January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Lindsay Baillie
Mohawk is doing its part to address the skilled mechanic shortage by developing products that are much easier to install. Its latest innovation, Airo, is a step in that direction.
The product falls into a new category called “unified soft floor covering or USF. “Airo represents Mohawk’s newest innovation in soft floor covering,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential. “The development
of Airo represents us looking at soft flooring from the consumer backward instead of the manufacturing plant forward. We want to look at what the consumer values and run with that.”
Unveiled during its recent Solutions conference (FCNews, Dec. 19/26, 2016), Airo is made solely with PET recycled content. According to Mohawk, the product is hydrophobic and absorbs zero moisture, liquid and odor. When installing Airo the customer will not have to deal with the new carpet smell, which can irritate some people who suffer from allergies, asthma or general sensitivities.
The new product will benefit not just the consumer, Lape explained. “Airo is important to retailers because it offers a simpler-to-install, easier-to-maintain, better performing and more sustainable soft surface. Mohawk has spent over four years developing and refining the Airo production process to prepare for this launch. Just as we changed the industry about 10 years ago with the introduction to SmartStrand, we looked to do the same again with the introduction of Airo.”
Part of Airo’s ease of installation stems from how the product is made. Unlike other types of soft flooring, Airo is not stretched during production. Rather, it is belted and relaxed, freeing the product from tension. What’s more, Airo requires no additional cushion, tack strips, power stretching or iron seaming.
According to Lape, Airo will only be sold through limited distribution. Airo will wholesale in the mid teens, he noted.
Several Mohawk aligned dealers who were on hand at the Solutions conference to preview the product liked what they saw. That includes Sandra Molski, owner, Flooring & More, Janesville, Wis., who believes it will help address the installation issue. “[Airo] is absolutely incredible because one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have right now is installers,” she explained. “Broadloom installers are the hardest to find because the age of your average installer is growing older. The younger generations are not picking it up. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s hard on your knees. [Airo] really intrigues me because you don’t have to have the knee kickers, you don’t have to have the tack strips. It’s very dimensionally stable.”
Airo’s stability is crucial in Molski’s market in Wisconsin where floors typically experience a range of atmospheric conditions which can cause expansion and contraction. Airo was designed to address those issues by inhibiting absorption so it can’t move. “It lays flat and is a very attractive product,” she said. “As a post-consumer recyclable product, Airo also has a great green story. It answers a lot of concerns my customers have.”