Despite the increase in hard surface sales, carpets and rugs continue to hold significance in flooring showrooms across the United States. Kane Carpet, a trendsetter in broadloom since 1947, is helping dealers increase margins and soft surface sales with its high-end carpets and rugs. The company also aims to provide retailers with upsell opportunities through its service, style and quality.
“We’ve put our customers back into the rug business,” said Bruce Kurtz, vice president sales & marketing, Kane Carpet. “Kane offers retailers diversification and profitability.”
Part of Kane Carpet’s appeal is its unique style. These fresh looks combined with premium materials provide retailers with opportunities for greater margins. What’s more, the company’s products are designed to complement hard surface offerings, which continue to creep into all areas of the home.
“Over the last few years we’ve taken a completely different direction as the marketplace became extremely casual and the consumer started looking for decelerated [carpet and rug] designs,” Kurtz explained. “This is because years ago hard surface used to be an application, but today it is a decoration. Oftentimes hard surface has a lot going on, so the customer wants to tone down the carpet. We’ve changed our whole method of styling our products to meet customer [demands].”
By providing a soft surface that complements wood, laminate, LVT, etc., Kane helps retailers sell high-end rugs to existing hard surface customers. “If a consumer is going into a store for a hard surface, chances are she will want a rug from the same place,” Kurtz explained. “Most people like one-stop shopping.”
Jeff Penrose, owner, Specialty Carpet Showroom, Salt Lake City, has carried Kane Carpet 26 years and is installing it everywhere. “We do everything from custom staircases to theaters to family rooms. These products even go into some commercial projects, including hospitality.”
While the manufacturer’s black and white offerings has done well for Specialty Carpet Showroom, according to Penrose, the retailer doesn’t just stick to one look or pattern. “They’ve got such a variety, we really sell their whole line,” Penrose added.
At Lester Carpets, Los Angeles, Kane’s uniquely designed area rugs have been selling well for the past 10 years. “We have a large display in our showroom and it’s definitely an eye catcher,” said Neil Lester. “With the increase in demand for area rugs, they have some unusual patterns that make interesting statements on the floor. Kane Carpet offers such a wide variety of patterns and color, which is unique in the industry.”
Along with high style comes greater margin opportunities. Just ask Rob Bush, owner of Abbey of Addison in Chicago. He has been carrying thousands of Kane Carpet products for about 15 years. “Selling Kane Carpet certainly helps our image, especially when a customer sees all those beautiful products and such a large selection—they look like carpets made on rug machines. Kane Carpet has a very high-end line with extremely unique, value-oriented and beautiful designer products.”
Getting with the ‘program’ In addition to providing high-end products, Kane Carpet provides its dealers with an alliance program, where the manufacturer only sells through dealers that have samples in the store. “The dealers know that their margins are always going to be higher with us than with others because we reward the dealers for showing our projects,” Kurtz explained. “We show these retailers over and over again that our prices are better than the competition.”
To complement its product offerings and designer-like style, Kane Carpet has also created a product book for its dealers. The manufacturer hopes the book will help speed up processes and provide designers with a simple way to show all of Kane’s products.
“We have been very proactive with growing our designer business through our dealers by giving them the book of Kane which has everything in it,” Kurtz said. “We give retailers the books if they show our whole line. Plus, they can have as many books as they need to support their designer trade. The book gives such a simplistic way for designers to look up any product and order samples, without them coming to the store. This makes the process that much easier. It’s a great way to do business on the fly.”
Miami—In the aftermath of the debut of Surfaces East, or The International Surface Event (TISE) East as it is officially known, show manager Hanley Wood has been left with something to build on for 2015.
While TISE East was never designed to be anywhere near as large as its Las Vegas counterpart, the event, which encompasses Surfaces, StoneExpo/ Marmomacc Americas and Tile Expo, lived up to those who had realistic expectations, particularly Hanley Wood. “To launch a show with 50,000 square feet is huge,” said Dana Teague, vice president. “People aren’t launching shows very much anymore in the first place, so it was a big risk. But it says a lot about the industry that we have had the response we have.”
She added that she was happy with the number of exhibitors and is seeking about 10% growth across the board for 2015. “That’s reasonable, and we can support that growth.”
Teague cautioned that realistic expectations must prevail with a show of this nature. “TISE East was designed to be a regional show. [Miami] is strong with designers and architects. We do have some national people here, but a good 75% will be from the Southeast region.”
