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American Olean focuses on PK training during roadshow

Dallas—American Olean is conducting intensive product knowledge training with its distributors through a nationwide roadshow stopping at all distributor locations. The training focuses on new products launching this summer.

“Distributors are a huge piece of how tile gets to market in the U.S.,” said Hector Narvaez, vice president of distributor sales, American Olean. “In fact, they are the biggest channel, so we put great emphasis on appropriately supporting our distributors. Together, American Olean and our distributor partners bring not only superior products to our retail customers, but unmatched customer service.”

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Underlayment: Education is the key to sales success

By Lindsay Baillie


Arming retail salespeople with the knowledge to prescribe and sell the right underlayment for the job is the key to success, supplier say. Once a retail sales associate is properly trained on the latest products he or she must make it a point to educate the consumer.
Following are a few key points to remember when selling underlayments:

Look for trade-up opportunities. Underlayments offered on a good, better, best platform that provides retailers with twice the opportunity to upsell—once, when the consumer decides whether or not to purchase underlayment along with her floor; and again when she has the option to choose between underlayments of different qualities.

As Jeff Bonkiewicz, channel manager, Laticrete, explains, “Underlayment products are valuable accessories that help increase margins and generate higher ticket sales for retailers. Upselling from an entry-level product to a specialty underlayment is achievable through comprehensive product education. This focus on education starts with the retailer outlining the many added benefits of using an underlayment before installing materials.”

Focus on the benefits, not features. Once a consumer learns about the characteristics of underlayment, the product will no longer seem like a simple accessory but rather a necessity. As most underlayment manufacturers point out, qualities such as sound absorption, comfort and protection all sound great to a consumer who is looking to install new flooring.

“Sound absorption is extremely important in multi-story, single-family homes, condos, apartments and multi-story office and hotel buildings,” explained Jim Wink, vice president sales and marketing, Foam Products Corp. “In terms of comfort, for a hard surface flooring a high-quality foam underlayment can soften the feel of walking on the floor, especially with thinner laminates and vinyl plank flooring. The underlayments Foam Product Corp. produces also act as a protector and offers a high degree of moisture vapor protection. This moisture vapor can pass up through concrete and wood joist floor and can severely damage laminates and wood flooring.”

Underlayments complete the installation. When a consumer enters a store looking for flooring she is typically only interested in the style and color of her new floors. Suppliers believe it is crucial for the retailer to slow her down and force her to think through the function of her entire application, including hidden problems that can occur within the life of the flooring materials.

“For example, when it comes to floating floors, most consumers and contractors know they need an underlayment,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global. “Problem solved, right? The trick is to understand the full installation and match the right performing underlayment that will be best suited for the entire makeup of the floor, not just the floor covering materials.”

1In addition to its other characteristics, underlayment also serves to reduce the amount of floor preparation required for a successful installation. As Wade Verble, vice president of underlayment, DriTac Flooring Products, noted, “The associated labor savings will typically offset the cost of the underlayment and labor needed to install the pad.”

Padding extends the life of the floor. Since underlayment can protect installations in various ways—ad such as limiting water intrusion, damages and cracking as well as aiding in sound reduction—this accessory helps to present a better overall surface to adhere finished flooring. “The addition of an appropriate underlayment may mean the difference between a three- to five-year installation and a permanent, durable lifetime installation,” Laticrete’s Bonkiewicz explained.

Providing consumers with the proper underlayment can also create consumer trust. As DriTac’s Verble explains, “Peak performance for any flooring system is always optimal and underlayment is a critical component to achieving the highest level of results and customer satisfaction.”


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Install to open new Texas training center

Glassboro, N.J.—Install is preparing to host the grand opening of its new Texas Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center in Pasadena, Texas. From safety and technical skills to communication and leadership skills, instructors will train professional carpenters and millwrights to be productive, safe and demonstrate leadership on the job site.

