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J+J Flooring Group releases annual corporate sustainability report

JJFG_ReportCoverDalton—J+J Flooring Group marked continued progress towards its environmental performance goals, according to the company’s fifth annual corporate sustainability report. The report covers the company’s environmental and social responsibility investments and progress during the 2016 fiscal year.

Highlights from the report include a 23% reduction in the company’s energy consumption since 2010—an achievement that exceeds J+J’s 20% reduction goal four years ahead of the company’s 2020 deadline. The milestone follows the company’s 2014 achievement of Zero Waste to Landfill Certification, six years ahead of its 2020 goal.

The milestones are part of J+J’s 20/20 Vision, an operational guidepost for managing J+J’s environmental performance through the year 2020, using the company’s 2010 performance as a baseline. The company’s 20/20 Vision goals include:

  • Eliminating use of landfills (achieved in 2015)
  • Reducing water usage by 66%
  • Reducing energy intensity by 20% (achieved in 2016)
  • Increasing the use of renewable energy to at least 10% of total consumption
  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by 20%
  • Increasing recycled, bio-based or renewable content in our products to 33%

Further progress towards J+J’s 20/20 Vision includes:

  • Off-setting more than 50% of direct energy consumption with Green E REC energy credits through the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partnership, qualifying J+J as an EPA Energy Leadership Partner
  • A 34% water consumption reduction since 2010, including a 10.9% reduction in 2016
  • An 18% reduction in GHG emissions since 2010, including a 3.4% reduction in 2016

The report also highlights an expanding product mix and record number of new product introductions for J+J, along with the company’s focus on social responsibility, including an inclusive workplace culture, career development, employee health and wellbeing, and charitable giving (J+J employees gave their time and support to more than 20 local, regional and national charitable organizations in 2016 alone).

J+J Flooring Group’s 2016 corporate sustainability report is available as a hard copy by request or online.

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Underlayment: Latest products fill category-specific needs

December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13         

By Jana Pollock

 

When it comes to underlayments, what’s underneath really does count. There are seemingly countless underlayment options—each with their own features and benefits—so it’s important to know the specifications and attributes of each product prior to the installation.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-29-50-amIn virtually all cases, the type of underlayment selected is contingent upon the specific type(s) of flooring that will be utilized in a given space. For example, with tile, underlayment that provides support is preferred. Underlayments for these products must not only be strong enough that the tile and grout won’t crack over time, but also flexible enough to absorb movement and expansion and contraction from changing temperatures. Installers suggest cement board underlayment or uncoupling membrane underlayments for these scenarios.

The requirements are much different for other hard surface products such as laminates, which are typically installed via the floating method. Experts say laminate floors require underlayment products that provide stability and protection from moisture, as well as sound abatement. These options may range from foam products to cork or polypropylene. For hardwood floors, installers say, it’s wise to pick an underlayment made from felt, cork or rubber. Rubber or foam underlayments also work well for carpet in some cases.

The challenge for most manufacturers of cushioning and underlayment is to keep pace with new product development from the flooring suppliers. At Carpenter, for example, the emphasis is on introducing new products that provide more comfort underfoot.

“Unfortunately, carpet has dropped considerably in terms of market share over the last five years as millennials are coming in,” said Rob Heuay, senior vice resident. “But we have kept up by improving the feel of the carpet.”

Carpenter also focuses on developing underlayment products that can withstand a host of issues, namely pet accidents. “Many people have pets, so stains and cleanability of carpet is important,” Heuay said. “So the innovations have been in treatments of the cushion to reduce wear and to eliminate odors from accidents.”

One such innovation is Carpenter’s Serenity carpet cushion, which features Everfresh probiotic technology. According to Heuay, the 100% organic probiotic technology reduces odor naturally, continuously and safely. How it works: When pet accidents occur the urine is transformed into water and CO2 which evaporates, leaving no smell left behind and no lingering bacteria. “The floor covering industry recognizes the importance of living in a clean home without the worry of germs that pose potential harm to homeowners,” he said. “Serenity with Everfresh probiotic technology does just that.”

