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SURFACES 2016 COVERAGE – Resilient: Composites begin to take hold over traditional LVT

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.10.31 PM Once again there was no shortage of LVT at Surfaces with many companies continuing to innovate to capitalize on the category’s success. That being said, resilient as a whole had a strong showing with refreshed and new sheet vinyl collections and, above anything else, a significant influx of WPC.

As the subcategory’s buzz grows louder, Floor Covering News has started to investigate WPC/composites/enhanced vinyl—there are many different names for the product group. At Surfaces there was an opportunity to examine the latest and greatest and see who is getting into the next phase of the flooring game.

Leader of the pack USFloors was again a star player at Surfaces, not only because of its active booth and beloved COREtec products, but also because of some major announcements heading into the show: It received its third patent for COREtec, which covers “Engineered Waterproof Plastic Composite Flooring and Wall Covering Planks,” and granted sub-license rights to Unilin’s Flooring Technologies and Valinge.

“The playing field is going to change,” Jamann Stepp, USFloors’ director of marketing and product management, said of the company’s recent developments. “This last patent strengthened the context of the previous patent. Before people were trying to find loopholes with their products’ cores being made from X, Y, Z ingredients which then eliminates them from any patent infringement on what we’ve established. I think this last [patent] we’ve got solidifies what the construction is really about.”

At the show USFloors launched two new COREtec collections: COREtec Plus HD and COREtec Plus Design. The 15 new SKUs from HD include wood visual planks featuring high-definition printing with embossed in register textures and a four-sided beveled edge. The Design collection includes 10 SKUs, both wood and tile/stone looks, in 5-, 7- and 9-inch-wide planks. The new collections are priced at about $.10 more than the current best offering, COREtec XL—the consumer would pay somewhere from $4.78 to $4.98 for just product. Both XL and Design will officially launch and be ready to ship during Q1 2016.Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.10.26 PM

Congoleum is one of many manufacturers that launched a COREtec-eque offering at Surfaces. Its new Triversa product is the best offering from its Timeless LVT collection and will be ready to ship this spring. The 100% waterproof product has a rigid core with SmartLock Clic installation, 20 mil urethane wear layer and cork backing.

“It’s that layered construction that drives the performance overall,” said Kurt Denman, vice president, marketing and sales. “There is a volatility to [traditional] LVT with expansion and contraction, but the Triversa core stabilizes that. It performs better than laminate because it eliminates that Achilles heel.”

The company believes the reputation and familiarity of the Congoleum name will help differentiate its composite offering. “It’s a recognizable brand,” said Pat Buckley, vice president, product management. “More consumers recognize Congoleum than some of the competitive products. There are also opportunities to differentiate us by the design package. Triversa brings a very strong series of designs available in 7- and 9-inch widths depending on pattern.”

EarthWerks launched its WPC product Parkhill last year; this year’s Surfaces saw the addition of Sherbrooke, completing the company’s 12-SKU composite offering. Both collections feature 7 x 48 planks with Parkhill offering a 20 mil wear layer with a total 6mm thickness and Sherbrooke a 12 mil layer with 5.5mm overall thickness. Parkhill comes with a 30-year commercial wear limited warranty and lifetime residential limited warranty while Sherbrooke has a 20-year light commercial wear limited warranty and 30-year residential limited wear warranty. All of EarthWerks’ WPC products feature the Valinge 2G fold-down installation system.

“Consumers are going to buy from EarthWerks because we are EarthWerks, the trusted name in LVT,” said Lindsey Nesbit, head of product development and marketing strategy. “We’ve been in the business for 32 years, developing the whole product category. Our products are in stock, we have a strong distributor network and we stand behind our products.”

Mannington’s version of Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.10.21 PMWPC, Adura Max, is coming out as an extension of its Adura brand (FCNews, Jan 18/25). The 6 x 48 planks feature iCore Gen3 technology with a HydroLoc core and Ultra-Quiet pad to create exceptional water and noise resistance. The ScratchResist layer with aluminum oxide helps guard the floor against scratch and wear.

“We’re trying to differentiate with overall construction and quality,” said Dan Natkin, Mannington’s senior director of residential products. “The problem with this new subcategory is—kind of like the early days of laminate—the wide range of quality. You have to see what lasts and what doesn’t. We’ve done a lot to engineer Adura Max to make sure it’s very stable and of the highest quality.”

Adura Max, which features an extensive selection of varied wood visuals, will have its own display and is expected to be available by late May/early June.

