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My take: Award of Excellence—Behind the winners

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Steven Feldman

 

Now that the 22nd Annual Award of Excellence winners have been announced, we can dig a little deeper and try to provide a little commentary on the results. In what seems to be the case each year, there were some surprises interspersed between the usual suspects as you will find on page 22. But with the voting surpassing 2,200 ballots this year, we are confident the winners are well deserving of the honors bestowed upon them by the retail and distribution communities.

Just for the record, every vote is vetted. Any ballot that is submitted from manufacturer personnel is deleted. As well, we often find the same retailer voting multiple times. Only his or her first vote is counted; the rest are eliminated.

While FCNews publishes only the winners in each category, it is interesting to look behind the numbers and analyze the vote counts. The most interesting aspect of the voting came in the Resilient – Commercial category, where Johnsonite had won the past two years in a landslide. This year, however, Mannington Commercial turned the tables in very convincing fashion. Given how almost all the votes come from flooring retailers, I surmise they were endorsing Mannington’s Main Street offerings.

The Hardwood B category, won by Anderson Tuftex this year, is traditionally one of the most contentious. Finishing close behind the newly combined brand were Somerset, Mullican, USFloors and Mirage. Those five companies commanded 58% of the vote. Eleven companies in this category scored at least 50 votes.

Speaking of contentious categories, the new Hardwood C group fit the bill. This was the first year we separated some of the smaller suppliers into their own class, 17 to be exact. So we really had no idea what would happen. When the dust cleared, it was HomerWood pulling away by a comfortable margin in a category that saw seven of those 17 companies garner at least 100 votes. Those who performed admirably here were Cali Bamboo, Triangulo, Monarch and Urbanfloor.

I was also interested to see what would happen in the LVT B category once we jettisoned USFloors to the new WPC/Rigid Core classification. Close race between Karndean Designflooring, EarthWerks and Metroflor, which together earned nearly two-thirds of the vote.

One of my favorite categories is Laminate B. Why? Because there are eight companies competing there, and each garnered at least 5% of the vote. No company received fewer than 100 votes and four had at least 250, or 11%.

So, when I was a statistics major in college before switching to economics, I learned the more times you flip a coin, the better the odds of a 50/50 split between heads and tails. But that’s not the case when it comes to voting. The more votes you have, the more one candidate will assert itself. But not when it comes to the Award of Excellence. In the Cushion A category, it was a two-horse race between Carpenter and Leggett. And it was akin to Affirmed-Alydar in the 1978 Belmont Stakes. Over 2,200 votes, and just 14 separated the pair.

As for tile, the last time Dal-Tile lost the A category, Bill Clinton was in office. And kudos to Emser for winning the B category for the second year in a row after increasing its share of the voting from 9.8% to 13.7% to 15.8% to 16.2% these last four years. This is another company growing by leaps and bounds.

One last observation, and I said this last year as well: We have noticed a huge disparity in the voting between ballots cast online and those captured in person at Surfaces. While 95% of the voting is done online, those companies that do not exhibit at Surfaces garner a much lower percentage of the votes in the paper balloting done at the show. I’m sure Informa Exhibitions, our co-sponsor in the competition, will be happy to hear that.

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Award of Excellence: Mohawk returns to winner’s circle as Best Overall

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Ken Ryan

 

Garden City, N.Y.—For the third year in a row, Mohawk Industries was voted Best Overall Manufacturer—one of four Mohawk-branded honors, and six in all for Mohawk Group—in FCNews’ 22nd annual Award of Excellence competition.

Mohawk won for Best Carpet Manufacturer (Group A), Best Commercial Carpet Manufacturer and Best Laminate Manufacturer (Group A), as well as Best Overall. Further, two Mohawk companies took home top honors, including Dal-Tile, which was named Best Ceramic Manufacturer (Group A) for an unprecedented 20th consecutive year. Karastan won top honors for Area Rugs.

“At Mohawk, we continue to invest heavily in the future,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk residential, who attended the annual affair at the Garden City Hotel with several members of the Mohawk team. “We are honored that retailers recognize our products, such as the industry’s first hypoallergenic soft flooring—Air.o; our SmartStrand franchise and our revolutionary wood flooring—RevWood, as innovations that contribute to their business success and consumer satisfaction. Mohawk is not only thankful for their resounding endorsement of our products but also of our hardworking employees whose talent and dedication earned our company these prestigious awards.”

