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MFA seeks to set the pace for WPC

New association created to establish standards for nascent composite core category

FCNews Ultimate Guide to WPC: July 17/24, 2017

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.55.36 AMThe laminate flooring industry has NALFA, while NWFA sets standards in wood manufacturing and installation. RFCI covers the resilient sector; carpet has CRI. So when it came time to launching an association that would begin setting standards for the WPC/composite core segment, several industry leaders took the lead in creating MFA—the Multilayer Flooring Association.

Officially launched in February by seven founding companies—Armstrong Flooring, CFL, Mannington, Metroflor, Novalis, Torly’s and USFloors—MFA has grown to include Karndean, Mohawk and Shaw, as well as three associate members: MP Global, Pak-Lite and SELIT, N.A. Peter Barretto, president and CEO of Torlys, serves as marketing chairperson of MFA. Joining Baretto on the board is MFA president Harlan Stone, CEO of Halstead International/Metroflor Corp.; Barron Frith (CFL) as vice president; Mark Hansen (Novalis Innovative Flooring) as treasurer; Jamey Block (Armstrong Flooring), secretary; Philippe Erramuzpe (USFloors), membership chairperson; and Jimmy Tuley (Mannington), serving as member at large.

Barretto cited the impetus for the founding of the association, noting the rapid rise in popularity of polymer composite rigid core floor products, first introduced in 2012, and the lack of existing standards. This situation, he said, presented an opportunity for a new association to rise and fill a void in the market by creating a stronger and better controlled flooring segment for the benefit of retailers and consumers. This is particularly critical with relatively new categories such as WPC—a segment in which products are not always constructed the same way or use the same materials.

MFA held a meeting during Surfaces 2017 to discuss the organization’s initial goals and objectives. Among the key topics discussed were category standards, membership and third-party certification. “This meeting was about getting new members, talking about the ASTM standards we are trying to create and the speed at which we want to do it,” Barretto told FCNews. “We already have a first draft of the standards to get that ball rolling.”

The initial standards Barretto referred to were created within the ASTM framework to first better define the multilayer flooring category for the benefit of retailers and customers. “It’s a new category; we don’t have the standards here that we have in other categories such as LVT, laminate and wood—all of which are established,” he explained. “It’s a hybrid category so we need to make sure we have a hybrid standard.”

Why the sense of urgency in developing a standard? Primarily to avoid confusion in the marketplace—a consequence of a new category that’s growing rapidly. For instance, WPC is viewed by many as a segment of luxury vinyl tile (LVT), the fastest growing product in the industry. However, there are differences in the construction of WPC vs. LVT. For instance, WPC is a composite material made of thermoplastics, calcium carbonate and wood flour. Extruded as a core material it is marketed as being waterproof, rigid and extremely dimensionally stable. (In the case of COREtec Plus, USFloors’ product, a veneer of luxury vinyl is layered on top of the coreboard and core underlayment is attached at the base for sound abatement and enhanced comfort underfoot.)

Second, the creation of uniform standards ensures products that fall under the WPC umbrella (including subsequent iterations of “WPC-type” floors) establishes a threshold in terms of product quality, construction, performance, etc. Novalis’ Hansen, for instance, said many WPC products in the market today would not pass the basic ASTM F 1700 test, which is the specification used for solid vinyl flooring. ASTM F 1700 classifies solid vinyl tile in three categories: Class I Monolithic, which means through color tile with no backing; Class II Surface Decorated, which usually means an “inlaid” type tile with a backing; and Class III, Printed Film Vinyl Tile, which is a photographic print film with a clear vinyl wear layer and a backing system.

“WPC is really a new product and concept, and we need to have proper specifications for this product so the retailer and ultimately the consumer can better understand the product,” Hansen explained. “We need to put the proper information in consumers’ hands so they can make an informed decision about what they are purchasing.”

MFA is quickly—albeit carefully and methodically—making progress in those areas. The association, based in Calhoun, Ga., recently wrapped up its first official “general meeting,” where members provided an update on the group’s initiatives over the past six months. (FCNews will share details of that meeting in the weeks to come.)

After the initial standards have been finalized and published, MFA will explore different types of certifications for association members. “We are looking at creating performance and safety standards for the product with third-party certification,” Barretto explained, adding these standards will be categorized according to residential and commercial specifications.

As the composite core flooring category evolves, MFA seeks to keep in lockstep with its development. “The association is moving at the same speed as the subcategory itself,” Barretto stated. “It has come from nothing to over half a billion dollars in four years.”