With its enthusiastic return to the Surfaces show floor, Mohawk brought a preview of Genesis 3.0, the company’s answer to the composite subcategory. At this time Mohawk is still investing in the research and development of Genesis, but attendees had the opportunity to see what the product has in store prior to its summer launch. “It will be a WPC-type product with an LVT top layer,” explained Tammy Perez, director of hard surface. “When you look at the first generation [of WPC] a lot of companies have focused on products being 100% waterproof but what they don’t tell you about is heat. If you are installing this type of floor in Florida or California or anywhere that gets very hot and it is in areas under windows, for example, the floor begins to cup. The second generation of product starting to come out now is trying to correct that issue, along with some telegraphing problems. Once we are ready we are going to hit the ground running because we want to deliver a well-rounded product that doesn’t just focus on being waterproof but also installation in hot areas. We will create our own story because we feel like what we have in our core will be a much stronger story than WPC.”

Genesis 3.0 will also feature the Uniclic Multifit locking system which will provide easy installation thanks to the ability to install at different angles.

Similarly, Armstrong’s return to the Surfaces show floor was not without some noise from its own “enhanced flooring,” Vivero (FCNews, Jan. 18/25) with live demonstrations and a Best of Surfaces win (see story on page 1). However, its best-selling LuxePlank product garnered some attention as well with its new Rigid Core technology.

Continuing on its key selling point of easy installation (previously focused on FasTak), LuxePlank’s Rigid Core technology is the solution to subfloor irregularities, explained Jeremy Kleinberg, product manager, residential LVT. “If you’re going over an existing floor with tile or an embossed felt sheet you can lay this over the top and there won’t be any telegraphing.”

LuxePlank with Rigid Core includes a polymer composite core with a traditional LVT layer, durable wear layer and factory-applied coating. The cork backing provides acoustic benefits that deaden the transmission of sound to spaces beneath the floor and makes it quieter to walk on.

Kleinberg pointed out that LuxePlank selections are more for “specialty installation applications.” In terms of price difference, LuxePlank with FasTak and with Rigid Core cost roughly the same as the better level of Vivero.

After previewing its Pure program last year, Beauflor is now ready to take orders and ship the product in the U.S. According to the company, Pure differentiates itself from the many composite products on the market because of its extruded rigid backing and the vinyl used, which are both made in Beauflor’s own facilities in Belgium. It is cost competitive with other products in the marketplace even though it is unique in terms of construction and with the Dream Click four-sided click installation system. Pure is also 100% waterproof and offers impressive sound ratings.

While Pure has been delivering to the “overwhelming plank demand of the market,” the product will soon be offered in a tile format as well.

IVC launches Text a Sample

IVC US’ space was a popular show floor destination once again, perhaps even more so this year as it is now part of the Mohawk family of brands.

In addition to updates to its exceedingly popular Moduleo and Flexitec collections, IVC US is making major strides in its marketing efforts. Perhaps the most notable is its new Text a Sample program added to display sample labels, which allows consumers to use their smartphones to help see product in detail.

“Right now we don’t offer take-home samples on any of our products,” explained Bart Rich, senior director of marketing. “With Text a Sample a consumer will get a link to a high-resolution digital sample to use to compare products, colors, paint swatches, etc. It also connects to a room scene and a Find a Retailer function.”

Take-home samples are hard to manage for both the consumer and retailer who has to keep large pieces of product organized and in stock. With the Text a Sample function dealers not only offer instant samples with ease, they can also capture where the text request came from to determine a shopper’s area, send coupons, request ratings and more.

“We now have them engaged,” Rich added. “We’ve completed that circle—getting the customer into the buying space, getting them to the retailer and ultimately buying our product. We are touching on something people do every day.”

Quick-Step enters the LVT game

Also part of the Mohawk family of brands, Quick-Step made its foray into resilient with its own branded LVT. The official launch will come this summer as the company is still fine-tuning product attributes that differentiate Quick-Step LVT from Mohawk’s and IVC’s, in addition to competitors in the industry.

According to Dave Thoresen, senior vice president, commercial hard surface, Mohawk Industries, Quick-Step’s LVT is “the most dimensionally stable product in the marketplace. It is five times stronger, more durable, than any other LVT. I think it takes on WPC to some degree because of the dimensional stability in addition to the Multifit click system which is Unilin’s best technology right now.”

The collection consists of 16 SKUs with 6 x 48 planks, 4.5mm thickness and 22 mil wear layer. “It is very North American in style but with a lot of European influence since this is being manufactured in our Belgium plant,” Thoresen noted. “The sweet spot in the market in terms of price will be the mid to low $3 range.”

