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Aspecta achieves JUST label for Chinese manufacturing facility

Norwalk, Conn.—The Elegant Home-Tech facility in Zhangjiagang, China, which manufactures Metroflor’s Aspecta commercial LVT product, has received a JUST label. To receive the label, the company had to provide numerous policies for public review and be rated on a wide range of metrics including safety, diversity, worker benefits and community engagement.

The JUST platform was created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) as an innovative way for organizations to be transparent about their entire operations beyond product ingredients. Rather than a certification program, JUST is essentially a nutrition label for socially just and equitable organizations. The program requires reporting and documentation on a range of organization- and employee-related indicators, each requiring specific and measurable accountabilities recognized on a one-, two- or three-star level, which are published on the JUST label.

“The idea of pursuing a JUST label for a Chinese factory is courageous and profound,” said Rochelle Routman, Aspecta’s chief sustainability officer. “By accomplishing this, we have created a benchmark for our factory as well as the entire U.S. manufacturing sector sourcing from factories in Asia. The world is moving past the stigma of ‘Made in China’ because modern factories such as Elegant Home-Tech have made great strides in worker experience, quality control, and product and social transparency. It is Aspecta that is leading this movement to take transparency beyond U.S. borders.”

CEO of Elegant Home-Tech, Jin Song, fully supports the JUST effort and understands the need for transparency at the large flooring factory, which employs over 1,000 people. Additionally, Metroflor is fortunate to have Simon Xia, its general manager for China and liaison to Elegant Home-Tech, who assisted the team in overcoming the language barrier and setting the documentation process of existing policies in motion. Xia worked with Francis Janes, ILFI’s JUST manager, who walked him through the JUST parameters. This enabled Xia to evaluate and document transparency and social equity practices enabling the company to achieve the coveted label.

For more information, visit: justorganizations.com/just-profile/aspecta

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U.S.-China tariff tiff troubles some flooring executives

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Flooring executives are acting with trepidation amid the escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which ratcheted up a few notches last week when the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs on some $50 billion in Chinese imports across 1,300 categories of products.

The imports targeted for 25% levies range from high value-added goods, such as medicines and medical equipment, to intermediate products like machine tools and chemicals as well as durable consumer goods such as dishwashers, TVs and automobile parts. The list also includes machinery used in the production of some flooring products, including carpet and rugs, as well as milling or molding machines for products such as wood, cork, hard rubber, plastics or similar hard materials.

The day after Trump’s announcement, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of U.S. exports. The 106 affected products included soybeans and chemicals and came one day after China announced tariffs on $3 billion in imports of U.S. food and other goods, 128 categories in all.

The penalties will not happen right away, if at all. The designation of targeted products will be followed by a comment period in which American companies can provide feedback to the Trump administration on the product choices. The administration will hold a public hearing on the submissions on May 15 in Washington, and companies will have until May 22 to file final objections.

The move stems from a White House investigation into China’s use of pressure, intimidation and theft to obtain American technologies.

Flooring executives argue that in a global economy, any trade war between economic powers would ultimately result in a slowdown of the world economy. Thomas Baert, president of CFL Flooring, a China-based LVT supplier, said issuing large import tariffs sounds like a great idea since theoretically it would help local production in the West but would hurt categories like LVT, which are mostly sourced in China. “In our industry, the product categories that are imported at this stage cannot be made on the domestic machines,” Baert said. “Although several manufacturers are now transforming some production lines to be able to, it is questionable whether this will truly replace China production.”

Don Finkell, CEO of American OEM, a domestic wood manufacturer, had a different take as he pointed to the U.S. trade deficit. “We’re running at an $800 billion trade deficit with the rest of the world, of which $500 billion of that is with China. Most economists say that it is unsustainable, but they don’t really agree on what the consequences are. It’s been this way for more than a decade and growing. Since more jobs are involved in making a product than in importing a product, loss of jobs seems to be the long-term consequence of a trade deficit.”

Finkell said wood flooring going to China from the U.S. has a combination of tariffs, fees and taxes in the range of 27%. If there is a tariff on wood flooring under these trade actions, he said he would expect it to be in the range of 25%. He termed it “significant but not catastrophic to the industry.”

