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Kennedy launches Revolution Mills

From left: Chris Williams, Charlie and Zach Kennedy

Huntersville, N.C.—Residential carpet may be stagnant in a waterproof world, but don’t tell that to Charlie Kennedy. The longtime Gulistan and Phenix executive has launched Revolution Mills with a focus on innovation and performance.

Kennedy began his career at Bigelow in Greenville, S.C., before moving to Pinehurst, N.C., to begin working with JP Stevens, later named Gulistan. After more than 30 years in product development he became president. Five years later, he sold his interest and launched Phenix Flooring in Dalton.

Since its inception in 2016, Revolution Mills has strived for quality. The company currently offers high performance, soft solution-dyed polyester along with carpet tile and SPC. It is headquartered here, with product distribution out of Dalton.

Zach Kennedy, Charlie’s son, and his son-in-law, Chris Williams, run the day-to-day operations. Zach Kennedy, who heads up sales and marketing, most recently spent nearly 14 years at Phenix selling to national accounts, distributors and local dealers. Williams, who heads up the company’s operations, brings extensive knowledge to Revolution Mills from his 23 years at Lowe’s, notably serving as the hardwood flooring, area rug and paint merchant. His most recent role was overseeing Lowe’s global sourcing team while based in Shanghai.

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Mannington Commercial’s Jack Ganley to retire

Jack Ganley

Salem, N.J.—Jack Ganley, president of Mannington Commercial, will retire on December 31, 2019. He joined Mannington in this capacity in 2004. Upon Ganley’s retirement, Tom Pendley, Mannington Commercial’s senior vice president of marketing, will be promoted to the role of president, Mannington Commercial.

Ganley has led the way for Mannington Commercial’s growth over the years and leaves a legacy of leadership and innovation for the business. During his tenure, Ganley implemented the “Choices” strategy and upgraded sales, marketing and products resulting in steady organic growth. He also directed the integration of Burke and Amtico into the Mannington Commercial business.

Previously, he had been with Lees Carpets, where he began as a manufacturing trainee in 1976 fresh out of Villanova University, and rose through the organization to become president of Lees in 1995 and Burlington House in 1998.

“Jack’s leadership and thoughtful, innovative approach to how he conducts business have left an indelible mark on Mannington,” said Russell Grizzle, president and CEO. “His commitment to the company, its values and our customers were always at the forefront and we wish him much health and happiness in his retirement.”

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Carpet: Fiber report—Color, cleanability and durability get the nod

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By Ken Ryan

Today’s carpet products are developed with the consumer firmly in mind as mills gather research to ascertain what’s on their customers’ wish lists. More often than not, it is luxuriously soft carpet that combines stylish design, vibrant colors with durability.

That’s a tall order to deliver, but consumers have shown a desire to spend top dollar for these goods, and mills are working hard to accommodate them. “When we talk to consumers, soft is one of the top attributes they want, so we put our resource and development toward that,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of residential carpet product management and development, Mohawk Industries.

Shaw Floors, meanwhile, looks at today’s residential market and sees active families with kids and pets who put great demands on carpet. “They have greater expectations of performance for their flooring,” said Teresa Tran, director of soft surface portfolio management, Shaw. “They need their carpet to be durable and spill resistant, yet soft and beautiful.”

It’s not just the carpet mills working on these innovations. Invista, maker of the Stainmaster and PetProtect brands, has spent significant R&D on its Antron fiber. It recently announced a $30-million expansion in small-lot equipment specifically for solution-dyed nylon 6,6 bulk continuous filament (BCF) fiber production to support growth of the Antron brand and the Lumena fiber portfolio that serves solution-dyed BCF nylon commercial markets. “The new technology will expand our capability to continue offering high-quality, solution-dyed nylon fiber solutions,” said Kip Kimball, vice president of Global Commercial Solutions and Home Textiles for Invista.

