Posted on

Dal-Tile to offer new warranty program for TCAA-certified installs

Dal-Tile's Revalia collection is installed on the wall in White Matte and Blissful Berry. It's Raine collection is installed on the floor in Cumulus Grey.

Dallas, Texas—Dal-Tile will launch a program nationwide to provide longer warranties to customers on products that are installed by Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) Trowel of Excellence-certified contractors.

The Trowel of Excellence certification is granted by the TCAA and verifies that a member TCAA tile installation contractor or company consistently performs the highest level of quality installations, demonstrates integrity and superior business practices and is committed to the betterment of the tile industry.

Dal-Tile is offering end users a 5-year ceramic tile warranty and a 10-year warranty on porcelain products installed by a TCAA Trowel of Excellence certified contractor. “These are outstanding warranties that no other tile manufacturer in the industry is offering to our industry’s TCAA certified contractors,” said John Cousins, senior vice president, Dal-Tile Corporation. “The warranties apply to Daltile, Marazzi and American Olean products when installed in accordance with approved installation systems. One of the greatest challenges for the tile industry is the shortage of qualified installers. As the industry stalwart, Dal-Tile believes in setting up our industry’s installation leaders for even greater success. These warranties not only make today’s TCAA Trowel of Excellence-certified contractors’ businesses more profitable, but they incentivize other installers to earn the TCAA Trowel of Excellence certification that represents proven excellence in craftsmanship. Dal-Tile is committed to continuing our legacy of equipping the installer community for success.”

Lucinda Noel, executive director, TCAA, noted Dal-Tile's industry-leading efforts to support qualified labor. “Dal-Tile has been a longtime leader in promoting qualified labor within the ceramic tile industry, and this is just another way of continuing with that quest for excellence in installation via a method that will benefit the owner, the certified contractor and the entire industry. When tile is installed per industry standards, by qualified/certified contractors, it will stand the test of time and serve to promote the use of our industry’s materials. We are excited for our TCAA Trowel of Excellence-certified contractors and the increased business that this new warranty program can facilitate as architects and owners become more aware of the benefits of specifying qualified labor.”

Posted on

Daltile’s FlexFit reduces installation time, cost

Dallas—When Daltile introduced its Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces into the market last year, the new extra-large format porcelain products offered customers a chance to go big with slabs approximately 10’ x 5’ in size—ideal for floors, walls, countertops, shower walls, tub surrounds and exterior applications. Now, Daltile’s new FlexFit Size Solutions program offers customers additional flexibility using Panoramic’s innovative porcelain slab products through a pre-cut program that includes multiple sizing options, giving customers many new possibilities for their projects and enabling Daltile to further grow its business.

The FlexFit program offers the slabs pre-cut into seven smaller stocked sizes that reflect the most standard cut dimensions needed for both residential and commercial applications.

“A key advantage we offer is a very short lead time for both full-size slabs and our new standard sizes,” said Ben Redding, director countertop operations and sales, Dal-Tile. “Our FlexFit seven pre-cut smaller dimensions give our customers a superior thin porcelain product that they do not have to cut, saving retailers, contractors, and builders time and money.”

The pre-cut sizes are available in both 6 mm and 12 mm thicknesses. All Panoramic colors are stocked in extra-large slab, as well as in the new standard sizes, at key Daltile slab yards across the nation. Pre-cut sizes include: 63” x 63”, 31.50” x 126”, 31.50” x 63”, 31.50” x 31.50”, 21” x 21”, 15.75” x 63” and 15.75” x 31.50”.

As an additional component of FlexFit, the program also offers the option to order a custom cut to any size.

 

Posted on

Contract: State of the industry—Key end-use sectors drive specifications

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

By K.J. Quinn

 

In many ways the commercial contractor flooring market is like an onion—as you delve into each sector, one layer at a time, you start uncovering macro issues impacting flooring choices that go beyond traditional metrics. Sustainability, wellness principles and environmental impacts are among the major factors affecting facility design across the board, experts say.

