August 22/29, 2016; Volume 31, Number 5
By Ken Ryan
A flooring brand isn’t like an automobile moniker, at least not to the naked eye. Virtually every vehicle on the road is adorned with a logo or a name, or a distinct style that defines its make and model. With flooring, the average consumer may not know the brand of carpet or hardwood floor installed in her home.
But does that make the power and influence of a flooring brand any less important than a car brand? To many flooring dealers, brands definitely matter, especially when those brands are backed by people and companies that stand behind their products and programs.
Steve Weisberg, president of Crest Flooring in Allentown, Pa., said while some flooring manufacturers have tried to establish brand equity with consumers “without too much success, it is more important for me to sell the products of those manufacturers who support us with the right quality and service so we in turn know they have our backs.”
Elisabeth Stubbs, president of Floors & More in Marietta, Ga., said given the amount of online research consumers do today as part of their decision making process, consumers are likely to seek out manufacturers with good reputations. “Flooring is expensive and consumers do not want to make a mistake. A well-known established brand synonymous with quality gives the purchaser a sense of security they are making a smart investment in their home.”
Manufacturers aren’t the only ones with brand equity in flooring. Retailers have significant brand power in their own markets. For more than 20 years, The Flooring Gallery has served the Louisville, Ky., metro market, now with five stores. Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, cited one trend that seems to have taken hold is the importance of the independent dealer to his market. “Many people have come to realize how important it is to do business with a local company that is involved within their community,” he explained. “This has also led to the proliferation of private labeling which has enabled the retailer to put together his own grouping of the best items at competitive pricing. This allows him to be profitable enough to give good service and stand behind what he sells. The private-label items become the retailers’ brand, and that will be the salesperson’s first choice when showing products. We all know the professional floor covering retail salesperson has the most control of what the consumer is ultimately offered, and she wants something that separates it from a big box store.”
HF Design: Quality and reputation that stand out from the pack
Establishing a reputable, quality-driven brand that flooring distributors, dealers and homeowners can recognize is becoming increasingly important in today’s saturated marketplace. There are more import brokers trying to penetrate the market with unsustainable price points just to gain showroom space. Unfortunately, in many cases these brokers cut corners in terms of finish quality, substrate construction, production processes and even delivery. This is very evident when you compare samples side by side.
At HF Design, it is the company’s responsibility to make sure it conveys in its marketing message that the company is FloorScore certified, its raw materials are sourced from legally harvested forests, its plywood cores are CARB II compliant and that it uses the highest quality German finishes for long-lasting floors. More importantly, HF Design’s quality assurance team inspects every plank. Furthermore, by partnering with the best distributors in the industry, HF Design has been able to introduce the newest collections and styles at affordable prices that its retailers can then confidently sell to homeowners.
Mohawk: The power in the family of brands
Mohawk 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 a 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: American Olean, Century, Columbia, Daltile, Durkan, IVC, Karastan, Lees, Marazzi, Mohawk Group, Mohawk Home, Pergo, Q-Wood and Quick-Step. 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 flooring products and flooring retail requires new programs that give its retailers the inside track to stay ahead of the competition.
Scotchgard: The merits of a strong brand partnership
With more than 65 years of proven innovation, market leadership and dedication to quality, Scotchgard has the protective products and brand strength to help make 3M’s 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 your product—peace of mind. It can close the sale.
Mirage: Nurturing a passion for quality
Manufacturing and marketing superior quality products has always been Mirage’s No. 1 priority. Achieving and maintaining this high level of quality is both a daily challenge and a goal that each of the company’s employees strives to attain. Among all the attributes that define Mirage, the two traits it is best known for are quality and consistency.
The quality is not just in the product but also in the quality of service Mirage provides its distribution partners and, in turn, flooring dealers. It has to do with the dedication and knowledge of the people, from the worker in the plant to the sales representative in the field. Mirage’s employees pursue the same goal: Going above and beyond customer expectations and constantly adapting to their needs.
This is the foundation on which Mirage’s reputation is built. The numerous quality awards received in the last decade—29, to be exact—prove the company’s efforts are producing results. It doesn’t mean Mirage can stop either because of its success; after all, quality is a journey, not a destination. Quality has always been the power of the Mirage brand for over 30 years with no plans to slow down. The company’s tagline says it all: Quality without compromise.