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SURFACES 2016 COVERAGE – Carpet: Mills look to compete with rise of hard surface

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.06.46 PMLas Vegas—Carpet mills are not standing pat amid the fierce competition from hard surfaces. The response from mills in attendance at The International Surface Event [TISE] is to push back in a number of ways—mostly by stepping up efforts on the style and design front. Other strategies entail adding custom rug programs, creating carpet looks that mimic or complement hardwood or outright expanding offerings to include hard surfaces.

“We know that carpet is shrinking,” said Rodney Mauter, executive vice president, residential sales, Lexmark. “But in a shrinking market we can add value and uniqueness.”

A year ago, Tailored by Lexmark drew praises at Surfaces for its three-dimensional, high-definition look. Now it is hoping Adorn becomes the big hit this time around for its softer yarn and depth of patterns. “Tailored put us on the map for that affordable fashion look,” Mauter said. “We were a little concerned at first with how we would follow the success of Tailored, but we are now seeing the same kind of enthusiasm for Adorn.”

Other mills emphasized style and design at Surfaces, and at least one was recognized for it. Stanton won a Best of Surfaces award for Style & Design and earned kudos from dealers for its innovative and fashion-forward looks. “I was very impressed with Stanton,” said Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada. “Products such as their new Sound Waves [from the Relax collection] were innovative.”

Stanton’s introductions included 40 new nylon offerings representing a category expansion. “We’re tagged with the responsibility of growing in a declining market, and we’re not happy if we’re not growing,” said Jonathan Cohen, CEO. “In order to grow, we have to be proactive, and we have to be smart about it.”

In the face of the onslaught of hard surfaces, some mills are trying to capitalize on the trend with soft products that either mimic or complement hard surfaces, including worn, distressed and hand-scraped looks. Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing, Northwest Regional VP, for the Dixie Group (Dixie, Masland, Fabrica), said the success of hard surfaces has brought pattern into the home, and as such created opportunities for soft surface companies that may not have existed before.

“We are aware of what is going on with wood and in constructing patterns and styles,” he said. “Our product development team is well aware of that trend as well. We feel we can make products that complement hard surfaces. We have to up the ante in style and design.”

Milliken’s Artful Legacy broadloom, shown at Surfaces, is noted for a distressed look that can complement a hardwood floor, with the goal of maintaining that seamless look throughout the home. Milliken showed three such distressed/ vintage looks.

Research shows that in most new homes carpet is still preferred in bedrooms with hard surfaces claiming other areas. However, the notion that everyone wants hard surfaces in their homes is wrong, according to Sam Roberts, owner of Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors in Houston. “Lots of people love beautiful carpet. Carpet is more beautiful today than it has ever been. It’s just not that easy to move the needle every year [in terms of style and design]. People want to do stuff that’s different and better, but that’s easier said than done.”

Instead of trying to compete head-to-head with hard surfaces, some mills are focusing on “sharing” the space. A custom rug program, some eScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.06.52 PMxecutives say, is one way to do that. While rugs have traditionally been viewed as an add-on sale following the purchase of a hardwood or laminate floor, custom-cut rug programs are providing mills with growth opportunities.

“Without rugs, a home [with hard surfaces] is an echo chamber,” said David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations at Mohawk Industries, which has a new custom rug program called “A Cut Above.” In this program, rugs can be offered in squares or rectangles. It also offers an app that simplifies the process of getting a quote/order in the showroom in one visit.

Stanton also reports tremendous success with its program, Rug Revolution, which allows users to create their own modular rug styles. The rugs can be cut into small pieces or combined into one large piece using Velcro strips for backing.

“Our rug business is growing because of hard surfaces,” Cohen said.

Joining the party

Mohawk and Shaw were once carpet-only mills. Today, both companies are major players in hard surfaces. Some smaller carpet mills have followed suit. Marquis Industries entered the hard surfaces segment eight years ago with an LVT line. It has shown double-digit growth every year since, according to Larry Heckman, president.

At Surfaces, Phenix entered the fray with seven hard surface products — three laminate, three LVT and one WPC offering. “We want to be known as a total flooring company,” said Susan Curtis, vice president of marketing. “We are looking at the total home and seeing how we can create a coordinated aesthetic that the consumer is looking for.”

Then there are those carpet companies that say they do not need rugs or hard surfaces to fuel grow. At Surfaces Engineered Floors prominently displayed a growth chart showing the company’s plant capacity has grown from 520,000 square feet in 2010 to 3.6 million square feet in 2015. One of its plants, nicknamed “SAM,” will one day be the largest capacity carpet mill in the world under one roof, according to the company.

