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Swiss Krono taps new president, CEO

Barnwell, S.C. – Swiss Krono Group has appointed Erik Christensen its new president and CEO to run its U.S. operations here. Christensen succeeds Zeb Portanova, who will remain with the company as an advisor through November to ensure a smooth transition.

Christensen previously served as president of North American operations for Hansgrohe, a German manufacturer of premium decorative plumbing. He brings more than 28 years of building products experience, including leadership roles at Armstrong World Industries and Shaw.

Erik Christensen

“Erik’s strong performance in the building products market segment, specifically his previous work within the U.S. flooring industry, makes him the ideal leader for our U.S. operations,” said Martin Brettenthaler, CEO and chairman of the executive committee of Swiss Krono Group. “We look forward to working with Erik as Swiss Krono continues to grow its presence in the United States, and as our Barnwell plant becomes home to our new HDF line, which starts up at the end of 2018.”

Christensen will lead the Swiss Krono USA management team comprising R. Dichiara (finance), W. Graf Grote (manufacturing), T. Bass (sales and marketing), C. Billue (supply chain) and N. Grant (human resources). With his vast experience, Christensen and the leadership team will turn the investment of $250 million into a successful new plant, another major milestone for the further growth of the Swiss Krono Group.  Construction is now well under way and the erection of the new factory has started.

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Pergo launches TimberCraft laminate flooring

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 9.31.04 AMCalhoun, Ga.—Pergo has introduced TimberCraft, a laminate flooring with realistic wood visuals.

“Pergo uses patented UltraDef technology to create the realistic natural beauty of TimberCraft,” said Tina Larson, marketing director, Pergo. “The designs of this laminate flooring have a singular style—they imitate the warm and inviting variations of wood and are available in a range of colors from light gray oak to deep hickory.”

TimberCraft’s authentic looks come from deep embossed texturing that gives knots, graining and other character marks real-life depth as well as edge treatments that replicate the rustic and genuine edges of real hardwood planks.

Also, each style in the TimberCraft collection has two times more unique plank designs than ordinary laminate floors, which makes TimberCraft visually more interesting.

Easy-to-clean, stress-free TimberCraft is a perfect floor for busy families. ScratchGuard Advanced Finish protection provides superior scuff, scratch and stain resistance. Cleaning requires just a micro-fiber mop or vacuum.

To honor the nature from which TimberCraft gets inspiration, Pergo is contributing to the National Forest Foundation’s tree-planting program to help plant 5,000 trees in the United States.

“We are excited to be a Tree for Us partner with NFF,” Larson said. “Giving back to the environment is just one illustration of Pergo’s dedication to sustainability.”

For more information, visit pergo.com.

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New wrinkles enhance locking systems

September 15/22, 2014; Volume 28/Number 7

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.42.36 AMSpecialty retailers often cite ease of installation as one of the major benefits of laminate floors, particularly in comparison to other types of products. Indeed, the innovation of locking systems over the past decade has greatly simplified the installation process, allowing these floors to be used immediately, without the need for cleanup.

“Locking systems are a critical item,” said Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus, the North American arm of global conglomerate Classen. “If you don’t have a very good locking system, people aren’t going to use your product. At the very least you need a good locking system today, and the fact is most everyone has one, which has leveled the playing field.”

Following is an update on the latest advancements in laminate locking systems.

Uniclic

Unilin’s patented Uniclic glueless installation locking system helped transform the laminate flooring industry in 1997. Prior to Uniclic, all laminate flooring required planks to be glued down during installation.

Roger Farabee, senior vice president of marketing for Unilin, said flooring dealers are building their laminate programs around products that use the Uniclic system. “Retailers are able to emphasize Uniclic as an advantageous selling point when talking with customers. The Uniclic joint consistently performs better on standing water and pre-tension strength tests than other laminate, which results in Mohawk, Quick-Step and Columbia having one of the lowest claims rates in the industry.”

With Uniclic, planks click into each other to form a solid, lasting connection that also provides superior water resistance between planks.

Farabee said another advantage is Uniclic allows Quick-Step planks to click together using one of two methods: an angle-in or flat installation. “The dual-installation options of Uniclic are important because real-life installations will almost always involve installing flooring in some type of trapped situation (i.e., under a door jamb, toe kick or recession/undercut such as a fireplace), and Uniclic provides that flexibility.”

Bill Renner, installation manager for Unilin, said Quick-Step floors with the Uniclic locking profile are also easy to repair using UniFix, a tool that makes removal of a single plank or replacement of a damaged section easier and more time efficient.

Välinge 5G

Laetitia Kimblad, business unit director of surface technology for Välinge, said since 2000, locking systems that utilize angling/angling as well as angling/snap installation have progressively been replaced by the fast and easy single-action installation method, such as that offered by Välinge’s 5G locking systems.Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.39.47 PM

Kimblad called 5G “the easiest, fastest and most robust way to install laminate flooring.” The panels are installed in a single movement by angling the long side and folding the panel down. A flexible and displaceable glass-fiber reinforced polymer tongue secures the installation, locking the product vertically and providing a visible and audible feedback when folding down the panel. As of today, Välinge counts over 80 5G licensees worldwide, and more than 700 million square meters of flooring with 5G/fold down systems have been installed since the product was first launched in 2005.

“The simplicity of the 5G laminate locking system presents great advantages for installers as well as for DIY consumers,” Kimblad said. “5G reduces the risk of accidentally damaging products during installation as this could happen earlier on panel edges when snapping boards together. It also decreases the risk of gap openings and height differences that may occur on panels equipped with other locking systems.”

Välinge has also developed an optimized 5G tongue, which offers high locking strength and easy installation for thin laminate flooring down to 6mm.