Dal-Tile has done what no other company or brand has done—won the award for two decades running. According to John Turner, president, the victory laps never get old. “Winning the Award of Excellence is meaningful to Dal-Tile because it reinforces how our customers feel about their relationship with our business and how they value our Daltile, American Olean and Marazzi brands,” he said. “Each team member plays a critical role in ensuring that we forge relationships with our customers through superior service and products that lead the industry in style, innovation and quality. Our long history of success in this awards program illustrates our commitment to excellence and the significant partnerships we enjoy with our customers.”

Mohawk wasn’t the only dominant company. It was a big night for Shaw Industries and its divisions as well, with five awards. Shaw won Best Manufacturer for LVT (Group A) and Best Manufacturer for Hardwood (Group A); Anderson Tuftex took home top honors for Carpet (Group B) and Hardwood (Group B), while USFloors took first place in the inaugural WPC/Rigid Core category.

“The Award of Excellence is a coveted and respected industry award and receiving this award for both LVT and hardwood is an immense honor for Shaw Floors,” said Herb Upton, vice president, hard surface. “We’re thrilled to see our latest hard surface products have been well received, and these awards confirm Shaw Floors leads the way in hard surface innovation.”

Drew Hash, vice president, Shaw hard surface products, added, “To be chosen for these prestigious awards by our retail partners speaks to the success of Shaw’s efforts to put customers at the forefront of all we do. We thank our dealers and Shaw associates who make our shared achievements possible.”

For the first time a separate category for WPC/Rigid Core was established, a nod to the explosiveness of the waterproof vinyl flooring segment. USFloors, marketer of the highly successful COREtec brand of WPC, won the award for WPC/Rigid Core after taking top honors for LVT the previous two years. “To achieve an Award of Excellence from your customers is the most meaningful and valuable recognition any company can wish for,” said Piet Dossche, president of USFloors. “I am very proud and honored to receive this trophy on behalf of our entire team of dedicated people who are working hard to provide the best product and service to our retail partners. The revolution our COREtec product has created in the WPC product category has been great for our customers who have embraced this exciting new product wholeheartedly. Thank you, FCNews and Informa Exhibitions, for organizing this yearly contest and event.”

Being part of the Shaw family, Dossche added, has given USFloors more opportunities to grow the COREtec business. “We are committed to remain the leader in this category and building COREtec into a strong consumer brand.”

Among the repeat winners, Emser Tile won for the second year in a row in Ceramic (Group B), and Inhaus took top honors for Laminate (Group B), marking its second consecutive year in the winner’s circle. “Emser Tile is proud to be recognized by our customers and receive the FCNews Award of Excellence,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer. “As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, this recognition validates our service promise commitment to our customers and inspires us to continue to find new ways to innovate and enhance the overall customer experience.”

Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus, commented: “We feel extremely fortunate and are honored that our customers voted for us. We have a passion for our product offerings and strive to create products that people are excited about both in terms of innovative design and quality. In our eyes, this award is a recognition of our efforts, and we are very appreciative of that.”

A new classification (Group C) was established for the first time to recognize quality, smaller-scale companies. In carpet, Southwind won for Group C while HomerWood was honored in hardwood.

“Southwind and all of our employees are honored to have won this Award of Excellence,” said Richard Abramowicz, executive vice president. “It is a team effort—not one individual. Southwind strives to bring to market the most innovative and forward-thinking products that provide solutions to the marketplace. We would like to thank our valued customers for recognizing our efforts for this award.”

Methodology

Sponsored by FCNews and Informa Exhibitions, proprietors of The International Surface Event (TISE), the Award of Excellence is a way for manufacturers’ customers—retailers, distributors, designers, installers and specifiers—to honor the companies they feel consistently provide the best service, professionalism of sales force, management responsiveness, value, design, B2B, handling of claims and ease of doing business.

“The Awards of Excellence are honors bestowed to manufacturers by the heart and soul of the flooring industry—the retailers,” said Dana Teague, vice president, Design Group, Informa Global Exhibitions. “It is a pleasure and an honor for Informa/Surfaces to co-sponsor this year’s awards with Floor Covering News. We are delighted to share our enthusiasm for innovation with brands that continually strive for excellence. Surfaces is the platform that manufacturers use to launch or highlight many of the winning products to the delight of the thousands of retailers, distributors, designers and installers that come to Las Vegas every January. Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s awards.”

Readers of FCNews, as well as other industry personnel visiting trade shows such as Surfaces (and not employed by a manufacturer), voted between October 2017 and the end of March 2018 for the companies they felt best met established criteria in the following floor covering categories—Carpet, Commercial Carpet, Area Rugs, Resilient, Resilient Sheet, Resilient Commercial, Hardwood, Tile, Laminate, Cushion/Underlayment, WPC—as well as the Best Overall mill. Ballots were featured in FCNews and readers could mail or fax them back, as well as vote online and at industry events such as Surfaces.

