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NWFA conference delivers value for installers, vendors

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Reginald Tucker

 

Tampa, Fla.—Scores of hardwood flooring contractors, manufacturers and distributors converged at the Tampa Bay Convention Center here recently for the 33rd annual National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) conference and expo. As advertised, the event offered something for everyone in attendance—new products galore, networking and educational opportunities, technical tips and even some entertainment.

“It was a great event,” Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO, told FCNews. “In terms of numbers, we had about 3,000 people attend the expo—which has been pretty steady when you look at our shows over the past few years. We felt really good about it.”

Martin has good reason. The NWFA conference and expo was named one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows for the past six consecutive years. Beyond the sprawling showcase of hardwood flooring products, installation tools and accessories, a big draw for attendees is the depth of technical, marketing and management sessions offered. In fact, the conference portion of the event boasted 20-plus hours of educational programming.

“We try to devise seminars that address the needs of all the channel segments we serve,” Martin explained, citing the mix of attendees who come to the show. What’s more, conference sessions are structured in such a fashion that encourages audience participation and interaction. “It’s not people talking ‘at you’ all the time. To that end, the sessions are arranged so participants are vocal and active during at least one-third of the sessions to keep them engaged. This allows everyone to learn from each other.”

Indeed, training and education remain a top priority for the association—and this extends beyond the instruction provided during NWFA’s renown installation schools held at its headquarters in Chesterfield, Mo., as well as regional training events across the country. During his opening keynote address to attendees, Martin provided an update on NWFAU—the group’s online training program. Since its inception in the summer of 2016, more than 30,000 courses have been completed by roughly 5,000 users—that translates into about 45 courses taken daily.

“We’re very encouraged by the participation we’re seeing in our online NWFA University,” Martin stated. “At the end of the day, the program benefits retailers, installers and consumers alike.”

Vendors see the value

Many of the exhibitors FCNews spoke to during the product showcase applaud the efforts NWFA management has made over the years to provide value for all members involved. Not only does the NWFA develop programs designed to raise the skill level of the dozens of professional hardwood flooring contractors in attendance, but the association goes above and beyond to deliver a captive audience for manufacturer members and vendor partners

“We’re here to support the industry and the association,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate, Mannington. “Many of the attendees here service the new home construction and residential replacement markets—both of which are important sectors for us.”

Pierre Thabet, president and CEO of Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood floors, agrees. “If you’re looking to reach the specialty hardwood flooring contractor, then this is the place to be,” he said. “This is where you meet the installers who really know all about hardwood flooring.”

Mannington and Mirage are not alone. Paul Rezuke, vice president, residential sales, USA, Wickham Flooring, also sees the value in exhibiting at the NWFA expo. “It’s been a really great show for us,” he told FCNews on the second day of the exhibition. “We feel it’s important to have a presence here as we expand our go-to-market strategy in the U.S. We’ve had some pretty good leads.”

Others see attending the expo as an opportunity to not only get in front of professional contractors, but also wood flooring distributors. “We’re here to show our new offerings in our branded Hearthwood line as well as products on the American OEM side that we can offer to distributors on a private-label basis,” said Allie Finkell, executive vice president.

Show stoppers

Among the key highlights of the 2018 NWFA show was the Plank Tank contest the association created to encourage members to submit their industry-related business ideas. Modeled after ABC Network’s “Shark Tank,” contestants in NWFA’s Plank Tank pitched their idea during the opening general session.

The competition was hosted by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, owners of Cousins Maine Lobster, who appeared on “Shark Tank” in a previous season. The businessmen, known for growing their small food truck start-up into a national franchise success, also shared their experiences with attendees during the keynote presentation. The celebrity judges, along with a team of wood flooring professionals, reviewed previously submitted business ideas to determine their merits.

The contest winner, which was announced on the last day of the show along with the NWFA Floor of the Year finalists (see page 8), was Insight Flooring Technologies. The company was recognized for QuoteHero, an app that allows contractors and estimators to measure the square footage of rooms, estimate jobs and close sales on the spot. Insight Flooring Technologies received a $15,000 customized package of NWFA marketing and education products and services.

NWFA’s Martin applauded the concept. “It was good to see NWFA members up there on stage talking about new tools and innovations that will help the industry.”

Look for more coverage of the 2018 NWFA expo in upcoming editions of FCNews.

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Wood: State of the industry—Builder business, remodel sector propel category

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Reginald Tucker

 

Preliminary anecdotal information shows the hardwood flooring category grew between 3% and 4% in 2017, placing the estimated value of the category just north of $2.31 billion at the first point of distribution. That growth, manufacturer executives say, puts the category on par with the estimated growth of the industry as a whole but slightly above the total gross domestic product for the year.

In terms of volume, that growth estimate equates to roughly 930 million square feet, lifting the hardwood flooring category ever closer to the 1 billion-square-foot threshold.

Ask a roomful of hardwood flooring manufacturer executives to identify the root cause of this growth, and many will point to the strength of key end-use sectors here in the U.S. market.

“Single-family construction and residential replacement continue to be the core drivers of demand for hardwood,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, wood and laminates, Mannington.

Natalie Cady, hardwood category manager, Shaw Floors, agrees, citing consumption trends and demographic shifts. “Residential is driving the market, and for Shaw that means both single family and residential re-do. And as our single-family business grows, it has that wonderful trickle-down effect.”

By that, Cady means more people are able to get into a new home while sellers have been able to get better market value on their existing properties. As for the former, she is finding that many people strongly aspire to real hardwood and wood lookalikes. She also sees a direct correlation to influential purchasing segments. “Millennials want wood, and they are the No. 1 consumer right now. At the same time, the empty nesters are downsizing and finding they can afford hardwood flooring.”

But that doesn’t imply that it’s going to be smooth sailing. “For us, the driving factor is still the housing market,” said Wade Bondrowski, director of sales, U.S., Mercier Wood Flooring. “Although this segment is trending up, we are still below normal levels.”

Other executives are seeing hardwood growth across virtually all end-use sectors, including commercial specified and Main Street applications. “We think it is all of the above,” said Michael Bell, vice president, hardwood, Armstrong Flooring. “A more stable economic environment continues to steer the hardwood segment on a course of steady growth, with increases in demand in both the new construction and remodeling markets. We also see hardwood opportunities in the commercial marketplace.”

But that doesn’t mean all segments within the hardwood flooring category are growing at the same pace. When it comes to solid vs. engineered, for example—or even between subcategories within the engineered flooring offering—activity can be quite mixed. “While the wood category grew by low single digits in 2017, the growth rates were different between solid and engineered, with solids declining in overall volume and engineered growing by mid-single digits,” Mannington’s Natkin said.

It’s not that the solid segment of the hardwood flooring business is no longer an in-demand category. Truth be told, it still is preferred by many customers, home builders and designers in markets like the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. Rather, experts say, the rapid development and evolution of products that fall under the category of engineered floors is opening up opportunities even in hardcore solid markets.

“There’s never been more changes taking place in the wood flooring segment than what we’re seeing before our eyes right now,” Tom Lape, president, Mohawk Residential, told FCNews. “The biggest trend we’re seeing in the wood flooring segment today is a blurring of the lines within the product categories. For example, we’re clearly seeing many customers, dealers and consumers moving away from solid at a rate that has been running unabated for five years running and continues to accelerate. We see the engineered category evolving right in front of our eyes from what was historically a 5-ply construction format to an HDF product solution.”

Mohawk is so convinced that engineered wood flooring products based on an HDF core are quickly overtaking conventional, multi-ply hardwood flooring options that it is banking on wholesale consumer and end-user acceptance of the emerging format.

“When you see high-end custom builders and high-end production builders in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest coming off solid, it is eye-opening,” Lape said. “That’s not to say that people living out in the Hamptons are buying engineered. Solids are not going away, but where there is a reasonable trade off of in terms of cost, value, etc., I think you’re seeing the market accelerate the move to engineered.”

And all this plays to Mohawk’s strengths, according to Lape. “We try to focus on our game, which is leveraging our position as a true, integrated and vertical HDF engineered wood producer. Making all our own HDF internally gives us an advantage in terms of consistency and uniformity of the product. Second, we produce all those products here in North America, which gives us an advantage in terms of supply chain and reliability.”

