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Award of Excellence: Mohawk returns to winner’s circle as Best Overall

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Ken Ryan

 

Garden City, N.Y.—For the third year in a row, Mohawk Industries was voted Best Overall Manufacturer—one of four Mohawk-branded honors, and six in all for Mohawk Group—in FCNews’ 22nd annual Award of Excellence competition.

Mohawk won for Best Carpet Manufacturer (Group A), Best Commercial Carpet Manufacturer and Best Laminate Manufacturer (Group A), as well as Best Overall. Further, two Mohawk companies took home top honors, including Dal-Tile, which was named Best Ceramic Manufacturer (Group A) for an unprecedented 20th consecutive year. Karastan won top honors for Area Rugs.

“At Mohawk, we continue to invest heavily in the future,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk residential, who attended the annual affair at the Garden City Hotel with several members of the Mohawk team. “We are honored that retailers recognize our products, such as the industry’s first hypoallergenic soft flooring—Air.o; our SmartStrand franchise and our revolutionary wood flooring—RevWood, as innovations that contribute to their business success and consumer satisfaction. Mohawk is not only thankful for their resounding endorsement of our products but also of our hardworking employees whose talent and dedication earned our company these prestigious awards.”

Dal-Tile has done what no other company or brand has done—won the award for two decades running. According to John Turner, president, the victory laps never get old. “Winning the Award of Excellence is meaningful to Dal-Tile because it reinforces how our customers feel about their relationship with our business and how they value our Daltile, American Olean and Marazzi brands,” he said. “Each team member plays a critical role in ensuring that we forge relationships with our customers through superior service and products that lead the industry in style, innovation and quality. Our long history of success in this awards program illustrates our commitment to excellence and the significant partnerships we enjoy with our customers.”

Mohawk wasn’t the only dominant company. It was a big night for Shaw Industries and its divisions as well, with five awards. Shaw won Best Manufacturer for LVT (Group A) and Best Manufacturer for Hardwood (Group A); Anderson Tuftex took home top honors for Carpet (Group B) and Hardwood (Group B), while USFloors took first place in the inaugural WPC/Rigid Core category.

“The Award of Excellence is a coveted and respected industry award and receiving this award for both LVT and hardwood is an immense honor for Shaw Floors,” said Herb Upton, vice president, hard surface. “We’re thrilled to see our latest hard surface products have been well received, and these awards confirm Shaw Floors leads the way in hard surface innovation.”

Drew Hash, vice president, Shaw hard surface products, added, “To be chosen for these prestigious awards by our retail partners speaks to the success of Shaw’s efforts to put customers at the forefront of all we do. We thank our dealers and Shaw associates who make our shared achievements possible.”

For the first time a separate category for WPC/Rigid Core was established, a nod to the explosiveness of the waterproof vinyl flooring segment. USFloors, marketer of the highly successful COREtec brand of WPC, won the award for WPC/Rigid Core after taking top honors for LVT the previous two years. “To achieve an Award of Excellence from your customers is the most meaningful and valuable recognition any company can wish for,” said Piet Dossche, president of USFloors. “I am very proud and honored to receive this trophy on behalf of our entire team of dedicated people who are working hard to provide the best product and service to our retail partners. The revolution our COREtec product has created in the WPC product category has been great for our customers who have embraced this exciting new product wholeheartedly. Thank you, FCNews and Informa Exhibitions, for organizing this yearly contest and event.”

Being part of the Shaw family, Dossche added, has given USFloors more opportunities to grow the COREtec business. “We are committed to remain the leader in this category and building COREtec into a strong consumer brand.”

Among the repeat winners, Emser Tile won for the second year in a row in Ceramic (Group B), and Inhaus took top honors for Laminate (Group B), marking its second consecutive year in the winner’s circle. “Emser Tile is proud to be recognized by our customers and receive the FCNews Award of Excellence,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer. “As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, this recognition validates our service promise commitment to our customers and inspires us to continue to find new ways to innovate and enhance the overall customer experience.”

Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus, commented: “We feel extremely fortunate and are honored that our customers voted for us. We have a passion for our product offerings and strive to create products that people are excited about both in terms of innovative design and quality. In our eyes, this award is a recognition of our efforts, and we are very appreciative of that.”

A new classification (Group C) was established for the first time to recognize quality, smaller-scale companies. In carpet, Southwind won for Group C while HomerWood was honored in hardwood.

