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Beaulieu, USFloors reach distribution deal on COREtec technology

Bliss COREtec logoDalton—Beaulieu America announced it has reached a distribution agreement with USFloors for the introduction of a completely new line of waterproof products designed to “boldly go” where traditional laminates and engineered wood flooring “fear to tread.”

Featuring patent pending COREtec technology, this new line will allow Beaulieu to expand beyond its current assortment of Bliss luxury vinyl tile and plank products. Beaulieu will market these new products under the Bliss COREtec ONE Waterproof Engineered Flooring brand.

“These products fill a real need in the marketplace for high quality, affordable, waterproof flooring in applications where traditional laminate and wood flooring may be too risky,” said Stan Bouckaert, director of hard surfaces for Beaulieu America. “Unlike traditional laminates and wood, new Bliss COREtec ONE can be safely installed in locations that may experience moisture—such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements. And, I think dealers will find they can hit a price point that will truly make these ‘go-to’ products.”

New Bliss COREtec ONE Waterproof Engineered Flooring will feature colors and visuals that are totally unique to Bliss, while incorporating the patent pending COREtec technology that has recently enjoyed such success in the marketplace.

This new collection is being launched in January 2015.

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State of the industry: Carpet looks to play catch-up in tough year

September 15/22, 2014; Volume 28/Number 7

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.17.06 AMThe carpet category grew both in dollars and units virtually every year for 50 years. But the flooring industry was then hit with the worst recession in its history, and since then carpet has been slowly on the mend.

According to carpet executives, by the end of 2014 housing starts will have recovered 70% of 2006 historical highs, with 93% by 2015. The carpet industry has recently rebounded somewhat following a brutal, weather-related slump during the first two months of this year, albeit not as robustly as some had hoped.

“Most of us agree that, on average, the carpet industry in 2014 is up modestly overall after a 2013 that was up 3% to 4% over the previous year,” said Karel Vercryussen, president and CEO, Beaulieu America. “That’s not exactly a cause for celebration, but it’s encouraging in terms of sales and shipments. But, when considering where carpet has been heading these last several years, there is cause for some celebration.”

Tom Lape, president of residential, Mohawk, said there is, in fact, good news out there. “Consumers are coming back, and they are shopping.” He cited some encouraging housing and economic data as well, including existing homes under contract are the highest in 11 months, new home sales are bouncing back and mortgage applications are higher. “Mortgage apps were down double digits early in the first quarter and have bounced back.”

Noting that the residential carpet segment has been playing catch-up following the dismal start to 2014, Shaw president Randy Merritt sees the overall category as “close to flat” at this point. “The average selling price of carpet is down slightly for the first time in several years due to the influx of PET at lower prices and the general weakness in the remodel segment. The winter of 2014 was exceptionally harsh across the country and led to the slow start of the year. We believe this slowed the new home construction process, and we will need a strong finish to the builder business.”

Lape and others talked about a bifurcated market in which the commodity end of the category and the premium side are showing buoyancy while the middle of the market is most challenging.

Overall, James Leslie, assistant to the chairman at Engineered Floors, suggested macro forces favor an upward trend in buying. “There is pent-up demand out there. Even with millennials starting families later and buying homes later, there will be a breakout. The macro forces indicate it is going to happen. We feel we are in the best part of the year right now–September and October.”

Larry Heckman, president of Best Buy Flooring, agreed there is pent-up demand out there, but suspects some of the reluctance on the part of consumers is the result of unsettling events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. “As soon as we get some [positive] news, we’ll have people spending money and buying. The overall pulse I get is that we’re up as a market.”Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.17.43 AM

In 2008, carpet represented 51.3% of the industry, according to FCNews estimates. By 2011, that number was 47.4%; by 2013 it was 46.9%. No one denies the gains being made by hard surfaces at the expense of soft surfaces, particularly in high-traffic areas in the home where hardwood flooring and LVT are being put down as “easy-to-care-for” alternatives.

“The multi family business is an example of where we are seeing more LVT going in places where carpet used to go,” Merritt said.

T.M. Nuckols, senior director of product strategy at Invista, added that LVT is taking away share from carpet by creating looks at price points previously not available in hard surface offerings.

Fiber

Polyester has grown significantly during the past several years at the expense of other fibers, especially nylon, and executives see that trend continuing.

As well, polyester has evolved from a nice value alternative to nylon to a strategic component of every carpet manufacturer’s overall product offering. Vercryussen said polyester is also shedding its image as the low-price fiber and is steadily closing in on nylon in terms of acceptance driven by improved performance.

