Posted on

FCNews announces winners of Charity Football League

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.36.06 PMHicksville—In the fall of 2016 Floor Covering News kicked off its Fantasy Football for a Cause league, which raises money for various local and national charities. Earlier this month checks were distributed to each of the participating manufacturers to forward along to their respective charities and causes.

Following is a breakdown of the winners:

Salesmaster won first place and a total of $13,000 for its charity—The American Cancer Society.

Mohawk Commercial earned second place with a total of $11,250 for its charity—Susan G. Komen.

Coverings took home third place honors with a total of $6,500 for its charity—The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.

FCNews won fourth place, initially raising $6,750 for its charity, Long Island Cares Food Bank, but raised the amount to $10,000.

Raskin Industries took home fifth place honors raising $4000 for its charity, The Melanoma Foundation.

Mohawk Residential came in sixth place with a total of $1,500 for its charity, Sunshine on a Ranney Day.

Nonn Flooring earned seventh place with a total of $2,750 for its charity—The MS Association of Wisconsin.

DriTac Adhesives took home eighth place honors with $2,250 for its charity—Habitat for Humanity of NYC

Metroflor came in ninth, raising $1,500 for its charity—The Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America.

Mirage came in tenth with $500 for its charity, St. Judes Children’s Hospital.

Posted on

2015 expected to pick up after sluggish, underwhelming 2014

December 8/15, 2014; Volume 28/Number 12

By Ken Ryan

Some flooring executives are using the phrase “slow and steady wins the race” in reference to the improving economy with hopes that 2015 will be a victory for the flooring industry in the face of a weaker-than-expected 2014.

Ed Duncan President, Mannington Residential

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.09.15 PMMannington’s forecast for the industry in 2015 is for low single-digit growth of around 3% to 5%. We expect residential remodeling to maintain its current modest growth level and single-family new home starts to grow approximately 8% to 10% year over year.

We see modest growth across all key segments—not dramatic growth. Specifically, slow but steady improvement that’s driven by general demographics and economic activity. But for 2015 we don’t see there being a significant change.

Mannington’s own forecast is always to outperform the industry. We have a lot of new initiatives we think will fuel that performance, which will be introduced at Surfaces.

2015 will be a big year for Mannington. We continue the transition to domestically produced LVT as our new facility in Madison, Ga., comes online. In addition, we have a new lineup of products in every category that will be unveiled in January. And last but not least, we are gearing up for Mannington’s Centennial, which we’ll celebrate at the end of 2015 and through 2016.

Bruce Zwicker CEO, Haines

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.09.23 PMNo one knows what the demand for flooring will be next year. All of us were fooled last fall when the unanimous 2014 growth rate was another 7% to 8%, just like 2013. But we have been disappointed this year. In 2014 market demand grew about 3% and supply perhaps as much as 5%. Inventory in the pipeline increased but not to excessive levels, and manufacturers had to moderate production rates to accommodate slower demand.

In the first quarter of 2015 we will beat the very poor Q1 2014 comps. After that, each quarter’s demand in 2015 will be equal to or slightly above the corresponding quarter of 2014. If those assumptions are correct, then flooring demand in 2015 will increase about 4% to 5%.

For Haines, we will forecast a budget increase of about 4% to 5%, more or less market growth. We expect to gain share but think the demand forecast for next year is not certain. Therefore, we will hedge our bets against the possibility of another disappointing year and budget sales equal to market and hope to beat our budget.

We think the growth will come from all three demand segments with new residential the strongest and both commercial and residential remodeling more modest.

We are excited about the new dedicated Armstrong division. We now have a sales and marketing team that does nothing but work hard to bring to our customers the best that Armstrong has to offer.

We have also established the Haines supplies division, ranging from Pennsylvania to Florida. This is an emerging large supplies business, so we need to figure out the best way to service our customers and bring that model to all 26 supplies centers.

Tom Lape President, Mohawk Residential

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.09.33 PMWe see 2015 as a positive year for the floor covering industry for units and dollars. It would be fair to say 2014 did not pan out how we thought it would from an overall demand standpoint, but we’re optimistic for 2015.

The floor covering industry gets good benefit from any existing home sales. Existing home sales were up anywhere from 3.5% to 5% in 2013, and were down 3.5% in 2014. That is a major flip.

As we look forward to 2015, we see consumer confidence continuing to do well along with favorable trends on interest rates and employment. The mood is still optimistic and the fundamentals look solid.

Single-family home sales still have not reached the halfway point of where it was at its peak in 2006. We expect another positive year, but we still have a ways to go to reach the midway point. We’re seeing more demand for multi-family based on shifts in demographics, and that’s good for flooring.

On the commercial side, we’re bullish on Main Street; we see that as a net contributor to the business. We see more demand from modular carpet tile, and we have made substantial upgrades to that line, as well as the addition of a comprehensive LVT line that our Main Street reps will carry. We feel Main Street will continue to outperform residential in 2015.