Due to significant growth in the Houston metropolitan region, the training center recently moved to the new 52,000 square-foot facility in the nearby suburb of Pasadena. With six full-time instructors, eight classrooms and significantly more space for hands-on learning opportunities, the center will be home to 485 apprentices.

The training available includes curriculum from Install, the International Standards and Training Alliance. As the floor covering industry’s most endorsed and specified training program, the organization leverages long-standing manufacturer partnerships to bring together in-depth product expertise.

“With the opening of this state-of-the art training center, the Central South Carpenters Regional Council (CSCRC) intends to provide the flooring industry throughout the gulf coast region with skilled, qualified, floor covering professionals,” said Craig Wright, chief of staff, CSCRC. “This venture will only be possible through collaborative partnerships with Install contractors.”

Industry professionals, media and other interested individuals are invited to join Install April 3, from 5-8 p.m. to celebrate. Festivities will include live floor covering, carpenter and millwright demonstrations, a dedication ceremony, VIPs, food, special surprises and more.

For more information and to RSVP visit:

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Metroflor launches second CEU

Norwalk, Conn.– Metroflor has made its second continuing education unit (CEU) course available online at AEC Daily. The one-hour program, “Biophilic Design & Resilient flooring,” has been approved by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Continuing Education, the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC) and USGBC and carries 0.1 CEU or 1 LU of credit. Metroflor’s first CEU, “Sustainable Attributes of LVT Flooring,” is also available online at AEC Daily.

“Biophilic Design & Resilient Flooring” reflects the company’s immersion in biophilic design as an influence in the creation of its ever-evolving LVT product lines. This course will provide an overview of the basic principles of biophilic design and focus on how resilient flooring specifications can support its expression in commercial design projects.

Based on the learning objectives, participants will be able to:

  • Define biophilic design and list some specific ways to implement it into a space
  • Explain the benefits of using biophilic design in commercial spaces
  • Enumerate the key pattern categories in biophilic design
  • Determine the strategies and considerations for using the biophilic design patterns to achieve desired results
  • Explain how resilient flooring specification can support biophilic design

Metroflor has already begun to offer this course as a face-to-face presentation for credit to staff at architectural and interior design firms in major North American markets. Over 200 people have participated to date, in addition to 40 others who have taken the course online at AEC Daily. Its entire commercial sales team has been certified to present the program, as well as some of its distributor-partners.

For more information, visit or email

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Shaw ranks among top 125 companies for training, development

Dalton, Ga.—Shaw Industries has been recognized as one of Training magazine’s “2018 Training Top 125.” This recognition is a result of the company’s training and workforce development programs and marks Shaw’s 14th consecutive year on the list.

“Education and training are instrumental to how Shaw helps create a better future for associates, customers, communities and the company,” said Danny Crutchfield, Shaw’s director of corporate training and organizational development, who also leads the Shaw Flooring Network. “It’s a critical component in helping associates and customers reach their full potential and succeed amidst an ever-changing industry.”

Each year, millions of people step onto new Shaw products. The company makes the foundations where families grow, patients heal, students learn, thinkers create and champions are made.

Recognizing the central role the company plays in homes and businesses around the world, Shaw provides more than 1 million hours of training and education annually to its associates—who range from machinists and marketers, scientists and salespeople to designers, nurses and network administrators—to promote innovation, fresh thinking and dedication to quality.

Shaw’s education and training efforts extend beyond its approximately 22,000 associates to customers, the community and the future workforce through expansive science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.

Additionally, Shaw recognizes its retailers’ success is inextricably linked to training and support. The company has designed comprehensive and customized educational programs to help retailers meet their business objectives. More than 15,000 customers engage with the Shaw Learning Academy each year through regional training, online sessions, markets, the Shaw Flooring Network Convention and other offerings in addition to extensive continuing education opportunities offered to commercial customers worldwide.

Training Top 125 ranks companies’ excellence and commitment to employer-sponsored training and development programs. The Top 125 ranking is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors, including financial investment in employee development, the scope of development programs and how closely development efforts are linked to business goals and objectives.

