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Resilient: Cutting-edge products ignite 2014's trending category

Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21

By Jenna Lippin

(Second of two parts)

Resilient products had a major presence across the expanse of the two Surfaces halls. Some come from familiar names, while others are new to the category, seeking to capitalize on this segment’s ever-increasing popularity. And, thanks to advanced technology, products within the category mimic natural visuals, adding to resilient’s appeal. Introductions from the larger resilient suppliers appeared in the Feb. 3/10 issue of FCNews; the remainder follows.

Happy Feet

Celebrating its first anniversary and second Surfaces appearance, Happy Feet is building its brand on customer service and extensive, readily available inventory, according to Casey Johnson, president.Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.46.16 PM

The Iron Man collection features a 3mm dryback product with an antimicrobial, anti-slip, anti-scratch polyurethane finish. And, with six new colors and a beveled edge, Johnson believes Iron Man is the “best value in the marketplace for commercial use with its 15-year warranty.”

With the LVT Stone line, Happy Feet has added three colors in a 12 x 24 click tile. “We’re trying to emulate the stone look, but the nice thing about LVT Stone is the labor is a third of the price [of the real thing],” Johnson explained. “Plus, you can take it up without a challenge.”

Home Legend

The main LVT attraction at the Home Legends space was Nú Elements, a luxury vinyl line of tiles and planks that has been enhanced with 12 new colorways streamlined from its original 20 visuals. “The original line did well, but there were a few [designs] that weren’t such good sellers,” explained Tiffany Davis, marketing brand and product manager. “We’re hearing from retailers that gray—especially lighter grays— are big sellers.”

Along with the patented floating click-lock technology installation system, each design includes a 20 mil wearlayer, which means they can all be used in commercial applications. Nú Elements has a 25-year residential warranty, 10-year light commercial and 5-year standard commercial.

“This collection is ready to ship,” Davis added. “Retailers have already gotten samples, and we’ve taken some orders at the show. We’ve gotten good feedback with our new products.”

MP Global Products

While MP Global is known primarily for its underlayment, the company was alaso showcasing its Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF) collection along with its Perfectly Warm Floating Floor Heat.

Launched in early 2013, LVF is available in plank (wood) and stone visuals, both in 2mm, 3mm, 4.2mm and 5mm thicknesses. Planks come in a variety of wood looks, all measuring 6 x 36. The 2mm and 3mm options are gluedown, while 4.2mm and 5mm feature locking technology. Each plank includes five layers: a balanced backer, recyclable core, decorative design, wearlayer and UV coating. The 4.2mm and 5mm options include a reinforced fiberglass sheet for dimensional stability.

Stone visuals are 2mm and 3mm thick; the 12 x 12 tiles feature dryback installation, while 4.2mm and 5mm are 12 x 24, feature locking technology and a fiberglass layer. All selections include a 12 mil wearlayer except the 5mm, which offers a 20 mil wearlayer. Matching moldings for MP Global’s LVF are available for 4.2mm and 5mm constructions.

Also highlighted at Surfaces was Perfectly Warm Floating Floor Heat. The thin, flexible radiant heating product warms floating floors with low energy consumption. With an easy three-step process, Perfectly Warm is an appropriate choice for floating laminate and floating wood floors, engineered and solid wood floors, SnapStone, ceramic tile, porcelain tile, cork and bamboo. It cannot be installed under carpet, vinyl, or glued or nailed hardwood floors.

Raskin Industries

The success of Raskin’s Elevations Floors, released in 2011, has led the company to take the wraps off Loft by Elevations, a new LVT with loose lay technology and Gravity Grip non-skid backing. The line includes 6 x 48 planks and 18 x 18 tiles.

“Distributors have been asking for a product like Loft,” said John Hunter, national sales manager. “They’ve all enthusiastically committed to the product once they saw it. The benefit to them is it captures more residential consumers, where Elevations has had a strong penetration in the commercial markets.”Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.49.44 PM

Loft features several installation options, including grouted, edge-to-edge, gluedown or loose lay. “The consumer has options from one retail store display,” Hunter added. “Loft is priced competitively so that it hits the magic price points for distributors to sell.”

Another Surfaces highlight for the company was Loom Plus, a woven vinyl product with Raskin’s Gravity Grip system. “It’s the same size as Elevations, so you can mix it,” Hunter said. “This is a product everyone has been gravitating toward. One dealer from the Pacific Northwest said he came specifically to the show to look for woven vinyl.” Loom will be ready to ship in the second or third quarter of 2014.

Välinge

The Sweden-based company continues to gain popularity thanks to its numerous licensing agreements and product innovations. At Surfaces, Välinge highlighted its locking systems for resilient floors.