For others, the continued migration from solid to engineered doesn’t necessarily spell the end of a category. While engineered floors offer opportunity for design innovation combined with installation flexibility, solids still have their place.

As Armstrong’s Bell explained: “The dynamics are different in solid vs. engineered. In engineered, we see much of the growth occurring on the bookends of the market with significant increases in the opening price point/value engineered products and the best/premium sliced- and sawn-face engineered products. Solid is similarly seeing increased activity on the best/premium side of the market.”

Innovation, Bell added, continues to happen across both structures. “While there is significant activity in engineered floors, we also see that solid wood flooring remains the go-to product in certain parts of the country and for key consumer segments.”

While it is generally accepted that consumer tastes differ by region and/or climate, some point to inherent limitations of solid products as an impediment to acceptance beyond the core solid markets. “With the demand and overall trend moving toward longer and wider, there are limitations you have with solids that are not there with engineered,” Shaw Floors’ Cady said, citing the tendency of solid floors to expand and contract more easily than engineered. “Having the ability to go longer/wider will help people move more toward engineered. Plus, with single-family home construction on the rise, that represents an increase in concrete slab construction—and that lends itself to engineered. At the end of the day, we believe the solid market—which includes both finished and unfinished product—is steady, not actually shrinking.”

With consumers continuing to ride the longer/wider wave, suppliers remain committed to giving them more of what they’re looking for. “The good story is the industry is not sitting still; we’re giving consumers more of what they want—wider and longer,” Mohawk’s Lape explained. “We’re selling planks up to 80 inches long and 9 inches wide, and we’re making better-performing products for contractors, retailers as well as consumers.”

While all this continues to play out, suppliers continue to fortify—and diversify—their product mix to ensure they have all the bases covered.

Over the past 18 months, for example, Quebec-based Wickham Hardwood introduced several new engineered offerings designed to complement its solid hardwood collections. According to Paul Rezuke, vice president residential sales, U.S., the breakdown seems to follow along geographic lines. “As part of our engineered strategy, we targeted two platforms based on a ½- and a ¾-inch format. We initially envisioned that the ½-inch product would be most suited for the U.S. market and the ¾-inch line for our Canadian business partners. What we are seeing is the demand in the U.S. market for a thicker platform appears to be on the rise. With this demand, we are projecting a significant demand for ¾-inch platform engineered products in our U.S. footprint.”

Tracking design trends

The shift in product preference within the hardwood flooring segment is not limited to the product’s core construction. Industry observers are also keeping a close eye on changing consumer tastes relative to color, species, surface texture and even board length and width. For many suppliers, staying ahead of consumer trends and anticipating what’s going to be the next big thing is akin to shooting after a moving target.

“The key is making sure we stay out in front in terms of styling and design,” Shaw Floors’ Cady said. “We’re still seeing the move toward longer, wider planks, but we are also seeing a move toward more traditional visuals. Instead of going into the European wide-oak visuals, we’re going back to basics by focusing on the natural characteristics of hardwood—meaning showcasing less texture and lighter colors so consumers can see the actual wood, not covering it up with dark stains.”

At the other end of the spectrum, some suppliers are seeing a mild resurgence in demand not for domestic species—which had been rising in popularity—but for exotic looks. With anecdotal information and consumer purchasing trends showing shoppers gravitating more toward home-grown species such as walnut, hickory and birch, to name a few, others—including companies like Ribadao Wood Boutique—say there’s still a viable market for imported product.

“We’re still very bullish on exotics, although it’s just one line that we offer,” Bruce Hammer, vice president of sales, said. “It’s true the U.S. market is nowhere near what it was for exotics about 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity for us. We consider our products to be more ‘boutique’ offerings. It’s still a viable product line for us to be offering.”

Ongoing challenges

Hardwood flooring has long been linked to its ability to contribute to rising home values, and it remains—as suppliers argue—the product that many homeowners covet. But aggressive competition from competing “wood-look” visuals available with LVT, WPC, laminate and, now, ceramic is a cause for concern.

“The growth of wood-look products such as WPC is an issue,” Mannington’s Natkin said. “While cannibalization is minimal for the consumer who really desires hardwood, there is conversion for consumers who are not sure what product is right for them.”

Armstrong’s Bell is in agreement, adding that—with the exception of tile— most of these products cost less than real hardwood. Also at play, he said, is the fact that the quality of the visuals and textures has evolved so much that many consumers feel comfortable using these faux wood products instead of the real thing. “However, there is nothing that can truly compete with genuine hardwood from either a look or value equation. It is a great long-term investment and can actually become a strong resale argument, exceeding the initial installation cost of the floors. And, it’s organic, natural and renewable, and, of course, since it is natural, has less pattern repeat.”

Traditional, hardwood-only suppliers seem to be taking it in stride. As Wickham’s Rezuke explained, “Currently, WPC appears to be the category of the month. We’ve experienced this in the past with both laminate and LVT.  Our position remains that there will be new products that will present challenges. But in the long run, hardwood will always maintain a significant market share in the flooring industry.”

Those companies that supply the full range of competing hard surface materials believe all products can successfully coexist. But that doesn’t mean equal market share for all product segments.

“It’s an ongoing conversation with all flooring suppliers and it comes down to having products to fulfill consumer needs and wants, Shaw Floors’ Cady said.

But wood’s classification as a natural product also subjects the category to price fluctuations due to rising raw material costs. “We are seeing some upward pressure in raw material pricing,” Mannington’s Natkin said. “Certain regions are more dramatic than others.”

Armstrong, one of the suppliers to pass on increases to its customers earlier this month, also attributes the hikes to rising natural gas and electricity prices—all of which impact costs to power the plants. Bell doesn’t see any let-up in sight. “We expect this cost pressure to continue throughout 2018.”

Despite these challenges, suppliers are optimistic about the category’s prospects in 2018. “We predict the overall hardwood category will have a moderate growth rate of 3%-5% this year,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing for Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand. “We feel our greatest opportunity continues to be within our existing network. We will continue try to understand our customers’ needs and focus on creating opportunities for them.”

Don Finkell, president and CEO, American OEM, is confident the category will grow by at least 6% this year, surpassing the rate of growth achieved in 2017. The prospects look even better from an internal standpoint, he noted. “I expect our company to more than double that growth rate at about 12% to 15%. “We are adding new products for our existing distributors, building on our private-label programs and developing coverage of our new Hearthwood brand. Plus, we will be adding more domestically made products to our Hemisphere brand.”

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Mirage Floors to host spring rebate sale

Saint-Georges, Quebec, Canada—Mirage will be hosting its “Play & Win with Mirage” Spring 2018 rebate sale from April 19 through June 9. This major hardwood flooring sale is taking place at all participating Mirage dealers in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec).

Consumers save from $0.50 to $1.00 per square foot rebate on Mirage flooring during this promotion by playing an online game. This offer is valid on all Mirage products, regardless of species, color or width.

“Spring often brings a breath of fresh air and renewal, which also brings a need for consumers to change their décors,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales & marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage brand. “Thanks to the ‘Play & Win with Mirage’ rebate sale offered on all our flooring during this sales event, it is a great opportunity to save big while enjoying the quality Mirage floors are known for.”

Nearly 2000 Mirage Maestro Dealers throughout North America are participating in this event. For the rules and a list of participating dealers, visit miragefloors.com/rebate on or after April 9.

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Mirage launches new colors to Sweet Memories collection, Flair collection

Saint-Georges—Mirage has added five new colors: Bubble Bath, Sand Castle, Hula Hoop and Roller Coaster to Sweet Memories collection, and Lunar Eclipse to Flair collection.

The Sweet Memories collection recalls the authentic charm of old floors and stands out for its unique staining and brushing process. Bubble Bath exudes a feeling of peace and tranquility with its pearly tones. Sand Castle is a sandy brown that looks as though it was scooped straight from a desert dune. Hula Hoop is a rich and natural beige. Roller Coaster is a gray shade flecked with woody brown highlights.

“Pale colors and rustic modern looks are still trending strong in interior design this year,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage brand. “The four new colors launched by Mirage are surefire hits and make a beautiful addition to the already highly popular Sweet Memories collection.”

As rich as it is vibrant, Lunar Eclipse boasts a look that’s anything but ordinary. With its shades of brown, black highlights and warm touches of beige this versatile color will stand the test of time for decades without losing its original charm.

