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Shaw merges Anderson, Tuftex brands into one

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

Combined entity to make debut at Surfaces

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.09.36 AMDalton–What has been rumored for months is now confirmed. Shaw Floors, parent company of the venerable Anderson Hardwood and Tuftex brands, has announced plans to merge the two with the combined entity to be called Anderson Tuftex. The change is effective Jan. 1, 2018.

For Shaw, the deal made sense because both brands have a long heritage in the flooring industry and are a natural fit. According to Carrie Edwards Isaac, vice president, Anderson Tuftex, the brand will take a holistic and consumer-centric approach to marketing and product development. This, she said, is based on the fact today’s consumer demands a simplified shopping experience both in-store and online.

“The entire consumer journey is changing and has been for quite some time,” Edwards Isaac said. “Consumers are finding inspiration everywhere and are more directly connected with brands than ever before. But purchasing flooring is complicated and consumers feel pressured to get it right. At Anderson Tuftex, it’s about simplicity. We don’t want to overwhelm consumers with options but, rather craft intentional designs that serve as a canvas for their lives.”

Anderson Tuftex will be showcased at Shaw Connect 2018 winter markets and will unveil the new premium brand at Surfaces in Las Vegas. The future of these two legacy brands will focus on their new, collective brand identity by working with their valued retail partners to drive premium floor covering sales.

“We’re committed to elevating the discussion with our customers and providing them with a beautiful product mix that they’re eager to sell,” said Trey Thames, vice president of sales, Anderson Tuftex. “By offering bold, yet timeless patterns and foundational colors in both hard and soft surface flooring products, we’re empowering our customers to create a seamless shopping experience for consumers.”

Retailers buy in
For many Shaw retailers the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise, although it is welcomed news.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.09.48 AMTodd Wheeler, owner of Wheeler’s Flooring in Salinas, Calif., said that while he initially questioned the merging of an East Coast line (Anderson) with a West Coast mill (Tuftex), he believes the pairing ultimately makes sense. “It goes hand in hand with the trends in the industry of carpet losing share and—in the last few years—the growth of hard surfaces. Tuftex has a good rug program; Anderson is a good hardwood brand. To have the brands merge and complement each other I believe will be a good marriage.”

As a result of the merger, Wheeler said his Tuftex rep will now also have the Anderson line, which makes sense instead of having two people. He also believes Shaw “needed to do something” with Tuftex and not let it fall away and be gobbled up like other mills. “Shaw really is trying to hold onto that brand, which is smart because Tuftex makes great carpet.”

In his Salinas showroom, hard surface products are generally positioned on one side of the floor, across from soft surfaces. However, when the Anderson Tuftex displays come in, Wheeler will likely pair them together in one common area, which he believes will stimulate sales. “As a Kool-Aid drinking Shaw customer who has had a great relationship with Shaw over the years, I am excited about this branding.”

Dean Howell, owner of two Moda Floors & Interior stores in Atlanta, got his first glimpse of the Anderson Tuftex pairing at the Shaw Flooring Network winter market earlier this year (FCNews, Jan. 30. Feb. 6.) Like Wheeler, he believes in the combined marketing strategy. “Shaw’s plans to re-energize the Anderson brand is exciting. They’re trying to elevate the image of Anderson the way they are doing with the Tuftex line.”

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Carpet: State of the industry—Higher-end goods boost residential end of the market

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.43.04 AMAfter a slow start to 2017, the residential carpet category gained some traction in the second quarter, resulting in a 2% rise in sales over the year-ago period, with units up 0.5% overall in the first half. Executives cited sales of better goods, an uptick in consumer confidence and price increases that have firmed up the marketplace.

The U.S. carpet category continues its ever-so-slight recovery from the Great Recession, its growth held in check by hard surfaces. “We have seen patterns, loops and differentiated product at the upper end doing disproportionately well and outperforming the medium end of the market,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential.

T.M. Nuckols, executive vice president of residential business for the Dixie Group, which oversees the Dixie Home, Masland and Fabrica brands, agreed that better goods at the higher end of the spectrum and well-styled products are seeing the greatest activity in the residential market these days. If the products offer soil and pet stain protection—as many of them do—it’s a plus.

The 2% growth in residential carpet is a welcome sign for a category that has shown little to no growth in the last three years. In 2016, for example, FCNews’ research showed carpet sales down 1% to $8.7813 billion while total volume—which includes carpet and area rugs—gained 1.2% to 11.22 billion square feet.

There are some positive signs in housing that should favor a boost in carpet sales going forward. Between July 2016 and July 2017, U.S. home values increased 6.8%, according to Zillow, the online real estate database interest. That number is expected to rise another 2.7% within the next year, the company said. This uptick in home prices has helped boost consumer confidence among homeowners, which has increased two months in a row. As a consequence, the residential replacement market has experienced growth as spending on remodeling projects has moved higher. While most of that spending has been for hard surfaces, soft goods have not been shut out entirely.

However, rising home prices are a double-edge sword because it prevents many would-be buyers, especially older millennials, from entering the market. The flip side is that has resulted in a more robust multi-family segment. The multi-family production index (MPI), which provides a composite measure of three key elements of that market—construction of low-rent units, market-rate rental units and “for-sale” units, or condominiums—jumped 8 points to 56 in the second quarter as all three components increased.

