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The ABCs of WPC

FCNews Ultimate Guide to WPC: July 17/24, 2017

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.59.57 AMWPC—it goes by several different names depending on to whom you are speaking. Some say it translates as “wood plastic/polymer composite,” while others believe it stands for “waterproof core.” Either way you define it, many would agree this relatively new category represents a game-changing product that has generated excitement and, more importantly, additional sales opportunities for retailers and distributors.

As the WPC category gains steam, however, specialty dealers are faced with a few challenges, from explaining to customers the features and benefits of the new segment to effectively merchandising this classification of product. For those just getting into the category, or for those looking to learn more, here are some basic questions about WPC—along with some advice on how to answer them.

1. What is WPC exactly?
WPC is a composite material made of thermoplastics, calcium carbonate and wood flour. Extruded as a core material, it is marketed as being waterproof, rigid and dimensionally stable. In an effort to differentiate their products, suppliers are branding their WPC offerings with names such as enhanced vinyl plank, engineered luxury vinyl flooring and waterproof vinyl, to name a few. Shaw Floors, for example, brands its Floorté as enhanced vinyl plank with an “improved formulation” that gives it greater density than WPC. Mannington’s new Adura Max is an enhanced vinyl plank the company is touting as the “quietest product on the market.

2. How does WPC differ from LVT?
The main differences are that WPC is waterproof and can go over most subfloors without much preparation. Traditional vinyl floors are flexible, meaning any unevenness in the subfloor will likely transfer through the surface. Compared to traditional glue-down LVT or solid-locking LVT, WPC products have a distinct advantage because the rigid core hides subfloor imperfections. In addition, the rigid core allows for longer, wider formats. With WPC, it is not necessary to worry about the preparation LVT would require for use over cracks and divots in concrete or wooden subfloors.

3. How does WPC stack up against laminate?
WPC is waterproof, while some laminates are engineered to be water “resistant.” Big difference. Proponents of WPC say it is more suitable for environments in which laminate shouldn’t normally be used—typically bathrooms and basements that have potential moisture infiltration. In addition, WPC products can be installed in large rooms without an expansion gap every 30 feet—a long-established requirement for laminate floors. Also, the vinyl wear layer of WPC provides cushion and comfort while absorbing impact. This makes a more quiet floor compared to laminates’ telltale “clickety-clack” sound. Lastly, WPC is also suitable for large open areas (basements and Main Street commercial areas) because it doesn’t require expansion strips.

“Any time you have a product that solves a problem it seems to do well,” said Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf, a top 20 distributor based in Owings Mills, Md. “One of the issues people have with LVT is there is some telegraphing and, therefore, are limitations with what you can put LVT over. That is not the case with WPC. It is clearly a trend that is on the move.

4. Where is the best place to merchandise WPC in the retail showroom?
Most manufacturers regard WPC as a subcategory of LVT. As such, it is likely to be displayed among other resilient and/or LVT products. Some retailers have WPC displayed between laminate and LVT or vinyl since it is the ultimate “crossover” category

5. WPC—A passing fad or category with long-term potential?
If retailer response is any indication, WPC is here to stay. This is based not only on the sales and profits the category is generating for floor covering dealers but also the high levels of investment that suppliers and manufacturers are putting into design innovatiion and new product development.

“WPC can absolutely become the dominant player,” said Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer for R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, with 13 locations in four Western states. “WPC is what the LVT category has evolved to, although I still see the need for traditional dry-back LVT for multi-family and commercial segments of the market.”

USFloors helped usher in the WPC era with the launch of COREtec at Surfaces four years ago. (In 2015, the company received a patent that covers all engineered flooring products with a WPC core and veneer top layer with or without an attached backing.) Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, predicted WPC “will forever change the landscape of LVT and several other flooring categories.”

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Interview: Piet Dossche, the ‘father of WPC,’ mulls the evolving composite core landscape

FCNews Ultimate Guide to WPC: July 17/24, 2017

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.42.32 AMIn the mid-1990s, Pergo paved the way for a brand new category—laminate flooring—in the U.S. market. Initially, the category generated a lot of buzz and excitement (and perhaps some overzealous product claims) before experiencing a fairly rapid shakeout of players. During that same decade, other innovators such as Anderson and Mannington introduced the industry to rustic and hand-scraped floors. Not too long after that, virtually every hardwood flooring manufacturer had some variation of scraped or distressed product in their offerings.

Fast-forward to 2013, when USFloors broke new ground with the creation of an entirely new category of flooring, WPC, which is based on composite core technology. In the few years since the launch, the WPC category has caught the attention of retailers and distributors alike. More importantly, it has seized a greater share of dealers’ showrooms, nipping sales from competing hard surface categories. At the same time, recent iterations within the WPC category have spawned the creation of exciting new products that stand to impact the overall composite core sector in many ways.

FCNews managing editor Reginald Tucker recently sat down with Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, to hear his assessment on how WPC has evolved since the initial launch and where the market is headed.

What are some of the main advantages of WPC vs. other composite core products such as rigid core?
There’s a lot of confusion in the market regarding where WPC and rigid core boards (RCB) fit. In my mind it is very clear, one category is not better than the other; they both complement each other. The analogy I use when I try to explain the differences between WPC and RCB is carpet. Most people know what carpet is all about, and most people know the difference between level loop commercial carpet vs. cut pile/saxony/plush type of carpet. I take a piece of 10-gauge level loop in one hand and a 40-ounce saxony carpet in the other hand. The 10-gauge level loop is my RCB product, and the 40-ounce saxony is my WPC product. Both products are made for certain purposes. Carpet 10-gauge level loop is not made for comfort; it is designed for performance. It’s a tight, dense construction that provides durability. The 40-ounce saxony, on the other hand, is a cut pile and has a more open construction. It’s plush, warm, soft and comfortable—you can really lie down and live on that floor. You wouldn’t really lie down on a 10-gauge level loop product.

You can make exactly the same comparison between WPC and RCB. With a rigid core construction, you have a very dense, tightly packed core with a high percentage of minerals and calcium carbonate in the formulation. It’s made more for performance as opposed to comfort. It’s designed for applications where indentation resistance is the most important factor.

