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Surfaces laminate coverage: Suppliers test category’s limits

Performance enhancements tout water-resistant capabilities

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

By Reginald Tucker

No longer content with ceding market share to competitive categories such as WPC and LVT, laminate suppliers are taking a page out of history by touting the features that first garnered consumer attention when the category first launched in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. Specifically, the category’s ability to go where other hard surfaces, namely wood, fear to tread—areas prone to water spills.

To that end, several large suppliers are incorporating new water-resistant or waterproof attributes in their product lines. Some industry veterans said it hearkened back to the days of the famous Formica water tank test demonstrated at Surfaces in the late ’90s.

Case in point is the new SpillShield moisture wicking technology from Mannington. Now offered on all its Restoration collection laminate floors, SpillShield is an innovative new coating that protects laminate floors against pet messes, standing moisture and spills. As Dan Natkin, vice president of wood and laminate, explains, it wicks moisture away from the core, preventing damage from accidental moisture and keeping its visual and structural integrity intact. “The difference between our technology and other waterproof laminates out there is we treat the edges and sides of each plank,” he said while conducting a demonstration at the booth. “This prevents moisture from penetrating the board.”

A similar demonstration was conducted across the showroom floor at the Quick-Step booth, where laminate planks were submerged in water alongside competing products that touted water-resistant capabilities. According to Roger Farabee, senior vice president of laminate and hardwood, the Quick-Step products performed admirably in the comparison test.

Performance attributes aside, another recurring theme evident across the laminate spectrum at Surfaces was the continued use of wide-width, wide-plank formats—clearly a nod to patterns that have emerged on the hardwood side of the business. In fact, those suppliers who play in different hard surface product categories freely admit to taking cues from one product segment, i.e., wood, and applying those attributes and qualities to other product segments such as laminates.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.05.18 PMFor example, Mannington introduced three new flooring designs into its popular Restoration collection this year. According to Natkin, these new looks tap into the trend of natural, reclaimed woods in muted, less saturated colors. Standouts include Blacksmith oak, a European white oak look that evokes images of gently time-worn flooring; Seaview pine, which captures the aged look of rustic pine that has been weathered by the elements; and Historic oak, which builds on a best-selling design in the Restoration collection.

In that same vein, Mohawk’s latest laminate offerings draw their inspiration from trends seen in its hardwood flooring offerings. For example, Painted Charm provides a clean, modern look in light tones while Reclaimed Spirit conveys a more rustic, weathered visual. Lastly, Wooded Vision imparts the look of recovered barnwood while Artistic Creation features aggressive saw-cut distressed marks.

Quick-Step also showed its strength in the design department. Its signature Veriluxe line was expanded to include new, stylish European white oak visuals, offering what Farabee called the “richest, most sophisticated premium looks and textures available today in the longer, wider market.” The company also expanded its award-winning 12mm Reclaimé collection with five new decors and added new designs in its 12mm Elevae collection.

Suppliers went to great lengths to expand their color palette and overall style offerings. Kronospan, for instance, unveiled nearly 100 new patterns and colors in a wide variety of patterns and species reflecting the global influence on design. The company made a huge splash at the show, showcasing five distinct, on-trend design collections: Authentic, Bohemian, Downtown, Pioneer and Voyager. Each collection contains unique styles and finishes, with formats ranging from 8mm–12mm thick to 125mm-204mm wide.

“The Authentic collection provides a diverse, colorful landscape and rich canvas for any design hue from traditional to modern,” said Mark Bircham, head of design and product management. “This perfect collection of native American beauties, available in different shades with natural tones, replicates classic styles for any room in the home. These genuine designs have stood the test of time as did the oaks, maples, hickory and walnuts of the American landscape.”

The Bohemian collection combines the perfect mix of the treasured and exotic to provide a wide range of colors, species and textures. Meanwhile, the Downtown collection was inspired by New York City’s diversity, Los Angeles’ lights, Miami’s colors and Chicago’s character. Pioneer and Voyager round out the latest offerings and include looks ranging from sophistsicated and cozy (Pioneer) to exotic offerings that reflect global diversity.

Not to be outdone, Swiss Krono unveiled its Wood Medley line available in four species, including oak, white walnut, weathered pine and birch. “We’ve worked hard on coming up with designs that are closer to real, authentic hardwood,” said Barbara June, who handles public relations for Swiss Krono. “Consumers would be hard pressed to tell the difference.”

