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Metroflor to highlight new Engage Genesis looks at TISE

PastedGraphic-8Norwalk, Conn.—Metroflor has expanded its Engage Genesis LVT line with on-trend narrower, longer, wider-width and multi-length plank formats and a new “painted” accent bevel that heightens definition and authenticity. The company will also introduce its first Engage Genesis tile collection in the 16 x 32 format during The International Surface Event in Las Vegas, Jan. 30-Feb. 1.

“Metroflor is fortunate to have a design staff that is continually pushing the envelope on not only color and design, but also with our plank and tile formats,” said Gary Keeble, director of marketing. “With the new additions to our Engage Genesis portfolio, we have multiple plank formats and large format tiles that provide retailers with a seemingly limitless array of options to present to consumers. These unique formats provide a canvas for Robert Langstaff, director of design, to create the industry’s best styled and most authentic looks designed specifically to enhance the format’s distinctive characteristics.”

New to the Engage Genesis 1200 Vol. 2 series are 7.48 x 47.64-inch planks with multiple embossings including in register and enhanced grain, and a “painted” accent-bevel for more realistic plank definition than micro-bevel. The bevel is painted a complementary color for heightened plank definition and realism. Also new is a narrow, 5.59 x 47.64-inch plank in a new nominal 6-inch width. Natural timber embossing and a painted accent-bevel complement the product color to achieve heightened realism.

The Engage Genesis 1200ML Multi-Length series extends the narrow plank format featuring new 5.75-inch wide planks in varying lengths of 23.82 inches, 35.43 inches and 59.45 inches to achieve more dimension to the floor, complemented by the Natural Timber embossing and a painted accent-bevel.

For the Engage Genesis 2000XL Vol. 2 series, the 8.66 x 59.45-inch planks feature in-register emboss and the new painted, accent-bevel to bring dimensionality and interest to the floor.

The new Engage Genesis 2000T collection features a tile format in a 16 x 32-inch size, with linen emboss or rough concrete emboss (varies with SKU) and micro-bevel edge.

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Laminam by Crossville exceeds ANSI performance standards

CrossvilleCrossville, Tenn.—Laminam by Crossville’s porcelain tile panels are compliant with ANSI A137.3 standards, according to the company. All collections in the full Laminam by Crossville catalog exceed the product performance measures defined in the ANSI standard.

Crossville sought the compliance not only to bolster the reputation of its own product lines but also support the burgeoning gauged porcelain tile panel category in the U.S. market, according to Noah Chitty, director of technical services. “Crossville pursued the creation of a product standard to help ensure the stability of the gauged porcelain tile panel category. If lesser performing products are introduced into the marketplace without minimum specification standards, then there could potentially be failures that damage the overall product category.”

In addition to its focus on product standards, Crossville also joined other industry leaders in developing the ANSI installation standard (ANSI A108.19) for gauged porcelain tile panels. This standard provides consistency in methodology—essential as more and more installers start training with these large tile panels. The standard defines the practices that will produce consistent outcomes when employed correctly, resulting in applications of the gauged porcelain tile panels that perform to expectation.

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Ceramic: Digital printing advances boost realism in visuals

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15

By K.J. Quinn

Groundbreaking production technology is one of the greatest factors impacting the evolution of ceramic and porcelain floor designs. Vendors are pushing the envelope to reach new aesthetic heights and still satisfy consumer demands for in-style products.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.58.14 AM“Through digital printing, we are able to scan in virtually any image and reproduce that image on tile, just like scanning and printing a picture,” said Massimo Ballucchi, Dal-Tile’s director of product design. “We can develop ceramic tile that looks exactly like the natural surfaces but still features the benefits of tile such as durability, cleanability and high performance.”

Digital printing capabilities have grown by leaps and bounds the past three years as tile producers discover new mediums to apply to ceramic and porcelain surfaces. “Advances in the style and number of print heads [allow] for a more defined graphic and provides more channels and opportunities to combine different colors and glazes to create different textures,” said Sean Cilona, director of marketing and product development, Florida Tile. “Advancements are now allowing cleaning and maintenance to be done more easily and efficiently.”

The digital decoration process can be controlled by a sophisticated robotic eye system that can “read” the molded face of the tile to automatically apply specific decorations and finishes, so the visual matches the texture. “Pairing these new embellishment capabilities with powerful laser scanners in the production line allows for some of the most sophisticated collections of tile ever seen,” said Ryan Fasan, technical consultant, Tile of Spain. “Read: ‘When there is a cleft in the structure, we can print a shadow there to enhance it.’ The same is true for the luster and metallic effects.”