With WPC, on the other hand, there is a foaming agent in the formulation, which creates air pockets within the core during the extrusion process. Inherently, these air pockets act as insulators for both sound and temperature, providing a higher level of comfort for the consumer. For example, if you have a customer who operates a hair salon, she needs a product designed to withstand heavy foot traffic—most likely high heels. That floor also has to be waterproof and resistant to chemicals. From a performance point of view, the RCB product will best fulfill the requirements in this situation.

But for the homeowner/housewife with an active lifestyle—kids, pets, etc.—she will want something that’s more comfortable, warmer and sound dampening like WPC. It will perform very well under these conditions, be waterproof in case of a spill and provide the level of comfort she is looking for.

Both products are perfect examples of how this composite core category has evolved since USFloors launched its COREtec collection about four years ago. WPC started and basically took hold of the market, then RCB came into the picture. I look at RCB as an extension of the solid LVT 3.2mm/4mm click LVT. In the end, I see these products complementing each other and helping to build the overall composite core category. WPC was just the start and RCB followed. Without a doubt you are going to see many products that follow on that path.

Do the various construction methods involved in WPC and RCB production factor into the final cost of the respective products?
Yes. For example, WPC with an LVT top layer is a more complicated product to make. It requires more capital investment. First you have to extrude the WPC coreboard. Then you have to create your LVT top layer (usually 1.5mm) through a calendaring process. A print film and wear layer are consequently pressed onto this LVT base. This slab then goes through an annealing process, which “shocks” the product to create the stability required. This top layer and WPC extruded core are pressed together and depending on the product, an attached underlayment is glued on the back (cork or another material) before the board is cut into planks or tiles and profiled with a click system. Several processes, steps and various pieces of equipment are required to make a WPC product.

By comparison, RCB, for the most part, entails a one-step process. The core, which is extruded with a high-density format, is fused with a print film (decorative layer) and wear layer before again being cut into planks or tiles and profiled with a click locking system. It’s a much less capital-intensive process.

So it sounds like there is a lower barrier to entry with respect to RCB-type products.
Yes, the RCB manufacturing method has resulted in many companies in China jumping on that wagon. Due to the issues with formaldehyde in some Chinese laminate products over the past few years, many Chinese laminate manufacturers were left standing with all this manufacturing profiling equipment. They saw their business dwindle because of the reduction in orders from the U.S. Making WPC was too expensive a process for some of these manufacturers. But when rigid core products were introduced into the composite core segment, it provided a very simple process for manufacturers who did not want to make the capital investment required to produce WPC. For many of those former laminate manufacturers in China, it made for a very easy entry into the RCB category. And because it’s a cheaper product to make, it usually sells for less money than WPC at the retail level.

Does this lower cost structure give some companies advantages over others?
Sure, in an effort to get some traction in the market, many of these newcomers revert to lowering their prices to sell their products. It’s one thing to price it lower, but it’s quite another to import the product and distribute it. Only the professional companies who can properly bring the product to the market and service the channels efficiently will be successful.

Looking through your crystal ball, how do you see rigid core’s market share growing as a piece of the overall composite core pie?
Right now RCB is still in its infancy, although it is being introduced into the market at a fast and furious pace. However, WPC has had a four- or five-year head start and it’s still growing strong. There’s no doubt about the popularity of the RCB category. Here at USFloors we are also coming out with a COREtec rigid core construction, because we don’t see it as a cannibalization of WPC. Rather, we view RCB as a complementary item that’s needed in our lineup. My sincere hope is the rigid core market becomes as big as it can, which can help to grow the category overall. Could it become as large as 50% of the total composite core category? Who knows. But even in that case, I don’t necessarily see it as WPC giving up half its market share to the rigid core category. As the market continues to grow, and when the dust eventually settles, it will transition to a more normal growth track compared to the high, double-digit growth curve we’re seeing today. Over the next three to five years, when all this stabilizes, I predict the composite core market will probably be three to four times as big as it is today. By then I expect rigid core will have taken a sizable market share next to WPC. With RCB construction more focused on commercial applications and WPC more residential, the residential share will be larger than the commercial volumes. Who knows—in three years’ time there could be three or four different composite core constructions on the market.

Speaking of the ongoing evolution of the composite core category, what are your thoughts about some of the early iterations we’re seeing?
It just confirms what I’ve been saying. We’re only on the cusp of innovation. These products are brand new in the market, and I believe they will be successful if they bring a solution that previous versions did not provide. But if we begin to see new products that are merely a gimmick, or a change in the core or construction just for the sake of change, then they’ll face an uphill battle. But if these new products are bringing certain advantages over existing constructions, then they will be successful.

What’s the next step for USFloors?
We are in the midst of commissioning our first WPC/COREtec plant at the state-of-the-art Shaw facility in Ringgold, Ga. We started up production in the last two weeks and we’re already making product. We are the innovator and leader in this category and are committed to remain in this position. We’re very excited about the future; the best is yet to come. Stay tuned!

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Resilient: LVT finds a home across major contract end-use sectors

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26
By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.11.16 AMLuxury vinyl tile has clearly found a home in the commercial flooring market where its footprint is exhibited in all settings and applications. And with the advent of WPC and rigid core offerings flooding the market, specifiers have more options than ever to complete their projects.

Prior to taking over as Tarkett’s director of product management and marketing for LVT, Jeremy Salomon spent seven years on the commercial side overseeing sheet goods and VCT. He saw firsthand how the market was transitioning to LVT. “What we found is while there is a lot of application for sheet vinyl in commercial the quality of installers is dwindling,” he explained. “Sheet is a different skill trade; many installers haven’t been working with sheet goods and don’t have the skill to master it. And the ones who do know sheet are nearing retirement. In contrast, anyone can install tile or plank.”

Salomon said that while VCT is less expensive to install than LVT, there is a cost to maintain VCT that makes LVT the more cost-effective solution for the long term. “You have LVT costs coming down and you also have all the aesthetics that VCT couldn’t provide. LVT is so much easier to work with.”

Commercial clients are looking for a durable product that can withstand heavy foot traffic and rolling load environments and still provide an aesthetically pleasing design. “Like the residential market, there is a need for realistic visuals in wood and stone, but commercial clients are also looking for alternative designs that include woven, textile or wood and stone blends that can function as transitional elements in a space,” said Amanda O’Neil, product manager for Armstrong.

