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Preverco launches new website, PreViewR

Québec, Canada—Preverco has launched a new website, along with its latest PreViewR tool, which allows customers to preview what their homes would look like with any one of Preverco’s hardwood floors.

“The goal of this new website is to facilitate and enhance the buying experience for customers who are looking for high-quality hardwood flooring—but want clear information in order to make the best choice,” explained Jean-François Dufresne, Preverco’s CEO. “Preverco acknowledges that buying a hardwood floor can be complicated and difficult. But our goal has always been to make buying a hardwood floor easy, accessible and even fun. We want to educate customers about the merits of different appearances, platforms, colors and species without overwhelming them with ‘only’ the technical attributes.”

Preverco’s new website also features its easy-to-use PreViewR that customers can use on their desktop computers, smartphones and tablets to upload pictures of their rooms and decide which Preverco floor they like best. “This innovative tool helps reassure customers that they are making the right decision based on their unique styles and preferences,” Dufresne said. “A hardwood floor is a great investment—but one you want to make sure you’ll appreciate for years to come.”

The website also represents Preverco’s mission to promote real wood floors and distinguish its hardwood floors from wood-look vinyl, tile and laminate flooring that are flooding the market—all of which do not add tremendous value to consumers’ homes and create confusion amongst buyers. “Undoubtedly, hardwood flooring features unmatched quality, durability and character,” Dufresne added. “Over time, our website will show visitors, time and again, the compelling reasons why they should opt for our hardwood floors over copycats. We want to cater to discerning customers who want to increase the worth of their homes, not just buy a floor for the sake of buying a floor.”

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Preverco introduces three Canadian reps

Preverco_angl[1]9e9dadSaint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec–In January Preverco announced it was making operational upgrades to its plants that would boost its production capacity by 30%. Already the Quebec company has seen its business increase and today it has announced the hiring it has hired three new Canadian representatives.
“British Columbia, Alberta/Saskatchewan and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are all large and growing markets. With the demand for Preverco products rising steadily, adding representatives to these three geographic regions makes good business sense,” said Etienne Chabot, vice president, marketing.

William “Brownie” Dove, British Columbia
Dove has more than 25 years of experience in the sales and distribution of hardwood floors as well as in sales management. His extensive network of contacts will complement that of Derek Smithdorf, Preverco’s current representative in British Columbia.

Ryan Smithdorf, Alberta/Saskatchewan
Smithdorf brings to Preverco experience in many facets of the floor covering industry in Alberta. This experience, along with that of representative Art Vesterdal, will enable Preverco to strengthen the positioning of its products in these provinces.

Sebastian Lukasik, Greater Toronto Area and Eastern Ontario
Lukasik has worked in the hardwood flooring industry for more than 18 years. Prior to joining Preverco, he was an account manager for a hardwood floor distributor, where he specialized in sales for major commercial projects. Alongside Tim Reid, he will contribute to the success of Preverco in the GTA.

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Wood: New staining techniques create heightened designs

February 2/9, 2015; Volume 28/Number 16

By Ken Ryan

(First of two parts)

As the trend of wider widths and longer lengths becomes more mainstream, hardwood flooring manufacturers are turning to the latest in staining techniques to differentiate their offerings. Several of these were attention grabbers at Surfaces 2015.

Armstrong

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.53.06 PMArmstrong has added depth and more choices to its Prime Harvest collection, bringing hickory and maple into a portfolio that already included oak. All species are available in multiple widths, colors and gloss levels across solid and engineered.

The beefed-up Prime Harvest line now gives retailers more options for its customers, according to Mara Villanueva-Heras, vice president of residential marketing. “So now a consumer comes in [the store] and says, ‘Hey, I really like that color but I don’t like oak; do you have it in cherry?’ Before it was almost impossible to navigate her there. Now we say, ‘Yeah, we do have that color in cherry.’ Then she starts looking and says, ‘I love that color in maple but I just got back from my builder and he said I need engineered.’ Before it would be ‘No, that’s a different collection. Let’s start over and pick a new color.’ Now we say, ‘Absolutely, we have that in engineered.’ Then the retailer can demonstrate in one width but there are multiple. It makes it easier to navigate instead of finding a line with different names and features.”

