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Best of Surfaces honors innovation, booth space design

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By FCNews staff

 

Las Vegas—Six manufacturers were voted best of class in the 2018 Best of Surfaces competition, a contest sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa Exhibitions, which owns and operates The International Surface Event. The awards program, now in its seventh year, has become the benchmark for new product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show.

The winners, which announced on the show floor at Surfaces, are as follows:

  • Innovation: Ceramix from Raskin Industries
  • Style & Design: Emser Tile
  • Sustainability: Congoleum
  • Technology: MagneBuild from MBS
  • Best Booth Design (over 1,200 square feet): Anderson Tuftex
  • Best Booth Design (under 1,200 square feet): Arte Mundi

The judging was initially conducted by a panel of floor covering retailers who were tasked with poring over the scores of entries in each category to come up with six finalists by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were each asked to explore all submissions and select their top six picks that they believe best represented the category in which they were entered. The most popular selections by consensus in each category made it to the final round, which were viewed on the first day of Surfaces—in some cases by the original judges as well as select retailers who agreed to offer their time and input.

The category winners are as follows:

Innovation
Raskin Industries
After taking home the Best of Surfaces award for innovation six years ago, Raskin returns to form this year with a win for Ceramix, billed as the industry’ first loose- lay LVT with built-in grout. Ceramix provides dealers with an alternative to ceramic tile and porcelain that can be installed in a day or two. While there have been other products with grout lines attached, none have achieved the level of realism that is inherent with this product line.

“Winning Best of Surfaces in the Innovation category for the second time is a great accomplishment for our entire organization,” said Michael Raskin, CEO. “It means so much to be recognized as unique in a highly competitive market.”

Raskin also paid homage to his late father, Gerald Raskin, who was an innovator in his own right. “I am honored and take great pride in knowing my father would be very proud if he was alive today,” he said. “He devoted his career to developing products since the early ’60s. As such, I think it would be appropriate to dedicate this award to my father, because he always strived to innovate with new products that had style and would stand out amongst the crowd. If it wasn’t for him I would not have had the opportunity to forge my own path in the flooring industry.”

Style & Design
Emser Tile
Emser Tile created Lakewood and Lakehouse as an ode of sorts to the beautiful biodiversity of aged trees. The realistic, head-turning products are offered in long 8 x 34 glazed porcelain planks. Lakewood is marked by distinct wooden tones that evoke rich detail and texture, while Lakehouse acts as an accent motif with bold color variation.

“It is an honor for Lakewood and Lakehouse to be recognized in the category of style and design,” said Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing. “Emser Tile consistently looks to bring a fresh approach to design, and these wood-look tile series defy boundaries by offering customizable installations with striking detail.”

According to Emser, Lakewood and Lakehouse offer a unique opportunity for retailers to sell and designers to specify complementary collections. “By breathing new life into wood-look designs, we believe we have created two series that will resonate with our customers in a lasting manner,” Haaksma stated.

Sustainability
Congoleum/Cleo
For Congoleum, the new Cleo brand represents a new era in sustainable flooring. The mineral composite core is a truly unique, eco-forward base that combines 85% locally sourced limestone with a 100% PVC-free binder that eliminates all plasticizers and chloro-chemicals, the company stated. Every layer of the product’s construction is completed in the USA, establishing an exceptionally small carbon footprint.

But that’s just part of the story. Cleo also delivers high marks on the aesthetic front. The product offers virtually unlimited style and design visuals that have an exceptionally high number of unique and non-repeating patterns—as high as 60 in certain designs. This is accomplished through an innovative direct-to-base digital printing process that uses 100% solvent-free inks. The vibrancy of the visual is further enhanced with a ultra-clear, high-performance 100% solids urethane coating that is VOC-free and delivers uncompromising protection from scratching and fading.

“The introduction of Cleo and subsequently winning the Best of Sustainability Award at the Surfaces show is a tremendous achievement and honor,” said Chris O’Connor, president and CEO. “Cleo is truly different in every way and simply put, there is nothing like it in the market today. The patented construction features a PVC-free and waterproof mineral composite core, high-fidelity digital imaging and ultra-clear protective coating that put Cleo in a category by itself.

“Chemical embossing for sheet vinyl and the introduction of the world’s first groutable LVT are great examples of how Congoleum has delivered meaningful innovation to the flooring industry for more than 130 years,” O’Connor added. “It is this commitment to challenging the status quo that has enabled us to bring Cleo, the next generation of innovative and sustainable flooring to life, and we are grateful for the recognition.”

Technology
Magnetic Building Solutions
After generating a ton of pre-show buzz, the new MagneBuild line from Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS) lived up to its billing. The innovative magnetic installation system was created by a joint collaboration between industry leaders and experts in the field of space and military technology.

MBS pushes magnetic capabilities to new heights, providing the industry with an easily interchangeable interior surface solution. How it works: The underlayment system of MBS utilizes magnetic technology as the foundation for all types of floors. To install, users simply roll it out over any smooth and clean dry subfloor surface. A key benefit of this new technology is that it alleviates many installation issues as floors no longer need to be bonded, making seams a non-issue.

Thanks to the innovation, a larger group of cost-conscious consumers can push past the limits of the need to be neutral, allowing for more adventurous interior design options, according to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), which unveiled the product and conducted demonstrations at the show.

The unveiling was more than enough to inspire dealers to cast their votes for the product in the technology category. “As a newly launched product, we are thrilled to receive this award and to be recognized as the recipient in the technology category,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO of the WFCA. “MagneBuild is a game changer for our industry. There is nothing like it in the world and its applications are endless.”

Freida Staten, WFCA vice president of marketing communications, agreed. “Being recognized with the Best of Technology Award provides us with an amazing sense of validation. The experts who recognized us with this award confirmed our belief that the MBS system can, and will, make a difference. They saw an installation system that works with every flooring category and extends the reach of floors to include walls.”

Best Booth
(>1,200 square feet)
Anderson Tuftex
Combining the Anderson and Tuftex hard and soft surface brands under one banner not only makes common sense (because this is how people live in their homes, company executives explained), but it also presents a unique opportunity to double down on new ways to market and merchandise mid- to upper-end hardwood and soft surface products.

“We have reconceptualized both brands, updated the merchandising along with a new website so everything is fresh,” said Katie Ford, director of brand strategy. “It’s on trend with everything our consumer is looking for. She’s not thinking about hardwood or carpet; she’s thinking in terms of how the overall room is going to come together.”

Dealers in attendance at Surfaces recognized and appreciated this strategy, which is one of the reasons why they voted Anderson Tuftex—which made its debut in a two-story space—for Best Booth in the large category. “We were beyond thrilled to receive the award for Best Large Booth Design from the retailers that attended the Surfaces show in Vegas,” Ford said. “As we designed our booth, the words we kept in mind were: authentic, thoughtful and approachable. We knew we wanted to provide show-goers a breath of fresh air in our space and an opportunity to take in the intentionality and craft inherent in Anderson Tuftex products.”