Al Boulogne, vice president, commercial resilient business for Mannington Commercial, added that this “aesthetic freedom” comes with the security of a product that performs in even the toughest commercial applications. “High-performance wear layers, balanced constructions and a huge variety of installation options complete the package to make LVT an easy choice in any application.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.13.18 AMThe competition within the LVT category has pushed manufacturers to improve print designs, color offerings, in-register embossings, wear layers and larger sizes. Gary Keeble, director of marketing for Metroflor, said manufacturers are adding new platforms “above and beyond traditional glue-down products. Floating platforms can be either loose lay or commercial resilient vinyl click, which offer speed of installation and reduced cost without the costly floor prep required with glue-down products.”

Christy Schofield, director of commercial hard surface for Mohawk, said the overall value of LVT, the flexibility of the visuals, performance and ease of maintenance combine to make it a natural fit for the commercial market. “It has opened doors and allowed us to provide the entire flooring solution for commercial and hospitality projects.”

Sector strength
LVT/LVP wasn’t always the product de jour for the commercial segment. However, concern over constant maintenance, scratches and moisture have—in some cases—dissuaded some commercial establishments away from real wood, observers say. “As wood imagery becomes more authentic, faux wood alternatives have become more attractive,” said Laura Nieto, communications and marketing specialist for Cali Bamboo. “The high-end LVP options today are more beautiful than the vinyl of years past, which was typically seen as the run-of-the-mill industrial option. Today’s LVP also carries improved durability and waterproof properties—an absolute must for many commercial spaces like restaurants, grocery stores, gyms and medical centers. That extreme durability translates to very little upkeep and no sanding, refinishing or polishing.”

Mannington’s Boulogne said LVT “is in play” in virtually every commercial segment today. “Traditionally, we’ve seen LVT in retail, healthcare and education but now the category is breaking new ground in hospitality, multifamily and corporate. Because of the features and benefits there are compelling attributes of LVT that can drive the product through each one of the main commercial sectors.”

Cost and time spent on a project are key factors when specifying products. LVT and its iterations provide a significant savings compared with other products and save time on the installation end. “The product itself often comes at a lower price point than hardwood, and is lightweight and easy to install with less underlayment prep,” Nieto said. “Businesses see a faster, less-expensive turnaround and they save money on labor. They also don’t have to shut down for too long a period to accommodate lengthy acclimations or installations. Due to vinyl flooring’s dimensional stability, expansion is not a major concern and therefore requires fewer transition pieces. Depending on the product’s construction, indoor air quality is not compromised—a common concern with laminates and lower quality products.”

New rollouts
Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.12.00 AMUSFloors’ COREtec is on the road to becoming a consumer brand, but the many variations of COREtec expand into the commercial space. Its 2017 introduction, Plus XL Enhanced, for example, is offered in 18 hardwood decors with an embossed grain pattern, an attached cork underlayment and a four-sided enhanced bevel edge that works well in light commercial environments. The patented COREtec technology allows easy handling and installation, making COREtec Plus XL Enhanced an alternative to glue-down LVT, locking LVT or laminate flooring. The company said the rigid core platform—which is constructed of recycled wood, bamboo dust, limestone and virgin PVC—provides a 100% waterproof floor that can be installed in wet areas and will not swell when exposed to moisture or excessive amounts of water.

Metroflor took a major step forward in the rigid core category with the introduction of its proprietary Isocore technology in Aspecta Ten and Engage Genesis. Isocore’s solid PVC cellular core gives it strength and rigidity, along with an LVT top layer and an attached pad to help mitigate sound transmission, according to the company. Aspecta Ten and Engage Genesis are specified for most commercial segments including retail, hospitality, assisted living, education and corporate.

Karndean’s glue-down products, which include Kaleidoscope—a collection of modular designs custom cut in compatible geometric formats—offer a variety of designs, sizes and technical specifications to address the needs of any commercial sector. Larry Browder, CEO of Karndean, said the company’s components system allows designers to create wayfinding and zoning to make the best use of the space, no matter the commercial specification. “Whether it’s a hospital looking to facilitate patient flow, highlight key areas or walkways in educational environments or separate areas of an open office plan, we can meet each of these requirements.”

Novalis Innovative Flooring continues to make a big push in commercial. The company is touting its two newest AVA collections—SMPL and SPRK. SMPL is floating floor with a click locking system and an attached cork underlayment for improved acoustical performance. AVA SPRK is available in 18 x 18 tiles in a variety of brights and neutrals with built-in antimicrobial properties.

Mannington launched more than 200 visuals into the market in 2016 and continued that trend in 2017. Featured are bold colors in its new Color Anchor line, along with a relaunch of Mannington Select premium LVT and rigid core products seen in City Park and Crown collections for commercial applications.

In May Johnsonite unveiled Transcend with SureSet technology. Salomon said the product is unique in that it is a loose-lay design but includes a pressure-sensitive adhesive that allows the floor to remain steadily in place. “Most of the market is glue-down because of rolling traffic. This product is exceeding expectations. There is no wait time for the glue to dry and all acoustics are intact.”

Specifiers have cited Raskin Industries’ Elevations loose lay because of its weight and stability, citing the ability to loose lay a vinyl floor without having to deal with either gluing the strips together or clicking boards together. In addition, Elevations offers environmental benefits (no adhesives or VOCs). Elevations comes with an anti-skid rubber Gravity Grip backing system and double-sided perimeter fastening tape that firmly secures it to the subfloor without any additional tools or materials.

Cali Bamboo’s operations team spent months fine-tuning custom HiFi imaging technology to precisely capture the authentic look and feel of real hardwood grains. The result was Cali Vinyl. The collection includes imagery for three of Cali Bamboo’s most popular solid bamboo floors—Java, Antique Java and Natural. A specialized quality control process ensures all Cali Vinyl styles include twice the number of unique planks.

Lineate by Durkan, one of Mohawk’s latest enhanced resilient tile collections, drew inspiration from two of the hottest trends in surface visuals: ombre/gradient and striated textile looks. “The color ebbs and flows across the plank to give the illusion of depth on a flat surface,” Mohawk’s Schofield said. “Lineate’s loose-lay construction allows for quick installation and immediate occupancy.”

Schofield said the designation of LVT as a product category is falling away at Mohawk and being replaced by ERT (enhanced resilient tile) “because we believe that all Mohawk products are all enhanced in some way.”