“Manufacturers have increased focus on the impacts of their products on occupant well-being and productivity, offering a wider range of aesthetic and functional solutions to deliver against the requests of designers’ clients,” said Matthew Miller, president, Interface Americas.

Industry projections indicate the commercial market is on pace to experience similar growth as last year, with some segments faring much better than others. To put it in perspective, soft surfaces generated an estimated $3.6 to $4 billion in sales and upwards of 300 million square yards last year, according to industry estimates. Carpet tile claimed approximately 50% of volume and 60% of the value over broadloom—increases of 9% and 10%, respectively, over 2016.

Many trends that impacted commercial segments last year are carrying over into 2018. “I think the market for carpet will continue to lose share to hard surfaces,” said Brenda Knowles, vice president of marketing for Shaw Industries’ commercial business. “We’ll continue to see an emphasis on product design across all segments and more offerings that combine soft and hard surfaces.”

Nonetheless, there is still a good amount of broadloom being sold into commercial spaces, especially in sectors that demand a luxurious look and feel underfoot. “We still see some higher-end broadloom sold to the hospitality, legal and financial services sectors,” observed Richard French, vice president of sales, Bentley Mills. “At the high end of the spectrum, carpet tile is still not able to meet aesthetic needs.”

Hard surface seizes share

The market size for hard surfaces is nearly as much as carpet, estimated at $3.7 billion in sales. But that’s where the similarities end. Sales and volume grew by double digits, led by ceramic tile and stone ($1.45 million in 2017 sales), rubber ($650 million) and luxury vinyl tile ($600 million), according to industry estimates.

LVT is the fastest growing sector, with sales rising by double digits and usage expanding across all segments. “Hard surface growth in the commercial segment is being driven by LVT and ceramic,” Jeff Fenwick, president and COO, Tarkett North America, told FCNews. “LVT is showing up in more commercial spaces and design features of ceramic are taking it out of the ‘back of the house’ and letting it be utilized in other spaces.”

VCT, estimated at $250 million in 2017 sales, and sheet goods, which generated about $300 million, remain viable options. Healthcare and education, long strongholds of the sector, are reportedly losing market share. Hardwood, laminate flooring and linoleum are being specified for certain niches, although each category accounts for only a small percentage (less than 5% apiece) of the overall commercial market, statistics show. “For people who want that visual a little different and want to make more of a statement than a neutral gray floor, then linoleum is your answer,” said Denis Darragh, vice president, North America, Forbo Flooring.

While LVT dominates the headlines, one category maintaining steady growth is ceramic. While it’s difficult to determine sales and volume due to fragmented distribution channels, anecdotal research indicates tile commands approximately 15% of total commercial flooring sales and volume, with specified contract accounting for about 70% of the business. Growth rates are projected to mirror last year, when the category grew an estimated 6% in sales and 5% in square footage.

End-use activity

There are diverse applications for flooring within the five major sectors of the commercial business, the majority of which (an estimated 70% to 75%) is specified contract and the remainder Main Street commercial applications. Each has its own set of issues, trends and requirements which, in some cases, are unique to specific areas. As such, flooring choices and volume are expected to vary this year in some segments while remaining constant in others, industry watchers say.

“Traditional hard surface markets like retail and healthcare still are very strong, and non-traditional markets such as offices and hospitality are shifting toward hard surfaces in many areas they did not consider before,” said Robert Brockman, segment marketing manager, commercial, Armstrong Flooring.

The largest sector remains corporate/offices, representing roughly 40% of commercial flooring sales. Design strategies have traditionally centered on integrating natural elements into work spaces that help energize employees, encourage collaboration and make them feel more at home. “The goal is to leave work at the end of the day feeling recharged,” said Sharon Steinberg, AIA, LEEP AP, a principal architect at Stantec’s Houston office. “The design of the space, including flooring materials, can contribute to these feelings.”

