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Installation: Today’s next-gen adhesives tout multi-use capabilities

February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Adhesives manufacturers are catering to the industry’s plethora of hard surface offerings by developing products that feature multi-use properties. These new high-performance adhesives, which are designed to handle everything from LVT to vinyl composition to carpet tile, aim to provide solutions for retailers and installers.

Utilizing their own proprietary technologies, adhesives manufacturers are increasing moisture resistance, sound reduction and installation options to facilitate more reliable flooring installations for the dealer and greater peace of mind for the consumer.

Following is a sampling of some of the multi-use adhesives hitting the market.

DriTac
Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 4.00.05 PMDriTac 5900 MegaBond is a pressure-sensitive resilient flooring adhesive that can be applied via roller or trowel. Designed for LVT/LVP, vinyl sheet goods, fiberglass backed sheet vinyl, carpet tile, rubber flooring, cork tile, cork/rubber/ foam underlayments and WPC, this adhesive offers permanent or releasable installation options.

“Eco-5900 MegaBond offers high moisture resistance (up to 8 lb. CC/90% RH) and shear strength with easy clean and easy spread formula characteristics,” said John Lio, vice president of marketing. “It has very low odor and has been independently tested and certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Green Label Plus Program for indoor air quality.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 4.00.12 PMEpic Flooring Adhesives
Epic’s Moisture Stop adhesive is made with Poly BD urethane, which is designed to control moisture vapor permeability. It has a sound reduction IIC rating of 70 and is ideal for engineered, solid and bamboo flooring.

“The strength and durability of Epic adhesives offer decades of moisture protection, sound reduction and holding power,” said Philip Pitts, flooring product manager, “all with solvent-free formulas so there are no toxic, flammable or odiferous substances evaporating into the home.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 4.00.21 PMSchönox
Schönox’s HPS 92 adhesive for resilient flooring applications features a base with bonding additives and an acrylic dispersion suitable for the bonding of vinyl composition, vinyl enhanced and solid vinyl floor tile on porous and non-porous substrates in interior areas, according to David Stowell, technical director for Schönox, HPS North America.

When applied with a notched trowel the adhesive dries in approximately 48 hours. It has a 12-month unopened shelf life and has an open time of 120 minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 4.00.34 PMW.F. Taylor
Dynamic adhesive from W.F. Taylor touts excellent adhesion to multiple flooring types, including LVT, LVP, vinyl sheet goods, fiberglass- backed vinyl, carpet tile and vinyl composition tile.

“Dynamic is fast drying with a fast grab and remains pressure sensitive with a very wide window of installation time, and it transitions to a secure bond, a ‘cross-linked bond,’” said Daniel Pelton, president and CEO. “Dynamic is great during installation but most importantly has great back-end performance.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 4.00.54 PMW.W. Henry
W.W. Henry, an Ardex Americas brand, touts the versatility of its Henry 650 R pressure-sensitive adhesive. Applied with either a notch trowel or short nap roller, Henry 650 R can be used with a variety of flooring types, including fiberglass-reinforced sheet vinyl, LVT and LVP as well as vinyl-backed carpet tile.

Thanks to its versatility, installers can choose between a releasable flooring installation by using the adhesive in a dry-to-touch state or a permanent bond via the wet-set installation method.

 

 

 

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Carpet One programs aim to ease the social media learning curve

February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.28.13 PMPhoenix—Contrary to marketing hype, millennials are not the quintessential flooring customer today. Not yet at least. In 10 years, statistics show, this demographic group will be making the key decisions and influencing the market in ways that old-school retailers may not be comfortable with.

In an effort to convert old-school thinkers, Carpet One Floor & Home focused its winter convention on the future, which according to group president Eric Demaree, “requires a new mindset and an understanding of how to attract, engage with and convert today’s ever-changing consumer into a lifelong loyal customer.”