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Surfaces wood coverage: Wider widths, longer lengths still in vogue

But expanded color palettes and unusual surface treatments emerge

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

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.47 PMAs dealers and distributors traversed the show floor at Surfaces last month, they caught glimpses of something familiar. Many found themes that emerged from Surfaces 2016—longer boards, wider widths, innovative surface texture treatments—carried over into this year’s show. Not that it’s a bad thing—dealers and distributors asked manufacturers to develop more products consumers are clamoring for today.

At the same time, suppliers were not content to rest on their laurels. Several companies looked to expand the boundaries by pushing the limits in terms of color combinations, unique surface textures and treatments.

Case in point was Armstrong’s new solid and engineered offerings in its TimberBrushed and TimberCuts lines. Based on consumer and end-user demand, the award-winning TimberBrushed line is now available in both solid and engineered construction.

Likewise, TimberCuts is now available in both solid and engineered construction to meet all installation needs. Rounding out the new offerings is the addition of hickory to the Prime Harvest collection along with extensions to the popular American Scrape line.

Another eye-catching product line extension was uncovered at the Mannington space. In keeping with consumer demands for hardwood flooring designs that combine rustic elements with softer, less saturated hues, the company rolled out additions to popular existing collections. These introductions included wide, long planks that are subtly textured and distressed, then stained in an on-trend color palette.

The new patterns include: Iberian Hazelwood, marked by a lot of character with subtle hand scraping and deep multi-layer hand staining. Iberian Hazelwood offers a refined yet dramatic look and features an on-trend matte finish in planks that are 6 ½ inches wide and in lengths up to 7 feet. Available in four hues: almond, chestnut, macadamia and pecan. Next is an update to Normandy Oak, the best-selling design in the Maison Collection. Refreshed with two new colors, Normandy oak is a classic European-inspired look that’s lightly wire brushed and dual stained to create subtle variation from plank-to-plank. Planks are 7 inches wide and up to 7 feet long and come in two new, light hues—bistro and brulee—which speak to today’s interior decorating trends, according to Mannington.

“These floors are at home in interiors from classic to contemporary; urban to farmhouse,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.13 PMArmstrong and Mannington weren’t the only companies drawing traffic and interest with their new offerings. HF Design launched a whopping 52 new styles at Surfaces in a strategy designed to “freshen up the offering and also to stay ahead of the curve,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president. Also unveiled was an entirely new collection called American Relics. This line offers products that feature a multi-texture, dual hand-staining process that delivers a greater degree of variation from plank to plank.

“There is no better way to start off the new year than with a tremendously successful show,” Shaoulpour said. “This year Surfaces was even more important for us as we introduced many of our new collections with high remarks such as American Relics, Montara Reserve, Montage Ferno and Aquasense. It was very uplifting to see we are right on point with our forward styles and designs.”

For HF Design, the aggressive expansion was not only about building its SKUs. It was also about ensuring its retailer and distributor partners get the support they need in terms of competitive products.

“Our initiative for 2017 is to strengthen our partnerships with our distributors as they gain market share and also build upon our reputation as market leader in all three product categories—hardwood, laminate and waterproof LVT,” Shaoulpour said. “We are dedicated to working closer with our partners to develop styles and decors that speak more to their local market trends at competitive price points.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.42 PMOther major suppliers used Surfaces as a platform to showcase their new product extensions. Quick-Step, for example, expanded its popular Elongé wider/longer collection to now include wire-brushed floors with a soft finish cerused wood visual. The new Elongé designs evoke a hand-crafted quality and appeal to the large number of consumers seeking hardwood floors that bring a rustic, time-worn look to a room.

“Like Quick-Step laminate, Q-Wood
hardwood is a fashion-driven product line that offers the richest, most sophisticated premium looks available in tandem with low maintenance and resistance to the wear of daily living,” said Roger Farabee, senior vice president of laminate & hardwood for Mohawk North American Flooring. “Our new Q-Wood Elongé ceruse designs offer style and craftsmanship through unique artisan hardwood floors designed with the latest trends in mind. Three of today’s hottest trends are longer/wider planks, wire-brused surfaces, and cerused visuals. The new Elongé line additions offer all of these attributes in a spectrum of fashion-forward colors with ceruse staining that features a combination of gray, white, and beige tones.”

On the higher end of the spectrum, DuChâteau displayed a bevy of new products in categories across the board (including porcelain and concrete), but it also stayed true to its hardwood origins by putting the spotlight on additions to its signature Atelier Series.