Armstrong’s newest commercial LVT collection, Natural Creations with Diamond 10 technology, promises a longer life cycle that translates to fewer replacement costs thanks to its scuff and stain resistance. New Natural Creations offerings for 2017 include Spettro and Mixer. Spettro captures the textural and visual softness of carpet, while Mixer offers a palette of colors. Both feature Diamond 10 technology.

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Resilient: Can WPC/rigid core coexist with LVT?

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Ken Ryan

 

The overarching luxury vinyl flooring category featuring the incumbent LVT/P and newcomers WPC and rigid core continues to flourish and growth rates collectively are expected to exceed that of every other flooring category for at least the near term.

Will there be an eventually category champion? Does there have to be one? Flooring executives differ slightly on which segment will win out, but there is consensus that the three product types (for now) will peacefully coexist as they serve different market segments and applications.

WPC/rigid core: The once and future king?
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.15.49 AMAs a sub-segment of LVT, WPC/rigid core has usurped LVT in many areas of the market, executives contend. “My sales have completely switched from LVT to WPC,” said Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer for R.C. Willey, Salt Lake City. “WPC definitely has had the biggest growth, and WPC/rigid core has an advantage in click and floating installations due to the ability to hide subfloor imperfections.”

Jeremy Kleinberg, senior product manager, Armstrong Flooring, said rigid core products are viewed by some as an evolution of LVT. “As with any innovation, rigid core products have helped to solve challenges that regular LVT could not—for example, telegraphing of minor subfloor texture.”

Some observers say that while WPC has already cut into the share of LVT, rigid core offerings will take share from both WPC and LVT. “While rigid will take share from WPC as well as LVT, I don’t think it necessarily translates into a decline of WPC’s overall business because WPC should more than make up for it in what it continues to take from LVT and other product categories,” said Jeff Jaeckle, vice president of Jaeckle Distributors.

Steve Kuhel, product manager, Tarkett North America, noted that next-generation rigid core products are beginning to show even greater flexibility and are a threat to both WPC and LVT (glue-down and floating). “I see more of the same over the next few years—growth for WPC and rigid core products. There will be a grasping at straws that will result in over-engineered products beyond the consumer’s needs.”

LVT is not going anywhere
As long as LVT/P products (glue-down or floating) have the advantage of cost, process and true sustainability over rigid core and WPC, there will be a place for these offerings. Indeed, no one disputes that LVT will remain a relevant product segment that works best in multi-family housing and commercial applications due primarily to the cost-effectiveness and installation advantages.

“LVT will be very successful in DIY as it is easy to install and does not require a saw,” said David Holt, senior vice president of builder and multi-family retail and hard surface for Mohawk Industries. “LVT will continue to dominate the multi-family market due to pricing requirements.”

Casey Dillabaugh, owner of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, Boise, Idaho, picked up on the theme of pricing (given the fact WPC/rigid core is viewed as a higher-end product). “I don’t believe we’ll ever see WPC enter the sub $1 range like LVT, so LVT sets itself up for success based on price point primarily. I do believe WPC/rigid core will attempt to enter the commercial/multi-family space but will struggle for a while due to price constraints.”

Future looks bright for WPC/rigid core
The consensus among flooring professionals is the luxury vinyl product category will continue to grow exponentially over the next several years and outpace the other hard surfaces, in particular laminate, low-end wood and sheet. Jaeckle sees the category shaking out this way. “While rigid will take share from WPC as well as LVT, I don’t think it necessarily translates into a decline of WPC’s overall business, because WPC should more than make up for it in what it continues to take from LVT and other product categories. If you consider all of these as being under the LVT umbrella, then the LVT category will continue its strong growth as it takes more share from other product categories. The innovations of WPC and rigid are the engines that will drive that.”

Wellmade Floors, a relative newcomer to the category, is marketing its rigid core lines as a step up from WPC. Its high-density plastic composite (HDPC) products are positioned as the first fully closed cell offering, with different constructions. “While vinyl products across the board can all boast exceptional HD print visuals and EIR textures, WPC and rigid core products eliminated telegraphing from subfloor imperfections, a major improvement over traditional LVT,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing, who, like many others, sees WPC and now rigid core as merely natural evolutions of the luxury vinyl category.

The case for coexistence
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.15.39 AMFew executives are as adamant in their belief that these products will cohabitate than Russ Rogg, president and CEO of Metroflor, who argues that traditional LVT and WPC/rigid core/multilayer products “will absolutely” co-exist going forward. “While there is no question that the multilayer category—with all its variants—is arguably growing faster than any product on the market, there are still many areas where traditional, glue-down products will serve the customer or end user better than a floating floor. While the best multilayer products require very little expansion/contraction allowances, I don’t know of a manufacturer that isn’t recommending at least some degree of perimeter expansion as well as referencing size/area limits that will require the use of a T-molding eventually. This is a great example of where a glue-down LVT has an advantage. Think large, open spaces that could not accept a T-molding, for example.”

Scott Rozmus, CEO of FlorStar Sales, a top 20 distributor, said he doesn’t see the market as an either/or proposition for these waterproof resilient products. “Some folks might look at this as VHS vs. Betamax where only one technology survives, but I think it’s more like gasoline vs. diesel. There are pros and cons that may come into play with either variant, and the technology continues to evolve. The massive marketing behind WPC/rigid core certainly has—and will—continue to provide lift for these products. However, most of the options I’ve seen utilize a floating, locking system for installation. That’s not always the preferred methodology and in some applications actually is frowned upon. Thus other LVT variants will continue to have traction.”

While WPC/rigid core may not cannibalize LVT, it has eaten into traditional LVT’s share. Kleinberg’s take is that even as next-generation rigid core products win favor in the market there will still be demand for traditional LVT products. “Segment and channel considerations like the usage of the space, design aesthetics, installation techniques and price will be just some of the factors that will continue to fuel both rigid core and traditional LVT flooring.”

Piet Dossche dissects LVT, WPC
Who better than Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, marketer of the award-winning COREtec brand, to weigh in on the evolution of the LVT waterproof category. Here Dossche drills down into the different constructions that he said complement one another and help expand the overall category.

Solid LVT dryback. Mainly used in multi-family, commercial applications and where consumer price point is critical. Installed directly glued to the subfloor and requires extensive subfloor prep.