Flooring observers say the tariffs—should they be implemented—would impact the full line distributor to a greater extent than other sectors since wholesalers have been importing LVT/WPC/SPC products in large part to promote their own private-label brands. Jeff Hamar, president of Galleher, a top 20 distributor from Santa Fe Springs, Calif., which sources from China, said he would be very surprised if flooring is ever involved in the tariffs. “There are already duties on wood flooring produced in China so, in theory, the government is already adjusting those prices to reflect market realities,” he said. “If they were to go after rigid LVT flooring the argument would be that there is so little U.S. domestic capacity, who are they harming? Clearly, any duty would be passed onto the consumer and would result in higher prices. Duties on LVT would cut the gap between wood and LVT possibly helping wood flooring sales.”

Jonathan Train, CEO of Houston-based Swiff-Train Co., which also sources extensively from Asia, is clearly not an advocate for excessive tariffs. “Small tariffs that are clearly understood and fairly implemented are fine and do not block trade,” he said. “Plus, they add a reasonable means of revenue for the government. But larger, volatile and retroactive tariffs disrupt markets unnecessarily and do not fix anything.”

Many economists see a trade war as little more than punishing the other country rather than protecting domestic producers. Some flooring executives have similar views. “Unfortunately, it’s going to be a ‘tit for tat’ kind of game that we can’t afford to play,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network. “Imagine just for one second if Walmart couldn’t fill their stores with goods—it would be Armageddon.”

manufacturing to make more stuff here in the U.S.,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network, Shorewood, Ill. “But unfortunately, it’s going to be a ‘tit for tat’ kind of game that we can’t afford to play. Imagine just for one second if Walmart couldn’t fill their stores with goods—it would be Armageddon.”

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Domotex asia/ChinaFloor: Shanghai is calling

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

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

To register visit: domotexasiachinafloor.com.

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Domotex asia/ChinaFloor celebrates 20 years

DACF logo-01Shanghai, China—The Shanghai New International Expo Center will be the meeting point for flooring professionals during the 20th edition of Domotex asia/ChinaFloor. The show is set to run March 20-22, 2018. With only six months till the show, exhibitors from across the flooring industry are quickly securing their space. The show is already 80% booked.

The show’s internationality is increasing year after year with even more world-renowned brands joining the largest flooring show in Asia Pacific. International brands, to date, occupy more than 21% of the total confirmed exhibiting space. Some of the world’s leading brands participating in Domotex asia/ChinaFloor include: Armstrong, Gerflor, KCC, KDF, LG Hausys, Nox, USFloors, HanWha, Tarkett, Toli, Meijer, Elegant, Kingdom, Alsapan, Classen, French Timber Association, Haro, Swiss Krono Group, Parador, Kaindl, Egger, Faus, Giant, Weitzer Parkett, Edelholz, Balterio, Alloc, Unilin, Homelegend, Lamett, Power Dekor, Arte Mundi, A&W, Valinge, Balta, Boyteks, Nishaburi, Oriental Weavers, Farrahi, Shanhua, Haima, SanLi, Beaulieu, Mannington, Best Wool Carpets, Suminoe, Homag, Osmo, Dynea, Klumpp, Winters-teiger, Hawk, Banfert and Azumi.

The 2018 exhibition includes 12 halls among which five are dedicated to carpet and rugs, four to wood, laminate, cork, bamboo and other hard surfaces, and three halls dedicated to resilient flooring for commercial, industrial and residential use along with more than 161,000 square feet of outdoor exhibiting space. Special areas designed by Kostas Chatzigiannis of KCA will be available for all exhibitors participating in the InnovAction program–a platform enabling exhibitors to launch their newest products.

The Luxury Brands carpet show is coming back for the second time with returning handmade rug brands as well as brand new designers for an exclusive upscale experience in the world of handmade carpets. The 2018 show will also include cadet conferences and events, the Materia exhibition, the Floor Heating forum, the Hospital Space Design forum and much more. Attendees will also see exciting new launches, such as the woods and PVC wallboard showcase and the winter sports themed events in the Sports Flooring forum.