In early 2014 we separated our business from a distribution standpoint. We took our multi-family and builder sales force and separated them out to drive more of our specified business. We also consolidated hard and soft surface products to our builder and multi-family segments, and that has generated a great deal of specified work.

On the product side, Continuum, our patented polyester process, continues to perform well, and we will continue to expand this offering.

SmartStrand is our coups de grâce, and we expect 2015 to be our biggest year ever for SmartStrand, with a number of styles and constructions, new fiber systems and our SmartStrand Forever Clean product, which will be the story for 2015.

Randy Merritt President, Shaw Industries

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.09.39 PMThe economic reports we follow indicate that 2015 construction spending will be strong and household formation is on the rise, which is a positive signal for the flooring industry.

For Shaw, the capital investments we have announced over the past two years reflect growing market demand for carpet tile, LVT and engineered hardwood.

LVT continues to be an industry growth leader, and in the commercial space carpet tile will continue to dominate. We expect continued decline in the use of broadloom in commercial settings, with the exception of the hospitality sector.

In 2015 and beyond, success will be driven by continuing to innovate to develop products that meet our customers’ preferences in terms of both value and style. We will also look for ways to be nimble in order to respond to the increased desire for customization and the increased pace of changing customer demands. We’ll continue to offer innovative products and services to meet our customers’ needs.

Next year we will see the realization of many of our manufacturing investments, including the completion of our engineered hardwood plant expansion, our new LVT manufacturing plant in Ringgold, Ga., and the opening of Evergreen Ringgold, the latest addition to our diverse recycling portfolio.

Among our array of services, we’ll continue to provide robust dealer training and services to support their success. The market will continue to evolve, and we’re committed to driving innovation into the business to ensure Shaw and its retailers continue to thrive.

Donald Maier CEO, Armstrong Flooring Products

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.09.46 PMWe think opportunities lie in having a fully integrated, vibrant line when remodel comes back. Having products for different construction types, different needs and different design tastes is key to winning in the market. The challenge is in educating consumers and salespeople, helping them understand the full value of their options.

Many homeowners prefer hard surface flooring because it is seen as being more durable, easier to clean and better for indoor air quality than soft surface. Vinyl flooring will continue to be popular because of its low cost, durability and minimal maintenance. We are continually focused on delivering leading edge designs and innovations to differentiate our products. However, we do believe that vinyl flooring will see below-average growth due to ongoing competition from other hard surface flooring materials.

I also think we are stacking up strong in innovation across the portfolio, whether it’s in sheet vinyl or our Alterna products, wood offerings or laminates.

Regarding 2015, business is dynamic, and it’s important we stay agile enough to respond to any change or new opportunities that present themselves. We are excited about the growth in our LVT business, both in the residential and commercial segments. We are looking forward to the opening of our LVT plant in Lancaster, Pa., next year. With an investment of over $40 million in a plant expansion and an LVT line of our own, we can serve the North American market—where industry sales for luxury vinyl tile are growing at a double-digit clip—from Lancaster.

Posted on

Mohawk takes SmartStrand to the next level with Forever Clean

Forever Clean is next generation of triexta

By Jenna Lippin

Photo by Ronda Churchill www.rondachurchill.comOrlando—How do you make a great product even better? In the case of Mohawk’s revolutionary SmartStrand carpet, the answer is responding to consumers’ greatest needs by exponentially increasing the product’s performance attributes.

According to Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential, SmartStrand has been the largest initiative in the 136-year history of Mohawk since the product’s launch 10 years ago. “But it’s not only about history; it’s about what we are doing next. SmartStrand represents a decade of innovation, and it’s about to get a whole lot better. Innovators look to where they can go.”

Launched in 2005, SmartStrand is made of triexta, which was the first newly classified fiber by the FCC in over 50 years. Two years later, SmartStrand became the carpet industry’s first bio-based product. Most recently, SmartStrand Silk, unveiled in 2012, set the standard in premium soft carpet. More than 7 million homes have been installed with SmartStrand in the past decade.

So, where does Mohawk go with SmartStrand, or, as Lape put it, “How do you make the best carpet on the planet even better?” Answer: “You make it easier to clean, easier to maintain and easier to enjoy.”

As such, on Dec. 5 Mohawk took the wraps off SmartStrand Forever Clean at its annual Solutions convention for aligned dealers here. Forever Clean is billed as the “toughest, easiest to clean carpet on the planet.” And, to prove that statement, the company is partnering with the Tough Mudder competition (see sidebar), the latest in a long line of creative marketing campaigns—Ricko the Rhino, License to Spill and SmartStrand Unleashed are some of Mohawk’s challenges that have put SmartStrand to the test.

The new secret sauce within Forever Clean is Nanoloc technology, the latest proprietary stain-fighting innovation from Mohawk, which adds a layer of protection to “lock out” spills and increase cleanability. “We worked on [Nanoloc] for several years to make it compatible with triexta, and we now have developed it to the point that with both permanency and effectiveness, we have a protection system that is literally unparalleled,” Lape said.