“[Resilient products] are very sensitive to temperature, and LVT is especially sensitive to light or heat,” explained Laetitia Kimbland, key account and product manager. The company’s 2G and 5G locking systems “give very good strength horizontally, so you don’t get ugly openings or any height differences.”

Also helping the company earn recognition is its ACTiO2 technology for hard surface floors, more notably used by Lauzon in its Pure Genius “smart” hardwood floor.

ACTiO2 is a compound containing titanium dioxide, that, when activated by light, helps break down organic substances including VOCs and bacteria, thus creating a better indoor environment.

“People buy flooring for aesthetic reasons, but a surface should also be selected for functional reasons, like creating a better indoor environment,” Kimbland said. “ACTiO2 has been used on ceramic tiles and outside applications for a while, but now we want to bring it indoors. We are licensing this technology to help people start utilizing it.”

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Wood: Less focus on price means more options, innovation

Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21

By Ken Ryan

(Second of two parts)

More than ever, hardwood floors are making a distinctive statement. Featuring wider widths, longer lengths, tremendous graining and color variations, today’s hardwood floors are very much a fashion product.

Numerous hardwood suppliers exhibited their latest, trendy products at Surfaces 2014, looking to seize this market opportunity with eager-to-buy consumers.

Ark Floors

Today’s consumers are savvier than those of years past, and more willing to take risks with their purchases, according to Laurie Sanfilippo, marketing manager at Ark Floors. Therefore, suppliers like Ark are striving to be more “adventurous” with products that excite consumers and allow dealers to make money. At Surfaces, Ark exhibited five new products including Padauk chestnut, an engineered product in the company’s Artistic Collection of distressed, handscraped, wider-width planks that range from 4 3⁄4 to 6 1⁄2 inches wide. Booth goers were shown classic American looks as well as exotic species in a mix of solid and engineered constructions. The company also touted its new French Collection that features a sculpted, distressed surface texture and wider width planks.

Sanfilippo said today’s younger consumers are drawn to a product’s design and may not be as concerned with its source or how much it costs, as long as they are happy with it. “There are people who are going to want to buy U.S., and that is not going to be our market. Our market is people who will want to buy something beautiful—meaning above entry-level exotics.”

Bamboo Hardwoods

Bamboo Hardwoods’ signature product at the show was a strand-woven, handscraped bamboo from the Hybrid line, which is created by combining strands of bamboo into an organic pattern and then compressing them under significant pressure. The result is an extremely dense and hard floor with superior resistance to denting.

David Keegan, COO, said dealers can make 30% to 35% profit on Hybrid. “This is no commodity bamboo product. Finally people are not looking at price point, they are looking at aesthetics. Consumers love the look of this bamboo and it is not out of their budgets. Plus, retailers can make good money on it.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.31.55 PMBoen Hardwood Flooring

Wider widths and longer planks are all the rage in hardwood these days, and few companies go wider or longer than Boen Hardwood Flooring. Its new engineered line, with boards 12 to 15 inches wide and 86 inches long, come with a floating Välinge click system. “The hardest part is properly displaying these SKUs because some retailers don’t have room for them in their showrooms,” said Dennis Hrusa, managing director at Boen.

CFS Flooring

Taking a different approach than it has at past Surfaces, CFS decided to install new products in its show space. “By doing so, it makes the room look so much bigger,” said Phillip Key, vice president of sales and marketing of CFS.

One product that stood out was a 9⁄16-inch handscraped engineered Asian walnut (acacia) with distinctive graining and chisel techniques. Hand-rubbed stains provide depth to the grain, and because each plank is individually scraped by hand there is a distinction between them, meaning no two are alike.

In addition to this unique visual, CFS is also trying to win over dealers with a one-price story for its new lineup. “I’m a sales guy and I like it easy,” Key said. “With one price point, it’s an easy story for dealers to tell.”

Coswick

Coswick, which specializes in traditional hardwood flooring and European-style floors, made its debut at Surfaces in hopes of meeting with distributors, part one in a plan to establish a network. The company showed distributors a brushed oak and country oak collection, among others.

The Belarus-based company’s European-style products are available in a two-layer tongue and groove construction.

“We’re strong in Eastern Europe and No. 1 in the Persian Gulf,” said Vladimir Ianovski, president. Coswick also has a market presence in Switzerland, France and Germany. “It’s time to grow in the U.S.,” he said. “We see good signs here.”

Coswick recently earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification. The scope of certification includes the entire range of the company’s products—solid and engineered, wood wall panels and all moldings.

DuChateau Floors

The manufacturer of wide-plank hardwood flooring (standard sizes are 9½ inches wide by 8 feet long and 5⁄8 inch thick) is in the earlyScreen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.35.00 PM stages of extending its successful Atelier Series of luxury flooring, which was developed exclusively by Tom Goddijin, the company’s master craftsman. Goddijin, who experiments with traditional processing methods to achieve unique flooring styles, is moving his practice from Holland to San Diego, which will allow DuChateau to bring its products to the U.S. market much quicker—an average of four to six weeks, according to Scott Petersen, director of operations.