Engineered Floors also unveiled the DreamWeaver PureColor brand structure. The program features new products designed with patent-pending VariColor technology that will allow the company to expand its color palette within the PureColor family of brands.

“We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we can do,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing for Engineered Floors. “We want to focus on one thing and make it great—and that is broadloom carpet.”

The same focus on innovation is driving business at Kane Carpet. According to Bruce Kurtz, vice president of marketing, the company sold 400 rolls of carpet at Surfaces — its highest amount ever at the show. “We continue to defy the industry’s stagnation and grow very nicely,” Kurtz said. “A lot of pattern-oriented companies fail because their styles are inspired by their own tastes. Our designs are inspired by our customers’ tastes.”

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SURFACES 2016 COVERAGE – Retailers cite eye-catching innovations at TISE

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

The International Surface Event (TISE) serves as a venue for exhibitors to launch hundreds of products and collections. With so many to sort through in a short amount of time, some products stood out amongst the crowd. FCNews asked retailers which products caught their attention.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.00.13 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.00.22 PM

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Best of Surfaces calls out leading products, booths at show

Judges recognize excellence at premier show across six categories

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Steven Feldman

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.47.55 PMLas Vegas—Six companies were voted best of class in the fifth annual Best of Surfaces competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa, owners and operators of The International Surface Event. The awards have become the benchmark for product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show.

The winners were:

  • Innovation: Mohawk’s SmartStrand Forever Clean with All Pet Technology
  • Style & Design: Stanton’s Sound Waves from the Relaxed Collection
  • Technology: Armstrong’s Vivero Luxury Flooring
  • Sustainability: Mannington’s LVT closed-loop recycling program
  • Best Booth Design Over 1,200 square feet: Johnson Hardwood
  • Best Booth Design Under 1,200 square feet: Wichkam

The judging was conducted by a panel of retailers who were initially tasked with narrowing the entrants in each category to five finalists by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were asked to delve through all submissions and select their top five that best represented the category in which they were entered. The most popular selections by consensus in each category made it on to the final round, where judges viewed each finalist on the first day of Surfaces. They convened at FCNews’ booth at the close of the day and openly discussed their opinions with each other for the first time. From these discussions emerged the Best of Surfaces winners.

Innovation

SmartStrand Forever Clean with All Pet Technology

SmartStrand Forever Clean with All Pet technology is the only complete protection system covering all pets, all accidents, all the time. It features the industry’s only carpet warranty covering all pets from cats and dogs and beyond. This is the only carpet that can be repeatedly cleaned without removing stain-fighting protection and durability.

Another advantage of SmartStrand Forever Clean is that liquids cannot absorb into the fiber. Liquid spills carry impurities that leave behind residue and can lead to musty, dingy odors, particularly as it relates to pets. This added protection prevents and reduces common pet-related odors. Compared to nylon carpet, which absorbs up to 5% of its weight in liquid, SmartStrand Forever Clean offers 0% absorption so it remains fresh and odor-free forever—a huge advantage in a family with pets.

“We are honored SmartStrand Forever Clean has received the Surfaces Innovation Award for the second consecutive year,” said David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing. “The judging panel of experienced industry professionals recognizes that Mohawk continues to build on the success of the incredibly soft and durable SmartStrand fiber we introduced 10 years ago. Now, with the All Pet Protection warranty, the most comprehensive pet protection warranty in the industry, SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet can stand up to all pets, all accidents, all the time.”

Style & Design

Sound Waves from Stanton

Stanton’s new polyester-polypropylene Relaxed line is a diverse collection that offers something for everyone. Traditionalists may prefer the structured trellis, while romantics will find favor with the graceful Victorian scroll. And abstract expressionists should be energized by Sound Waves’ free-flowing, Pollock-esque splatter design. But despite the individuality, warmth is what ties the collection together. A distressed background and palette of familiar neutrals are at the core of each style. Sound Waves turns up the heat further with bursts of electric pink.

Jonathan Cohen, CEO of Stanton, believes Sound Waves was a consensus Best of Surfaces winner because the judges preferred the product’s edgy styling combined with lustrous yarns. “I think it hit on all the right criteria—fresh, exciting, new, old, terrific colors. It had a luster level to it, a silky appearance that was very attractive. The validation is our customers’ reaction. Reaction doesn’t always translate to sales but it is a good indictor.”