Phenix Flooring continues to work on new fiber systems that utilize unique cross-sections that—when combined with particular deniers and twist levels—produce textures and an outstanding tactile experience for consumers. “In addition, we constantly update our solution-dyed color bank to keep up with current color trends and styling preferences as well as supplement with leading space dye advances that give sophisticated ombrés and gradations of color,” said Chris Johnson, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

According to Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing, Engineered Floors, consumers are becoming more receptive to the term “solution dyed,” and that is affecting their purchase decisions. “They are finding out that it’s superior to traditional piece-dyed carpets, which is exciting for our Dream Weaver retailers.”

Residential segment

The days when consumers carpeted the entire house are long gone, as residential carpet has been relegated mostly to the bedroom. However, studies have shown that when consumers are in the market for carpet, they are willing to spend extra money.

There’s even more encouraging news down the road, according to Shaw’s Brad Christensen, vice president, builder strategy, who observed that while Shaw is certainly seeing growth in its residential segments, single-family homebuilding is also trending.

“The average age of the first-time homebuyer is 32. With that statistic in mind, by 2025 there will be 24 million Americans between the ages of 30 and 34. Previous studies showed the millennial market preferred densely populated, walkable, urban neighborhoods that offer multifamily living spaces to the suburbs of their childhood. Yet, new surveys demonstrate that while millennials might be content urban, multifamily dwellers right now, they see themselves as single family homeowners in the future.”

Residential represents the largest growth segment for Southwind, according to Richard Abramowicz, executive vice president. As such, the company is putting the necessary resources behind it. “I think residential is the biggest growth opportunity for all of us and why we are trying to be innovative with our products. It’s a very big market.”

What’s new

Mohawk has championed the push of luxurious soft and that continues to be a major thrust with SmartStrand. As Mohawk’s Welborn noted, “SmartStrand fiber is softer than nylon and polyester, performs extremely well and has nice hand/bulk, and you will see us continue to expand in that area.”

As the movement toward cleaner homes grows, Mohawk, among others, is responding by adding Forever Clean to SmartStrand as well as ActivFresh technology to its Silk Colorwall line, which features new products in 2018. “Some of the products are tighter, denser, cleaner than the old Silk,” Welborn said. “From a technology standpoint, we added ActivFresh, an anti-microbial additive to the carpet, which is a new feature. You will see us expand in that growing segment.”

In Bellera High Performance Carpet, Shaw is giving consumers a wide variety of patterns, solids and textures from which to choose, albeit without sacrificing resiliency. “Our designers were extremely intentional with their choices, giving consumers numerous styles to match current trends,” Tran said. “We offer glamorous styles as seen in Outside the Lines, classic patterns in Diamonds Forever and Lead the Way, as well as visuals with a more organic look to complement modern farmhouse or coastal design trends. Each of these styles includes the attributes that make Bellera one of a kind.”

The fiber in Bellera has been treated with R2X soil and stain resistance technology and now features crush resistance to keep carpets lasting longer. To showcase the durability of its re-engineered fiber, Shaw simulated five years’ worth of activity with real people on Bellera carpet. When new Bellera samples and those with five years’ worth of wear were placed side by side, customers and RSAs alike were unable to tell the difference, Christensen said.

Phenix, which began showing carpet styles tufted from one of its new fiber systems during the winter markets, has identified a new yarn that provides great bulk and apparent value. “It has become one of our most anticipated launches, which we expect will lead to additional product opportunities,” Phenix’s Johnson said, referring to Opulence HD. “It’s a softer yarn that provides a look of luxury.”

Engineered Floors uses PureColor, a proprietary solution-dyed fiber, as its go-to market strategy at residential retail. “We try to educate the RSA and consumer on PureColor as often as possible,” Sanderson said. “Both groups are learning that since the color goes all the way through the fiber, stains that are detrimental to other carpets aren’t an issue with PureColor.”

Southwind’s Classic Traditions collection, a soft PET line, is being marketed as “eclectic patterns for everyday elegance.” It was shown at Surfaces 2018 and will feature eight stylish Color Point and LCL patterns that the company said are fashion-forward fabrics for the floor. “We had such a great response at Surfaces,” Abramowicz said.