DuChateau also disclosed it has partnered with home furnishings supplier Somerset Bay Home to launch a European oak flooring line to match 10 signature Somerset Bay Home colors.

Home Legend

Home Legend downsized its booth from 5,400 square feet to a 1,600-square-foot space divided into separate 800-square-foot areas. The company’s introductions included a new acacia line offered in 5¼ inch widths.

The new offerings are also available in birch and Brazilian cherry and come in three constructions: HDF click-lock, engineered tongue and groove, and solid tongue and groove. “You can classify it as a good, better, best [program],” said Jamann Stepp, vice president of sales.

Horizon

Many hardwood flooring companies talk about their sustainable practices, but Horizon took the movement one step further by constructing its booth—for which the company won a Best of Surfaces award (see story on page 1)—out of reclaimed timbers and railroad trestles from an abandoned Ohio rail yard.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.35.56 PM“It’s all about first impressions and the ‘wow’ factor,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president of Horizon, speaking about both the booth and its new products.

Horizon’s product launches were Villa Tuscana Cambridge Estate, Ferno and Saddle Creek. “The overwhelming positive response from our distributors confirm these styles are the newest trends for 2014 and a perfect fit for their markets, which inspires us to develop innovative floors every day.”

Horizon’s products feature an open grain finish that allows floors to live and breathe in a healthy home environment. The natural oils penetrate through the wood pores to enhance the look and create a durable, long-lasting floor.

“We develop products [our customers] can make money on,” Shaoulpour concluded. “For us, our customers’ success is our success.”

Korus Wood Flooring

Korus, which announced at Surfaces its entry into the residential market, is known for its acrylic impregnated hardwood flooring. This specific type of product is made from natural wood that is infused with acrylic resin to create a stronger, tougher floor.

Korus’ engineered construction uses five plies of marine-grade Baltic birch, glued with marine-grade adhesive, and topped with a 1⁄10 inch-thick acrylic impregnated real wood wearlayer.

The company is launching 54 SKUs, including a reclaimed oak hardwood it believes will appeal to dealers looking for differentiation. “We have a lot of colors and wood species working together,” said Jason Brubaker, director of sales and marketing.

Korus reported that its representatives met with a number of prospective customers at Surfaces. As an incentive, the company gave away 50 retail displays as part of its residential kickoff, which Brubaker said was a successful promotion.

Trillium

Bill Friend, a vice president and co-owner of Strategis International, which oversees the Trillium brand, said the company tried to do “too many things” with wood in the past. So it is now focusing on what it does best: strand-woven bamboo. “We want to be the bamboo guys in the U.S.,” he said.

At Surfaces, Trillium showcased Manhattan Grey, a wire-brushed bamboo that Friend said could generate significant margin for retailers looking for a differentiated offering. “Flooring used to be a boring product,” he said. “Twenty years ago, you had two [wood] choices: maple and oak. Today you have so many options it’s become a fashion product. I think bamboo could very easily be 10% of wood, and there’s margin dollars there for dealers.”

WE Cork

WE Cork displayed its Serenity Collection of cork flooring with a high definition, three-pass, digital print technology that reproduces the essence of wood or tile on a cork substrate. The floor is finished with the company’s patented Hot Coating, giving it an oil-like, satin luster.

The digital print technology allows for customized visuals such as blue jeans or cobblestone, both of which were installed at the booth. “Dealers were overwhelmingly positive; they love the unlimited commercial applications,” said Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork.

 

 

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Resilient floating floor guide

Category has retailers ‘floating’ on Cloud 9

By Ken Ryan

Volume 26/Number 20; February 18/25, 2013

The way Allen Cubell, vice president, product management-residential resilient, Armstrong, views it, “happier consumers means everyone in the channel makes money.” And these days, robust sales of resilient flooring are putting smiles on a lot of faces in the flooring industry.

“Resilient’s time is now…a vinyl revival,” said Cubell. “Start with the beauty of today’s products. Now that the consumer is hooked with beauty, wow her with all the great performance features of vinyl. Retailers can win with vinyl’s performance including moisture resistance, softer under foot, stain resistance, etc.  [These are] floors that the consumer doesn’t have to worry about and will look great in their home for a long time. Thrill the consumer with faster, easier installations.” Continue reading Resilient floating floor guide

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Recycling effort a success at Surfaces|StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas

Volunteers from Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity stack vinyl flooring donated by a Surfaces exhibitor.