“Southwind and all of our employees are honored to have won this Award of Excellence,” said Richard Abramowicz, executive vice president. “It is a team effort—not one individual. Southwind strives to bring to market the most innovative and forward-thinking products that provide solutions to the marketplace. We would like to thank our valued customers for recognizing our efforts for this award.”

Methodology

Sponsored by FCNews and Informa Exhibitions, proprietors of The International Surface Event (TISE), the Award of Excellence is a way for manufacturers’ customers—retailers, distributors, designers, installers and specifiers—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.

“The Awards of Excellence are honors bestowed to manufacturers by the heart and soul of the flooring industry—the retailers,” said Dana Teague, vice president, Design Group, Informa Global Exhibitions. “It is a pleasure and an honor for Informa/Surfaces to co-sponsor this year’s awards with Floor Covering News. We are delighted to share our enthusiasm for innovation with brands that continually strive for excellence. Surfaces is the platform that manufacturers use to launch or highlight many of the winning products to the delight of the thousands of retailers, distributors, designers and installers that come to Las Vegas every January. Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s awards.”

Readers of FCNews, as well as other industry personnel visiting trade shows such as Surfaces (and not employed by a manufacturer), voted between October 2017 and the end of March 2018 for the companies they felt best met established criteria in the following floor covering categories—Carpet, Commercial Carpet, Area Rugs, Resilient, Resilient Sheet, Resilient Commercial, Hardwood, Tile, Laminate, Cushion/Underlayment, WPC—as well as the Best Overall mill. 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, the Best Overall award required voters to fill in their choice 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 nine years, individual category winners were selected in two or three groups based on their volume. Also, manufacturers did not have to 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.

More than 2,200 votes—representing flooring retailers, distributors, designers and installers—were cast, with more industry professionals voting online than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Anderson Tuftex, COREtec brands to exhibit at Domotex USA

Chicago—Shaw Industries Group will exhibit its Anderson Tuftex and COREtec brands at the inaugural Domotex USA trade show, Feb. 28 to March 2, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Anderson Tuftex is Shaw’s premier line of residential hardwood flooring and carpet products. Acquired by Shaw in 2016, USFloors is the innovator of multi-layer flooring, best known as WPC and SPC flooring marketed under the COREtec brand.

“Shaw fully supports the new Domotex USA trade show,” said Tim Baucom, executive vice president of residential business at Shaw Industries. “I’m personally excited to see Domotex USA drive enthusiasm for residential flooring in North America. Shaw will be a key player at this event, and we expect to connect with new residential flooring advocates when we showcase our leading position in this space.”

The Anderson Tuftex and COREtec exhibits will be positioned alongside each other to enable attendees to easily preview all Shaw product offerings on display at Domotex USA.

USFloors has participated at Domotex in Hannover and Domotex asia/ChinaFloor for several years. “Domotex is a first class, global floor coverings exhibition,” said Piet Dossche, president of USFloors and executive vice president of hard surface for Shaw. “We believe the show’s organizers will create a similar, high-quality flooring innovations event in the U.S. and plan to utilize Domotex USA as a major platform to launch our new COREtec innovations to the North American marketplace.”

Both Anderson Tuftex and USFloors are members of the Domotex USA advisory board.

“The confidence that Anderson Tuftex, USFloors and Shaw Industries have placed in Domotex USA by becoming our largest exhibitor is humbling and confirms our commitment to build the best event for the American flooring industry,” said Raymond L. Bianchi, vice president of events and business development at Hannover Fairs USA, Domotex USA’s organizer and manager. “Shaw is a leader in the industry, and we hope to grow together to make Domotex USA the premier marketplace for floor coverings in North America.”

 

 

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Executive interview: Piet Dossche- WPC pioneer sees limitless growth

Believes laminate, engineered wood will need to respond

Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.24.36 PMSome flooring executives predict that The International Surface Event (TISE), which will be held this week in Las Vegas, will be the coming out party for the wood plastic/polymer composite (WPC) category with as many as 30 introductions expected.

The company that jump-started the WPC revolution was USFloors with its introduction of COREtec technology at Surfaces 2014. Since then, the product has not only won multiple awards, but more important, has earned retail acclaim as being a true solution: water resistant, dimensionally stable and easy to install.

Piet Dossche, USFloors’ CEO, recently spoke to FCNews’ senior editor Ken Ryan about COREtec, the potential competition and the rapidly expanding category.

How did USFloors come up with the idea for COREtec?