Domotex asia/ChinaFloor 2017 gathered 1,364 exhibitors from 40 countries and attracted 54,529 trade visitors, of which 12,812 were international coming from 100 nations. Domotex asia/ChinaFloor 2018 marks 20 years and is expected to become a unique point of reference for all flooring professionals as it continues to offer the flooring industry a unique platform to access and do business in Asia – Pacific, the biggest flooring market in the world.

For more information, visit domotexasiachinafloor.com

Click here to register.

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Novalis invests in the future of flexible, rigid core LVT

Novalis Plant ExpansionToronto, Canada—Novalis Innovative Flooring completed a landmark deal with Zhenjiang City to purchase a 35–acre tract directly across from its existing manufacturing facility. The company plans to erect a new state-of-the-art LVT plant—doubling the size of its current facility.

In addition to new LVT production lines, the new facility will house the company’s new headquarters and administrative offices, expanded R&D and Design facilities, and a new Customer Experience Center to share and educate the Novalis vision of sustainability. The design and construction of the new space will be LEED and WELL certified. Completion will occur in three phases over the next 36 months, with Phase One completed by Q1 of 2019. The total investment will be approximately $35 million.

“After looking at a variety of options and scenarios, we determined that building literally across the street from our existing plant made the best sense for servicing and supplying our customers, both in the U.S. and around the world,” said John Wu, president and CEO, Novalis. “Our combined operation and expanded corporate campus will afford us amazing design and production synergy that we just couldn’t duplicate anywhere else.”

Novalis will be putting its new and expanded facilities to good use, according to Wu. “We are currently working on the next generation of LVT in both flexible and rigid core, so the timing of this investment couldn’t be better for us. We are committed to remaining a global leader in LVT, therefore we have to continue to innovate with styling, construction and features.”

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Certified Floorcovering Installers Association goes global

CFIForney, Texas—Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) has expanded its presence in China, according to Robert Varden, vice president. Negotiations to establish a CFI satellite operation in Shanghai have been underway since last summer.

“A year’s worth of planning, negotiating and research has culminated in a partnership with the Shanghai Chemical Building Materials Trade Association (SCBMTA),” Varden said. “Our new arrangement in China represents CFI’s first free-standing overseas operation.”

The new facility, which will be overseen by Chun Yuan Qi, director of the SCBMTA, opened its doors on Sept. 8. Qi will report Varden, who will remain based at CFI headquarters stateside. Introductory installation classes at the new facility are slated to commence in the fourth quarter.

The initial lineup of coursework will include carpet, tile and stone. All classes will be taught by certified CFI instructors who were trained by lead instructors from the United States. The Asian outpost will be offering a full slate of CFI classes in all categories of flooring by the first quarter of 2018.

“CFI has experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years,” Varden said. “We are clearly capturing the attention of the industry and making great progress toward resolving its installation crisis.”

Varden said the critical shortage of trained installers extends well beyond the United States and affirmed CFI’s commitment to addressing the problem everywhere that it exists. “We are very excited about the opportunity not only to work with and train new students overseas, but to also continue to expand CFI’s presence throughout the world.”

For more information, visit cfiinstallers.org, email clewis@cfiinstallers.org or call 816-231-4646.

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Domotex asia/ChinaFloor 2017: The Leader for Innovation in Asia-Pacific

domotex-asiaShanghai, China—Domotex asia/ChinaFloor has secured its place as the leading trade show in Asia-Pacific for innovation in flooring, especially for new and emerging categories like LVT and WPC.

Soon, the second delegation of leading North American distributors will meet with suppliers from China and Asia for a week-long event that will include guided factory tours and previews of product and new emerging technologies. As part of the tour, they will have the opportunity to meet with exhibitors of the 19th edition of Domotex asia/ChinaFloor, which will take place March 21-23, 2017, in Shanghai, China.

Last year’s distributor delegates noted how impressed they were with the advanced state of manufacturing in Chinese factories. This year will be no different as leading companies prepare to show off their operations.