Because SmartStrand, or triexta, inherently has permanent, built-in protection, Mohawk has taken safeguard to another level with Nanoloc, making SmartStrand Forever Clean both stain resistant and easier to maintain. “With carpet today, maintenance is one of the biggest challenges the industry has residentially, so we [want to] make it easier for the consumer to clean and maintain her product,” Lape added. “Lower impact maintenance is the goal we have for next generation.”

In testing the Nanoloc technology with regular vacuuming and standardized soil, it was found that carpet with the protective treatment will release up to three times more soil than with a standard nylon or polyester product. When steam cleaned, triexta with Nanoloc exhibited the highest rates Mohawk has had in terms of efficacy rates, Lape said.

“We’ve tried to come up with a protection system using nano-based technology, and the whole point is that we want something that is not only going to give the benefit of repellency but long-term repellence, ease of maintenance and, most important, the improvement on soil release, which is the biggest breakthrough we’ve had with Nanoloc.”

Mohawk chemical engineer Jim Williams helped develop the breakthrough technology. He explained how triexta has low surface energy, meaning “it doesn’t like to have stuff stick to it, so we had to work really hard to come up with the right material we could put on SmartStrand. The particular material that we’ve used to coat the fiber is very durable, but, more importantly, it is flexible; it moves with the fiber. It isn’t a hard protectant, which oftentimes with foot traffic or heavier use will chip off into particles and go away. [Nanoloc] is the next-generation chemistry around protecting carpet fiber.”

David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations, explained the new technology as providing two lines of defense: surface cleanability and core protection. According to Duncan, Photo by Ronda Churchillwww.rondachurchill.comMohawk has solved both problems with SmartStrand Forever Clean.

“The first line of defense is if I spill something, can I clean it up quickly? Typically if you buy a carpet treated with topical stain protection, you’ve got a good line of defense at first. But over time, what happens to the first line of defense? It starts to wear down. Then you’re left with the second line of defense, that core protection, which is really what SmartStrand has always had in its DNA.”

To help demonstrate this to consumers, Mohawk has armed 400 of its sales representatives with Carpet Performance Simplified kits that will allow them to take the Forever Clean message to 12,000 customers. Each demo box will include red dye, carpet samples and jars of water and cleaning solution, exhibiting Forever Clean’s exceptional cleanability and stain and wear resistance.

The brand architecture with SmartStrand went from SmartStrand Silk at the top of the offerings, to SmartStrand Ultra, featuring an advanced warranty attribute, and SmartStrand, the base product. Going forward, the brands will be marketed to consumers as SmartStrand Silk Forever Clean, SmartSTrand Ultra Forever Clean and SmartStrand Forever Clean.

There is good reason for Mohawk to expand its SmartStrand brand. According to the company, 90% of its retail partners surveyed said they will sell more SmartStrand next year over this year. With consumers, 95% who have put SmartStrand in their homes are satisfied, which Lape noted is “astoundingly high. Nine out of 10 will purchase the product again. Why? Comfort underfoot, protection against spills and ease of maintenance.”

For Mohawk’s builder and multi-family line, the new product will be dubbed SmartStrand Nanolock, “our strategy and positioning is more technical for that side of the business,” Lape said.

Every SmartStrand carpet purchased today is now SmartStrand Forever Clean. Mohawk has transformed the collection and incorporated this new innovation in every square yard that is shipped, effective immediately. A point-of-sale kit will be sent to Aligned retailers immediately after Solutions so they can promote in-store that all SmartStrand products are now SmartStrand Forever Clean.

“We will have plenty of point-of-sale materials immediately,” Duncan noted. “All hands on deck, 100% total immersion.”

Posted on

Executive forecast: Soft continues to be king—from products to sales

By Matthew Spieler 

Volume 27/number 15; December 3/10, 2012

When it comes to the carpet industry, soft is the key word. Soft as in softer products continuing to expand, and soft as in the ways sales continue to be.

While fibers keep getting softer, to the point where some carpets feel like cashmere, sales are starting to come out of their funk. Overall dollars may have been flat for the year and units a tad down, but compared to how things have been most executives are OK with these results.

The carpet category, like many other sectors, is going into 2013 with some uncertainty due to varying economic conditions that could tilt business either way. Nonetheless, executives are optimistic and are expecting 2013 to be a little better than 2012. Continue reading Executive forecast: Soft continues to be king—from products to sales

Posted on

Executive forecast: Industry shows signs of life; 2013 to be better

By Matthew Spieler 

Volume 27/number 15; December 3/10, 2012

While 2012 saw the industry hold its ground—improving better than expected in some areas—the end result left little to cheer about and even less to get excited about going into next year.

Nonetheless, there is still an overall feeling the bottom has not only been reached but, for the first time in a handful of years, is actually in the rearview mirror. This year may not be ending as strong as most would like, but there are numerous positive signs giving executives some hope this year’s modest gains will be followed by better ones in 2013.

FCNews spoke with some of the industry’s more diverse manufacturers—those who make and/or sell products from most segments—to get more of the “big picture” point of view on how 2012 ended and where things are going in 2013. Continue reading Executive forecast: Industry shows signs of life; 2013 to be better