“Today’s trends are about getting back to the source and reconnecting with nature, with matte floors that express the authenticity of wood at its best,” Williams said. “Lunar Eclipse recalls this trend with a color that’s here to stay. It’s perfect for looks ranging from bold to traditional.’’

The Flair collection features hardwood flooring with all the natural characteristics of wood and oiled flooring without the maintenance hassles thanks to its matte and highly resistant DuraMatt finish.

The five new colors are available in white oak character in classic or engineered technologies with the DuraMatt finish.

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Spring promos help dealers shake off winter blues

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Even though the winter weather is still putting up a fight in certain areas of the United States, flooring manufacturers and buying groups are getting into the spirit of the impending spring season with exciting seasonal sales and promotions.

Following are a few promotions and sales going on now.

Abbey Carpet & Floor/Floors to Go

Abbey Carpet & Floor and Floors to Go members are preparing for the national sale events taking place in May. When consumers are looking for the perfect place to purchase their new floor, Abbey makes sure its members have every opportunity to be top-of-mind with buyers. The campaign, developed with the support of Abbey’s supplier partners, offers consumers discount pricing in every product category.

Armstrong

Armstrong Flooring is hosting its “The Floor is Yours” spring promotion March 19 through May 14. During this period, consumers have the chance to save up to 10% on select hardwood, LVT and resilient sheet flooring collections as well as Alterna engineered tile, many of which feature the company’s Diamond 10 technology.

To qualify, the purchase must be made during the promotion period from a participating Elevate or Impact retailer. The maximum discount is $500 in the form of an Armstrong Visa card.

Carpet One

Carpet One’s second spring promotion highlights one of its most popular brands, Relax, it’s…Lees. The group will be relaunching the brand with 32 new products and special introductory pricing. The promotion will be supported by discounted pricing and consumer financing offers.

Carpet One will provide retailers with TV, radio, print and digital assets to support the promotion on a local level. The group will also support the promotion on the group’s website, Houzz, Facebook and a national paid search campaign. Carpet One’s promotional message will be “Lees—a carpet like no other,” offering the consumer a 25-year, no-exclusions stain warranty.

CarpetsPlus Color Tile

The CarpetsPlus Color Tile Spring into Savings sale comes into full bloom during April and May in member stores across the country. Select styles of their popular Destination brand carpets made with Anso nylon are being featured in this sale at participating dealer locations.

Members are also signing up for the second annual Shop for the Paws Animal Welfare and Rescue Awareness event, which will run after the group’s Spring into Savings sale. During this event, members donate money raised to their choice of local animal welfare charities. Many locations also collect dog and cat food, bedding, toys and additional monetary donations.

Couristan

Couristan’s annual Outdoor Living Merchandising promotion is taking place March 19 through June 30. The promotion offers deals on the company’s full assortment of indoor/outdoor area rugs as well as two dynamic merchandising display options.

Also, back by popular demand, Couristan is offering its Outdoor Living Merchandising display box free with an initial order of 20 area rugs from its Afuera, Cape, Dolce, Monaco, Monte Carlo and Recife collections (size requirements apply).

Invista

Invista is hosting its 2018 Stainmaster brand Celebrate Spring Sweepstakes, which is set to run April 1 through May 31. During the sweepstakes, five customers who purchase Stainmaster PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring will win up to $10,000 back on their purchase and installation (excluding sales tax and delivery charges). Consumers can enter online at stainmastersweepstakes.com. Note: One entry per individual per purchase allowed. Winners will be chosen July 31.

Karastan

Quality, beauty and craftsmanship have all been a part of the Karastan legacy, and this year the manufacturer proudly celebrates its 90th anniversary of offering high-styled, quality floor coverings. Karastan’s 90th Anniversary Sale kicked off March 1 and continues through March 31, offering extensive promotional campaigns for Karastan retailers. Consumers can take advantage of savings on Karastan styles ranging from beautiful wool to family-friendly SmartStrand Forever Clean styles.

Lastly, from April 26 to June 2, Karastan will celebrate National Karastan Month. This sale promotes a consumer rebate offer to entice luxury buyers to purchase floor covering.

Mannington

One Mannington retailers can take advantage of the company’s “Spring into Summer Sale,” which runs from May 15 to July 4. For specific details about the promotion, One Mannington retailers are encouraged to contact their local distributors.

Mirage 

Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood flooring, is offering a Play & Win with Mirage Spring 2018 rebate for customers across North America (valid in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec) at all participating Mirage dealers from April 16 to June 9.

During this promotion, consumers will have the chance to save $0.50 to $1 per square foot  on Mirage flooring by playing an online game. This offer is valid on all Mirage products, regardless of species, color or width.

For more on the rules, visit miragefloors.com/rebate on or after April 9.

Mohawk

Mohawk’s Spring All Pet Sale, running from April 12 to May 24, aims to drive consumer awareness of the company’s Pet Protection warranty, covering all pets, all accidents, all the time. During the sale period, Mohawk will drive traffic to its participating retail partners by incentivizing in-market consumers with an in-store rebate and special financing offers. Mohawk also provides a variety of product discounts for its participating retail partners.

The promotions don’t end there. To seamlessly connect the online, in-store and product experience—and ultimately encourage retailer success—Mohawk has also featured this sale on Omnify.

Raskin

Raskin Industries plans to host two spring promotions for its dealers—one for Loft and the other for Ceramix. From March 15 through May 15, dealers have the opportunity to earn $5 on each carton of Loft purchased for residential use.

In addition, from April 1 through June 1, dealers can earn $5 on each carton of Ceramix purchased for residential use. Both rebates will be applied to an American Express card.

Shaw

From April 2 through May 12, Shaw will host its Spring for Green sale. Consumers will have the opportunity to earn up to $500 off on qualifying Shaw Floors products in the form of a manufacturer’s rebate. Note: The promotion is valid on a minimum of 500 square feet of qualifying products.

Shaw’s rebate aims to give participating retailers a competitive advantage in their respective markets as Shaw is covering 100% of the costs. Shaw Flooring Network retailers who registered on ShawNow by March 11 are eligible for the promotion.

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Spring product offerings ‘unseen’ at Surfaces

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

While the vast majority of flooring companies exhibit at Surfaces, there are a handful of companies that do not partake in the big show, preferring other venues in which to introduce their new wares. Several of these offerings will be available soon and are worth a closer look.

Here are some of the spring introductions unseen at Surfaces.

Metroflor Engage Genesis

The Engage Genesis 1200ML Multi-Length series extends the narrow-plank format, featuring new 5-inch-wide planks in varying lengths of 24, 35 and 59 inches to add more dimension to the floor. The natural timber embossing is enhanced by a “painted” accent-bevel for more realistic plank definition than micro-bevel. The Engage Genesis 2000T collection features its first-ever tile format in a 16 x 32 size.

Mirage Lunar Eclipse/Sand Castle

As rich as it is vibrant, Lunar Eclipse boasts a look that’s anything but ordinary. With its shades of brown, black highlights and warm touches of beige, this versatile color will stand the test of time for decades without losing its original charm. Sand Castle is a sandy brown that looks like it was scooped straight from a desert dune. It’s a fashionable addition that is sure to be embraced for its timeless, classic style.

Mullican Wexford/Nature

Renowned for its high-quality hardwood flooring and environmentally sound manufacturing practices, Mullican Flooring’s distinctive collections are available in elegant, smooth finishes as well as rustic, hand-sculpted or wire-brushed surface treatments. Two new collections are Wexford and Nature. Wexford offers a classic, wide-plank farmhouse style with a 1⁄2-inch thickness and low-gloss finish. Nature, a 1⁄2-inch-thick sawn hickory, captures all the natural wood characteristics.

Shaw Bellera

Bellera will change how consumers feel about carpet, according to Shaw Floors. The company’s new Endurance high-performance fiber retains its softness and looks, creating carpet that stays beautiful for years. Consumers and experts can’t tell the difference between new samples of Bellera and those with five years’ worth of wear, Shaw said. Bellera includes Shaw’s patented R2X stain and soil treatment and LifeGuard spill-proof backing.

Tarkett Access

Access from Tarkett, which launched in February, is a glue-down LVT engineered to resist stains, scratches, wear and moisture. The collection features 10 wood grains and four stone designs. It carries a 15-year residential and five-year limited light commercial warranty. Access is FloorScore certified and phthalate free; in other words, it’s ideal for multifamily housing where a durable, good-looking and safe floor is essential.

