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Marquis: The best is yet to come in hard surfaces

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.11.22 AMIt is not uncommon these days for a mid-sized carpet mill to get involved in hard surfaces and try to catch the wave that is the LVT/WPC/rigid core movement. What is uncommon is for that mill to have genuine success to the tune of double-digit growth year over year.

Marquis Industries made the leap into the luxury vinyl world nine years ago. Rather than dabbling in it, the company went full-court press, expanding its product portfolio every year as it continued to grow. In fact, 2016 was a record year for Marquis Industries in hard surface products, fueled by its LVT collections—LVP, WPC and SPC (rigid core products). This year, Marquis has introduced new constructions, specifications and visuals to position the company as a premier source of waterproof vinyl flooring in residential and commercial.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate and have had phenomenal growth over the past year and expect it to continue into 2018 and beyond,” said Kevin Howell, vice president, hard surface division. “Our intention is to win, to deliver unparalleled support to our partners in the industry and continue to develop and deliver products of value to our loyal customer base.”

Marquis is winning with products like Williamsburg, one of the hot new looks introduced at Surfaces 2017. This multi-width pattern WPC is designed with the latest in grays and tan/browns, and measures 7 x 48 with a 20 mil, ceramic bead finish and an IXPE attached cushion. Customers have been impressed with the company’s transformation from carpet mill to full-line hard surface source. One flooring dealer who had carried Marquis carpet but no hard surfaces bought a container.

Roy Rueb, general manager at Vrooman Carpet, a Golden Valley, Minn., wholesaler, said he has worked with Marquis for 25 years, primarily on the carpet side; he added hard surfaces roughly five years ago, starting with a Marquis luxury vinyl line called Country Home. “They’ve always been a stand-up company, always good to work with, so I had no concerns taking on their hard surface products. And when they did come to us it was obvious they had done their homework. They had gone to China and did their research, so I felt comfortable taking it on. In fact, we have actually done quite well with it, starting with Country Home; we now have four collections.”

Rueb said the company is doing quite well with Marquis WPC and will add rigid core when the product comes online soon. “We should have everything covered in that category by then. In hard surface, [Marquis] luxury vinyl hands-down has been phenomenal.”

Vrooman doubled its business with Marquis last year, mostly on the LVT side. “The carpet side stayed consistent but hard surface was significantly more. It is up again this year although not double, maybe 20% up. It’s been a good partnership.”

Likewise, Rob Quinn, owner of Quinn Distributors in Milwaukee, has been doing business with Marquis for 20-plus years, and until recently was a soft surface wholesaler only. “We both saw the writing on the wall that hard surface was coming. We got into it together.”

Although initially hesitant to go to market in hard surfaces with a carpet mill, Quinn said he was duly impressed with Marquis’ offerings, which he said are well engineered and thicker than most; the results bear that out. In 2017, Quinn estimates he will do between $1 million and $1.5 million in business with Marquis, and two-thirds of that will come in hard surface. Quinn represents three LVT suppliers; however, 80% of that business comes from Marquis. He particularly likes the visuals found in the Montana and Granite Falls SKUs. “Marquis does a fantastic job with styling, color and pricing; they have expertise in how to price things,” he said. “What I like is that they don’t have too many SKUs in any one category. We’re not the kind of distributor that’s going to stock 25 shades of green, so this works out well for us.”

According to Marquis’ Howell, the manufacturer will be introducing style and performance with the new designs in 2018 as the company expands the breadth of its product offerings.

 

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Spotlight: Southwind provides retailers with the complete package

October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Southwind Carpets, a division of Cherokee Carpet Industries, has been known for providing a range of residential and Main Street commercial carpets to dealers throughout the U.S. and abroad. Since its hard surface division launched in 2015, the company has added LVP, WPC and hardwood collections to its portfolio—providing retailers with the complete flooring package.