 

MFA membership has its privileges
The newly formed Multilayer Flooring Association (MFA) is seeking to build on its membership ranks. To encourage participation, the group has established two membership tiers: “regular” and “associate.”

According to Philippe Erramuzpe, membership chair, regular membership shall consist of any non-consumer facing manufacturer or manufacturer with an OEM that sells or distributes multilayer modular flooring. All members shall maintain a significant operational presence in North America. Note: Regular members have voting privileges, and its appointees may hold office.

Associate membership shall consist of members who are affiliates of or provide ancillary services or products to multi-layer flooring with polymer composite core. Associate members shall not have voting privileges.

For membership inquiries, contact Philippe Erramuzpe at philippe@usfloorsllc.com. Additional information is also available online at multilayer flooringassociation.com.

 

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FCLC holds first meeting of the year, identifies installation as top priority

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 10.17.30 AMLas Vegas—The Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC) conducted its first meeting of 2017 on Jan. 19 in Las Vegas during The International Surfaces Event. The organization begins its third year as an industry-wide working group established to identify issues and develop solutions that lead to the success of the floor covering industry and its professionals.

Fourteen volunteer representatives from flooring industry associations representing all sectors of the industry attended the January meeting.

The FCLC meeting was held immediately following the All Industry Installation Summit Task Force meeting also held during the Surfaces event. At the FCLC meeting, Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development at the World Floor Covering Association, recapped the highlights of the Installation Summit Committee Meeting as well as insights and ideas gathered since the first Installation Summit held in August 2016.

The FCLC determined that there was no higher industry priority than the installation crisis and thus the decision was made to direct all of FCLC’s focus and resources to this important industry-wide issue. Secondly, it was agreed that the members of the FCLC will develop a strategic plan which will serve as the road map for the Installation Summit Task Force moving forward.

FCLC’s next meeting will be comprised of a professionally facilitated strategy session focused on the industry installation crisis and will be held in Phoenix on April 13 during the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo.

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Dead David: The secret to holding more effective meetings

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By David Romano

Dear David:
Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 3.15.31 PMI am so tired of my employees complaining every time I hold a meeting, saying that nothing gets accomplished and they are just a big waste of time. I know holding these meetings are important but at this point I am considering not having them anymore. Before these meetings become a thing of the past, can you please provide some pointers to save them?

Dear Owner,
Don’t worry, you are one of the countless owners who have struggled with this issue and have reached out for help. The most important thing I learned is to properly plan for meetings. Make sure you have a well-developed agenda and stick to it.

Here are some other pointers that should help you with your meetings:

Stay on topic. Most groups have at least one person who tends to go off on a tangent or tell irrelevant war stories during meetings. Whether this is the organizer or one of the participants, all meeting participants have the responsibility of gently guiding the meeting back to the substantive agenda items.

Assign a moderator to tactfully but firmly guide the meeting. On healthy teams (teams that have developed skills in trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results), people are ready, willing and able to point out when a team is off topic, and it’s not taken personally when someone nudges the team back on track. If the team is not quite where it needs to be, choose a meeting leader who feels comfortable setting up the meeting and keeping it on track.

Don’t start 1 second late. Way too much time is wasted on late arrivals. It used to make me crazy when certain people would be habitually late, thus regularly wasting some five to 10 minutes for the entire group. The solution? Don’t wait for late comers. Start the instant you’re scheduled to. Soon enough people will get the idea. No one likes to be embarrassed by straggling in during the middle of a cogent discussion. Do this a few times and you’ll develop a strong reputation for promptness.

Use a parking lot. “Park” important matters that require further examination but have nothing to do with the topics covered in this meeting. I am sure you have experienced hundreds of times when a meeting goes sideways because someone starts talking about a customer service issue when you were covering how to properly engage customers. Resolving the customer service issue is important but diverting from your topic to address it will do more harm than good because you are highly unlikely to cover all topics on your agenda. Park the sidebars and add them to next meeting’s agenda.

Live and die by a task list. We are all super busy and remembering something mentioned in a meeting a couple of days ago can be quite a challenge. How many times have you been in meetings where the same thing is talked about? All items discussed that require action must be added to a task list outlining what needs to be done, who is to do it and when it must be accomplished. Update this list at each meeting and make it the first thing covered at the next meeting.

Keep in mind meetings are meant to create new ideas and initiatives. Meetings achieve buy in, diffuse conflict and, when done right, are a lot of fun for your team. Best of all they give you, the owner, a sense of relief that issues are getting addressed, strategies discussed and action taken.