Beaulieu America: Quality, innovation and commitment
Some people define a brand by its exterior elements: name, logo, tagline. At Beaulieu America, the true essence of the brand is how people feel about the products and services. Therefore, the company’s main goal is to provide its customers with products that have unique, proprietary features and benefits driven by their needs. Moreover, Beaulieu strives to be known for its personalized service and for customers to feel as though they are valued members of Beaulieu’s extended corporate family.
To keep the Beaulieu America brand as focused and efficient as ever, marketing efforts have recently been concentrated on the company’s name. In the years ahead, the marketing strategy will raise awareness about the brand in its entirety. The Beaulieu name has been around for almost 40 years, and the company has grown to become one of the largest flooring manufacturers. These facts should shine through marketing initiatives. Complementing its core carpet manufacturing business, Beaulieu distributes engineered hardwood, laminate, luxury vinyl, engineered luxury vinyl and carpet tiles. In addition, Beaulieu’s Your HomeStyle is an innovative aligned dealer program and selling system featuring four distinct lifestyles. By understanding the customers’ taste and personal style, retail sales associates can match the product collection to suit their needs.
Quality, innovation and commitment—strong words for strong brand names such as Beaulieu and Your HomeStyle.
Urban Floor: Creativity and design at a great value
Urban Floor is proud of the company it has become in its relatively short history. Now entering its 13th year, Urban Floor’s focus has been to offer innovative and trendsetting products, with its management team constantly searching for new trends, styles and ideas from across the globe.
Urban Floor’s goal is to be on the cutting edge with new styles and bring these products to its dealers. New products that are not widely seen in competitors’ stores allow Urban Floor dealers to enjoy much higher profit margins. Trendsetting products such as the Villa Caprisi and Composer collections set the standards for wide/long planks and continue to be strong sellers.
In addition to innovative styles, Urban Floor offers a full range of popular “standards” from entry-level birch all the way up to a reclaimed look, 11½-inch wide European oak. Three additional launches are planned for late 2016.
Urban Floor’s vision is for its brand to be recognized for innovative products and designs at competitive pricing without sacrificing quality and excellent customer service.
WE Cork: Five generations of style and new product development
WE Cork represents the fifth generation in the cork industry. During this time the company has navigated through many economic cycles and myriad changes while employing the latest technology to offer the market the highest quality product with innovative visual design and great service.
The WE Cork brand offers the consumer and retailer a piece of mind that it carries a product line that meet expectations in performance as demonstrated by WECU (WE Cork Underlayments) for thermal and sound insulation under hard surface and LVT. WECU has never had a failure since its introduction in 1978.
WE Cork brand assures the due diligence in R&D for new technology as shown in the Serenity Collection, the company’s high-definition printed cork flooring, which can be customized for both residential and commercial applications. Furthermore, WE Cork service provides a live voice on the phone and technical answers within minutes. It’s all about providing the high quality and customer service associated with a strong brand.
HPS Schönox: A brand is best built in person
Late last year HPS Schönox announced the opening of its national support center in Florence, Ala. Customers from around the country have used the center for meetings, seminars and hands-on-training sessions.
“All the advertising and marketing we do is important, but nothing replaces the value of face-to-face conversations like those we have at the center,” said Thomas Trissl, principal, HPS Schönox. “Building a brand is tied directly to those personal interactions where you learn about the real-world challenges your customers face.”
The personal approach to building the Schönox brand is reflected in its sales and support teams. Regional business managers are present at jobsites across the country on a daily basis, helping flooring professionals address tough subfloor challenges.
“We have a hands-on approach at HPS Schönox with our team getting involved to work side by side with customers,” said Doug Young, executive vice president, HPS Schönox. “In the field, building the Schönox brand is about fully supporting customers on both the business and technical sides of every project.”
Wicanders: Leading the rediscovery of cork’s features
Wicanders, and the Amorim family of brands, have become synonymous with leadership and innovation in the realm of cork. In a world in which researchers, architects and designers are embracing ecological and natural materials, Wicanders has positioned itself to lead the renaissance and rediscovery of cork’s features and benefits within the flooring industry.
Over the years Wicanders has developed floor and wall coverings with exclusive properties due to its innovative Corktech technology. By using a unique engineered multilayer structure, which combines state of the art technology with the exclusive natural properties of cork, a higher standard in flooring was achieved. Corktech technology creates products that provide more silence, more thermal insulation, more walking comfort, more body wellness and more impact resistance. Creating a flooring product that is the holy grail of flooring: beauty combined with the functionality and benefits of both a hard and soft surface.