Mohawk’s view is that its own triexta fiber and polyester are the growth platforms in today’s market. “Polyester really sets the foundation combo of value and performance,” Lape said. “We believe triexta is at the top of the pyramid for performance characteristics and design and styling, particularly the soft attributes. You can’t get that softness in nylon and polyester.”

Executives agreed that nylon, which still dominates the commercial marketplace, is not going away. “We recognize that even though polyester has come a long way since its introduction, there are still many dealers and consumers who prefer nylon,” Vercryussen said. “We think consumers are more ‘fiber agnostic’ these days, thanks to advances in polyester technology and similar warranties between nylon and polyester carpeting.”

Merritt said excess capacity in PET today is contributing to a very competitive environment. “There is very little staple polyester being sold. The industry is now predominantly filament—nylon, PET and some polypropylene.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.18.33 AMEd Williams, president at Lexmark Carpet, said the surge polyester has enjoyed in recent years may be slowing a bit; and with multi-family as one of the stronger segments, momentum may be swinging back toward nylon, at least in that sector. “In talking to various people there is a lot of work being done in the nylon area on the part of the mills,” Williams said.

Trends and innovations

The soft craze that hit the market a few years ago shows no signs of abating, and manufacturers are seizing that opportunity with ever-softer products that are resonating with consumers who can literally feel the difference. According to Merritt, credit goes to advances in tufting technology, which continues to evolve and produce aesthetically pleasing, stylish patterns. “Carpet is generally a soft product today—softer than ever.”

To meet the growing need for soft, Beaulieu America recently introduced two entries into the popular super-soft category: Bliss Vivid and Bliss Hypnotic. Both products are companion textures made of Tryelle, the super-soft PET filament fiber.

Best Buy’s Heckman said consumers are buying into the ultra-soft trend as long as the product delivers on performance with the latest in designs and colors, such as earth tones, brown grays and tan grays.

Nuckols said while ultra-soft products are hot, there is still a market for products that are soft, but not quite ultra soft.

In the meantime, innovation is the engine that is driving this soft trend.

Mohawk, for example, is reinvesting and expanding its triexta platform with up to 100 launches planned. “Triexta now plays in all levels of the market, all distribution channels,” Lape said. “It was launched in the ‘06 time period, which means it was launched in the face of the biggest downturn ever in flooring. That shows the legs of this product.”

Commercial

The commercial segment is up slightly in dollars in 2014 when compared to 2013, and probably flat to slightly down in units, according to industry executives.Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.18.58 AM

Jack Ganley, president of Mannington Commercial, said 2014 started off sluggish as companies took a wait-and-see approach before releasing dollars for capital projects. This hesitation was largely due to continued economic uncertainty.

Lee Martin, president of Masland Contract, a unit of The Dixie Group, said the overall commercial segment is somewhat more active than 2013 and certainly stronger than 2012. “My feeling is that the commercial segment is up in dollars and probably flat to a small increase in yards,” he said.

Much of the commercial growth is in hospitality and assisted living, although the overall healthcare segment has experienced a slowdown in growth, Ganley said, as that sector waits to fully understand the implications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“We continue to see moderate growth in both the corporate and retail sectors, along with higher education,” he said. “Publicly funded K-12 and acute care facilities are lagging.”

Ganley said one of the major innovations/trends shaping the market in 2014 is the combination of carpet and hard surfaces. This blend, he said, “can increase long-term appearance retention through the installation of hard surfaces in high-traffic areas of a project, transitioning beautifully to carpet in open areas of a floor plan.”

As modular carpet continues to grow and take share from broadloom—it now represents about 50% of the commercial market—executives said there is increasing interest in different size formats and shapes. Additionally, there is “a fresh interest in innovative yarn processing to create unique textures and visuals,” Ganley said.

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Fall promos encourage a fresh start

Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.46.09 AMWith fall comes an opportunity to take time to start new projects, which, for many, includes new flooring. A number of leading manufacturers and buying groups consider a new season the perfect opportunity to offer incentives that will drive traffic into stores. FCNews spoke with some of these companies about a number of the top promotions to be featured in the coming months.

Abbey Carpet & Floor/Floors to Go

Abbey’s National Gold Tag Flooring Sale and Floors To Go’s National Flooring Extravaganza Sale, which will both run Oct. 1-31, include all the tools to help members plan a successful sale event. A free POP kit is available to participating dealers, which includes signage and sales tags. Options include selecting promotional products (a number of manufacturers are included in the events), re-pricing floors, creating showroom flyers, promoting the sales via member sites and advertising planning. Both groups also offer an option to participate in a direct mail marketing campaign to help promote sales events.

