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What’s happening in moldings

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

By Lindsay Baillie

Moldings do much more than complement a flooring installation; they also provide valuable add-on opportunities for retailers. To that end, molding manufacturers are adapting to the changing trends within the flooring industry by creating products that coordinate with the bevy of new products, colors, styles and formats available today. Specifically, moldings manufacturers are employing advanced technology for color production and programs for inventory.

Following are highlights from some of the leading manufacturers.

Moldings Online
screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-27-08-amMoldings Online is currently in the final stages of developing Water Proof Core (WPC) flooring accessories. This new product is “perfect for WPC, LVT and LVP flooring lines, but can also be used with traditional hardwood,” said Angie Feldhege, marketing coordinator. “It provides high-performance durability with four layers of production, eliminates the chance of moisture absorption, is stainable and can be blended to virtually any flooring line—just like our traditional hardwood accessories.”

The WPC is created with quality materials that are combined using a thermoplastic, injection molding process. “Using our nanotechnology and ultraviolet curing process, the highly water-resistant finish and exclusive top coat is created,” Feldhege explained. “Its resilience against liquids creates a reliable barrier, shielding the entire product.”

Moldings Online’s new WPC line will make its debut at TISE 2017 in Las Vegas, Feldhege said.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-27-14-amPennwood’s focus on quality and color match can be seen in its RetroTread, which is designed to fit over original stairs and mimic original stair geometry. “For our RetroTreads we partnered with Young Manufacturing based in Kentucky,” said Kraig Coxon, executive vice president. “We buy their solid hardwood and then stain and finish it to match the floors.”

Quality is also seen in the company’s production cycle. “We control every aspect [of production] and we’re very particular,” Coxon said. “We take control of everything from the lumber all the way through to the box [the product is in]. It’s unique because we quality control everything.”

To date, Pennwood runs about 40 species of wood and about four thousand colors and stains. “We’re doing whatever we have to do to match the floors,” Coxon said. “Whatever the process is for the wood floors we will figure out how to do it for our moldings. We have the ability to produce exact patterns.”

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-27-23-amVersatrim utilizes its Match All Floors program to coordinate its various moldings with major brand floors. “The Match All Floors program is where we approach [flooring] manufacturers and try to match [the colors of] their floors with our products,” said Tina Emery, office and sales manager. Manufacturers such as Beauflor, Happy Feet, Home Legend, IVC, Karndean, Mohawk and Shaw—to name a few—are already involved in this growing program. “Versatrim hopes to connect with more manufacturers at Surfaces,” Emery said.

Versatrim offers a variety of moldings to accompany applications for vinyl, laminate, engineered wood and solid wood. Its list of profiles includes two new PVC moldings for LVT floors and its standard laminate T-molding, reducer, end cap, stair nose, wall base and quarter round.

Seneca’s SignatureFlex, a flexible molding designed to help the flooring contractor tackle radius issues, is being billed as the only product of its kind. “Seneca supplies a very unique product to the industry,” said Mark Pacacha, national sales manager. “SignatureFlex is a polyurethane product that is proprietary. The polyurethane is poured into molds to manufacture the product. You can use gel stain or paint on the product and it can be used indoors and outdoors.”

SignatureFlex is available in a smooth and textured option, and is made in the U.S. It is water resistant and will not rot or swell, according to Seneca, and can be applied using adhesive, mastic or resin epoxy glue. SignatureFlex is designed for curved architecture and is available in 12-foot lengths and in straight or pre-curved styles. Custom profiles are also available when profiles for the mold are provided.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-27-38-amOver the past couple of months Pedross has changed its production plant from Arkansas to the North Carolina/Virginia border. This move will allow the company to continue servicing the U.S. and Canada with daily shipments and inventory provisions for its partners. “The new production plant has much higher output capabilities,” said Daniel Oberrauch, general manager. “We grew very rapidly in the last three years and we had to look for a plant with a higher production output. We want to be proactive in order to better serve all of our current and future customers.”

In addition to the new plant, Oberrauch said the products the company offers help differentiate Pedross from other moldings companies. “We use solid core, which can be oak or other hardwood material,” he explained. “Then we put this wood through a scanner to determine its blemishes. After that we remove the blemishes, cut [the wood] into little pieces and finger joint them together with formaldehyde-free glue.” After the core is formed it is wrapped with real wood veneer.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-28-07-amZamma’s newest product takes into account new trends in WPC. “We have just created a new line of PVC extrusions for the large WPC thick water-proof core flooring,” said Peter Spielman, president. “It seems the trend in WPC is going from 5 mm to 10 mm and possibly beyond. We’ve developed this product line to encompass those changes in WPC.”

