity lies in how we, as manufacturers, help them simplify and focus amongst so many choices.

As always, Mannington has an outstanding lineup of new product introductions rolling out at Surfaces. We can’t tell you much more than that—you’ll just have to come to our booth to find out.

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Compliance: Suppliers reinforce pledge to health, safety and the environment

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

 

With consumers and commercial end users placing more emphasis on environmentally friendly products, suppliers are working hard to ensure the products they source and develop do not pose health risks to customers. More manufacturers are providing chain-of-custody documentation as well as relevant environmental and operational certifications to demonstrate their compliance with regulatory statutes pertaining to the production of a host of hard and soft surface products. Suppliers see this as an opportunity to reinforce the message that they are continuing to meet or surpass the guidelines and federal/local regulations governing the manufacturing of engineered floor coverings.

Following are some examples of how suppliers are keeping it clean by meeting or exceeding environmental compliance standards.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.27.57 AMArmstrong has a long history of environmental stewardship, from reusing cork waste for linoleum floors in the early 1900s to planting hardwoods to replace the wood the company uses to make floors today. Today, sustainability continues as a core focus of its business.

The company’s products meet and have met the toughest standards for indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental manufacturing for years. Armstrong Flooring recently achieved FloorScore certification for its solid hardwood products including the Armstrong, Bruce and Capella brands. All Armstrong wood manufacturing facilities including Beverly, W.Va.; Warren, Ark.; and West Plains, Mo.; are also now FloorScore certified. Supporting certification programs such as FloorScore help advance Armstrong’s corporate mission to the environment and green practices throughout the manufacturing industry. All totaled, more than 95% of all Armstrong Flooring products by volume are FloorScore certified, including engineered wood, laminate, luxury vinyl flooring, linoleum, vinyl tile, vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.

While most of Armstrong’s volume is domestically produced, the company only accepts composite wood products that are certified to meet CARB requirements. In addition, on an annual basis the company randomly tests its products at the Hardwood Products Veneer Association (HPVA) lab in Virginia for Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements. As always, Armstrong is committed to providing the best quality, safest products by taking the steps necessary, including meeting and even exceeding regulatory requirements.

Furthermore, Armstrong has supply agreements in place requiring suppliers to follow CARB regulations. In addition to those agreements, the company is committed to taking actions to make sure it sources compliant products, has certificates and labels product properly. To support these initiatives, Armstrong has sourcing managers on the ground in China and product stewardship personnel in Lancaster, Pa., who ensure product compliance and regularly monitor that testing and certifications are up to date.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.01 AMAll applicable Mannington flooring products comply with the California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) 93120 Title 17, California Code of Regulations, and meet or exceed CARB 2 standards. The vast majority of Mannington flooring is also FloorScore IAQ certified, which means the products are independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems to comply with the emissions criteria of the California Section 01350 program. Both CARB and FloorScore test for formaldehyde. Any product that has met these stringent standards is considered a low-VOC product that will contribute to good indoor air quality.

Looking at individual product categories, Mannington laminate flooring is 100% made in the U.S. at its manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. The products are certified to a standard set by the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) called the NALFA LF-01 standard. In the hardwood category, more than 80% of Mannington’s engineered hardwood products are made in the U.S. at its manufacturing facilities in Alabama and North Carolina. All domestically produced Mannington hardwood products are FloorScore IAQ certified while all imported hardwood flooring products have been tested and comply with CARB 2. In resilient, Mannington sheet, Adura and porcelain do not contain formaldehyde. Furthermore, all three product categories have been certified to the FloorScore IAQ standard.

Mannington has a long-standing commitment to quality and safety. All of its products have passed third-party environmental testing and meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.06 AMMercier Generations products are Greenguard Gold Certified—the highest environmental certification on the market—and are made using 100% pure soybean oil. Mercier Generations flooring passes stringent environmental tests at every step in the finishing, dying and varnishing process in order to meet that standard. The Greenguard Gold Certification requirements comply with California’s Department of Public Health Services Standard Practice for Specification Section 01350 (California Section 01350) for testing chemical emissions from building products used in schools and other environments. Beyond that, every adhesive used in Mercier’s engineered products are free of urea-formaldehyde and hardwood plywood used in Mercier’s engineered products are CARB 2 compliant. In addition, laboratory tests reveal that Mercier Generations finish does not have any formaldehyde emissions and performs beyond the LEED norm and the environmental certification choice program regarding VOCs.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.10 AMAt Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand, everything is done with one eye on sustainable development because the company firmly believes there is no better way to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Its corporate values and strategies were geared toward sustainable development from the very beginning.