Beaulieu America

Beaulieu America will be continuing its Perfection Is Yours American Express reward card promotion through the fall, with the program concluding Jan. 3, 2015.

Qualifying Beaulieu America dealers will earn a $200 American Express reward card for selling multiples of 200 yards of qualifying Beaulieu America styles during the promotion.

There are a variety of Beaulieu America carpet collections and styles included in the program; among them are Bliss Perfection, Bliss Magic Fresh, Bliss Healthy Touch, Bliss Stainmaster with Magic Fresh, Bliss Indulgence and more.

Dealers should see their Beaulieu representatives for details and how to qualify.

Carpet One Floor & Home

Carpet One Floor & Home’s new collection of pink ribbon welcome mats—available in participating stores Oct. 1—marks the group’s 10th year of supporting breast cancer research. Twenty-five percent of the sale price of each mat is donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

The Carpet One Welcomes Your Support campaign has been raising funds to support organizations and researchers searching for a cure since 2004. This year’s collection includes 15 new designs that make a statement of support in any home.

The collection will also include 12 designs created by interior design experts. These interior designers and stylists have tapped into their design styles and personal inspiration to create the first Designer Series of pink ribbon welcome mats. Each designer collaborated with Carpet One Floor & Home to develop a mat design that represented himself/herself.Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.46.17 AM

Flooring America

Through Sept. 15, consumers can buy select styles of Downs carpet in Flooring America stores at sale prices and receive free installation as part of the Free Installation Event. According to management, the Downs reputation for superior construction, exclusive styling and exceptional performance makes it a go-to brand for consumers, and they can now have it installed without any extra work or any extra costs.

The One Price Covers It All campaign, which will run from Oct. 2 to Nov. 11, will feature sale prices and no charges for extras on select Resista and Resista Soft carpet offered in Flooring America stores. Sale features include free room measure and estimate, free carpet delivery, free carpet and pad rip out and haul away, free furniture moving, and the first Stanley Steemer cleaning at no charge (at participating stores).

Karastan

National Karastan Month, which always occurs during the fall months, will run this year from Sept. 25 through Nov. 10. Mohawk is providing Karastan retailers with extensive resources to showcase the brand’s signature styling and help attract customers, including national advertising, retail advertising—including ready-to-use images, newspaper ads, magazine ads, direct mail inserts, radio scripts and web-based promotions—point-of-sale kits, finance offers, Imagination program and a cushion offer. The sale features consumer rebates and product discounts on the season’s most popular trends.

Mohawk

The upcoming annual Mohawk Anniversary Sale is exclusively available for Floorscapes and ColorCenter retailers. The promotion will run from Sept. 12 through Oct. 27 and offers a number of valuable incentives, including product discounts and cushion offers, cash-back incentives, consumer finance offers and enhanced Mohawk Infinite Reward points. The company is also extending a full mix of national and local advertising support and updated, eye-catching point-of-sale kits to promote in store.

Shaw

Shaw’s annual 30 Days of HGTV Home promotion features special financing and will run through Sept. 30. This year the company is offering 30 months of financing during the 30-day promotion. For retail sales associates, incentives have been added to HGTV Home flooring products by Shaw. Shaw will have social media support with daily giveaways during the promotional period.

Shaw’s second promotion for fall, Floor Now, Pay Later, will take place from Oct. 1 through Nov. 10. Also centered around finance, Shaw will be offering 24-month financing plus a $150 manufacturer’s rebate. This promotion will receive national advertising support and daily giveaways posted on Shaw’s social media sites. Dealers will have complete advertising packages and marketing materials. For the retail sales associate, Shaw has incentivized all Anso nylon products during the promotional period.

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Beaulieu America introduces super-soft carpets for fall

Bliss Vivid-PR PhotoDalton — Beaulieu America announced the introduction of two new entries into the popular super-soft category: Bliss Vivid and Bliss Hypnotic. Both products are companion textures made of Tryelle, the super-soft PET filament fiber that is made exclusively by Beaulieu America.

“These products have a luxurious hand and unsurpassed durability,” said Randy Sanford, director of residential product management for Beaulieu America. “Both Vivid and Hypnotic provide the perfect aesthetic combination of superior feel and beautiful visual that’s the result of our new Tryelle yarn innovation. And, I think dealers will find they are very competitively priced to be true ‘go-to’ products for the fall selling season.”