“Improved units can be attributed to a fairly good builder market in both multi-family and single family as well as the return of home equities in the retail remodel sector,” said Brad Christensen, vice president, soft surface portfolio management, Shaw Floors.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.43.21 AMThe Main Street segment of the business continues to perform reasonably well, with carpet tile continuing to grow in both small, local businesses and specified commercial. Broadloom, however, continues to lose share in both sectors.

Market research has shown consumers desire the warmth and comfort of carpet in their homes. To meet that need manufacturers are focusing on the look and feel of carpet more so than fiber type. As Christensen explains: “Consumers want a stylish, high-performing carpet that complements their uniquely curated living spaces and demand both design and function in a variety of price points.”

Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of residential marketing for Lexmark, sees value and fashion, especially, as the primary inspiration for consumers. “She wants her bedrooms and family rooms to be just as much of a statement as the rest of her home. As carpet manufacturers we must continue to exceed performance standards while offering more color and fashion choices.”

The dwindling middle
Carpet continues to play well in certain regions, in particular the upper Midwest and Northeast, observers say. Meanwhile, both the low and upper ends of the market are showing fairly brisk activity. Engineered Floors, the No. 3 carpet company, is flourishing in the lower-end polyester market, which continues to be strong. The upper end, which counts Dixie, Shaw (Tuftex) and Mohawk (Karastan), continues to shine. However, the mid-range market—$8 to $13—is struggling. “Rather than building products that fit your assets, build products that fit your customers’ needs,” Lape explained. “We have to figure out a way to create compelling products for our retailers even if it is hard.”

Innovative offerings
Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.43.26 AMMohawk’s SmartStrand is an example of a compelling product that has enjoyed tremendous reception at the retail level, with new iterations like SmartStrand Reserve giving dealers more profit potential. “SmartStrand Reserve has hit the market with very solid acceptance across our dealer base,” Lape said. “Our prior research told us consumers loved luxurious soft performance carpet, and since our launch earlier in 2017 our research has now been proven true with the introduction of SmartStrand Reserve.”

Several advancements in technology have driven today’s exceptional quality, performance and styling looks. Improved yarn systems offer softer hand along with a range of visual aesthetics coupled with enhanced performance and durability. According to Susan Curtis, senior vice president, product development for Phenix, developments in tufting technology continue to open new ways to design creative carpets. She said additional attributes are being engineered into carpet products that enhance the consumer’s use and experience with the product.

Mark Clayton, president of Phenix, said innovations in tufting technology have provided opportunities for manufacturers to create more compelling textures and color palettes for the consumer.

Technology’s contribution to carpet has kept it as a viable flooring solution especially in the areas of improved stain, soil, wear and fade resistance—in addition to affordable pricing. That’s according to James Lesslie, executive vice president at Engineered Floors, whose company introduced an advanced polyester extrusion process fiber system called Apex SD.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.43.32 AMAt Shaw Floors, its LifeGuard waterproof backing system is now offered as a trade-up option for dealers. In 2017 Shaw added LifeGuard to its Anso Color Wall in a Titanium collection with 150 new SKUs. “We’re listening to consumers more than we ever have before and adapting our strategies to meet their needs,” Christensen said. “Making LifeGuard an optional upgrade on more styles is just one example of this new approach.”

Products that offer stain and soil protection continue to resonate with consumers, the majority of whom own pets, studies show. To that end, the Dixie Group introduced a significant number of new products under the Stainmaster PetProtect brand, including many new carpet styles under its Dixie Home and Masland lines.

Phenix’s Cleaner Home carpet, meanwhile, features built-in Microban antimicrobial technology to protect against the growth of stain- and odor-causing bacteria and mold. Recognizing consumers’ growing desire for a cleaner home without cleaning more, Phenix combined these three unique components—a new fiber with two proactive technologies—to create this new carpet collection.

In terms of innovation and initiatives perhaps no one has been as busy as Engineered Floors. “Our top innovations are hard to pinpoint because 2017 has been so busy for us,” Lesslie explained. “So far this year, we’ve launched a totally new website, expanded our social media, broken ground and are in the process of completing a new modular carpet manufacturing facility, added several new Main Street commercial products through our Pentz brand and introduced Apex SD. And we’ve got four more months to go.”

 

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Tuftex dealers thrive on West Coast styling, sales support

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By K.J. Quinn

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.34.36 PMThe West Coast has earned a reputation over the years for being at the forefront of carpet styling. Tuftex, Shaw Floors’ premier residential brand, is among the California mills taking the lead creating fashionable designs based on regional preferences and trends.

“Being on the West Coast gives them an edge for us, not only because they are local but also because they are constantly getting feedback from local designers and retailers on trends, colors, etc.,” said Dan Mandel, co-owner, Sterling Carpet and Flooring, Anaheim, Calif. “They are our biggest cut order mill by far.”

A key distinction is the Los Angeles-based mill’s innovative carpet styles, retailers say. “Tuftex offers a great color selection with a high emphasis on trending style and design,” said Deb DeGraaf, owner, DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich. “Their location on the West Coast keeps them on the edge of style.” Earlier this year, Tuftex launched 13 eye-catching introductions to its Signature collection—from high-end textures and elegant patterns to exotic cables and shags—drawn on West Coast inspiration.

