November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12
By Ken Ryan
From breakthroughs in new categories of carpet to innovations in soft luxury, carpet mills brought excitement to the flooring market in 2017. Following is an overview.
Engineered Floors: Apex SDP
Founded on its PureColor solution-dyed fiber process (SDP), Engineered Floors’ Apex SDP raises the bar for a superior fiber in commercial use with performance characteristics similar to nylon. “We’ve introduced this fiber system within our Pentz Commercial Solutions line with lifetime warranties for stain removal, static and colorfastness to light and atmospheric contaminants,” Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing, explained. “Together with our Nexus Modular Backing system, we have a game changer in the modular carpet tile category—especially in the growing Main Street commercial arena.”
Foss Floors: DuraKnit technology
According to Brian Warren, executive vice president, carpet featuring DuraKnit technology is constructed differently than tufted carpet. DuraKnit products provide an exclusive fused core, essentially marrying and melting the fibers together and eliminating the need for a primary back. “Our carpets will never fray, unravel, zipper or wrinkle,” he said. “They can be installed in the toughest of settings and provide years of performance, and they are fade and stain resistant. We say it’s the soft alternative to hard surfaces.”
Shown at Surfaces 2017, the reception in the marketplace has been “incredible,” Warren said. “We have sold out of our first round of displays and plan on introducing new styles in this category at Surfaces 2018.”
“Out with the old, in with the new” is the best way to describe Lexmark in 2017, according to Darrell Locke, vice president of residential sales. Lexmark refreshed its Living display program with an entirely new look featuring more eye-catching graphics and larger card sizes. “We updated half of the line with the intent on building upon the Lexmark Living foundation that was built back in 2012 with the inception of the residential division,” he explained. “This new display system has been very well received in the market.”
Locke added the company has gained premium floor space in dealer showrooms, which is no small feat in light of the trend toward hard surfaces. “We have seen significant gains in the market based on our innovative patterns and merchandising and quality field representation.”
Marquis: Ultimate Beauty
Introduced at Surfaces 2017, Ultimate Beauty has been a home run for Marquis Industries. This 80-ounce, solution-dyed offering is a signature addition of Marquis’ soft yarns collection, all of which come with a minimum of 6.5 twists for added softness. Mike Lindberg, executive vice president, said that while hard surface has obviously taken a big piece out of the soft surface market, the people who are buying carpet want the best. “We are finding they are willing to spend more for better quality. With an 80-ounce product like Ultimate Beauty, customers can sink their toes into the carpet when they walk on it.”
Mohawk is positioning Air.o not as a new carpet product but as the first delivery in Unified Soft Flooring. Indeed, Air.o has captured the attention of so many people in 2017, according to Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing. As well, many consumers have raved about the product, particularly its hypoallergenic properties. Arnold said Mohawk knew hypoallergenic was going to be a differentiating feature, adding, “I think we underestimated the scale of the importance of that feature for the consumers. We’ve done a lot of research to really understand the community out there, and what is amazing is more people have allergic sensitivity than are pet owners. Our industry does so much with pets, and yet the market with people of respiratory issues is at least as large.”
What Air.o has done is give people who were considering hard surface an opportunity to think seriously about soft. The company found that of the 68% of people with allergy sensitivities who are inclined to buy hard surface, the number drops to 48% when they were exposed to Air.o. “That’s a lot of people,” Arnold said. “Air.o is so transformative and different from carpet that the list of advantages is very long.”
The other big news has been Smartstrand Silk and Silk Reserve, which continue to maintain a leadership position in luxurious soft. “Silk and Silk Reserve both continue to be phenomenal producers for Mohawk,” he said. “Mohawk has clearly captured the leading position in soft, and Silk Reserve further protects that space for us.”
Phenix: Cleaner Home
Phenix executives have learned from research that consumers are looking for smarter products that can do more for them, passively keeping their homes cleaner, healthier and looking great. The company’s Cleaner Home collection addresses that trend. Cleaner Home carpets feature antimicrobial protection for the life of the carpet. The products were developed through an exclusive partnership with Microban, the leading producer of antimicrobial additives. Additionally, Cleaner Home was developed utilizing a new, highly engineered PET polyester yarn, Opulence HD, and includes SureFresh, an odor capture technology to provide a comprehensive, smarter soft surface flooring.
Shaw Floors’ biggest success of 2017 in the soft surface category can be summed up in one word: “LifeGuard,” the company’s advanced waterproof backing system.
Shaw has expanded LifeGuard styling options to its popular Anso Color Wall in the Titanium collection featuring 150 new SKUs. “This is the first time we’ve offered the market our LifeGuard waterproof backing as a trade-up option on something the dealers and retail sales associates are already selling,” said Teresa Tran, residential soft surface category manager. “It has been so well received that new tweed and tonal color updates to our Anso Color Wall were introduced and, of course, Titanium is offered on these innovative new colorations as well.”
Shaw’s consumer research indicated that 65% of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million families, own a pet (animals play a larger role in the flooring decision process than kids in the home). Tran said all LifeGuard carpet styles are constructed with high performance in mind, extending the life and beauty of the product.