Best Booth
(<1,200 square feet)
Arte Mundi
Arte Mundi’s booth was designed as a visual tribute to its mission, serving as a physical extension of its primary goal: to infuse life and art into living spaces. To that end, the company’s Surfaces presentation played off the modern architectural structures and shapes inspired by contemporary art museums. The intended ambience is one of minimalism to impact the attendee experience in letting its products, its art pieces, speak for themselves.

The Arte Mundi booth was compartmentalized in a way that presented the company’s full spectrum of products. This included current running lines, new products for 2018 as well as conceptual products. And let’s not forget one of the biggest highlights of the space: brilliant Swarovski crystal element floors.

John Lee, the company’s president, appreciated the honor. “Arte Mundi is humbled to say that our U.S. debut at the Surfaces show was honored to win the Best Booth award. The intended inspiration for our exhibit was for it to be a direct reflection of our company mission and our corporate beliefs. Both our marketing and design teams worked tirelessly to demonstrate the capabilities of Arte Mundi. We are beyond grateful to be recognized by the panel of judges, some of the most respected professionals in the industry, and in turn are motivated and encouraged to continue to pursue this standard of greatness.”

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Surfaces Resilient Coverage: Innovations aim to add simplicity to the buying and selling process

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Lindsay Baillie

 

There’s a common thread among the plethora of new resilient flooring products introduced at Surfaces: They all aim to make it easier for retailers to sell and consumers to understand.

A majority of the manufacturers at the event noted that the resilient market is saturated with products—a phenomenon that can cause confusion for distributors, retailers and consumers alike. To address this issue, manufacturers are providing retailers and distributors with updated styles and newer product constructions in conjunction with greater education, explicit branding and unique product stories.

Education and innovation was a focal point of Karndean Designflooring’s 2018 introductions, which entailed new SKUs across three formats: glue down, loose lay and rigid core. The ultimate goal, the company said, is to encourage retailers to rethink flooring. “We’re trying to get retailers to see flooring differently, design flooring differently and specify flooring differently so that they have a way of making more margin and really beating out the competition,” said Emil Mellow, director of public relations.

Part of rethinking flooring involves a complete understanding of how Karndean’s products work together to create designflooring. “With our new SKUs, we’re trying to push design differently,” Mellow explained. “For example, with Korlok, we tell retailers you can blend SKUs.”

Mohawk’s new sheet vinyl lineup is bringing awareness to a product category that has consistently been losing market share to LVT, WPC and SPC. According to Angela Duke, senior brand manager, Mohawk, the company still sees a market for sheet vinyl and so should retailers. “This is one of the most durable floors. It is one of our highest margin products because of its lower price.”

Mohawk’s new sheet vinyl features a new technology called ClearGuard, which aims to show consumers how easy it is to clean the product. Duke explained dealers should also take advantage of the product’s waterproof qualities. “We’re seeing a lot of push for this product in different areas such as laundry rooms, basements and bathrooms.”

Educating dealers on product features is also a key point for Forbo. The manufacturer’s Marmoleum with click cinch lock is available in a wide array of colors, allowing retailers to offer consumers something out of the ordinary. What’s more, dealers can mix and match the square and plank formats to create unique flooring designs. “What if you could get a click product that is easy to install and with more vibrant colors?” asked Tim Donahue, residential national sales manager. “You’re not going to get these colors in an LVT.”

Forbo has also added FlowTex to its product portfolio. To create the texture of FlowTex the product is “flocked,” a manufacturing process that combines a PVC backing, a layer in between and an adhesive on top, followed by a magnetic charge that activates the product. Once the product is dried, it becomes  impenetrable to water, Donahue said. “FlowTex is a textile version of a resilient and is actually closer to a hard surface than a carpet.”

Fusion, the distribution division of USFloors, is focused on educating its customers on the positives of doing business with the company. “We offer completely different colors and SKUs than USFloors,” said Jim Nielsen, vice president of sales. “We cover all of the bases with this category, and we’ll stay at the very forefront of technology and give our distributors service and compassion.”

The company’s two investments for 2018 are its enhance bevel WPC and SPC. “These are higher end, design-focused products,” Nielsen explained. “They’re very realistic looking compared to what we’ve had in the past. We’ve also attached a pad, which provides more comfort and is sound deadening. Distributors will be able to get more premium price on these products than what is out there.”

Happy Feet also emphasized the importance of educating the retailer on the benefits of partnering with the right manufacturer, going beyond product specs. In addition to the company’s new products such as Blockbuster and Gladiator, Happy Feet boasts competitive pricing, shipping within 24 hours and unmatchable inventory. “We want to help retailers make money,” said CJ Johnson, sales.

What’s in a brand?

Some manufacturers introduced new products at Surfaces that aim to help strengthen brand recognition in consumers and make it easier for dealers to better identify products in a saturated market. Case in point is Armstrong, which is looking to leverage its Diamond 10 technology to create brand awareness with consumers. “We’re pushing our Diamond 10 technology, which is a differentiating factor,  to bring consumers into retailers’ stores,” said Morgan Hafer, product manager for Alterna. “It’s being used in shows on HGTV and throughout social media to [drive] brand awareness.”

EarthWerks is also using its branding to make it easier for retailers to distinguish between different sizes of products. The company showed Noble Classic Plus and Plus XL as well as Parkhill and Plus XXL. Plus XL and Plus XXL represent thicker, longer versions of their respective lines.

“At EarthWerks we say style, availability and service you can trust,” said Lindsey Nisbet, strategic marketing and product development. “Our style is getting better every year; with respect to service, we have some of the best distribution.”

Quick-Step and IVC are also making it easier to identify their resilient products. Quick-Step has updated the products it sells to focus less on the product lines and more on its attributes. The company is now using the term “EnduraTEK” for its resilient products. “We consider resilient as the entry into hard surface,” said Jason Sims, senior brand manager, Mohawk Industries. “All of our flexible product is called EnduraTEK. As you trade up, the rigid offerings are called EnduraTEK Ultra.”

Quick-Step is doing its best to provide distributors with better and best offerings within the resilient category. “What we’re featuring this year is the ability for them to trade up within the category from flexible to rigid,” Sims said. “We are also offering for the first time flexible LVT tile that has a hidden grout line. You can mix them and it quickly installs. These are all available on one display as well.”

IVC is updating its brand to reflect the resilient category. The company showed its new Artera and Millright lines, both sheet vinyl, as well as Urbanne, its new flexible tiles. Sims explained that the word “resilient” not only describes the category, but also highlights what the segment can ultimately provide consumers. “We have positioned our brand as uncompromised design for life. We bring a different design element to everything we do.”

While some companies are promoting various product names to drive brand recognition, others are looking to better leverage their own corporate identities. DuChâteau, primarily known for its innovations in hardwood for flooring and wall applications, has expanded its reach to include luxury vinyl plank products. “We conducted extensive research with designers, architects, contractors and homeowners to see where they wanted to go with more luxurious and distinctive flooring designs,” said Misael Tagle, CEO and co-founder of DuChâteau. “The craftsmanship and fashion-forward designs of our new collections meet their needs.”