Also, Armstrong has added maple to its successful American Scrape line, which now boasts a range of colors from light—almost white—to black with some grays in the middle. “It’s a softer, more refined scrape, not as aggressive as you would see on the oak or hickory, which are more grainy, with more character in the wood,” Villanueva-Heras said.

Boen

Wide widths and long lengths are all the rage in hardwood, and no company makes a louder statement than Boen, which showed 12-inch wide x 9-foot long oak products. Specifically, Oak Highland and Oak Graphite were the two big hits at the show, according to Dennis Hrusa, managing director. The company utilizes a stain process that creates distinctive variations in color in the big boards.

Oak Highland, which retails for $14 to $15 per square foot, “is an eye catcher,” Hrusa said. “It’s used in big rooms, and in big rooms people tend to be more conservative.” Oak Graphite (top product is Mystic Jungle) provides a certain European oak look that Boen prominently displayed at its booth to grab attention.

Elegance Exotics

Elegance Exotics already sources from South America, Central America, Asia and Africa; now, for the first time, it is adding North America to the list with two hickory products. “One thing we wanted was to be well rounded,” said Lukasz Piatek, vice president of sales. “The one place we weren’t getting it was North America. It adds value.” Piatek said what drew the most attention at Surfaces was a ½-inch thick engineered line featuring three birches and two hickories.

Elegance also sought to make further inroads with top-tier dealers at Surfaces, especially National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) retailers. Elegance has existing relationships with about 10 NFA dealers. “One of our goals is to continue to grow with the NFA,” Piatek said. “We want to be one of their core vendors.”

Elof Hansson

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.53.00 PMThe first hour of the first day of Surfaces proved quite busy at the Elof Hansson booth where Bruce Hammer, sales and marketing manager, engaged customers about the company’s new Brazilian walnut and Brazilian Plantation species. The Plantation Series grows extremely fast, from seedling to maturity in seven years.

Brazilian walnut comes in dark colors, including chocolate and coffee. “One of the issues you have with the staining process is it homogenizes the whole color and takes the variation out and gives a more uniform color,” Hammer said. “As a result we are getting some of the sellable looks of the exotics but at a lesser price.”

Hammer urged retailers to carry the product because of its uniqueness, ability to make money and Made in the USA angle. “We bring the material in raw and finish it in North Carolina. If a customer says, ‘I like that stain but want more espresso in it,’ we can do it. Having that plant in North Carolina is one of our big advantages.”

Johnson Premium Hardwood Floors

Johnson’s Alehouse Series was a Best of Surfaces winner in style and design. Its dimensions (7 1⁄2-inches wide by 7-feet long), design (beveled edges, light brushing) and numerous color variations kept booth visitors intrigued. Alehouse is offered in nine dark tones.

To achieve the desired effect, a multi-layer, hand-staining process creates an inner glow appearance that darkens toward the timeworn plank edges. The line is the heir apparent to English Pub, one of the top looks at Surfaces 2014. Bill Schollmeyer, CEO, said he is not sure Alehouse will outsell English Pub but believes both will have strong appeal in both commercial and retail markets.

Kährs

Kährs, which in December merged with Karelia‐Upofloor to create one of Europe’s leading wood floor producers, showcased its Real collection (up to 10-inches wide) and lengths (up to 12 feet), as well as the Smaland line from Sweden, which includes 12 strip oak floors. The company is taking advantage of its European heritage with a two-part staining process that displays the high gloss of the acrylic-based urethane.

Nature Flooring

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.52.54 PMJaman Stepp took over as CEO of Nature Flooring in December, so Surfaces was an opportunity to meet with distributor partners and outline a plan for 2015. “We want to reassure these folks we are going to step it up a notch.”

Stepp acknowledged Nature’s service level hasn’t been where it needs to be; therefore, his 2015 focus is on building an infrastructure to support the business model. “Building the team from the inside out. It is going to be a challenge but I am looking forward to it.”

Nature Flooring has plenty of production capability at its disposal: it owns four forests, operates 19 facilities in China and runs a Peruvian manufacturing site. “I want us to be a leader in the exotics category,” Stepp said. “Having ownership of the plants and forests is key.”

In 2015, Nature Flooring will move into a new corporate facility in north Georgia.

