Judges recognize excellence across six categories
February 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 17
Las Vegas—Six companies were voted best of class in the fourth annual Best of Surfaces competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa Exhibitions (formerly Hanley Wood), owners and operators of The International Surface Event (TISE). The awards have become the benchmark for new product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show.
The winners were:
- Innovation: Mohawk SmartStrand Forever Clean
- Style & Design: Johnson Hardwood Alehouse series
- Sustainability: W.F. Taylor TruRenew Bio-Renewable Adhesive
- Technology: Spray-Lock RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can
- Best Booth Design Over 1,200 square feet: Bedrosians Tile & Stone
- Best Booth Design Under 1,200 square feet: Wickham Hardwood
The judging was conducted by a panel of experienced industry figures who were initially tasked with narrowing the many entrants in each category to five finalists by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were each asked to explore 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 to the final round, in which judges viewed each finalist on the first day of Surfaces.
“The Best of Surfaces awards gives exhibitors another thing to be excited about when they come to the show,” said Amie Gilmore, director of TISE. “In planning for their booths, or figuring out what products to showcase, they want to put their best foot forward. Maybe a company stepped up its booth this year instead of next year because there’s a competition, for example.”
Informa continues to partner with Floor Covering News for industry initiatives, creating a unified, influential voice. “Joining forces with Floor Covering News on Best of Surfaces really makes it an industry event because you’ve got the show and the exhibitors, you’re putting everything in front of retailers and other attendees, and you also have a major publication behind it all. It’s not jut one entity putting it out there; Best of Surfaces comprises a massive group of industry representation.”
SmartStrand Forever Clean from Mohawk
Launched in early December, SmartStrand Forever Clean has been the talk of the industry in recent months. With its inherent cleanability and durability, many believe Mohawk has reached the ultimate solution in maintaining carpet over long periods of time.
David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations for Mohawk, said the company’s win for Innovation is particularly important as “hundreds of flooring companies participated in the competition where this award was open to all innovations across all flooring categories. For SmartStrand Forever Clean to beat out all hardwood, laminate, LVT and other categories demonstrates the extraordinary innovation Mohawk brings to the carpet category.”
Best of Surfaces judge Paul Frederichsen, president of the marketing and branding firm BrandBiz, said Forever Clean “ups the game in the whole carpet industry.” He noted that the name hits home, as cleanability is the No. 1 concern with consumers. “People love carpet because of its softness, warmth, etc., but there is always that concern of ‘Can I keep it clean? How difficult will it be to do so? Is it healthy for my family?’ I think Mohawk has done a terrific job naming and positioning Forever Clean so the consumer can really understand it.”
Sheri Gorman, vice president of marketing and A&D for commercial contractor RD Weis, also saw winning qualities in Forever Clean, making it ideal for both commercial and residential use. “Coming from the maintenance business, it is nice to see there’s a product on the market now that makes it easier for all people to maintain carpet, even if it is the consumer or end user doing it on her own.”
Style & Design
Alehouse series from Johnson Hardwood
The Alehouse series was an immediate hit among Surfaces attendees this year, in sync with today’s desired reclaimed look. With this series Johnson aimed to enhance the naturalness of the maple and oak rather than mask it with stains and finishes. The result is a product with random, light wire brushing to soften the character grains with beveled edges for a timeworn, vintage look, available in planks 7½ inches wide up to 7 feet long.
“What makes all the difference is the detail we put into it such as the triple hand-staining process to create this inner glow that darkens toward the outer plank edges,” said Veronica Ventimiglia, marketing manager.
Gorman said she voted for Alehouse because of its “rich colors and great textures. The collection is just aesthetically appealing and very usable.”
David Keegan, COO of Bamboo Hardwoods, added, “The Alehouse series is warm and tasteful. It is easy to imagine these products would make a house a home. I could hear the fire crackling in the hearth as my eyes enjoyed the tones and textures of the line.”
RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can from Spray-Lock
According to Fred Land, president and CEO of Spray-Lock, the decision to be an exhibitor at Surfaces was completely on a whim. After receiving a Best of Surfaces award for the RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can, he agreed that exhibiting was certainly worthwhile.
“It’s nice to stand out in a big crowd. We’ve invented a product that has potential to make a big change in the rug and mat section of the industry.”
Launched commercially in August of last year, Spray-Lock’s RugLock Non-Slip Rug Grip in a Can is an adhesive that guarantees to keep area rugs, carpets and mats in place. What makes this product unique are two outstanding attributes: its aerosol format and emphasis on being “squeaky clean,” Land said. “We have fewer VOCs in the can than you’d find in a single cranberry. We believe the aerosol format is the best way to deliver and allows us to use 80% less products than the traditional technology.”
Keegan said, “It’s an ideal solution for manufacturers to suggest as a way to help keep customers’ carpets in place without anti-slip mats that discolor or change the floor. We will be trying this product.”
TruRenew Bio-Renewable Adhesive from W.F. Taylor
Jack Raidy, Jr., president of W. F. Taylor, said his company’s focus has been on sustainability for many years. “We’re really proud to get the Best of Surfaces award for TruRenew; we worked hard for so many years to come out with a bio-renewable adhesive. As a California-based company we were looking at these issues much earlier than most of the country, and we were able to put an adhesive together that’s environmentally responsible.” TruRenew is very similar to existing adhesives except the polymer comes from a bio-renewable source as opposed to a petroleum-derived polymer, which many companies are using today.
Since its introduction last October, TruRenew has received tremendous feedback from flooring contractors as well as the A&D community. “To be able to match a Cradle-to-Cradle-certified adhesive with a Cradle-to-Cradle-certified floor covering really closes the loop,” Raidy said.
Keegan explained, “For me, sustainability and the environment are close to the heart. I am impressed when innovations occur in sustainability. In this case, sustainability means sustainable air and water quality which are as important as it gets.”
Friedrichsen also raved about TruRenew. “With a lot of adhesives, grouts and glue, one of the chief concerns in the back of everyone’s minds is how friendly it is to the environment. Taylor starts with the premise of bio-friendly, so it’s a win-win for all.”
Best Booth over 1,200 square feet
Bedrosians Tile & Stone
“Surfaces is something we worked on for about four to five months with a team of 10 to 20 people at a time,” said Eddie Bedrosian, marketing director. “Also, our whole creative team comes out with all of our new lines at that time, so it’s our launch for the year. It really is a year’s worth of work. Winning the award is an honor because not only our booth but also our products were shown off, representing that we are more of a design company than just a tile company.”
Keegan was taken with the Bedrosians booth. “I greatly appreciated the artistic creativity and playful nature of Bedrosians’ booth design. Business should be fun. The flooring industry lives and dies by aesthetics, and Bedrosians demonstrated their prowess in that area very well.”
Best Booth under 1,200 square feet
The hours of labor that go into making a stellar booth can be difficult at times, but end up being worth it in the end, at least for Randy McCullough, territory manager for Best Booth winner Wickham Hardwood Flooring.
“At about 3 a.m. the day before the show I ask myself every year the same question: Why do we do this? But then we have a successful show and we fill the booth with people because they see how we’ve gone through the trouble to construct a beautiful booth and show our samples in an attractive way. We know how important it is with the costs [related to exhibiting] to go and knock it out of the park, or else it would be a waste of time. I’ve heard comments that other vendors want to be close to us because they know we attract a lot of people.”
Gorman said the winning space was “a clean, tasteful, simple booth that displayed the Wickham product assortment very well.”