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NeoCon Preview

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Mara Bollettieri

 

This year NeoCon celebrates its 50th anniversary of showcasing innovative flooring designs for the commercial contract market. The three-day event kicks off June 11 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

The exhibition will feature thousands of new flooring products from a plethora of manufacturers and includes 100 CEU seminars, various programs, special anniversary celebrations, marquee presentations and more.

Following are some of the latest commercial products that will be on display during the show.

Aquafil USA

Econyl regenerated nylon opens up endless possibilities for architects, designers and carpet producers seeking a synthetic covering or carpet that performs beyond expectations.

With the addition of 28 new colors, Econyl yarn is now available in 170 options, all eligible for LEED points. Designers can create performance-driven carpets with Econyl while giving their clients an innovative sustainable solution.

According to Aquafil, Econyl regenerated nylon means no waste, no new resources—just endless possibilities.

Altro Floors

Altro Orchestra resilient flooring has been engineered to create the ideal environment to heal, learn and live. For demanding areas with constant foot traffic, this vinyl sheet provides comfort underfoot and sound reduction. With a grand palette of 40 colors, designers can create the right atmosphere for their spaces.

Altro Orchestra is a 2.8mm sheet vinyl made with 22% rapidly renewable, bio-based content and is certified for low VOCs, thereby helping facilities achieve LEED goals.

American Biltrite

ABPure rubber flooring tiles with Nfuse technology are ready to use right out of the box. The patent-pending treatment allows foot traffic immediately after installation. This tile requires time-consuming set up; is extremely durable against soiling, staining and scuffing; significantly reduces installation downtime; is easier to clean and is declared Red List free.

Cleo Contract

Cleo Contract is a patented construction that combines engineered performance with visual artistry. It has a waterproof, flexible core that is 85% limestone and contains zero PVC, plasticizers, phthalates or chloro-chemicals. Solvent-free, high-fidelity digital imaging offers nearly unlimited design possibilities with nuances in shading and detail. An ultra-low VOC, high-performance clear coating delivers durability and performance.

DuChâteau

DuChâteau’s Vinyl DeLuxe Grand offers unique visuals and a European aesthetic in a durable and low-maintenance flooring option. Available in 7- and 9-inch-wide plank formats, Vinyl Deluxe Grand is the latest chapter in luxury engineered floating floors with LuxCor waterproof core, easy click installation and attached HushWalk underlayment. This collection captures the beauty of wood and appeals to residential and commercial customers.

EF Contract

New materials for product development often focus on a single feature—lightweight, durable, tech-enabled. The EF Contract Design Studio played with these concepts in its new Kicks collection, inspired by innovative materials and interpreted through the company’s own innovative tufting and high-performance backing technologies. These inspirations produced a collection that is versatile, while the modular formats enable designers to create complex installations as well as unified, simple fields of texture.

Fletco Carpets

LockTiles is a unique carpet tile shape with laser-cut edges that interlock to fit together in all directions, meter for meter, no matter the size of the area. LockTiles guarantees an effective installation with a homogeneous surface, making the joints less visible. It is for users who want the best in flat-woven carpet tiles and its advantages yet still desire the look of broadloom.

Flexco

The FreeFlex rubber tile collection embodies true flexibility. A variety of new sizes offer patterns and textures with the durability and resilience of rubber. Sizes include: 6 x 36, 12 x 36 and 18 x 36, These additional sizes complement the company’s existing collection of 12 x 12, 18 x 18 and 36 x 36 tiles.

Johnsonite

Pentagonals from Johnsonite, a Tarkett brand, is a collection of three distinct shapes created with Cradle to Cradle certified rubber flooring. Johnsonite has turned three convex polygons into rubber tiles; each is available in Johnsonite’s full rubber flooring line, meaning designers can choose from nearly limitless textures and colors to create truly unique flooring. Rubber flooring is naturally slip resistant with shock-absorbing qualities as well as acoustic properties. The line is also sustainable.

Karndean Designflooring

Textum from the Opus collection was inspired by forms in concrete. It was created as a hybrid abstract wood visual that combines the grain detailing and plank format of traditional European oak flooring with the effect of imprinted concrete. These 36 x 6-inch planks act as a wood visual but can also be used with design strips to create the look of porcelain tile without the practical drawbacks. It features a 20 mil wear layer and a 15-year commercial warranty.