Solid LVT floating. Used in residential and commercial applications where subfloor conditions is addressed; exposure to sunlight/heat is not critical, but pricing economics is a factor. Requires substantial subfloor prep.

Rigid core. Composite core construction, a step up from solid LVT, with a higher filler content and higher density without any foaming agent creating air bubbles in the core. This results in a thinner, harder plank.

Primarily suitable where higher indentation resistance is required and extensive exposure to sunlight/heat can occur. Ideal for commercial applications. Relatively forgiving over imperfect subfloors.

WPC. Composite core construction with foaming agent, creating air pockets in the core that function as a heat and sound insulator for ultimate comfort underfoot. Indentation resistance is ideal for residential and light commercial applications and dimensionally stable under moderate exposure to sunlight/heat. The ultimate product for residential environments and suitable for active households with built-in sound abatement benefits.

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Wood: Category finds a new home—on the walls

Vertical applications coordinate, contrast with floors 

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.38.08 PMUsing flooring materials on the walls is by no means a new concept. Tile manufacturers have been doing it for years, and laminate flooring suppliers have also recently started to get in on the act. Now hardwood flooring producers are having success by finding multiple uses for their products by dressing vertical surfaces to either complement a particular commercial or residential interior, or to better coordinate with a given hardwood flooring collection or pattern.

“Wood on the walls is a trend that will continue and grow as it is a way to get color and texture on the walls while maintaining a monochromatic look,” said David Holt, senior vice president, Mohawk. “Also, it is much easier to change wood and laminate walls than ceramic walls.”

But the best part about using existing hardwood planks or strips on the walls is you don’t have to necessarily redesign the product. “All of our hardwood collections are perfect for vertical applications,” Holt explained.

In that same vein, engineered wood floors from Shaw are also approved for wall installations. “Coveted wood visuals offer a rustic, natural charm in these non-traditional applications,” said Natalie Cady, hardwood category manager.

Other major manufacturers are encouraging retailers and designers to utilize hardwood flooring in unconventional ways. At USFloors, for instance, the company’s popular Castle Combe line of handcrafted floors is suitable for both horizontal and vertical installations. The natural oil finishes provide the look and feel of an ancient reclaimed floor and combines it with the modern performance features of a 21st century engineered floor. According to Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management, the wide portfolio of products allows customers to make a bold design statement when installed on vertical surfaces. “This allows the designer or homeowner to make a personal statement or add a customized element to the home.”

The operative word here being “custom” when it comes to wall installations. So says Ron Sadri, principal owner of Provenza Floors, which specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind hardwood floors in colors, patterns and designs that can’t be easily shopped. The company, he said, extends that design capability to that area of its business that produces wall coverings.

Customers looking to coordinate their hardwood flooring installations with accents walls have no shortage of options. The Cabin Pine series from Mercier, for example, matches well with the company’s long-plank, rough-textured boards. “Whether the consumer is looking to add to the rustic charm of her home, or simply give a bit of pop to an otherwise bland space, she will find the perfect look and feel in one of the six featured colors that will harmonize beautifully with the rest of the decor,” said Michel Colin, director of marketing. “You can’t ignore the lightness of pine boards when looking for a quick and easy install, as they can simply be glued to the wall.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.38.01 PMBelieving this is a trend that’s going to have legs, several manufacturers that have developed specific programs and collections for wall applications are putting significant marketing, promotional and product development resources behind those collections. Case in point is DuChâteau, which presents an exclusive line of wall coverings and doors by architect, builder and entrepreneur Joe Langenauer, who has been creating artistic interior wall coverings and doors since DuChâteau’s inception. The combination of the designer’s vision, style and experience with DuChâteau’s innovative finishing techniques paved the way for the official launch of DuChâteau wall coverings and doors divisions in 2013. According to Jose Alonso, creative director, each product Langenauer designs is infused with his cosmopolitan Mexican roots and heavily influenced by modern European trends. “His door designs are all created within the precepts of modern design, contemporary architectural lines, combining woods, leathers, fabrics, metals and other materials usually found in European luxury sports cars.”

Coming from an architectural background, Langenauer notes, “You learn to understand and appreciate the power of a proud line or the delicate nature of a well-planned curve.”

DuChâteau is not the only company putting a major thrust behind its wood-for-walls program. Via the launch of its Rowlock Plus wall coverings line in 2016, Johnson Hardwood Floors is looking to leverage the still-strong consumer demand for hardwood in general. Rowlock Plus wood wall panels are constructed from all natural wood materials. Each undressed wood piece is sanded and stained by hand to preserve the native design and characteristics of the wood species. Species include acacia, hickory, oak and walnut; a plantation pine backer layer provides additional durability.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.38.18 PM“Johnson Hardwood’s Rowlock Plus is the newest transformation from its predecessor, Rowlock,” said Silver Pae, director of marketing. “Maintaining the elegance of all natural wood, we’ve also created a variety of styles to suit the tastes of our ever-changing generations. From vintage to modern and even eclectic, Rowlock Plus provides a diverse approach for those who want to have a unique design to their home while bringing out their own personal vision.”

While installers are already familiar with common methods of installing wood flooring, manufacturers provide in-depth instructions to make sure the job goes smoothly. For instance, Johnson Hardwood provides specific instructions covering virtually every facet of the installation, from calculating materials, locating the wall studs and spreading the glue to installing the panels and end caps.

Johnson Hardwood’s Rowlock Plus line was a big draw at its Surfaces booth in 2016—the year in which the company earned an award in the “Best Booth over 1,200 square feet” category. 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 Hardwood Floors, 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,” Schollmeyer said. “We wanted 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.”

Cabin Pine wall accents from Mercier's Nature Collection.
Cabin Pine wall accents from Mercier’s Nature Collection.

 

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Bamboo, cork intros offer flair for the dramatic

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

As sub-segments of the hardwood flooring category, cork and bamboo are heralded for their eco-friendly attributes. Beyond their notable green characteristics, however, new cork and bamboo products are also renowned for their stunning visuals, durability, comfort underfoot and water-resistant properties.