The manufacturer’s new Atelier Series’ Sovereign edition features the sought-after signature aesthetic of European-style exclusive designs in a glue-down vinyl plank. Then there’s the Vinyl Deluxe Grand collection with LuxCor technology, followed by the Vinyl Deluxe Classic collection. Rounding out the offering is the American Guild collection, which features classic colors and a contemporary American design aesthetic with the realistic look and feel of wood and stone.

Congoleum is looking to take branding a step further with the creation of CLEO Home—a separate, standalone brand that features healthy and environmentally conscious flooring. According to Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales, CLEO Home is intended to help consumers who might be struggling with design confidence.

“We wanted to create something from a designer standpoint that really appealed to the consumer. We have great brand recognition with Congoleum, with our legacy products. This new foray into the marketplace is a great way to connect with the next generation.”

CLEO breaks down into three different layers. The base is 85% limestone and the other 15% is a binder that is not made with PVC. The top layer is digital imaging with a high-performance coating. “When you get rid of PVC you get rid of plasticizers, phthalates and all the things that are perceived as negative words in the industry,” Denman explained. (Incidentally, Congoleum was honored for a Best of Surfaces award in sustainability for CLEO Home.) “This product is 100% manufactured in the U.S., so we’re not relying on print films shipped from China.”

A compelling story
Manufacturers are not only developing unique product stories to help differentiate offerings, they are ultimately providing retailers with product education and strong brands. Mohawk, for example, has updated its campaign for SolidTech to play up the product’s resistance to hurricanes. As Duke explained: “We have a good story from a builder in Dallas who put SolidTech in one of his model homes; after the hurricane hit the dealer was able to salvage the floor in the model home, clean it up and reinstall it without any problems.”

Armstrong has developed its own story for its Alterna plank product—an engineered tile now available in a 6 x 36 plank format. “We call it Alterna because it is an alternative to ceramic and tile,” Hafer explained. “The story behind engineered tile is its more durable and comfortable to live on and easier to install than real tile. Alterna plank also features our Diamond 10 technology.”

Product story is also key to Beauflor’s new introductions, Blacktex and Boardwalk. The former is a roll product that can also be merchandised with boards and marketed as either a sheet vinyl or LVT product. The textile backing provides users with some of the benefits and features of LVT. Meanwhile, Boardwalk is a rigid click, loose-lay product with an attached pad.

“Our Blacktex sheet product is really the original waterproof product,” said Johnny Barnes, general manager. “If you look at the top layer, you can achieve some of the visuals with this line that you can’t necessarily achieve with the WPC products.”

Boardwalk, initially available in 14 SKUs, is equally rich in terms of aesthetics. “We have several dimensions and three SKUs that are random width,” said Nick Brown, vice president of sales North America. “There are all these different products within the collection, but they’re all at the same price point.”

Raskin Industries’ Ceramix, the company’s built-in-grout, loose-lay LVT, has its own story—one built on ease of installation. According to the manufacturer, the offering allows retailers to sell a grouted tile look without the headache of a typical tile installation. What’s more, Ceramix, which made its official debut at Surfaces 2017, earned a Best of Surfaces award for innovation at this year’s event.

Michael Raskin, founder and president, said the realistic look of the grout is a difference maker. “You can’t tell it is not ceramic, and with labor as a big issue in the market—the labor is sometimes two to three times more than the product—this can be put in with a perimeter install. It’s also warmer, slip resistant and doesn’t shatter.”

Novalis continues to push its environmentally friendly products with the development of Serenbe, a SPC product boasting high-density core technology, NovaShield coating and an attached pad. “Serenbe is ultra-realistic,” said Steven Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing. “There are ceramic planks and herringbone patterns to name a few. In addition, all of our products are pressed with a rolled edge, or groutable edge.”

Nox U.S. highlighted its new Genesis technology at Surfaces. The new line, the company said, creates a bridge between WPC and SPC products. ““WPC is growing for everyone but there are challenges with indentation and brittleness,” said Eric Erickson, senior vice president sales and marketing North America. “Also, everyone is chasing SPC but it’s really heavy and stiff. What we’ve been able to do is develop new technology in our core so that it is a little less dense and as you move up layers it becomes denser like a rigid product. This is an 8mm product and it feels the same weight of WPC but has the performance of rigid.”

Mills flood the arena
Engineered Floors, previously a carpet-only company, officially debuted Revotec, a high-density, rigid-core floating floor featuring tile visuals with a realistic grout line embedded; and Triumph, a click floating floor that employs high-density core technology for improved dimensional stability and better indentation resistance. “Our plan is to be a player in this segment,” said Brandon Kersey, brand manager for Main Street commercial and hard surface. “We are transitioning to the new version of rigid core, and we think Revotec can take us to another level.”

The acquisition of Beaulieu’s assets helped EF enter hard surfaces since the former company was already in the WPC space. Ana Torrence, product manager, hard surfaces for EF, said Revotec looks like real grouted tile. She cited other advantages: “It’s a really fast install. It is a better alternative than stone or ceramic in terms of installation time.”

A year after entering the LVT category, Phenix Flooring is doubling its assortment of PetProtect LVT, rigid core, click and loose lay offerings. In 2018, Phenix will market two display fixtures that blend hard and soft surfaces. The fixtures were consolidated into smaller footprints to provide design flexibility and allow every SKU to be merchandised differently. “We’re a year into hard surfaces, and I can tell you we are committed to it,” said Mark Clayton, president and CEO.

Marquis Industries made its mark 10 years ago as a mid-sized mill that ventured into LVT.  The company did not enter the category for the sake of it; its executives traveled the globe extensively to source the right raw materials and ensure quality control was followed along the way. “When you spend half a million bucks on an opening order you better be right,” said Larry Heckman, CEO. “If you don’t anticipate it correctly, you can be out of stock three to four months and you never get caught up. We took it seriously.”

Marquis’ 2018 offerings include two 5-foot-long x 9-inch wide rigid core lines—Whispering Pines and Biltmore Classic—with a 20-mil wear layer. The Dalton-based company opened a new building in Georgia devoted entirely to hard surfaces. It also has an existing West Coast distribution center to service customers. The mill still maintains a two-thirds to one-thirds split in favor of carpet.

The Dixie Group began as a yarn company that transitioned into a carpet manufacturer that is transforming into an all-surface supplier—all the while doing it in a way that best represents the Dixie, Masland and Fabrica brands. In 2017, Dixie was one of two companies (Phenix was the other) licensed to sell Stainmaster PetProtect LVT products. The launch exceeded expectations and now Dixie and Masland are coming out with eight new styles each for high performance core, including wood planks with a painted beveled edge.

“A lot of our good customers were moving with the market into hard surface categories like luxury vinyl and we felt like we had an opportunity to enter that market and could be relevant,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division, the Dixie Group. “We tried to take the right approach from a distribution standpoint to create a profit opportunity for our partners.”

Southwind is another traditional carpet company that made the leap when LVT got hot. The company unveiled Authentic Tile, an SPC core product that has the feel of ceramic tile along with the heft (each 8-piece carton weighs 40 lbs). “It has been very well received at the show,” said Tim Gilmore, Southeast regional vice president. “Several big dealers are taking it on.”