While the category awards were done on a simple, one-vote-per-category/company format, the Best Overall award required voters to fill in their choice for first, second and third place. Votes were weighted so that first place was worth five points, second place worth three points and third place one point. Point totals were tabulated and the company with the most in each was named the winner.

As has been done for the previous nine years, individual category winners were selected in two or three groups based on their volume. Also, manufacturers did not have to pay a fee to be eligible to receive a vote, which has been customary since the first Award of Excellence competition. Any and all manufacturers of floor covering products in the above-referenced categories were allowed to receive votes.

More than 2,200 votes—representing flooring retailers, distributors, designers and installers—were cast, with more industry professionals voting online than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Greenbuild dates announced through 2019

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.25.01 AMDallas—Informa Exhibitions and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have announced the dates for Greenbuild International Conference & Expo through 2019.

“We are committed to rotating Greenbuild to very accessible locations to maximize attendee participation and exhibitor confidence,” said Lindsay Roberts, Greenbuild group director, Informa Exhibitions. “We ensure Greenbuild takes place in different geographic locations and have scheduled a strong lineup that will take the event to the West Coast, Northeast, Midwest and Southeast.”

Greenbuild will continue its pattern of rotating around the U.S. on the following schedule:

Oct. 5-7, 2016: Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles

Nov. 8-10, 2017: Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston

Nov. 14-16, 2018: McCormick Place (West Building), Chicago

Nov. 20-22, 2019: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta

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Best of Surfaces awards honor top products, booths

Judges recognize excellence across six categories

February 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 17

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

The winners were:

  • Innovation: Mohawk SmartStrand Forever Clean
  • Style & Design: Johnson Hardwood Alehouse series
  • Sustainability: W.F. Taylor TruRenew Bio-Renewable Adhesive
  • Technology: Spray-Lock RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can
  • Best Booth Design Over 1,200 square feet: Bedrosians Tile & Stone
  • Best Booth Design Under 1,200 square feet: Wickham Hardwood

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.38.34 PMThe judging was conducted by a panel of experienced industry figures 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.

“The Best of Surfaces awards gives exhibitors another thing to be excited about when they come to the show,” said Amie Gilmore, director of TISE. “In planning for their booths, or figuring out what products to showcase, they want to put their best foot forward. Maybe a company stepped up its booth this year instead of next year because there’s a competition, for example.”

Informa continues to partner with Floor Covering News for industry initiatives, creating a unified, influential voice. “Joining forces with Floor Covering News on Best of Surfaces really makes it an industry event because you’ve got the show and the exhibitors, you’re putting everything in front of retailers and other attendees, and you also have a major publication behind it all. It’s not jut one entity putting it out there; Best of Surfaces comprises a massive group of industry representation.”

Innovation

SmartStrand Forever Clean from Mohawk

Launched in early December, SmartStrand Forever Clean has been the talk of the industry in recent months. With its inherent cleanability and durability, many believe Mohawk has reached the ultimate solution in maintaining carpet over long periods of time.

David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations for Mohawk, said the company’s win for Innovation is particularly important as “hundreds of flooring companies participated in the competition where this award was open to all innovations across all flooring categories. For SmartStrand Forever Clean to beat out all hardwood, laminate, LVT and other categories demonstrates the extraordinary innovation Mohawk brings to the carpet category.”

Best of Surfaces judge Paul Frederichsen, president of the marketing and branding firm BrandBiz, said Forever Clean “ups the game in the whole carpet industry.” He noted that the name hits home, as cleanability is the No. 1 concern with consumers. “People love carpet because of its softness, warmth, etc., but there is always that concern of ‘Can I keep it clean? How difficult will it be to do so? Is it healthy for my family?’ I think Mohawk has done a terrific job naming and positioning Forever Clean so the consumer can really understand it.”

Sheri Gorman, vice president of marketing and A&D for commercial contractor RD Weis, also saw winning qualities in Forever Clean, making it ideal for both commercial and residential use. “Coming from the maintenance business, it is nice to see there’s a product on the market now that makes it easier for all people to maintain carpet, even if it is the consumer or end user doing it on her own.”

Style & Design

Alehouse series from Johnson Hardwood

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.40.28 PMJohnson Hardwood launched its popular English Pub series at Surfaces two years ago. Ever since, the line and its new additions have gotten phenomenal feedback, inspiring a “premium version.”