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Durkan's Crafted Convergence receives IIDA/HD Expo Product Design award

Calhoun, Ga.—The Crafted Convergence carpet collection from Durkan, the hospitality brand of Mohawk Group, has been recognized with the IIDA/HD Expo Product Design Award in the flooring category for carpet and rugs.

The prestigious honor was presented last week on site in Las Vegas at HD Expo, the premier trade show and conference for hospitality design professionals. For more than two decades, the IIDA/HD Expo Product Design Awards program has recognized innovation, function and aesthetic advancements in the hospitality industry.


“Product design plays a crucial role in the functionality and aesthetics of hospitality environments,” said IIDA executive vice president and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP. “Winners of this year’s competition found innovative ways to leverage product design to craft a hospitality experience that offers travelers a place to escape while maintaining elements that feel like home.”

Crafted Convergence was inspired by Durkan’s collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M. Within this storied collection, everyday utilitarian articles handmade by talented artisans from diverse cultures are translated into engaging patterns for broadloom, carpet plank and Durkan’s innovative Definity manufacturing technology. The design team was mindful to honor the original materials rather than replicate them. Portions of the proceeds from the collection’s sales will be given back to the museum system to help preserve the stories and source materials that inspired the collection.

“It is a real honor to be recognized by esteemed industry colleagues and leaders for our work on such a meaningful project,” said Elizabeth Bonner, creative design director for Durkan. “In telling the Crafted Convergence story, we not only wanted to push the envelope by bringing a different approach to hospitality flooring design and innovation, but also use it as a platform to honor the cultures represented within this incredible partnership.”

Learn more about Crafted Convergence and Durkan’s complete HD Expo showcase by visiting HDExpo.Durkan.com.

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Carpet: Playing at the high end pays big-time dividends

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Ken Ryan

Carpet mills are taking advantage of the new reality in flooring—with carpet relegated primarily to the bedroom, consumers are willing to spend more to make that soft surface area really stand out.

Indeed, carpet mills are finding that even in a shrinking market for soft surface, there is money to be made by playing at the high end. Some examples:

Anderson Tuftex

Anderson Tuftex had a strong showing at Surfaces. Since then, dealer reception to its new carpet products (Tavares, Tanzania and Heirloom) has been exceptional, according to Katie Ford, director of brand strategy. “The dealer base has been so supportive. If you are a dealer, and you want to make money, you have to have Tavares and Tanzania—and you probably need to have Heirloom, too. You need the whole line, really, because those three styles are distinctly different.”

Ford said there is nothing quite like Tavares in the market—a natural stone visual akin to a Venetian plaster. “It’s just beautiful. We have a rug version of it, too, and we had it installed at Surfaces; it’s everyone’s favorite.”

Tanzania, in denim blue, is offered in a broken Chevron pattern. Like fine wine, it is a product that gets better with age, Ford said. “Chevrons are showing up these days. These patterns are timeless and don’t go out of style.”

Another favorite is Heirloom, with a raised medallion within a small scale textural pattern. “It’s another timeless classic look,” Ford explained. “With AT, you know our products have that little extra craftsmanship to stand out.”

Dixie Group

By virtue of the fact that it is not a low-cost manufacturer, The Dixie Group must create differentiated products to be successful. That’s according to T.M. Nuckols, president, residential division, who cited two new PetProtect products for 2018—Signature and Trademark, which will be launched by Masland in the second quarter. “Also, Bombay Vibration is a remake of a classic Masland product and now made with PetProtect solution dyed nylon 6,6 fiber; it delivers great durability and stain resistance in a softer and more comfortable product.”

The Masland Energy line, coming in May, is a commercial segment offering with 20 well-styled products made with nylon 6,6 for durability and performance. Wholesale price points range from the low teens to mid 20s, “so we are not targeting the typical Main Street price points,” Nuckols said.

Foss Floors

Foss introduced its DuraKnit collection this year featuring a new construction technique for higher-end broadloom that enables the consumer to install an upscale look in tough traffic conditions. According to Brian Warren, executive vice president, sales and marketing, these products will never fray, zipper or unravel, nor will they fade. And while they are stain resistant and will never wrinkle, they still feature a soft hand and luxurious styling, he added.