“The world of flooring is waking up to the new possibilities that advancing technology offers and Asian suppliers [are] now part of that story,” said Santiago Montero, former publisher and editor-in-chief of Floor Covering Weekly, who has been tapped to lead this year’s delegation. “This trip will not only give distributors a first-hand look at the quality and scope of Asian manufacturing operations, it will break down the barriers to direct relationships between the two.”

The 2017 Delegation will include some of North America’s leading distribution companies, including Diamond W, Apollo, Wanke Cascade, A-M Supply, Abraham Linc, Horizon Forest Products and others.

Online registration is now open and admittance for pre-registered visitors is free.

For more information visit: www.domotexasiachinafloor.com

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Distributor delegation heads to Domotex asia/ChinaFloor

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Shanghai, China—For the second year in a row, Domotex asia/ChinaFloor will host a delegation of leading North American distributors to meet with suppliers from China and Asia. The week-long event will include guided factory tours and previews of product and new emerging technologies as well as a chance to visit exhibitors of the 19th edition of the show, which will take place March 21-23, 2017, in Shanghai, China. Building on the success of last year’s program, the goal is to facilitate further collaboration between the two groups.

While Asia is known to be a leader in product development and innovation, doing business in Asia can still be daunting for many North American companies. “This trip is designed to break down the barriers between Asia’s leading suppliers and North American distributors through greater understanding and shared business objectives,” said Santiago Montero, former publisher and editor-in-chief of Floor Covering Weekly, who has been tapped to lead next year’s delegation.

“This first-hand look at the quality and scope of Asian manufacturing operations will help foster new ties with North American distributors. Through a series of guided factory tours and face-to-face meetings, along with frank peer-to-peer discussions among group members themselves, we know we can help distributors deepen their ties with Asian manufacturers to help their businesses grow and thrive in today’s highly competitive market.”

Enos Farnsworth, director of distribution for Denver Hardwoods, noted, “The 2016 distributor delegation trip to Domotex asia/ChinaFloor was the most productive trip of the year. This was my first trip to China and I was overwhelmed by the innovation and quality of the manufacturing facilities. In fact, we scheduled follow-up meetings with three manufacturers; the new partnerships we developed are part of a private label program our Consolidated Distribution Network will be launching in Q1, 2017.”

Jeff Jaeckle, president, Jaeckle Distributors, added, “For me, the trip confirmed that the major factories in China are definitely high-quality operations. I was very pleased with the technology and investment I saw as well as product development. Being there also expanded my education on dealing with China on a direct basis. And just as important, it’s not often when you have the opportunity network and trade ideas with a great group of peers for five days.”

The 2017 delegation will include some of North America’s leading distribution companies, including J.J. Haines, Herregan, A-M Supply and Abraham Linc.

In addition to hosted factory tours, delegates will attend Domotex asia/ChinaFloor, one of the flooring industry’s largest international events. With over 50,000 attendees from all over the world, the event delivers an unparalleled opportunity to see products that are making their debut.

Two attendees will win a spot with the delegation through a dedicated online drawing. The entry is open to qualified owners/executives or buyers of North American-based distributors or retail organizations who fill and submit the participation form. The deadline for applications will be Jan. 15, 2017.

“I’ve attended Domotex asia/ChinaFloor for nearly 10 years now and each year I find something new and exciting in product development as well as a renewed effort by Asian suppliers to become more meaningful to their North American business partners,” Montero said. “It truly has been a transformative experience for the global flooring industry.”

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Metroflor hosts distributor trip to China

PastedGraphic-4Norwalk, Conn.—Metroflor recently hosted a historic trip to China, called the Factory Mill Tour, for all of its distributor partners April 17-23. The goal was to showcase the relationships, equity and quality control capabilities the company has established over its 40 years of manufacturing in Asia to reinforce a high confidence level of doing business with Metroflor, “The LVT Specialists.”

The weeklong trip, which began and ended in Shanghai, toured three Metroflor manufacturing facilities as well as a decorative print film facility. Distributors were able to witness start-to-finish production of all Metroflor products, including the new Engage Genesis and Aspecta Ten products that feature Isocore Technology. There was also time for sightseeing, shopping, gourmet dining, a river cruise and soaking up the local culture—including a visit to a youth Ping Pong school.

