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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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Wood: Anticipating trends is the key to successful product development

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Reginald Tucker

 

Fashion trends come and go, but hardwood flooring installations are designed to last for many years. For manufacturers, that poses a challenge: How to accurately forecast color/style design trends several years in advance of actual product rollouts?

“The biggest challenge is always developing a product inspired by a home fashion trend that’s too early for the market,” said Joe Amato, vice president, residential styling, Mannington. “A perfect example is the color gray. We followed gray-colored hardwood products for years prior to introducing the color in the United States. As the color family started to become popular in furniture and cabinetry, we knew it was time to launch it in hardwood. The gray story was popular in Europe and Canada well before becoming popular in the States.”

When attempting to accurately forecast hardwood flooring color trends and patterns, many stylists and designers look to take their cues from the fashion industry. But it’s important to remember that one dress doesn’t fit every Betty; with wood flooring, patterns, colors and styles are still largely a function of regional tastes. “Regarding fashion and hardwood trends, it is not so much about design and patterns but more about color,” Amato explained. “A perfect example would be the popularity of warm grays in flooring as well as fashion. Wood flooring trends have a bigger connection to regional trends more so than fashion trends. An example would be areas of the Midwest region still supporting refined rustic looks while sections of the East Coast now moving to urban looks that are not so rustic and have less character.”

The ability to accurately forecast trends goes well beyond shades or stains. “As well as color we follow wood formats, surface texture, wood species and surface gloss, and we try to time the development to the market needs,” Amato said. “You don’t always need to be the first, but you need to be ready to respond when the timing is right.”

Manufacturers across the spectrum are working hard to do just that. Beyond color, suppliers are taking into consideration changing trends relative to product format, i.e., engineered vs. solid. As Michael Bell, general manager, hardwood, Armstrong, explains: “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.”

Other executives still see the pendulum tilting toward engineered. “From a product level, we’re seeing continued growth in engineered hardwood sales as the industry shifts in preference from solid to engineered hardwood,” said Drew Hash, vice president, hard surface, Shaw Floors. “This shift is happening for a variety of reasons, namely due to engineered hardwoods’ versatility and enhanced performance story. We also see great opportunity in high-end hardwood products for next year.”

Some manufacturers believe growth will be driven by products that successfully combine innovation in aesthetics and performance, which are the No. 1 and No. 2 factors driving consumer demands for hardwood. “On the design side, we see trends moving away from more rustic to more refined visuals and the continued shift to wider and longer plank sizes,” Armstrong’s Bell noted. “On the performance front, scratching remains the primary concern for consumers shopping for hardwood.”

That’s a trend that suppliers don’t see changing anytime soon. “While we believe the bulk of customers desire the authenticity, permanency and unique beauty of a real hardwood floor, performance factors may drive them toward wood-look flooring options,” Bell added. “At Surfaces 2018 we will be launching a brand new collection of solid hardwood, Appalachian Ridge, with Diamond 10 Technology. We originally applied this proprietary technology with our LVT flooring and have now expanded it to hardwood. By providing enhanced scratch and stain resistance, we are addressing one of the key performance attributes that is important to consumers: durability.”

Hardwood manufacturers point to another trend that stands to impact future product development: The popularity of sawn-faced veneers in the production of engineered floors. “We expect wood flooring will grow at about 6% in 2018, and the continued popularity of wide and long boards will fuel most of that growth,” said Don Finkell, CEO, American OEM. “We’re seeing the continued growth of sliced veneer faces over rotary-peeled veneer faces along with more complex finishing techniques—technologies at which we excel.”

American OEM is not the only company seeing increased demand for sawn-faced product. Mohawk, which recently expanded its Melbourne, Ark., plant, is banking on it. “We have built the largest sawn-faced plant in the United States,” said David Holt, senior vice president, builder and multi-family. “We have also added a brand new cold press to the line. We believe we have come up with a better product that’s more dimensionally stable than other hardwood floors on the market.”