Products in the Atelier Series do not contain aluminum oxide or polyurethane finishes like the typical 3- or 5-inch products you see out there, according to the company. Instead, it focuses is on the hard-wax oil visual, which provides a rich patina and refinement consistent with upscale European styling.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.37 PMIn that same vein, Provenza, another high-end hardwood flooring supplier, displayed its broad offering of custom finished floors. Dealers flooded the booth to preview collections that ranged from custom parquetry to stained wood floors all the way up to products featuring detailed weathered treatments. “Our goal is to provide our distributors and retailers with products they can’t find down the street or at a competitor,” said Ron Sadri, president.

Mohawk also broadened some of its signature wood lines to keep up with consumer demand. Weathered Vision aims to capture the rustic, reclaimed beauty of a Midwestern barn loft, while Modern Vision is designed for consumers who lean toward more modern, cool visuals. Lastly, Coastal Impressions features a neutral color palette of whites, grays and light beiges in long, wide planks.

(Look for more Surfaces coverage in future editions.)

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Surfaces resilient coverage: Suppliers gamble on new designs, enhanced performance attributes

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

By Lindsay Baillie and Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.52.27 PMResilient and its multiple subcategories were heavily represented at Surfaces this year with companies focusing on improvements and innovations in terms of style and design.

In addition to the major players in resilient, Surfaces saw multiple mills enter the LVT and WPC scene. For example, Dixie, a longstanding carpet mill with three well-known retail brands, recognized it couldn’t ignore the growth in hard surfaces—it just needed the right jumping-off point. It found it with Stainmaster PetProtect LVT, joining Phenix as the only other licensee of PetProtect LVT. Phenix showed 12 PetProtect products at Surfaces including a slip-resist technology called “action traction,” which is designed to keep dogs from sliding across the hard floors.

Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing for the residential division, acknowledged Dixie is late to the LVT market and therefore needed to be different. Stainmaster PetProtect LVT, he said, provides that differentiation.

Dixie introduced 40 LVT SKUs—20 for the Dixie Home brand and the other half for Masland. Dixie LVT offers a 20 mil wear layer while Masland boasts a 28mm thickness. “We have gotten great reaction from dealers,” Phelan said. “Our customers are surprised but pleased.”

Steven Lewis, owner of Lewis Floor & Home, Northbrook, Ill., was on hand at the Dixie booth to preview the products. He said while the company is definitely late to the segment it has a good relationship with dealers it will need to leverage to get showroom space.

Dixie is one of several soft surface companies that is either getting into LVT, expanding its assortment or considering entry. The latter category includes Engineered Floors, which is targeting an LVT launch in the next six months. “We see the opportunity because it is the largest growing category,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing. “We would be remiss if we didn’t look into it and put our toe in the water.”

Nance Industries, a soft surface company that cut its teeth in area rugs, showed a new line of LVT that it is readying for the retail market. Presley Nance, executive account specialist, said the move into hard surfaces makes perfect sense for a company whose forte is rugs.

On the other side of the exhibition hall, Raskin Industries introduced Ceramix, a built-in grout loose lay LVT, and Arcylix, a solid surface waterproof floor. Michael Raskin, CEO, believes it is better “to have two horses in the race than one.”

Ceramix is composed of ceramic particles and built-in grout that is permanent. “Our distributors are excited about it because they see it as adding product that they didn’t have,” Raskin explained. “It is affordable and includes exclusive designs.” Ceramix and Acrylix comes in both plank and tile options, offering 11 SKUs.

Another plus, Raskin said, is the fact that these products do not require acclimation to a room prior to installation. In addition, they can be installed in a sunroom and won’t change color—which has been an issue with some LVT products. Lastly, the product has a PSI rating of 1300, making it suitable for commercial applications.

“We see it as the next generation, and we are going to be first with this product.”

Providing the spark
In deciding how and where to innovate, Congoleum has looked at what is missing from current resilient offerings. “One of the big voids that existed in this category was really good looking tile,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales. “There has been lots of wood everywhere but there really aren’t good tile options so that’s where we started with our second round. The first round we put out wood just like everyone else and then we asked our manufacturing partner to really focus on embossed in register, and on these enhanced edges and creating uniqueness like boxing various widths in the same box, longer planks. Just as a point of differentiation.”

Patrick Buckley, vice president of product management, Congoleum, highlighted the new patterns and wood visuals in the company’s DuraCeramic products. “This has been our flagship product since 2008,” he said. “It’s been a pioneer in LVT.”