Wellmade Flooring is pushing its Opti-Wood Flooring line with Hydri-HDPC technology and the PowerShield moisture protection system, which company officials say is the difference maker. Wellmade showed 16 SKUs in poplar, eucalyptus, hickory, oak and bamboo. Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing, does not believe the LVT/WPC/ SPC market is saturated just yet. “I think there is a home for everybody who can come to market with different formulas.”

 

COREtec Stone: The next big thing?

By Ken Ryan

Piet Dossche knows a winner when he creates one. Five years ago, despite serious doubts from some well-respected retail executives, the USFloors’ founder and president launched COREtec and predicted success. He got it—in spades, helping to launch a category that has surpassed $1 billion in sales.

“People said it wasn’t going to work,” he recalled of COREtec. “I was saying, ‘Good, keep thinking like that.’” COREtec was a runaway hit and helped launch the breakout success of the LVT sub-segment.

Dossche has similar expectations for COREtec Stone, which the company showed at Surfaces 2018 as an alternative to ceramic and porcelain tile. The product—a composite/SPC engineered tile—is expected to be ready for market in the second half of 2018. “This is going to be huge,” Dossche said. “It is going to bring solutions to the ceramic tile category.”

Ceramic tile is a growing business, but it has issues. For starters, ceramic tile is heavy and may not be appropriate for certain installations; it is cold and can crack or break easily; it is a time-consuming installation process, and it is also an expensive installation with special tools needed, critics say. Sometimes the cost of the installation is more than the materials. It is also messy and expensive to remove ceramic or porcelain tile.

Enter COREtec Stone, which is lighter, warmer, cheaper and easier to install with no grout needed, easier to remove and more comfortable to walk on because of its attached cork backing. Plus, it doesn’t break.

Dossche, who believes this segment could grow to be a $500 million business in a few years, is optimistic. “If you bring to market a good-looking product that solves issues you have a winner. Composite weatherproof flooring will be the high double-digit growth engine in hard surfaces for the next five years.”

 

 

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Surfaces Wood Coverage: New finishes, formats steal the show in Vegas

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Reginald Tucker

 

Hardwood flooring suppliers across the industry are combining creativity and technology as they seek to develop the next generation of products that will compete against the likes of WPC, LVT and rigid core floors.

Case in point is the staining technology employed by Hearthwood in the manufacture of its Controlled Chaos and Dynamic Earth lines. Designed to mimic a process known as reactive staining—whereby chemicals are used to manipulate the visual appearance of a hardwood floor—the technology Hearthwood employs is able to produce more consistent results. As Allie Finkell, executive vice president, explains: “Some of the chemical reactive staining processes are really hard to control, making it difficult to be consistent across production over time and from run to run. But we’ve been able to recreate the highlights of those chemicals utilizing a regular water-based UV-cured stain, which is done in our Tennessee plant with low-emitting finishes.”

Controlled Chaos features a light wirebrushed finish on white oak for a more contemporary look in a 7-inch-wide x 8-foot-long format in colors ranging from, in Finkell’s words, “shocking to subtle.” Meanwhile, Dynamic Earth, which is also in a sliced white oak product, has more of a reclaimed, scraped texture. “Our handscraping technique is not the old, machine-scraped process that’s common in the industry,” Finkell explained. “Our process delivers more of that reclaimed barnwood look. This way the customer gets a modern format in long lengths and wide widths, but she can still pick a timeless color so she’s not going to get sick of looking at the color.”

The latest offerings from Provenza also represent a play on color and texture. Several new additions are being added to the Lighthouse Cove line, which is part of the award-winning Colour Nation collection, which took home a Best of Surfaces award in 2017.  “We are bringing in white oak product from Europe in a format and range that appeals to all levels of consumers,” said Ron Sadri, principal owner.

Also new from Provenza is the Dutch Masters collection—a portfolio of unfinished European species that are stained at the company’s facilities in the U.S. “Dutch Masters falls under our custom collection category, which is exclusive to us,” Sadri said. “These products provide better margins for dealers; it’s not going to be in every store and it’s very exclusive.”

Other European-inspired lines come courtesy of The Dixie Group, which showcased its first hardwood line, Fabrica Fine Wood Flooring. The Fabrica collection will feature 70 SKUs—40 for the floor and 30 companion SKUs for wall covering. The line will include French oak, maple and birch—with a style and quality consistent with the Fabrica brand promise, said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division of The Dixie Group. Each flooring panel features the letter ‘f’ for branding purposes. “We are sourcing the product both domestically and in Canada and Europe to create the assortment,” Nuckols said.

The Fabrica wood line will be launched initially in the Southeast U.S., and will be priced at the upper end of the market. “We are restricting distribution—not everyone is going to have it,” said Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing, residential division, The Dixie Group. Those that do get the line will primarily be high-design retail flooring stores. “We feel the wood line fits for Fabrica because it is consistent with the high-end quality of Fabrica’s name.”

HF Design is also playing the quality card, but with a twist—making its floors more accessible to mainstream consumers. To that end, the company took the wraps off two new collections: Pacific Point, a 7⁄16, 3⁄8-inch, 6-inch wide product that’s thermotreated and topped with a  urethane finish, and Brentwood Hills, which is a step up 5⁄8 platform, 7 inch wide.

High-end looks at an affordable price was also the inspiration for the latest offerings from USFloors. While its name may be associated with the wildly successful launch of the COREtec brands, USFloors wants retailers to know it is a bona fide player in the hardwood sector as well. To that end, the company is unveiling a total of 56 SKUs across various collections and formats.

“Our biggest launch right now is our Natural Woods line, where we took some of our best-selling products in the Castle Combe oil finished lines an put an acrylic finish on them,” said Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management. “You still have that oil finished look without all that gloss in there.”

EarthWerks, historically known for its LVT offerings, is also looking to make some noise in the hardwood arena. The strategy, according to Brenda Cashion, who heads up hardwood product development and marketing, is twofold: Expand EarthWerk’s wood program beyond Texas into other markets around the country, while positioning the Pinnacle brand as an upper-end “designer” offering.

“The EarthWerks hardwood brand has always been in our distribution footprint paired with the LVT teams,” she explained. “Now we are taking a select group of products nationally. We had to reengineer and redevelop those products to give them a broader appeal nationally.”

Whereas EarthWerks wood is being positioned as the “meat and potatoes line,” Cashion said, the Pinnacle offering will be positioned as a high-style designer driven. Standouts include Country Estate, which features a natural, almost unfinished, matte look, and Grand Reserve, which is a hefty 4mm dry-sawn face with a suggested retail price point of $5.99 per square foot.

Over at the Satin Flooring space, the company put the focus on red and white oak species in a 7-inch-wide format, mostly engineered. “We’ve been happy with the feedback,” said Dennis Mohn, director of marketing. He cited interest from top distributors such as NRF and Galleher “We also sell some unfinished solid products to certain markets such as Chicago.”

New formats are also coming out of the Preverco camp. The company is putting the spotlight on Max 19, a ¾-inch thick engineered product featuring a 4mm top wearlayer on a ½-inch-thick vertical quartersawn softwood core, backed with a 2mm bottom panel for balance. Right below that is a 5⁄8-inch thick engineered product featuring a 2mm top layer on a 9⁄16-inch five-layer construction. range of budgets.