One of the first products to roll off the new lines at the Melbourne plant is Mohawk’s new Vintage Elements collection—an offering that reflects “Old World” styling in a family of six wire-brushed, cerused oak species. Boasting a high-fashion color palette, Vintage Elements comes in a 7-inch-wide, ½-inch-thick format in random lengths up to 6 feet.

Others are also looking to capitalize on the sawn-face craze. Mullican Flooring, known for its innovative approach to manufacturing, has expanded its American-made engineered product line with two new collections, Wexford and Nature. Wexford, a “Euro-sawn” line, combines three traditional North American sawing techniques to create a classic European look. This 1⁄2-inch-thick product is offered in 7-inch widths and random lengths up to 7 feet. The collection’s prefinished version is available in six selections of white oak.

“We have mastered the Euro-sawn cutting technique, which produces a highly desirable look that is gaining prominence throughout the market,” said Pat Oakley, vice president of marketing. “We are proud to integrate this process into our robust Made-in-the-USA portfolio, which offers customers superior materials, shorter wait times, sustainable manufacturing practices, and premier beauty and quality.”

 

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NWFA completes 18th home with Gary Sinise Foundation

GSF - MitcheltreeSt. Louis, Mo.—The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has provided flooring for its 18th home in partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). The R.I.S.E. program builds custom, specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans and first responders. The home dedication for US Army Sergeant First Class Wade Mitcheltree took place on Aug. 11, in Tigard, Ore. Flooring for the project was donated by NWFA member Mullican Flooring.

SFC Mitcheltree was injured in 2012 by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Afghanistan. The blast resulted in the loss of his right leg above the knee and his right arm below the elbow. He also suffered muscle and nerve damage in his lower left leg, a snapped pelvis and ruptures to both ear drums. In 2016, due to the severity of his injuries, his left leg was amputated below the knee.

“Sergeant First Class Mitcheltree’s motivation to serve is inspiring,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “He enlisted in the Army during high school and left for basic training just two weeks following graduation. After spending some time at Ft. Bragg and Ft. Richardson, he was deployed overseas, serving one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. While there, his platoon worked with local police to ensure the security of their surrounding areas. His work has helped to ensure the safety of thousands of civilians and military personnel alike, and we’re honored to partner with Mullican Flooring to recognize his sacrifice by participating in the construction of his new home.”

In addition to the 18 homes already completed, NWFA currently is working with its members to source wood flooring for 26 additional R.I.S.E. homes in various stages of planning and construction. Currently, 51 NWFA member companies have donated product, logistics and installation services in locations throughout the U.S., with a total value of more than $3.52 million. A list of all NWFA R.I.S.E. partners is listed at nwfa.org/giving-back.aspx.

By the end of this year, 59 specially adapted smart homes will be completed or underway through the R.I.S.E. program. To learn more contact the NWFA at 800.422.4556, or e-mail anita.howard@nwfa.org.

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Mullican Flooring appoints new West Coast regional sales manager

Kyle Sherman Head ShotJohnson City, Tenn.—Mullican Flooring has named Kyle Sherman West Coast regional sales manager. In this new position, Sherman will help oversee the promotion of Mullican Flooring’s products on the West Coast, and serve as a liaison to regional distribution partners who sell products to hundreds of retail stores across the Western United States.

“We are excited to have Kyle join our national sales team,” said Neil Poland, president, Mullican Flooring. “His successful record of driving sales, experience in tailoring business plans for distributors and ability to mentor peers in the hardwood flooring industry makes Kyle ideally suited to capitalize on opportunities in Mullican’s West Coast market.”

Sherman has more than a decade of sales experience in the flooring industry. He most recently worked as director of residential builder sales with B.R. Funsten & Company, which he joined in 2006. Sherman holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a marketing concentration from the Fermanian School of Business at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif.

“It is an honor to be selected for this position with Mullican Flooring,” Sherman said. “Over the past 12 years, I have worked to develop skill sets in both the manufacturing and distribution divisions of the floor covering industry. I look forward to developing new relationships, increasing business opportunities with existing partners, and creating customer-focused programs to optimize results and maximize customer satisfaction on the West Coast.”