The end result is the creation of visuals that mirror the look and feel of many natural materials. “As the technology is improving, the tiles are able to take on the look of the natural stone or wood they are trying to emulate,” said Katie Peralta, owner, Triton Stone Group of New Orleans, Harahan, La. “The inkjet technology allows porcelain and ceramic to appear as if it was real marble.”

Vendors such as Dal-Tile report making record investments, which allow the company to efficiently produce tile that meets the aesthetic demands of its customers while further differentiating its products. “We are now able to produce such high- definition visuals that capture the exact look of whatever we are trying to achieve that even industry professionals cannot discern what is tile and what is the natural surface we are imitating,” Ballucchi explained.

While digital printing techniques are unique to each collection and technology, the dominant factor in this type of production is speed to market. “From development to launch, the speed to market of a new product has been greatly reduced while at the same time providing a more realistic and varied product than we have ever seen before,” Cilona said.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.58.20 AMAll of this adds up to enhanced aesthetics at lower production costs, savings that can be passed along to consumers and end users. “The advancements have come a long way, and I really love some of the new introductions that have been presented to me recently,” said Heather Elko McCanna, IIDA, LEED AP, Lambert Architecture + Interiors, Winston-Salem, N.C.

The porcelain tile panel category is an excellent example of how the category is enhancing its value to residential customers. “It’s taking us to new levels in terms of aesthetics and possibilities for creative applications in residences, as well as installation efficiencies,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “Porcelain tile panels are generously proportioned—upwards of 1 x 3 meters, which means they cover lots of surface area with minimal grout lines for sleek, sophisticated looks.”

New trends emerge

Many advancements in color, pattern and texture were displayed last September at Cersaie in Bologna, Italy. “The trends we discovered were consistent in their emphasis on texture and a continued focus on brilliantly conceived high profile designer collaborations,” said Kristin Coleman, marketing representative, Ceramics of Italy.

Tiles that mimic the look of natural stone, cement, marble, slate and wood are trending. “I see the continuation of stone-like looks moving from more classic calm marbles to more complicated stones that can be a hybrid of a slate and quartz, or even mixes with cements and plasters,” Cilona added.

Encaustic cements are expected to remain in vogue for smaller format floor tile, as patterns allow for both repeating designs that read as macro graphics, or are frequently used in a mix of decorative patterns. “Ceramic trend combinations in design have also been successful,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer/vice president sales support at Emser Tile. “Mixing trends such as a wood look with a concrete look in a contemporary color palette and collections of sizes would be an example of this.”

In addition to stone, wood looks were prevalent at Cersaie, as tile makers added their own twist and utilized production methods to create a new typology of floor and wall coverings. “Some are inspired by exotic woods, offering a beautiful, sustainable alternative to rare hardwoods such as Kauri,” Coleman said, “while others recreate the warmth and imperfections of wood in 2cm outdoor pavers, large thin slabs, kaleidoscopic patterns and three-dimensional tiles that are virtually impossible to achieve with real timber.”

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Eternity Flooring scores a ‘trifecta’

Wood, WPC and laminate lines please dealers

July 4/11, 2016; Volume 30, Number 27

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.09.00 PMMovie stars and celebrities abound in North Hollywood, Calif., but among many specialty retailers based here Eternity Flooring is the star of the show. Specifically, the company’s dealer partners are reporting brisk activity with Eternity’s engineered hardwood, laminate and WPC lines.

“Across the board, the Eternity Flooring lines are excellent,” said Abe Bashir, owner of Flooring Town Group in North Hollywood. “It’s clearly one of the best I’ve ever had.”

Beyond the trendy colors, designs and patterns, Bashir said his customers are increasingly gravitating to the performance attributes of the various offerings. The WPC products in particular are generating a lot interest and traffic. “Consumers really like the waterproof WPC right now. With this product you can wash it, drive on it, whatever—it will take all kinds of beatings.”

Bashir is not alone in his assessment. Mike Qudsi, sales manager at Refloors, also based here, is positively smitten. “Eternity Flooring’s lineup is really extensive—they have so many different products,” he said. “Plus, they always ship to me the same day or next day; none of my others vendors do that.”