Inhaus

Megaloc is Inhaus’ fold-down locking system for laminate flooring installation. The system features an interlock clip (a PET plastic insert) that, once locked into position, prevents the short ends of the planks from lifting after installation.

The advantage of Megaloc, which is used on all Inhaus laminate products, is its ability to be manufactured efficiently in a highly automated process in products as thick as 7mm. “We work on this all the time,” Welbourn said. “We have all the equipment in our factory that tests joint strengths, and we are tweaking the locking system all the time. Sometimes it leads to a breakthrough.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.39.38 PMAlthough new to the industry, the Megaloc system is now being used by some of the industry-leading LVT companies. “It makes sense as it improves the joint holding strength and improves ease of installation,” Welbourn said.

Newcomers

Innovations4Flooring, a new technology company that markets two types of locking systems—called TripleLock and Click4U—said it has received 11 license agreements since entering the market in June.

TripleLock and Click4U use a drop-lock installation technique for flooring panels, eliminating the need for an additional insert on the short side. This omission gives manufacturers the ability to improve productivity levels as well as reduce their costs and carbon footprint, according to John Rietveldt, CEO of Innovations4Flooring.

Several international patent applications have been filed for both products. “With some important patents soon to expire, our drop lock, one piece offers the industry a faster, more cost-effective way to manufacture environmentally friendly solutions in a sustainable way,” Rietveldt said. “And in a highly competitive market, the introduction of a drop-lock solution on the short side means that installation for end users is significantly facilitated.”

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Distribution: Laminate

Innovations sustain category

By Ken Ryan

Oct. 21/28 2013; Volume 27/number 13

Despite several down years, laminate flooring is far from a dormant, forgotten category. All it needs, according to distributors, is a few good products active on the market.

The idea of popular laminate is not as far-fetched as it seemed not too long ago. “Laminate is not dead at all,” said Buddy Faircloth, president of Cain & Bultman, Jacksonville, Fla. “If you have the right product, people are going to buy it. Ask Armstrong if you want proof of that.”

Faircloth spoke highly of Armstrong’s recent introduction of Architectural Remnants, a 12-mil laminate that features striking wood designs inspired by reclaimed hardwood floors. With its unique whitewash finish, the product is taking off in coastal Florida. “It really sells here. It has generated a lot of excitement,” he said. “There is nothing out there quite like it. It’s an important product that has hit our marketplace at the right time.” Continue reading Distribution: Laminate

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Quick-Step reports strong sales

QuickstepDallas—Quick-Step retailers and distributors nationwide are reporting strong 2013 sales for the brand’s Reclaimé Collection. Quick-Step’s Reclaimé Collection offers the visuals and charm of a floor constructed from reclaimed, vintage wood — at a price that fits within consumers’ budgets. Continue reading Quick-Step reports strong sales

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Technology spearheads latest visual innovations

Volume 26/number 28 June 10/17, 2013

by Lou Iannaco

Since laminate’s introduction into the U.S. marketplace in the mid ’90s, when many products resembled photographs of wood glued onto medium density fiberboard, the segment’s aesthetics have dramatically moved forward. Propelled by technology to mimic wood and ceramic, laminate now fools even the most experienced flooring veterans.

FCNews recently asked laminate manufacturers exactly how they create such realistic product, and what the thought processes are behind their newest designs.

Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus, believes offering a realistic design is the most important element for creating a product that sells. A consumer will have to look at her floor long after its price was presented, removing cost as a longstanding issue. Continue reading Technology spearheads latest visual innovations

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Underlayment: The softening of hard surface flooring

by Louis Iannoco

Every salesperson in the industry should know the importance of underlayment on the soft surface side, but with more and more hard surface products gaining popularity and market share, the emphasis and focus have shifted.

But what exactly should sales associates know when it comes to underlayments and hard surfaces? Does it really make a difference what is used beneath them? Continue reading Underlayment: The softening of hard surface flooring

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Laminate: Hope for lagging sector

By Ken Ryan

The laminate category has been on a steady decline since 2007, hurt by eroding prices that have stifled profit potential at the low end and the popularity of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) products. While there remains a vibrant market for higher-end laminate, especially 12mil offerings, the middle and bottom have eroded significantly, distributors say. Continue reading Laminate: Hope for lagging sector

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Winning the laminate flooring commodity competition

by Matthew Spieler

As a retailer, I focused on getting to know the leaders in flooring to learn as much as possible about the industry. Markets are the best venue for doing this. Most industry executives show up for these events. At one time there were several shows twice a year. Today there is but one giant market, Surfaces, which is not to be missed. In addition, there are dozens of regional markets, meetings and conventions that are important to attend.

Since the day laminate flooring first came to the U.S. in the mid 1990s, there has been chatter how it will eventually become just a commodity product. And while there has been a race toward the bottom in terms of pricing, there are specialty retailers who still make a profit selling laminate. Continue reading Winning the laminate flooring commodity competition

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Price erosion continues to plague laminate

Sales still shifting toward non-specialty retail channels

by Steven Feldman

The laminate flooring market in 2011 could best be described as more of the same. Sales dollars decreased for the fifth consecutive year, albeit slightly, volume increased for the third year in a row and more business was directed toward the home center and mass merchant channel.

When the dust cleared, FCNews research puts the laminate flooring market at $1.094 billion, down 1.6% from the $1.112 billion in 2010. At the same time, units went from 1.01 billion square feet to 1.02 billion square feet sold, a 1% gain. That means the average selling price continues to erode, now standing at $1.07 a square foot, down from $1.10 last year. It was only five years ago when the average selling price of laminate flooring was $1.30. Continue reading Price erosion continues to plague laminate