Keeping in lockstep
Experts agree that today’s underlayment products are geared more toward the bevy of new products being developed. “In years past, one pad was recommended for all available flooring installation types,” said Jeffrey Castor, national sales manager, Diversified Industries. “With the introduction of products such as LVT, that has since changed. Based on the characteristics of LVT/LVP, anything thicker than approximately 1mm has been subject to failure over time.”

Diversified Industries is working to stay ahead of the game. “In 2016 we’ve already introduced five new underlayment SKUs and anticipate the addition of at least 10 more by years end,” Castor stated. “We anticipate the needs of the industry so we are not playing catch up.”

Other major suppliers attest to the rapid rate of new product development. Jack Boesch, president of MP Global Products, has also seen an increase in the popularity of LVT. This, he notes, has resulted in multiple requests for underlayment products that complement the installation. “As far as we know there are no requirements for underlayments in this category, but there’s always a need to deaden sound between floors in multi-family housing such as condominiums and apartment buildings,” he explained.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-29-56-amAnother factor in the choice of underlayment is the environment/region in which the flooring material will be used. Take ceramic tile and radiant heating flooring systems, for example. “These systems have been around for years; however, up until this past year there has never been uncoupling membranes that serve a dual purpose,” said Julia Vozza, marketing manager at Loxcreen Flooring Group, maker of the Prova Flex Heat+ system. “Now you can have heated tile floors while also avoiding tile cracking, which can extend the life span of a tile for years to come. The uncoupling membranes for use with in-floor radiant heating systems allow heating cables to be embedded or inserted into channels while the membrane can also serve its purpose of strengthening the overall tile installation.”

In most cases, the type of underlayment product selected will be dictated by the type of flooring material specified or installed. As Wil Younger, marketing manager for Regupol, explained: “From carpet to LVT, from engineered hardwood to ceramic tiles, floor coverings have different hardnesses and thus different acoustical performance. Typically, the harder the floor covering the louder is the noise in the room itself and the lower the damping and sound isolation to neighboring rooms on the same floor level, the level below or above. As a result, floor coverings require different underlayments in order to achieve the desired acoustical performance and comply with building codes.”

Some of the latest underlayment products have a dual purpose. Schönox DSP, for example, is a self-leveling compound that can also be used as an overlayment. This applies to applications where customers require a durable coating for concrete that can be polished.

“The flexibility and product attributes of of Schönox DSP are finding wide appeal in new construction, remodel and renovation projects where leveling as well as a top surface can be accomplished in one process,” said Doug Young, executive vice president.

Many underlayment manufacturers seek to leverage insight gained from consumer testing when developing products that offer desired performance features and benefits. “Our product development team then uses these insights, developing innovative solutions for this category that maximize the comfort and performance of our underlayment,” said Jeff Briney, vice president of sales, Innocor Foam Technologies, maker of the CUSHIONcor memory foam carpet cushion product. “It’s made with gel memory foam that provides the comfort and support consumers crave underfoot.”

 

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Carpet: Style and performance define 2016 intros

November 21/28, 2016: Volume 31, Number 12

By Ken Ryan

Carpet mills ratcheted up their R&D efforts in 2016 like never before to deliver to the market a constellation of compelling products that cover all the important bases: style and design, durability, softness, and stain and pet protection.

Following is a closer look at the some of the top introductions and innovations from 2016:

Beaulieu Group
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-53-20-pmSo Suede and Mulberry have been successful additions to Beaulieu’s Stylish Beauty collection featuring 24 new PermaSoft fiber offerings. These products incorporate Beaulieu’s patented Precision Control Twist (PCT) technology, which creates dimensional color and texture throughout the yarn bundle to produce unique surface characteristics when manufactured. “The art is our ability to combine a variety of fibers with different colors, sizes, lusters and dye abilities which then blend together in varied twist capacities creating a unique face canvas,” said Tom Ellis, chief marketing officer. “We enhance the beauty of the fiber with tuft technology to highlight the organic nature of the stria.”