Bliss Vivid is a solid color offered in 30 of today’s most beautiful and desired shades of nature’s best neutrals, comfortable colors, and trendy accents.  Bliss Hypnotic has 12 family-friendly hues accented by stone-inspired points of color to create a comfortable and inviting floor in any home. Both products have the company’s patented Magic Fresh odor reduction technology and are treated with a proprietary formulation of 3M Scotchgard soil and stain protector formulated especially for Bliss to ensure the home remains clean and fresh year after year and the carpet stays looking newer, longer.

Beaulieu America is shipping deck board samples to dealers now. Dealers are encouraged to see their Beaulieu representative for more details.

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PET developments address color, performance

July 7/14, 2014; Volume 28/Number 2

By Louis Iannaco

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.27.38 AMWith the development of soft carpet fibers in recent years, there’s no doubt the proliferation of these super soft yet durable yarns into the marketplace has been the major trend in the soft broadloom category. Mills continue to perfect and fine-tune their soft products while at the same time working on the next big thing.

So in addition to soft, or as a subsequent result, what else do the mills have going on when it comes to polyester? The emphasis is on making more colors available, increasing performance and developing proprietary initiatives such as odor-resistant technology and stain resistance. Executives from several of the industry’s major polyester producers recently gave FCNews details on the latest from their respective companies and the segment overall.

According to James Lesslie, assistant to the chairman, Engineered Floors, while soft continues to be the fastest growing category within polyester, combining beiges and grays—as the company does with Dream Weaver’s natural Tonal Solids collection—remains the fastest growing trend. “The unique ability to blend colors with solution-dyed fibers allows us to create new looks with an endless array of color combinations.”

Polyester continues to be a favorite with many of Beaulieu America’s dealers. In order to respond to demand, two of the mill’s most popular polyester collections, Bliss Healthy Touch and Bliss EverClean, received updates this year. “We added 84 SKUs to Healthy Touch and 54 to EverClean,” noted Matt Johnson, senior director, product management, residential division.

Both collections bring the softness and inherent stain resistance of the company’s polyester together with proprietary features such as Magic Fresh odor reduction, 3M Scotchgard and, in the case of Healthy Touch, Beaulieu America’s antimicrobial Silver Release treatment. “We plan to continue improving and expanding our polyester line in 2015,” Johnson said.

As noted, the trend toward softer fibers in polyester carpet continues and Shaw is innovating to meet that demand, said Trey Thames, vice president, residential marketing/product development. “A good example of Shaw’s latest PET evolution is the Clearly Chic Collection, introduced earlier this year. Not only a ‘super soft’ carpet, the collection is available in bold colors and features ClearTouch Platinum PET construction with a high twist yarn that also offers great performance.”

As Shaw focuses on innovative processes and sustainability, another initiative for the mill is its recently announced $17 million investment in the new Evergreen recycling facility in Ringgold, Ga., which will process both nylon and polyester carpet (see story on page 3). Complementing Shaw’s carpet recycling portfolio, “Evergreen Ringgold will create a high purity post-consumer recycled material that can be used in a broad range of applications,” Thames noted.

Extruding excellence

Investing in fiber technologies continues to be key for the industry’s major polyester producers. Mohawk is continuing what it started two to three years ago in reinvesting for the future by making considerableScreen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.28.04 AMcapital investments with heavy emphasis on extrusion and product innovation.

According to David Duncan, senior vice president, marketing and sales operations, the mill is currently well positioned with a full assortment of next generation fiber technologies in SmartStrand as well as polyester BCF and nylon platforms. “As we continue into 2014, we believe we now have the capacity and capabilities with our patented Continuum PET BCF technology to lead the industry in the next round of polyester innovations.”

Susan Curtis, vice president, marketing and product development, Phenix Flooring, believes polyester’s continued growth in residential is due in part to advances in extrusion equipment that help create a uniform, highly bulked yarn. “Polyester has a naturally soft hand and feel,” she said, “and improved yarn bulk adds tactile value. Continued advances in polyester resin chemistry intended for bottles and packaging have improved the performance of BCF PET, making it a more flexible fiber.

“Additionally, a stable polyester supply chain with huge scale creates favorable economics for PET as carpet yarn consumes only .5% of the supply—even at half the North American residential carpet market.”

As previously noted, creating new looks through the blending of colors is paramount among polyester’s latest innovations. At Lexmark, Ed Williams, president, residential, believes the development of new patterns through the use of colors is critical when it comes to polyester and the different looks it can offer.

