January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17
By Reginald Tucker
Orlando—Several thousand Shaw Flooring Network (SFN) dealers were represented during its biennial convention held here. The three-day event, which coincided with Shaw’s 50th anniversary, was jam packed with scores of new products, educational sessions, entertainment, networking opportunities and group activities for the thousands of dealer family members who tagged along for the ride.
Dubbed “Connect 2017,” the conference continually reinforced the theme of Shaw working closely together with its retail partners to develop products, lead-generation programs and merchandising vehicles designed to generate business for retailers. “This event is all about providing our retailer partners with the tools they need to drive sales and repeat business,” said Aaron John, director of SFN and retail programs, during his opening remarks. “It’s also an opportunity for retailers to connect and engage with one another to share best practices.”
Randy Merritt, president of Shaw Industries, echoed those remarks as he linked the evolution of Shaw over the past 50 years with the partnership the company has developed with its dealers over time. “We take pride in having a partnership mentality,” he said. “We never wanted to just buy and sell product but rather have a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship. I’ve had the great fortune of holding babies and dancing with children who are now second- and third-generation store owners. These relationships, partnerships and friendships have been a critical part of Shaw for 50 years, and that will continue for the next 50 years.”
For many dealers, the feeling is mutual. “We’ve been a partner with Shaw since it started partnerships,” said Jason Jabara, CEO of Jabara’s Carpet Outlet, Witchita, Kan., a 15-year member of Shaw’s retail network. “Being an SFN dealer and having access to all the programs Shaw offers at no cost to us just for being an aligned dealer is tremendous. The programs Shaw offers would cost me thousands of dollars to try and do on my own.”
Jabara is not alone. Brent Ziegler, owner of H&R Carpets in Waunakee, Wis., has been a member of the Shaw Flooring Network since 2007. The partnership has proven beneficial for his business. “Shaw has developed programs that help me grow my business, make me more successful and keep up with trends—not only in terms of styling but trends in retail,” he said. “Shaw has been a great partner.”
Products, programs galore
Indeed, a big draw for many Shaw-aligned dealers is the growing portfolio of new products, merchandising systems, sales tools and lead-generation programs—many of which were previewed for dealers over the course of the convention.
Following is a snapshot of some of the new offerings:
Carpet. Shaw Floors is introducing a uniquely combined collection of PET and nylon styles, updates to the company’s popular Caress styles, the addition of LifeGuard backing to its Platinum-level Color Wall products and extensions in its Life Happens collection featuring LifeGuard backing.
TruAccents is a collection of Anso nylon and ClearTouch Platinum styles featured on a single display. The 2017 collection consists of all popular constructions, including friezes, loops, stunning patterns, LCLs and tonals in both fiber systems to present a broad range of styles and price points.
In addition, the popular Anso Caress collection gets new looks, including a brand new color palette for Cashmere Classic. Devon Classic and Angora Classic will both add a new accent style that features High Definition Color Placement Technology, a process that produces a crisp and clean visual. Also, Sweet Shag is a brand new Caress product offering featuring shaggy carpet in 24 vibrant colors. In addition, the Life Happens collection gets five new designs.
Tuftex, a division of Shaw Industries, has also been expanded. New products include Tuftex Stainmaster PetProtect, Tuftex Signature and Tuftex Classics styles. Tuftex’s Stainmaster PetProtect products resist soil accumulation and prevent the absorption of difficult pet stains. With this innovative carpet, pet hair is easily released while vacuuming. These sophisticated styles are constructed of SuperiaSD nylon fiber, which is resistant to fading from aggressive cleaning or exposure to light.
Additions include: Abbey’s Road, a patterned loop available in 12 colors; Oliver’s Twist and Mollie’s Turn, better/best textured cut piles in 13 common neutrals and deep accent blends.
Tuftex’s Signature collection draws on West Coast inspiration with a national influence to offer a wide range of styles, from high-end textures and elegant patterns to exotic cables and shags. Its sophisticated color palette is woven through key collections including Naturals, Impressions and Architecturals. All totaled, there are 13 eye-catching introductions to the Signature collection for 2017. Lastly, Tuftex Classics gets four new styles.
Hardwood. For 2017, Shaw Floors is adding a number of new products in its innovative Epic Plus lineup, including several new species, some engineered products and glueless offerings. The company also debuted Epic Plus Extreme Nature, which features extra-long planks in a half-inch-thick, large-scale format measuring 9 1⁄4 inches wide by 82 ½ inches long. Four textures are offered across three species: hickory, maple and walnut.