Future Focus, as the convention was themed, put digital marketing and social media front and center for the nearly 1,000 Carpet One Floor & Home members attending. Focus on the future requires investing in areas that are growing, such as digital marketing. Gary Redmond, digital director of marketing for Carpet One Floor & Home, convened a panel on the subject with member retailers Guy Pylypiw, Oshawa Carpet One Floor & Home, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; Zack Allen, Buddy Allen Carpet One Floor & Home, Nashville, Tenn; and Kevin Frazier, Frazier’s Carpet One Floor & Home, Knoxville, Tenn.

These retail leaders have already embraced the digital world and encouraged their brethren to follow suit. Allen implored members to stop delaying the inevitable. “It is the future. It is where people are going to shop. Jump in there, do it and give it some time.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.28.31 PMFrazier, who still spends 85% of his advertising budget on traditional mediums (i.e., radio, TV), told members they have to first invest in this space before they see a return. “At the same time we are not just marketing for the sake of marketing—we are looking for measurables.” Frazier told the audience that four days before he conducted a large private sale at his store, he did a “digital drop” to spread the word through all online platforms. He said he got six requests for pre-measures that led to closings at the private sale. “This was a perfect snapshot of what can be accomplished. [Digital] is a great way to amplify and accelerate your traditional marketing.”

Social media
Virtually every Carpet One Floor & Home dealer understands the importance of digital marketing. How to effectively use social media, however, is still an area of exploration for many dealers.

Terri Daniels, vice president of corporate communications, hosted a panel discussion on the most effective ways to use social media. Michelle Pylypiw, Oshawa Carpet One; Andrew Wiebe, Carpet One Floor & Home, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada; and Bonnie Fenwick, Carpet N’ Drapes, Carpet One Floor & Home, Jacksonville, Fla., conveyed this message to members: You don’t have to be on every social media platform; just choose what works best in your market.

Wiebe suggested members start with Facebook, which he called a “dream market platform.” He discussed how his installer used a camera to film a time-lapse installation of a two-story fireplace. “The response from that video was incredible. We had customers coming into the store saying, ‘I want that fireplace.’”

NEX<40
Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.28.24 PMCarpet One is looking at the future internally as well as externally. Its NEX<40 Generational Leadership Program was established as a way to engage the next generation of Carpet One shareholders. “The group has two major focus areas at this time,” said Palmer Johnson, director of merchandising and general counsel, Carpet One Floor & Home, Tulsa, Okla. “We want to help younger/next generation business owners within the co-op access the tools they need to be successful. We are also placing some focus on influencing the direction Carpet One takes with its online presence. Specifically, the mix of products shown online, brand identity and how that translates to a customer’s in-store experience.”

Lauren Allwein-Andrews, manager at Allwein Carpet One Floor & Home, Annville, Pa., said second- and third-generation owners such as herself never had the opportunity to meet people her own age at these gatherings until now. “Of the 85% of Carpet One membership who attended the convention, nearly 20% are under 40. Those numbers will continue to grow, and now is the time to get this group engaged so we can steer the co-op in the direction we want and need it to go for the future.

“We know millennial buyers—our fellow consumers—are the future, and the best way to reach them is through digital advertising and social media. Traditional forms of advertising are a thing of the past, and one’s money is better spent online.”

 

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Installation: Retailers get creative in recruiting next-gen talent

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 11.11.19 AMVarious sectors of the industry are working closely to tackle the two-headed installation crisis—an aging workforce coupled with the challenge of finding the next generation.

Leading the way is the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), which believes installation-training programs should be created and funded at the industry level and executed at the local level. “My experience is installers will not travel a great distance to attend training classes,” said Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA. “In addition, many installers do desire to improve their skills but are simply unaware of the opportunities that exist. It is critical that local dealers and distributors make training as publicized and accessible as possible to reach the greatest audience.”

In some cases, that is already happening. For example, retailers like Fike Brothers, Yeagertown, Pa., look for early opportunities to recruit installers. Denise Fike, CFO, has cultivated a relationship with the faculty of local vocational schools in her market. Fike and her staff visit the school, talk with students about opportunities in the trade and even conduct installation demonstrations. “You have to start at the high school level to give them a taste of what it’s like,” Fike said. “We go in with a two-week program to whet their appetite.”