In 2018, the company introduced its “Carpet Reinvented” DuraKnit display, which includes an interactive storyboard to highlight the line’s unique characteristics. “These innovations are helping the retailer achieve higher margins by providing a unique selling proposition,” Warren said.

Gulistan Floors

John Sheffield, vice president of sales and marketing, Gulistan, said the company is incorporating a very limited distribution strategy to allow dealer partners to maximize their sales and profits. “We have created a unique collection of patterns using our solution-dyed PET. With our Stainmaster offering, we are using the solution-dyed yarns and trying to fill product voids in the with new textures and yarn applications.”

Mohawk

When you talk high end, Karastan is arguably the first brand that comes to mind. Karastan has three premium yarn systems with which to work in developing products. “Having access to wool, SmartStrand Silk and Kashmere Nylon gives us the ability to develop unique looks and textures utilizing the attributes of these yarns,” said Bill Storey, senior vice president, Mohawk and Karastan. “In addition, we also have developed styles using a combination of two yarns. For example, Hampshire Bay has wool as the base yarn and SmartStrand Silk as the accent. The result is an elegant look that cannot be achieved with a single yarn system.”

Karastan’s new soft stone looks—Mackenzie and Berkeley —are standouts. “These styles create the look of natural stone in a luxurious, soft hand,” Storey explained. “This is achieved through our vintage weave process which utilizes SmartStrand Silk, space-dyed yarn.”

Phenix

The Cleaner Home collection is Phenix’s latest in innovative, trend-forward carpet designs. Refuge, Flourish and Well Being are a collection of three new multi-color patterned carpets that utilize innovative cut and loop technology which allows for varying amounts of cut vs. loop.

These products feature a unique combination of colors that become visible at varying points in the construction to create a unique sculpted look with their own dimensional pattern.

Phenix’s Stainmaster PetProtect Design Solutions collection helps sell higher-end products in multiple surfaces by removing one of the biggest pain points for consumers—coordinating their flooring without the help of an interior designer. “It also helps facilitate overall larger tickets and enhanced profit opportunities for the retailer,” said Mark Clayton, president of Phenix Flooring. “We’re bringing hard surface and carpet together in one display and making it easier than ever for a consumer to walk in, visualize her entire home and purchase on the spot.”

Shaw

Shaw Floors continues to burnish its reputation as a leader in innovation with Bellera, a high-performance carpet line. Bellera’s high-design, on-trend offerings include tonals, accents, loops and bold-colored patterns.

“We’ve put Bellera to the test and can say this carpet will look as good in five years as it does on day one,” said Teresa Tran, director of soft surface portfolio management.

Bellera features Shaw’s spill-proof LifeGuard backing, Endurance high-performance fiber and R2X soil and stain resistance. “We’ve listened to the consumer and are proud to offer them the softness of a residential carpet that is durable enough to withstand their active lifestyle.”

Stanton

Stanton’s premise is differentiation. Three brands of note are Antrim, Rosecore and Crescent, which feature unique styling and are merchandised in high-end display systems. Stanton’s Atelier collection offers cut/loop woven nylon patterns provide greater design and color flexibility than the traditional LCL.

“These introductions coupled with our unparalleled use of color, design and multiple yarn types in woven patterns has set new standards,” said Jonathan Cohen, CEO.

Stanton is introducing Stanton Street, Decorative Commercial this summer. This new collection encompasses a mix of carpet tile, planks and decorative commercial broadloom for Stanton’s first dedicated commercial offering.

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Carpet: From stain and soil protection to cleaner homes

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Ken Ryan

 

Carpet that offers stain and soil protection is no longer merely a trend but a standard feature offered by mills throughout the industry—albeit with new iterations being added continuously. Today’s push is also about providing a healthier home environment, with some companies highlighting products that offer hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties.

Flooring executives say this trend was borne out of extensive consumer research. For example, Chris Johnson, senior vice president of sales, Phenix Flooring, cited a recent Gallup poll finding that 89% of consumers are already using an antimicrobial or antibacterial product at home. “We know consumers are looking for products that work harder and have added benefits beyond what’s expected,” he said.