In his market, Qudsi sees many of the Eternity Flooring lines that he sells going into common areas of the home, i.e., living rooms, entryways, etc. With Eternity’s new WPC offerings, he says those areas have expanded to include kitchens and bathrooms—sections prone to water incursion. At the same time, he has seen an uptick in demand among non-residential clients. “We are also selling a lot of commercial jobs with the WPC, such as retail mall stores and some office spaces and small showrooms. [Eternity] even has a laminate that’s AC4 rated.”

Refloors, which has been merchandising the Eternity hardwood and laminate displays for about nine years, has benefitted from the brand’s popularity in his market. Now, with the addition of WPC, consumers have another reason to come back. “A lot of times when customers come in looking for laminate and WPC, that’s my go-to display,” Qudsi said. “And, once customers who have installed it in one area of the home, they come back asking for it for other rooms Eternity has a good reputation in the marketplace.”

A big part of the allure, according to Doron Gal, owner and CEO of Eternity Flooring, is the company’s laser focus on quality manufacturing. “We deal with a top-of- the-line factory in China,” he explained. “We haven’t had any problems so far.”

What’s even more remarkable, dealers note, is the fact that Eternity Flooring maintains high quality levels and near-zero claims despite relatively low pricing on its various products.

 

Expansion plans

Eternity Flooring is looking to parlay the success it has achieved in its local market and extend that to neighboring states. The company recently opened a warehouse in Phoenix and is looking to branch out into Utah and New Mexico next year. The average warehouse size, Gal figures, will be in the 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot range.

At the retail level, Gal estimates Eternity Flooring has more than 2,000 displays in place. Naturally, that number is expected to rise as more stocking facilities become operational in Arizona and Nevada.

Meanwhile, the company plans to continue servicing its growing base in California, which has demonstrated a clear affinity for the line.

“I really love the designs they’ve come out with,” Qudsi said. “It’s a great-looking, quality product.”

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LisBiz Strategies: How to get close to millennial customers

April 25/May 2, 2016; Volume 30, Number 22

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.54.55 PMMaybe you’ve never heard of crowdfunding, but it may just be the way to your new customer’s heart.

Although we keep hearing that millennials—or Generation Y—don’t yet have money to spend and are underemployed, they will soon have more economic power than the baby boomers. If you’re going to have them as customers, you will have to figure out how to create a millennial-friendly sales and customer service staff.

There are six traits that distinguish millennials from other generations:

  1. They want everyone to get along, and they think everyone should be able to. As authors Van den Bergh and Behrer put it, “Contrary to previous generations, GenYers were brought up in an atmosphere of equal relationships and co-decision-making.” They are interested in collaborating with the brand. One of the ways you can get closer to this customer is to help your favorite charity raise money. Businesses should consider crowdfunding with their favorite not-for-profit and asking their customers to help. This will solidify your brand in the eyes of this new customer. Crowdfunding is a way of backing a project by raising small amounts of money typically using the Internet. (GoFundMe is a website that helps with such efforts.) In addition to raising money, crowdfunding fosters awareness.
  2. As marketer J.D. Peterson puts it, “Millennials simply expect technology to work because that’s been their experience.” They love mobile technology so you will have to make sure yours is up-to-date and functional. In addition, your sales force must be familiar with all of your technology, including social media. In addition, millennials are more likely to have cell phones as their only phones; 41% of this group have no landline.
  3. “A shopping habit that sets millennials apart from non-millennials is their tendency to shop in groups and seek the opinions of others,” said marketer Jeff Fromm. More than two-thirds of millennials, according to Fromm’s research, “don’t make a major decision until they have discussed it with a few people they trust,” compared to around half of all non-millennials.
  4. As Boston Consulting Group reports, “The vast majority of millennials report taking action on behalf of brands and sharing brand preferences in their social groups.” They talk with friends and make decisions with them. It’s up to you to determine how to connect with them and their peers.
  5. It’s no secret that many GenYers live at home and discuss many of their decisions with their parents. What you may not know is they enjoy talking and spending time with their parents as well. I recently shared an Uber with a millennial. He told me he lived with his mother and often made dinner for both of them. I asked if he was planning on moving; he replied there wasn’t any reason to because he loved living with her. This seems so strange to me since I come from a generation that couldn’t wait to get away from their parents.
  6. Millennials are not looking for more customer service; they are looking for different customer service. They are seeking a combination of streamlined electronic and human communication. These two elements should work hand-in-hand, seamlessly.
  7. GenYers love experiences. This is the group that would be happy to attend a party in your store, particularly if it grows out of an online meetup. The more you can combine the two, the more you look like you fit into their world. And don’t forget: When you invite these new customers there’s a good possibility they will bring their parents with them.
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Tuftex: Styling and affordability define ‘boutique’ manufacturer

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.51.53 PMSteve Hernandez, owner of Hernandez Carpets of Commerce, Calif., has been doing business with Tuftex for decades—when it was primarily known as a “boutique” California carpet mill long before it became the premier residential carpet brand of Shaw Floors.