Taking that strategy to another level, Tom Jacobi, owner of Jacobi Carpet One, Hastings, Neb., utilizes what he calls “guerilla recruiting.” He leaves no stone unturned and does outreach with the Nebraska-Iowa Flooring Association, the Department of Labor in Nebraska and the Central Community College Hastings Campus.

“You look around to find young men who need some guidance and you put your teeth into them and provide the proper employment plan. We start in the high school shop classes, which are geared more to the construction trade and carpentry.”

Other retailers take a different approach. Richard Quinlan, co-owner of DownRight Floors, Abbotsford, British Columbia, strays away from traditional online job searches. Instead, he relies on friends and colleagues to recommend people of character who could fit the culture of DownRight Floors. The skills part, he says, can be taught. “I would rather find someone who is raw but has the people skills all day long than someone who has the mechanical skills but can’t deal with people.”

Beyond searching for installers, some retailers are developing creative incentive programs to entice both current and new employees. Matt Andrews, service manager/scheduler, Allwein Carpet One Floor & Home, Annville, Pa., said the company has upped its wages for hourly employees and implemented newer ways of paying some of its teams. He also looks to hire in pairs as a way to incentivize his experienced teams to split up for a period of time to train the new guys. “We have a modified apprentice program where we give them benchmarks to work toward.”

Along the same vein, Carpetland USA (The Langan Group), Davenport, Iowa, encourages continuous training, sponsors mechanics to attend installation training seminars and has raised the bar in terms of compensation. To continue its growth the retailer acknowledges it must ensure its mechanics are motivated and satisfied. “We are very aware we have to keep them happy,” said Doug Bertrand, executive vice president. “We feel if we show them they are important they will be loyal to us.”

 

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Starnet members ‘rev’ revenue, enthusiasm

October 27/November 3, 2014; Volume 28/Number 10

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 10.51.10 AMDenver—Unlike the larger spring meeting in which attendance is mandatory, the fall conference of the Starnet Commercial Flooring Partnership is an optional affair. But that did not deter a large turnout of members and vendor partners here for two days of workshops, a trade show and networking.

“It was excellent attendance if we look at the percentage of members here,” said Jeanne Matson, president and CEO of Starnet.

The attendance of 309—compared to last year’s 280—included 100 vendor partners, which meant there was no shortage of quality networking and sharing of best practices during the conference. “Our members work in tandem with our vendors,” Matson said. “We have two equal parties. If both groups aren’t seeing a value in Starnet, there is a problem.”

Fortunately, everyone seemingly views the partnership as beneficial. Carlton Billingsley, vice president of Floors & More, Benton, Ark., said he has been asked in the past why it is important to be a Starnet member. His response was that anyone who has to ask that question doesn’t get it.

“If you want to be a leader, if you want to be different, there is no better group to be involved with than Starnet,” he said. “Those who are not in the group don’t understand how valuable the education and knowledge you get here is. You either continue to learn and adapt or you die. The way business worked 15 years ago doesn’t cut it today, and that is why you have to constantly learn new ways of doing things.”

“REV Up Your Business with Starnet” was the theme of the fall conference, with workshops focused on revenue generation and the bottom line. On both fronts, Starnet members say they are doing just that.

Matson called 2014 “a tricky year,” but one that will be satisfying in the end. “We didn’t see strong numbers until May and June. Now we have kicked it in and are seeing very strong business, and we see 2015 as an even better year. I looked at some industry figures today and they are very encouraging.”

Many Starnet members who spoke with FCNews said their businesses in 2014 will be up at least 10% over 2013, and with contracts and orders in place or pending, 2015 looks even more promising.

Harold Chapman, president of Bonitz Flooring Group in Greenvile, S.C., said after a slow first quarter, business has picked up substantially and the company will end 2014 10% to 14% ahead of last year in revenue, 5% to 8% on the bottom line. “We now have a backlog of orders that will carry into 2015,” he noted.

Lane’s Floor Covering in New York City saw its business climb 10% in 2014 over 2013, driven by hospitals, retail and ancillary work such as airports and law firms. Umberto Aponte, vice president, said the business “has come in waves” and summer was particularly strong.