“The trip was a successful one that highlighted the degree of sophistication built into the manufacturing of our products, provided for enjoyable entertainment and sightseeing and further strengthened the bonds that help make Metroflor Corporation and its distributors the most formidable force in North America’s resilient flooring market,” said Russ Rogg, CEO.

Gary Keeble, director of marketing, added, “The Factory Mill Tour reinforced our ‘specialist’ credibility, showcased our commitment to innovation and demonstrated our thoroughness relative to quality and safety. Our distributors were able to see with their own eyes how Metroflor is exceeding their expectations.”

Distributors who participated in the Factory Mill Tour had positive reports. “The trip was an excellent learning experience,” said Jennette David, product manager, The Cronin Company. “It has given me a greater understanding of the long history, strong relationships, capabilities, technology, investments and forward-thinking vision that has made Metroflor so successful. I was also impressed by the facilities and their employees, manufacturing processes, and quality checks and standards put in place. For me, the trip further solidified Metroflor as the leader in LVT.”

Chris Courtenay of Apollo Distributors said, “The plants are as professional as possible—we were so impressed with how big and immaculate they are. I’ve been to others in the U.S., and they have nothing over Metroflor’s LVT facilities in China; they are spectacular. We all walked away very impressed with Metroflor.”

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An American in China: Diving into a bowl of noodles; part two

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

By Julian Dossche

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.08.39 AM(Editor’s note: Julian Dossche is the senior manager, Global Business Development, at USFloors. Dossche recently relocated to the Jing’an District in Shanghai, China, to run the company’s Asian business. Dossche has agreed to pen a quarterly column for FCNews on his perspective of doing business in China, his experiences and where opportunities may lie.)

It has officially been over seven months since my move to Shanghai, China, and it truly has been quite an adventure. Slowly but surely I am navigating through the labyrinth known as the Chinese business world. One of the most interesting business practices, which I have experienced numerous times is the Chinese business meal. This column will bring your attention to the business dinner, but in no way is it meant to downplay the experience offered by business lunches; they can also be quite an experience.

Living in the heart of the hustle and bustle of China and within close proximity of our suppliers allows many opportunities for a Chinese dinner. For those of you who have traveled to visit partners or to broaden sourcing opportunities, I feel certain you know and have experienced what a typical Chinese business dinner involves. For those who have not traveled to China, let me paint you a picture.

It has been a long trip to your Chinese host, and you probably have already discussed numerous issues and opportunities, and have had your fair share of cha (tea). When it is time for dinner you hop in the car and head to the restaurant. Restaurants in China are not comparable to the American tables with white tablecloths and full place settings; instead, they are large, elaborate, colorful buildings with numerous large and separate dining rooms. Each dining room contains a grand round table with a Lazy Susan in the middle. In most cases your Chinese host will seat you as the guest of honor by placing you at the head of the table, and in the case of the round table, the seat of honor is the one that faces the door in which you entered.

As you settle in, they will serve you more cha and bring out either a wine glass or a small shot glass. The type of glass placed depends on the area of China. If you happen to find yourself in the north or south, you will receive a shot glass for baidu, a type of Chinese liquor, or for rice wine. If you are in the middle part of China and the Shanghai area, you will receive a wine glass for either wine or beer. (I should warn you that your Chinese host will most definitely want you to partake in a few drinks.)

Now that all the beverage formalities are laid out, let’s get back to the dinner. Dispersed in front of you is a table full of artistically decorated dishes, some that you recognize and some that you do not. As you begin dinner, the conversation is no longer the same as the one back at the factory. Your hosts will want to discuss family, your country and numerous other topics. At the same time you will partake in toasts and will have had a good bit of whatever the drink of choice was that night. All in all, you will have lots of laughs, good conversation and crossed numerous interesting foods off your bucket list.

Stay tuned for my next column, in which I will discuss the underlying meaning of the Chinese business dinner and why the culture and traditions are practiced. For now, just take a sip of that coffee and take on those tasks you have been meaning to, because I can assure you they have already been accomplished here in the land of the fast-paced dragon.