In fact, it was this regional draw that attracted most exhibitors. Take Dream Weaver, for example. According to Melvin Silvers, the company’s founder, the biggest motivator to exhibit was its lack of presence in the Southeast. “We thought some of the customers we haven’t had before would come here. We’ve also added four territory managers in the last six months, so we wanted to see if we could open up the new territory here.”
Some companies used the show as a networking opportunity more so than a launching pad for new product, but not Dream Weaver. “Our theme for this show was ‘Mardi Gras comes to Miami,’” Silvers noted. “We have some new colorations, some blended tonals, double space dye, and some other new things coming out.
“This show will be successful in our minds if we get some new customers,” he continued. “If we can get the top 50 customers in the area to come see us, that’s a success for us.”
Some companies, such as Stanton Carpet, were hoping to parlay the success they traditionally have at Surfaces in January into some new business. “It just made sense to try [East],” said Jonathan Cohen, COO. “The Surfaces muscle, and knowing we have a fair amount of East Coast companies who don’t come to Vegas, lent to our decision.”
While Cohen was not expecting Las Vegas traffic, “We’re still looking at our core—the flooring retailer. It’s good for them to see new things they can’t see day to day because it’s just not out yet, or displays they don’t have.”
Unfortunately, after the show wrapped, Cohen told FCNews that his expectations fell short.
Kane Carpet was another carpet supplier using Surfaces East as an opportunity to highlight new displays that showcase top carpet offerings. According to Bruce Kurtz, vice president of sales and marketing, the company saw a “great opportunity” in exhibiting at a second show, “as there has only been one show for the whole industry up until this point.”
One of the highlights for Kane at Surfaces East was its new carpet tile line, the Royal Empire Series, which consists of broadloom that’s carved and then clipped into tiles for residential or commercial use. “A lot of the young people are looking for carpet tile, but everything offered is very commercial looking,” Kurtz explained. “This is a residential product—a brand new product that’s available now.” Among the new merchandising systems highlighted by the company was an 8-foot Shagtacular display featuring Kane’s leading shag designs.
Once the show wrapped, Kurtz reported that the new displays were, in fact, one of the most successful parts of the show for the company. “People we showed the new displays to went crazy for them. We absolutely got the green light on them. People were actually coming by to take pictures of the displays. Those displays are particularly successful in the South Florida market thanks to those contemporary looks. And the carpet tiles were picked up big time.”
Kurtz said the show was also a triumph for the Kane team as they gathered every morning to discuss the results at Surfaces East to adjust what would be best to show at Surfaces in January. “We brought in the best people, went through a good amount of product and got much accomplished.”
Hard surface companies also found value in exhibiting at Surfaces East. Max Woods, for example, used the event as a platform to showcase its rebranding from Max Windsor Floors. Company owner Peter Spirer acknowledged the risk of showing at a first-time event, but considered Max Woods at an advantage as the show helped inspire the supplier to be ready with new product and branding for the fall.
“We were able to get a marvelous amount of things done in time for the fall selling season,” he said. “We think we’re going to have a good leg up no matter what; we will be delivering our products introduced at this market long before those who are introducing in Vegas. We felt it was timely for us, it forced us to hit a deadline, and it made us think and make decisions about how we want to merchandise, which is a very big factor in our business.”
Brand exposure was a major driver for Max Woods’ strong presence at the show, which included women airbrushed to match the company’s wood displays. “We also knew the trade press would be here, and we might have a chance of being a compelling place to visit,” Spirer continued. “It’s more about the exposure to the industry thinkers—the major retailers move mountains with their opinions, and their opinions are usually expressed through what they buy. This is for them. Our program is poised to work with the largest retailers.”
After the show, Spirer said Max Woods accomplished its goals for Surfaces East, which were establishing its brand and giving attendees an idea of the scope of the products the supplier now offers. “On my personal score card, I would rate it very high in terms of what we were after. Our organization was very pumped about the show. We really did well.”
On the resilient side, FreeFit was one of the few LVT suppliers at the show, which suited Ray Pina, vice president of sales and marketing, just fine. “There’s a risk or uncertainty with a new show, but we have the opinion that it’s better to be an innovator and be here while others aren’t. If we can build business with contractors in the Miami area, it’s a win for us. We’re meeting people we wouldn’t have met. I’m looking at it as a Miami trade show—I’m not looking to get customers from Wisconsin here. If I can walk out of here with three or four new customers in Miami, I’m good with that.”