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Investing in RSAs pays dividends

January 22/29, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 6

By K.J. Quinn


Let’s say you are a floor covering store owner and your business is running smoothly. The latest advertising campaign is reeling in customers and sales are holding steady, if not thriving. Then, your top salesperson quits.

After trying in vain to talk him out of leaving, you quickly write up a help wanted ad and place it online and/or in a local newspaper, or attempt to recruit someone from a competitor. Your hope is a superstar salesperson will soon call and everything will return to normal. But the reality is it could take months or even a few years to find one person to replace the success and sales volume achieved by that salesperson, industry members say.

“Unfortunately, this industry does not do a good job of attracting younger, more aggressive, design-oriented people,” said Steve Lewis, president, Lewis Floor & Home, Northbrook, Ill. “Our industry needs less product training and more design and sales training.”

By properly investing in sales training, dealers not only put their team in a position to put their best foot forward, but provide a cushion to absorb the blow of losing a valuable performer. “If you are truly committed to sales training, it’s never ending,” noted Olga Robertson, president, FCA Network. “With the plethora of products today and 90% of consumers doing research online, the retail salesperson needs to be armed with all the tools available to win the sale.”

Characteristics of a successful salesperson

The list is long, experts say, but it often starts with being honest and possessing integrity, reliability, punctuality, patience and good judgment. “It’s not always product or PK training,” FCA’s Robertson said. “It’s more about building rapport and guiding the customer to the product that best suits her needs.”

The best salespeople possess excellent communication skills and the ability to quickly make customers feel comfortable. “One of our salespeople is a real ‘people’ person, so that’s a great asset,” noted Lola Ledebur, co-founder of Carpetime, Grand Junction, Colo.

One thing that can’t be taught, or changed overnight, is a salesperson’s attitude and personality. “You can’t really teach personality,” said Kim Campbell, owner, Campbell’s Carpet, Port Washington, N.Y. “We deal with many designers, so you must be careful not to step on their toes and be respectful of their opinions.”

Salespeople also have to pay careful attention when sizing up a customer’s needs so they can recommend the appropriate styles and floors. “The key is teaching them to listen and really pay attention to what the customer is telling them,” said Matt Pfeiffer, owner, Northern Flooring & Interiors, Lake Orion, Mich. “If you’re listening and you get that window where you can offer a solution for the problem the customer is trying to solve, then ask for the sale.”

Salespeople should thoroughly understand the store’s products and services and come across as knowledgeable and professional. “Given the breadth of products we carry,” Lewis Floor & Home’s Lewis said, “it is a never-ending battle to keep the salespeople informed of all the new products and changes.”

Success in sales is often measured in dollars, and retail is no exception. Salespeople are challenged every day in an increasingly competitive environment. “Most customers visit more than one store,” said Tony Greco, vice president, CAP Carpet, St. Paul, Minn. “You have to be the one that wants their business, go after it [and] follow up.”

Utilize training to improve selling skills

Successful retailers spend their time and capital wisely to find and keep the right salespeople. This makes it imperative to focus their resources on the front end of the business and develop an effective sales staff to keep customers coming back.

“A consistent, ongoing [training] program gives sales consultants confidence in most situations,” CAP Carpet’s Greco said. “A confident salesperson has less fear and is able to consistently improve and close sales.”

It’s rare for a new salesperson to achieve success right out of the gate. Many may not achieve their full potential until after training and learning the ropes from experienced professionals around them. “We put our new salespeople through a relatively intensive sales and product training when they start,” Lewis Floor & Home’s Lewis said. “However, to be honest, much of it is done by the local reps who really don’t do more than pitch their products.”

Buying groups and trade associations offer training classes that teach, among other things, basic and advanced selling methods and how to maximize their sales and marketing tools. By utilizing sales training techniques, “successful salespeople become more adapt at selling both solutions and visions to the customer rather than constantly resorting to selling on price and specifications,” said Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA. “They learn to sell as customers want to buy.”