For Hernandez, Tuftex has lost none of that small-mill charm, even though it is part of a much larger corporation today. “These guys run a high-end boutique carpet mill with blue-collar management types—phenomenal management, I might add,” he said. “They want to grow their business; I dig it. I am all in with them.”

Los Angeles-based Tuftex has been manufacturing carpet in California for more than 44 years, beginning as a family-owned mill and growing through acquisitions. “We have the unique advantage of being part of a large company while still having the ability to operate more like a small organization because the entire enterprise is under one roof,” said Doug Jackson, vice president of Tuftex sales and marketing. “This gives us the ability to be more nimble, where manufacturing, marketing, product development, sales and quality control can communicate very easily.”

There are many elements that go into producing a quality carpet; for Tuftex, styling comes first and manufacturing second, according to Jackson. What that means is even if a product is difficult to manufacture due to complex yarn constructions or manufacturing processes, the design team will do whatever it takes to get the job done. “We will exhaust all possibilities to meet the needs of the marketplace,” Jackson explained. “Our product designers and colorist are exceptional; they are known for creating fabulous styles and colors that coordinate beautifully with wood, tile and other hard surfaces.”

Because of its unique position—a boutique mill within a large corporation—Tuftex can attack the marketplace from all angles and price points. “They are one of the only mills that can satisfy every customer—entry-level price points with a high-end look to higher-end price points,” Hernandez said. “They can check all the boxes from a style and affordability standpoint.”

Steve Hendricks, carpet buyer for RC Willey Home Furnishings, with 15 locations in four Western states, said Tuftex’s style is so unique a consumer is not going to be able to shop around and find a similar look.

Hernandez added, “But if you did find the same product, you would be paying a lot more for it.”

Several dealers said styling and affordability best characterize Tuftex. “They cover a broad range,” said Dan Mandel, co-owner of Sterling Carpets, Anaheim, Calif. “They do have the meat-and-potatoes product in the $8-to-$10 range, which works in our market as well as the upper-end products. They are our No. 1 go-to nylon mill.”

Hendricks said the things Tuftex does well—delivering high-quality carpet with top designs to the market, with few claims—allows dealers like RC Willey to be more profitable. “Tuftex wants to be your partner,” he added. “They know if you aren’t successful, they aren’t successful. The Tuftex reps who call on our stores do a great job of training our sales associates and maintaining their samples in our showrooms.”

2016 initiatives

Jackson said Tuftex’s goal is to position its core existing products and new offerings to capture a broader market, while at the same time providing its loyal dealer base with more mid- to upper-end selections. “We have a high-end market that is ready for a new player,” he explained. “We will market to the needs of a shopper who wants options—and we will start with color. Our opportunities will be through innovation, style and design, which will allow us to leave a consumer speechless, thinking, ‘I did not think they could do that in carpet.’”

Tuftex’s high-end Signature collection, which will feature 18 new products, comprises uniquely styled carpet and colors that range from luxurious cut and loop pattern to skillfully crafted and finely finished solids, heathers and multicolored textures, as well as lavish shags and cables that include a creative mix of yarScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.51.59 PMns. According to Jackson, the color palettes offer a wide selection of elegant neutrals and rich accent shades.

Key to the presentation is the Signature Library display, which holds 50 flip cards and will house the line’s latest additions. “This display is a perfect fixture for retailers and builders that want to maximize their Tuftex product offering without sacrificing a lot of space in their showrooms,” Jackson explained.

The company will also debut Signature Towers—two units that can either accompany the Signature Library or stand alone. The rotating towers will highlight 28 of Tuftex’s most unique styles from the Naturals, Impressions, Striated and Artisan collections.