Shaw Epic Reflections

Shaw Floors’ leading product designers celebrate the natural characteristics of hardwood with the introduction of Epic Reflections. The line extends the popular Extreme Nature collection, which features sliced visuals in ash, white oak and maple Appalachian hardwood. This collection highlights the imperfections of knots and grains with colorations inspired by the weathering process of raw wood as it is exposed to the elements.

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Compliance: Suppliers reinforce pledge to health, safety and the environment

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

 

With consumers and commercial end users placing more emphasis on environmentally friendly products, suppliers are working hard to ensure the products they source and develop do not pose health risks to customers. More manufacturers are providing chain-of-custody documentation as well as relevant environmental and operational certifications to demonstrate their compliance with regulatory statutes pertaining to the production of a host of hard and soft surface products. Suppliers see this as an opportunity to reinforce the message that they are continuing to meet or surpass the guidelines and federal/local regulations governing the manufacturing of engineered floor coverings.

Following are some examples of how suppliers are keeping it clean by meeting or exceeding environmental compliance standards.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.27.57 AMArmstrong has a long history of environmental stewardship, from reusing cork waste for linoleum floors in the early 1900s to planting hardwoods to replace the wood the company uses to make floors today. Today, sustainability continues as a core focus of its business.

The company’s products meet and have met the toughest standards for indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental manufacturing for years. Armstrong Flooring recently achieved FloorScore certification for its solid hardwood products including the Armstrong, Bruce and Capella brands. All Armstrong wood manufacturing facilities including Beverly, W.Va.; Warren, Ark.; and West Plains, Mo.; are also now FloorScore certified. Supporting certification programs such as FloorScore help advance Armstrong’s corporate mission to the environment and green practices throughout the manufacturing industry. All totaled, more than 95% of all Armstrong Flooring products by volume are FloorScore certified, including engineered wood, laminate, luxury vinyl flooring, linoleum, vinyl tile, vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.

While most of Armstrong’s volume is domestically produced, the company only accepts composite wood products that are certified to meet CARB requirements. In addition, on an annual basis the company randomly tests its products at the Hardwood Products Veneer Association (HPVA) lab in Virginia for Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements. As always, Armstrong is committed to providing the best quality, safest products by taking the steps necessary, including meeting and even exceeding regulatory requirements.

Furthermore, Armstrong has supply agreements in place requiring suppliers to follow CARB regulations. In addition to those agreements, the company is committed to taking actions to make sure it sources compliant products, has certificates and labels product properly. To support these initiatives, Armstrong has sourcing managers on the ground in China and product stewardship personnel in Lancaster, Pa., who ensure product compliance and regularly monitor that testing and certifications are up to date.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.01 AMAll applicable Mannington flooring products comply with the California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) 93120 Title 17, California Code of Regulations, and meet or exceed CARB 2 standards. The vast majority of Mannington flooring is also FloorScore IAQ certified, which means the products are independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems to comply with the emissions criteria of the California Section 01350 program. Both CARB and FloorScore test for formaldehyde. Any product that has met these stringent standards is considered a low-VOC product that will contribute to good indoor air quality.

Looking at individual product categories, Mannington laminate flooring is 100% made in the U.S. at its manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. The products are certified to a standard set by the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) called the NALFA LF-01 standard. In the hardwood category, more than 80% of Mannington’s engineered hardwood products are made in the U.S. at its manufacturing facilities in Alabama and North Carolina. All domestically produced Mannington hardwood products are FloorScore IAQ certified while all imported hardwood flooring products have been tested and comply with CARB 2. In resilient, Mannington sheet, Adura and porcelain do not contain formaldehyde. Furthermore, all three product categories have been certified to the FloorScore IAQ standard.

Mannington has a long-standing commitment to quality and safety. All of its products have passed third-party environmental testing and meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.06 AMMercier Generations products are Greenguard Gold Certified—the highest environmental certification on the market—and are made using 100% pure soybean oil. Mercier Generations flooring passes stringent environmental tests at every step in the finishing, dying and varnishing process in order to meet that standard. The Greenguard Gold Certification requirements comply with California’s Department of Public Health Services Standard Practice for Specification Section 01350 (California Section 01350) for testing chemical emissions from building products used in schools and other environments. Beyond that, every adhesive used in Mercier’s engineered products are free of urea-formaldehyde and hardwood plywood used in Mercier’s engineered products are CARB 2 compliant. In addition, laboratory tests reveal that Mercier Generations finish does not have any formaldehyde emissions and performs beyond the LEED norm and the environmental certification choice program regarding VOCs.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.10 AMAt Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand, everything is done with one eye on sustainable development because the company firmly believes there is no better way to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Its corporate values and strategies were geared toward sustainable development from the very beginning.

Some examples of this stewardship in sustainability measures include the procurement from vendors who practice responsible forestry methods according to the Lacey Act. In complying with this law, Mirage makes international environmental protection a priority as part of its approach to sustainable development. The Mirage brand guarantees customers peace of mind by providing them with hardwood floors made from natural resources that are soundly managed and legally harvested.

Furthermore, all Mirage products are manufactured in North American facilities, which enables complete control in all facets of production, including meeting implemented ISO-9001 standards. Mirage products are also FSC certified, meaning the raw materials used in the manufacturing process have been inspected and legally harvested in non-genetically modified forests where traditional and civil rights are respected.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.14 AMMohawk’s commitment remains to responsibly manufacture and provide the highest quality engineered hardwood and laminate floors that meet strict U.S. guidelines. Products across the Mohawk Hard Surface, Quick-Step, Columbia and Pergo portfolios have earned the following health and sustainability certifications: CARB Phase 2, NALFA and FloorScore. In addition, all of Mohawk’s hardwood flooring is Lacey Act compliant, ensuring the timber used is responsibly harvested from sustainable forests, and Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers (AHMI) has verified data from the U.S. Forest Service that Appalachian Hardwood Territory timber—which Mohawk uses in select hardwood flooring lines—is sustainably certified.

Mohawk places a high priority on making certain the products retailers receive surpass the most rigorous testing. Mohawk, Quick-Step’s Q-Wood, Pergo and Columbia domestically produce engineered hardwoods. Also, Quick-Step, Pergo, Columbia and Mohawk’s patented glueless Uniclic technology provides fast, easy installation of laminate planks without adversely impacting indoor air quality.

Consumers want confidence in the products they buy. They want impartial experts to evaluate what materials are in a product and whether the way those ingredients are used in a particular product could be a concern. That’s where “green seals” or certifications can be very helpful.

That’s one of the key reasons why Shaw Floors goes beyond standards required by law to pursue independent, third-party assessments such as Cradle to Cradle, Greenguard, Green Label Plus, FloorScore and others.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.18 AMIt’s important for retailers, as a homeowner’s trusted advisor, to understand the variety of product certifications available for flooring including what each certification tests for, how that information is tested (i.e. by an independent third party) and how frequent those tests occurred. Furthermore, it’s incumbent on manufacturers to ensure their products are verified and clearly labeled and that ongoing education and training is provided to retailers to help them communicate to customers what those third-party certifications mean. By providing ongoing training to retailers, information on point of purchase displays and on shawfloors.com, the company aims to provide information and tools to help consumers make their purchase decisions.

Shaw has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, and the company strives to build upon its legacy of leadership every day. The company carefully considers the impact of its products on the environment and on society throughout the life cycle of the floors. Shaw examines the ingredient materials, the impact of its supply chain, the use of natural resources and the ability to recover and recycle its products.

In addition, Shaw manufactures many of its own products and sources from strategic partners in the U.S. and internationally to offer a broad portfolio of products to meet diverse customer preferences. In doing so, the company sets high standards for itself and its suppliers. Shaw takes numerous steps to verify that its products—regardless of where or by whom they are manufactured—meet customers’ high expectations. This includes: performing manufacturing site inspections to ensure suppliers meet the same high-quality standards Shaw sets for itself; setting raw material specifications that restrict the use of certain chemical substances of concern; and ensuring all products meet the indoor air emissions requirements of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method V1.1 (2010) and that relevant products meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Lacey Act requirements.

Beyond meeting regulatory requirements, Shaw employs third-party certifications to provide further confidence in the products it manufactures.