To that end, in 2017 Phenix introduced its Cleaner Home collection in partnership with Microban, a leader in antimicrobial technology. Additives are infused into the carpet, protecting against the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria and mold. The collection also features built-in SureFresh odor capture technology designed to eliminate common household smells that can linger.

“In 2018 we are expanding the collection with three new carpet products, so consumers now have even more options from which to choose in order to outfit their home with the cleanest, hardest working carpet,” Johnson said.

Mohawk Industries also conducted expansive consumer research and uncovered some interesting data to use in its own product development. For one, hypoallergenic flooring actually attracts consumers to the soft flooring category and, in fact, doubles the percentage of people who are considering carpet into actual buyers. “In the last 10 years of research I have not seen anything that doubles purchase consideration, at least not for carpet,” said Seth Arnold, vice president, residential.

Mohawk’s research also found that 69% of people who are in the market for flooring replied “yes” to a question as to whether anyone in their household has a breathing or respiratory condition (including allergies). “What we found is the market size for hypoallergenic is as large as the market size for pets,” Arnold noted. “There is also a similarity; people are emotionally attached to their pets. There is also an emotional connection to a product that can help relieve symptoms from breathing issues.”

Consumers are more interested in health and well-being than ever before, and that includes the foods they eat, their exercise routines as well as the products they purchase. Studies show that nearly 30% of consumers would be willing to pay more for a product in their home that offered health benefits for all members, including their pets.

According to Teresa Tran, director of soft surface portfolio management for Shaw Floors, being able to clean your carpet effectively makes a huge difference in the goal of having a healthier home. “Most spills are caught hours, maybe even days, later,” she said. Shaw’s answer is R2X, a stain and soil repellant wherein stains are kept on top of the fiber as long as possible. That’s where its LifeGuard backing comes into play. According to Shaw, the product is engineered to prevent liquid from seeping into the subfloor. “This gives consumers peace of mind and the cleanest carpet for healthy living,” Tran noted.

When Mohawk introduced Air.o in 2017—ushering in a new category called Unified Soft Flooring (USF)—the product was touted for its strength, flexibility, dimensional stability and ease of installation. It checked all those boxes. However, since it is also made of 100% PET, Air.o’s fibers don’t absorb moisture, which helps prevent the growth of allergens, the company stated. Air.o’s construction also provides better airflow and releases dust and dirt more easily when vacuuming.

While Air.o is the fresh new star in Mohawk’s soft surface galaxy, its SmartStrand collection continues its legacy of providing enhanced protection against pet stains and the like for consumers. As Arnold explained, “Nylon protection can wear off over time but  SmartStrand is built in and never washes off. When we enhanced SmartStrand with Forever Clean we added nanotechnology.”

This fiber treatment,  called Nanoloc, repels dirt, dander, spills and stains before they reach the fiber. Mohawk offers an All Pet Protection guarantee with the line.

New introductions
Bellera is Shaw’s new premium soft surface introduction for 2018. The product comes with a specialized dye chemistry and LifeGuard backing system to give the line exceptional durability, the company stated. Shaw offers a

“No Surprises, Worry-Free Warranty” on the product.

Phenix’s Cleaner Home collection includes 10 new carpets, all with antimicrobial protection for the life of the product. Additionally, Cleaner Home was developed with a highly engineered PET yarn.

Foss Floors’ DuraKnit products are constructed of 100% post-consumer drinking bottles that render the product completely stain resistant and hydrophobic, the company stated. Featuring a patented DuraLock technology, which is guaranteed to never fray, unravel or zipper, the carpet is pet friendly.

“Our carpet tiles feature a peel-and- stick adhesive that is VOC free,” said Brian Warren, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “These tiles are all fiber from top to bottom. We have eliminated the need for smelly, VOC-laden adhesives and difficult installs.”

Warren said he can vouch for these products from personal experience. “I have four shelter rescue dogs and a cat. Believe me, these attributes are important and when combined with the inherent stain resistance of our Natural Touch PET fiber, these products are Fido-proof.”