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Burke named digital marketing coordinator for Mullican Flooring

HeatherBurkeJohnson City, Tenn.—Mullican Flooring has appointed Heather Burke as digital marketing coordinator at the company’s headquarters here.

In her new position, Burke will be responsible for creating, coordinating, executing and analyzing digital marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the Mullican Flooring brand. She will also assist with digital projects and data-driven initiatives, oversee web analytics, app design and search engine optimization, and develop content for the Mullican website and social media platforms.

“Heather comes to Mullican with a deep background and a wealth of knowledge in digital marketing,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “Her strong communication and creative-thinking skills are matched by her enthusiasm for producing top content for our consumers and retailers. We are pleased to welcome her to our team and look forward to increasing our digital presence across the hardwood flooring industry.”

Burke, a native of Kingsport, Tenn., earned a bachelor’s degree in art and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, both from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Her interests include integrated marketing communications, digital platforms, photography, Spanish and graphic design.

“I am very excited to be joining the Mullican family,” Burke said. “Mullican Flooring is nationally recognized for manufacturing high-quality, sustainable hardwood flooring products, and I look forward to helping them achieve their digital marketing and communications needs.”

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Evans appointed plant manager for Mullican

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 8.34.28 PMJohnson City, Tenn.—Mullican Flooring, a leading manufacturer of hardwood floors, has appointed Kyle Evans as plant manager for the company’s Johnson City, Tenn., manufacturing facility. In his new position, Evans will manage and direct the plant operations of the 309,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which includes production, milling and finishing. In addition to ensuring the safety of nearly 300 employees, Evans will be responsible for optimizing production and verifying product quality.

“Kyle comes to Mullican with a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience in the hardwood flooring industry,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “His strong technical skills are matched by his enthusiasm for his work.”

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Distributors praise Mullican as trusted partner

October 26/November 2; Volume 30/Number 10

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 4.20.17 PMWhen Jon Roy Reid first entered the flooring business in 1977 there were only a handful of hardwood flooring manufacturers in the U.S.

“Back then, everybody knew everybody,” reflected Reid, owner of Trinity Hardwood Distributors. Building relationships was important then but it may be even more important today as new players enter the field.

Reid said he formed a relationship with Mullican Flooring’s two top executives—Neil Poland, president; and Brian Greenwell, vice president of marketing and sales—when they worked for Tarkett in the early 1990s.

When Greenwell joined Mullican, he called Reid at Trinity and soon the distributor was carrying Mullican products. “It all goes back to relationships,” Reid said. “I can trust them and they can trust me. These guys are good suppliers and they are my friends.” Today, Trinity carries virtually every Mullican line.

Hoy Lanning, senior vice president, CMH marketing and Haines purchasing, forged a similar long-term relationship with Poland. They met shortly after Poland graduated from the University of Florida and took his first job as a marketing rep for Armstrong. Lanning was a sales manager at Peerless, which was one of Poland’s accounts. “That was more than 30 years ago, so we go way back,” Lanning said.

The relationship continued when Lanning went to CMH Space Flooring and Poland joined Mullican. Around 2001 CMH started a private label line with Mullican called Carolina Hardwood. Over time CMH got more involved in the builder business and decided it needed a branded Mullican product.

When asked what makes Mullican stand out as a supplier, Lanning said, “It’s the people. They have special people in that business—Neil Poland, Brian Greenwell, Pat Oakley [national sales manager], Mike Knight [regional sales manager], Neil Wenger [national field sales manager]. Those guys are all passionate about the business and they are very customer-focused. It makes it nice to do business with them.”

Mullican was initially known for its stellar collection of ¾-inch solid hardwood products; today its expertise has expanded to engineered. “They are always looking for new products,” Lanning said. “As engineered picked up they got into it overseas and eventually built a plant in the U.S. [near the company’s headquarters in Johnson City, Tenn.]. Then they got into handscraped, hand sculpted. They have always been quick to market, quick to change.”