“We’re working mostly on pattern designs in different color combinations to give a sophisticated, toned look,” he said. “We’re also focusing on broad-based looks that will have widespread appeal. We’ve just shipped two post-Surfaces introductions—Chesterfield and Chandler Heights—that have new and fresh color the market seems to embrace.”

Larry Heckman, president, Best Buy, noted the prevalence of polyester styles continues in the marketplace because they can be produced at very competitive price points. This has helped polyester become the mainstream residential carpet choice in many markets across the U.S.

Styling has come a long way in space dying and yarn blending, Heckman said, while polyester’s natural characteristics play a significant part in providing value by being virtually stain proof with very low static build up. “Today, polyester can be extruded in ultra-soft deniers for exceptional underfoot comfort, which is in high demand.”

Best Buy’s polyester improvements have come from advances in extrusion techniques that include fiber design, enhanced yarn drawing and crimping. “This improves features such as tensile strength of the yarn and bulking characteristics for a bigger value and hand,” Heckman explained. “It also improves brightness and luster levels of the yarn which are important characteristics for better performing and better selling styles.”

The next major advancement is space-dyed solution-dyed polyester, he noted. “This is one of the biggest technological breakthroughs in polyester styling—creating crisp and bold color clarity in both jewel tone colors and cut pile berber space dye styles. Best Buy has been one of the pioneers to perfect this new process. It’s done on our new computer controlled space dye line.”

According to Heckman, the technology is a combination of applied space dyes and heat levels. The new line heats the yarn to a maximum level just below the melt point to allow dye to penetrate the fiber core, which is then quick cooled through a cooling chamber. The process is completed with saturation steam heat by a heat set unit. “The result is a rich space dye with great color clarity and crisp color bursts.”

Performance counts

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.27.59 AMWhen you have a major shift like soft in the industry, it can take retailers two years to absorb the impact, executives noted. “We are really just completing the cycle of converting their floors,” Lesslie said. “All our PET PureColor and PureColor Cashmere fibers are solution-dyed. We get excellent quality/field performance with our products, and our customer claims ratio continues to be very low. From our viewpoint, polyesters offer the consumer excellent value and performance.”

The economy also continues to play a role in the value attributes end users shop for when they make their purchases. Recent economic conditions created a shift in consumer buying trends towards value-oriented products, which has driven the increase in polyester’s market share, Duncan noted.

He specifically cited that the trend toward soft continues to maintain its relevance. Over the past year, Mohawk expanded soft into polyester with its newest collections: EverStrand Soft Appeal and Wear Dated Allure. “We took our proprietary knowledge we acquired through the development of our SmartStrand Silk and Wear Dated Embrace soft collections and used it in PET to make EverStrand Soft Appeal and Wear Dated Allure.”

Mohawk’s Continuum technology, a proprietary, intensive purification process designed to remove industrial lubricants and oily residue, “ensures Mohawk’s soft polyester carpets—including EverStrand Soft Appeal and Wear Dated Allure—resist dirt, grime and contaminants that cause other PET carpets to become dingy over time,” Duncan explained.

“Mohawk is dedicated to consumers’ needs and we’ve made significant investments in manufacturing to improve our polyester product offerings,” he continued. “Mohawk knows that consumers do not want to forego style for value and this improved technology has significantly expanded our line of PET products. Now, we offer a variety of fashionable PET styles and textures.”

Polyester has seen tremendous growth over the past five years, Thames noted, “evolving from a ‘nice value alternative to nylon’ to a strategic component of every carpet manufacturer’s overall product offering.”

Improvements in heatset and twisting technology have helped improve PET’s overall performance and the economic downturn made the value proposition that polyester has always provided even more attractive, he explained. “Our strategy is based on providing the best polyester product lineup for value, performance and color/style versatility. This is no different than what we do in nylon. As the world’s largest producer in both fiber types, Shaw responds to changing trends by providing our customers with products that meet their needs.”

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LVT: It's hip not to be square

June 9/16, 2014; Volume 27/Number 29

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 10.56.41 AMThe term LVT is known as the abbreviation for luxury vinyl tile, although it often encompasses the plank format as well. Some companies, such as Beaulieu America, Mannington and Mohawk, have given the category their own unique spin with the introduction of LVF (flooring) and LVP (plank).