At Surfaces Engineered Floors sought to educate retailers on PureBac with Ultra-fresh protection. This innovative treatment aims to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi responsible for creating unpleasant smells and staining in textile and plastic products. By controlling unwanted microbes, Ultra-fresh antimicrobials keep products fresh, hygienic and odor free.

The effort to keep soft surfaces free of soil and stains has existed for decades and is not a new trend. In fact, protection for carpet dates back to the 1950s, when 3M first worked on a chemistry that would later be introduced as Scotchgard Protector. To this day Scotchgard Protector remains a premium antidote to stain and soils. When applied at the mill, Protector is done in a one-step- application process that treats the entire carpet fiber from top to bottom. The deeper the penetration, the better the resistance to stains, which means the carpet is easier to clean.

With the help of national television commercials, Invista’s Stainmaster brand was launched in 1986 and became arguably the most recognized brand in flooring. Over the years, Stainmaster has evolved with new treatments and protection systems, most recently the PetProtect carpet and cushion system featuring a breathable moisture barrier that helps prevent spills and accidents from penetrating the padding and subfloor. PetProtect is now used on both soft surfaces (carpet and rugs) and LVT. Invista also markets Stainmaster Active Family and Stainmaster LiveWell. The latter is a carpet and cushion system designed with AllerShield technology to help reduce the bonding of allergy-aggravating particles into the carpet fibers.

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Anderson Tuftex turns heads in Surfaces debut

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan and Reginald Tucker

 

Putting the brands together just makes sense because this is how people live in their homes. That’s how Katie Ford, director of brand strategy, describes the thought process behind the combination of the Anderson and Tuftex brands to form one company.

Rest assured, this is not just a merger of brands for simplicity’s sake. “We have reconceptualized both brands, updated the merchandising along with a new website so everything is fresh,” Ford said. “It’s on trend with everything our consumer is looking for. She’s not thinking about hardwood or carpet; she’s thinking in terms of how the overall room is going to come together.”

Retailers got a firsthand look at the combined Anderson Tuftex at Surfaces.

Wood
According to Ford, Anderson’s hardwood offering had somewhat “fallen off over the years and started looking like everything else.” So when the company decided to put the two brands together, she said the goal was to make sure it came out with some bona fide show stoppers. The first is called Fired Artistry, a new design available in four colors. Ford explained the origin of the name: “It’s based on an ancient Japanese wood preservation technique call yakisugi. We paint it black, put the stain on top and then hand sand off an area so you can see the black peeking through the product. It has great board definition as well as a matte, low-luster finish. It’s definitely trending in hardwood.”

Another head turner is Triology, which comprises oak, maple and hickory in one board. By using this combination, Ford said, customers get different patterns due to the grain variation. “When we do the painted technique on top of it, you can see how the different species take the color differently. Everybody wants distressed, time-worn and lived in, and you’re really seeing that look on this product.”

Anderson Tuftex also sees an opportunity to promote more traditional products inspired by old ¾-inch favorites in the line (Bernina hickory and maple). As Ford describes it: “It really goes back to that antique, old-school visual. With its thin strips, it almost looks like an antique floor in an old warehouse. Because it’s not your wide-plank board, it has a timeless feel to it.”

Then there’s Old World, a long/wide board product that Ford calls the “star of the show.” Available in an 8-inch-wide format in lengths up to 72 inches, the line is a fixed-link 6 x 24 herringbone that can be installed in various patterns, including a basket weave. For good measure, the line features a naturally oxidized aging process (NOA) for effect. “It already has great bones; we just added this oxidation process to speed up the aging process to get a look that would naturally occur over time.”

Carpet
Anderson Tuftex showed three lines for 2018, including Tavares and Tanzania, each noted for their patterned cut-pile constructions in Stainmaster Luxurell nylon fiber with SoftBac backing.

This premium brand is not afraid to be bold and edgy. At its booth, Anderson Tuftex installed a distressed concrete visual more commonly seen in hard surfaces. The ability to use advanced technology to create such a look in carpet can also complement the brand’s wood products. Another Anderson Tuftex SKU showcased a 3-D raised medallion. “Our carpet styling is on point,” Ford said.