Following is an overview of some of the latest products cork and bamboo suppliers have to offer.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.16 AMBamboo Hardwoods
Bamboo Hardwoods’ Manor Clove flooring (pictured) features engineered strand woven bamboo with a multi-ply core. Strand woven bamboo ranks over 3000 on the Janka Hardness Scale and is a great option for both residential and commercial installations. Each plank of Manor Clove has a unique appearance due to its handscraping. The product is FloorScore certified.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.21 AMCali Bamboo (cork)
Cali Bamboo offers GreenClaimed cork flooring, which is comforting to the body and warm to the touch underfoot. Its visuals range from Shoreline (natural) to products made to resemble more natural wood looks (Silverwood and Driftwood). Pictured is Sandalwood, an engineered cork. A total of eight colors are available.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.26 AMCali Bamboo (bamboo)
Cali Bamboo offers a complete line of solid and engineered bamboo offerings. Cali Bamboo is ultra-low VOC with no added urea formaldehyde and features the company’s proprietary Fossilized manufacturing process that boasts twice the density of typical hardwood flooring products. Twenty colors encompassing unfinished, distressed natural, to cognac and vintage java (pictured) are available.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.32 AMUSFloors (bamboo)
Muse Strand (pictured) from USFloors is the ideal strand bamboo floor for homes located in a wide range of climates. Muse Strand’s cutting-edge design features distressed and chiseled surfaces, hand sculpted scraping and wire-brushed enhanced grains. Fashion-forward stains and washes evoke a sense of artistry and inspiration. These bamboo floors are Greenguard Gold-certified for indoor air quality.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.38 AMUSFloors (cork)
Natural Cork (pictured) floors from USFloors are made from the bark of the Portuguese cork oak. No trees are cut down to harvest the bark and cork trees produce new cork for re-harvest every nine years making cork a sustainable, environmentally friendly and rapidly renewable resource. Cork floors are quiet, warm and comfortable underfoot, durable and resilient. Natural Cork floors naturally resist mold and mildew, fire and pests.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.46 AMWE Cork
Sunset Acacia, from the Serenity collection of digital print on cork, provides comfort, thermal and sound insulation from the sustainable cork base. This cork base is then cloaked with wood or stone visuals that extend the design options beyond the regular cork visuals in the Serenity collection stocking line. It is finished using a hot coat finish with an AC rating that the company said exceeds LVT in wearability.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.51 AM

Wellmade
Wellmade’s Strata composite bamboo plank couples the performance features of rigid core HDPC (high-density plastic composite) technology with the natural warmth and character of eco-friendly bamboo. Featuring a solid strand bamboo top layer, Strata (pictured) bamboo outperforms traditional engineered flooring while remaining stable and extremely water resistant in the most demanding environments. Quality performance features include HDPC rigid core, HardMax nano finish and Uniclic floating installation system.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.58 AMWicanders
Wicanders’ Hydrocork offers a low thickness floating solution with the benefits of floors with Corktech, a technology that helped create the innovative core board made of composite cork. Hydrocork is water resistant and stable while maintaining the resilient properties and comfort rendered by cork. Wicanders’ Hydrocork comes in 10 wood look visuals, including Arcadian Rye Pine (pictured).

 

 

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WPS expands Fusion program to support U.S. wholesale partners

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Reginald Tucker

WPS has vastly increased the number of SKUs in the Fusion line.
WPS has vastly increased the number of SKUs in the Fusion line.

There’s good news for distributors who carry the Fusion brand of rigid core resilient flooring from World Product Sourcing (WPS). The manufacturer recently announced plans to vastly expand the number of products in the line; launch a new website to educate consumers and retailers; and, finally, build a manufacturing plant in Ringgold, Ga., which, when completed, will allow stocking distributors to more rapidly replenish their inventories.

Following Shaw Industries’ recent acquisition of USFloors (FCNews, Oct. 24/31, 2016), the goal, company executives say, is to drive growth of the WPC category. This covers both the COREtec line, which is geared toward the specialty retailer, as well as the WPS Fusion brand, which supports the distribution channel.

“With USFloors now being brought into the Shaw Floors group, we’re going to take advantage of all the support that Shaw will provide to help us grow our business even faster,” said Piet Dossche, president, USFloors. “With this alignment, WPS—which previously was a standalone unit—will be taken into the fold of the USFloors brand in support of our distributor network. We are focused on expanding and supporting it to make sure the distributor segment gets the full attention of our business.”

According to WPS, the expanded Fusion line offers distributors the most comprehensive program currently available with respect to the composite core flooring category. All totaled Fusion comprises 60 SKUs; 48 in the Elite program and 12 SKUs that include both wide planks and square tiles in the Max line.

“The composite flooring category is growing by leaps and bounds, and distributors are being inundated with all kinds of options,” Dossche stated. “But there’s no better program than what we are bringing to them under the Fusion brand.”

Presently, 11 distributors have signed on to support the WPS line. These include: A-M Supply, Certified Carpet Distributors, Denver Hardwood, Derr Flooring, Erickson’s Floors, Fargo Glass & Carpet, JH Freed, Lockwood Flooring, Medallion, NRF Distributors and Pac Mat Commercial. While many territories in the U.S. are covered, WPS said there is plenty of room to grow. “We have a strong group of distributors who have been with us over the past few years,” Dossche said. “We still have more opportunities to expand because the country is not 100% covered.”

 

Sweetening the pot
imag2706Dossche attributes the success of the Fusion line in part to the efforts of its distribution network. Not only have they supported the brand individually, but many of its wholesale partners have, on occasion, shared inventory of the Fusion brand when demand outstripped supply. Given the fact that the product is produced in Shanghai, China—much like the USFloors COREtec line—sometimes distributors had to wait anywhere from 90 to 120 days to receive orders.

Now, with WPS’ plans to build a dedicated WPC facility on the site of Shaw’s resilient plant in Ringgold, Ga., delivery times will be shortened dramatically. “This will give us an opportunity to improve service levels, and we will be much more proactive if we see spikes in demand,” Dossche explained. “Basically it will shorten the time it takes to get the products through the supply chain.”

There’s another benefit of producing locally, executives say. WPS’ distributor partners will be invited to participate in the product development process by providing input on style and format trends.

“This will give our distributor partners a much closer opportunity to be involved in creating the decors that speak to trends in their local markets,” Dossche said. “They play a very important role in their own areas and fields, and they have a tremendous relationship with the specialty retailer.”