For example: 85% of the products Shaw manufactures are Cradle to Cradle Certified, including nylon and polyester carpet as well as solid and engineered hardwood. In addition, many of Shaw’s resilient products are FloorScore certified, and all Shaw manufactured carpet products are GLP certified. Lastly, all of Shaw’s hardwood and laminate flooring is Greenguard certified.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.26 AMTarkett practices sustainability through its ‘closed loop circular design’ model, which is Tarkett’s way of best applying the Cradle to Cradle principles to support the development of the circular economy. The company works in partnership with the German scientific institute EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency) to apply these principles across all its activities and product ranges.

Tarkett’s sustainable product design approach earned its recognition through its selection as one of the first companies to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 program in February 2013.

Several product ranges have already received a Cradle to Cradle certification: Gold level for linoleum Veneto Essenza 100% linen produced in Narni (Italy); silver level for linoleum, also produced in Narni; wood manufactured in Hanaskog (Sweden) and Poland; and basic level for rubber made in the USA and artificial turf produced in Auchel (France), Valls (Spain) and Calhoun, Ga. Since February 2010, Tarkett has been a member of the KKR Green Portfolio Program. Designed in partnership with the non-governmental organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the program requires Tarkett to commit to improving its environmental performance, including in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, forest stewardship and chemical product use.

 

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Thabet receives FCNews’ Lifetime Achievement Award

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.24.15 AMSt. Georges, Quebec, Canada—Pierre Thabet, owner of Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage prefinished hardwood flooring brand, was honored Sept. 14 with Floor Covering News’ sixth annual Al Wahnon Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented to Thabet by publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman, associate publisher Dustin Aaronson and sales associate Nadia Ramlakhan at Boa-Franc’s headquarters here.

Floor Covering News established the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 to recognize and celebrate those people who have not only made significant contributions to the floor covering industry, but, more important, worked toward its betterment and made a difference over a sustained period of time. Simply stated, the award is intended to recognize service and leadership that is of a scope and duration to be considered a lifetime achievement.

Thabet exemplifies everything this publication seeks in a Lifetime Achievement Award winner. It was 1983 when Thabet purchased Boa-Franc, which at the time had three employees. Six months later, he watched as flames tore apart his establishment. It was Saturday, March 3, 1984, and it was 25 degrees below zero. He tried to save as much as possible but then the roof collapsed. By 9:45 p.m. that night, nothing was left but ashes.

Thabet returned to the location the next day at 4:30 a.m., gathered his insurance papers and put together a plan to rebuild. Seventeen days later, the reconstructing began. The company was back in production less than three months later.

Out of the ashes of that March 3 fire a flame was lit that still burns 33 years later. Thabet rebuilt and grew his company to become the fourth-largest hardwood flooring manufacturer in North America with nearly 400 employees.

Growing up in St. Georges, Thabet said many people from this area were instilled with the work ethic that success only comes from perseverance. One of his favorite sayings is: “I play not to play, I play to win. To be the best in everything is not possible, but you should be the best at what you commit to. One of our common values at Mirage is ‘GCS,’ which stands for good common sense. It is about having pride in what we do.”

Thabet founded Boa-Franc with the belief that quality would be the best weapon to differentiate itself from its competition. And he has hammered that “quality” theme for over 30 years. He believes quality extends beyond a product—it is the quality of service you provide; it’s the people you hire and the customers with which you align yourself.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.25.10 AM“Pierre’s drive for progress and quality has established a culture that is dedicated to doing the best work in all things and at all times,” said Bruce Zwicker, the former CEO of J.J. Haines, the industry’s leading distributor. “The word ‘compromise’ is not in his vocabulary. His flair for flooring fashion and design means Mirage offers some of the most beautiful hardwood floors available.

“Consumers will tell you the product is virtually flawless,” he continued. “Mirage is the best flooring manufacturer in North America and probably the world.”

Mirage and Thabet are never satisfied with the status quo and have worked relentlessly for the past 33 years to produce quality products on a consistent basis without compromise. The company strives to be the best every day by applying rigorous and painstakingly small details that make all the difference in creating a high-quality product.

Ray Mancini Jr., president of Belknap White Group, the industry’s No. 3 distributor in sales, has carried the Mirage brand for seven years. When asked what attributes come to mind when he thinks of Mirage, he said, “Best quality, great culture, great partners and successful, excellent marketers. They are very good at communicating their mission and vision to their people.”

Thabet, in keeping with his unselfish manner, credits his employees for the company’s ongoing success. “This award belongs to every employee from the Boa-Franc team. They deserve all the credit because they’re the ones who have made all the difference these past 35 years. Of course, nobody can be the best in everything they do, but you should strive to be the best at what you’re really committed to.”

Impact outside flooring
But owning arguably the best hardwood flooring company in the world is only part of what makes Thabet deserving of a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also worked for the betterment of his community. Through Boa-Franc, Thabet supports the regional hospital foundation, children—as it relates to both health and sports—the homeless and people with addictions. He believes he has been blessed to have a beautiful, healthy and loving family (four children and 11 grandchildren) and to live in a safe and prosperous community. With that, he recognizes there are those born without a supporting family, health and resources. Thabet believes it is our duty to give back to the community and help those less fortunate by giving them access to shelter, food, good hospitals and other services.

Thabet has also stepped up when someone at Boa-Franc needs assistance. There was a time when the wife of an employee had been enduring multiple symptoms of severe joint inflammation, extreme fatigue and even had to stop working. One day Thabet learned after numerous visits with her physician, the employee’s wife had not received a specific diagnosis. He proceeded to introduce the couple to top-of-the-line physicians and specialists. He followed up with the physician and employee’s wife to make sure she was receiving the appropriate care. She eventually was diagnosed with Lyme disease and is now getting proper treatment for her condition.

Another example: Back in the spring of 2015, Thabet became the honorary president of the annual fund raiser campaign for LEUCAN, which provides services and care to sick children dealing with cancer. Among the activities was to have your head shaved in a symbol of empathy toward the sick children battling cancer. Thabet convinced a group of 22 Boa-Franc employees, including himself, to be shaved against sponsorships that the company matched dollar for dollar. It ended up gathering $93,000 from employees and Boa-Franc, and totaling $238,000 from Pierre’s presidency.

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Power of brands: Quality products, service stand out in a crowd

August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Lindsay Baillie

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.51.42 PMA well-known brand has great influence in the mind of the consumer; it can affect her positively or negatively, research shows. According to Latham & Co., a brand consultancy, a strong brand contains incredible power—not just how it is perceived in the world, but also how it redefines the competitive landscape, connects with prospects and influencers, creates memorable experiences, builds lasting relationships and helps leaders better manage people, resources and profits.

For many flooring dealers, brands matter, especially when products and services are backed by the companies they represent. “A strong brand brings awareness of mind,” said Kevin Rose, president and owner, Carpetland Color Tile, Rockford, Ill. “This is good for all flooring retailers as we battle for the consumer’s disposable income.”

A strong brand can also draw attention to a particular flooring store. As Mary Ann Gore, office manager, Bridgeport Carpets, Alpharetta, Ga., explains: “For example, if a customer is new to an area and does an Internet search on local retailers, she is typically going to look for a product that is familiar to her.”

While name recognition holds a certain importance for flooring brands, dealers can also benefit from established name recognition. Case in point is Ted’s Abbey Carpet & Floor, with multiple locations in Alabama. “We have really tried to market our store’s names to the consumers in our market area,” said Ted Gregerson, president and owner, “We feel like we have done a really good job of it, because consumers in our market refer to us as simply ‘Abbey.’ We feel if our consumers trust us and our own Abbey brand, then they will have confidence in all the products we sell.”

The strength inside the original COREtec floors
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.39.29 PMUSFloors is regarded as the originator of the WPC category—true disruptors and innovators in the industry. It is committed to providing beautiful and durable floors at an excellent value while minimizing the impact on the environment whenever possible. The COREtec brand is focused on providing an exceptional customer experience throughout the new flooring purchase.

USFloors knows today’s consumers value authenticity over perfection—from brands, experiences and daily life. They seek to engage with brands that mirror that authenticity—brands that stand up for what they believe and deliver upon it. Expectations of a brand’s intuitive nature drive their interest. When it comes to purchasing a new floor, they want to make a smart, practical choice—one that reflects their originality and can be enjoyed for years to come. USFloors addresses these consumer needs in a way that satisfies and delights them from initial inspiration to final installation. COREtec is perfect for expressing the originality and creativity that lives within them. USFloors provides an ever-evolving portfolio of waterproof floors that embody style and strength that can withstand whatever real life has in store for the consumer.