WFCA offers online training through its University, plus weekly video tips and custom on-site training events for members. “One of the most popular sessions is titled, ‘Installation for Salespeople,’ which focuses on ways to build value into the service element of a sales presentation from the moment RSAs and potential customers are first introduced,” Jennings explained.

FCA Network trains its salespeople how to compete with home centers and deal with customers who shop online and by price. “We also work on phone techniques—role play—to enable them to handle price objections or pricing inquiries over the phone,” Robertson said. “Ultimately, the goal is to get them in the store, not negotiate price over the phone.”

Overall, industry members agree if salespeople know their products well, understand their customers’ needs and are proficient at delivering product at minimum hassle and discomfort to the consumer, then dealers will be successful. “Knowledge is power,” Robertson said. “It builds confidence.”

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TISE excites with new features, education sessions

January 22/29, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 16

By Lindsay Baillie


Las Vegas—The International Surface Event (TISE) is ushering in a host of new features for 2018, starting with the event’s new Monday-to-Thursday format. In addition to the earlier start, attendees can expect to see the latest products paired with off-site tours, updated education sessions and presentations as well as a new Media Village.

The TISE team works each year toward developing an event that achieves for attendees:

  1. A momentous and profitable experience;
  2. Products, resources, knowledge and connections that will benefit their businesses; and
  3. The first solution for their businesses to launch their year.

As Michelle Swayze, senior marketing manager, Informa, explained, “As the event continues to grow to more than 450,000 square feet of exhibits, products and services—800 exhibiting brands; more than 200 new exhibitors; the return of Shaw to the event and so much more— the TISE team has become more creative in offering the content, resources and partnerships the industry needs in innovative yet concise ways.”

The Design & Installation Showcase Hub, The Dish
At the 2018 event attendees will notice an update to the Trends Hub and the Installation Showcase, which have now merged into one location called the Design & Installation Showcase Hub, The Dish. Presenting on three stages—the Design Stage, the Product Demonstration Stage and the Installation Stage—attendees can visit each daily for hourly content regarding what’s new and on trend for products, installation and design.

The Design Stage will be curated by Scarlet Opus, a world-renowned design firm, and Housetipster, an innovative tech design company, to present a 360 design space in which attendees can take virtual tours via large touchscreens and/or virtual reality goggles. The Product Demonstration Stage will feature exhibitor-led demonstrations on the newest products in the industry, while the Installation Stage will present detailed how-to and best practices demonstrations for all types of installation techniques.

Media Village
The Media Village will be home to resources such as magazines, industry partners and associations that have connections and information for attendees. Those at the show can come to this area to meet founders and guiding forces in the industry as well as pick up complimentary magazines and gain knowledge.

Ignite education program
The TISE Ignite program is offering 55 sessions in targeted tracks for designers, architects, fabricators, contractors, installers, homebuilders, retailers, distributors and more. Of the 100 presenters, 25 are new to the 2018 program. All are leaders in their respective fields.

The program also includes several sessions to change the way attendees interact and engage with the educators and their peers. These sessions include: “What Stone Is This? Learn How to be a Rock Sleuth,” “Women in Stone Interactive Career Advancement Workshop,” “Fabricators Forum: Networking, Learning, Sharing” and “Take a Break from Tradition – #CleanYourShowroom.”

The Ignite education program will also cover a host of topics in surface design in 2018 from aging in place, wellness and health design to safety factors and the “sexiness” of quartz and luxury.

Off-site tours
Attendees can sign up for a designer home tour to Ascaya—a premier custom luxury estate home site with a panoramic view of the Las Vegas Valley. They can also go on a natural stone tour to Las Vegas Rock (LVR) Quarry and attend a special quarry-producers workshop.

Networking opportunities
Attendees will be able to connect and socialize at various events such as Canada Night, Emerging Professionals Happy Hour, Interactive Career Advancement Workshop, the VIP Distributor Lounge and more.

