Posted on

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.

 

 

Posted on

Third annual Best of Surfaces winners named

Judges recognize excellence across six categories

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

By Steven Feldman

Las Vegas—Six companies were voted best of class in the third annual Best of Surfaces competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Hanley Wood, owners and operators of the International Surface Event. The awards have become the benchmark for new product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show.


The winners were:

•Innovation: Armstrong’s Architectural Remnants

•Style & Design: USFloors’ CoreTEC Plus

•Sustainability: Mohawk’s Everstrand Soft Appeal

•Technology: Schluter Systems’ Ditra-Heat

•Best Booth Design Over 1,200 square feet: Mannington

•Best Booth Design Under 1,200 square feet: Horizon Floors

The judging was conducted by a panel of retailers who were initially tasked with narrowing the many entrants in each category to five finalists by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were each asked to explore all submissions and select their top five that best represented the category in which they were entered. The most popular selections by consensus in each category made it to the final round, in which judges viewed each finalist on the first day of Surfaces.

Style & Design

COREtec Plus from USFloors

Introduced last year, COREtec Plus has become one of the company’s best-selling resilient products. Building on that success, this year USFloors took the wraps off COREtec Plus XL, the longest and widest vinyl plank available at 6 feet long and 9 inches wide. The rigid patent-pending COREtec Plus construction features a vinyl top layer, wood plastic composite core and cork underlayment. The product is said to eliminate the waviness common with ordinary LVT floors and is waterproof, stable and easy to install, the company noted.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.49.53 AMPiet Dossche, president and CEO of USFloors, couldn’t hide his jubilation with winning a Best of Surfaces award. “Winning the Best of Surfaces for Style and Design for COREtec Plus XL is a great honor for our company and something we’re really proud of. To be able to receive this recognition as a newcomer in this LVT category proves our strategy to bring unique, innovative products to our customers is being recognized, appreciated and awarded by the retail community.”

Dossche believes the selection of COREtec Plus XL sends a broader message. “I think the panel of judges understands and wants to emphasize the importance of the role that innovation, design and styling plays in our industry and particularly in this fast-growing LVT category, where over the next 18 months additional manufacturing capacity will come on stream in the U.S. Without innovative styling and design, this will soon lead to a commoditizing and price erosion even more aggressive and rapid than what we have witnessed with laminate flooring over the last 10 years.”

Best of Surfaces judge Jim Mudd, president of Sam Kinnairds’s Flooring in Louisville, Ky., believes COREtec Plus XL can be a perfect alternative to laminate. “There is really a problem with laminate and moisture. COREtec Plus XL is 100% waterproof, plus it has a cork underlayment, so nothing can telegraph through. That’s a winner there.”

Judge Deb DeGraaf, owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich., added, “The visuals CoreTEC Plus XL has to offer have a great variety of graining and color to match almost any decor.”

Innovation

Architectural Remnants from Armstrong

Capturing its first Best of Surfaces award, Armstrong was cited for its acclaimed Architectural Remnants laminate collection.

Mara Villanueva-Heras, vice president of marketing for Armstrong Floor Products, has called Architectural Remnants “perhaps our most unique laminate to date. It combines multiple species and colors that look as if they have withstood years of use or were pulled directly from a historic structure. The line is available in random widths with extensive but ‘intelligently applied’ embossed-in-register to provide the realistic graining, texture and depth of reclaimed wood.”

Sara Babinski, the company’s principal designer for laminate flooring, said Architectural Remnants is designed to look as if it is a gateway to the past. “These floors would likely have come from an old church or barn in the countryside, a shuttered city warehouse, or a 20th century antique salvage yard.”

DeGraff noted that Architectural Remnants’ clarity and depth of pattern and design is something beyond what is found in other laminate floors offered today. “With laminates of such design, this product category is bound to see some increases in market share that in recent years was lost to LVT.”

Mudd also thought the reclaimed wood visuals were noteworthy. “There was one style, a milk white, that for a laminate was hard to believe.”

Technology

Ditra-Heat from Schluter Systems

The first product Schluter Systems entered in the Best of Surfaces competition was a winner. Equally impressive was that the judges almost unanimously cited the floor warming system as best in category.

Ditra-Heat is the only electric floor warming system that directly incorporates uncoupling technology to ensure that floors aren’t susceptible to cracked tiles and grout. Cables can be placed wherever heat is desired for customized heating zones, and no leveling compounds are required, which makes for a quick and easy installation.

“We’re extremely honored to receive this Best of Surfaces award,” said Greg Gelston, director of sales. “Combining uncoupling and heating in one layer not only results in a comfortable and durable floor, but also a thinner assembly. Heating cables can be placed wherever floor warming is desired, and no leveling compounds are required to encapsulate the cables, which removes a time-consuming step and speeds up installation. We’re very excited for this product line to hit the market in March—we’ve had a lot of installers telling us they can’t wait to start using the system.”