Technology

Vivero Luxury Flooring from Armstrong

The judges agreed that Vivero was most deserving of Technology honors in the Best of Surfaces competition. They felt it was not another me-too LVT product to hit the market, citing its composition—specifically its rigid core comprised of limestone and PVC—and the Diamond 10 technology used in its coating, a patent-pending, diamond-infused layer for extra durability. Diamond 10 allows for “unprecedented” scratch and stain resistance in addition to cleanability. The product is also waterproof; liquid will bead on Vivero’s surface, making it easy to wipe away.

A major differentiator for products within Vivero’s collections is the installation options. All “good” SKUs come with simple and secure angle-angle locking technology while “best” and “better” both feature the IntegriLock system, which utilizes 5G technology from Valinge. All Vivero products are also offered in glue down options.

Sustainability

LVT Closed-Loop Recycling Program from Mannington

Mannington’s LOOP reclamation and recycling program has set benchmarks for recycling millions of pounds of carpet, VCT, drywall, automobile tires and windshield glass into new carpet, VCT, resilient sheet and wall-base. It is leading the reclamation and recycling of post-consumer LVT that is removed during renovation and demolition projects and recycling it back into new LVT. Plus, 100% of post-production material created during the manufacturing process is also recycled back into new LVT product.

“Mannington has been a pioneer in utilizing recycled content,” said David Sheehan, vice president, commercial hard surface. “We were first to create a robust take-back program (for carpet and VCT). We followed that up 18 months ago with a take-back program for LVT. The judges most likely appreciated the notion that we are taking product back and preventing it from going into landfills and then repurposing the scrap and making it into new products.”

Best Booth over 1,200 square feet

Johnson Hardwood

The 3,500-square-foot booth was the brainchild of Yuying Chiu, a design consultant for the company. According to Bill Schollmeyer, CEO of Johnson, the objective was to achieve an easy flow that encouraged customers to browse through the different areas. “We focused on vignettes that highlighted our Rowlock product to show some creative settings, both residential and commercial,” said Bill Schollmeyer. “As always, we try to showcase a mix of current products that are strong sellers—like English pub and Alehouse—innovative new products like Rowlock, and concept products like many of the oil finish colors that we showcased.”

The message that Johnson Hardwood tried to convey was that the company is all about style and quality, and that the brand has value to a dealer.

Best Booth under 1,200 square feet

Wickham Hardwood

For the second year in a row, Wickham Hardwood won for best booth design. Randy McCullough, a Wickham consultant and booth designer, said the company tries to create a space that is so uniquely different that it will become a destination for show-goers. The 20-foot by 50-foot booth featured a Western theme, including rusted barbed wire and old fence posts. “I could have bought that stuff at a hardware store but I wanted it to be authentic,” McCullough noted.

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Surfaces 2016 ‘amazing on all fronts’

Return of major players to show floor fuels excitement

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.45.16 PMLas Vegas—The International Surface Event (TISE) was up 10% in attendance this year, its highest yearly increase in nearly a decade. But that was just a number. What really defined Surfaces 2016 was the kind of energy and excitement that many attendees had not experienced for some time.

“It was over the top for us,” said Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington, which celebrated its 100th anniversary with a constellation of new products and off-the-floor events.

“Surfaces is alive and breathing,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residen-tial, which made a triumphant return to Surfaces. “It’s all about energy and excitement, and we had plenty of that here. We were quite pleased with the turnout.”

Flooring dealers felt the positive vibe as well. “I thought the show was the best it has been in a number of years,” said Jim Mudd, president and owner of Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring, Louisville, Ky. “I thought having Mohawk and Armstrong and a few others back on the main floor again was absolutely great.”

For the second straight year, TISE coincided with Design and Construction Week, which featured the co-location with the International Builder Show (IBS) and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). For Informa Exhibitions, owners and operators of TISE, Surfaces more than exceeded expectations. “The show was amazing on all fronts,” said Amie Gilmore, show director. “Exhibitors blew it away with their fantastic new booth designs and fabulous new marketing campaigns. We booked a record amount of space on site this year for the 2017 show.”

The one-floor layout was generally positive although some found the positioning of StonExpo, which included large stone fabrication machines in the center of the showroom, rather odd. That being said, there was a reason for the placement. Gilmore explained that there is access to outside air and water in only that part of the hall, so in order for the machines to function for demonstration they needed to be kept there. “However, from what we heard and saw, [with this layout] many attendees saw exhibitors and products they may never have seen before,” she said.

Mudd agreed. “I really felt the best part of this year’s show was having everyone on one floor. I saw suppliers that I always try to get to but being on another floor it never happens.”

Exhibitors were almost universally impressed with the traffic and the quality of the appointments. “My internal gauge on traffic is how often I can step off the floor, and Wednesday and Thursday I had zero chance,” said Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing, Northwest regional VP, The Dixie Group. “We were definitely a destination over here.”