Southwind’s leap into hard surfaces occurred when the company saw an opportunity for a smaller business to take stock in the marketplace, said Randy Hatch, president and CEO, Cherokee Carpet Industries. “We felt there was an opportunity for an alternative to a lot of the big guys that are out there—specifically a need for a company that focuses on providing great service to our retailer base as well as focusing on quality and making sure we are perceived that way by our customer.”

Even though the company is innovating in the hard surface arena it has not forgotten about the success of its soft surface offerings. Southwind launched its first soft, polyester fiber into the market in January, which is receiving positive feedback from retailers.

Hardwood Displays - Southwind“We’ll continue to introduce new products on both sides,” said Richard Abramowicz, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Cherokee Carpet Industries. “We try to coordinate everything we do in hard surfaces with our carpet offerings. We look at making quality products that are dependable and available to the customer.”

As a smaller flooring manufacturer, the company prides itself on offering its retail partners more personalized attention. In fact, Southwind takes the time to listen to consumer needs before developing new products. “We want to stay competitive in the marketplace and make sure we provide whatever flooring products the customers are asking for,” Hatch explained.

Retailers such as Amanda Dagnan, office manager at Factory Carpet Warehouse, Knoxville, Tenn., have noticed the benefits of working with a smaller company. “We have carried Southwind for as long as I have worked at Factory Carpet—at least 15 years. Southwind is a small mill just like our business. It is nice to pick up the phone and get the same people every time or know exactly who to talk to when there is a question or issue. Their carpet line is eco-friendly and outperforms most of the bigger mills. Plus, they are able to keep their prices lower since they are a small business.”

Factory Carpet Warehouse is finding success with selling not only the company’s carpets but also its hard surfaces. “Southwind’s LVP is our best-selling floor,” Dagnan added. “We have never been one to stock hard surface; however, we have been through approximately 50 pallets since its line was introduced. We have not had one installation problem or one complaint about wear and tear. We even tested the waterproof capabilities by breaking a water line in a customer’s house.”

Ernie Cavender, owner of Cavender’s – The Interior Company, Cookeville, Tenn., has carried Southwind carpet for more than 25 years and recently started selling the company’s hard surfaces. “I was a little bit surprised when Southwind announced it was going into hard surface, but my experience with the products has been nothing but positive. We started with a couple of hard surfaces and we’ve been very successful with selling them.”

In addition to a wide range of products, Southwind offers retailers good quality, strong price points and the opportunity to increase margins, Cavender explained. Combine these points with the company’s desire to give retailers personalized attention and, as Cavender said, “It’s about a relationship rather than just a sale.”

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Milliken to increase prices for commercial carpet

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 10.25.11 AMSpartanburg, SC—Milliken will initiate a 4% to 6% price increase for its commercial soft surface flooring to take effect August 7.

The initiative includes its North American portfolio of commercial broadloom and modular carpet collections to respond to the rising costs of raw materials.

Milliken’s resilient luxury vinyl tile (LVT) offerings will not be affected by the price increase.

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Contract: State of the industry—Innovation sparks broader usage of hard, soft surfaces

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26

By K.J. Quinn

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 10.36.25 AMThe dynamics in the top commercial sectors are changing as interior design preferences evolve. While luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and modular carpet are the two fastest growing products, experts say, alternative flooring products are meeting designer needs for good looks, sustainability, durability and low maintenance and are expanding usage across the board.

“Categorically, the commercial carpet market is no longer defined by broadloom vs. carpet tile,” said Mike Gallman, senior vice president, commercial product, Mohawk Group. “It’s now hard surfaces vs. soft surfaces.”

Anecdotally speaking, experts say commercial flooring sales are on pace to increase 3% this year, according to industry estimates. While projections are based on a small sample size— approximately four months at press time—the growth rate represents a slight improvement over Q4 last year when market sales were reportedly soft. What is increasing more dramatically are flooring choices, as new products, aesthetics and finishes provide more selections than ever for the A&D community.