That being said, most retailers and consumers envision LVT as either square tiles resembling ceramic tile and stone or planks that mimic hardwood. However, many category leaders have developed shapes and sizes that stray from the standard 12 x 12, 16 x 16, 18 x 18 and 24 x 24 offerings.

One of the reasons several LVT manufacturers began to develop different shapes and sizes, particularly larger rectangles, is because the category tends to mimic the “real thing,” such as natural stone. As these product evolve, so, too, does LVT.

“A lot of what goes on with wood and porcelain will influence the faux categories,” said David Sheehan, vice president of commercial hard surfaces at Mannington. “We observed about four or five years ago a lot of modular installations taking place in porcelain tile where manufacturers were marketing combinations of shapes and sizes. We created Adura Elements on the residential side to mimic what was going on in natural stone and porcelain installations. That’s where we began to think outside the square, and the 12 x 24 format was our first entrée into non-standard formats like a square or a plank.” Today Mannington offers Adura Rectangles, which features 12 x 24 tiles in both click and glue down.

Also offering a 12 x 24 size is EarthWerks, which has had the shape in its portfolio for some time. However, Jonathan Train, vice president, agreed that larger selections have become prevalent in recent years due to LVT’s propensity to mimic natural products. “Both stone and wood tend to be ahead of the curve in style and design whereas LVT tends to lag behind, which I think will always be the case because it is bought for more functional [reasons].”

John Geier, product manager, hard surface, at Beaulieu added that because of the general nature of LVT (or LVF, as the company calls it), it can be designed to mimic other products such as ceramic. With that comes larger sizes.

“Resilient, or LVF, is going to mimic some painted concretes in a bigger format tile,” Geier said. “Those are possible now because of the make up of the product, as it is stable enough and durable enough to make larger sizes.”

Armstrong’s Alterna, which features 8 x 16 and 12 x 24 tiles, expanded to cater to the consumer who is looking for something unique. “Alterna has been extremely successful over the last several years and is continuing to grow in market share,” said Yon Hinkle, product manager. “One thing we considered was who we weren’t appealing to. We wanted to give the customer who wasn’t looking for the square shape but loved the product something to maximize the capability of custom designs.”

Customization is a major selling point for rectangular-format LVT, as different shapes and sizes of the same product can be intermixed to create unique, personalized designs.

Sheehan said he sees customization in both the residential and commercial markets, including Mannington’s Amtico brand. “Amtico was doing a variety of non-standard sizes well before we purchased the company. In the commercial world, these sizes have existed for quite a while. The basic Amtico offering today comes with 280 visuals, and sizes like 12 x 24, 18 x 36 and 9 x 18 may be requested. All of these are available because we manufacture them here, so our customers can order non-standard sizes that can be shipped within five to seven business days.”

With different shapes and sizes available to consumers, they can customize their flooring designs that go beyond anything “suggested” by the manufacturer. “When you’re talking about truly custom, you’re looking at designing something from the line that doesn’t already exist,” Hinkle said. “We get pictures from customers that say, ‘Look what I did!’ with some kind of inset or a border look that we didn’t have. [Dealers] may have [creative] installations in-store. When I think about the customization, or the ‘design elevation’ of the product when installed, I’m thinking about the customer who loves that beige slate look we have but wants to do something a little different than what you typically see. They like the color and design but want to see it jazzed up a little bit with other shapes and sizes to create a real premium look. Without having to go to an additional expense, customers can make unique floors.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.00.44 AM

Beyond 12 x 24

In terms of what’s to come, the industry can anticipate some new ideas regarding LVT shapes and sizes going into 2015.

Perhaps the most recent development, earlier this month at NeoCon Mannington Commercial unveiled a new concept called Intersected. The LVT product is a graphic floor tile that combines different shapes and sizes, which are actually neither square nor rectangle. “Different shapes and sizes create something visually interesting and takes us out of those typical, less appealing [commercial] spaces,” such as a break room or office supply space, Sheehan explained.

If you really want a hint of what’s to come, most executives said, once again, all you have to do is take a look at stone and ceramic.

“I think what you’re going to see is all different shapes and sizes going into installations, more because of the visuals that can be created,” said Mark Hansen, vice president of Novalis Innovative Flooring. “We see that now in many flooring products. Flooring is a creature of what other people do. As stone and ceramic looks are popular in rectangular shapes, you will find that in other hard surface products. It will feed off of each other.”

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Beaulieu America to increase employment at Georgia facility

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 12.08.20 PMDalton — Beaulieu America said it would be conducting a job fair on Tuesday, June 24, 9 am to 3:30 pm, at the Georgia Department of Labor in Gainesville, with the intent of increasing its current workforce at its Gainesville operation from 270 to about 360—a 33% increase.