Wading into water
SEM Group showcased Aquawood, the company’s waterproof hardwood line. The product is patent pending in 14 countries and features real hardwood on a waterproof core. “Not only is it waterproof, but it’s also great in extreme climates,” said Nathan Carter, product sales/development and hardwood specialist. “We have two versions available: Elegant Traditions is our 7½- inch wide 3⁄8 product and we just launched Carson—our 5⁄16 overall with a click and pad attached.”

Both versions are fully submersible in water and can be maintained just like tradition hardwood floor. What’s more, the products contain zero repeats.

In that same vein, Uniboard offers Aqua Allira, a waterproof engineered wood flooring made of a rigid core and a real veneer overlay. According to Daniel Seguin, product development manager, it marks the next generation of Allira engineered flooring, which produced by transforming 100% reclaimed pre-consumer wood fibers into a coreboard. Allira products use specially-formulated HDF panels that offer greater resistance than a plywood core, he noted.

Focus on green
Suppliers are also leveraging wood’s environmental story. For instance, Lifecore has developed a unique selling story to help retailers increase margins. Lifecore created Ai.r with no added formaldehyde to its adhesive, According to Jim Fiore, vice president North America, Samling Global USA, the product is 70% below the current CARB 2 regulations. “We’ve also been awarded the Indoor Air Quality Certification which is unique and we’re proud of that. Our focus when we were launching this line was giving the retailer something that would be of value to them and have a story behind it. With this line, it’s all about not having to compromise.”

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Surfaces Carpet Coverage: Despite hard surface surge, mills double down on soft

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Traditional carpet mills invariably face this decision: Do we ride the hard surface tide and introduce our own products, or do we stick to our knitting and stay soft?

Surprisingly many are choosing the latter, and they are not apologizing for it. While Dixie Group, Phenix Flooring and Marquis Industries expanded their hard surface assortments at Surfaces—while Engineered Floors officially entered the category—many are passing on the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon.

“We make no bones about it, we are soft flooring,” said Brian Warren, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Foss Flooring, which showcased carpet tile and indoor/outdoor broadloom under a “carpet reinvented” theme.

The way Warren sees it, Foss’ business is good, so why disrupt the flow? “Our tile business has grown double digits each year for the past six years. Our tile business is through the roof. We have some unique technologies and have found a way to position these technologies in such a way that retailers get the advantages.”

Foss introduced DuraKnit, a broadloom line that can be installed over pad. “We’re selling $40 looks for less than $6 with a great performance story, a product that won’t fray, wrinkle or unravel. We’re pushing the attributes that only we have. We’re screaming that it is carpet reinvented. Bottom line—we love giving retailers a selling story they can position against competitors.”

Stanton is another mill sticking to soft surface. “Not now. You can’t do it just to do it,” Jonathan Cohen, CEO, said when asked if the company was contemplating a move into hard surfaces. “We are way too protective of the brand to do that.”

Stanton, which is introducing 125 soft surface products in 2018, is entering the commercial Main Street market through Stanton St. Decorative Commercial. Stanton Street is located in the Soho section of Manhattan, near the location where company founder, Sy Cohen, grew up. “We always liked the idea of getting into commercial but it had to match our identity,” Jonathan Cohen explained. “This fits for us. We can be competitive with price, and as long as we stay decorative we feel like we can have a place within the market.”

Couristan has been a soft surface company for 92 years and has no plans to deviate from that course. That’s according to Len Andolino, executive vice president–residential division, who rejoined the company last fall. “We are a soft surface company, that is who we are. The hard surface [surge] has actually helped our business. For example, our broadloom business is heavily fabricated. More than 50% of our business will be fabricated rugs. We’re pushing the envelope with the fabricated rug business.”

Southwind, a carpet and hard surface supplier, focused more of its efforts on soft at Surfaces with six new LCL patterns and six new colorpoints using its soft yarn system. “People are starting to talk about carpet again,” said Tim Gilmore, Southeast regional vice president. “With this new line we wanted to give dealers some options over the typical beiges and grays.”

Prestige Mills is another tried-and-true soft surface company with no plans to make the leap to hard surfaces. But like so many other mills Prestige is looking to leverage the growth of hard surfaces. Peter Feldman, president, said a good deal of its broadloom business ends up as rugs, in some cases cut by their dealers after shipping. “While cutting broadloom carpet into rugs is good for the rug business, you are only using part of the room with rugs, so more carpet is required if you are going to go that way,” he explained. “It is a challenge, but we are up for it.”

Surfaces 2018 marked the return of Gulistan, which went under in 2012 but has been resurrected by Lonesome Oak. John Sheffield, recently of Godfrey Hirst, has taken over as vice president of sales. Tom Mathis, most recently with Lexmark, serves as strategic sales director. The strategy going forward, Mathis said, is to focus strictly on broadloom and to be selective with retail distribution. Its lineup of 20 products is divided equally between Stainmaster offerings and solution-dyed PET. “We are pretty careful who we are partnering with,” Sheffield said. “We are looking for meaningful partners who can grow the business.”

The return of this venerable brand was well received at Surfaces, Mathis said. “Not a single person said, ‘Oh, I don’t want these guys again.’ The Gulistan brand has more equity than we ever imagined. It’s pretty synonymous with Stainmaster, so that is a plus. And despite the fact carpet is losing share, we are a breath of fresh air and we are starting with a clean slate.”

Crossover continues
Long-established carpet mills that have ventured into hard surfaces and, in some cases, expanded their offerings, have not given up on soft surfaces. Quite the contrary. Phenix, for example, introduced 25 new residential carpet products–PetProtect and polyester—and announced its entry into the area rug business under the Cleaner Home Rugs banner. “We all know carpet is the largest category, and we are expecting carpet to lose share again,” said Mark Clayton, president and CEO. “Our challenge is to keep producing unique stories around the products. The business we are serving—what we call the belly of the country, states like Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Utah—is still very strong in carpet.”

Clayton said the jump into rugs is a nod to the explosive growth of hard surfaces. “With so many beautiful patterns in our line this is just a natural addition to what we are doing for hard surfaces.”

The bedroom remains one of the last bastions for carpet in the residential sector, and consumers have shown a willingness to spend more for higher-end goods. To address that trend, Dixie Home launched several Stainmaster offerings with differentiated PetProtect loops and patterns as well as some multi-colored textures. “We think the consumer is buying carpet by the room, not by the whole house, and that leads to better opportunity for better goods,” said T.M. Nuckols, president, residential division, The Dixie Group. “The market is looking for better goods and products that work well with hard surfaces.”

The Masland brand showed new PetProtect collections as well as Masland Energy, a broadloom and tile program for the commercial segment for retailers targeting the upper end of Main Street.

Mills agree Main Street commercial is hot these days. Engineered Floors’ Pentz brand of broadloom and modular tile is keeping pace with several new products, including some from the former Beaulieu’s commercial division. EF’s new 500,000-square-foot carpet tile plant will be in full production in the next few weeks and has already been graded for expansion.