In addition to authenticity, consumers share a common driving need for simplicity in this era of ever-expanding choices. The number of flooring options has expanded dramatically, leaving today’s consumers feeling overwhelmed and under extreme pressure to make the right purchase decisions. With the average floor shopping process lasting more than five months, consumers will reward easy, simple and trustworthy brands. They seek out brands that receive high accolades on style and performance and are recommended by peers with real world experiences.

The entrepreneurial passion that lives within the core of USFloors drives the company to redefine the way consumers discover COREtec floors. Consumers are drawn to attributes that inspire them and shopping experiences that match the high standards they set for the products themselves. Today’s consumer can identify an original, and USFloors believes they applaud an approachable brand that is smart, modern and bold. They can feel the commitment of style and performance and appreciate the result of the American dream. They recognize products that are unique and sustainable and want to be loyal to the brands that deliver on a promise. As the original COREtec floors, USFloors is rewarded by their sense of style and practical purchases.

USFloors is thrilled to be at the helm of this young industry brand. The company sets no boundaries and has an endless future of solutions ahead. COREtec will erupt into 2018 with vigor to share its successful innovations and leadership with consumers nationwide. Throughout it all, USFloors will continue to create value and a healthy platform for growth for its retail partners.

USFloors and COREtec—authentic to the core.

 

The power in the family of brands
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.39.39 PMMohawk enjoys global brand recognition as the world’s largest flooring manufacturer. With facilities and manufacturing operations across the nation, Mohawk is committed to American-made manufacturing and the communities and families it impacts on a daily basis. From product conception to the manufacturing process to the transportation of products, Mohawk employees are providing the foundations for homes and businesses around the world.
The power of brand and its attributes is vastly important for infrequent purchase categories such as flooring. Strong branding gives consumers peace of mind, allowing them to feel confident about their investment. Retailers–both large and small–leverage the power of the Mohawk brand around the world each and every day.

Mohawk and its family of brands are among the most well known in the flooring industry. These include: Aladdin, American Olean, American Rug Craftsmen, Century, Columbia, Daltile, Durkan, IVC, Karastan, Marazzi, Moduleo, Mohawk Group, Mohawk Home, Pergo, Q-Wood, Quick-Step, Ragno and SolidTech. The company’s vertically integrated manufacturing and distribution processes provide competitive advantages in the production of carpet, carpet tile, rugs, ceramic tile, laminate, hardwood, stone and luxury vinyl flooring. The enterprise-wide innovations yield products and technologies that are differentiated in the marketplace.

The organization invests heavily in the Mohawk brand by way of lead generation, advertising, digital marketing, public relations, merchandising, point-of-sale, innovative products and national promotions, just to name a few. These efforts result in high consumer recognition and increased profit margins for Mohawk’s retailers.

The primary reason Mohawk invests in its family of brands is to deliver qualified consumer leads to its valued retail partners. The current pace of change in the flooring industry requires new programs that give its retailers the inside track to stay ahead of the competition.

 

A brand built on service, innovation and progress
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.39.44 PMHonesty, integrity and passion set the stage 50 years ago and have served as the foundation from which Shaw Floors was established. Since that time, the company’s values remain true while Shaw Floors has transformed from a single category producer to a leading, total flooring brand with a forward-focused dedication to servicing our customers and the end-user consumer. Shaw is proud of its heritage and grateful for the confidence retailers have demonstrated over the years.

The celebration of Shaw’s 50th anniversary this year is marked by its corporate vision of creating a better future: for its customers, its people and the communities it serves. As Shaw reflects on the important milestones of its past, it is reminded that progress isn’t achieved by resting on previous successes, but by looking to the future and empowering its associates to lead the company into a new era of innovation.

One thing that remains constant is the Shaw Floors brand is synonymous with flooring expertise. The company prides itself on being pioneers of design and innovation and won’t settle for anything less than exceptional service. All of these elements are trademarks of the Shaw brand, reinforced each year through the many surveys and rankings voted on by its valued retail partners. Shaw Floors feels honored that the breadth of its product portfolio earns the company the unique ability to provide consumers with flooring that makes sense for their space. Through our products and services, the consumer’s design vision comes to life.

Shaw Floors has demonstrated continuous leadership not only through its company values but also through cutting-edge innovations such as: its patent-pending Floorté PRO collection, offering the industry’s first direct-glue rigid core products; its completely redesigned EPIC Plus engineered hardwood line featuring the Extreme Nature collection, which boasts the longest, widest hardwood planks made in the USA; its revolutionary LifeGuard waterproof carpet backing technology protecting against life’s mishaps to give consumers the cleanest carpet for healthy living; and its exclusive sound-abatement research and proprietary intelligence depicting a comprehensive landscape of today’s consumer. These products and services, plus many others, provide retailers with solutions that ultimately give consumers confidence in their investment. Shaw Floors will continue heavily investing in its shared industry in an effort to drive market understanding, demand and brand preference, and it appreciate the partnership with retailers.

 

A name synonymous with unique style, fashion and design
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.39.51 PMDealers and distributors who carry the Provenza brand attest to its association with high style and design. After all, according to Ron Sadri, president, it was Provenza who helped usher in the handscraped trend about 20 years ago. The company said it was also responsible for innovations such as custom-infused colors, oil finishes and other creative surface treatments such as reactive staining—a technique that’s common across the industry today.

“Our focus on setting the trend for fashion and design in hardwood flooring makes us truly unique,” Sadri said. “Our distributors and retail partners see us as the leader in our market while others are followers.”

That industry recognition was demonstrated at Surfaces 2017 earlier this year, when Provenza walked away with a Best of Show award in the category of style and design for its Colour Nation Lighthouse Cove collection, a line of wide-plank flooring featuring multiple stains, colors and surface treatments. “It was a confirmation from the judges and the dealers that our products stand out from everyone else,” Sadri said. “People really understand Provenza and they appreciate the creativity we put behind every line we produce.”

But for Provenza, high style and design doesn’t necessarily have to translate into products that exceed the reach of mainstream consumers. “We always try to make products that are affordable to the consumer,” Sadri said. “That makes it easier for dealers to go to our products and pick everything from good quality and moderate pricing all the way up to a designer look.”

 

A leader in private labeling
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.39.56 PMBBOSS is a true industry leader when it comes to the specialty of private labeling. Established in 2008, this fast-growing company is intent on raising the bar for private label and providing its clients with new ways to sustain long-term growth in today’s highly competitive wood flooring market.

The BBOSS approach begins with a factory direct relationship and eliminating unnecessary costs. Dealing direct with the manufacturer and U.S. supporting offices gives clients peace of mind that they have both local and international support.

BBOSS attributes its tremendous success to providing clients with a unique partnership, which helps them drive business while reducing their costs. Additionally, BBOSS offers a full breadth of products, from entry level to multiple upgraded visuals, all from one mill, with the flexibility to mix on any order as needed.

With one of the most knowledgeable and experienced teams in the industry, BBOSS stays on top of ever-changing market trends related to engineered and solid hardwood flooring. The team partners with each private label client, guiding them through the process of developing and growing their own brand and designs products that meet consumer trends and are tailored to their specific market. BBOSS provides a high level of customer service, thanks in part to the company’s award-winning education and training programs.

But perhaps the best advantage of all is BBOSS offers differentiation in all facets of private label, which is a unique way for a retailer’s brand to stand out in an otherwise crowded market.

To learn more about private labeling, contact BBOSS at bbossinc.com or call 855-442-2677.

 

Better together
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.40.01 PMFor more than 130 years, Tarkett has been at the foundation of creating more beautiful spaces and unlocking the infinite possibilities that happen when people come together.

Tarkett is creating together, honoring its values of collaboration to create something worth more than the sum of its parts. The company is building brands together by uniting its family of brands—Tandus Centiva, Johnsonite and Desso—to ensure they are designed to work together.

Tarkett is designing together, working with designers inside and outside the industry to challenge the way floor coverings can be used.
It is also working together to deliver products and ideas that anticipate where the workplace is headed.