Using and combining different shapes of natural cork, Wicanders’ team of experts and trendsetters created a unique collection that results in a new approach in decoration, in harmony with nature and human emotions.
The style, charm and sophistication of these genuine natural designs create an atmosphere of authenticity and character.
In short, the Wicanders brand is defining the world of cork flooring.
DuChâteau: Pursuing innovation and the natural aesthetic
Esteemed by designers, DuChâteau is a luxury lifestyle brand that has set the pace for many of its peers. It’s a visionary company that looks to break the mold of traditional flooring manufacturers to assume a bigger, more luxurious place in the minds of consumers as the sexy “it” brand. No wonder DuChâteau has been listed on Inc. 5000’s Fast Growing Companies several years running.
Thanks to founders Benjamin Buzali and Misael Tagle, DuChâteau cemented itself as the rebellious brand that refuses to accept less than the best—the ultimate in product quality and service. It’s a trademark philosophy that Buzali and Tagle brings to every aspect of their business from its first rate, fashion-forward marketing to the construction of their ultra-elegant headquarters in San Diego. It’s a “live the life” atmosphere, where DuChâteau actually practices what it preaches. Without this, DuChâteau would not be what it is today.
DuChâteau continuously pursues innovation and the natural aesthetic. Launching hard-wax oiled floors in the then-untapped American market was only the beginning. Moving into wall coverings was also a bold step outside the box. This ever-expanding universe of DuChâteau is what makes the brand so attractive. Bold and vivacious. DuChâteau never takes a direction that does not reaffirm its rather unshakeable commitment to sustainability and customer service. These have formed the pillars of a brand that has become a driving force within the industry.
MP Global Products: Dare to be different—the story of QuietWalk
As 2017 nears, MP Global Products begins preparations for its 20th anniversary. While the early days were spent concentrating on carpet padding, the company’s research and development led to the creation of an acoustic underlayment designed to lie beneath a new flooring category that arrived on U.S. shores in 1994: laminate.
MP Global’s QuietWalk underlayment was completely different than the many foam products that were already on the market. Manufactured primarily with recycled fibers from the carpet and textile industries, MP Global created a very unique product that quickly became popular through distribution and large retailers.
The result was a very effective product for protecting and silencing hard surface floating floors, which made them sound more like attached real wood. Not only was it good for the overlying floor, but it was also beneficial for the environment because it was recycled material. You might say MP Global was green before the movement became popular.
MP Global’s company’s focus early on was to build the product brand of QuietWalk vs. the company name—which evolved from Midwest Padding to MP Global Products. The strategy worked well, and although MP Global has other private-labeled products, QuietWalk remains a bestseller.
Today, architects and designers specify QuietWalk by name—it is one of the leading brands for use in multi-family housing to deaden impact noise between floors in condominiums and apartment buildings.
Inhaus: A drive to be the best in home design
In just its 15th year in North America, the Inhaus brand possesses a rich European heritage as one of the pioneers and largest producers of laminate floors. Seeking to be the best rather than the biggest, Inhaus continues to strengthen its position in the industry with a passion for design that is reflected in a few core facets of its brand.
Design forward. Inhaus continually watches global trends and develops new designs. This year, parent company Classen completed a major investment in building a 100,000-square-foot design center in Germany where its team of designers and master carpenters work full-time on new designs, enabling Inhaus, the North American marketing arm, to enhance its product offering with original and constant design innovation.
Boutique excellence. This approach speaks to the personal passion Inhaus has for its products, and to the belief that design is more than just technical performance or surface aesthetic. Inhaus strives to offer a carefully and professionally curated selection of only the most current and relevant on-trend floors.
German engineered. All of Inhaus’ laminate flooring is precision crafted in Germany, which is synonymous with high standards of engineering. This focus on technological developments has led to multiple proprietary technologies, such as Megaloc, the company’s patented angle-drop installation system. With continuous investments in R&D and technology Inhaus is able to enhance its product offering with uncompromising value and production flexibility. The latest product innovation, SONO, due to launch later this year, is an entirely new category of waterproof flooring. It is made from a ceramic composite core without the use of PVC, formaldehyde or phthalates.
Ultimately, all of the attributes that make up the Inhaus brand capture a love for home design that is shared by its customers.
Pedross America: Moldings to match every wood floor
Pedross America offers the highest quality and perfectly stained-to-match moldings for every engineered and hardwood floor on the market. The company’s unique price point, the superior quality and the unbeaten matching capabilities are key to Pedross’ success. It is a success the company shares with its customer base all across the United States and Canada. The company’s aim is to make its partners more successful and competitive by offering a min/max system to ensure their business can become more profitable.