New programs and initiatives

At the behest of members, Starnet has introduced several new initiatives designed to foster growth among its group. One such venture is the Next Gen group, which now consists of 70 members. The group comprises younger members who are currently in leadership roles, leadership-track positions or who have a stake in a company and will eventually take over the operations. The Next Gen group convenes monthly to brainstorm and share best practices. They also meet with older members who serve as mentors.

Matt Miller, project manager at Commercial Flooring Systems in Omaha, is a Next Gen member. “We’re still growing, still figuring it out. We want to make our vendor partners aware that we are their partners for the next 30 years and let them know what we can offer.”

About two years ago, Starnet members launched StarNetworking, a referral system among members. To illustrate how the system works, Randy Rubenstein, director of Rubenstein’s Contract Carpet in Seattle, referred a customer who needed a project done in Chicago to fellow Starnet member Mr. David’s Flooring International in Itasca, Ill.

“The door wasn’t just opened; the mat was laid out for me,” said Mike Gannon of Mr. David’s. He said Rubenstein wrote a letter on behalf of Mr. David’s, saying in effect, “You want to do business with this guy; he won’t let you down.”

A few Starnet members said they have benefited from the referral system, either by landing additional business or helping customers and other members. By design, there is no formal business structure to StarNetworking. Sometimes there is a finder’s fee involved; other times a referring member is looking for reciprocity down the road. Sometimes it is simply about doing the right thing.

“The beauty of this organization is no one tells you how to run your business,” Rubenstein said. “We are here to share knowledge and information.”

Trade show

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 10.51.54 AMTwo years ago, Starnet added a trade show component to its conference. At the fall meeting, 31 vendors set up tables and small booths. Space precluded a larger gathering, Matson said, but even so, the networking was brisk and beneficial to both parties.

Masland Contract, which returned to Starnet as a member this year, brought a contingent that included Dixie Group CEO Dan Frierson, Masland CEO Lee Martin and four regional vice presidents. “This is a wonderful format to build relationships in a non-pressured situation,” Martin said. “These meetings are about connecting with the owners.”

Jim Cave, vice president of national accounts for Mats Inc., agreed. “It’s a relationship show, not a buying show, so it’s a great way to see owners in a relaxed setting and be able to socialize with them in a non-business environment.”

Deb Lechner, director of commercial markets for Armstrong, was back in familiar territory at the fall meeting. Lechner worked at Armstrong from 1990 to 2002 before joining the Starnet staff for 10 years. She then returned to Armstrong in March.

“I’m coming here to see friends,” she said. “It was a seamless transition going from Starnet to Armstrong because I understand the contract market very well.”

In other news…

* During the general session, Eric Boender, director of Starnet FloorCare and national accounts, previewed a program called Starnet Mega Training, which will be held Jan. 18-20, 2015, at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, just prior to The International Surfaces Event. The strategy is to combine Starnet-sponsored training into a single, large event with multiple training sessions and networking opportunities. Among the speakers will be training/education experts Sam Allman and Stephen Covey.

“We think this is going to be the third main event of Starnet after the two members meetings,” Boender said.

* Bonitz’s Chapman, a board member of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), urged Starnet members to join WFCA. He highlighted the WFCA’s strength in, among other things, lobbying efforts for the flooring industry, and the relatively inexpensive $295 fee to join. He pointed out the WFCA pays out $500 toward education.

“A lot of people think of the WFCA as a retail organization,” he said. “That’s not true; they work for all of us. We can work in conjunction with them. There are things they can do for us that we can’t possibly do on our own.”

* Starnet has added four new members to its group and now has 173 memberships, including 13 in Canada. “We are very selective in who we bring in,” Matson said. “We want a company committed to a full-service model.”

The new members are ACS Flooring Group in Houston; Commercial Flooring in Toledo, Ohio; Prodigy Flooring in Tampa, Fla., and Jones Schlater Flooring in Columbus, Ohio.

Matson said she personally visits each new member and encourages company executives to get involved in Starnet activities. “It can be very daunting for a new member to walk into this room,” she said. “We try to help the new members navigate their way through the partnership, and involvement is a great way to do it.”