January 5/12, 2015; Volume 28/Number 14
By Steven Feldman
Edison, N.J.—FloorFolio may not be the largest supplier of resilient products to the U.S. commercial market, but that’s just fine with president Michael Freedman. In fact, that’s just the way he wants it. A strong customer focus has allowed the company to transform itself in eight short years, with 2014 as the high water mark.
“We have no desire to be Armstrong, Mannington or Tarkett,” Freedman said. “We just want to support our customers. We treat them as partners. When a customer calls and asks us for something, the answer is never ‘No.’ That’s our philosophy and that’s what makes us unique: total flexibility. We do not limit any customer on his or her choices. Each customer is part of the process from beginning to end, and never treated as a number; all customers have direct access to an individual customer service rep with whom they feel most comfortable, and we never let a phone call go to voicemail.”
FloorFolio targets the commercial side of the business, particularly health care, multi-family, student housing and retail. “When we first formed the company, we were importing homogenous and heterogenous sheet goods under their respective brands,” Freedman said. “We were a value-driven company. We had aggressive price points and could be competitive with anyone in the marketplace.”
While value remains a hallmark for FloorFolio, several years ago the decision was made to transition from a master distributor of other companies’ products to a manufacturer of its own goods. “We transformed the company into an innovative product line,” he said. “We wanted to create the FloorFolio brand.”
And, with that, Freedman took the approach that FloorFolio was going to be built on four core values: innovation, quality, design and value. “Those are the principles that guide this company today. We don’t charge more for design, and we offer value throughout our standard product line.”
Innovation was illustrated a couple of years ago in the creation of the double patented EnviroQuiet, an LVT with an attached 3mm sound-reducing underlayment, which Freedman believes to be the only such product on the market today. “The story is one cost, one installation and one solution. You are not paying to install the underlayment, and then glue the LVT to the underlayment. So you save 50% of the time to complete an installation.”
Ease of repair is also a big part of the EnviroQuiet story. “When you have a problem, all you have to do is rip up a plank and replace. With other products, you have to take up an entire area. End users understand the time and cost savings.” EnviroQuiet also meets IIC standards for most structures, he added.
How successful has EnviroQuiet become? It has grown exponentially to the point where not only has its factory expanded capacity more than five times, but FloorFolio is currently building its own facility in New Jersey. Product is housed in five warehouses—three in New Jersey that equate to about 100,000 square feet, one in Long Beach, Calif., and another in Dallas.
The fourth core value, quality, is evidenced via FloorFolio’s decision to manufacture its LVT using solely virgin material. “When we started the company years ago, recycled content meant everything to the industry,” Freedman said. “We could offer recycled content but felt it would compromise the quality of the product. That’s why we offer our products with pure virgin material. We always believed a pure product would be a stable product. There are fewer issues with shrinking and expansion.”
While EnviroQuiet is generating some buzz, FloorFolio’s traditional LVT business is also strong. But its business model is anything but traditional. “We offer everyone a choice, and we don’t limit those choices. For example, we introduced a 3mm LVT in an array of colors and patterns, and instead of following that up with a 2mm product in a limited range of six or eight colors, we offer every one of our colors or patterns with no upcharge.”
Freedman added that FloorFolio LVT’s portfolio has morphed from commodity-driven products to “highly designed products at competitive price points. We elevated our design but never changed the price points.” Examples of this include the new Seascapes and Sands of Time collections, which offer unique visuals in an 18 x 36 module. Incidentally, also unique is that FloorFolio offers just one price point for its entire LVT collection.
Extending beyond LVT, FloorFolio recently got back into the heterogenous sheet vinyl game with Nature’s Way, which features a wood grain visual. “Customers drove that decision,” Freedman said. “We created what we believe to be one of the nicest wood grain products out there. We own the patterns, embossing rollers and engraving rollers. It’s a premium product at a competitive price.”
In fact, FloorFolio is creating all of its patterns going forward. “We are creating the artwork, buying the rights and copywriting them way in advance, before they become a physical product,” Freedman explained. “The goal is to freshen up the line every six months to stay ahead of the industry. We don’t want to introduce “me-too” products, but rather cutting-edge products to remain relevant to the A&D community.”
How FloorFolio provides solutions
As previously mentioned, FloorFolio’s products provide solutions for retail, health care, student housing and multi-family.
For retail installations, Freedman said, “We come at it a lot better than others from a service standpoint. We offer premium visuals and tremendous choice. One retail chain asked us to commit to maintaining 400,000 square feet of inventory without a purchase order. They asked us to change the size. They asked us to change the texture. We look at everything we have not as standards but as options.”
For student housing, Freedman said EnvrioQuiet is the perfect solution. “To the designers and architects, there were limited choices, but we went into the market with unlimited choices, so we were able to raise the bar on design.”
As for multi-family, Freedman said it’s also all about EnviroQuiet in that market. “There seems to be a million LVT manufacturers, and many entered at one price point. We always knew we would be competitive but also provide solutions. EnviroQuiet meets the standards for multi-family. Until about six months ago, we never spoke about it publicly; it was always word of mouth. We have some of the largest architectural firms specifying it, and we have some of the largest builders using it. They have contacted us.”