The mill’s unique brand personality stands out from other carpet collections based on its West Coast influence. For instance, part of the color schemes and designs are influenced by the surrounding environment where Tuftex is located, an area featuring great weather, plus desert, ocean, mountains and an outdoor lifestyle. “Tuftex is always on the cutting edge of fashion and design,” Mandel said. “They are not just a mill to me; they’re an innovator.”

Indeed, Tuftex has created its own segment in the marketplace, offering designs that bring color, warmth and fashion to the home. “I have had the pleasure of spending time at the mill on three different occasions,” noted Steve Weisberg, president, Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa. “And each time I came away with the feeling these people truly care about what they’re doing and how they go about creating art for the floor.”

Tuftex retailers also like the fact the manufacturer provides a wide array of trendy patterns and colors for consumers shopping for something different. “We are from Michigan and sometimes the trends take a bit longer to grab hold,” DeGraaf pointed out. “But Tuftex makes sure we have great options for our clients who want to get a jump on things.”

Tuftex continues to make investments to help retail customers grow their carpet business. “They help make us money by consistently helping us drive business day in, day out,” Mandel said. “Not only do they come up with proven plans to steer consumers to their product, but they are in front of our RSAs all the time showing the features and benefits of why their product stands out above the rest.”

DeGraaf agreed, adding, “The extensive number of patterns at various price points allows us to choose stock rolls for every budget, giving the customer a great value while also enabling us to make a healthy margin.”

Indeed, Tuftex is committed to providing excellence in quality, design, service and value. “As part of Shaw Industries, Tuftex provides quality carpet and outstanding service,” said Sam Levine, CEO, G. Fried Carpet, Paramus, N.J. “And because of the integrity of the company, our customers get a quality product.”

Dealers also report Tuftex backs its products with an array of support and point-of-sale services. “Buying stock of their products gives us leverage over cut orders,” noted Todd Wheeler, owner, Wheeler’s Flooring, Salinas, Calif. “Also, their semi-annual promotions and the fact they produce quality products at a fair and competitive price.”

These and other services are designed to help dealers maintain a competitive edge. “Many of their products are unique and, therefore, allow for more margin,” Crest Flooring’s Weisberg said. “Their newer displays really generate interest in the product and create the boutique feel that I believe people are drawn to in the showroom.”

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Exclusive interview: Jackson takes Tuftex on the road less traveled

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.06.41 PMSanta Fe Springs, Calif.—It’s been three years since Doug Jackson took the reins of Tuftex, the premium carpet division of Shaw Industries. While Tuftex has always enjoyed a reputation of high-end, trendsetting, West Coast styling—first as a stand-alone mill, then as a division of Queen Carpet before the latter was purchased by Shaw in 1998—the company today still maintains its longstanding identity while adapting to a changing climate. FCNews publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman recently sat down with Jackson to discuss what’s driving the mill and the brand.

How is Tuftex different as a company today than it was three years ago?
Two important aspects come to mind: First, everything is now under one roof. We brought our tufting facility back to the Santa Fe Springs location, which allows Tuftex to operate as a small, nimble mill. Sales, manufacturing, product development and marketing now share the same building for the first time in quite a few years. This gives us the ability to walk down the hall, walk into the plant and have immediate dialogue with any department. In addition, our regular roundtable meetings allow the individual business leaders to discuss and strategize face-to-face.

Second, our go-to-market plan has changed. Tuftex was an à la carte manufacturer. We had a couple of displays and everything was à la carte. Today, the line is broken into three distinctive categories: Classics, our value collection, focusing mostly on builder and roll sales; Stainmaster PetProtect; and Signature, our higher-end line. There is a product and merchandising strategy to help define who Tuftex is. We are building product with purpose and a specific home.

How much have sales increased over the last three years? What’s driving that?
In the past three years, sales have steadily increased…driven by our mix of products, styling, builder business, Stainmaster PetProtect and an unwavering focus on our customers. The essence of Tuftex can be summed up as: the right people, creating the right products and doing the right things.

Give me a collection or two that is really performing well in the marketplace.
The Naturals collections in the Signature category. This line incorporates the natural color variations of striated yarns and a handcrafted look and feel with texture that adds incredible performance with exceptional styling; it’s just right for the market. Another is our three-color ColorPoints…these styles represent the closest we’ve seen to woven products in a synthetic yarn. Even though they’ve only been out in the marketplace four months, the placements and sales have been outstanding.

What are you most proud of these past three years?
I am most proud of the fact Tuftex has grown its business in a soft surface category that has been mostly stagnant. Not many carpet mills can say they’ve grown their business each of the last three years. We have a simple, strategic go-to-market plan as outlined earlier. Customers recognize it and it’s working. As evidence, we have won FCNews’ Award of Excellence for three consecutive years. That is something we don’t take lightly.

What do you feel Tuftex does better than every other carpet mill?
Shaw Industries has the best claims ratio in the industry, and Tuftex has the best claims ratio within Shaw. So that makes us the best of the best. In addition, our utilization of different fibers, as well as the yarn mill in Yuma, Ariz., that services Tuftex exclusively, allows us to do things with yarn and yarn systems that other people can’t or won’t. The other thing is color. Tuftex is definitely known for color and we take advantage of that. We have one dye line at this facility and make hundreds of changes a day. In addition, we have a custom-dye program unlike any in the industry because we want consumers to have what they want.