Derr Flooring is yet another distributor with a long and binding relationship with Mullican. When Mullican opened for business 30 years ago, Derr was one of its first distributors. “It was not a lot of product back then,” said Rick Holden, COO, Derr Flooring. “We really started our relationship with them when Neil and Brian joined.”

Holden called Mullican a distributor’s dream, a company with exceptional products supported by an experienced and responsive staff that can answer questions and solve problems quickly. “The vast majority of their products are made in Johnson City, and that allows us to receive products much faster than if we sourced them from oversees. It also allows us to keep a smaller inventory. Their offerings cover what I would call the standard constructions and styles, as well as unique styles, designs and constructions that attract consumers looking for more contemporary visuals. They are a company that is dedicated to making quality products and serving their customers.”

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Mullican celebrates 30th anniversary in style

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.08.33 PMWhite Sulphur Springs, W. Va.—Mullican returned to its West Virginia roots this month to celebrate its 30th anniversary as a hardwood flooring manufacturer. The company chose the iconic Greenbrier resort here for the gathering, which featured 240 guests, among them leading Mullican distributors, core lumber suppliers and other key vendors.

Starting with 10 SKUs in 1985, today Mullican offers “1,000 SKUs across prefinished solid, unfinished solid—so many surface textures it blows my mind,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican. “We are going to keep producing leading-edge styles to keep pace with the latest design trends.”

Except for a brief pre-event meeting, the two days were devoted to fun and fellowship. “We wanted to celebrate in a big way…30 years is a tremendous accomplishment,” added Poland, who joined the company 17 years ago.

Mullican’s birthplace, Ronceverte, W. Va., is just 10 miles from Greenbrier. The company was founded by Bill Mullican, Sr., who bought a facility that made flooring for large trucks and converted the site into a hardwood manufacturing business.

Originally known for unfinished solid wood flooring sourced from Appalachian forests, Mullican has since grown into an international competitor with a broad range of prefinished, engineered and exotic products. In all, it offers more than 1,500 products through 50 distributors and 5,000 retailers. Mullican still operates the original plant in Ronceverte while manufacturing hardwood in Johnson City, Tenn., its headquarters; Norton, Va.; and Holland, N.Y.

In recent years Mullican has increased its domestic production by shifting a large segment of its engineered manufacturing from Asia to the renovated facility in Johnson City.

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Jennifer Greenwell named Mullican’s marketing coordinator

Jennifer Greenwell HeadshotJohnson City, Tenn.—Jennifer Greenwell has been named Mullican Flooring’s marketing coordinator. In her new role, Greenwell is responsible for overseeing the company’s sales incentives, Partners in Profit program and social media activity as well as managing the organization’s Gold Dealer Program, an exclusive rebate initiative for Mullican retailers.

Greenwell has more than 16 years of sales and marketing experience including six years in a previous marketing position at Mullican.

“With her extensive sales and marketing background as well as her detailed knowledge of our operations, [Jennifer] will certainly be an asset to our company,” said Neil Poland, president, Mullican.

 

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Mullican partners with HGTV's ‘Property Brothers’

mullican 30thJohnson City, Tenn.—Mullican Flooring is partnering with HGTV’s top-rated show, “Property Brothers,” as the exclusive provider of hardwood flooring for its upcoming season, scheduled to premiere later this month. Mullican also provided products from several of its solid and engineered flooring collections for seven episodes of the popular show’s fourth season last year.

According to company statements, HGTV was a top-10 cable network last season among viewers ages 25 to 54, drawing an average of more than 18 million primetime viewers each week. “Property Brothers” has ranked as one of the network’s most-watched programs since the show’s 2011 premiere.

“Our diverse product lines, which offer selections ranging from wide widths and longer lengths to textured surfaces and exciting new colors, ensure that designers and homeowners alike can choose flooring that perfectly suits their projects and personal tastes,” said Neil Poland, president, Mullican.