“Choices of sizes, colors, patterns, bevel treatments, constructions, wear layers, etc., affords them the ability to do what they do best—create,” said Al Boulogne, Mannington’s vice president of commercial resilient business. “Offering the broadest portfolio of choices gives them the ability to design a space without limitation of options.”

While experts say sales are fairly even between carpet tile and broadloom—the latter of which maintains a slight edge in volume—modular products are expanding significantly faster. “Carpet tile has been steadily taking share from broadloom in the education and corporate/office sectors, preferred for its ease of installation, increased design options and flexibility for moving and replacing tiles once installed,” stated Matt Miller, president, Interface Americas.

Sharing the spotlight is LVT, which is helping hard surfaces sustain growth in retail and healthcare strongholds and expanding at a double-digit rate into non-traditional markets like corporate/offices and hospitality. Expansion is coming at the expense of carpet and low-cost options such as VCT as lifecycle costs and styling further impact purchasing decisions. Workhorse products such as rubber, linoleum and VCT remain fixtures in healthcare and education settings while hardwood and laminates are carving a niche in certain retail and hospitality spaces.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 10.36.37 AM“In all cases, performance and value are the drivers,” said Denis Darragh, Forbo’s vice president, North America, citing linoleum as an example. “Performance encompasses all aspects of the product, from durability through being the best product for a healthy indoor environment.”

Ceramic tile in particular has grown steadily. Estimates show the category represents about 15% to 20% of commercial sales and volume, with specified contract accounting for about 70% of the business. Ceramic is on pace to reach or exceed 2016 growth rates, when volume and sales rose approximately 6% and 5.5%, respectively.

“There still remains a tremendous growth opportunity for the tile category,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product marketing, Dal-Tile. “Our company is diligently working to take advantage of this opportunity and the tile industry as a whole also appears to understand this reality.”

Mitigating factors
Despite the fact key economic indicators such as inflation, consumer confidence, lending rates and new construction are pointing in the right direction, growth—or lack thereof—within the five major markets varies. Each segment faces specific issues impacting interior design and flooring selections. For example, the corporate/office sector is witnessing changes in interior design aimed at helping employers retain and recruit top talent and ultimately drive greater results.

“Driven by strong earnings, many corporations are reinvesting in their offices through renovation or relocation,” noted Mark Oliver, vice president, workplace and retail segments, Mohawk. “They recognize the office—and the way its employees engage with it—is changing faster than ever before.”

The workplace remains a bedrock market for carpet tile, where it is coveted for acoustical properties, durability and comfort underfoot. “We’re still seeing carpet tile increase in the corporate part of the commercial market,” observed Ralph Grogan, president and CEO, Bentley Mills. “There are a lot of law offices and accounting firms using carpet tile now as they are going to a more open office concept.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 10.36.50 AMMeanwhile, hard surfaces such as resilient, hardwood, porcelain tile and even polished concrete are quickly gaining coverage in lobbies, break rooms and bathrooms. “Corporate is one of the last segments to be looking at hard surfaces in a bigger way,” Mannington’s Boulogne pointed out. “We are starting to see a shift in preference to LVT as design has started to focus more on targeting this category.”

Hard surfaces remains dominant in healthcare as resilient, rubber and linoleum meet durability, maintenance, hygienic and slip resistance needs, observers say. Ceramic, porcelain and terrazzo tile are commonly found in public areas such as hallways, making it easier to maneuver rolling equipment and mobile aids. Carpet and LVT are primarily specified for non-patient areas like waiting rooms and medical offices.

“Architects and designers are putting LVT in healthcare applications because of its modularity,” said Jeremy Salomon, director of product management and marketing – retail, Tarkett. “We’ve been designing LVT to look like some of the sheet vinyl products. It gives designers flexibility in solutions they want to put into healthcare applications.”