Las Vegas Market shuttle
TISE is partnering with the Las Vegas Market, which will offer a breadth of product offerings and inspiration for interior designers and retailers as well as expand the buying and sourcing possibilities. Buyers will have continuous shuttle service between the two exhibits—the World Market Center Las Vegas and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center—on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Attendees will also have access to both events’ floors for the duration of both shows.


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TISE educational sessions arm retailers with tools to succeed

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15


The International Surface Event offers the most comprehensive education program in the industry. With the flooring sessions sponsored by FCNews, the courses cover everything from product and installation to digital marketing and business improvement. Here are just some of the highlights.

Monday, Jan. 29

9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

State of the Industry Report in the Residential and Commercial Markets
The Farnsworth Group will present data to highlight current and expected activity within the residential new construction and remodeling markets as well as insights on commercial. The presentation will include key industry drivers such as housing starts, household formations, rentals and consumer confidence and will also address labor, channel behavior and contractor expectations.

Hunting for Big Game
Tired of spending a small fortune in advertising and wondering if any of it really works? Have a headache from hitting your head against the wall of objection every time you try to attract new customers? Afraid you will never see the same level of sales prior to the recession? If you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions, this is a must-attend session.

Millennials in the Mix: Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce
Companies today can have as many as four generations making up their workforce with highly variable values and beliefs among them. Millennials are currently the largest of four generations making up the workforce and will become 75% of the total by 2025. This session takes a closer look at some of the emerging trends companies are facing and offers several paths forward to help them navigate the multi-generational workforce.

10:50 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Take a Break From Tradition – #CleanYourShowroom
Start your year off with a dose of retail inspiration and tips to make your showroom the talk of the town. Learn from a flooring retail expert ways to update and improve your showroom displays, efficiency in merchandising, what are the must haves in any retail store and much more.

Color Narratives – Future Savvy
Become “Future Savvy” with color. Colors inspired, narratives revealed, directions determined. Discover the macro trends of the “what’s and whys” of emerging color, design and pattern. You’ll get a preview of what’s up for design and decoration and how it will emerge in residential and commercial spaces.

12:20 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

What’s New in Flooring Materials
New flooring materials and ancillary products are being introduced to the marketplace on a daily basis—from luxury vinyl tiles and planks and WPC products to underlayments, adhesives and moisture mitigating materials. Learn what you will need to know to use them correctly and to keep trouble at bay.

1:40 p.m. – 3:10 p.m.

How to Maximize Your Online Marketing Presence
A panel of flooring retailers, moderated by Jay Flynn of Creating Your Space, will provide an overview of online marketing tools being used in their business. The panel will provide examples of what they have done, their results and budgets for achieving those results. Flynn will then provide direction on how attendees can formulate a plan based on their market, competition, goals and budget.

Legally Speaking: Important Tools for Collecting Payment
The session will address the importance of having a proper contract, including one between a manufacturer and dealer, a dealer and his customers, and both consumer and commercial. Jurisdictional and other questions involving interstate transactions will also be covered.

3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Recruiting, Training & Retaining Employees
This session is an update from 2017 on recruiting, training and retaining qualified employees in sales, front office staff, installers, etc. Is it challenging to recruit and retain staff in an economy at low unemployment? Are you looking for answers? Turn to industry veterans who have had proven success in this area.

How to Turn People into Your Secret Weapon
Presenters will share strategies and tactics for optimizing people resources (customers, staff and business partners) for a competitive advantage. Participants will learn and share execution strategies in large-group discussions and small-group scenario exercises. Creation of a LinkedIn group will enable sharing of best practices among participants.


Tuesday, Jan. 30

8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

How Does Your Social Media Measure Up?
In this session, we will conduct a live review of several different popular social media sites. Attendees will create an account, walk through proper page set up, content review and instructions on how to set your social media apart from others in the industry.

Transforming Your Floor Covering Store into a Shop That Pops!
Throughout its history, the key to retail success has been, “product, product, product.” Get ready to change your thinking and join researcher Pam Danziger, author of “Shops that POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success,” as she breaks down the new retailing experience based on “people, people, people.” Today flooring retailers need to understand how to personalize the in-store experience—from the products to the people approach —and learn why success in retail today is less about “what” you sell and more about “how”  you sell it.