“This product is innovative,” Mudd said. “When we try to do heated floors under ceramic, where you have to use mortar and put wires in, etc., there always seems to be a problem. With Ditra-Heat, by putting the cables in the Ditra matting, it’s a failsafe way of getting it done. It’s fantastic.”

Sustainability

Everstrand Soft Appeal from Mohawk

After winning the Sustainability category in 2013 for its SmartStrand Silk, Mohawk took home its second consecutive Best of Surfaces award, this time for Everstrand Soft Appeal.

Manufactured using Mohawk’s patented Continuum process, Everstrand Soft Appeal is a soft PET carpet that starts clean and stays clean, is built to last and is inherently eco-friendly, according to the company. The product boasts up to 100% recycled content.

“Mohawk is honored to win the Best of Surfaces sustainability award,” said David Duncan, Mohawk senior vice president, marketing & sales operations. “We are pleased that retailers recognize the innovation and value in our Everstrand and Continuum PET BCF platform. Not only is this the industry’s first carpet made from 100% post-consumer recycled material, it also represents the best PET BCF carpet on the market. This is an incredible accomplishment that will provide long-lasting benefits to our retail partners and to society at large.”

Best of Surfaces judge Jon Pierce, general manager of Pierce Flooring & Design, with seven stores across Montana, said Mohawk’s new Continuum process has a “great story to tell behind the technology and will be easy to sell to the consumer.”

Best Booth (over 1,200 square feet)

Mannington

Every year the largest expanse on the Surfaces show floor belongs to Mannington, and this year the company was rewarded with its firstScreen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.56.50 AM best booth feet honor.

“We are grateful to be recognized for the hard work that we put into our booth,” said Betsy Amoroso, director of corporate communications. “The idea is to keep the booth simple and allow the new products to shine. In addition, Mannington is known for the incredible style and design of its floors, so we are aware that the styling leadership needs to be evident in the booth design as well.”

The judges agreed that despite its size, the booth succeeded in putting the spotlight on product. “The space was very inviting even with the large number of people always in the booth,” DeGraaf said. “Products and displays were laid out in such a way that many people could navigate through the space and see all the new product and design Mannington was bringing to market.”

Pierce added that Mannington “always manages to put together a truly phenomenal booth showcasing its current and new introductions. The company succeeded in tying sheet products into the hot LVT category by creating a ‘new’ category called luxury vinyl sheet. I love creative marketing and the thought put behind it.”

Best Booth (under 1,200 square feet)

Horizon

Horizon was cited for best booth under 1,200 square feet with an eye-catching space built from reclaimed wood from an old trestle bridge in Ohio. The company also incorporated metal parts from railroad tracks.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.58.48 AMBut this concept was not just about design. By displaying new products against the backdrop of reclaimed wood, the booth represented Horizon’s philosophy that blends the development of sustainable products with today’s style and design trends. “We are committed to minimizing our carbon footprint and incorporating responsible environmental practices in all aspects of our business,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president. “This honor inspires us to continue on our path of developing innovative floors.”

DeGraaf called the Horizon booth “a very small but impactful space with the integration of materials from an old building and the style of wood flooring Horizon has to offer.”

 

Posted on

Wood: Technology helps drive category to recovery

David Shaoulpour of Horizon with Laurel, one of the new lines constructed with FSC-certified wood.

By Matthew Spieler

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

(Second of two parts)

Las Vegas—As illustrated in Part I of this feature (FCNews, Feb. 4/11), wood manufacturers are using technology to help the category recover from the housing collapse. This technology is allowing new ways of presenting classic species by merchandising exotic looks without the matching price tag. Following is more of what attendees witnessed last month on the Surfaces show floor. Continue reading Wood: Technology helps drive category to recovery

Posted on

Al’s column

By FCNews staff

Volume 26/Number 16; Dec. 17/24, 2012

BELATED WISHES: Floor Covering News would like to extend a belated Happy 50th Anniversary to internationally renowned textile designer Elke Arora, who began her professional career in October 1962 with German carpet manufacturer Besmer. Since FCNews’ inception, Arora’s husband, Rolf, has been our foreign correspondent in Europe, and Elke herself has contributed many color and fashion trend stories. Arora, who is German born, was one of the first to understand fashion is global. She has maintained a residence in Dalton since 1969, a year after opening her own studio in Canada. However, since the 1970s she has worked from her home studio in Hannover, Germany, home to Domotex. Continue reading Al’s column

Posted on

Kentucky-made Florida Tile now Green Squared certified

Lexington Ky. — All Kentucky-produced Florida Tile products have been certified  Green Squared.

“The new Green Squared certification is more than a way to quickly identify environmentally sustainable tile products,” said Sean Cilona, marketing director for Florida Tile. “It is also a new ANSI standard (ANSI A138.1), defining exactly what is required for a tile to be considered truly green. This is a complete one-stop assessment of a product’s sustainability developed by the Green Initiative Committee of the Tile Council of North America,” says Cilona. Continue reading Kentucky-made Florida Tile now Green Squared certified