A fast growing area within healthcare is assisted living, due largely to the shortage of rooms available to care for an aging U.S. population. Facility managers are reportedly sprucing up these spaces to create “homey” environments for residents. “Activity is trending up, with some larger, continuing care retirement communities going up—along with new senior-living projects in urban areas, drawn by Baby Boomers in search of a more active retirement lifestyle,” said Jamey Block, vice president, resilient product management, Armstrong.

A similar makeover is occurring in hospitality, as hotels attempt to incorporate residential design with high-performance products that are also easy to maintain. “Our hospitality business has grown at a 33% compound annual rate over the past three years in the Americas region, and we expect that trend to continue,” Interface’s Miller said. More and more hospitality end users are shifting to a mixture of soft and hard surfaces, providing us the opportunity to sell both our LVT and carpet tile offerings.”

Sector-specific solutions
Other flooring materials, such as broadloom and ceramic, are also reaping the benefits. “For example, a design firm specified wood-look tile for the floors of guest rooms at a boutique hotel in Texas, but also specified carpet to be installed under the beds,” noted Lindsey Waldrep, vice president, marketing, Crossville. “Guests get the comfort of carpet right by the bed, yet the rest of the room is covered in easy-to-clean, rarely-needs-replacing tile that will let hotel staff turn rooms much more quickly and in a cleaner fashion.”

Similar to hospitality, the influx of new construction work and remodeling are impacting the retail segment. The sector is a mixed bag, with end uses ranging from small, mom-and-pop grocery stores to larger restaurants, retail chains and other establishments. “Car dealerships and fitness centers, both considered retail spaces at Dal-Tile, as well as quick-service restaurants, are areas of growth that are positively impacting the tile market,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 10.36.45 AMRetail is usually at the forefront of design trends as end users are always on the lookout for trendy, attractive options. “A new and different approach to hard surface designs wins in this highly competitive segment,” Mannington’s Boulogne said. “Abstract visuals are gaining share as are new and different looks.”

At the same time, the high amounts of foot traffic at retail locations require floors that perform well and look good over the long term. Ceramic, wood and carpet are often specified in high end spaces while resilient, VCT and rubber flooring are found in other public areas. “LVT is taking market share from both tile and broadloom sales because of design trends and ease of maintenance,” Mohawk’s Gallman observed.

Meanwhile, in the education segment, LVT is the rising star. Resilient accounts for an estimated half of the flooring specified in this sector, industry research shows. But other products, such as linoleum and rubber, retain a small niche as they provide both visual and functional qualities that appeal to staff, students and parents. “We are constantly improving the visuals as well as the depth and breadth of the product offering, particularly modular options, that enhance the capabilities of the product line,” Forbo’s Darragh said.

Ongoing innovations
Manufacturers of commercial flooring products are continually making investments to meet the varying needs of commercial customers. Designers are creating people-centric spaces for clients which, in part, helps enhance the work-life balance. “That’s why we’re seeing residential and hospitality influences in workplace design,” said Mark Page, senior director creative design and development, Mohawk. “With flooring, designers aim to strike a balance between hard and soft surfaces for work, rest and social activity.”

Soft surface innovation is taking place mostly in design, with new tufting technologies allowing for complex patterns and textures in carpet tile previously only available in broadloom. “It allows the use of more color, patterning capabilities and pinpoint accuracy,” Bentley’s Grogan said. “It has allowed all manufacturers to get lower face weights, which helps with budgets.”

LVT’s good looks have helped propel it to the forefront in many commercial segments. “In addition, the ongoing preference for designing commercial spaces to look more residential in nature has brought popular, proven hard surface products into the commercial arena,” Armstrong’s Block said.

With respect to tile, advances in digital printing technologies have enabled vendors to create realistic 3D visuals that mimic natural materials. “The bar is raised like never before,” Crossville’s Waldrep said. “Convincing wood looks, unique decorative facings, textures, more modular sizes, even porcelain tile panels so versatile they can be installed in ways traditional tile never could.”