Dan Natkin, senior director, residential products for Mannington, said the return of Armstrong and Mohawk added to the overall success. “I think it solidifies the value of the show,” he said. “Our sales have been through the roof. Almost double what we did last year.”

Surfaces was not lacking for product innovations across all categories, including the burgeoning WPC, a subsegment of LVT, which seemed to be cropping up everywhere.

Category overviews

While FCNews will cover the specific product categories throughout this issue, following is an overview of each group:

Carpet

While it is no secret that carpet is not growing as fast as hard surfaces, there are segments within carpet that are flourishing, according to David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and residential operations, Mohawk Industries. “Style and design is what is growing, and the mid to upper end of the market with an emphasis on styled-pattern unique looks is what’s selling.”

Mohawk offered dealers plenty of high-end goods in its grand return to Surfaces. It showed new collections and line extensions of its three carpet fiber platforms—triexta, PET and nylon. Specifically, Mohawk introduced Natural Surroundings, the next generation of SmartStand Silk, featuring a lower-luster treatment that helps eliminate footprints. “A lot of high-end retailers said if we could de-luster it they could sell it,” Duncan said.

Indeed, low-luster yarns were in at Surfaces. Invista showed low-luster yarns in 10 new constructions to achieve a wool/silk look. Others are following suit. “Dixie has done a nice job of blending low and high luster fibers to get that silk yarn effect,” said T.M. Nuckols, senior director of product strategy for Invista, which shared booth space with The Dixie Group.

To remain relevant, carpet mills know they have to excite the masses with styling and colors that are going to wow consumers. To that end, niche mills including Stanton and Kane Carpet pushed innovations to the forefront at Surfaces with impressive new looks and vibrant colors that did not go unnoticed. In fact, Stanton captured a Best of Surfaces award in the Style & Design category for Sound Waves.

The growth of hard surfaces has re-invigorated the rug category, and in so doing has created add-on sales opportunities for dealers. Several mills unveiled new custom rug programs; in many cases the rugs are cut to order from broadloom.

Resilient

What came first, LVT or Surfaces? It’s hard to tell these days as an increasing amount of the resilient offering continues to take share of the show floor. Seemingly every hard surface manufacturer is trying to come out with the next big thing in LVT, which appears to be WPC, also known as composites, enhanced vinyl, engineered flooring, etc.

While USFloors’ COREtec is the leader in the composite game, both major and niche companies are introducing their own takes on the subcategory. Differences range from small variations like the color of plank backing to major construction dissimilarities like composition of the product’s core (this is where the WPC argument comes in as many of these offerings don’t contain wood—the “w”).

“There is a lot of hybrid flooring, but the common thread is the decorative LVT top,” said John Wu, president and CEO, Novalis. “LVT is still the best looking synthetic floor you can find, plus it is easy to maintain and durable. LVT is the all-encompassing category and will continue to grow. WPC’s popularity will simply help push LVT to the next level.”

Tile

Visuals in tile continue to impress with new trends emerging in addition to unique spins on old favorites. Wood looks, for example, remain popular without any hint of diminishing. “Of course, wood looks are still trending,” said April Wilson, director of brand marketing, Dal-Tile. “It continues to increase in popularity and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Brick looks and hexagons also came into play on the show floor with larger formats taking the stage. Neutrals and grays are warming up with optimism in the design community giving way to brighter colors. “Neutrals are always going to be around,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing for Crossville. “When you’re making decorating decisions in a [changing] economy you are going to stick with something that will always be timeless. When things are good, people are willing to take risks, and brighter colors are riskier as far as trends go.”

This year, manufacturers are focused on selling a whole room vs. a floor. This was seen throughout the tile category by way of new merchandising systems and products suitable for numerous applications. “By layering textures and finishes you create a much more dramatic space,” said Kim Albrecht, senior brand marketing manager at Dal-Tile. “This is what homeowners want, but they don’t know how to achieve it so our dealers are important in helping to pull the look together.”

Wood

Hardwood introductions at Surfaces continued to reflect the broader, industry-wide trend toward wider widths and random lengths, combined with low-luster matte finishes designed to bring out the natural characteristics of various wood species. Another common theme across the show floor was the application of double-staining processes augmented by wire brushing.

“Wire brushing is still trending very heavily,” said Tammy Perez, director, hard surface, Mohawk. As a case in point, she cited two “show stoppers”: the American Vintique and American Design collections. Both lines feature the popular wire brushing, double-staining process as well as the company’s signature ArmorMax finish.