This will result in moving the plant from three shifts to four shifts and from five days per week to seven days per week continuous operation, according to Eric Sherlin, the director of yarn manufacturing at the facility.

The company will have opportunities for spinning operators, card operators, heat-set operators and more. Applicants are urged to bring a resume or work history. Applicants can visit beaulieucareers.com to view all open jobs and call 770-536-0551 for more information.

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Award of Excellence: Shaw captures its fifth Best Overall Manufacturer title

May 26/June 2, 2014; Volume 27/Number 28

FCNews' Award of ExcellenceGarden City, N.Y.—For the third time in four years—and fifth time in the award’s history—Shaw Industries was voted the industry’s Best Overall Manufacturer in the 18th annual Award of Excellence competition.

It was one of two major awards for Shaw, which also won the Award of Excellence for Environmental Leadership. Shaw has earned the award every year since its inception in 2010.

“These awards are an amazing testament to the hard work of our associates and their dedication to creating a better future for our customers and our communities,” said Randy Merritt, president of Shaw Industries.

“These awards are particularly meaningful because they are based on a survey of customers across the industry,” he continued. “Relationships with our customers are at the core of our success—and every associate has a role to play in ensuring that those relationships are developed and protected through superb service and high quality, innovative, sustainable products.

“Thank you to Floor Covering News for the honor. Thank you to our customers who voted for us. And thank you to all of our Shaw associates for serving our customers well.”

Mohawk Industries won Best Carpet Manufacturer for Group A, one of four awards for Mohawk companies. “At Mohawk, we continue to invest heavily in innovation in the carpet segment,” said Tom Lape,

John Godwin, executive VP, sales and marketing, Shaw Industries, and Piet Dossche, CEO, USFloors
John Godwin, executive VP, sales and marketing, Shaw Industries, and Piet Dossche, CEO, USFloors

president of Mohawk Flooring, residential. “We’re pleased that retailers have recognized these innovations in our products, such as EverStrand Soft Appeal carpets with our patented Continuum technology and our SmartStrand and SmartStrand Silk franchises. We appreciate this recognition from our valued retailers, and we will continue to offer innovative carpets that contribute to their business success and to consumer satisfaction.”

Meanwhile, three of Mohawk’s divisions took home first-place honors in their respective categories. Quick-Step won Best Laminate Manufacturer for Group A, Dal-Tile won Best Tile Manufacturer for Group A, and American Marazzi won Best Tile Manufacturer for Group B. Dal-Tile’s victory was its 16th consecutive; Marazzi has won eight times in a row.

Beaulieu America was honored for Best Carpet Manufacturer for Group B. “We’re a family company, so when we get recognition like this for our new carpet like Bliss Perfection, it’s like having members of your extended family—the dealers who voted for us—say, ‘Nice job!’” said Mike Amburgey, CMO, Beaulieu America Residential. “It’s a very special thing for all of us and we are very grateful.”

In the Best Hardwood Manufacturer category, Armstrong won for Group A.

“We are particularly honored by this award,” said Mara Villanueva-Heras, Armstrong’s vice president of marketing, AFP residential. “It’s not only recognition for our hardwood flooring products, but speaks to our relationships with our customers, our service and the value of our brand. We work hard every day to earn their business and loyalty. Over the past few years, Armstrong has implemented a strategy to drive product innovation, maintain a strong consumer focus and support our customers in their success. This recognition validates that we are succeeding. It speaks to the quality of our products, the level of service we provide and our commitment to helping our customers grow their businesses.”

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Mannington corporate communications director Betsy Amoroso is joined by Mohawk’s Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, and Elise Demboski, VP of creative services

Mirage won Best Hardwood Manufacturer in Group B for the second year in a row. “We would like to sincerely thank the retailers who voted for Mirage as the No. 1 quality hardwood brand in the industry,” said Luc Robitaille, vice president of marketing at Boa-Franc, manufacturer of the Mirage brand. “This first-place award confirms our constant work during the last year in providing retailers with the best quality hardwood flooring on the market—as it has been for the past 30 years.”