Many tile production facilities feature printers that can digitally apply different gloss levels of glaze, metallic and even texture. “When coupled with sophisticated 3D scanners, this means highlights and shadows can actually be printed in line with the physical structure of the tile’s face to enhance the look of even subtly textured surfaces,” noted Ryan Fasan, technical consultant, Tile of Spain. Technology advances are also expanding tile formats, allowing vendors to create everything from beautiful mosaics in hexagon and rectangular shapes to massive porcelain slab sizes.

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Carpet: Noteworthy trends in pattern, texture, design

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

Everybody who follows the flooring industry knows the biggest trend impacting carpet is the growth of hard surfaces, which in many instances has forced flooring dealers to revamp their showrooms. However, there are other trends in carpet that are both surprising and noteworthy.

Executives and design experts offered their takes.

Focus on soft
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.56.40 AMFor a time last year, the term “soft enough” was being bandied about by some carpet companies. But the notion that consumers would be OK with soft-enough carpet was beaten back by mills, chief among them Mohawk, which staked its claim to luxurious soft carpet.

Mohawk went out on the road with five brands of soft carpet in seven styles to 10 markets and spoke to more than 300 consumers. “First we asked them which was the softest? And four out of five selected SmartStrand Reserve over a leading soft nylon,” said Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing.

The takeaway from the survey: Astonishing softness immediately captures attention and conveys high quality.

Likewise, Shaw did its own research and concluded consumers are choosing carpet according to softness and luxury, style and design regardless of fiber type. “The consumer understands the benefits of upgrading to a better fiber like nylon, but she also knows the value and array of prices and styles in both PET and nylon fibers,” said Teresa Tran, carpet category manager, Shaw Floors.

Luanne Holloway, head of product development for Southwind Carpet, added, “The popular soft trend continues to grow as consumers want that feeling of luxurious comfort underfoot when it comes to their carpeting. This offers a sharp contrast to the hardness of wood and vinyl flooring.”

Within the soft trend, the Dixie Group is witnessing a trend toward soft pattern designs with less rigid patterns and blurred, brushstroke looks.

Smaller job sizes
There is less carpet being installed in homes today, and in many cases the bedroom is the last bastion for carpet within a home. However, a reduced carpet footprint is having an unintended consequence: It is driving consumers to invest in elevated styling and better goods. That’s according to Doug Jackson, vice president of marketing for Tuftex, who said the industry should expect to see more design oriented, fashion-forward purchases for this smaller footprint.

Carpet tile
Modular carpet has long been the purview of the commercial market. However, carpet tile is starting to make inroads into the residential sector. Mike Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.56.34 AMSanderson, vice president of product marketing for Engineered Floors, cites several factors for this trend. “Ease of installation, preference for a modular look—particularly among younger, urban demographics—compatibility with hard surfaces throughout the home and the popularity of crossover Main Street styles. With the resurgence of small businesses and entrepreneurship, we’re seeing a growing trend in Main Street commercial applications.”

Patterned/textured
Trending strong this year are patterned multi-level cut loop and level cut loop products, according to Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of marketing for Lexmark, who said today’s consumer expects each room of her home to make a fashionable statement. “The depth, color and style of pattern carpet styles allow each consumer to create a remarkable room. The surprise for me this year is the use of multiple patterns in the same home. Lexmark utilizes the same colorways throughout many of our styles, which allows the end user to change patterns by room while using the same colorway. Creating depth and differentiation without having to repaint or change furniture—it’s an easy way to stand out.”

Ayme Sinclair, marketing director for Stanton Carpet, identified hot, new trends. “Patterns that are diffused, distressed, abstract and undefined, with mixtures of shiny yarns and textured effects with varying pile heights combined to create sculptured effects. The addition of bolder colors that create more diversity and colored neutrals combined with neutrals is another new trend.”