While researching composite outdoor decking—to possibly add to our product offering—we were visiting several companies in China that were manufacturing this product using an extrusion process. Not only were these companies extruding typical plank format for decking construction, like the well-known Trex brand, they were extruding large, thinner sheets used for builder materials such as paneling and kitchen cabinets. With the waterproof characteristics of this extruded material, and the availabScreen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.24.57 PMility in a sheet format like the MDF used in laminate, we knew we had found the right core product to make a waterproof flooring. We worked on density and formulation to improve the performance and dimensional stability, applied an LVT wear layer and a cork backing, and the COREtec product was born.

Why is the WPC category the next big thing in flooring?

Right from the beginning we were convinced this product category was going to grow into something big, and so far even our wildest estimates have fallen short. The WPC construction or composite core LVT flooring, whatever you call it, solves a number of major issues other traditional LVT products are struggling with. The fact that these composite constructions can be installed directly over damaged or uneven subfloors without showing or “telegraphing” the imperfections on the face of the product is probably the greatest feature and differentiator vs. solid LVT. When directly installed over ceramic tiles, no grout lines show, saving a lot of cost in either breaking out the tile subfloor and leveling out the grout line—or even the entire floor.

[WPC’s] dimensional stability is superior to most solid LVT constructions, enabling large rooms to be installed without transition pieces. The rigidity of the core makes for a much more installation friendly and stronger click locking profile, installing as easily, quickly and reliably as laminate or engineered wood. The visuals are as authentic as real wood looks and obviously the waterproof guarantee makes WPC suitable for installation in wet applications, something wood and laminate have never been able to claim. Whenever you have a good looking product, manufactured with quality, style, competitive pricing and bringing solutions to real problems, you are bound to have a winner. COREtec has proven this.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.24.48 PMUSFloors is the pioneer of this new category. How do you feel about that?

I feel extremely proud and blessed USFloors is the inventor and pioneer of this brand-new product category and we were able to capitalize on this by expanding our business rapidly since we first showed our COREtec collection during Surfaces 2014. In my more than 30 years in the flooring industry, I have never been in a position to give birth to a totally new flooring product and witness firsthand such phenomenal acceptance and success. During the mid-1990s laminate flooring had a stellar introduction and growth in the U.S., much like WPC is experiencing right now.

What concerns you about the future of WPC?

Every successful product gets knocked off as soon as it appears, and COREtec has seen many copies appearing in the market. By now it is common knowledge we have a patent, which has been studied by many in detail on how to get around and avoid infringing. Anybody who knows anything about patents realizes they are fluid and continuous applications can be filed to enhance and strengthen the claims. Competition will always be there and is healthy to develop the category to its maximum potential. While we welcome competition, we also believe IP should be respected, and we will continue to evaluate how best we can work with those competitors who are of the same opinion and respect IP.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.24.41 PMThe real threat to the category does not come from the companies that believe in bringing good quality products with attractive designs and exciting marketing to their retail partners, but those that manufacture or import substandard collections made from dubious raw materials with low specifications and consequently use low pricing as their only tool to get entry into the market. These companies should not be allowed to get traction, and retailers should shy away from those category killers. I can assure we at USFloors will do what we can to protect this innovative product.

What excites you about the future of WPC?

There is no limit to how big this category can become. This is clearly disruptive technology, but disruptive in the positive sense; it is also innovative, outside the box, different and challenging. WPC in all of its formats will eventually grow to capture more market share than laminate has. Many creative new composite materials will appear over the next several years, raising the bar and driving growth in the category. Furthermore, I believe laminate flooring and engineered wood flooring will have to be reinvented to respond to these waterproof composite core constructions. This, in turn, will spur new products, bring further innovation and grow our industry. WPC is only at the early stages of its lifecycle; expansion will forever change the landscape of LVT and other flooring categories.

When you look back at what USFloors has accomplished, what are you most proud of?

COREtec is allowing me to build the foundation of USFloors strong enough to grow the company to a different platform—bigger and better but still true to its original message of being unique and innovative with a focus on sustainability. The innovation of COREtec is a strong accomplishment for our company, no doubt about it, but what will ultimately define our legacy will be what we were able to create and build with this product.

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USFloors receives third patent for COREtec

USF_Leaf-Logo-final_hiresDalton—USFloors has been issued a third patent for its COREtec technology, providing the broadest protection to date. The United States Patent Office issued Patent No. 9,234,357 entitled, “Engineered Waterproof Plastic Composite Flooring and Wall Covering Planks,” which is derived from USFloors’ original COREtec patent.