Furthermore, having domestic production will allow WPS’ distributor partners the opportunity to promote collections that are produced locally under the Made in America label. “This gives them an edge over what’s currently being imported,” Dossche stated.

WPS estimates the production plant will start up by the end of Q2 2017. The massive, 800,000-square-foot plant, which will be composite core focused, will have a total estimated capacity of 75 million–85 million square feet. According to the company, it will be the first of its kind in the U.S.

In support of the expansion , WPS has created a new website, FusionVisionFloors.com. According to Dossche, the purpose of the site is twofold: first, to serve as reinforcement when consumers see the Fusion brand on the retail showroom floor. Second, it will provide both existing and potential distributors complete program details. This, he said, will provide continuity at both levels.

All these initiatives reflect WPS’ optimism and potential for the WPC segment. “We see the category continuing to grow and accelerate, and composite core will continue to represent a bigger piece of the LVT market,” Dossche stated. “We intend to remain the market leader in these categories across all the channels we serve.”

For more information on the program, please visit WPS at booth # 2174 at Surfaces.

 

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Resilient: Anatomy of a winning product

December 19/26, 2016: Volume 31, Number 14

Some products tout high-performance capabilities such as waterproof attributes and resistance to scuffing, scratching and heavy foot traffic. Others, meanwhile, focus on aesthetics—be they visuals that aim to replicate natural materials such as wood and stone, or more abstract designs that draw their influences from art and geometry. These products run the gamut from more recent introductions to the resilient category to existing products that have evolved and improved over time.

The common denominator across the vast majority of these resilient flooring products is the impact they have had on a category that continues to reinvent itself through innovation and imagination.

Following are some examples of the qualities that define winning products.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-20-pmEarthWerks: Parkhill
The EarthWerks Parkhill premium WPC collection has been expanded to include six new SKUs of embossed in register 7 x 48 planks featuring a 20 mil wearlayer as well as six new 12 x 24 tiles. Suited to fit any décor, whether it’s residential or commercial, the Parkhill line features 2G click installation and Tuff Shield for added durability.

 

 

 

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-26-pmShaw: Floorte
The innovative flooring line uses high-definition printing for a hardwood or tile look that is highly authentic. Its Fold N Go locking system is precision-engineered for an easy installation. Its waterproof qualities make it ideal for high-moisture areas like basements, bathrooms and mudrooms. Floorté has been expanded with two new platforms: Alto and Valore.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-32-pmNovalis: NovaCore, NovaCore XL
NovaCore was introduced by Novalis as a high-performance core (HPC) plank under licensed technology from Unilin and USFloors. NovaCore is made in standard 6 x 48 planks, and NovaCore XL comes in 9 x 60 planks. Both have 10-year light commercial and limited lifetime residential warranties. NovaClic Fd technology aims to ease installation and conforms to irregular subfloors.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-38-pmUSFloors: COREtec Plus
USFloors made its entry into LVT with COREtec and has since emerged as the pioneer in the burgeoning category of WPC. Recent iterations include COREtec Plus, essentially a hybrid floor that combines the best features of LVT with the best features of laminate. COREtec Plus features a 1.5mm wear layer of virgin LVT, a 5 mm core structure, and a 1.5mm attached cork underlayment for an overall thickness of 8mm.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-45-pmDuChâteau: American Guild Premium Vinyl
American Guild, a new line of luxury vinyl plank and tile flooring from DuChâteau, captures the natural beauty of wood and stone. Available in a variety of trendy visuals, the collection offers distinct colors, textures and patterning in a durable, low-maintenance resilient flooring option. In addition, DuChâteau launches the Sovereign Edition (from the Atelier Series), which features EIR technology and a ceramic-reinforced finish.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-54-pmArmstrong: Vivero
The award-winning Vivero luxury flooring features patent-pending Diamond 10 Technology for optimal durability. The floor planks are 100% waterproof, are pet and family friendly and easy to clean. Vivero offers two flexible installation options and features the patented IntegriLock System. Vivero offers four collections—Rustics, Exotics, Traditional and Stones.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-59-pmMohawk: SolidTech
Mohawk launches SolidTech, a luxury vinyl product that combines the strength and visual of real hardwood with the durability and cleanability of luxury vinyl tile or laminate. Featuring thick, rigid construction, SolidTech planks look and feel just like real hardwood. They are 50% denser than average composite core flooring so SolidTech planks will not telegraph visual imperfections.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-04-pmCongoleum: DuraCeramic
DuraCeramic, one of Congoleum’s legacy products, continues to draw attention among consumers and throughout the industry. According to the company, the line was ranked the No. 1 hard surface product by Consumer Reports. DuraCeramic is not your run-of-the-mill LVT product. It is made with a limestone composite base and fortified with a polymeric resin for stability.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-09-pmAmorim: HydroCork
Amorim, makers of the Wicanders brand, recently took the wraps off HydroCork, an innovative product line that couples the top benefits of both LVT and WPC. Utilizing Corktech technology, HydroCork floors provide enhanced performance acoustics that facilitate up to 53% noise reduction. It also offers thermal qualities.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-15-pmBeauflor: Pure
Beauflor’s Pure plank and tile collection offers easy maintenance, exceptional sound absorption, is 100% recyclable, 100% waterproof and features a polyurethane finish for long-lasting protection. It can easily withstand heavy loads and high traffic areas. Pure also incorporates DreamClick, a 360° locking system that is one of the strongest in the LVT market.

 

 

 

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Executive Forecast: Resilient–LVT/WPC expected to continue its strong surge well into the new year

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

By Ken Ryan

 

The double-digit growth that has catapulted the LVT category in recent years is expected to continue in 2017, buttressed by the rise of rigid core products (also known as WPC). The lone caveat may be the very success of LVT, which is ushering in a new wave of players looking to grab a piece of this ever-expanding market.  

Larry Browder, CEO, Karndean Designflooring
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-48-47-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
All indications show the category will again grow around 15%.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
Commercial and retail will continue to be strong. Glue down or dryback products will see success in all categories while floating floors will drive the largest growth. Premium products within the rigid WPC segment will drive significant growth and create good margin opportunities.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
Karndean has enjoyed significant growth year after year due to our Designflooring strategy and customer-partnership philosophy. We fully expect that to continue in 2017 and beyond.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
The recent U.S. Presidential election and the [carry over] effect over the next four years remains to be seen.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
In 2016, Karndean made significant investments to increase our inventory, production, service and sample capabilities with the expansion of our U.S. headquarters outside Pittsburgh. This will allow us to meet the challenges of increased competition.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
The new product launches we have scheduled will expand our product selection beyond dryback and loose lay floors to include Karndean Korlok, a premium, rigid-core format that will provide superior retail, commercial and consumer benefits.