Millennials’ influence
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.56.45 AMWall-to-wall broadloom carpet may be down but that’s not to say consumers don’t want soft flooring solutions, especially in low-profile designs. “While we see these trends are resonating with all consumers, they are especially important to millennials, who are cost conscious but demand the highest quality, style and performance,” said Brian Warren, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Foss Manufacturing. “Low-profile soft flooring is also appealing to millennials with kids and pets, as they are looking to cover and protect a wood floor with a softer surface while maintaining a low-profile look.”

Debbie Houston, creative director, residential soft surface for Shaw Floors, said the increased connectivity of the digital age has given the designer unprecedented access to resources and information, enabling her to envision and customize her space. “Consumers want their homes to make a statement to the world about their unique personalities, and they use the floor as a blank canvas for building upon the desired look of a room.”

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Surfaces carpet coverage: Suppliers find opportunities on the softer side

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.45.59 PMLas Vegas—Soft surface still represents nearly 50% of the flooring market and carpet remains the largest single category by a considerable margin. But you might not have known that at Surfaces which was dominated by hard surface introductions.

“As a carpet guy I am disappointed,” said Steven Lewis, owner of Lewis Floor & Home, Northbrook, Ill. “I go to Coverings to see hard surface and I go to Surfaces to see soft surface, but there is hardly any soft surface here anymore.”

Lewis made those comments while visiting the Dixie booth. This traditional carpet mill, like many others, is expanding into hard surfaces. However, if you were a retailer visiting the Mohawk booth you would believe carpet was thriving on the strength of its impressive display led by SmartStrand Silk Reserve, a soft luxury carpet noted for its beauty and durability.

The decline in carpet vis-à-vis hard surface comes at a time when many retail executives believe carpet mills are producing some of the most beautiful and durable carpet ever made. It would be foolish to write off carpet altogether. In fact, carpet has been faring well at the upper end of the market led by soft luxury, according to retailers. “Our high end carpet business is very good,” Lewis said. “The 50-up age group wants carpet and they want the better carpet.”

Better carpet often means soft, luxurious carpet that is durable. That is the selling proposition Mohawk makes with Silk Reserve. “We have the technology to bring this to a whole new level of softness, and with Silk Reserve it’s astonishing softness,” said Seth Arnold, brand director for Mohawk’s residential carpet business. “SmartStrand is a different fiber and you don’t lose that level of performance [as you increase the softness].”

Being successful at the upper end of the market is one way to stay relevant in residential carpet. Dixie continues to impress dealers with great new looks from its Masland and Fabrica brands. “The new Masland and Fabrica products were even more beautiful and interesting than usual, and they always introduce extraordinary products each year,” said Sam Roberts, owner of Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors, with multiple locations in the Houston market.

Other mills find focusing on your niche is a successful strategy. Stanton, for example, has grown its business by being smart about its designs and patterns, according to Jonathan Cohen, CEO, whose company introduced more than 100 products. “It’s about being thoughtful about the design part of it. You can use existing technology that is out there to create something fresh. We can step it up a couple notches and produce something that is really good looking.”

Stanton, which has also grown through acquisition, was not a player in nylon until purchasing Atelier in 2012. Today nylon is one of its most sought after fibers. It debuted a 30-pin display that lets retailers showcase the Atelier program in a compact, modern way. “You start with a great product but you still have to have it in stock and you have to service it,” Cohen said. “We are fortunate we have a great team and are expanding our niche. It’s about taking market share.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.46.06 PMLexmark is a smaller mill that is looking to carve out its niche in residential retail through differentiated offerings and winning displays. Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of marketing, said that when visiting retail showrooms he often couldn’t locate the Lexmark display right away. That led to a $2 million investment in the Lexmark Living display system. Shown at Surfaces, it holds 30 products in 24 x 36 inch card samples. The fixture also includes a new branded L, which Mauter said is patterned after the loopy L featured in the 1970s-80s TV show “Laverne and Shirley.”

Mauter said retailers told him the new display had to be to be “remarkable.”