Preverco

Preverco highlighted the launch of a mobile app and a new merchandising system.

The app uses augmented reality, allowing users to view their existing flooring and substitute it virtually with Preverco floors. “The tool will give consumers confidence they are choosing the right product,” said Etienne Chabot, Preverco’s vice president of marketing. The mobile app is available free in the App Store for iPad users.

The new merchandising system can fit 20% more samples while taking up 8% less footprint; it also features enhanced LED lighting to show samples in the best light. “It can be customized and configured the way you want it,” Chabot said. Preverco showed a prototype of the merchandising system at last year’s Surfaces and made enhancements based on customer feedback.

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Canadian mills: Quality you can count on

July 7/14, 2014; Volume 28/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.12.20 AM

It is said that location is everything, and for hardwood flooring manufacturers in Canada—home to 10% of the world’s forests—that means access to five major forest regions, each with its own specific climate, topography and soil.

Several different types of wood that are used for flooring are grown in Canadian forests, including birch, ash, beech, oak and maple. Yellow birch, for example, has a grain that is similar to maple’s and is highly sought after in furniture and flooring.

According to flooring professionals north of the border, one of the reasons Canada’s wood is of such good quality is because of the climate. The coldness makes the wood grow slower, which results in tighter and stronger product with more consistent tones of color.

Tight growth rings, strong fibers and consistent grain patterns are the characteristics that give Quebec hardwood its strength and durability. Quebec-based flooring companies, including Mirage, Mercier, Lauzon and Preverco, have benefited from the climate and richness of forestland to produce quality products.

And yet, access to quality raw materials is only part of the process; the manufacturing method must also be at a high level, according to Luc Robitaille, vice president of marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage brand. “Offering superior quality products has always been our No. 1 priority,” he said. “Therefore, maintaining this high level of quality is our daily challenge, a goal each of our employees strives for.”

The name Mirage is synonymous with quality, and it is known throughout the industry for its exacting standards.

As Robitaille explained, “Each day, hundreds of quality checks are being performed throughout the production process, from the purchase of raw material to the logistics involved in the delivery to the customers. Nothing is left to chance. Anyone can [make] a quality product. What is more difficult is to [provide] quality all the time. We all know it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there in the first place. That’s why we work hard every day, taking nothing for granted and constantly striving to reinvent ourselves.”

Quality manufacturing is part of Mercier’s heritage as well. More than a decade ago, the company streamlined its manufacturing and raw materials pipeline by bringing on a sawmill that today provides 100% of the raw materials used by Mercier. Michel Collin, director of marketing, said beyond the manufacturing capability, drilling down to the smallest details is important. “We know we need to do things differently to be recognized in the U.S. market and that we need to offer [additional] value that domestic manufacturers cannot,” he said. “It all starts with the commitment to the quality program every day—from a rigorous manufacturing process, quality control and monitoring, to vertical integration and the training of our employees. In the end it’s not only quality production overall but it’s design and style of our product as well.”

What goes into making hardwood flooring of such high quality? It is, quite simply, an extensive and rigorous quality control process. For Mirage, it moves from the worker in the plant to the sales reps in the field. “Our employees pursue the same goal: going above and beyond customer expectations and constantly adapting to their needs,” Robitaille said. “This is what Mirage’s reputation is built on and what we’ll continue to work on each day. The numerous quality awards received in the last decade—more than 23—prove our efforts are worth it. It doesn’t mean we have to stop because of our success; quality is a journey, not a destination.”’

World-class manufacturing operations

Not resting on its laurels, Canadian manufacturers continue to develop and market innovative technology such as sawmill operations that optimize the yield of every tree. These new, highly automated milling technologies produce more wood from fewer trees. Only a maximum of 5% of each cut tree is not used. This 5% is comprised of branches, which the tree cutters leave on the forest floor in order to biodegrade and aid future tree growth.

Wickham Hardwood Flooring, located near Drummondville, Quebec, said it reinvests a significant portion of its yearly earnings back into its facilities. In 1996, the company sought to enhance its strategic position by implementing an automated production line for varnishing its hardwood floorboards. Since then, the company has added a new sawmill, kilns, a processing plant and a finishing line.