Congoleum also rolled out 15 new SKUs of its Triversa product, a WPC offering. “We have this in 8mm overall gauge with a cork backing and 20 mil wear layer. It’s very durable and very affordable.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.52.45 PMOther suppliers are also looking to fill critical voids in the market. Mannington, for instance, is responding by expanding its signature AduraMax line. “We just came out with new rectangles for Max and we’re launching it this year,” said Jimmy Tuley, vice president of residential resilient. “They’re some of our best-selling Adura products, and I think they’re just going to be a home run. When you talk about Max, you have beautiful style and design but it’s a great performance story. You’ve got scratch-resist urethane, a 20 mil wear layer, industry-leading sound, and it covers subfloor imperfections—there’s not a lot that Max doesn’t have.”

American Biltrite showed two main products which service both commercial and residential business. One offering is Texas Granite—a solid vinyl tile, no-wax flooring. “You can get a very high shine out of the product just by buffing it slightly,” said Mark Tickle, director of marketing. “It has a very good contemporary color palette and is available in 12-, 24- and 36-inch tiles.”

Texas Granite is geared toward the healthcare and education sectors as well as residential. It comes in 28 colors—some bright, some muted—and can be mixed with different sizes. “This allows you to make different geometric patterns by changing the designs between the different sizes,” Tickle said. “The combinations are endless.”

The company’s second product, UltraCeramic, is ideal for residential applications, according to Tickle. “We’ve had it in the market for at least two years, but this year we introduced the 12 x 24 size which is a growing section of the market. We offer it in four patterns: Finestone, Spa Marble, Villa Stonewood and Urban Slate—all of which emulate a stone appearance.” In addition to the updated sizes, UltraCeramic comes with a new retail point of purchase display.

Not to be outdone, Armstrong has increased its presence in resilient with the addition of Prism, a product the company classifies as a resilient but is not vinyl or laminate. “It’s something different, like a composite product,” said Morgan Hafer, product manager. “It is waterproof, scratch and stain resistant and dent proof. And has technology that is exclusive to Armstrong.”

Prism was put to the test at Surfaces as demonstrations showed off the products easy-to-clean and hard-to-dent qualities. In terms of visuals, Prism contains the designs of Armstrong’s top selling laminate line. “You’re taking the most realistic, beautiful visuals and you’re putting it on the most durable product out there,” Hafer said.

Design and visuals were also a factor for Earthwerks, which highlighted its Framework and Framework Plus products. “We have six planks and two tiles, and the two tiles actually work back to the planks,” said Lindsey Nisbet, head of product marketing and development. This means the tiles coordinate with the planks so retailers can provide cohesive product for the full job—bathrooms as well as living spaces.

Aside from its LVT, the company’s WPC has continued to expand with its Sherbrooke and Parkhill collections. New additions include 12 x 24 tiles. “For our WPC products, we’ve taken our existing 12 products that immediately drove a huge portion of our business and…added to it so you have more character, fun and unique design,” Nisbet explained.

To complement Earthwerks’ new products, the company has updated volumes of its products. “The Development collection is perfect for multi-family and builders,” Nisbet said. “All of our 2mm are found in volumes one, two and three, and the warranties are the colors of the spine.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.55.14 PMVolume one contains entry-level 2mm products; volume two contains 2mm product with Tuff Shield and volume three contains product with Tuff Shield and a 12 mil wear layer. “So if you’re going to see a builder [or multi-family account] and you need that level, you have three books and that’s all you need to take,” Nisbet added. “You have three products in each one, four to eight SKUs in each.”

While there remained a strong focus on WPC and LVT, many manufacturers revamped their sheet vinyl lines to provide solutions for consumers who demand traditional offerings. Among these companies were Mohawk, which used displays—similar to those used at Solutions in December—to highlight the waterproof and heat-resistant qualities of sheet vinyl.

“At Surfaces we really wanted to highlight all of the wonderful things we can do in-house with performance and the visuals of the product,” said Tammy Perez, marketing manager, hard surfaces. “We created a scenario to walk everyone through how the products are made, introduce them a little bit with the screens to the vinyl facilities we have in Dalton and then [explain] how we construct our products to really perform.”

According to Perez, Mohawk’s sheet vinyl provides a great story for the retailer because it is built with stability in mind. “Vinyl in itself is very seasonal,” she added. “What’s really great about these products is we wanted to solve that.”

To ward off water damage Mohawk continues to use Uniclic technology. “Uniclic is the best technology whether it’s on laminate or hardwood and we’ve added it to vinyl,” Perez said. “We really want to stick with that type of locking system because we know it performs and it works. So we put that on our regular LVT as well.”

To protect against heat the company uses a full sheet of fiberglass on its flexible LVT which allows the product to lay flat and stay flat, according Perez.