The Alehouse series was an immediate hit among Surfaces attendees this year, in sync with today’s desired reclaimed look. With this series Johnson aimed to enhance the naturalness of the maple and oak rather than mask it with stains and finishes. The result is a product with random, light wire brushing to soften the character grains with beveled edges for a timeworn, vintage look, available in planks 7½ inches wide up to 7 feet long.

“What makes all the difference is the detail we put into it such as the triple hand-staining process to create this inner glow that darkens toward the outer plank edges,” said Veronica Ventimiglia, marketing manager.

Gorman said she voted for Alehouse because of its “rich colors and great textures. The collection is just aesthetically appealing and very usable.”

David Keegan, COO of Bamboo Hardwoods, added, “The Alehouse series is warm and tasteful. It is easy to imagine these products would make a house a home. I could hear the fire crackling in the hearth as my eyes enjoyed the tones and textures of the line.”

Technology

RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can from Spray-Lock

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.42.21 PMAccording to Fred Land, president and CEO of Spray-Lock, the decision to be an exhibitor at Surfaces was completely on a whim. After receiving a Best of Surfaces award for the RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can, he agreed that exhibiting was certainly worthwhile.

“It’s nice to stand out in a big crowd. We’ve invented a product that has potential to make a big change in the rug and mat section of the industry.”

Launched commercially in August of last year, Spray-Lock’s RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can is an adhesive that guarantees to keep area rugs, carpets and mats in place. What makes this product unique are two outstanding attributes: its aerosol format and emphasis on being “squeaky clean,” Land said. “We have fewer VOCs in the can than you’d find in a single cranberry. We believe the aerosol format is the best way to deliver and allows us to use 80% less products than the traditional technology.”

Keegan said, “It’s an ideal solution for manufacturers to suggest as a way to help keep customers’ carpets in place without anti-slip mats that discolor or change the floor. We will be trying this product.”

Sustainability

TruRenew Bio-Renewable Adhesive from W.F. Taylor

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.42.59 PMJack Raidy, Jr., president of W. F. Taylor, said his company’s focus has been on sustainability for many years. “We’re really proud to get the Best of Surfaces award for TruRenew; we worked hard for so many years to come out with a bio-renewable adhesive. As a California-based company we were looking at these issues much earlier than most of the country, and we were able to put an adhesive together that’s environmentally responsible.” TruRenew is very similar to existing adhesives except the polymer comes from a bio-renewable source as opposed to a petroleum-derived polymer, which many companies are using today.

Since its introduction last October, TruRenew has received tremendous feedback from flooring contractors as well as the A&D community. “To be able to match a Cradle-to-Cradle-certified adhesive with a Cradle-to-Cradle-certified floor covering really closes the loop,” Raidy said.

Keegan explained, “For me, sustainability and the environment are close to the heart. I am impressed when innovations occur in sustainability. In this case, sustainability means sustainable air and water quality which are as important as it gets.”

Friedrichsen also raved about TruRenew. “With a lot of adhesives, grouts and glue, one of the chief concerns in the back of everyone’s minds is how friendly it is to the environment. Taylor starts with the premise of bio-friendly, so it’s a win-win for all.”

Best Booth over 1,200 square feet

Bedrosians Tile & Stone

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.41.48 PMBedrosians team members put a lot of time and effort into designing and building a prominent, eye-catching space on the show floor.

“Surfaces is something we worked on for about four to five months with a team of 10 to 20 people at a time,” said Eddie Bedrosian, marketing director. “Also, our whole creative team comes out with all of our new lines at that time, so it’s our launch for the year. It really is a year’s worth of work. Winning the award is an honor because not only our booth but also our products were shown off, representing that we are more of a design company than just a tile company.”

Keegan was taken with the Bedrosians booth. “I greatly appreciated the artistic creativity and playful nature of Bedrosians’ booth design. Business should be fun. The flooring industry lives and dies by aesthetics, and Bedrosians demonstrated their prowess in that area very well.”

Best Booth under 1,200 square feet

Wickham Hardwood

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.41.15 PMThe hours of labor that go into making a stellar booth can be difficult at times, but end up being worth it in the end, at least for Randy McCullough, territory manager for Best Booth winner Wickham Hardwood Flooring.

“At about 3 a.m. the day before the show I ask myself every year the same question: Why do we do this? But then we have a successful show and we fill the booth with people because they see how we’ve gone through the trouble to construct a beautiful booth and show our samples in an attractive way. We know how important it is with the costs [related to exhibiting] to go and knock it out of the park, or else it would be a waste of time. I’ve heard comments that other vendors want to be close to us because they know we attract a lot of people.”

Gorman said the winning space was “a clean, tasteful, simple booth that displayed the Wickham product assortment very well.”