Mannington Commercial

The Cirro collection, a non-vinyl alternative to LVT, is a thermoplastic composite resilient tile that offers the same versatility as LVT. Cirro does not contain any ortho-phthalate plasticizers and is a low-emitting product. In addition, its sustainable construction features recycled content. Available in 20 visuals, it’s designed to bring beauty and sustainability to any space. Featuring 16 wood visuals in 71⁄2 x 48 and 41⁄2 x 36 plank sizes, two stone patterns and two abstract visuals in 18 x 18 and 12 x 24 tile sizes.

Metroflor

Metroflor will showcase the new Aspecta Ten Tilt and Tones collection. The latest LVT design breakthrough pairs four new geometrically and biophilically inspired Tilt tiles with the neutral Tones tile palette. The 24 x 24 tiles are presented in four color groups, each consisting of unique Tilt tile designs that can be paired with two companion Tones tiles. The line is suitable for most commercial environments.

Mohawk Group

Pivot Point ERT responds to a world population that continues to urbanize with patterns and colors inspired by nature and an alternative chemistry, Red List-free, PVC-free enhanced resilient tile. Using biophilic principles, its design motifs can contribute to reducing stress, enhancing creativity, improving well-being and expediting healing. It features wood, textile and stone visuals, and is designed to achieve Living Product Challenge Petal Certification.

Raskin Industries

Raskin’s Elevations AcoustX meets the demand for something unique in the flooded LVT market with fashion-forward, proprietary designs created by Michael Raskin, CEO. The enhanced aesthetics of AcoustX complement the product’s performance.

AcoustX’s pre-attached underlayment offers an acoustic solution while reducing installation time (no sound-abatement layer is required). AcoustX can be installed over most existing hard surface floors. As part of its construction, it includes a solid fiberglass sheet.

Shannon Specialty Floors

Teknoflor Naturescapes HPD is the brand’s first organic sheet good made with ecuran, an organically derived polyurethane composite material processed from plant-based oils such as castor oil and naturally occurring minerals like chalk. This resilient sheet flooring has all the advantages of sheet vinyl—durability, easy maintenance and versatility—without the PVC. It comes in 24 designs across three distinct styles that can be used independently or together.

Shaw Contract

Haven is a collection of modular carpet tiles designed to add the comforts of a residential space to the contract market. It conveys the warmth of the home in all places where people connect with colleagues and friends by utilizing color, texture and pattern. By blurring old distinctions between domestic and commercial spaces, it embraces a more nuanced understanding of how society lives today—finding home wherever creativity takes the end user.

Tandus Centiva

Tandus Centiva, a Tarkett brand, will exhibit Color Play—a product based on the company’s latest design research in education and healthcare spaces. The palette includes 24 hues in each of the three pattern options for a total of 72 product solutions. Color Play features Tarkett’s TechTonic—a shift forward in performance for hard surface floors. Its advanced new polyurethane technology is super tough and resists scratching, abrasions, scuffing and staining.

 

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LVT, carpet tile make the (commercial) grade

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Ken Ryan

 

Flooring executives say there are several reasons why LVT and carpet tile—two modular options—represent the fastest growth and most popular flooring types for commercial interiors.

Modular flooring categories offer numerous options, enough to address virtually any budget, performance need or design requirement, according to Quentin Quathamer, commercial brand and marketing manager for Philadelphia Commercial, a division of Shaw Industries. “Modular flooring offers flexible design options via installation pattern. Combined with style, color and shape selection, a distinctive design can be easily achieved. They also mitigate less-than-perfect site conditions where less than smooth or dry subfloors exist, which can be budget-restricting hurdles or delay the use of the space you just designed or renovated.”

Others say carpet tile lends itself to enhanced design because designers can use the modularity of the tile to create spaces within a space and help with wayfinding. Nathan Stevenson, vice president of product management, Mohawk Group, noted that carpet tile is a good choice “for when you are renovating a commercial space with pre-existing furniture where you can essentially lift the case goods in the area an installer is working, replace the flooring underneath, lower the furniture, move to the next tile and keep the process moving along. Carpet tile’s benefits and flexibility help specifiers and end users meet many of their goals for commercial environments.”

In recent years, traditional LVT emerged as a versatile and durable product offering myriad design options to provide an excellent value proposition. “The traditional LVT market continues to evolve with modification that impart various performance attributes,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer/executive vice president, sales, Congoleum. “Modifications to the base can deliver improvements in sound rating, indentation or installation options. Changes to the thickness of the wear layer can be made based on the type of space, the maintenance schedule and anticipated level of foot traffic to ensure optimal performance. Combine performance options with an array of design options, relative ease of installation and competitive price point, and you have a strong value proposition.”