He is confident this new display will pass the smell test. He has 500 displays ready to ship. “I expect us to grow double digits in 2017,” Mauter said. “The fixture is what we will be riding for the next few years. We needed the displays to be notable not novel. We felt we needed a new focal point. This is our debut of rebranding, the start of our relevance, where we are planting our flag on the map. We needed a vehicle to drive that message home.”

Engineered Floors, with its residential DreamWeaver brand, is also putting more emphasis on its new display systems as it looks to gain a bigger presence on the retail showroom. New for 2017 is Your Retreat, a clean display system that emphasizes the benefits of PureColor nylon. Meanwhile, Engineered Floors’ Main Street division, Pentz Commercial Flooring Solutions, also introduced a new display system as it aims to be the go-to Main Street brand for specialty dealers. “We are focused on creating a destination for our customers,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing. “Every year we find a reason to invest more. There is no indication that we will be slowing down.”

At Surfaces Phenix announced an exclusive partnership with Microban, a top provider of antimicrobial technology and odor control solutions. Mark Clayton, CEO, said Phenix answered a consumer need for a healthier alternative. Microban tackles odor on the face of the carpet and in the air. “Microban has done a huge retail project and saw that the consumer wanted this in their carpet; they looked to partner with a reputable manufacturer and chose us,” Clayton explained. Phenix launched 10 products that use the Microban technology.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.46.12 PMFoss describes itself as a performance flooring company more so than a traditional broadloom manufacturer. As such it looks for innovative products. It wowed dealers a year ago with a unique peel and stick carpet tile; this year it introduced a wool-like carpet that sells for one third of the price and can be used in multiple settings.

Dubbed the Cashmere collection, the products include Foss’ proprietary Duraknit technology for greater dimensional stability. Cashmere also features Natural Touch Fiber, made from 100% PET. “A lot of people don’t know what we do but when they find out they love us,” said Brian Warren, executive vice president, sales and marketing. “We look for those few points of light in the marketplace and plant our flag there.”

 

Area rugs also garner some attention
Las Vegas—Area rugs shared in the spotlight with other popular flooring categories at Surfaces.

Darrell Stevens, president of Stevens Omni, based in Mississauga, Ontario, reported retailer interest in the new products on display at his booth. “We are looking to expand our presence in the U.S., and this show is a real benefit for us.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.46.19 PMTwo years ago Kaleen occupied a 10 foot x 20 foot booth at Surfaces just to gauge interest. Since then the company has taken out a larger space each year based on the positive feedback it has received for its rugs and broadloom programs that can be turned into rugs. “Our sales here more than doubled what they were at the 2016 show,” said Blake Dennard, senior vice president.

Dixie Home, which includes the Dixie, Masland and Fabrica brands, recently launched a custom program to make any size or shape rug from its broadloom offerings. The progam has been well received, according to Jared Coffin, vice president, rugs and wool products.

Stanton is yet another broadloom company that has made a bigger commitment to rugs because of rugs’ natural pairing with hard surfaces. The company introduced 125 new products at the show including several woven nylons. Jonathan Cohen, CEO, said the company is continually pushing the needle. “Many of our inspirations come from high-end area rugs,” he explained.

For Nance Industries rugs have always been its bread and butter. Surfaces provided the right forum for the company to showcase its new custom-made rugs. “That is really our niche, and you are seeing a lot better growth in rugs,” said Mike Nance, principal. He said Nance employs two custom rug artists who can create most any design pattern or theme a customer can imagine at any size they choose.

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Myers Carpet celebrates 60th year in business

Rick and Ray Myers.
Rick and Ray Myers.

Dalton—Myers Carpet will be celebrating its 60th year in business this July. The company was founded in 1957 by Gene Myers, who started buying scraps of carpet from local mills and reworking them into stair treads and small rugs which he sold through area chenille stores. Myers, with the help of his wife Evelyn and later sons Rick and Ray, soon opened Dalton’s first carpet store and began offering carpet from local mills.