Tell me one thing retailers might not know about Tuftex.
Tuftex is thought of as a high-end line, and we are a premium line. But we also represent value. We go to market in many different ways and are involved in many different businesses. However, we are at the high end of every business we are in. That includes the builder business—with product offerings in the mid to high end of design center selections. People who know us like us and know that we can make a lot of money for them. We are involved in retail, specified and resi-mercial/mixed use (high-rise buildings)…also a little hospitality. At the end of the day, Tuftex is about affordable luxury. In fact, we can be found in multiple areas of a retail showroom, not just the high-end area where people expect to find us.

Tuftex may be the premium brand of Shaw, but there are mainstream products, yes?
Everything Tuftex makes is premium—design, color, construction, finish, etc. It would be a mistake to downgrade the terminology of our product offering to mainstream, value or entry level. In Classics, we make foundational products that appeal to the widest range of consumer tastes and budgets, and we are particularly strong in new home construction. In Signature, we showcase extraordinary styles, colors, textures and patterns that inspire consumers to create elevated living spaces throughout the house—that can include just a single room or only the stairs.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
While our transaction rates are up to almost historical numbers, our yards per transaction have decreased approximately 30% over the years as carpet has taken a smaller portion of the home market. However, over the past year, we are seeing this trend reverse itself somewhat with an uptick of close to 10%. The reason being, I think, is people are finding carpet to be the better solution for stairs and bedrooms.

How does that trend continue?
We just have to get back to conveying that carpet is still cool. We do that by building the most beautiful, soft floor covering products in the industry, and by focusing on attributes such as warmth, comfort, softness and durability.

What’s new for 2017?
The Villa collection is definitely on fire. In addition, our staircase campaign is doing very well. Our custom color story is separating us. We have a custom area rug program and innovative usage of fiber technology in a series of new Caress products highlighted by the product Sundance. This year we also introduced a pattern wall—an upgrade to our Signature Tuftex library. The pattern wall was designed for shows and markets as a great way to showcase products and patterns. Retailers realized how well this wall highlighted the color and style of the Tuftex line and an unprecedented demand ensued with many having been placed in showrooms around the country. I am very pleased with this positive feedback.

How does Tuftex help retailers make money?
We are a frictionless supplier. We offer beautiful products, just in time, and custom colors backed by the industry’s lowest claim rate, at a price where retailers can make a nice profit. In short, it’s the right people with the right products doing the right things.

What are retailers asking of Tuftex today?
They are expecting us to continue to be an industry leader and staying ahead of the curve. Tuftex has always been known for innovation, so we are expected to continue being innovative with unique styling and industry-leading color. At markets, people expect to see the newest colors as well as something new and different from Tuftex.

Any plans for a Tuftex-branded LVT product?
Not at this time. I can’t predict the future, and things change, but not at this time.

 

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Executive Forecast: Carpet—Mills predict rebound as improving economy takes hold

December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13         

By Ken Ryan

 

While 2016 was less than stellar for carpet mills—due in part to the acrimonious Presidential election that some believe hurt consumer spending—executives are looking to bounce back in 2017. Buoyed by an improving economy that many see gaining significant traction, mill executives are forecasting anywhere from a 2%-5% gain, which, if true, would easily eclipse 2016 figures.

Mark Clayton, president, Phenix
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-31-09-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
We anticipate the soft surface category will experience modest improvements with a more robust opportunity in the mid-upper ends of the market. There is pent-up demand and we are hopeful that continuing favorable economic indicators will result in a more confident consumer.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
From a carpet perspective, I think it will be the continued popularity of hard surface and the manufacturers’ ability to create and bring to market soft surface products that are compelling enough to maintain and take back market share. Obviously the state of the economy will also be an “X” factor.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
There will continue to be wonderful opportunities for those who are able to bring unique styling, solutions, simplification and differentiation to the consumer. We will continue to be challenged with the increase in popularity in hard surfaces. Our response is to develop products and programs to support those opportunities and leverage the unique attributes of soft surfaces.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
We will introduce several new product platforms at Surfaces 2017. This will represent our most dynamic launch of new programs to date. In addition, we will follow up on our successful 2016 hard surface launches with the introduction of several new products and programs. These products will offer a unique technology to help simplify consumers’ lives.

 

Steve Hillis, president, Beaulieu Group
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-31-14-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
The projection for 2017 overall flooring industry growth is 3%-5%. We feel that we could experience greater growth at Beaulieu because we are investing in new products, new displays and a major focus on marketing and branding.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
The biggest factor is interest rates. Many owners and developers have been waiting to see what the interest rates do, and many expect to see rates rise in the first quarter of 2017. We feel economic conditions will remain strong and could gain steam if the new administration is able to lower corporate tax rates and keep jobs in America.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
We see opportunities with our hard surface business for the residential and commercial markets as well as growth opportunities in the upper end of residential and corporate markets. The challenges will be maintaining a strong housing increase and stable economic environment. Adding labor in the plants could be a challenge as the flooring industry in North Georgia has low unemployment and the competition for labor is fierce.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
Some of our top initiatives at Beaulieu for 2017 are to focus on expanding our residential and commercial product offerings with many stylish and innovative carpet and hard surface products. Updating our brands, investing more in marketing, and training the sales team will be key initiatives.