9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

The Latest Flooring Trends
Companies with the hottest trends preview what’s on the horizon for showrooms in 2018. Don’t miss this unique and fashionable display of floor coverings. View the beauty, design philosophy, contemporary role of color, texture, finishes and other relevant trends in floor coverings.

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Proven Strategies for Growing Your Business
Because the majority of your customers are women, business strategies that focus on meeting the wants and needs of today’s female customers are likely to be your most successful strategies and give you a competitive advantage. Presenters will share research into consumer buying habits, strategic implications to your marketing, selling and staffing, and actionable techniques for your business.

Strategies to Win in a Changing Economy
While the current economy has returned and exceeded pre-recession levels, this has been the slowest improvement on record from a recession. Business continues to change and challenges every company with the rapid changes in technology as well as the changes in customers from baby boomers being dominant to the millennials rising in influence. This session will look at 10 key aspects of what we need to evaluate in our business. Components to be examined will include staffing, marketing, competitive analysis, financial control and business strategy.

Noon – 1 p.m.

Small Business, Big Content: Wide Reach Marketing Strategy Scaled to Your Size
Harness the digital marketing practices of large companies to grow your small business. This workshop will teach the process for aligning sales goals and marketing through a strategic content and social media plan. Lessons will be shared from big players in the surface industry and show how to apply them to your small business.

 1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Maximizing the CEU Program & Using Local and Regional Trade Shows to Grow Your Sales
One of the best ways to gain exposure for your company is through local and regional trade shows. These venues allow companies to demonstrate their expertise to customers, contractors and decision makers. This session will discuss the best avenues for finding architects, designers and construction professionals. Leave the session with a plan to increase productivity and profitability.

3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Immigration Reform: Are You Ready?
With the election of President Trump, flooring retailers, contractors and installers need to begin preparing for increased enforcement of the immigration laws. Employers can expect an increase in audits to ensure employers have accurately completed and maintained Form I-9s, which attest the legal status of employees. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) can also raid your workplace. In addition, the potential impact on the installation workforce of increased immigration enforcement will be explored.

Super Ads: What Were They Thinking?
How can you get the best return on your marketing and advertising investment? Effective marketing campaigns and ads have solid strategies, well-defined creative briefs and messages that appeal directly to what target customers want and need. In this workshop, you will learn key strategies for developing effective messages and ads. Participants will also be given an opportunity to submit their own advertising examples for feedback from the presenters and participants.


Wednesday, Jan. 31

8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Hiding in Your Books: What Your Accountant is Not Telling You?
You may get all the proper forms and taxes completed on time. You probably have never had your business audited. Yet, there are many things that you should know about the accounting aspect of your business. Your accountant may know most of them. This session will share 14 key aspects of financial management that you should be aware of in your business.

The Five Commandments to Creating a Customer Centered Culture
The future belongs to companies that create messages that resonate and experiences that drive loyalty out of a mutual respect for each other. This presentation will address the intangibles that consumers value and how they relate to your business. We’ll discuss how/why your success depends upon becoming a customer centric resource.

The Coaching Edge: Building a Successful Team
Research from The Corporate Executive Board Company shows that “sales reps who receive just three hours of coaching a month exceed their goals by 7%, boosting revenue by 25% and increasing the average close rate by 70%.” If you don’t coach, people lose motivation to meet their sales goals. Learning how to coach your sales team can have huge returns for a company.

Noon – 1 p.m.

Market Trends and New Material for Modern Design
This seminar examines the market trends in today’s market. Three distinct generations are in the workforce and buying consumer products. Market trends encompassing contemporary design, green building, and technology is covered, plus sustainable green building codes, recycling, re-purposing and reclaimed materials along with an update on current standards.