In 1987 Myers Carpet opened a 3,000 square foot showroom in Atlanta. Six years later it moved into a 35,000 square foot warehouse and showroom. Then in 1998, Myers Flooring opened in Nashville, followed by the purchase in 2001 of the showroom and warehouse of Division Street Carpets in downtown Nashville. On February 1, 2016, Myers Carpet closed on the purchase of Nashville Carpet Center after several months of negotiations with it’s owner Van Gilmore. Nashville Carpet Center had served the city of Nashville with residential and commercial floorcovering for over 41 years. The company’s name was retained as the commercial division of Myers Flooring of Nashville.

Myers Carpet continues to sell products from Shaw, Mohawk and Beaulieu, and has expanded over the years into selling high-end carpet and area rugs. All three locations have custom workrooms where the company cuts, serges, binds, and creates customized area rugs and room-sized rugs. “The workroom has been a successful addition to our business for several years because high-end customers demand such service,” said Ray Myers. “Many of our customers are in million-dollar Buckhead homes and need quality craftsmanship. We are so close and can turn things quickly for them.”

In recent years, Myers Carpet has also expanded into hard surface stocking several styles and sampling most major hardwood, laminate and tile manufacturers. In-house installation has also been established as another service to customers. The business ranges from a 2 x 3 feet area rug to commercial floorcovering projects.

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Mohawk’s Airo aims to ease installation issue

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Lindsay Baillie

airo-graphicMohawk is doing its part to address the skilled mechanic shortage by developing products that are much easier to install. Its latest innovation, Airo, is a step in that direction.

The product falls into a new category called “unified soft floor covering or USF. “Airo represents Mohawk’s newest innovation in soft floor covering,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential. “The development

of Airo represents us looking at soft flooring from the consumer backward instead of the manufacturing plant forward. We want to look at what the consumer values and run with that.”

Unveiled during its recent Solutions conference (FCNews, Dec. 19/26, 2016), Airo is made solely with PET recycled content. According to Mohawk, the product is hydrophobic and absorbs zero moisture, liquid and odor. When installing Airo the customer will not have to deal with the new carpet smell, which can irritate some people who suffer from allergies, asthma or general sensitivities.

The new product will benefit not just the consumer, Lape explained. “Airo is important to retailers because it offers a simpler-to-install, easier-to-maintain, better performing and more sustainable soft surface. Mohawk has spent over four years developing and refining the Airo production process to prepare for this launch. Just as we changed the industry about 10 years ago with the introduction to SmartStrand, we looked to do the same again with the introduction of Airo.”

Part of Airo’s ease of installation stems from how the product is made. Unlike other types of soft flooring, Airo is not stretched during production. Rather, it is belted and relaxed, freeing the product from tension. What’s more, Airo requires no additional cushion, tack strips, power stretching or iron seaming.

According to Lape, Airo will only be sold through limited distribution. Airo will wholesale in the mid teens, he noted.

Several Mohawk aligned dealers who were on hand at the Solutions conference to preview the product liked what they saw. That includes Sandra Molski, owner, Flooring & More, Janesville, Wis., who believes it will help address the installation issue. “[Airo] is absolutely incredible because one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have right now is installers,” she explained. “Broadloom installers are the hardest to find because the age of your average installer is growing older. The younger generations are not picking it up. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s hard on your knees. [Airo] really intrigues me because you don’t have to have the knee kickers, you don’t have to have the tack strips. It’s very dimensionally stable.”

Airo’s stability is crucial in Molski’s market in Wisconsin where floors typically experience a range of atmospheric conditions which can cause expansion and contraction. Airo was designed to address those issues by inhibiting absorption so it can’t move. “It lays flat and is a very attractive product,” she said. “As a post-consumer recyclable product, Airo also has a great green story. It answers a lot of concerns my customers have.”