Carpet tile has emerged as the top flooring choice, representing an estimated 55% to 60% share of the segment. “Carpet tile reduces sound transmission and provides underfoot comfort,” Interface’s Miller stated. “Carpet tile is also easy to upkeep and maintain—and since it is modular, it can easily be replaced or redesigned, providing the flexibility to update or refresh flooring as needed.”

Industry observers report the use of hard surfaces such as LVT, hardwood, porcelain tile and polished concrete is expanding beyond coffee and bar/break areas and into more diverse office environments. “While tile usage is typically limited to areas such as lobbies, bathrooms and kitchenettes, we predict there will be more tile being used in traditionally unexpected spaces,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile. He cited advancements in the tile printing technology space as one of the primary reasons.

Another sector to watch is healthcare, which some believe represent the greatest growth potential for LVT. “Slip/fall issues help LVT vs. other hard surface options as well as infection control,” said Paul Eanes, vice president of new business development, Metroflor. “The segment is now more receptive to LVT in most places except operating rooms.”

Ceramic, porcelain and terrazzo tile are commonly found in hallways, making it easier to maneuver rolling equipment and mobile aids. “The health benefits and low maintenance of tile makes it ideal for this space, and our advancements in manufacturing have allowed us to make tile slip resistant through our proprietary StepWise technology, catering to residents’ safety needs,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

Fashion and function are paramount in hospitality, an industry reportedly investing millions of dollars to remodel their properties. It is expected to remain a bedrock segment for broadloom in particular as high-end products are the norm for guest rooms and public areas. “People still want to feel a soft surface when they hit the floor,” Shaw’s Knowles pointed out. “So even though the trend is towards hard surface, we’re seeing a combination of the two—and we’re providing solutions for that.”

LVT is reportedly growing at a faster rate than broadloom as the product gains wider acceptance, especially in guest rooms. “Most of these hospitality end users are also looking to make a change to something more timeless in terms of pattern and color,” observed Al Boulogne, vice president, commercial resilient business, Mannington Commercial. “That, coupled with the easier maintenance requirements, make it an ideal product for these environments.”

Further fueling usage is hotel owners’ interest in switching to interior decorating products that blend with the latest design styles and last longer—a big reason why ceramic is making inroads. “Designers in the hospitality space demand unique designs, and we are taking style and design to the next level through our latest introductions,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

One segment at the forefront of design is retail as end users not only seek products that are trendy, but also address performance/functional issues.

“You can create a pattern in a hardwood or stone look that leads you into different departments of the retail store,” noted Milton Goodwin, vice president of commercial sales, Karndean Designflooring. “There’s a lot of mixing and matching of SKUs.”

Even the education sector is getting a little more sophisticated in terms of the design aesthetic, observers report. “It’s copying what we’ve seen in other public segments by trying to become a little more trendy with their looks,” Mannington’s Boulogne stated. “So that pushes more and more business to the LVT category, where there are more design opportunities.”

R&D efforts center on beefing up performance levels to ensure flooring meets the varying needs of each space. “Designers can take LVT into places that maybe they hadn’t considered before,” added Melissa Quick, product and marketing manager, AVA by Novalis Innovative Flooring. “All of this has contributed to more confidence in the use of LVT in Main Street and specified spaces.”

 

 

 

Posted on

Made in the USA: U.S. suppliers leverage advantages of domestic production

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By Mara Bollettieri

Many domestic flooring suppliers cite numerous advantages in producing stateside. A huge benefit that Don Finkell, CEO of American OEM, pointed out is the ability to respond quickly to changing design trends in the industry. “We are closer to the market, so we are more aware of consumer preferences,” he explained. “In addition, consumer trends favor locally made products. American made has become a whole movement of its own.”

Others cite much shorter lead times as being a key benefit. “We have the ability to deliver product for large installations within four weeks,” said Michael Raskin, CEO of Raskin Industries. “In addition, we can fill in our domestic inventory to support distribution and our distributors can bolster their supplies if needed, which provides excellent support and turnaround.”