 

Doug Jackson, vice president of sales, Tuftex
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-31-20-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
In 2016 we gained market share in soft surfaces, staying a few points ahead of the industry. We remain conservatively optimistic and expect to perform similarly in 2017. We have to continue to deliver unique looks to consumers and dealers while offering the best quality and service.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
The industry continues to innovate and create more flooring options. The consumer is bombarded with options, information and sometimes distraction. The manufacturer who can capture the attention of a consumer who seeks immediate inspiration and needs transparency in all transactions . . . will lead the way in 2017 and beyond.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
The shift from soft surface to hard surface is both an opportunity and a challenge. No soft surface manufacturer can expect the average order to be what is has been these past five to 10 years. Our Signature Collection product mix and especially our newest introductions featuring sophisticated 3-Color Point technology are a timely response to the smaller carpet install but of a higher end product.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
We will continue to support the Tuftex Classics collection with fresh updates for 2017. The “heart of Tuftex,” our Signature collection, will be fortified with a strong offering of new Anso Caress textures and level-cut-loop patterns; 2017 will be defined by some of the most innovative yarn blends, constructions and designs ever introduced.

 

James Lesslie, executive VP – sale, Engineered Floors
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-31-26-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
Post-election we have seen positive momentum. We believe that momentum will carry into 2017 for a positive year of growth in the carpet industry. We also recognize that 2%-3% top line growth in 2017 would basically allow the industry to recover to 2015 levels.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
The biggest “X” factor for the overall economy is our new President. Can he build coalitions in the House and Senate to encourage U.S. manufacturing investment and improve our economy? Specific to carpet, suppliers who bring new innovations in styling, performance and value to the consumer will be rewarded and continue to grow.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
We see a number of opportunities for growth in the year ahead especially in Main Street and modular carpet with the addition of our Pentz Commercial Solutions line. We are also in the process of developing some additional products and features for 2017. As for challenges, they’re no different than any rapidly growing business, and they’re all good…plant expansion, personnel additions, increasing territory, etc.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
Engineered Floors has experienced rapid growth over the last six years, and we expect that to continue into 2017 as one of the fastest-growing carpet companies in the world. We have grown to 3,000 employees since our inception in 2010. We see our role as leading the way for growth in carpet, whether it’s in residential, new construction, multi-family or Main Street.

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Carpet: Style and performance define 2016 intros

November 21/28, 2016: Volume 31, Number 12

By Ken Ryan

Carpet mills ratcheted up their R&D efforts in 2016 like never before to deliver to the market a constellation of compelling products that cover all the important bases: style and design, durability, softness, and stain and pet protection.

Following is a closer look at the some of the top introductions and innovations from 2016:

Beaulieu Group
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-53-20-pmSo Suede and Mulberry have been successful additions to Beaulieu’s Stylish Beauty collection featuring 24 new PermaSoft fiber offerings. These products incorporate Beaulieu’s patented Precision Control Twist (PCT) technology, which creates dimensional color and texture throughout the yarn bundle to produce unique surface characteristics when manufactured. “The art is our ability to combine a variety of fibers with different colors, sizes, lusters and dye abilities which then blend together in varied twist capacities creating a unique face canvas,” said Tom Ellis, chief marketing officer. “We enhance the beauty of the fiber with tuft technology to highlight the organic nature of the stria.”

Ellis noted the organic nature of the technology minimizes the appearance of soil, stain and wear. He said the response to the collection has been “tremendous with So Suede and Mulberry resonating with our customers in a phenomenal way. Our customers have featured this product in all their displays because the consumer acceptance has been so great.”

Two 2016 introductions, Scenic City and Cornerstone, offer what Ellis termed “a sophisticated alternative to what they have seen on the market at an affordable price point.”

Engineered Floors
Bolstered by new introductions in both the commercial and residential markets, 2016 has been a year of unprecedented growth for Engineered Floors.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-42-pmPentz Commercial Flooring Solutions is being marketed as a “bold new day” for Main Street. According to company executives, Pentz promises maximum performance, leading warranties and features, backed by competitive pricing. The three collections, Essentials and Formation (modular) and Prismatic (modular and broadloom), are made with the company’s Encore SD Ultima Nylon with Nexus backing. The products are available via QuickShip.

FlexBac is the first premium backing system offered within the entry-level residential product category. FlexBac is noted for its flexibility and dimensional stability. Another plus is its anti-delamination warranty. “FlexBac has no latex, thus increasing the ease of installation by being lighter, more flexible and softer while saving time, energy and money,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing.

Engineered Floors’ Dream Weaver made news with its lifetime pet warranty, which promises “a lifetime of relief for you and your pet.” The distinctive purple shield assures the polyester or nylon carpet is warranted against accidental stains caused by dogs or cats.

Marquis Industries
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-51-pmMarquis Industries continues to enjoy success with its soft yarn program, led by Soft Luxury, an 80-ounce solution dyed PET fiber that is the mill’s largest volume producer. The company introduced junior versions of Soft Luxury during the summer, in 60- and 45-ounce weights.

Other new introductions: Natural Wonder, also an 80-ounce weight that incorporates a natural shield stain protection fiber; and Naturally Soft, a 60-ounce product that combines the best colors from other lines. “Soft Luxury is our No. 1 product and has a beautiful finish and luster level,” said Mike Lindberg, executive vice president, Marquis Industries. “Dealers are asking for soft yarn and ours is as soft as anything in the industry.”