Ellis noted the organic nature of the technology minimizes the appearance of soil, stain and wear. He said the response to the collection has been “tremendous with So Suede and Mulberry resonating with our customers in a phenomenal way. Our customers have featured this product in all their displays because the consumer acceptance has been so great.”

Two 2016 introductions, Scenic City and Cornerstone, offer what Ellis termed “a sophisticated alternative to what they have seen on the market at an affordable price point.”

Engineered Floors
Bolstered by new introductions in both the commercial and residential markets, 2016 has been a year of unprecedented growth for Engineered Floors.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-42-pmPentz Commercial Flooring Solutions is being marketed as a “bold new day” for Main Street. According to company executives, Pentz promises maximum performance, leading warranties and features, backed by competitive pricing. The three collections, Essentials and Formation (modular) and Prismatic (modular and broadloom), are made with the company’s Encore SD Ultima Nylon with Nexus backing. The products are available via QuickShip.

FlexBac is the first premium backing system offered within the entry-level residential product category. FlexBac is noted for its flexibility and dimensional stability. Another plus is its anti-delamination warranty. “FlexBac has no latex, thus increasing the ease of installation by being lighter, more flexible and softer while saving time, energy and money,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing.

Engineered Floors’ Dream Weaver made news with its lifetime pet warranty, which promises “a lifetime of relief for you and your pet.” The distinctive purple shield assures the polyester or nylon carpet is warranted against accidental stains caused by dogs or cats.

Marquis Industries
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-51-pmMarquis Industries continues to enjoy success with its soft yarn program, led by Soft Luxury, an 80-ounce solution dyed PET fiber that is the mill’s largest volume producer. The company introduced junior versions of Soft Luxury during the summer, in 60- and 45-ounce weights.

Other new introductions: Natural Wonder, also an 80-ounce weight that incorporates a natural shield stain protection fiber; and Naturally Soft, a 60-ounce product that combines the best colors from other lines. “Soft Luxury is our No. 1 product and has a beautiful finish and luster level,” said Mike Lindberg, executive vice president, Marquis Industries. “Dealers are asking for soft yarn and ours is as soft as anything in the industry.”

Marquis Industries’ secret sauce is its extrusion plant that produces millions of pounds of continuous filament solution-dyed polyester and nylon. These cones of yarn are then processed in a computer-controlled twisting and heat set plant. Every yarn SKU is regulated to ensure products are made to the same high-quality specification every time.

Mohawk
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-27-pmSmartStrand Forever Clean, installed in more than 7 million homes and heralded for its durability, stain resistance and comfort, has become an even “smarter” choice for active families with pets. In 2016 Mohawk enhanced this popular carpet with All Pet Protection, a warranty and protection system that covers all pets, all accidents, all the time.

“We continue to build on the success of the incredibly soft and durable SmartStrand fiber we introduced 10 years ago,” said Seth Arnold, Mohawk’s senior director of soft surface brand. “SmartStrand has evolved into SmartStrand Forever Clean, a carpet that employs Nanoloc technology to lock out spills and make the carpet even easier to clean. And now we are introducing the All Pet Protection warranty because we believe SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet can handle all pets, all accidents, all the time.”

SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet has been tested in zoo habitats for animals of all types. While built-in stain and soil protection that never wears or washes off is inherent in the SmartStrand fiber, there is more to the SmartStrand story, according to Arnold. Nanoloc’s advanced spill-resistant shield, he said, is made from nanoparticles that seamlessly lock together, preventing dirt and spills from settling into the carpet. With SmartStrand Forever Clean, soil is released at three times the rate of other carpets, allowing for a carpet that is easier to clean and requires less vacuuming.

SmartStrand Forever Clean has the added advantage that liquids cannot absorb into the fiber. Compared to nylon carpet, which absorbs up to 5% of its weight in liquid, SmartStrand Forever Clean offers 0% absorption—a huge advantage in a family with pets. “For families who want to make sustainable choices for their homes,” Arnold said, “this carpet is made in part with annually renewable plant-based materials that minimize our usage of limited natural resources. It is also the only carpet fiber certified free from harmful substances by Oeko-Tex.”