Pedross recently started production at its new, state-of-the-art facility in Virginia with the goal of providing even shorter lead times and better service to its customers. Once fully functional, Pedross will be able to offer customers a two-day lead time from the time they place an order until it ships. Pedross’ newly developed direct ship program coupled with a wide range of different wood species provide its customers the flexibility they need and gives them the freedom to decide whether to stock moldings at their location or let Pedross help with the shipping. There are no order minimums.
Innovative companies like Pedross America are continuously moving forward. The future of your business cannot wait.
Wickham Hardwood Flooring: Committed to customers—and the environment
Wickham Hardwood Flooring has emerged as one of North America’s premier flooring companies, winning a Best of Surfaces award at the 2016 show in Las Vegas as well as other prestigious industry honors.
With a critical eye for new looks, colors and textures, Wickham is viewed as a leader in style and innovation. Located near Drummondville in Wickham, Quebec, Wickham Hardwood Flooring was founded in 1989. With determination and years of hard work, the company has come to play a major role in today’s market and earned worldwide recognition for its products.
Wickham Hardwood Flooring has continued to stay on the forefront of the newest and safest finishes the industry has to offer. The company has chosen two of the finest companies in the world to partner with on its oil finishes—Akzo Nobel and Woca. Akzo and Woca are known to the world as innovators and manufacturers of the best finishes.
More importantly, Wickham has always been committed to looking out for the environment and its customers’ well-being and peace of mind. That peace of mind comes from working with some of North America’s most reputable lumber suppliers over the past 25 years—companies that stand behind their products and have gained a level of trust that is so important in today’s marketplace.
Customers can enjoy peace of mind knowing Wickham flooring will not cause any long-term damage to the environment. It is produced entirely in North America, where forest management and timber production are subject to the most strict environmental laws and regulations in the world.
Shaw Floors: A brand built on service, progress and growth
Honesty, integrity and passion set the stage almost 50 years ago and served as the foundation from which the future largest manufacturer of carpet was established. Since that time, the company’s values still remain true, but Shaw Floors has transformed from a single-category producer to a leading, total flooring brand with a laser-focused dedication to servicing its customers and the consumer. Shaw is proud of its heritage and even more grateful for the confidence its loyal customers have shown over the years.
The Shaw Floors brand is synonymous with quality, service and flooring expertise. That is reinforced each year through many surveys and rankings voted on by retail partners. The company is honored that the breadth of its product portfolio earns Shaw Floors the unique ability to provide consumers with flooring that’s right for them. Through Shaw Floors’ products and services, the consumers’ design vision comes to life, enhancing their safe haven and oftentimes largest investment—their home.
Shaw Floors has demonstrated continuous leadership through its company values and cutting- edge innovations such as R2X, the industry’s premier stain and soil resistance protection; the completely redesigned Epic Plus engineered hardwood; the award-winning shawfloors.com; the revolutionary FloorVana app; and the company’s exclusive LifeGuard technology found in Shaw Floors carpet and enhanced vinyl plank, Floorté, which protects against spills and life’s mishaps. These products and services, plus many others, provide retailers with solutions that ultimately give consumers confidence in their investment.
USFloors: A label that personifies power and performance
A successful brand requires laser focus and a consistent message that resonates with the consumer. For the last 15 years, USFloors has carved out a message as a leading manufacturer and distributor of unique and sustainable flooring in the bamboo, wood, cork and COREtec/WPC segments.
As the world leader in WPC flooring, USFloors understands the importance and power of brand—specifically the patented COREtec brand. Today, COREtec The Original is the most widely recognized and respected brand in the WPC category. USFloors leads the segment in innovation and design with an excitement level that has not been seen since the emergence of laminate in the mid 1990s. COREtec offers consumers a worry-free flooring option along with numerous features and benefits that cannot be found in luxury vinyl plank, sheet vinyl, laminate or hardwood.
USFloors also continues to lead with its latest introductions—COREtec Plus HD and COREtec Plus Design. The HD Collection features embossed in register technology along with a four-side enhanced bevel edge in 15 rustic wood décor SKUs. The Design collection consists of multi-tonal and multi-width plank and tile visuals in 10 SKUs. With these 25 summer 2016 introductions, USFloors again sets a standard that others will chase.
USFloors will continue its leadership role in innovation and design, bringing to market the designs, decors and technological advancements that today’s consumers demand.