Matt Rosato, director of portfolio management, Anderson Tuftex, concurred. “When you have domestic production vs. something that’s sourced overseas, we are more agile and able to quickly hit lead times, especially for some project work. If it’s overseas, you’re looking for, after production time, 12-16 weeks of transit time into the U.S., where we can turn it around in a couple of days.”

For executives like Jimmy Tuley, vice president of residential resilient, Mannington Mills, being able to innovate and bring products quickly to market go hand in hand. “We’re also in control of our process. It’s one of the cores of Mannington—to be able to control your own destiny. And when you produce, you control that whole supply chain.”

Tom Lape, president, Mohawk Residential, can attest to that notion. Mohawk Industries is in the middle of a major push toward domestic production, with $700 million invested in five different plants. He noted that 90% of what the company produces is being sold right here at home. Beyond that, he said, “there is a high level of supplier reliability; the more you in-source, the more you create a more reliable customer and there are fewer big surprises.”

Onshoring creates jobs

Opening plants here at home, suppliers say, has increased the number of employees that suppliers need to hire. Paul Stringer, vice president of sales and marketing, Somerset Hardwood Flooring, shared that the number of employees has increased exponentially over the years now that the company has onshored production. “I started work at Somerset in 1999. At that time, we had roughly 225 employees; today, we employ more than 900 people throughout all of the Somerset operations.”

The creation of more jobs, in turn, sparks work in other industries as well, executives say, thereby stimulating the overall American economy. Mannington’s Tuley illustrates how opening plants throughout the U.S. has done precisely that. “If you look at a plant that’s growing and expanding, chances are there’s a restaurant in that area that’s opening, there are roads that are being worked on—all sorts of service industries spring up around manufacturing facilities.”

Anderson Tuftex’s Rosato also believes there’s a direct correlation between plant openings and the creation of jobs in surrounding communities. “We have a large project in Alabama with Shaw that we are investing millions of dollars in, stimulating local jobs in that state as well as other states in which we manufacture—be it California, South Carolina, Tennessee or Alabama. This is definitely impacting and increasing the workflow and job creation in those states.”

Don Maier, president and CEO, Armstrong Flooring, also feels his company is contributing to the increase in jobs in certain states. “Our domestic manufacturing supports local jobs, and we are a significant employer in many of the communities where our U.S. plants are located,” he stated.

Inherent challenges

Despite all the advantages to onshoring, there are some inherent challenges. The most prominent is the void associated with the rise in manufacturing job openings vs. the lack of a skilled workforce to fill those positions. Somerset’s Stringer can attest. “I think this new generation has frowned on factory work or production work,” he told FCNews. “Young people today want to work on computers or sit in front of a screen. They don’t see themselves doing physical labor.”

Vance Bell, chairman and CEO, Shaw Industries, concurs that finding employees in this modern age is difficult. However, he said, the company is trying to encourage people to work in this field. “We believe we have an opportunity to educate students about the rewarding careers available in manufacturing and the diversity of career paths they can take here at Shaw.”

But even in cases where you have skilled employees, there’s still somewhat of a learning curve—especially when opening up a new plant. “It’s extensive and it takes time to train people, to get equipment exactly how you want it,” Mannington’s Tuley said. “It’s a major undertaking to be able to do manufacturing in the U.S.”

Other challenges that suppliers face is the competitive pricing of products from overseas. “The most notable is the battle against cheap imports,” said Frank Douglas, vice president of business development, Crossville.

Some consumers, he noted, are indifferent when it comes to the whole Made in the USA movement, opting instead for less expensive goods.

Potential impact of tariffs

Many flooring industry executives say it’s too soon to tell whether policies instituted by the Trump Administration have helped accelerate domestic production (see related story on page 20). On some level, though, many feel the mere threat of U.S. tariffs on some Chinese imports could indeed enhance domestic production.

According to Gregg Link, senior director of product management, Dal-Tile, those who make products overseas may be at a disadvantage if these tariffs are enacted. But that’s a big if. “For those that don’t have manufacturing capability and have a heavier reliance on sourced goods—and in particular China—that’s obviously going to be something that they’re going to question,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any definite direction.”