At Surfaces EF touted PureBac, its premium, no-latex backing system. “The dealers say they can get more money on it,” said Will Young, director of national accounts. “PureBac offers a complete story on cleanability, with no latex and a hypo-allergenic face fiber. It is a very installation-friendly product.”

 

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Moldings: Innovations reflect changes in flooring styles

December 18/25, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 14

By Reginald Tucker

 

As the various floor covering categories have evolved over the years, so, too, have the vast offerings of moldings changed to keep up with the demand. Suppliers of all types of transitions and related accessories are working to keep in lockstep with the rapid pace of hard surface products making their debut. The emergence of WPC and rigid core products, for instance, is spurring innovation at the accessories level.

Following is an overview of some the latest molding products.

Pedross
For retailers and distributors stocking a full range of hard surface products, Pedross offers a complete flooring accessory package across virtually every type of molding, stair tread or risers. This covers wood, cork, bamboo, laminate and LVT.

To ensure matching with OEM specs, Pedross offers digital printing capabilities, including the ability to create 3-D images. The company strives to fulfill customer needs on a large variety of accessories, including customized orders. What’ s more, there are no minimum quantities required and no order is too small or too large. The company stocks all domestic species in each profile and boasts a large variety of colors.

Pennwood
Pennwood manufactures high-quality hardwood floor transitions and stair products ranging from base moldings, reducers, thresholds, T-moldings and stair nosings. (A variety of LVT profiles are also available.)

To fulfill demand, Pennwood is equipped with kiln-drying operations, an automated rough mill, in-house tooling capabilities and a trained production staff utilizing the latest molding technology out of Germany.

The company’s manufacturing expertise is matched by its wide range of finish options. In fact, Pennwood’s color library entails more than 1,600 colors to ensure a close match. But they’re not just good looking; they’re also durable. Engineered for strength and durability, the products utilize UV coating technology, which entails curing the finish with an intense UV light. More importantly, the UV coating materials used protect without diminishing the natural grain, texture and color of the wood. In addition, Pennwood has the ability to manufacture moldings up to 12 inches in length for most domestic hardwoods and up to 6 inches in lengths for bamboo.

Seneca
Seneca offers a wide range of T-moldings, stair nosings and treads, reducers thresholds, flexible moldings and base products. Standout products include flexible moldings. Dubbed SignatureFlex, these molding products are designed for beautiful and intricate curved architecture. Manufactured at approximately one third of the cost of curved wood moldings, it is the ideal solution for residential and commercial applications, according to Seneca.

How it works: SignatureFlex moldings are manufactured from a flexible polyurethane material that provides superior strength and durability. According to the company, the moldings are water resistant and will not rot or swell when exposed to moisture. For a customized look, all profiles can be painted and many can be stained, showcasing the beauty of real wood. What’s more, they can also be cut, fitted and fastened in the same manner as real wood and are applied using adhesive, mastic or resin epoxy glue.

Versatrim
Versatrim takes an innovative approach to molding solutions as it seeks to coordinate with most of the top colors in the laminate flooring industry. Boasting coordinating moldings for scores of manufacturers, Versatrim provides flooring producers, retailers, distributors, installers and end users with high-quality moldings at reasonable prices.

In keeping with today’s trends and styles, Versatrim offers a variety of molding solutions to accommodate applications for vinyl, WPC, laminate, engineered wood and solid wood. The company’s list of profiles include three PVC moldings for LVT floors, Slim Trim, VersaEdge, Slim Cap, its standard laminate T-molding, reducer, end cap, stair nose, wall base, colonial base, quarter round, base shoe profiles.

Zamma
For more than 35 years, Zamma Corp. has been a leader in prefinished profile molding technology for the home improvement and commercial construction markets. Engineered for compatibility with virtually every flooring manufacturer, Zamma floor components feature easy-install hardware to ensure speedy and secure installation. Products include: Laminate moldings, which are produced using the highest grade laminate papers available. Saturated and treated with aluminum oxide layers, the products give the transition pieces equal or greater abrasion resistance than the floors they border. Moisture-resistant MDF and moisture resistant adhesives ensure that the moldings and transitions will have a long wear life.

Also available are wood moldings made from high-quality wood veneer laminated on both MDF and poplar substrates. Significantly less expensive than solid wood, these moldings also promote environmental responsibility. Zamma can also wrap MDF, poplar, aluminum, pvc and other substrates with laminate papers, wood veneers, cork, foil and other decorative products.

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Carpet: Innovations deliver performance, style refinements

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Ken Ryan

 

From breakthroughs in new categories of carpet to innovations in soft luxury, carpet mills brought excitement to the flooring market in 2017. Following is an overview.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.37.48 AMEngineered Floors: Apex SDP
Founded on its PureColor solution-dyed fiber process (SDP), Engineered Floors’ Apex SDP raises the bar for a superior fiber in commercial use with performance characteristics similar to nylon. “We’ve introduced this fiber system within our Pentz Commercial Solutions line with lifetime warranties for stain removal, static and colorfastness to light and atmospheric contaminants,” Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing, explained. “Together with our Nexus Modular Backing system, we have a game changer in the modular carpet tile category—especially in the growing Main Street commercial arena.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.37.53 AMFoss Floors: DuraKnit technology
According to Brian Warren, executive vice president, carpet featuring DuraKnit technology is constructed differently than tufted carpet. DuraKnit products provide an exclusive fused core, essentially marrying and melting the fibers together and eliminating the need for a primary back. “Our carpets will never fray, unravel, zipper or wrinkle,” he said. “They can be installed in the toughest of settings and provide years of performance, and they are fade and stain resistant. We say it’s the soft alternative to hard surfaces.”

Shown at Surfaces 2017, the reception in the marketplace has been “incredible,” Warren said. “We have sold out of our first round of displays and plan on introducing new styles in this category at Surfaces 2018.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.37.58 AMLexmark: Living
“Out with the old, in with the new” is the best way to describe Lexmark in 2017, according to Darrell Locke, vice president of residential sales. Lexmark refreshed its Living display program with an entirely new look featuring more eye-catching graphics and larger card sizes. “We updated half of the line with the intent on building upon the Lexmark Living foundation that was built back in 2012 with the inception of the residential division,” he explained. “This new display system has been very well received in the market.”

Locke added the company has gained premium floor space in dealer showrooms, which is no small feat in light of the trend toward hard surfaces. “We have seen significant gains in the market based on our innovative patterns and merchandising and quality field representation.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.38.03 AMMarquis: Ultimate Beauty
Introduced at Surfaces 2017, Ultimate Beauty has been a home run for Marquis Industries. This 80-ounce, solution-dyed offering is a signature addition of Marquis’ soft yarns collection, all of which come with a minimum of 6.5 twists for added softness. Mike Lindberg, executive vice president, said that while hard surface has obviously taken a big piece out of the soft surface market, the people who are buying carpet want the best.  “We are finding they are willing to spend more for better quality. With an 80-ounce product like Ultimate Beauty, customers can sink their toes into the carpet when they walk on it.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.38.09 AMMohawk: Air.o
Mohawk is positioning Air.o not as a new carpet product but as the first delivery in Unified Soft Flooring. Indeed, Air.o has captured the attention of so many people in 2017, according to Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing. As well, many consumers have raved about the product, particularly its hypoallergenic properties. Arnold said Mohawk knew hypoallergenic was going to be a differentiating feature, adding, “I think we underestimated the scale of the importance of that feature for the consumers. We’ve done a lot of research to really understand the community out there, and what is amazing is more people have allergic sensitivity than are pet owners. Our industry does so much with pets, and yet the market with people of respiratory issues is at least as large.”