Tarkett is inspiring together, pushing the boundaries of design and using its flooring in bold new ways. More importantly, Tarkett is doing good together, leading sustainable business practices and prioritizing the health of people and the planet.

At Tarkett, together is simply better.

 

Providing quality, service and coordinating products for every hardwood floor
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.40.06 PMPennwood continuously pursues high standards in manufacturing and marketing of flooring transitions, stair products and vents. The Pennwood staff studies and researches trends in design, color and finish.

The company currently matches 6,000 different hardwood floors, ranging in color, style and textures with standard boards all held in the Pennwood Color Library. Pennwood employees take pride in their craftsmanship and as long as the company has the color standard, it can custom produce a retailer’s stair treads or flooring transition with a normal turnaround time of two to three weeks.

Pennwood believes in partnering and can customize a program for a retailer’s specific needs. The company can produce various fixed lengths in moldings and stair treads. It also offers random length flooring transitions up to 12 feet, which is increasingly popular in the builder and multi-family market segments.

Today the Pennwood brand means uncompromising value, known for innovation and a driving force within the industry. Pennwood is synonymous with a “we can do” attitude.

 

A brand is best built in person
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.40.10 PMA brand is a company’s biggest asset, according to Thomas Trissl, principal, HPS Schönox. Furthermore, cultivating relationships is a crucial part of building a company’s brand.

“All the advertising and marketing we do is important, but nothing replaces the value of face-to-face conversations like those we have on a daily basis on the jobsite with installers, in an office with architects/designers or in the warehouse with our distributors,” Trissl explained. “A brand mirrors the expectation of prospective customers and the experience of existing customers.”

Schönox, HPS North America has developed a promotional strategy of combining multimedia, product education and exceptional customer support while maintaining communication to strengthen existing relationships and establish new ones.

With these relationships, the Schönox brand can grow and build a legacy that presents key qualities in the market.

Exceptional quality, service and knowledge
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.44.13 PMThe two factors that consistently and unequivocally set a brand apart from others in its category are quality and service, and Bamboo Hardwoods does just that.

From the company’s humble beginnings growing bamboo and innovating products from its own groves to becoming an industry powerhouse, Bamboo Hardwoods’ foundation of bamboo knowledge has always given it a competitive edge. Every product made is done so with meticulous quality and care using premium adhesives, finishes and modern technologies, while taking time to produce the perfect product. In addition, Bamboo Hardwoods has revolutionized bamboo flooring by focusing on what consumers demand most: trendsetting style and design. The emphasis on aesthetics elevated bamboo flooring from a niche product to being regarded as another attractive choice in the hardwood flooring category.

When it comes to customer service, Bamboo Hardwoods transcends the business-client relationship by focusing on establishing rapport and sincere connections with its customers. With multiple warehouse locations across the United States and fully stocked East and West coast warehouses, customers can rest assured knowing they will promptly receive the product desired.

Bamboo Hardwoods is dedicated to continuing its reigning status as a pioneer of the specialty flooring industry.

 

A brand with a vision
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.44.20 PMThe Novalis Innovative Flooring brand was started in 1984 and began actual production of product in 1986–the first luxury vinyl flooring facility built by anyone in China.

Since that time, Novalis has accomplished a record of other “firsts”: Novalis was the first Chinese LVT manufacturer to achieve ISO 9001 certification. Novalis was the first with an ISO 14001 environmental certificate. And Novalis is the first and only Chinese LVT brand certified with OHSAS 18001. Novalis was very happy to be the first Chinese LVT manufacturer with a fully localized Environmental Product Declaration, Health Product Declaration and Declare labeling, all being introduced in 2015.

On this foundation of sustainable, quality design and engineering accomplishments, Novalis launched its NovaFloor brand in North America over five years ago. NovaFloor is made primarily for the American floor covering retail channel, and is sold through distributors and their dealers for the residential and Main Street commercial markets.

At NeoCon East 2015, Novalis officially unveiled its new commercial LVT brand for North America called “AVA.” AVA stands for Advanced Vinyl Artistry and is made for the commercial specified market. Capri Cork manages the AVA brand in the U.S. and Canada through its extensive list of dedicated commercial agents.

Always guiding the brand’s development is its “vision” that encompasses three key principles: art, quality and nature.

When it comes to LVT, Novalis views “art” as the authentic reproductions of natural elements to create imaginative, inspiring spaces.

Novalis “quality” means an investment in the research and performance to make the best LVT possible.

And the Novalis vision for “nature” is all about producing its product responsibly while conserving energy and resources.

Learn more at novalisinnovativeflooring.com.

 

Innovative brand spread its wings
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.45.39 PMEngineered Floors, the third-largest carpet company in the world, has continued its singular mission to be the flooring brand of choice. This year Engineered Floors revamped its digital presence with a new website to align its family of brands under a common theme: “We have one mission. Make the best carpet in the world.” The new site (engineeredfloors.com) showcases Engineered Floors’ complete family of brands and its drive to “intersect” with customers’ desires for style, durability, comfort, quality and tradition. It combines new room scene photography, links to the company’s varied social media platforms and advanced functionality to make it easier and more engaging to use.

The company’s new website, along with the new signature for its advertising, reinforces the strength of Engineered Floors in its collection of brands, each aimed at a specific flooring segment. The Engineered Floors family of brands consists of: Dream Weaver for residential replacement; Pentz Commercial Flooring Solutions for Main Street; DWellings for new home construction; and Engineered Floors Multifamily.

The company is also bringing to market new innovations including a commercial polyester fiber, advanced polyester extrusion (Apex SDP) under the Pentz Commercial Solutions brand. The offering includes the styles Revival and Revolution, which join the widely successful original Apex SDP styles Quicksilver and Fast Break.

In addition, Engineered Floors is rapidly completing a new, state-of-the-art carpet tile manufacturing facility in Dalton. The move is in response to the growing demand for modular carpet tile for Main Street applications.

The initial phase of the plant, expected to open in January 2018, will total 520,000 square feet. This will be the fourth new facility the company has built in northwest Georgia since 2009.

 

The power of a strong brand partnership
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.45.43 PMWith more than 65 years of proven innovation, market leadership and dedication to quality, Scotchgard has the protective products and brand strength to help make our partners successful. A brand partnership with Scotchgard Protector strengthens the value of the host brand and creates opportunities that can:

•Increase edge over competition
•Build brand equity in new markets
•Increase sales
•Grow market penetration
•Expand credibility to both brands

The Scotchgard brand name has been synonymous with protection for multiple generations. Invented in the 1950s and protecting floors from their owners since the 1970s, Scotchgard Protector has become one of the leading brands of stain, spill and soil protection in markets around the world.

When companies have a history of selling products that are dependable, reliable and in line with consumer needs, consumers begin to develop trust in the product and loyalty to the brand. The real power in the Scotchgard Brand is that it represents that one last thing consumers want when they purchase a product—peace of mind. It can close the sale.

 

Where innovation is a way of life
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.45.48 PMPhenix Flooring is more than just another manufacturer—it’s a flooring experience. From designing and developing premium products to its commitment to advancing research, development and production through the latest state-of-the-art technologies, Phenix makes innovation a way of life. Through this commitment, Phenix continues to grow and serve its customers with passion, values and an unwavering dedication to the production of quality products.

With the launch of the Cleaner Home collection, Phenix delivers on this mantra by offering a line rich in color and design with proactive technologies such as Microban, Opulance HD and Surefresh that provide optimal antimicrobial protection, stain resistance and prolonged beauty at an affordable price.

Above all, Phenix strives to deliver the highest standard of service to its clients. As a Pharr Family company, Phenix is backed by generations of manufacturing genius, flanked by supportive brands.

 

Powered by quality and service for more than 30 years
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.45.57 PMOffering superior quality products has always been Mirage’s No. 1 priority. Maintaining this quality consistency is the daily challenge and a goal that each employee strives to attain. This commitment to excellence speaks to the dedication, devotion and knowledge of Mirage’s people—from the worker in the plant to the sales representatives in the field.

That quality extends to the service it provides. For more than 30 years the staff at Mirage has pursued a common goal: To go above and beyond customer expectations and adapt to her needs. This is what Mirage’s legacy is built on.