American OEM’s Finkell sees the threat of tariffs on some imported goods as beneficial to Made in the USA. “I do believe that uncertainty around what President Trump will do with tariffs is helpful to the domestic industry. Prudent buyers are increasingly hedging their bets so as to not to have all of their eggs in the import basket if a trade war breaks out or significant tariffs are imposed on imported wood floors.”

Mannington’s Tuley is uncertain about the threats as well but feels those who onshore have the upper hand. “It’s so difficult to tell in our current environment what could happen. Certainly, tariffs could change the pricing structure of flooring products if they’re taxed in certain ways. And that could give companies that manufacture in the U.S. an advantage. But it’s so hard to predict what’s going to happen.”

Shaw’s Bell feels that regardless of whether the tariffs happen or not, Made in the USA is the way to go. “We just believe it makes economic sense for any company to have some level of in-market production for their products,” he said. “That is the overall trend globally.”

Posted on

Dal-Tile earns Star of Excellence safety award

Dallas—Dal-Tile’s production facilityin Muskogee, Okla., was recently recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for “zero recordables and zero lost time accidents” during 2017. OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program awarded Dal-Tile’s Muskogee team with the covetted “Star of Excellence.” This award is the highest level of achievement given by OSHA.

“Safety remains a core value of our organization and is expected from each team member everyday as we proudly produce quality products at all of our facilities,” said Guy Hargrove, senior safety manager, Dal-Tile. “Dal-Tile is known for the respect and caring it shows team members and this extends into the realm of safety. We view the safety of our employees as a non-negiotiable value that will always be an integral part of our manufacturing processes.”

Posted on

Dal-Tile develops mobile tile crusher

Dallas—Dal-Tile is committed to identifying ways to improve processes and implement sustainable initiatives that will reduce its impact on the environment. This past year, the company furthered its sustainability efforts by developing and implementing a “mobile tile crusher” for use at three of its production facilities.

“While 97% of our manufactured floor tile meets our high-quality standards, 3% does not, leading to waste,” said Robert Hurt, director of environmental, health and sustainability services for Dal-Tile. “A team was engaged to determine a way to efficiently crush and recycle scrap tile, without which a facility would never be able to achieve our Zero Landfill initiative. To limit the environmental impact of this waste, we developed the mobile tile crusher—a crusher that travels to three of our locations on a routine schedule.”

This customized solution not only pushed the boundaries of tile production, but also significantly cut costs for disposing of scrap tile wastes. The company conducted extensive research to ensure that the mobile system complied with environmental regulations and that the crushed material could be safely incorporated back into the manufacturing process.

“The development of the mobile tile crusher meant each of the plants could keep tons of scrap material from reaching landfills,” Hurt added. “Even though waste fired tile is inert and does not cause contamination, keeping this material out of a landfill makes more room for other wastes that cannot be recycled and extends the life of the landfill. By this process, we have proven how scrap tile, once deemed ‘unsellable,’ can be ground into consistent recyclable particles and safely go back into our new products.”

Posted on

Dal-Tile plant earns Zero Landfill certification

Dallas—As a result of Dal-Tile’s Zero Landfill initiative, team members at the company’s manufacturing plant in Muskogee, Okla., have kept more than 2,600 tons of waste and materials from ending up in the local landfill since 2014, maintaining the plant’s certification as a Zero Landfill facility originally obtained in October 2015.

“The focus of the Zero Landfill initiative at all of our manufacturing facilities is to minimize the environmental impact of manufacturing through resource conservation and waste reduction,” said Robert Hurt, director of environmental, health and sustainability services for Dal-Tile.“We have implemented processes and projects to align with these goals in order to transform all process wastes into valuable resources and implement procedures for proper sorting and management of recyclables in our manufacturing facilities.”

To obtain and maintain this achievement, Dal-Tile focused on changing the collective mindset and getting the entire facility involved, Hurt explained. First, the Muskogee team worked to make it more convenient to transfer and sort recyclables by labeling disposal and recycling centers throughout the facility. Then, they prioritized discussions around recycling practices and goals at meetings to ensure the team was equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary for reaching the sustainability goals. Lastly, a weekly newsletter was distributed to the plant employees, which provided information about ways to recycle at work and at home.