Dallas — Being “green” has become the new way of exhibiting at Surfaces| StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas (S2). For the second year, S2 partnered with Mountain Re-Source Center and Tile Partners for Humanity on a recycling initiative focused on post-show product donations at the close of the three-day event, held Jan. 29 to 31 in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Mountain Re-Source Center solicited all S2 exhibitors prior to and during the show. The participating exhibitors were very generous, offering thousands of square feet of material which filled seven 53-foot semi-trailers to capacity, more than doubling the donations from last year’s inaugural initiative. Continue reading Recycling effort a success at Surfaces|StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas

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Laminate: Neither down nor out

Quick-Step’s quirky vignettes led to a Best of Surfaces award in the large booth category .

Segment gets longer, stronger

By Melissa McGuire

Volume 26/Number 19; February 4/11, 2013

Las Vegas—Laminate may not have been the largest flooring category at Surfaces, but one thing was certain: The product still has a significant foothold in the marketplace. An overall consensus among retailers confirmed that while luxury vinyl tile is encroaching on laminate’s market share, the category not only has staying power, but growing power as well.

“Our business has grown 25%-30% this year alone,” said Doron Gal, CEO of Eternity Flooring. Headquartered in Pacoima, Calif., the company had positive feedback from the show and was very happy with the attendance. “We’ve seen more activity at this show than in years past. Even with the economy still down a bit, we’re seeing people buying.” Continue reading Laminate: Neither down nor out

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Wood: Innovations make category ripe for recovery

Direct print cork was all the rage this year, and leading the charge was Amorim. Michael Bennett, right, CEO, and Tim Tompkins, national marketing director, highlight the technology’s capabilities.

Highlights include digital printing, distressed, new strand woven and exotic concepts

By Matthew Spieler

Volume 26/Number 19; February 4/11, 2013

Wood flooring may have been one of the hardest hit categories when the housing and financial markets collapsed, but anyone walking this year’s Surfaces show floor would have been hard pressed to find any signs of a beaten industry. Rather, exhibitors of all sizes came out swinging for the fences with an array of styles and performance attributes to satisfy even the most demanding end users.

On the style side, mills displayed visuals that until now could not be achieved. But thanks to advances in technology, such as direct printing, cork suppliers are now able to offer products that no longer resemble cork but rather marble and tile as well as other types of traditional wood looks. Other visuals took advantage of distressed techniques to give the final product a worn, reclaimed look, such as wood salvaged from an old barn, while others simply took actual reclaimed wood and turned it into unique types of flooring. Continue reading Wood: Innovations make category ripe for recovery

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Latest looks in laminate

Back in the day—a.k.a. the mid ‘90s—when laminate flooring was first making its way to America’s shores, the product’s look was quite unsophisticated. Thanks to advancements in technology, the designs and texture of laminate have become so realistic that mill executives themselves have been so fooled by their own product they’ve had to reach down and touch it to determine whether it was laminate or the real thing. Here are just some of the latest looks in laminate flooring today, including several of the hottest sellers, products new to the marketplace or those just about to make their debut. Continue reading Latest looks in laminate

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Home Legend connects with customers through social media

Adairsville, Ga. — Home Legend, a leading supplier of hardwood, bamboo, laminate, cork and luxury vinyl flooring is staying connected with its customers and reaching out to new ones through social media outlets. “Home Legend currently has an online presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,” says Jamann Stepp, Home Legend Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Continue reading Home Legend connects with customers through social media

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Floating luxury vinyl category grows as market opportunities soar

Proliferation of new suppliers runs the risk of commoditization

Nebraska Furniture Mart is pleased with the top brands it carries in the floating luxury vinyl tile (LVT) category—among them Mannington, Armstrong and Karndean—but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from contacting senior flooring buyer David Snedeker on a regular basis. “There seems to be someone new—or at least new to me—calling every week with versions of their latest and greatest LVT.”

During the long economic downturn, few, if any, hard surface categories demonstrated the promise and robustness as vinyl, with LVT the leader. The popularity of glueless LVT and its various click systems has produced a swath of new entrants, some with little or no flooring experience. “We’ve seen furniture manufacturers getting into the market,” said Yon Hinkle, product manager, residential tile, Armstrong. Continue reading Floating luxury vinyl category grows as market opportunities soar

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Recycling effort exceeds expectations at Surfaces 2012

Dallas — Being green is no longer a trend or fad – it’s a way of life. This was dramatically demonstrated last week at the recently completed SURFACES | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas (S2). For the first time, S2 partnered with Mountain Re-Source Center and Tile Partners for Humanity on a recycling initiative focused on post-show product donations at the close of the three-day event, held January 24-26 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The outstanding results of this inaugural program speak for themselves and exceeded all expectations. Continue reading Recycling effort exceeds expectations at Surfaces 2012