Anderson Tuftex will be introducing carpet styles in nine design themes in 2018. Products will begin shipping in March.

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Surfaces Carpet Coverage: Despite hard surface surge, mills double down on soft

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Traditional carpet mills invariably face this decision: Do we ride the hard surface tide and introduce our own products, or do we stick to our knitting and stay soft?

Surprisingly many are choosing the latter, and they are not apologizing for it. While Dixie Group, Phenix Flooring and Marquis Industries expanded their hard surface assortments at Surfaces—while Engineered Floors officially entered the category—many are passing on the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon.

“We make no bones about it, we are soft flooring,” said Brian Warren, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Foss Flooring, which showcased carpet tile and indoor/outdoor broadloom under a “carpet reinvented” theme.

The way Warren sees it, Foss’ business is good, so why disrupt the flow? “Our tile business has grown double digits each year for the past six years. Our tile business is through the roof. We have some unique technologies and have found a way to position these technologies in such a way that retailers get the advantages.”

Foss introduced DuraKnit, a broadloom line that can be installed over pad. “We’re selling $40 looks for less than $6 with a great performance story, a product that won’t fray, wrinkle or unravel. We’re pushing the attributes that only we have. We’re screaming that it is carpet reinvented. Bottom line—we love giving retailers a selling story they can position against competitors.”

Stanton is another mill sticking to soft surface. “Not now. You can’t do it just to do it,” Jonathan Cohen, CEO, said when asked if the company was contemplating a move into hard surfaces. “We are way too protective of the brand to do that.”

Stanton, which is introducing 125 soft surface products in 2018, is entering the commercial Main Street market through Stanton St. Decorative Commercial. Stanton Street is located in the Soho section of Manhattan, near the location where company founder, Sy Cohen, grew up. “We always liked the idea of getting into commercial but it had to match our identity,” Jonathan Cohen explained. “This fits for us. We can be competitive with price, and as long as we stay decorative we feel like we can have a place within the market.”

Couristan has been a soft surface company for 92 years and has no plans to deviate from that course. That’s according to Len Andolino, executive vice president–residential division, who rejoined the company last fall. “We are a soft surface company, that is who we are. The hard surface [surge] has actually helped our business. For example, our broadloom business is heavily fabricated. More than 50% of our business will be fabricated rugs. We’re pushing the envelope with the fabricated rug business.”

Southwind, a carpet and hard surface supplier, focused more of its efforts on soft at Surfaces with six new LCL patterns and six new colorpoints using its soft yarn system. “People are starting to talk about carpet again,” said Tim Gilmore, Southeast regional vice president. “With this new line we wanted to give dealers some options over the typical beiges and grays.”

Prestige Mills is another tried-and-true soft surface company with no plans to make the leap to hard surfaces. But like so many other mills Prestige is looking to leverage the growth of hard surfaces. Peter Feldman, president, said a good deal of its broadloom business ends up as rugs, in some cases cut by their dealers after shipping. “While cutting broadloom carpet into rugs is good for the rug business, you are only using part of the room with rugs, so more carpet is required if you are going to go that way,” he explained. “It is a challenge, but we are up for it.”

Surfaces 2018 marked the return of Gulistan, which went under in 2012 but has been resurrected by Lonesome Oak. John Sheffield, recently of Godfrey Hirst, has taken over as vice president of sales. Tom Mathis, most recently with Lexmark, serves as strategic sales director. The strategy going forward, Mathis said, is to focus strictly on broadloom and to be selective with retail distribution. Its lineup of 20 products is divided equally between Stainmaster offerings and solution-dyed PET. “We are pretty careful who we are partnering with,” Sheffield said. “We are looking for meaningful partners who can grow the business.”

The return of this venerable brand was well received at Surfaces, Mathis said. “Not a single person said, ‘Oh, I don’t want these guys again.’ The Gulistan brand has more equity than we ever imagined. It’s pretty synonymous with Stainmaster, so that is a plus. And despite the fact carpet is losing share, we are a breath of fresh air and we are starting with a clean slate.”