Marquis Industries’ secret sauce is its extrusion plant that produces millions of pounds of continuous filament solution-dyed polyester and nylon. These cones of yarn are then processed in a computer-controlled twisting and heat set plant. Every yarn SKU is regulated to ensure products are made to the same high-quality specification every time.

Mohawk
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-27-pmSmartStrand Forever Clean, installed in more than 7 million homes and heralded for its durability, stain resistance and comfort, has become an even “smarter” choice for active families with pets. In 2016 Mohawk enhanced this popular carpet with All Pet Protection, a warranty and protection system that covers all pets, all accidents, all the time.

“We continue to build on the success of the incredibly soft and durable SmartStrand fiber we introduced 10 years ago,” said Seth Arnold, Mohawk’s senior director of soft surface brand. “SmartStrand has evolved into SmartStrand Forever Clean, a carpet that employs Nanoloc technology to lock out spills and make the carpet even easier to clean. And now we are introducing the All Pet Protection warranty because we believe SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet can handle all pets, all accidents, all the time.”

SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet has been tested in zoo habitats for animals of all types. While built-in stain and soil protection that never wears or washes off is inherent in the SmartStrand fiber, there is more to the SmartStrand story, according to Arnold. Nanoloc’s advanced spill-resistant shield, he said, is made from nanoparticles that seamlessly lock together, preventing dirt and spills from settling into the carpet. With SmartStrand Forever Clean, soil is released at three times the rate of other carpets, allowing for a carpet that is easier to clean and requires less vacuuming.

SmartStrand Forever Clean has the added advantage that liquids cannot absorb into the fiber. Compared to nylon carpet, which absorbs up to 5% of its weight in liquid, SmartStrand Forever Clean offers 0% absorption—a huge advantage in a family with pets. “For families who want to make sustainable choices for their homes,” Arnold said, “this carpet is made in part with annually renewable plant-based materials that minimize our usage of limited natural resources. It is also the only carpet fiber certified free from harmful substances by Oeko-Tex.”

Phenix
Phenix added three new products to its Stainmaster PetProtect line this month—Lyrical, Poetry and Narrative. These multi-color patterned carpets employ innovative technology that allows for varying pile heights, ensuring each carpet has a unique combination of toned neutrals that come together to create a fresh contemporary palette. All three products feature cut patterns so dogs, cats and other household pets won’t snag their claws on loops and cause pulls.

Shaw Floors
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-52-34-pmShaw continues to develop products featuring its exclusive LifeGuard waterproof backing system, which responds directly to consumers’ need for ease of maintenance combined with the comfort and softness of luxurious carpet. “As we’ve expanded the styles available with LifeGuard—starting with Life Happens, and subsequently with Anso Living—we’ve been able to offer this stylish, high performance product at a variety of price points to meet customers’ purchase decisions,” said Brad Christenson, director of category and product management, Shaw Floors.

Shaw’s research and development teams collaborated to design the waterproof LifeGuard backing system with its R2X stain and soil protection technology built in. This combination works to stop liquid spills and inevitable accidents from reaching the cushion and subfloor, preventing potential odors, wicking and subfloor damage. “LifeGuard successfully elevates our carpet collections making the upgrade a no-brainer for our customers who are searching for the cleanability and durability LifeGuard provides,” Christensen said. “In turn, it provides an easier sales process for our retailers by combining a variety of features into one carpet option they can easily explain and confidently sell, and an innovative, unmatched solutions for their customers’ homes.”

Christensen said LifeGuard has been widely accepted as the go-to product for pet owners and busy families who don’t want the stress of high-maintenance carpet. “With LifeGuard, our retailers have been able to tell their customers that stains and odors can now be 100% removed.”

Shaw plans to deliver more LifeGuard-enabled products to the market in 2017.

Stanton
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-53-14-pmThe newest styles from Stanton’s Atelier Icon collection—part of the hot-selling Stainmaster PetProtect program—are made with nylon 6,6, making it an ideal choice for rooms with heavy traffic.

The abstract designs and neutral colors of Aspire Waterfall and Aspire Concept overlay each other, creating an artistic blend of random shapes and cross hatched patterns accented by tip sheering. According to Stanton, Aspire Network’s all loop trellis design and interlocking shapes merge to create a double-layered effect; Aspire Compass is a multi-edge look, outlined with diamonds.

Other 2016 introductions include the Relax collection, which provides an avant-garde style with vibrant color accents; and Garden of Eden and Centered, which are treated with antique effects to keep these designs modern, abstract and transitional.

Tuftex
Tuftex is known for natural, solution-dyed and barber-pole yarns that combine with the latest tufting technologies to create differentiated products. This was illustrated with Colorpoint, its first cut and loop line.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-53-07-pmColorpoint technology allows the precise placement of color with the combination of finely controlled yarn feed systems and sophisticated software. “You can get closer to the woven looks yet produced with efficiencies and speed of today’s tufting machines,” said Jim Cusick, director of manufacturing, who explained the cut and loop construction allows for greater diversity of products by blending yarns, densities, texture and construction. “With a finer gauge machine we are able to use softer more luxurious yarns for greater sophistication and still retain superior performance characteristics.”