What Air.o has done is give people who were considering hard surface an opportunity to think seriously about soft. The company found that of the 68% of people with allergy sensitivities who are inclined to buy hard surface, the number drops to 48% when they were exposed to Air.o. “That’s a lot of people,” Arnold said. “Air.o is so transformative and different from carpet that the list of advantages is very long.”

The other big news has been Smartstrand Silk and Silk Reserve, which continue to maintain a leadership position in luxurious soft. “Silk and Silk Reserve both continue to be phenomenal producers for Mohawk,” he said. “Mohawk has clearly captured the leading position in soft, and Silk Reserve further protects that space for us.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.38.15 AMPhenix: Cleaner Home
Phenix executives have learned from research that consumers are looking for smarter products that can do more for them, passively keeping their homes cleaner, healthier and looking great. The company’s Cleaner Home collection addresses that trend. Cleaner Home carpets feature antimicrobial protection for the life of the carpet. The products were developed through an exclusive partnership with Microban, the leading producer of antimicrobial additives. Additionally, Cleaner Home was developed utilizing a new, highly engineered PET polyester yarn, Opulence HD, and includes SureFresh, an odor capture technology to provide a comprehensive, smarter soft surface flooring.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.38.20 AMShaw: LifeGuard
Shaw Floors’ biggest success of 2017 in the soft surface category can be summed up in one word: “LifeGuard,” the company’s advanced waterproof backing system.

Shaw has expanded LifeGuard styling options to its popular Anso Color Wall in the Titanium collection featuring 150 new SKUs. “This is the first time we’ve offered the market our LifeGuard waterproof backing as a trade-up option on something the dealers and retail sales associates are already selling,” said Teresa Tran, residential soft surface category manager. “It has been so well received that new tweed and tonal color updates to our Anso Color Wall were introduced and, of course, Titanium is offered on these innovative new colorations as well.”

Shaw’s consumer research indicated that 65% of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million families, own a pet (animals play a larger role in the flooring decision process than kids in the home). Tran said all LifeGuard carpet styles are constructed with high performance in mind, extending the life and beauty of the product.

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Resilient: Fiberglass-backed sheet expands its base

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.09.37 AMFiberglass-backed sheet vinyl is the unsung hero of the resilient flooring category—a product with characteristics that match up well with its more famous cousin, LVT, yet at a price point suppliers say is very competitive.

Given its well-documented performance attributes, sheet vinyl represents the best value on the market on an installed cost basis, manufacturers say. Within the sheet vinyl category, glass-backed has taken over as the dominant player over felt, research shows. Statistics indicate fiberglass sheet took home $362.5 million in 2015, which is 60.7% of residential sheet overall (FCNews, June 27, 2016). Compare this to five years ago when fiberglass represented $205 million in sales. In terms of volume, fiberglass commands roughly 61.4% of the residential sheet market.

Anecdotal information shows fiberglass is continuing to take share and grow in relative terms to the total market, with price and performance among the key differentiators. “Fiberglass is an easier product to work with and make repairs to if needed, and it does not tear like a felt product,” said Eric Erickson, vice president of sales, marketing, product and business development for Beauflor USA.

Others agreed. Mary Katherine Dyczko-Riglin, product manager, residential sheet vinyl, Mannington Mills, suggests the main reason glass-backed has overtaken felt is due to ease of installation. “Experienced installers are getting harder to come by in our industry, and fiberglass is more forgiving in that process than felt.”

While felt still provides advantages in rip-tear-gouge performance—and is still popular in markets with more availability of experienced installers—executives like Matt Savarino, senior product manager, resilient sheet, Armstrong, acknowledges that from an overall installation standpoint fiberglass offers benefits over traditional felt-backed floors. “Fiberglass can be installed as a loose lay or modified loose lay, meaning you use a releasable glue—or no glue in some instances—that is not permanent and can be pulled up and laid back down if necessary. Fiberglass vinyl floors are also waterproof, so they can also be installed above or below grade anywhere in the home.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.12.01 AMTherein lies another key in the ascension of fiberglass sheet as a desirable product—its waterproof characteristics. With so much attention being paid to waterproof floors—from LVT and WPC/rigid core to laminate floors with moisture-resistant properties—it is worth noting that sheet is a waterproof floor as well. Dyczko-Riglin said there are two main reasons why fiberglass sheet is gaining share, with waterproof being first and foremost, which makes fiberglass “a fantastic option for this market. Secondly, glass-backed is a great value compared to others in the waterproof category.”

Dimensional stability is another key benefit fiberglass offers. As Savarino explained, “Fiberglass vinyl won’t shrink, warp or change size after exposure to wetness or crack after repeated handling. When paired with superior underfoot comfort, fiberglass vinyl sheet provides a great mix of features that have tipped the scale in its favor over felt-backed vinyl sheet in recent years.”

New markets
Glass-backed sheet has been able to maintain its share in the residential market as well as penetrate the commercial segment, especially healthcare and property management. Fiberglass is taking stronger holds in the healthcare segment because of its stain resistance and performance ability in sanitary settings. “In property management applications the fact that fiberglass sheet offers realistic visuals at a competitive price point that’s stain, scuff and scratch resistant, and easy to clean and repair helps increase unit turnover usage, thus saving the property manager valuable time and money,” said Amie Foster, senior director, product management, sheet vinyl, IVC.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.09.57 AMSavarino said fiberglass’ growing acceptance in both residential settings and commercial buildings is due to the longer lifespan of these floors coupled with better aesthetics. He noted there has been increased interest in vinyl sheet products in the RV/manufactured home space as one example. “The ease of installation within glass-backed vinyl’s unique manufacturing process makes it an ideal solution especially with how far the visuals and designs of vinyl sheet products have come over the last few years.”

With more entry-level products on the market, fiberglass has been significantly expanding its role in the builder and multifamily markets.

Innovations emerge
In many aspects of home fashion, bold patterns are hot right now—and that trend extends to flooring. Mannington is channeling that aesthetic into its sheet lines with stunning visuals such as Deco. “We are continuing to explore ways to engage consumers with these options as these visuals provide style and beauty at an affordable price,” Dyczko-Riglin said.

Armstrong recently introduced Diamond 10 in its CushionStep Better and Duality Premium lines, which the company said significantly improves the product’s scratch, scuff and stain resistance.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.09.42 AMBeaufor’s latest introduction, Blacktex, is a cushion vinyl product in which a textile backing is applied to minimize subfloor prep. The product can be loose laid up to 500 square feet, adds warmth to the floor and provides enhanced sound absorption. “We launched this at Surfaces and the reception to the collection has been great,” Erickson said.