Phenix
Phenix added three new products to its Stainmaster PetProtect line this month—Lyrical, Poetry and Narrative. These multi-color patterned carpets employ innovative technology that allows for varying pile heights, ensuring each carpet has a unique combination of toned neutrals that come together to create a fresh contemporary palette. All three products feature cut patterns so dogs, cats and other household pets won’t snag their claws on loops and cause pulls.

Shaw Floors
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-34-pmShaw continues to develop products featuring its exclusive LifeGuard waterproof backing system, which responds directly to consumers’ need for ease of maintenance combined with the comfort and softness of luxurious carpet. “As we’ve expanded the styles available with LifeGuard—starting with Life Happens, and subsequently with Anso Living—we’ve been able to offer this stylish, high performance product at a variety of price points to meet customers’ purchase decisions,” said Brad Christenson, director of category and product management, Shaw Floors.

Shaw’s research and development teams collaborated to design the waterproof LifeGuard backing system with its R2X stain and soil protection technology built in. This combination works to stop liquid spills and inevitable accidents from reaching the cushion and subfloor, preventing potential odors, wicking and subfloor damage. “LifeGuard successfully elevates our carpet collections making the upgrade a no-brainer for our customers who are searching for the cleanability and durability LifeGuard provides,” Christensen said. “In turn, it provides an easier sales process for our retailers by combining a variety of features into one carpet option they can easily explain and confidently sell, and an innovative, unmatched solutions for their customers’ homes.”

Christensen said LifeGuard has been widely accepted as the go-to product for pet owners and busy families who don’t want the stress of high-maintenance carpet. “With LifeGuard, our retailers have been able to tell their customers that stains and odors can now be 100% removed.”

Shaw plans to deliver more LifeGuard-enabled products to the market in 2017.

Stanton
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-53-14-pmThe newest styles from Stanton’s Atelier Icon collection—part of the hot-selling Stainmaster PetProtect program—are made with nylon 6,6, making it an ideal choice for rooms with heavy traffic.

The abstract designs and neutral colors of Aspire Waterfall and Aspire Concept overlay each other, creating an artistic blend of random shapes and cross hatched patterns accented by tip sheering. According to Stanton, Aspire Network’s all loop trellis design and interlocking shapes merge to create a double-layered effect; Aspire Compass is a multi-edge look, outlined with diamonds.

Other 2016 introductions include the Relax collection, which provides an avant-garde style with vibrant color accents; and Garden of Eden and Centered, which are treated with antique effects to keep these designs modern, abstract and transitional.

Tuftex
Tuftex is known for natural, solution-dyed and barber-pole yarns that combine with the latest tufting technologies to create differentiated products. This was illustrated with Colorpoint, its first cut and loop line.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-53-07-pmColorpoint technology allows the precise placement of color with the combination of finely controlled yarn feed systems and sophisticated software. “You can get closer to the woven looks yet produced with efficiencies and speed of today’s tufting machines,” said Jim Cusick, director of manufacturing, who explained the cut and loop construction allows for greater diversity of products by blending yarns, densities, texture and construction. “With a finer gauge machine we are able to use softer more luxurious yarns for greater sophistication and still retain superior performance characteristics.”

The first Colorpoint introductions were two-color solution dyed products. This year Tuftex utilized blends of barber poles, natural and over-dyeable yarns to create distinctive, high performance and fashionable looks.

“These Colorpoints are not easy to make but we are committed to respond to the market demand for a new and innovative soft floorcovering product,” Cusick said. Tuftex is able to combine the unique use of yarns with tufting and proprietary dyeing technology to service a full offering of colors and looks that are hard to replicate.

 

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Guest column: Adapting to survive in today’s changing world

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

By Vinnie Virga

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-20-42-pmOnce upon a time it was easy to be successful at marketing to consumers. You ran a great ad in the Sunday paper, came up with a really creative radio or TV spot, opened your doors and voila, it rained business.