Jackson said the objective of the new product and merchandising launch is to make it simpler for dealers to identify which category is most suitable for their customers’ needs. To that end, Tuftex will introduce a multi-tier marketing strategy that will allow dealers to better categorize the product offering, thus appealing to a broader audience. The three tiers will concentrate on its Tuftex Classics, Tuftex Stainmaster PetProtect and Tuftex Signature lines.

The Classics tier offers an affordable range of simple and traditional nylon styles that have a sophisticated color palette. The products are aimed at mass distribution and new home construction, and will include small-scale cut and loop designs, casual loop patterns and everyday cut pile textures.

Tuftex will offer five new products in its Stainmaster collection, which will be merchandised in a PetProtect display. The Stainmaster products are made with SuperiaSD nylon fiber for added softness, durability and stain resistance.

Dealers speak highly of the new collections. “They are always cutting-edge with colors and styles, and the value of the product is great, Mandel said. “The line lends itself to West Coast styling.”

Being a California mill brings with it obvious advantages for West Coast dealers, namely in delivery time. “In the past, when dealing with mills on the East Coast, I often had to wait 10 to 14 days for delivery, sometimes as long as three months,” Hernandez said. “With Tuftex, if we order today, we get it tomorrow.”

Mandel agreed to the benefits of a West Coast mill in his backyard. “I love the fact we can go to the mill anytime and see what they are working on and give input. The Tuftex folks are very customer-friendly. They listen to the market and are receptive to what the market is telling them.”

While 2015 was a decent year for Hernandez Carpets, the owner said his business with Tuftex grew dramatically. “They decided they wanted to grab more market share, whereas in the past they were content with playing in their own backyard. They went from a cut-order mill to making product that a customer like myself could inventory. They are going to grab a ton of business.”

While always intent on manufacturing high-quality carpet with the latest, greatest colors and designs, Tuftex is equally proud of its environmental record. For seven consecutive years, the mill can claim zero waste sent to the landfill; it uses 80% reclaimed water in its dyeing operation. “That is outstanding for a state that is in a drought,” Jackson noted.

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IICRCA board elects new officers

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 5.19.46 PMLas Vegas—The International Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Council of Associations (IICRCA) elected new officers during the winter board meeting, which took place Dec. 10-11 at the IICRCA headquarters here.

The new executive committee is as follows.

  • Jim Pearson– chairman
  • Tony Wheelwright– vice chairman
  • Craig Herrmann– secretary
  • Bruce Vance– treasurer
  • Jim Hirsch– 1st vice president
  • Bryan O’haleck– past chairman
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Godfrey Hirst partners with 3M on easyliving@home contest

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.03.27 PM

Adairsville, Ga.—Godfrey Hirst recently partnered with 3M, makers of the Scotchgard brand, to offer its dealers an exclusive chance to participate in a contest featuring easyliving@home, the mill’s solution-dyed PET product.

The contest ran from Feb. 1-Aug. 15 and winners were selected based on the most sales in terms of dollar volume.

One winning dealer from each region (East, West and Canada) received a free trip for two to the Bank of America 500 race at the Charlotte motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 10 (FCNews Oct. 12/19).

Winners included Steve Lewis, president of Lewis Carpet and Home, Northbrook, Ill.; John Grimmer, site manager at ProSource, Plymouth, Minn.; and Kirk Goodman, warehouse manager at Irvine Carpet One Floor & Home in Barrie, Ontario. In addition, Deseray Noel, director of purchasing and quality assurance at Avalon Flooring in Cherry Hill, N.J., won from a drawing of names based on the most roll purchases.

Easyliving@home, introduced in 2012 and backed by Scotchgard’s stain resistance and protection, recently added 14 products to its collection and plans to unveil more at The International Surface Event (TISE) in January.

“We use Scotchgard on all of our leading products,” said Laurie Bray, marketing manager for Godfrey Hirst. “We value their support and commitment to Godfrey Hirst—they really are in our corner.”

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Invista Athens earns OSHA VPP STAR

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.29.04 AMAthens, Ga.—Invista’s Athens site has once again earned STAR status—the highest designation—under the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Invista, which was first certified in 2012, is one of only three VPP STAR sites here.

“This designation represents our employees’ ongoing dedication to safety,” said Shauna Devereux, Invista Athens site manager. “Every day, we strive for 10,000% compliance, which means 100% of our employees comply with safety requirements and regulations 100% of the time.”

OSHA awarded the VPP STAR recertification to the Athens site after a thorough third-party audit of the site’s safety and health programs, operations performance and safety record.