Also showcasing its hard surface wares was Nuvelle engineered wood floors and laminate, a private-label brand from Florida distributor Suncrest Supply. Dewevai Buchanan, president of Nuvelle, said Surfaces East “paid for itself” with the positive response to some of its hottest products, like Beach House, which includes 32 plank variations. “As far as new customers, we’ve seen people from [as far as] California and Brazil. For us this show has been great. We said if we get five customers out of this, that’s perfect. We’ve already done that in the first day. We will absolutely come back.”
Jeffrey Castor, vice president of sales for Diversified Industries, also cited Surfaces East’s connection to Latin America as a benefit of exhibiting at the show. He noted that he wouldn’t normally get to meet these potential customers, nor would they make the trip to Las Vegas for Surfaces. “I also got to meet with a lot of OEMs who are here. All in all, there was a good showing from retailers—I met people from Colorado, California, Florida, all over. I think the show, for its first year, is good. I think there’s definitely a ramp-up period. I foresee in three year’s time this show really growing.”
Positivity wasn’t just on the exhibitor side of the show. Attendees—while many were from the local area—responded well to the event, citing the show’s educational sessions as one of the brightest highlights.
Thomas Crook, manager and owner of East Coast Flooring in Ocala, Fla., said Surfaces East was simply more convenient for him, as he was able to get in his car and drive as opposed to jumping on a plane. “I like things in Las Vegas, too, but I think Miami is a better venue overall for a business type of event,” he noted. “The education portion for the most part has been very good. They had a nice selection in classes. On the show floor, we’ve seen new things we’re excited about, particularly from distributors. I hope they continue to [host this show].”
Another local dealer, Laura Hessler of Hessler Paint and Decorating Center, with locations in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, Fla., agreed the education at Surfaces East was a major draw. As the leader of Hessler’s decorating department, she said she finds it “very beneficial to keep up on things, get questions answered and get information from professionals.
“I would still go to Vegas if they didn’t have an event here, but it was an hour drive south and much more affordable,” she continued. “If this show becomes large enough and offers everything the Vegas show does, for sure I would come here again. I would go to both.”
At Surfaces, carpet executives and retailers were positive about not only the growth potential of the segment in 2014, but also the increased number of colors, textures and designs entering the marketplace. This year, bolder hues and more intricate patterns created a buzz as a plethora of new products lined the exhibit halls for dealers seeking to restock their inventories. And exhibitors were more than happy to oblige them with the latest state-of-the-art offerings as most expressed a strong 2013 would lead to an even better 2014.
President Larry Heckman noted some of the mill’s hottest products at Surfaces included polyester Saxony offerings French Quarter, Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, constructed of 100% solution-dyed PET ultra-soft fiber. The trio also features multi-tone looks and the company’s Natural Shield stain protection.
“When it comes to color, profile and performance in a polyester, we’ve got all three,” he said. “We’re providing tight, dense construction, which makes for a high performance product. It’s a multi-color offering but muted due to its density. That makes it unique.”
Attendees were looking for something different, Heckman said. “‘What have you got for me that will make me some money?’ That’s what I’ve heard a lot at this show. We always try to provide a great product and value at multiple price points so the dealer is given the opportunity to make a good margin.”
According to Steve Cordella, vice president of sales, and Lynn Dunn, territory manager, the mill’s highlights were its 2014 Indoor/Outdoor broadloom line as well as Buckeye, Mulberry and Linden, a trio of undyed, 100% wool offerings that are part of Couristan’s Purity program. Re-inforcing carpet’s color theme at the show, Dunn noted, “This is a color business. If the color isn’t right, it doesn’t matter what the price is.”
According to Cordella, dealers felt so strongly about Mulberry that some actually bought stock in it. “It’s something they believe they can make money with; that’s why they invested in the product by buying the stock.”
As for the mood of the attendees, he said, “Last year we saw a definite improvement in the attitudes in how they felt about things; this year, even more so. They’re definitely buying, not just looking.”
The company scored big at Surfaces with 18 new PET products, according to marketing manager Laurie Bray. “They’re not your typical PETs. When you check other booths, you can see the difference. We have many different textures and colors, so the dealer has something new to choose from to show the end user.”
Another home run for Godfrey Hirst was its new printed wool products. The mill showed four of these selections at the show “just to see what the reaction would be,” Bray said. Two of the four, Linen and Tweed, had received such a warm reception that the pair will anchor the printed wool program for the mill going forward. “We’re known for our neutral colors, so we wanted to make a statement that things are going to be different than in the past. And the retailers have been ecstatic about them.”