Mannington was named Best Resilient Manufacturer in Group A. “What an honor for Mannington to again receive the Award of Excellence for resilient,” said Ed Duncan, senior vice president of residential marketing. “Resilient flooring has been at the heart of our business since we were founded almost 100 years ago. Today resilient includes sheet vinyl as well as LVT, and of course Mannington’s new LVS line. To be recognized as the best in the industry for those categories means so much. We won’t rest on our laurels, though, so people can expect to continue to see Mannington at the forefront of innovation in both manufacturing and styling. Thank you to everyone who voted, and to Floor Covering News and Hanley Wood for supporting this awards program.”

In the alternative wood category, style and design innovator USFloors won the award for Best Cork/Bamboo Manufacturer. “There is no greater honor than being recognized by your customers,” said Piet Dossche, president and CEO. “We are committed to bringing the best products and solutions to our dealer partners and to remain a leader in innovation and sustainability. Cork and bamboo flooring are strong pillars on which USFloors was built and a prime focus for further growth. I thank the leadership at Floor Covering News for this great yearly initiative, which recognizes and highlights the innovation and performance excellence within our industry.”

Sponsored by FCNews and Hanley Wood, proprietors of Surfaces, the Award of Excellence is a way for manufacturers’ customers—retailers, distributors, designers, installers, specifiers, etc.—to honor the companies they feel consistently provide the best service, professionalism of sales force, management responsiveness, value, design, B2B, handling of claims and ease of doing business. In other words, those manufacturers they feel help them the best in running successful, profitable business operations, whether it be a retailer, distributorship, design center or installation workroom.

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Mirage’s Chris Thompson and Stan Snyder flank Formica’s Mike Havas

Readers of FCNews, as well as other industry personnel visiting trade shows such as Surfaces (and not employed by a manufacturer), voted between October 2013 and the end of March for the companies they felt best met the previously mentioned criteria in eight individual floor covering categories—Carpet, Area Rugs, Resilient, Hardwood, Tile, Laminate, Cushion/Underlayment and Cork/Bamboo—as well as the Best Overall mill and the manufacturer that best exemplified Environmental Leadership.

Ballots were featured in FCNews and readers could mail or fax them back, as well as vote online and at industry events such as Surfaces.

While the category awards were done on a simple, one vote per category/company format, both the Best Overall and Environmental Leadership awards required voters to fill in their choices for first, second and third place. Votes were weighted so that first place was worth five points, second place worth three points and third place one point. Point totals were tabulated and the company with the most in each was named the winner.

As has been done for the previous seven years, individual category winners were selected in two groups based on their sales volume. Also, manufacturers did not pay a fee to be eligible to receive a vote, which has been customary since the first Award of Excellence competition. Any and all manufacturers of floor covering products in the above- referenced categories were allowed to receive votes.

A record number of voters participated this year—an estimated 550 industry professionals—including flooring retailers, distributors, designers and installers.

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Carpet: Mills step up efforts to lessen carbon footprint

May 12/19, 2014; Volume 27/Number 27

By Louis Iannaco

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.55.59 AMOne does not have to watch the news to know the planet continues to grow more environmentally conscious each day. With programs and initiatives designed to make products and processes increasingly sustainable, the flooring industry has been a major force in leading this Earth-friendly movement.

FCNews recently checked in with several carpet/fiber producers to discover the latest happenings involving their environmentally friendly efforts. Continue reading Carpet: Mills step up efforts to lessen carbon footprint

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Beaulieu America to hold 'Dealer Family Reunions'

BA Logo-2Dalton — Beaulieu America announced that in 2015, it will take its product and promotions to a different place—to the dealer in the form of regional events it calls “Dealer Family Reunions.” With this announcement comes news that the company has decided to suspend its long-running participation at Surfaces in 2015.

“Beaulieu America is a family company,” said Stan Bouckaert, head of Beaulieu’s hard surface products. “We consider everyone we do business with as an extended part of that family—especially our dealers. Many of them have told us they can’t come to Surfaces to meet with us, so we’re going to them.”

Beaulieu also sees regional events as having the potential for connecting with the dealer’s own “family” of designers and sales associates in a much easier fashion because the events will be so much closer to their stores.

Plans are being formulated by Beaulieu to stage a dozen or more “reunions” in various markets around the country within driving distance by dealers and their teams. In the last several years, Beaulieu has supplemented its large exhibit presence at Surfaces with regional shows in a handful of markets like Dallas and Atlanta. Now it will re-channel its sales and marketing resources to add more events and more excitement.

“We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to hit the road for these regional events in 2015” said Mike Amburgey, CMO of Beaulieu America Residential. “We think it will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of more of our dealers as we re-connect with them and their teams one-on-one … like a long awaited family reunion.”