Forbo’s Marmoleum Click Cinch Loc is positioned as a naturally healthy, water-resistant floor constructed primarily of renewable resources, including linseed oil, wood flour and pine rosins. The combination of natural linoleum on water-repellent HDF with a cork layer backing makes for an acoustically sound flooring solution.

IVC is experimenting with advanced embossed-in-register technology with its fiberglass sheet vinyl products. The company is also developing new chemical embossing techniques offering enhanced textural physics that allow the product to rise and fall with designs such as a cobblestone or paver patterns. “We’re always looking at ways to improve and push the limits to take the market to the next level,” Foster said.

 

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Solutions: Mohawk arms its aligned dealers with tools for success

December 19/26, 2016; Volume 31, Number 14
By Lindsay Baillie

 

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-43-pmDallas—If one thing was made clear at the Solutions convention here recently, it’s Mohawk’s unwavering commitment to the success of its retailer partners. From a bevy of new innovations spanning the entire soft and hard surface spectrum to refreshed displays and digital marketing tools, Mohawk is working hard to help retailers achieve their goals in 2017 and beyond.

The three-day event included extensive showroom hours, Mohawk University sessions, product demos and information sessions—all of which explored the company’s new solutions, products and tools.

To complement Mohawk’s new product introductions was a vast showroom highlighting the company’s latest displays. Showcasing both hard and soft surfaces, the displays are scaleable and interchangeable. “We have several different ways that we show product and for the first time, from what we’re hearing from our retailers, with not a tremendous amount of investment they’re going to be able to position their in-store retail environment in a really unified, consistent, one-notebook way across soft surfaces and hard surfaces,” said Karen Mendelsohn, senior vice president of marketing, Mohawk. In the past Mohawk has had bigger fixtures that made it look like the company was selling merchandising instead of flooring but with these new displays, “Product is hero,” she added.

Retailers have also picked up on this change. “I think [the new displays] will work well,” said Yolanda Donaldson of Donaldson Flooring, Solano County, Calif. “I like the way they look. They don’t take up a lot of room. I also like how they’re more streamlined so you can get more in your store.”

Looking at the hard surface displays in particular, Donaldson appreciates the new sample sizes. “I like that the boards are bigger so people can get more of a look at a big, long piece instead of a little square,” she explained.

Mohawk, known for its innovation in carpet, also introduced SmartStrand Silk Reserve, a product the company says has managed to make silk feel even softer. The new line comes in a better/ best solid offering with a 50-color palette, multi-color offering, tonal offering and different pattern constructions.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-28-pmDealers like what they’re seeing so far. “I’m really excited about the Silk Reserve, which is a little bit different as far as the denier of the yarn,” said Sandra Molski, owner, Flooring & More, Janesville, Wis. “It’s even softer, which is just completely incredible to me that they were able to make silk even softer. But I’m really excited about the loops because they’ve got a lot of [tones]; the colors really hit the mark with lots of gray which everyone is going for right now.”

In addition to the look and feel of SmartStrand Silk Reserve is the product’s marketable story. With the tagline “Durability to the Max” SmartStrand Silk Reserve features Max, a 5,400-pound rhino as its mascot and durability tester. Marketed as a product that can stand up to the messes of a rhino, this product has intrigued many retailers.

“They’ve done the rhino, they’ve done the elephant challenge and recently there was a Tough Mudder competition, so what the fiber offers is truly revolutionary,” said Michael Kundert, owner, The Pad Place, Sarasota, Fla. “Its ability to cleanup and its durability makes it definitely a winner. Everybody is looking for these pet-proof items. What could be more pet-proof than rhinos and elephants compared to dogs and cats? This type of marketing will drive sales towards it.”

In keeping with its strategy to present itself as a total flooring company, Mohawk introduced a full line-up of hard surfaces, including the company’s unique rigid core SolidTech line. Mohawk has placed this product in its own category, stating that it is different from LVT. SolidTech utilizes Mohawk’s uniclic multi-fit technology and is available in three collections: Galvyn, Revella and Vershire.

SolidTech and its marketing companion Doug the Pug excited many retailers with the product’s durability and waterproof capabilities. Donaldson, for instance, believes this product will help her business because customers seem to be interested in buying similar products. “I think it’s going to work out really well,” she said. “This seems more durable than the others.”

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-20-pmOther hard surface offerings of note include new ceramic tile and laminate offerings. There are five new ceramic tile collections including, Amelia Manor, Donovan Manor, Bartlett, Marianna and Accent Statements. These different styles incorporate wood, linear and marble looks.

From Mohawk’s new laminate offerings are four collections inspired by modern European palettes and reclaimed looks. These collections include Reclaimed Spirit, Wooded Vision, Artistic Creation and Painted Charm.

With respect to wood, Mohawk presented four new introductions. Weathered Vision, Modern Vision and Coastal Impressions are 9⁄16-inch thick x 7-inch-wide, three-ply core products made in the U.S. with Mohawk’s TruFinish 50-year warranty. Vintage Vintique is a ½-thich, 7-inch-wide product featuring TruFinish.

Lou Morano, president and owner, Capitol Carpet and Tile with six locations in Florida, summed it up this way: “I think the laminates and the hardwood are probably some of their best introductions from the new products that they’ve come out with. The longer planks, wider widths, styling and coloring altogether were some of the best they’ve had in years. I think we’re going to do really well with them and they’re priced right.”

 

Sales support
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-34-pmIn an effort to help retailers at all levels of business, Mohawk has introduced Omnify, a digital marketing product that creates what the company calls “simplified connected retail” and provides aligned retailers with brand integration (FCNews, Nov. 21/28).

The platform provides what Mendelsohn called “omnichannel solutions” for retailers, which will enhance the customer’s online, in-store and product experience. Through this platform content is automatically updated to a retailer’s website which allows for seamless transition of product and sales information between Mohawk and aligned retailers.

David Beebe, owner of Stoneridge Carpets in Reed Springs, Mo., embraced the concept. “We currently do everything that Omnify does, per say, through an advertising company. I think there’s a little savings for us and I think it’ll be done much better. It’ll consolidate what we’re doing and do it better.”

 

 

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Mercier introduces innovations for 2017

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-53-33-amMontmagny, Quebec, Canada—During Mercier Wood Flooring’s annual meeting with its partners in November, the company proudly presented its novelties for 2017.

Building on its reputation for quality and durability while keeping the esthetic appeal in mind, Mercier has developed a new commercial finish: the Intact 2500. Offering an unprecedented standard commercial warranty of 10 years and a three year warranty on street access floor areas, Mercier sets itself apart with this product, which offers superior quality, durability and a wide selection of stains.

Inspired by European design, Mercier also brings forward White Oak with the release of two new colors: Madera and Fjord. These two new White Oak products have been added to the Elegancia collection.

Mercier has also made Element a series of its own in the Elegancia collection. White Oak and American Walnut have been added in with the Hard Maple, Hickory and Yellow Birch species to enrich Mercier’s Element oxidized wood assortment.

Putting the spotlight on its colors and species, Mercier now offers its partners a new display that maximizes samples size and optimizes lighting. The modern and eye-catching design of this new display will make Mercier the focal point at all its certified retail partners.