In the newly revamped Anderson Hardwood line, a division of Shaw Industries, eight new engineered hardwood styles are being unveiled. Species include white oak, hickory and maple available in textures featuring a range of wire-brushed, hand-scraped and antique looks that aim to deliver on the high-fashion looks for which the Anderson brand is known.
Laminate. Shaw Floors’ newest collection, Repel, has been specially designed to take laminate to the next level in water-resistance technology. According to Shaw, the technology utilized in the core of the product provides ample time to clean spills, making it easier to protect the floor’s beauty and structural integrity.
Resilient. Floorté now comes with an antimicrobial attached pad offering greater noise reduction. The technology is available on the following styles: Classico Plus, Premio Plus and Alto Mix Plus.
Shaw Floors also took the wraps off Alto HD, which is available in four high- definition visuals. The embossed in register treatment of these four new styles provides realism and beauty. With hand-scraped detailing and rustic shading, each collection was designed to blend effortlessly with varying design aesthetics.
Shaw is also introducing six new styles in the popular Alto Mix line, which boasts multiple lengths and widths in each carton for greater variation for the homeowner and designer while providing faster installation for the retailer. New glue-down luxury vinyl planks are also available.
Tile. Shaw Floors calls its 2017 tile collection the most significant in the company’s history. Among the introductions are larger 18×36 tiles designed to improve the speed of installations and enhance visual appearance with fewer grout lines. Included in the new introductions are a wide selection of contemporary visuals, such as concrete, metallic, and other cutting-edge looks, as well as an extensive assortment of decorative accents.
Many dealers who had the opportunity to see the products firsthand at convention were thoroughly pleased. “The new Repel laminate line looks promising as well as some of the additions to Floorté ” Jabara stated. He also took a curious liking to Floorigami, a prototype program featuring an interplay of carpet tiles and hard surface squares. He said he’s not sure how the average retailer would fit it all in, citing the sprawling installation of mixed-media samples in the booth combined with large merchandising vehicles and creative artwork, “but the way they had it set up was really neat.”
Separately, Jabara applauded Shaw’s acquisition of USFloors, stating, “I’m optimistic the purchase of COREtec will be good for retailers. He also predicts he will have success with the additions to the Epic Plus line as well as the Floorté product line extensions.
For H&R Carpets’ Ziegler, the new tile offerings were a big draw. “They came out with some new porcelain tile with mosaics and products that are going to work really well. The product line was new and innovative. Shaw is definitely staying ahead of the trends.”
Todd Wheeler, CEO of Wheeler’s Flooring, Salinas, Calif., is in agreement. For him, the main highlights were the expanded Anso Caress program and the new Tru Accents display. “Shaw has recolored the Caress display—it’s just fantastic. They brought a new spinner display of Tru Accents whereby half the products are polyester and the other half are nylon. It’s pretty consumer friendly; each quadrant or corner has approximately five products and they are all in the same price point.”
Some of the new hard surface products caught Wheeler’s attention as well. For instance, the larger Epic Plus boards and a change in distribution of the Anderson line. “On the hard surface side, Shaw has come a long way,” Wheeler said. “I really like how they have implemented Anderson through their line as opposed to going through distribution. Bringing in the Anderson line on Shaw trucks means a lot to us out here on the central coast of California where shipping is everything. I also like how Shaw has been building the Anderson brand to tie in with Tuftex.”
Wheeler is not alone. Dean Howell, owner of two Moda Floors & Interior stores in Atlanta, also likes the Anderson/Tuftex pairing. (The new Ellison maple offering from Anderson was actually installed in the Tuftex space on the showroom floor at the convention.)
“Shaw’s plans to re-energize the Anderson brand is exciting,” he said. “They’re trying to elevate the image of Anderson the way they are doing with the Tuftex line. The challenge is to make it new and interesting. From a product point of view I was happy to see all the changes, especially with the Tuftex brand. We’ve already ordered a display.”
Like Jabara, Howell also sees the acquisition of USFloors as a good move. “We’re really thrilled about that; the two companies will integrate well together.”
Howell, who is also making investments in the business to target the Main Street marketing, also liked what he saw from the Philadelphia Commercial line.
But the SFN convention was not just about product, clearly. Howell, who has been an SFN member for nearly eight years, said he benefitted from the educational breakout sessions that took place throughout the show, particularly the seminars focusing on harvesting leads and social networking.
Ditto for Ziegler, who cited Shaw’s efforts in the areas of marketing and promotion. “Everything Shaw does with Floorvana, Promoboxx, Houzz, Synchrony Financial and Lead Tool—those are the things I really find exciting and where I spent half my time focused on at the show. Shaw has definitely partnered with the right people. They have made huge strides in the services they provide for dealers.”