Other creative applications of staining techniques and color combinations also drew a lot of attention at the show. At Mannington’s booth, for example, visitors were treated to several installations featuring mixed stains and colors to create what Dan Natkin, senior director, residential products, called a “visual patchwork” for the consumer or designer.

“When you look across the different species we have here, you’ll notice there’s a lot of color play,” he explained. “We’re mixing the stains, each one-third in a carton, to create even more interest.”

In terms of texture, manufacturers continued to promote the popular hand-scraped look but with a twist—the trend is moving toward more subtle scraping treatments compared to the aggressive techniques seen in years past.

Laminate

“Bigger is better” took on a whole new form this year through thicker products with many companies launching 14 mil collections. Reclaimed and rustic looks continue to increase in popularity with an emphasis on clean, contemporary textures. Whereas high gloss has been the go-to look in the past, manufacturers said matte finishes are trending.

Introduced last year, the popular mix of gray and beige (called “greige”) remains prominent with whites, white washes and European-style lighter colors being added to the mix for those regions interested in coastal themes.

Following in the footsteps of hardwood, extra randomness and variation was evident throughout the show floor with mixed widths, multiple lengths and even multiple species represented within one product.

These trends are not just for the floor, however; many manufacturers cited projects their dealers have completed in which laminate is used on walls as full-feature presentations.

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Mohawk returns to Surfaces, promises a tour de force

December 21/28; Volume 30/Number 13

By Ken Ryan

For the first time since 2003, Mohawk Flooring will be exhibiting on the main floor of The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas.

“We are comingScreen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.53.30 PM back full throttle,” Tom Lape, president of Mohawk residential, told FCNews.

Mohawk is a vastly different company than it was the last time it exhibited at Surfaces. Since then, Mohawk has acquired Columbia Flooring, Unilin/ Quick-Step, Marazzi Group, Pergo and IVC. These brands join pre-2003 acquisitions Dal-Tile and American Olean to form a powerhouse Mohawk family. “We certainly bring a lot more options than in the past,” Lape said. Mohawk will take up an expansive space (officially booth 4003) just inside the main entrance of the exhibit hall.

Lape explained Mohawk’s return to Surfaces speaks to the importance of the show as well as the company’s commitment to educating the retailer. “There is no better place to be than Surfaces; it’s the industry’s marquee show. Our presence makes a lot of sense as more customers today want to do business with North American manufacturers who make product for North America. There is a groundswell in demand for domestic manufacturing and it is important that we are where our customers are.”

Mohawk entered into a multi-year agreement with Informa Exhibitions, owner of TISE, to attend Surfaces. Lape did not give a specific number other than it is more than two years.

“As an event that serves the flooring industry, we are beyond thrilled to have Mohawk and all of its brands with us at Surfaces,” said Amie Gilmore, TISE show director. “It’s important to offer industry professionals the products and services they need to develop and grow their businesses, especially from the key manufacturers and suppliers that provide them. We have a great partner in Mohawk and its brands and we are looking forward to a very exciting 2016 show.”

Mohawk, as with all exhibitors, expects to gain an attendance boost from the International Builder Show (IBS), which takes place Jan. 19-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Surfaces is scheduled Jan. 20-22 at Mandalay Bay. Shuttle busses will be provided to transport attendees between the venues. “There is a great deal of retail support at IBS,” Lape said. “There is not a doubt in my mind we will see crossover from that show.”

Mohawk is calling its Surfaces package of products/initiatives the “Have It All” collection:

SmartStrand Forever Clean

The company will highlight the fiber innovation to enhance the SmartStrand brand.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.53.43 PMArmorMax Finish technology

Mohawk is expanding its collection of engineered hardwood and laminate offerings with new double-stained techniques, deeper embossing and textures, in addition to maximum protection.

LVT and vinyl sheet

Launching at Surfaces, the Fashion Coordinates collection features the compatibility of a hardwood and tile look.

“Mohawk continues to invest in productivity and capabilities to provide the most compelling value proposition in the marketplace to our retail partners,” Lape said. “In addition, we are offering our retail partners a full suite of tools to be successful in 2016. The ‘Have It All’ introductions and initiatives are designed to drive traffic and maximize profitability for our retailers.”

At Surfaces, Mohawk will announce what it calls “a groundbreaking opportunity” for its dealers in hard surfaces—a collection of high-fashion products employing innovative technology to enhance visuals, durability, textures and performance.