Many flooring observers also agree that LVT is the smart choice for commercial applications because it offers a bevy of benefits other flooring surfaces cannot. “From a design standpoint,” said Alan Rowell, director of sales for Aspecta by Metroflor, “LVT fits in with the more European contemporary look that is gaining popularity in commercial settings.”

Flexibility and versatility are two other attributes in LVT’s favor in the commercial segment. “We often think about our tile products as building blocks, and our customer has the ability to control how the floor defines their space, regardless of whether it is carpet or LVT,” said John Crews, manager of Lifestyle Studio, Shaw Contract.

Amanda O’Neill, senior product manager for Armstrong, said that because LVT’s composition includes PVC, the product is much more resistant to damages in addition to being water and scratch resistant. “LVT’s flexibility in terms of modular shapes and sizes, broad palette of colors, durable long-lasting performance and easy maintenance make it idea for many commercial spaces. Plus, improved embossing techniques give LVT a much more realistic look than laminate.”

For Mannington’s Al Boulogne, vice president of commercial resilient business, LVT’s success in the commercial arena is all about versatility, as it can solve many installation-related issues. “Floating versions and more traditional glue-down versions of LVT, coupled with specialty adhesives, solve moisture issues from the subfloor,” Boulogne said. “Solid core products can also go over existing subfloors helping the end user avoid the high cost of ripping up tiles. Plank and tile formats in LVT also help to make repairs of damages much easier.”

Mark Tickle, director of marketing, American Biltrite, said the nearly unlimited visuals and colors differentiate this waterproof vinyl product in a commercial setting. “Simple maintenance, no stripping and waxing [needed]; then there is the much lower cost for installation and maintenance with a simple damp mop. Finally, better technologies have made it more durable to commercial traffic use.”

Applications for every segment

The question is not which commercial segments favor carpet tile/LVT but rather which commercial segments don’t? Indeed, markets like education, corporate, healthcare, government, hospitality, student housing and retail all are thriving with LVT and carpet tile applications.

The general consensus is the two big commercial growth segments are hospitality and workplace. Both are relatively new segments for LVT. “Having the right design for the workplace has been the challenge in such a legacy, carpet-oriented segment,” Boulogne said. “By coordinating design with what works on the soft surface side, we can make the transition a comfortable one for designers.”

Hospitality’s acceptance of LVT over soft surface products has grown lately due to health/hygiene concerns and LVT’s longer life cycle. By the same token, VCT is losing ground within education because LVT is easier to maintain and does not have an institutional look and feel. Milton Goodwin, vice president of commercial sales for Karndean Designflooring, allowed that the hospitality segment is turning away from carpet and hard tile because it is difficult to keep the grout clean. “The cleanability of LVT is a big thing. LVT doesn’t harbor dust and allergens; there is softness underfoot; it is hygienic and offers upscale looks without the costs.”

Cali Bamboo has seen significant growth among its hospitality, multi-unit housing, gym and retail storefront clients. These sectors are looking for flooring that can be installed easily and won’t have to be maintained or replaced as often. “Our customers also like the improvements in the luxury vinyl look that Cali Vinyl’s HiFi Imaging allows,” said Tom Hume, vice president of marketing. “The introduction of improved LVT has opened doors to clients who tend to shy away from hardwood or carpet.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NeoCon 2017: Exhibitors report uptick in attendee quantity, quality

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By Steven Feldman

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.34.43 PMChicago—NeoCon 2017 played to rave reviews last month, with just about every flooring supplier extolling the virtues of a show that saw increased traffic from 2016, matched only by the quality of those visiting their spaces. Their sentiments were confirmed by show management which reported an uptick of 7% in attendance shortly after the close of the event.

“Our take is that NeoCon is busier this year,” said Michel Vermette, president, The Mohawk Group, whose third floor space was bustling from start to finish over the first two days. “This year there are more end users. Major players. A lot of tech companies and financials—major groups that have big projects,” and it all has to do with the economy. “There are substantial projects out there. I think everyone wants to take advantage of these better economic times to catch up on some things they may have left behind for some time.”

Ralph Grogan, president and CEO of Bentley Mills, which showed product in its 10th floor space as well as its Kinzie Street showroom located within steps of the Merchandise Mart, went so far as to say this was the “best show ever for us.” Or at least since Grogan took the helm four years ago. “The traffic has been great. It seems like we’ve seen more people than we have had in years past. We definitely have seen more end users come by who are working on big RFPs.”