Some examples of this stewardship in sustainability measures include the procurement from vendors who practice responsible forestry methods according to the Lacey Act. In complying with this law, Mirage makes international environmental protection a priority as part of its approach to sustainable development. The Mirage brand guarantees customers peace of mind by providing them with hardwood floors made from natural resources that are soundly managed and legally harvested.

Furthermore, all Mirage products are manufactured in North American facilities, which enables complete control in all facets of production, including meeting implemented ISO-9001 standards. Mirage products are also FSC certified, meaning the raw materials used in the manufacturing process have been inspected and legally harvested in non-genetically modified forests where traditional and civil rights are respected.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.14 AMMohawk’s commitment remains to responsibly manufacture and provide the highest quality engineered hardwood and laminate floors that meet strict U.S. guidelines. Products across the Mohawk Hard Surface, Quick-Step, Columbia and Pergo portfolios have earned the following health and sustainability certifications: CARB Phase 2, NALFA and FloorScore. In addition, all of Mohawk’s hardwood flooring is Lacey Act compliant, ensuring the timber used is responsibly harvested from sustainable forests, and Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers (AHMI) has verified data from the U.S. Forest Service that Appalachian Hardwood Territory timber—which Mohawk uses in select hardwood flooring lines—is sustainably certified.

Mohawk places a high priority on making certain the products retailers receive surpass the most rigorous testing. Mohawk, Quick-Step’s Q-Wood, Pergo and Columbia domestically produce engineered hardwoods. Also, Quick-Step, Pergo, Columbia and Mohawk’s patented glueless Uniclic technology provides fast, easy installation of laminate planks without adversely impacting indoor air quality.

Consumers want confidence in the products they buy. They want impartial experts to evaluate what materials are in a product and whether the way those ingredients are used in a particular product could be a concern. That’s where “green seals” or certifications can be very helpful.

That’s one of the key reasons why Shaw Floors goes beyond standards required by law to pursue independent, third-party assessments such as Cradle to Cradle, Greenguard, Green Label Plus, FloorScore and others.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.18 AMIt’s important for retailers, as a homeowner’s trusted advisor, to understand the variety of product certifications available for flooring including what each certification tests for, how that information is tested (i.e. by an independent third party) and how frequent those tests occurred. Furthermore, it’s incumbent on manufacturers to ensure their products are verified and clearly labeled and that ongoing education and training is provided to retailers to help them communicate to customers what those third-party certifications mean. By providing ongoing training to retailers, information on point of purchase displays and on shawfloors.com, the company aims to provide information and tools to help consumers make their purchase decisions.

Shaw has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, and the company strives to build upon its legacy of leadership every day. The company carefully considers the impact of its products on the environment and on society throughout the life cycle of the floors. Shaw examines the ingredient materials, the impact of its supply chain, the use of natural resources and the ability to recover and recycle its products.

In addition, Shaw manufactures many of its own products and sources from strategic partners in the U.S. and internationally to offer a broad portfolio of products to meet diverse customer preferences. In doing so, the company sets high standards for itself and its suppliers. Shaw takes numerous steps to verify that its products—regardless of where or by whom they are manufactured—meet customers’ high expectations. This includes: performing manufacturing site inspections to ensure suppliers meet the same high-quality standards Shaw sets for itself; setting raw material specifications that restrict the use of certain chemical substances of concern; and ensuring all products meet the indoor air emissions requirements of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method V1.1 (2010) and that relevant products meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Lacey Act requirements.

Beyond meeting regulatory requirements, Shaw employs third-party certifications to provide further confidence in the products it manufactures.

For example: 85% of the products Shaw manufactures are Cradle to Cradle Certified, including nylon and polyester carpet as well as solid and engineered hardwood. In addition, many of Shaw’s resilient products are FloorScore certified, and all Shaw manufactured carpet products are GLP certified. Lastly, all of Shaw’s hardwood and laminate flooring is Greenguard certified.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.26 AMTarkett practices sustainability through its ‘closed loop circular design’ model, which is Tarkett’s way of best applying the Cradle to Cradle principles to support the development of the circular economy. The company works in partnership with the German scientific institute EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency) to apply these principles across all its activities and product ranges.

Tarkett’s sustainable product design approach earned its recognition through its selection as one of the first companies to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 program in February 2013.

Several product ranges have already received a Cradle to Cradle certification: Gold level for linoleum Veneto Essenza 100% linen produced in Narni (Italy); silver level for linoleum, also produced in Narni; wood manufactured in Hanaskog (Sweden) and Poland; and basic level for rubber made in the USA and artificial turf produced in Auchel (France), Valls (Spain) and Calhoun, Ga. Since February 2010, Tarkett has been a member of the KKR Green Portfolio Program. Designed in partnership with the non-governmental organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the program requires Tarkett to commit to improving its environmental performance, including in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, forest stewardship and chemical product use.