Zamma also has a unique process to color match its products with top flooring brands. “On an exclusive basis we match top flooring manufacturers,” Spielman said. “[Manufacturers] supply us with the same decorative material that’s being used on their floors. We take the exact same layers of PVC on the floors—the top two layers, decorative and clear wear layer—and we thermally fuse in our facilities those two layers together.”

In addition to extruding its own products, Zamma also makes all of it own laminates for laminate flooring. “Every week we produce in the neighborhood of 2 million feet of product: wood, laminate and PVC.”

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Starnet fall meeting: Commercial group positions for future growth

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

By Ken Ryan

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-12-17-amNashville, Tenn.—“Forward to the Future” was the theme of the 2016 fall meeting of the Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership. Based on statistics and anecdotal evidence, the future looks very bright indeed for the industry’s largest group of flooring contractors.

Unlike the spring meeting, which is mandatory, Starnet members are not required to attend the fall gathering. And yet, each autumn the attendance numbers continue to increase, as was the case this fall at the Omni Nashville, where 368 attendees turned out. This represented more than half of membership—and an uptick over last year’s meeting in Boston.

Starnet now has 167 members “with two more in the hopper,” according to Jeanne Matson, president and CEO, who celebrated her 10th year with Starnet at the fall meeting. Starnet members, which generate between $3 million and $130 million in sales, are closing out a year in which most of them are forecasting solid single-digit gains in revenue, with a healthy backlog of projects to start 2017. The group typically adds two to four members per year, and Matson suggested they might accelerate that pace going forward, although they will be choosy.

“This is not an easy group to get into,” she told FCNews. “We have what we call a ‘no-jerk policy.’ We want the right members. We set high standards, and therefore it can be a challenge to grow membership because all our members have to be full-service flooring contractors. But if we achieve our goals for 2016 we will be at an all-time high in membership.”

Matson has an explanation as to the reasons why the optional fall meeting is becoming a must-attend conference. “This event is strictly business and strictly education and they like that. In fact, some members prefer this show to the spring show. Also, we are getting tremendous support from our vendors and they are bringing more people to this meeting.”

The fall workshops included discussions on the future and family. More than 62% of Starnet members are family-owned businesses, and many of them are facing issues such as succession planning. One panel discussion was titled: “Leadership Planning for a Family Business,” which—as members have found—can be a contentious issue when one or more members of a family are interested in taking over the business while others are not interested. What might be the financial obligations to the non-participatory family members?

There were also forums on hiring, training and retaining, and on the financially healthy dealer. Chris Adams, owner of Value Carpet One in Salisbury, Md., joined Starnet this fall to reinvigorate his business. “We have a lot of competition in our area, and I felt like we needed to step up our game. It is easy to fall into a rut when you are a family-run business, and while we haven’t gotten complacent, I am concerned about that.” Roughly 50% of Value Carpet One’s business is commercial, with more than 50% of its profits coming from that side.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-12-02-amStarnet, which emphasizes benchmarking and networking at all of its meetings, formalized its leadership exchange program at the fall meeting. This program enables members to host other members at their facility, or in the field, for a few days to learn their way of doing business in a non-competitive structure. “It is bringing into practice what Starnet is all about, which is networking and sharing,” Matson said. “Basically the leadership exchange is speed dating. We’ve been doing it informally but this event is where we formalized it. It is much more structured today.”

Several members who have gone through the program said the experience was enlightening, gave them ideas that they could implement in their own businesses and was much more fun than they would have expected.

Panel discussion
The higher education segment continues to be one of the strongest in the commercial market, especially those financially well-endowed institutions. During the opening session, facilities managers representing higher education convened for a panel discussion hosted by Tarkett North America.

At one point cheers were heard when Dave Irwin, associate vice chancellor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, told audience members that LEED certification has become such a cumbersome process that he no longer uses it in projects. Irwin said LEED paperwork, which can amount to hundreds of pages of documentation, was costing an additional 3% to 5% in costs and delaying projects. “We also found that contractors and designers were chasing LEED points that were not necessarily beneficial to the end user.”

Irwin said the university will reinvest the 3-5% savings toward products that are energy efficient and carbon-neutral—so in the end the building is sustainable, it is just not LEED certified. Some Starnet members confirmed that the process of LEED certification has become tedious and needs to be dialed back.

Irwin said college students have become activists in environmental matters. “They’ll come up to you and want to know what will happen to the carpet that’s on the floor after the end of its life cycle. They are also asking about transportation costs of getting the product to the site. Our students are very focused on climate change and sustainability. There is not even a question about climate change with them—it is ‘what are we going to do about it?’”