Even exhibitors on the 7th floor, which houses the temporary space, were pleased. Milton Goodwin, vice president of commercial sales for Karndean, agreed the show was busier than last year. “We looked at leads generated over the first two days, and they were significantly more than last year. That’s how we initially gauge it, and down the road how much business we got.” He added that Karndean saw a blend of attendees. “You have people coming with projects as well as some tire kickers. We love the ones who are doing the immediate-gratification jobs.”

What bodes well for the contract side of the flooring business is the fact that projects are coming from all segments. “Corporate was a bit soft last year but seems to have rebounded a good bit this year,” said David Jolly, CEO, J+J Flooring Group. “We are still very strong with our Kinetex product as well as carpet in both education and healthcare. Those are the three segments we focus on and this year they all seem to be pretty robust. It’s especially nice to have more interest and energy in corporate because that is 50% of what we do.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.35.24 PMBentley’s Grogan also welcomes the corporate rebound, which he attributes to greater profits. “We are bigger into the corporate market vs. some others. We have always thought corporate profits are the biggest indicator as far as how people are spending money. Most companies over the last two quarters have been doing really well. Stock prices are up for a lot of companies. So we are seeing people spend money. Millennials want good workstations, so people are investing in that.”

Russ Rogg, president of Metroflor—which markets its Aspecta brand to this audience—told FCNews every commercial segment in which the company plays has been positive. “Certainly retail has been a big part of our success. Healthcare and hospitality are growing very fast, maybe a little less on the corporate and education sides.”

Mohawk’s Vermette has seen strong demand in corporate and hospitality thus far in 2017. “But education this summer should be strong with the extra bond money in Texas and California, among others. We are very optimistic.”

What specifiers want

Designers come to NeoCon seeking, well, good design. Of course, service and price are also key components. But the good news is price, while still important, is less of a driver than it was coming out of the economic downturn. But there are other hot buttons for this audience on which manufacturers must deliver.

“You are seeing more projects with multiple SKUs on it,” Vermette said. “You see some custom projects, but less and less. You see more designers using multiple components to create a custom layout or custom office space or hospitality area, so they are very creative with your running-line pieces.”

He added that it’s not just carpet anymore; rather, it’s a hard/soft combo. “We make sure we can meet that requirement across the board. That gives us an edge over some of the carpet-only mills. It’s something we have been doing for over four years now, where our carpet tile matches up to our resilient tile. You don’t need a transition of any type. We make sure we have some products that color coordinate and also complement each other in size. We also make sure the life cycle of our products match up. If we decide to do something with a particular carpet tile or resilient tile, we still make sure there’s a coordinate that replaces it with a fresher, newer look.” As for price, Vermette said you always have to be relevant, “but it’s definitely not the concern it was during the downturn.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.35.09 PMRandy Merritt, president of Shaw Industries, noted that designers want product, service, innovation and, yes, price. “Is price the most important thing? Probably not. But everybody has a budget. There are a lot of projects where the design firm specifies one thing and when it is time to start doing the project they talk about value engineering. That’s the big term. That means lower price for a cheaper product.”

Jolly believes the big focus at NeoCon is always design. “That’s where it always starts, but every designer will tell you his or her project budgets matter. So I’ll still argue it’s design, but it’s design with value. It doesn’t just mean low-end pricing. Also, knowing what will enhance their customer’s brand or work experience.”

Karndean’s Goodwin is finding visitors want testimonials, like where a particular product is being used and whether they have peers using it as well. As for cost, “In this arena, price is important, but they are usually talking in terms of a general price. For the audience here, it is predominantly design that is the driver.”

Positive pulse

Ask any executive about business in the first half of the year, and most will agree it has been good, not great. J+J’s Jolly called the first six months of the year “very good” driven by product design. “We introduced 36 products last year, which is a lot for us. We really worked hard on corporate and education and it’s paying off for us this year. Those segments are still very strong.”

At Shaw Contract, Merritt was a little less bullish. “Healthcare has been pretty good still. Hospitality has been pretty good. Retail is a battle, and corporate is OK, not great.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.35.16 PMKarndean’s business is up in every commercial category, according to Goodwin, but multi-family is what’s really driving the success. “Healthcare is also a great category; there is lots of upheaval in that marketplace. And with education, colleges just let out and have a three-month window to get the business done.”