“The reputation of Canadian mills is built on a strong expertise of the wood manufacturing process—from the drying stage to warehousing in perfect temperature and humidity conditions,” explained Etienne Chabot, vice president of marketing at Preverco.

That effort has not gone unnoticed among consumers. “We recently did a survey among our customers,” Chabot said, “and Made in Canada remains one of the top five reasons why they prefer to buy Canadian hardwood vs. a substitute product.”

 

In pursuit of quality 

Flooring retailers who have toured Mirage’s production facility in Saint-Georges, Quebec, come away impressed by the quality control that takes place, even noting the cleanliness of the plant. “It is so clean you could eat off the floor,” said Scott Milligan, owner of Heartland Wood Flooring, a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based retailer who called the tour a “must-see” for anyone in the flooring industry. The following “indicator of quality/quality checks,” as Mirage refers to it, is a review of what is done in the plant in terms of quality control. According to Robitaille, the points below are also indicators of quality that customers should look for when shopping for high quality hardwood floors.

1) The wood is stable and durable At Mirage, production doesn’t start until the wood has dried for as long as each species requires. This is to ensure that the floor won’t shrink or split in the years to come.

2) Straight, uniformly thick boards Workers place a few boards on the floor next to one another. The boards should fit together perfectly, with no noticeable variations in thickness.

3) Small and consistent V joints When placed alongside one another, the boards form V joints where they meet. Perfect joints will help the floor stay resilient and make it easier to clean.

4) Consistent color from one box to the next Color applied deep within joints gives floors a more uniform appearance. Workers watch to make sure that color is consistent from one box to another.

5) A clean, sanitary surface Antimicrobial agents added to the floor’s finish help surroundings stay clean and sanitary.

6) UV protection to fight yellowing Bright light and sun can cause wood from a naturally pale species to yellow. UV protection in the finish can reduce and slow this process.

7) Highest standard of finish Finish needs to be applied in just the right amount—neither too thin nor too thick—to avoid a plastic look. The beauty of the wood should shine through.

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Wood: Technology helps drive category to recovery

David Shaoulpour of Horizon with Laurel, one of the new lines constructed with FSC-certified wood.

By Matthew Spieler

Volume 26/Number 20; February 18/25, 2013

(Second of two parts)

Las Vegas—As illustrated in Part I of this feature (FCNews, Feb. 4/11), wood manufacturers are using technology to help the category recover from the housing collapse. This technology is allowing new ways of presenting classic species by merchandising exotic looks without the matching price tag. Following is more of what attendees witnessed last month on the Surfaces show floor. Continue reading Wood: Technology helps drive category to recovery

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Preverco unveils new brand positioning, products at Surfaces 2013

Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC — CNW Telbec/ – Preverco affirms its leadership once again by unveiling its new positioning: Preverco, Creating Ambiance. Reflective of a company in constant evolution with a well-defined vision for the future, this promise is backed by a new website that will be previewed for booth visitors at Surfaces (to be officially launched in February) as well as several new communication tools. Continue reading Preverco unveils new brand positioning, products at Surfaces 2013

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State of the hardwood industry: Foreign competition, uncertainty weigh heavily on the category

Hardwood has been a flooring category generating plenty of buzz recently. The Lacey Act revisions two years ago sent ripples from Washington, and the recent anti-dumping case brought many manufacturers flocking back to government agencies in an effort to understand just what is at stake. While hardwood has long enjoyed a strong domestic manufacturing presence, recent shifts in the trade balance have shed a light of uncertainty on the category’s future. Coupled with the troubled economy and a struggling building sector, this last year is one that is best left behind in the books. Continue reading State of the hardwood industry: Foreign competition, uncertainty weigh heavily on the category

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Surfaces 2011: Hardwood blends style and performance

Although hardwood is one of the oldest categories of flooring, it never fails to evolve with consumer tastes and innovate to meet her needs. Her tastes gravitate toward softer character looks and texturing for unique and authentic visuals, while her needs are for a floor that will withstand a busy, often demanding lifestyle without the need for refinishing or touch-ups. Mills came forward this year to meet both those needs simultaneously with fashion-forward styling and finishes that promise to look as good as on the day of install through its life. Continue reading Surfaces 2011: Hardwood blends style and performance