The numerous quality awards Mirage has received in the last decade—more than 30—is a testament to the company’s unwavering efforts. Indeed, quality has powered the Mirage brand for more than 30 years and will continue to for another 30 years. This success does not mean Mirage can rest on its laurels; quality is a journey, not a destination.

 

Steeped in tradition
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 3.46.02 PMFor over 60 years, DriTac Flooring Products has manufactured premium-grade adhesives and installation solutions for the wood and resilient floor covering markets.

DriTac was established in 1956, offering one product—DriTac 6200—that continues to stand the test of time several decades later. Since then, DriTac, via its state-of-the-art laboratory and research facility in the U.S., has expanded its product line and is currently one of a few adhesive manufacturers to offer all the major technologies: urethane, MS polymer, pressure sensitive, acrylic and more. DriTac has become a leader in developing wood flooring adhesives that offer sound and moisture control with a single-component, one-step application.

A trailblazer in cultivating environmentally friendly flooring adhesives and installation products, DriTac offers a full line of zero VOC, zero solvent and independently tested products that have been certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus Program for Indoor Air Quality.

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Wood: Canadian suppliers seek to play the ‘Q’ (as in quality) card

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.14 PMIn some circles, Canada is renown for developing some of the greatest hockey players—and teams—in the history of the sport. Well, the same could be said for the nation’s formidable forestry sector, which has produced some of the most prolific producers of hardwood flooring.

But it’s not just high volumes that some of these well-respected companies are cranking out. Many industry observers would argue that they manufacture some of the industry’s highest quality hardwood flooring products.

Take Rochester, N.Y.-based Installers Warehouse as an example. This wholesale flooring distributor ranks the Wickham line high on its portfolio of hardwood flooring products. Craig Dupra, president, has toured the Wickham plant on multiple occasions and is always impressed with what he sees. “Wickham has a unique business model in that it produces an enormous amount of product, but the company doesn’t apply a color or a finish until the product has been ordered by the retailer or distributor. I don’t know how it manages the logistics of it, but the company is very good at making a particular product for a particular customer and still gets it to my customer in 10-15 business days from the time the order is placed. This gives retailers an enormous amount of flexibility in terms of how the particular floor can be made regarding width, species, grade, color and sheen.”

Perhaps it’s the signature, tight-grained maple species native to the various Canadian forests where lumber used for flooring is predominantly harvested, or maybe it’s just an ingrained mindset embraced by the major wood manufacturers operating here, but there’s definitely something to be said about the quality of the upper-end hardwood flooring products originating from Canada. Marketplace reputation probably plays a role as well, observers say.

Abraham Linc, which took on the Wickham line late last year, also attests to the company’s focus on high standards. “Our entire team is excited to partner with Wickham and offer this line to our customers,” said Darren Abraham, president. “The high quality of the products, fashion-forward colors and design, combined with our commitment to inventory, delivery and sales support gives our dealers an exciting new line.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.31 PMAsk virtually any top distributor or retailer to corroborate many Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturers’ claims that their products are among the highest quality available on the market today, and you are not likely to find a lot of hesitation. Jaeckle Distributors, based in Madison, Wis., is a case in point.

“Mercier gives us a first-quality Canadian manufactured wood line that fits all possibilities in today’s ever-changing customer lifestyle,” said Steve Flanagan, product and marketing manager. “Mercier fits the consumer’s need anywhere from a quality entry-level product in their Pro Series to the most fashionable 7-inch pine long board or other popular species like hickory, maple, red and white oak, and their entire exotics series.”

Jaeckle’s experience with the Mercier brand continues to generate positive results. For 2016, Brad Myers, sales manager with Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors in St. Louis, won the manufacturer’s Best Salesperson of the Year award In addition, for the third straight year, Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors earned Wholesaler of the Year honors from Mercier.

Other top distributors are singing the praises of Canadian hardwood. For instance, No. 1-ranked Haines counts the Mirage Hardwood Flooring brand among its best sellers. “Mirage’s Flair collection features a next-generation finish called Duramatt, an extremely durable, low-gloss urethane finish that has the appearance of an oil finish without the maintenance required for oil,” said Shawn McCloskey, marketing manager. “Duramatt also contains anti-microbial agents and is 20 times more wear resistant than a conventional oil finish.”

Other Mirage distributors, including No. 4-ranked All Tile, applaud the virtues of not only the manufacturer’s high-quality products but also the company’s steadfast approach to manufacturing overall and attention to detail. So much so that All Tile recently decided to expand the territories in which it will distribute the Mirage brand. Specifically, All Tile’s single-source trading area for Mirage Flooring will be widened beyond Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, eastern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, Illinois and Michigan to include North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and all of Wisconsin.

“This is a great opportunity to provide a high level of quality service with outstanding customer service, inventory and technology to Mirage customers and help them selling the top-quality hardwood flooring brand on the market,” said Bob Weiss, president of All Tile, a Mirage wholesale partner since 2007. “We are very happy about extending our partnership with Mirage to a new territory.”

Focus on innovation
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.20 PMMuch like their counterparts south of the border in America, most Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturers face stiff competition from other quality-minded suppliers operating in their market. To gain a competitive advantage, many employ proprietary techniques in their respective manufacturing processes. One common denominator, though, is the obligatory attention to detail.

That same emphasis on strict quality control measures is observed at Lauzon. As Priscilla Bergeron, brand manager, explains: “We have numerous points of control to make sure every step of the way our quality is maintained. This starts right from the forests where we choose which tree we’re going to cut all the way through to delivery to the retailer. We also have state-of-the-art equipment to make sure the quality is maintained consistently. We test and re-test to make sure everything we produce has the highest standards in the market. And we communicate that message to the marketplace.”

This focus on attention paved the way for innovations such as Sunshield, which is designed to mitigate the harmful effects of UV light. Lauzon also developed a titanium finish, which it says is one of the strongest coatings on the market. And then there’s Pure Genius technology, which aims to provide air-purifying capabilities for homeowners.

“We have won many awards for Pure Genious alone,” Bergeron said. “In 2015 we won the Best of IBS Award in Las Vegas and we also won the Bronze Innovation award from IIDEX Canada in the flooring category. We also won an innovation award at Domotex in Germany in 2015, and we ranked high among environmentally friendly products at the Greenbuild show as well.”

Even Canadian newcomers to the hardwood arena are looking to leverage the country’s reputation for quality products. For example, Uniboard Canada, which previously only produced laminate flooring, launched its first engineered hardwood flooring line (Kalista) at the NWFA convention in 2016. Since that time, the company has expanded the color and species offerings to give dealers and distributors more options.

Tapis Beaver, a Uniboard distributor based in Montreal, recently previewed the Kalista line and has high hopes for its potential in the marketplace. Already a longtime distributor of Uniboard’s laminate lines, Tapis Beaver is quite familiar with the manufacturer’s overall approach to product quality, high standards and service.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.24 PM“We work more on the laminate side than any other product,” said Stephane Leveille, president, Tapis Beaver. “We placed around 150 displays since last December, and we sold about $1 million or more worth of product. We don’t have any complaints about the product. The quality is very good.”

Citing their innovative approach to manufacturing—as well as the proximity to its operations and customer base—Leveille hinted that there may be an opportunity to take on the Kalista brand down the road. “We have looked into the product but we didn’t start to sell it yet. We are still in discussions with Uniboard management to see how we could work with our customers.”

Other major Canadian suppliers are also garnering attention for their innovative approach to hardwood manufacturing. Earlier this year Satin Flooring took home a Best of Surfaces Award for Wirebrushed, part of the Generations engineered wood collection. The innovative, environmentally friendly product is treated with Satin’s proprietary, non-allergenic, formaldehyde-free Eco-Last finish with UV protection and an anti-microbial finish, which prevents bacterial and fungus growth. It also features the company’s SolidFused technology, which is used in its engineered flooring production.

According to Dennis Mohn, director of U.S. sales for Satin Flooring, the company only uses lumber from well-managed North American forests—a big selling point for both existing and potential customers. “As a leading user of one of nature’s most precious and inspiring resources, we have a special responsibility not just to our environment but also to each other.”

Many Canadian distributor partners generally believe all these attributes—product quality, attention to detail, responsible use of natural resources—translate into products that provide higher margin opportunities with low claims rates. “Wickham has allowed us to grow our business by leaps and bounds,” Installers Warehouse Dupra said. “By stocking the Wickham line, we have easily doubled our bottom line.”