Don Karlin, vice president of sales and marketing, noted the positive response to the mill’s new Ecco Tex blended wool collection. According to Karlin, the combination of undyed British wool and recycled PET creates “green” carpet with real value.
Because the wool is undyed and natural, it is biodegradable and sustainable. “The PET component is from recycled pop bottles, so you’ve got a repurposed story,” he explained. “Due to the recycled component, the overall cost of the product is brought down. When we show a sample and tell dealers how much it costs, you hear an audible ‘Oh, my gosh.’ That’s when they see it can make them money.”
And, while blended wool has been “around forever, it’s never been done in the U.S.,” Karlin concluded. “This is the only domestically made wool blend currently available in the market.”
For 2014, Kane has introduced a new proprietary product, a synthetic single-wire Wilton, which in the world of wool carpet starts at about $65 to $75 a square yard wholesale, according to vice president Joseph Frank. “We go to market with the same quality product, a synthetic yarn, for $19 a yard. We find a strong opportunity in that. The response has been tremendous.
“End users look at color and design,” he added. “They don’t even ask what the carpet is made from.”
According to general manager Myra Guce, the appeal of the company’s product is simple: “Green products are obviously a big interest, and a growing one. All our products are 100% green, as we don’t use any backing or chemicals.”
The mill represented the epitome of 2014 Surfaces trends, where everything was about color; Natural’s traditional neutral-hued offerings received a boost. “We’ve come up with new designs featuring colors,” Guce explained. “For example, in the summer we believe our blues will be a hot seller for beach homes. We’ve developed dyes that are not harmful.”
The company’s newest brand, Mantra Collection, was unveiled with approximately 140 SKUs; it was Prestige’s biggest statement at the show. “Mantra is a mixture of products, handwoven and handmade, mostly from India,” said president Peter Feldman. “It’s a fully-stocked program in our Calhoun, Ga., warehouse, featuring 50-foot width broadloom in wool and wool combinations, various designs and cut loop textures, some with a silk-like look and feel. It’s been tremendously received.”
A mid to high-end mill, Prestige enjoyed a solid 2013 and anticipates doing even better in 2014. “Business has been on an uptick for two years now,” Feldman said. “Some middle-of-the-road stores are catching up to that. Their business is better and they’re looking to get into better goods because that’s where their clientele is going. That’s where we come in.”
According to owner and president Ann Eaton, Southwind’s new solution-dyed nylon collection, Soft Solutions, generated quite a buzz at the show.
“We make our own fiber and have put together some very nice colorways,” she explained. “The combinations we offer have been attractive to the retailers; they’ve been very well received. People have made purchases, and when they buy that’s a very good sign. Things look very good headed into 2014, especially with this new launch.”
Surfaces was very positive for the Canada-based company, according to Stephan Guindon, executive director, North America, especially with the addition of U.S. distributors. “We’ve broadened our position. The number of retailers we’ve been exposed to through our new wholesalers has really helped our line, most notably with our new Zest collection.”
Zest is an olefin product in a 26-ounce construction that is design and color-driven “at a very unique mid-price point at retail,” he explained. “We have five products with very different visuals and colors. They’ve been well received by most of the retailers and distributors.”
Venture also garnered positive response to its new “step” display, which features five slots. “We already have several commitments on it,” Guindon said. “We’ve also included Zest into a regular boutique display. The presentation boards are all 24 x 36, so you get larger samples with all the specs. The boards make it easy for presentation purposes and training salespeople so they present Zest at one price point.”
ANAHEIM, CALIF.—First, high-definition revolutionized the television industry. Now Weavemaster Carpets, a new division of Kane Carpet, is following suit with the creation of the first high-definition carpet.
Kane took the wraps off the groundbreaking broadloom at the recent Carpet One convention, and retailers were lining up to take on the collection. “It’s the future of patterned floor covering,” said Herb Frank, president and CEO, Kane Carpet. “What we’ve done is taken what happened to the TV industry and brought it to the carpet industry.” Continue reading Weavemaster brings high-def to nylon carpet
In what hopefully will be portent of things to come throughout the year, the majority of carpet mills exhibiting at Surfaces 2011 seemed genuinely happy with the way the show transpired as they reported brisk business in their booths. Attendees were greeted with new collections and additions to existing lines as mills once again raised the bar by utilizing state- of-the-art technology to place an emphasis on fashion, design, innovation as well as an environmentally friendly story. Continue reading Surfaces 2011: Carpet mills offer fashion, texture, performance to serious broadloom buyers