The numbers also bode well for Metroflor, but Rogg cautioned that Aspecta is a relatively new brand so posting high-percentage gains is easier at this stage. “We created this Aspecta brand to go specifically after contract opportunities only four years ago. So when a brand and a collection is this new for a manufacturer, incrementally our percentage of increase year over year is pretty nice. The first quarter was good, April and May a little slower, but we have seen orders in late May and June pick up.” He cited Iscocore as driving the lion’s share of the brand’s growth.

Meanwhile, over at Bentley, the company is enjoying a good first half but still is trying to overcome the perception the company is strictly high-end, expensive broadloom. “We completely reinvented the company the last four years, but we still need to educate our customers that we can compete with anybody in terms of styling, product pricing and just making sure people are aware we are big players in the carpet tile market,” Grogan explained. “We have doubled our carpet tile business in the last three years. We are doing a $2.5 million expansion to double the capacity on our tile line. We need to educate our customers on what Bentley has to offer.”

 

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Shaw Contract relaunches A Walk in the Garden

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 4.29.49 PMDallas, Texas—Shaw Contract recently relaunched A Walk in the Garden—a refreshed look at the first-ever Cradle to Cradle Certified flooring product, created in collaboration with visionary William McDonough. The collection will relaunch in a new shape and color palette, expanding on its connection to nature with patterns applicable for hospitality, retail, healthcare, education and workplace.

The collection is inspired by McDonough’s travels to China while strolling and taking in the scenic gardens and lush landscapes. It features four 9 x 36 tile patterns with a fresh, new color palette, including ten core colors, and is made to coordinate with City Central tile. The resulting collection minimizes the use of new materials and eliminates waste, with a focus on human health and safety.

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NeoCon East: New innovations, sustainability define the agenda

December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13

By Sarah Bousquet

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-05-53-amPhiladelphia—In keeping with its Midwest counterpart, NeoCon East—which took place here recently at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the second year in a row—drew thousands of influential design professionals from the Northeast corridor. The two-day conference and exhibition also provided a platform for roughly 200 exhibitors to showcase their latest products, services and commercial flooring solutions.

“NeoCon East delivered on many fronts, but most importantly it connected the key players in our industry interested in expanding their knowledge and business opportunities,” said Julie Kohl, vice president of exhibitor sales for NeoCon Shows. “With thousands of new products on display, it is in these connections that business happens and market share is won. These relationships are vital to our industry dynamic, and for this reason NeoCon East will continue to gain momentum.”

Exhibitors and attendees alike agreed that relationship building and knowledge sharing continue to be the linchpins of regional shows such as this.

Ralph Grogan, president and CEO of Bentley Mills, explained that the company’s goals this year were two-fold: Highlight new product and network with an entirely new demographic of attendees. “Yes, we are showcasing Lost Angeles as we did at NeoCon earlier this year, but most people here were not in Chicago,” he said. “Philadelphia has a lot going on, and the people here are excited about business and education. I don’t think we lost anyone from Baltimore—NeoCon East’s previous home—and we’ve definitely increased conversations with people from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”

Others agreed. Karen Ostromecki, interior designer, IIDA, LEED GA, from Rochester, N.Y., thinks of NeoCon East as a “hub for collaboration and learning and a great place to network for future project opportunities.” Being able to view the latest products and trends while conversing with other professionals in the field is critical, she added.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-06-30-amIn line with the collaborative theme of this year’s NeoCon East, it was apparent that manufacturers were looking to answer attendees’ requests for new and different solutions. For instance, Procedo Floorings’ Loom+, which is produced by infusing a durable fabric top layer with an LVT bottom layer, received a lot of attention from booth visitors, thanks to its versatility. “Everybody is interested in our loom-woven vinyl flooring because it’s a different product,” said Brent Fike, sales manager. “It looks like—and has—the unlimited design capabilities of a soft surface but provides the durability of an LVT, which has gained interest from the hospitality, corporate and retail segments.”

Patcraft’s Mixed Materials collection drew similar notoriety for its ability to seamlessly use hard and soft surface flooring side-by-side, alone or in multiple combinations. Tara Currier, communications manager, noted the new product is part of a bigger conversation. “We’ve been meeting with the team to talk about well building,” she noted, explaining that designers are increasingly asking how the products they specify effect the way people work, live and interact. “As a manufacturer, we want to be in pace with designers and even ahead of the curve to help them answer these questions with new solutions.”

Several manufacturers also utilized their booth spaces highlight sustainable design options. For example, Shaw Contract discussed big-picture ideas around diversity in design, sustainable processes and healthy living.