The key to succeeding in today’s media-saturated world is a little different. In the past, if you did a good job, the customer told a couple of their friends and you got referrals. Conversely, if there was a problem you had the ability to work one on one with that customer to rectify any issues. Nowadays, if customers are unhappy they tell the world. More than ever, retailers need to understand demographics, segmenting and targeting and how to market on the web. At the same time, you need to be politically, gender, faith and race sensitive. These weren’t even thoughts you had to consider in the past.

Currently, if you don’t understand the alphabet soup of SEO, PPC, along with GeoFencing, GeoTargeting, re-targeting, brand positioning, e-commerce, visualization, social media, Houzz, Angie’s List, Yelp, review aggregation and, of course, Google you’re not going to make it.

All these things need to be part of your brand’s strategy in some shape or form. You should know which to do vs. what you should avoid as well as how much to invest. If you don’t you’re already a dinosaur and your remaining time in the retail world may be limited.

Add to this mix the upside-down funnel of investment many retailers currently employ. This is where their first investment is in traditional media and their last investment entails money they free up or the leftovers toward the bottom of the funnel that they invest in digital. Even worse, as soon as things get a little tough some yank the digital investment altogether. Throw some competitors into the digital mix (i.e., Home Depot and Lowes) as well as Amazon, Wal-Mart and Wayfair.

If you run a small business, especially retail, you’ll find your world is changing at a faster rate each day. The only way to survive is by constantly adapting to keep pace with evolving consumers shopping habits. I know that you just want to sell products, but it’s just not that easy anymore.

So where do you start? It all starts with your web and social media presence. You need to begin by building—in layers—a well-devised digital strategy. Your website needs lots of hooks—basically bread crumbs that invite the customer to begin sharing data with you—in return for information that will help them. Throughout your site there should be easy ways for browsers to raise their hand and ask for service. Be sure to offer a digital product catalog with pictures of product that can be placed into a room scene so the customer can get an idea of what they will look like in their home.

Next you need to list your website so it shows up in online directories. Your phone number (which should be text enabled) and your business email on all the major directories. Ideally, you want a YEXT service, but if you are going to attempt to do this yourself you can get a free listing on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo Local, YP.com, Superpages, Merchant Circle, White pages and more.

Finally, be prepared to consistently monitor, adjust and tweak your online marketing strategy.

 

Vinnie Virga is managing partner and president of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet and Floors & More buying group. His experience includes management of various CCA Global Partner retail groups, including Flooring America, and he is credited for developing a major flooring footprint in New England.

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Shaw Floors enhances Capture the Spirit rewards platform

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-1-28-14-pmDalton—Shaw Floors recently added a new component to its rewards platform, Capture the Spirit (CTS.) Beginning immediately, participating retail sales associates can donate their accrued CTS points to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The points will be converted into dollar amounts with retailers having the ability to choose the gifts they want to personally contribute to the research hospital. Additionally, to kick off this new opportunity and in support of September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Shaw is matching retailer donations for the first 30 days, up to $100 per participant.

What started in 2012 with a St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway sponsorship has grown and evolved to a multi-channel program touching almost every facet of Shaw’s business. Flooring retailers have fully embraced St. Jude as well and have consistently asked for additional opportunities to get involved with and give back.

“We are so excited to now give our retail partners the ability to donate Capture the Spirit points to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said Aaron John, director of Shaw Flooring Network and Retail Programs at Shaw Floors. “St. Jude is deeply rooted in almost everything we do at Shaw and now this is just one more way our retailers can engage with, and give to, the deserving kids of St. Jude.”

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The mission of St. Jude is simple: Finding cures. Saving children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food —because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. St. Jude is able to provide that service thanks in part to the generosity of flooring retailers who are committed to supporting Shaw’s efforts to help St. Jude through carpet and cushion sales—and now CTS point donations.

Shaw’s Capture the Spirit rewards program was created in 1998 to incentivize floor covering retail sales associates to sell better-end Shaw flooring products.

To learn more about Shaw’s Capture the Spirit rewards program, visit www.ShawCTS.com.
To learn more about Shaw Floors’ partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, visit www.ShawFloors.com/StJude