The first Colorpoint introductions were two-color solution dyed products. This year Tuftex utilized blends of barber poles, natural and over-dyeable yarns to create distinctive, high performance and fashionable looks.

“These Colorpoints are not easy to make but we are committed to respond to the market demand for a new and innovative soft floorcovering product,” Cusick said. Tuftex is able to combine the unique use of yarns with tufting and proprietary dyeing technology to service a full offering of colors and looks that are hard to replicate.

 

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Tuftex: Styling and affordability define ‘boutique’ manufacturer

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.51.53 PMSteve Hernandez, owner of Hernandez Carpets of Commerce, Calif., has been doing business with Tuftex for decades—when it was primarily known as a “boutique” California carpet mill long before it became the premier residential carpet brand of Shaw Floors.

For Hernandez, Tuftex has lost none of that small-mill charm, even though it is part of a much larger corporation today. “These guys run a high-end boutique carpet mill with blue-collar management types—phenomenal management, I might add,” he said. “They want to grow their business; I dig it. I am all in with them.”

Los Angeles-based Tuftex has been manufacturing carpet in California for more than 44 years, beginning as a family-owned mill and growing through acquisitions. “We have the unique advantage of being part of a large company while still having the ability to operate more like a small organization because the entire enterprise is under one roof,” said Doug Jackson, vice president of Tuftex sales and marketing. “This gives us the ability to be more nimble, where manufacturing, marketing, product development, sales and quality control can communicate very easily.”

There are many elements that go into producing a quality carpet; for Tuftex, styling comes first and manufacturing second, according to Jackson. What that means is even if a product is difficult to manufacture due to complex yarn constructions or manufacturing processes, the design team will do whatever it takes to get the job done. “We will exhaust all possibilities to meet the needs of the marketplace,” Jackson explained. “Our product designers and colorist are exceptional; they are known for creating fabulous styles and colors that coordinate beautifully with wood, tile and other hard surfaces.”

Because of its unique position—a boutique mill within a large corporation—Tuftex can attack the marketplace from all angles and price points. “They are one of the only mills that can satisfy every customer—entry-level price points with a high-end look to higher-end price points,” Hernandez said. “They can check all the boxes from a style and affordability standpoint.”

Steve Hendricks, carpet buyer for RC Willey Home Furnishings, with 15 locations in four Western states, said Tuftex’s style is so unique a consumer is not going to be able to shop around and find a similar look.

Hernandez added, “But if you did find the same product, you would be paying a lot more for it.”

Several dealers said styling and affordability best characterize Tuftex. “They cover a broad range,” said Dan Mandel, co-owner of Sterling Carpets, Anaheim, Calif. “They do have the meat-and-potatoes product in the $8-to-$10 range, which works in our market as well as the upper-end products. They are our No. 1 go-to nylon mill.”

Hendricks said the things Tuftex does well—delivering high-quality carpet with top designs to the market, with few claims—allows dealers like RC Willey to be more profitable. “Tuftex wants to be your partner,” he added. “They know if you aren’t successful, they aren’t successful. The Tuftex reps who call on our stores do a great job of training our sales associates and maintaining their samples in our showrooms.”

2016 initiatives

Jackson said Tuftex’s goal is to position its core existing products and new offerings to capture a broader market, while at the same time providing its loyal dealer base with more mid- to upper-end selections. “We have a high-end market that is ready for a new player,” he explained. “We will market to the needs of a shopper who wants options—and we will start with color. Our opportunities will be through innovation, style and design, which will allow us to leave a consumer speechless, thinking, ‘I did not think they could do that in carpet.’”

Tuftex’s high-end Signature collection, which will feature 18 new products, comprises uniquely styled carpet and colors that range from luxurious cut and loop pattern to skillfully crafted and finely finished solids, heathers and multicolored textures, as well as lavish shags and cables that include a creative mix of yarScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.51.59 PMns. According to Jackson, the color palettes offer a wide selection of elegant neutrals and rich accent shades.

Key to the presentation is the Signature Library display, which holds 50 flip cards and will house the line’s latest additions. “This display is a perfect fixture for retailers and builders that want to maximize their Tuftex product offering without sacrificing a lot of space in their showrooms,” Jackson explained.

The company will also debut Signature Towers—two units that can either accompany the Signature Library or stand alone. The rotating towers will highlight 28 of Tuftex’s most unique styles from the Naturals, Impressions, Striated and Artisan collections.

Jackson said the objective of the new product and merchandising launch is to make it simpler for dealers to identify which category is most suitable for their customers’ needs. To that end, Tuftex will introduce a multi-tier marketing strategy that will allow dealers to better categorize the product offering, thus appealing to a broader audience. The three tiers will concentrate on its Tuftex Classics, Tuftex Stainmaster PetProtect and Tuftex Signature lines.

The Classics tier offers an affordable range of simple and traditional nylon styles that have a sophisticated color palette. The products are aimed at mass distribution and new home construction, and will include small-scale cut and loop designs, casual loop patterns and everyday cut pile textures.

Tuftex will offer five new products in its Stainmaster collection, which will be merchandised in a PetProtect display. The Stainmaster products are made with SuperiaSD nylon fiber for added softness, durability and stain resistance.

Dealers speak highly of the new collections. “They are always cutting-edge with colors and styles, and the value of the product is great, Mandel said. “The line lends itself to West Coast styling.”