Posted on

Dal-Tile employees read to local children for Dr. Seuss’ birthday

Dallas—As part of its Legacy of Giving program, Dal-Tile employees recently conducted another installment of their ongoing reading program at Julius Dorsey Elementary School. The event was held as a birthday celebration for the iconic children’s book author Dr. Seuss, whose talent for delighting children with stories that are clever, rhythmically rhyming and delightfully silly knows no generational bounds.

“Giving is a core part of our Dal-Tile culture,” said Tena Boyd, human resources support services manager, Dal-Tile Corporation. “On an ongoing basis, we have many different ways in which our employees interact with the local schools to help make a difference in these young lives. I don’t know who enjoyed the event more—the children or me!”

Paula Calame, senior talent development specialist, Dal-Tile Corporation, said, “Dorsey Elementary is always so appreciative of what Dal-Tile does to help make their students successful. I am so thankful that I work for an organization that values contributing to the community.”

And Nellson Burns, vice president of information systems, Dal-Tile Corporation, shared that he will definitely attend the event again. He added, “The kids really look forward to having us in the class, and reading was a lot of fun.”

 

Posted on

Dal-Tile launches new 'Why Tile' campaign on National Tile Day

Dallas—Dal-Tile is officially launching its own “Why Tile” campaign on National Tile Day 2018. The campaign is designed to complement the Tile Council of North America’s ongoing Why Tile campaign that promotes the use of tile.

The foundational messaging of the Dal-Tile campaign is presented via a “four Ts” message:

Tough—Tile is tough. Tile is innately durable and resists decades of heavy traffic. It is stainproof, scratchproof, waterproof and fire resistant.

Timeless—Tile is timeless. Tile offers unlimited color and design selections that transcend styles, as styles come and go. It also provides a way to seamlessly connect spaces including both indoor and outdoor.

Trouble-free—Tile is trouble-free. Tile is low maintenance and easily cleaned with zero restrictions and won’t damage from cleaning services.

Trustworthy—Tile is trustworthy. It’s made from natural materials and returns to natural materials. It is green certified and completely free of any VOCs, PVCs, phthalates, formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals.

“Communicating the reasons why tile is an excellent flooring choice and how tile stacks up against other flooring categories is an important 2018 goal for our brands,” said April Wilson, director of brand marketing for Dal-Tile. “Along the lines of ‘the four Cs to look for when purchasing a diamond,’ we have created ‘the four Ts’ of tile to help in-store sales reps and consumers clearly understand why tile is such a smart choice for flooring.

“We will feature this messaging in our brands’ POP merchandising, digital endeavors, sales training, and advertising,” Wilson continued. “We want our distributors and retailers to feel equipped to engage in conversations with their customers about the benefits of tile.  During the life of our new campaign, we will educate on why tile ‘Sets the Standard’ for flooring.”

Posted on

Dal-Tile’s ‘Breakfast with the President’ highlights corporate culture

Dal-Tile_001Dallas—Dal-Tile’s “Breakfast with the President” is a recurring event where the corporation’s president invites new team members to join him for breakfast in an intimate, small group gathering at the company’s Dallas headquarters. The event is just one more example of the unique, close-knit fabric of this industry giant.

“‘Breakfast with the President’ is an important part of our corporate culture here at the Dal-Tile division of Mohawk Industries,” said John (J.T.) Turner, Jr., president of Dal-Tile. “This regular gathering allows me direct interaction with our new team members, giving me the opportunity to reach out, get to know them personally and begin sharing the excitement inherent in being part of our Dal-Tile team.”

Turner continued, “At this event, I impart our organization’s legacy, ensure new employees are aligned with our company vision and, most importantly, welcome them into our community. I always stress to our new hires that they are now part of a true community and the Dal-Tile community is open, welcoming and diverse.”