While the first two COREtec patents covered products with a composite core of plastic and a dust of either wood, bamboo or cork, this patent expands the claim coverage to include any plastic composite core, regardless of whether it contains wood dust or other additives and fillers, such as calcium carbonate.

It covers all engineered flooring products with a plastic composite core and a veneer top layer bonded with a waterproof adhesive, with or without the attached cork backing which has become a hallmark of the COREtec brand.

Patent No. 9,234,357 represents a significant step forward for USFloors. “[This] news is further justification for the industry-wide acclaim that we have received for our innovative development of an entirely new category of waterproof luxury vinyl flooring products,” said Piet Dossche, CEO and president of USFloors.

USFloors has already granted a number of licenses for its COREtec patents and is actively offering licenses for its worldwide family of COREtec patents.

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USFloors granted patent for COREtec technology

October 12/19; Volume 30/Number 9

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.23.51 PMFive years after initial development and three years after filing for a patent, USFloors has received U.S. Patent #9,156,233 for its COREtec technology.

The eagerly anticipated patent covers all USFloors engineered flooring products with a WPC core and veneer top layer with or without an attached backing.

Piet Dossche, president and CEO of USFloors, told FCNews the wait was well worth it. “How many times in a lifetime do you have the chance to create something completely new? The process took a long time; we’ve been challenged many times and each time we were successful in defending it.”

Dossche said the patent confirms the unique innovation of COREtec and reinforces the recognition of its intellectual property. “We are not looking to keep this all for USFloors and monopolize it. Quite the opposite. Our intention remains strong to work with those companies who respect our IP and are committed to growing this brand-new flooring category in a quality-focused and profitable way while vigorously protecting it from destruction caused by low-quality introductions coupled with low-ball pricing.”

COREtec technology provides an array of unique benefits that combine the best features of LVT and laminate. It’s easy to install like laminate but 100% waterproof, which means it will not swell or expand when exposed to moisture. The product’s rigid construction hides subfloor imperfections, provides a smooth visual surface and eliminates the waviness—known as telegraphing—associated with traditional glue-down or solid-locking LVT. This construction also allows for installation directly over an existing ceramic tile floor without having to fill in grout lines. Because it is virtually inert, it will not expand or contract under normal conditions, therefore there is no need for expansion gaps every 30 feet in large rooms. Superior dimensional stability eliminates the need to acclimate the floor prior to installation as well.

The patent protection covers the entire COREtec luxury vinyl tile collection, which includes COREtec Plus, COREtec Plus XL, COREtec Plus HD, COREtec One, SmartCore, Stratum, Stratum XL, Innova, Fusion Hybrid Floors, Vision Hybrid Floors, as well as any future products developed and sold under the protection of its patent.

“For us this represents a breakout from being a niche player to entering a whole new dimension where we are now a main player,” Dossche said. “We already have close to 100 SKUs in our COREtec offering with more on the way. We are committed to continuing to be the market leader through product development and design and by bringing the widest selection of superior quality products to the marketplace.”

Dossche noted USFloors is open to working with other companies. To date, USFloors has arrangements with Beaulieu of America and ChinaFloors. He said he expects additional deals, including licensing the technology, now that the patent has been issued. He welcomes what he termed “healthy competition,” which will help grow the WPC category to what Dossche estimated could be a $1 billion market in five years.

Flooring dealers have experienced considerable success with COREtec since it was first launched in 2013. “When our salespeople explain to the customer how the technology works, she seems to get it and see all the benefits,” said A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, with three Massachusetts locations. “COREtec is well-priced compared to other hard surfaces. When combining all of the benefits, you end up with a great product that can be installed in a lot of areas other hard surfaces cannot, and that makes it easy to sell.”

Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, with six locations in Kentucky and Indiana, said the WPC category in general—and COREtec in particular—delivers real solutions. “COREtec answers a void in the market and bridges the gap between the thinner LVT/LVP products tScreen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.24.53 PMhat can give you issues with floor conditions and laminate flooring that can give you issues with edge curl when moisture is present. This category resolves both and can give you a beautiful visual and an easy floor for a consumer to take care of. I see this as a strong category with a lot of room for growth.”

Billy Mahone III, manager at Atlas Floors Carpet One in San Antonio, credited USFloors with an exceptional job of communicating its story along with the right marketing and sampling. “COREtec is an excellent product that has put WPC on the map and created a buzz in our industry. I think the reason for COREtec’s success is that it looks like laminate—a product most customers are familiar with—but it carries additional features that set it apart—water resistance, noise reduction and minimal prep requirements.”

Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf, a top 20 distributor based in Owings Mills, Md., expects WPC to be the hottest category at The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas in January, predicting as many as 30 to 40 companies will introduce versions of the product. “WPC is clearly a trend that is on the move. Any time you have a product that solves a problem it seems to do well. One of the issues people have with LVT is there is some telegraphing, and therefore there are limitations with what you can put LVT over. That is not the case with WPC.”

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USFloors receives patent for COREtec

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 3.51.08 PM

Dalton—USFloors has received U.S. Patent #9,156,233 for COREtec, its engineered, waterproof luxury vinyl flooring collection with nearly 100 SKUs. The patent covers all engineered flooring products with a WPC core and a veneer top layer, with or without an attached backing.

“The issuance of the U.S. patent confirms the unique innovation of our COREtec product and reinforces the recognition and strength of its intellectual property,” said Piet Dossche, CEO and president of USFloors. “Our intention remains strong to work with those companies who respect our IP and are committed in growing this brand new flooring category in a quality focused and profitable way, while vigorously protecting it from destruction caused by cheaper quality introductions coupled with price deterioration.”

For more details, see FCNews’ full coverage in the October 12/19 issue.

 

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USFloors receives notice of allowance for its COREtec patent application

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.18.17 AMDalton—USFloors received a Notice of Allowance for its COREtec patent application, which was filed on Oct. 22, 2012.

The patent will give USFloors patent protection for its popular COREtec LVT collection including COREtec Plus, COREtec Plus XL, COREtec Plus HD, COREtec One, SMARTCORE, Stratum, Stratum XL, INNOVA, Fusion Hybrid Floors, Vision Hybrid Floors as well as any future products developed and sold under the protection of its patent.

The exclusive Beaulieu of America COREtec One by Bliss collection, introduced early this year and extensively featured by the company during The International Surface Event (TISE) 2015 in Las Vegas, will also fall within the scope of USFloors’ Intellectual Property (IP) rights and protection.

“I am extremely excited with the Notice of Allowance we received today from the USPTO [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office], as it validates the innovation and development we have brought to the flooring industry with our COREtec LVT collection,” said Piet Dossche, president and CEO. “This product has been in development since early 2010 and we have invested a lot of time and money to bring this new flooring product to the market and to have our patent application filed and successfully allowed.”

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Beaulieu, USFloors reach distribution deal on COREtec

January 5/12, 2015; Volume 28/Number 14

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.25.51 AMThe distribution agreement between USFloors and Beaulieu America that allows Beaulieu to sell its own Bliss COREtec collection of LVT speaks volumes of the product’s market power, according to Piet Dossche, president and CEO, USFloors.

“For a large and respectable manufacturer like Beaulieu to commit, it clearly validates this product and solidifies the belief that this COREtec construction is an entirely new product category emerging with a strong and permanent footprint in the LVT market,” Dossche told FCNews. “Beaulieu has seen the opportunity to be early in the market with its own COREtec One introduction, a reflection of its focus on innovation and differentiation.”

Dossche said discussions with Beaulieu began last spring and “intensified rather quickly” as the year progressed. The agreement occurred in mid-December.

For Beaulieu, this new line will allow the company to expand beyond its current assortment of Bliss luxury vinyl flooring products. “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.

The line will be called Bliss COREtec One Waterproof Engineered Flooring and will feature colors and visuals that are unique to Bliss while incorporating patent-pending COREtec technology. Bouckaert said the new line of waterproof products is set to launch this month and will be on display at Surfaces in Las Vegas.

Dossche noted that USFloors is in the final stages of the patent application process for COREtec. “In Belgium, there is a saying: ‘Don’t sell the skin of the bear before you shoot him.’ So I’ll wait to make any further comments until the bear is killed. But I can reveal that he’s clearly in my scope.”

In the meantime, additional companies have contacted USFloors, and Dossche said discussions are taking place for a variety of cooperation agreements.

Emboldened by the Beaulieu commitment, Dossche said he is confident that the luxury vinyl category created with COREtec can reach $1 billion over the next five to seven years. “Endorsements and support from leading companies like Beaulieu will accelerate this growth and help to uplift the entire LVT category. At the same time, it will promote innovation while respecting intellectual property and avoid the trap of commoditization as so much new capacity will be coming on stream over the next 12 to 18 months.”