Being a California mill brings with it obvious advantages for West Coast dealers, namely in delivery time. “In the past, when dealing with mills on the East Coast, I often had to wait 10 to 14 days for delivery, sometimes as long as three months,” Hernandez said. “With Tuftex, if we order today, we get it tomorrow.”

Mandel agreed to the benefits of a West Coast mill in his backyard. “I love the fact we can go to the mill anytime and see what they are working on and give input. The Tuftex folks are very customer-friendly. They listen to the market and are receptive to what the market is telling them.”

While 2015 was a decent year for Hernandez Carpets, the owner said his business with Tuftex grew dramatically. “They decided they wanted to grab more market share, whereas in the past they were content with playing in their own backyard. They went from a cut-order mill to making product that a customer like myself could inventory. They are going to grab a ton of business.”

While always intent on manufacturing high-quality carpet with the latest, greatest colors and designs, Tuftex is equally proud of its environmental record. For seven consecutive years, the mill can claim zero waste sent to the landfill; it uses 80% reclaimed water in its dyeing operation. “That is outstanding for a state that is in a drought,” Jackson noted.

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Tuftex eyes multi-tier marketing strategy

March 30/April 6, 2015; Volume 28/Number 20

By Steven Feldman

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.20.34 PMSanta Fe Springs, Calif.—Tuftex, the premium, high-fashion brand under the Shaw Industries umbrella, is seeking to appeal to a wider audience while continuing to push its nylon franchise. With a heritage that is entrenched in leading-edge style, Tuftex will soon embark on a multi-tier merchandising strategy.

“We realized that our appeal to a broader audience is allowing us to take the Tuftex brand in a couple of different directions with our branding strategies,” said Doug Jackson, vice president of sales and marketing.”

As such, the new Tuftex Classics will focus on “affordable luxury” including as many as 25 products, constructed of both branded and unbranded yarns that in some cases will be mixed to create unique patterns.

Tuftex Classics thus allows the company to focus its flagship Tuftex brand on price points from the mid $14s on up with medium- to high-end products that most retailers identify with the brand.

“Classics allows us to offer value-oriented fashion,” Jackson said. “Over the last few years the industry has moved away from nylon and forgot what nylon can do. We felt there was a void in the market at the nylon entry-level stage. Classics is a great combination of top selling trends.” The line includes textured cut piles, tailored cut piles, cut/uncut patterns, boucle loops and more with color lines ranging anywhere from 24 to 30 in each style.

The Tuftex Classics display will appropriately be more simple, straightforward and take up a smaller footprint. Lisa Lux, director of product development, described the look as “timeless and classic, including lifestyle imagery which will coordinate with product color palettes and convey the look and feel of the product. We need to appeal to the generation that has not been putting carpet in their homes.”

The traditional Tuftex line will continue to offer its hallmark fashion-forward, experimental, bold colors in a wide array of styles and patterns like LCLs, shags and loops. Color lines will number 36, “which is typically longer than what most people do,” Jackson said.

The two collections will be unique not only in product and price point but also in their merchandising. “We definitely don’t want to combine the two on one display,” Jackson said.

Everything under one roof

Tuftex, with a longstanding history of quality and craftsmanship, has been manufacturing carpet for more than 44 years, beginning as a family-owned mill and growing through acquisitions. A recent development was moving the entire operation under one roof, specifically bringing tufting to the main facility

“It is easier to walk outside my door and talk with everyone in the plant,” Jackson said. “That is part of our service proposition. Even though the other plant was just two miles down the road, it seemed to add 24 to 48 hours to everything. Now we are more nimble. Whether they are in claims, product development, etc., it’s nothing for leadership to walk into the plant and if there is an opportunity it’s all hands on deck.”

Suzanne Zurfluh, product marketing manager, added that if a pattern needs changes in the R&D phase, they can run up to product development, make a change on the product and literally be running it within an hour. “The team concept seems so much easier that we are all here. It’s almost organic. At least we are rowing in the same direction.”

Jackson likes the idea of his team—manufacturing, marketing, product development, sales, etc.—having lunch together and talking about what is working, and where some opportunities may lie. “We think that creates a unique environment. Plus, there is obviously some cost savings. We are no longer paying rent on something that housed half of manufacturing. We are now a 100% Shaw-owned facility.”

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Shaw promotes leadership in West Coast division

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.57.49 AMDalton—Shaw Floors announced the promotion of Doug Jackson to vice president of sales and marketing for the Tuftex organization, effective immediately.

Serving as divisional vice president in the West Coast for the last seven years, the company said Jackson embodies Shaw’s dedication, culture and passion for serving customers. Jackson and his team will focus on bringing the power of Tuftex nationwide.

According to Shaw, Jackson has delivered exceptional results in each previous position and his keen understanding of Tuftex and proven success make him ideal for this position.

Additionally, Shane Tait has been promoted to the position of divisional vice president, West Coast for the residential carpet division.

Tait, a 19­year Shaw associate, has been a regional carpet manager for the past eight years.

“We’re proud to have a deep bench of talented professionals that put customers first,” said Steve Sieracki, Shaw Floors vice president of residential sales. “These most recent promotions illustrate our commitment to continued market leadership and growth and recognize the significant talent and track record Doug and Shane have exhibited.”