Armstrong highlighted its new vinyl sheet products now coated with Diamond 10 technology, the same coating seen on the company’s Vivero luxury flooring. Its use of Diamond 10, Armstrong suggests, is a major selling point for retailers.

“The Diamond 10 technology is a proprietary technology that no one else has,” said Matt Savarino, product manager, Armstrong. “We’re going to be putting a lot of emphasis behind it, talking about it a lot more and hopefully creating some consumer demand generation programs to help get the consumers coming in and talking about it. Combine that with the Armstrong name, we can demand a little bit more premium in the marketplace, which makes it more lucrative for the retailers.”

For Happy Feet, its products coupled with the company’s exclusivity create a higher price point for retailers. Of its new offerings shown at Surfaces, Casey Johnson, owner, said retailers have to have Mount Everest in Happy Feet’s Biltmore series for a couple of reasons. “No. 1, we don’t sell to everybody,” Casey said. “Happy Feet is very selective so the dealers that buy our products make a lot more money.”

As the category continues to develop, many manufacturers boast products that are waterproof and scratch resistant. Among these are Cryntel. According to Paul Cullom, director of sales, the company’s new products are rigid enough to hide subfloor imperfections, are waterproof and sound absorbing. Cryntel also offers a peel-and-stick for easier installation. To demonstrate Cryntel’s Releasable Cullom easily peeled the product off the floor, using only his hands. Releasable can be reused up to four times, as recommended by the company, and is ideal for anyone who does cash and carry, the company said.

Karndean Designflooring presented a wide array of products all with differing forms of installation. “We have our regular luxury vinyl tile which is our glue-down design flooring,” said Emil Mellow, vice president of marketing. “This is design flooring that nobody else has. Visuals plus that type of installation.”

In contrast to the glue down LVT, Karndean’s LooseLay Longboard requires no glue and goes right down, according to Mellow. The company’s third flooring installation option is found in its new rigid core structure product.

While many intros targeted the residential market, others focused on Main Street and light commercial business. At Surfaces Novalis introduced three new products targeting this important sector. “Retailers can gain more consistent business with Main Street,” said John Wu, CEO. “Main Street has been looking for the right product and LVT is the ideal product.”

 

WPC takes center stage at Surfaces
By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.52.33 PMLas Vegas—Whether it is called WPC or Rigid Core, the category popularized by USFloors’ COREtec was on full display at Surfaces as current and new players touted their newest offerings in what is becoming an increasingly crowded market.

Before the Surfaces trade show had officially opened on Jan. 17, the USFloors booth was swarming with major flooring dealers interested in COREtec Plus enhanced and COREtec XML enhanced, which included a digitally enhanced beveled edge that resonated with dealers like Kelly Cosgrove, flooring buyer for HOM Furniture in Coon Rapids, Minn. “I love the way it fuses together, but you would expect that from USFloors as they continue to innovate.”

The WPC revolution began in 2013 when USFloors introduced 12 COREtec SKUs, which were launched at Surfaces. There are now between 150 and 160 in the company’s portfolio. “It has changed the face of the LVT business,” said Marc Tinter, territory manager. “We have become a monster.”

WPS, which served as the distribution arm for COREtec as a standalone unit, recently was brought under the purview of USFloors (FCNews, Jan. 16/23). Its Fusion brand of waterproof engineered planks has 40 SKUs in the Elite program, including random-width formats. Despite the flood of new entrants, with more to come, USFloors has a big headstart in the market. “Now everyone is jumping into the WPC pool but there is only so much real estate available,” said Philippe Erramuzpe, COO. “When you are late to the market the question becomes, ‘What is your story?’”

Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer for R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, is focused on products that allow him to stand apart from the pack. “USFloors, Armstrong and Shaw all offered products that will give me that.”

In recent years several small to mid-size carpet mills have ventured into hard surfaces, with some crossing into the WPC space. One of the more ambitious companies is Marquis Industries, which introduced Charleston, a solid PVC core, and Williamsburg, a 20-mil wear layer with ceramic bead finish. Mike Lindberg, executive vice president of marketing, said their WPC offerings offer higher density than LVT and offer a better price point with a better finish. “There are no expansion or contraction issues,” he said. “We have people buying containers. One dealer who carried our carpet but no hard surface before this bought a container.”

Mark Clayton, CEO of Phenix, which introduced two WPC products, said WPC is one if the few growing segments in flooring and, as such, companies want to participate. As a full-service flooring supplier that does business with the NFA group and other prominent retailers, Clayton believes Phenix can leverage those relationships with WPC.

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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.