Crossover continues
Long-established carpet mills that have ventured into hard surfaces and, in some cases, expanded their offerings, have not given up on soft surfaces. Quite the contrary. Phenix, for example, introduced 25 new residential carpet products–PetProtect and polyester—and announced its entry into the area rug business under the Cleaner Home Rugs banner. “We all know carpet is the largest category, and we are expecting carpet to lose share again,” said Mark Clayton, president and CEO. “Our challenge is to keep producing unique stories around the products. The business we are serving—what we call the belly of the country, states like Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Utah—is still very strong in carpet.”

Clayton said the jump into rugs is a nod to the explosive growth of hard surfaces. “With so many beautiful patterns in our line this is just a natural addition to what we are doing for hard surfaces.”

The bedroom remains one of the last bastions for carpet in the residential sector, and consumers have shown a willingness to spend more for higher-end goods. To address that trend, Dixie Home launched several Stainmaster offerings with differentiated PetProtect loops and patterns as well as some multi-colored textures. “We think the consumer is buying carpet by the room, not by the whole house, and that leads to better opportunity for better goods,” said T.M. Nuckols, president, residential division, The Dixie Group. “The market is looking for better goods and products that work well with hard surfaces.”

The Masland brand showed new PetProtect collections as well as Masland Energy, a broadloom and tile program for the commercial segment for retailers targeting the upper end of Main Street.

Mills agree Main Street commercial is hot these days. Engineered Floors’ Pentz brand of broadloom and modular tile is keeping pace with several new products, including some from the former Beaulieu’s commercial division. EF’s new 500,000-square-foot carpet tile plant will be in full production in the next few weeks and has already been graded for expansion.

At Surfaces EF touted PureBac, its premium, no-latex backing system. “The dealers say they can get more money on it,” said Will Young, director of national accounts. “PureBac offers a complete story on cleanability, with no latex and a hypo-allergenic face fiber. It is a very installation-friendly product.”

 

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Luxury brands carpet show returns to Domotex asia/ChinaFloor

Shanghai, China—Domotex asia/ChinaFloor, Asia-Pacific’s most established trade show for the flooring industry, and Cover Magazine are set to host the second edition of the curated

Luxury Brands designer carpet showcase on March 20-22. The Luxury Brands exhibition and designer carpet collection has captured the industry’s attention and respect due to the quality of hand-made carpets and popularity of the international designers participating.

VIPs, invited guests and international journalists can visit the signature marquee in Hall-W5, presenting 16 renowned carpet design firms that are looking to indulge visitors with a variety of extravagant products. Each company will introduce two of their finest hand-made rugs with the goal of attracting buyers as well as industry professionals interested in collaborating on future design projects.

The internationally renowned designers from Europe, the Middle-East and North America joining the pavilion this year are: Amadi Carpets, Ariana Rugs, Art Resources, CC-Tapis Creative Matters, Edelgrund, French Accents, H.O.C. Design, Hossein Rezvani, Lila Valadan, New Moon, Rug Star, Samad, Tufenkian, Wool & Silk and Zollanvari.

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Aquafil signs agreement with Invista

Arco, Trentino, Italy—Aquafil has signed an agreement with Invista, one of the world’s largest integrated producers of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers, to acquire certain tangible and intangible assets related to Invista’s nylon 6 business activity in Asia Pacific. Closing is expected March 29.

The acquired assets concern Invista’s business of polyamide 6 BCF fiber in Asia Pacific with a turnover of about $50 million and, after business integration, with an expected margin in line with Aquafil Group’s consolidated EBITDA margin. The total appreciation of the deal is not relevant for the group and will be financed by its internal resources.

“This is a milestone for the further development of Aquafil in the Asia Pacific region,” said Giulio Bonazzi, president and CEO of the Group. “This deal will accelerate Aquafil’s investment program in the area of Asia Pacific that remains the region with highest potential in terms of demand growth for synthetic fibers.”

The transaction does not include Invista’s other businesses in Asia, such as its nylon 6,6, polyester, polyols and licensing businesses and related brands.