“Lunch with Google”

Also at the show, Mohawk and FloorForce are partnering with Google to co-host “Lunch with Google,” an opportunity for flooring retailers to maximize their digital lead efforts. Lape will join Ben Tyson, Google’s head of sales enablement, for a discussion on how retailers can effectively capture more flooring customers in 2016. The one-hour event starts at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Tickets can be purchased online for $60 (plus a $4.29 fee). It includes a three-course lunch. For registration information, visit bit.ly/LunchwithGoogle.

“It will be a pretty eye-opening event,” Lape said. “I strongly encourage any retailer, if you can attend only one event at Surfaces, let it be [this one].”

David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and residential operations for Mohawk, noted that Tyson works specifically with small businesses, similar in size to many specialty dealers. “Google could have contacted anybody to do this but they invited us to share the space with them. It is a coup for us and it is a great opportunity for the retailer.”

Tyson, known as “Mr. T,” said Google is “honored to partner with Mohawk and FloorForce, both leaders in the flooring industry, to help retailers capture more customers online.” He said his goal for “Lunch with Google” is for flooring dealers “to walk away with a greater understanding of digital marketing and its power in generating sales.”

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FCNews to sponsor Surfaces education program for sixth year

Industry experts continue to share knowledge to contribute to retailer success

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.55.18 PMHicksville, N.Y.—FCNews for the sixth consecutive year will be the exclusive sponsor of the flooring portion of The International Surface Event (TISE) education program, which will be held Jan. 19–22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Featuring 45 flooring-specific courses geared toward retailers and distributors, many being offered at the show for the first time, the program offers something for everyone. The complete course schedule with some overviews will be available in the Jan. 4/11 issue of FCNews.

FCNews publisher Steven Feldman, who is a member of the TISE Advisory Council, said he is looking forward to another lineup of useful, insightful education sessions. “Each year we sift through hundreds of proposals seeking the most useful schedule. I encourage all Surfaces attendees to look over the program. I’m sure there are multiple presentations that can help any retailer’s business.”

Along with sponsoring the flooring portion of the program, FCNews will again take an active part as a number of its columnists will be imparting their knowledge to attendees, including Lisbeth Calandrino, author of “Lisbiz Strategies”; Jim Armstrong, author of “Marketing Mastery”; Scott Perron, author of “Retailer2 Retailer”; and its newest columnist, David Romano, author of “Survey Says.” In addition, this year FCNews managing editor Jenna Lippin will moderate a retailer forum, “Share Challenges & Explore Solutions,” on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m.

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Domotex Asia/ChinaFloor partners with TISE

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 2.21.18 PMShanghai, China—Domotex Asia/ChinaFloor, has entered into a mutual endorsement agreement with The International Surface Event (TISE). This partnership expands the reach of both events and establishes a strong global presence.

“China has become an important market for the flooring industry’s innovation and new product development,” said David Zhong, president, VNU Exhibitions Asia. “Domotex Asia/ChinaFloor has been the proud platform on which global manufacturers can introduce those products to the world. Partnering with TISE expands the reach of both exhibitions across the world’s two largest economies.”

Dana Teague, vice president of the design group, Informa Global Exhibitions, added, “We are delighted to be working with their leadership to jointly promote our events and the importance of the flooring industry. This mutual endorsement demonstrates the shows’ commitment to the flooring industry and its future growth and success.”

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Karastan debuts two wool collections at 2016 winter markets

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.51.04 AMSugar Valley, Ga.—At The International Surface Event being held Jan. 19-22 in Las Vegas and the Atlanta International Area Rug Market taking place Jan.13-16 in Atlanta, Karastan will debut new collections and new rugs in warm, soft and naturally renewable New Zealand wool and silky wool/viscose blends. The company will introduce the Manifesto Collection and Titanium Collection in addition to expanding its Sovereign Collection and English Manor Collection.

Karastan will also sponsor an event at the Atlanta market to debut its limited edition rug, Panel Kirman Granite. Mugs N’ Suds will be held 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the Karastan booth AmericasMart 3-A-1.

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TISE 2016 to feature new Ignite educational programming

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 10.28.11 AMDallas—The International Surface Event 2016, taking place Jan. 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, will feature a new Ignite educational program. At the forefront of the event, this unique educational program offers participants proven strategies for increasing a company’s profitability and productivity.

Participants of the Ignite program will learn best practices and the latest technology to help increase their bottom lines and network with industry leaders, getting answers to the everyday challenges faced in their businesses. Carefully crafted into the program are courses to assist industry professionals in navigating and targeting key growth areas for their business. With over 80 hours of standard industry education and 88 hours of on-floor education, training and demos, attendees will have the chance to learn from more than 100 speakers, panelists and industry professionals.