3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

What’s New in Flooring – A Look at Luxury Vinyl
This course will introduce attendees to a new platform for installing a variety of products. Luxury vinyl tile and planks will be the primary product demonstrated using this new platform. Attendees will leave this session with a new perspective on the possibilities that can be obtained using LVT and an array of other products. Learn about the ease of application with mixed-used products, adaptability to walls, backsplashes and floors.

The Laws of Luxury
The rich are different and so are high-end products. Selling the latter to the former requires a different set of rules. This session will help you better understand how to market to affluent consumers; redefine what your brand is and how it fits in the mind of best prospects; and better understand the concept of luxury and how you can achieve success.

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Al's column: Design—Creating desirable living spaces

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15

By Bea Pila


The renowned American architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined in spiritual union.”

As an interior designer, I am often asked, “What is your style?” I cringe at the question. The word design conjures the notion of a look or aesthetic, but for me it is all about emotion.

Growing up, my mother piqued my interest in interior design. What we lacked in money she made up with her impeccable taste. I thought we lived in a beautiful home; it was warm and inviting, and it represented who we were. When I went to other homes, I didn’t compare the contents. Instead, I compared them to my own in how I felt within. By age 15, I had single-handedly redecorated my bedroom and was hooked on interior design. It was my calling.

My first professional years in the industry were spent in firm settings. We produced beautiful work, but something felt off for me. Interior design pushed the ideals of luxury and exclusivity. Sure, I could commission the most lavish furniture piece or design a house akin to a perfect showroom, but at the end of the day do any of these things make anyone feel good, let alone feel anything at all?

I realized my role as creator isn’t about beauty alone. My original spark for interior design reaffirmed its influence on our feelings and behavior. This emotional component is what should be guiding our decisions, not the hottest trends. The rediscovery transformed my entire practice. I refined my process from beginning to end with my clients, looking to them as my source of design inspiration. It’s a journey so spiritual and powerful that I’ve come to call it “design enlightenment.”

This phenomenon may be a new term, but its philosophies stem way back. Mies Van de Roche, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan—these are the masters of influencing behavior through architecture. Their work honors that we as humans crave connection with ourselves, with each other and with nature. Even with all the technology and distractions of today, I believe we innately still crave these connections. We just have to open our hearts and rooms to remind us of this.

Design enlightenment is rooted in authenticity. It is about discovering yourself, the lifestyle you truly desire for yourself and listening to these desires when designing your interiors.

Your discoveries may defy conventional ideas of how a space should be used—that is OK. The lifestyle of today has evolved so dramatically, yet we still cling to past notions of how a room should be designated.

Design enlightenment grants permission to free yourself of these notions. No matter how beautiful it may appear, an abandoned room has no purpose. I always say that these days the living room has become the least lived in, and the dining room the least dined in because we design them in the traditional way that we think these rooms should look.

Take back your spaces, and configure them in a way that inspires and promotes use of the space.




Bea Pila is an interior and furniture designer and author. She will be speaking more about authenticity and wellness in design at The International Surface Event 2018 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 30. For more information, visit

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Emser Tile honored with 2018 Training Top 125 Award

Emser Tile LogoLos Angeles—Emser Tile, in recognition of the company’s commitment to associate development, has been named a 2018 Training Top 125 winner.

The award, now in its 18th year, is determined by factors such as the scope of development programs, financial investment in employee development and how learning and development programs are leveraged to achieve business goals and objectives.

Emser Tile’s customized, multi-tiered learning and development program, Emser University, uses videos and webinars to teach a myriad of topics in both on-site and virtual trainings–from a flooring industry overview to technical specifications and usage guidelines. In May, the company expanded the program’s availability as a training resource to its entire customer base.
“We designed Emser University to be a venue for educating and training our associates and customers, and it has grown to be one of our most appreciated and valuable initiatives,” shared Eddie Loussararian, training manager, Emser Tile. “It is a privilege to be entrusted with developing such motivated and talented individuals.”

Training Top 125 rankings will be unveiled at the Training 2018 Conference & Expo in February 2018.