 

Kurt Denman, CMO/executive VP – sales, Congoleum
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-48-52-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
Overall I believe the category will continue to see modest growth in the range of 3-4%.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
Rigid core products will lead the category growth, particularly as variations intended to address specific price points and segments are introduced. We plan to introduce additional variations in construction and design options that are worlds apart from anything out there.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
The past couple of years we have enjoyed steady growth and are planning to outpace category growth. Our plans are for growth in excess of 5%.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
This shouldn’t be a surprise but the Presidential campaign has been such a distraction. Policies of the new administration and consumer confidence will determine the strength of the overall economy and ultimately industry performance.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
We have seen meaningful growth in the builder and multi-family segments. ArmorCore, our limestone-based sheet product, was specifically created to meet the needs of these segments and has done a tremendous job in helping us take market share.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
First is innovation. We’ve seen through the rise and popularity of rigid core products that to drive growth we must continue to focus on finding new and exciting ways to solve old problems. That’s true in product construction and design.

 

Piet Dossche, CEO, USFloors
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-48-56-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
I expect for the LVT/WPC category to continue its high double-digit growth.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
Opening price point, dryback, glue-down LVT and WPC will be the main catalyst for this growth. The solid click LVT segment will see its growth stagnate as the more stable composite core construction of the WPC will eventually become the click, floating LVT floor of choice.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
We are again expecting to strongly outpace the industry’s category growth in 2017, just like we have done in the last three years. Our COREtec product collections are still showing strong upward momentum, with several new collections being launched during Surfaces and early 2017.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
Clarity on trade agreements and Chinese currency policy will take some of the angst away on the LVT being imported from China.
Overall political stability and clear direction will stimulate the consumer to build, renovate and buy new flooring.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
The acquisition of USFloors by Shaw Industries will provide us with tremendous opportunities to streamline and fine-tune our business. The strength of Shaw’s operational excellence and distribution will be a strong addition to our speed to market and creative DNA.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
USFloors’ start-up of the first WPC manufacturing plant in the U.S. will be by far the biggest initiative we will be undertaking in 2017.

 

Paul Murfin, CEO, IVS US
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-49-02-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
We do the resilient category a disservice when we put all products in one bucket. You are going to see double-digit growth for LVT. However, on the sheet vinyl side, we show negative growth for felt. All together we see high single digits for resilient.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
LVT enjoyed a superb year in 2016. I don’t see anything to prevent that growth from continuing. It is still the fastest growing product segment in the industry, and when I talk about LVT I include these rigid-type products (WPC), which are driving a good portion of that growth as well.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
My goal and expectations would be to do better than [the overall] market growth.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
While people are talking of LVT growing rapidly it is also the most crowded category in the industry. This growth rate is not necessarily something you can take for granted. Companies will have to continue to focus on differentiation and value relative to other product categories.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
There is opportunity for Mohawk resilient to leverage our LVT factory, which is now established and starting to make product in a fairly healthy manner. We are looking forward to taking advantage of that capacity, which we have not had at our disposal before.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
We have a variety of product plans across all of our distribution channels. New products and initiatives for IVC include refreshing our Flexitec sheet vinyl line and transitioning our LVT from Belgium production to U.S. manufacturing.

 

Michael Raskin, CEO, Raskin Industries
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-49-06-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
We are projecting 15% growth for 2017.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
Dryback will continue to grow, but the floating products will continue to increase due to ease of installation and contractors looking to reduce the cost of floor prep. Click and loose lay products will continue at higher growth rates. There will be more variations of rigid products.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
We expect our volume to be double of the overall category growth. We expect to be at 30% growth rate due to new distributors, growth from our existing distribution and domestic production expansion. We will launch our waterproof, rigid LVT products.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
Assuming the playing field is even, the “X” factor will be companies that deliver design, color and consistent quality. You will see a stronger divide between brands driven by design vs. low price LVT brands. The companies in the middle will find it harder to maintain market share.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
The expansion of our domestic offerings will provide exclusive designs and the ability to reduce delivery times. By offering more domestic products we keep our supply chain diversified in case there are trade sanctions imposed or cost increases from freight or overseas suppliers.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
To strategically select products that are imported vs. made in the USA and collectively inventory with our distribution partners to maximize our logistics.

 

Russ Rogg, CEO, Metroflor
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-49-12-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
Specific to the LVT category, we anticipate total blended growth will be in the 10% range, i.e., “blended” across all segments and all LVT product types/categories.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
All segments will grow but not at the same rate. Floating LVT—rigid-core floating LVT in particular—will outpace all other categories with accelerated growth. This growth in the rigid-core category will come from all [residential] segments and certain commercial segments.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
We are planning for a 10% increase. With the continued growth of our Aspecta commercial LVT brand specifically related to two new collections that we’ve added (Aspecta Ten featuring Isocore Technology and Aspecta One, a new line of dryback commercial LVT).

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
The “X” factor for Metroflor is to simply execute the various initiatives that we have already begun or have planned. Aspecta Ten, our commercial rigid-core product, has only begun to see exposure during the fourth quarter, so there is a lot of runway for this brand/collection.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
The two greatest opportunities for Metroflor are tied to our plan to engage with and create closer relationships with our Aligned Dealer Network. Through this effort, we desire to establish our Isocore platform as the market-leading technology in the rigid-core category.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
We want to continue to invest in and grow our Aspecta business. In two and a half years, we’ve gone from a conceptual new commercial LVT brand to having nearly 200 SKUs across three collections: Aspecta Five, Aspecta One and Aspecta Ten.

 

John Wu, president and CEO, Novalis Innovative Flooring
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-49-16-amWhat is your projection for category growth next year?
We predict the LVT/WPC category will continue to grow at a double-digit pace through 2017.

What segments and/or products will fuel this growth?
We still see continuing growth in the specified commercial segment and the Main Street commercial segment. We also believe the WPC category will continue to push forward residential volume in 2017.

What is the predicted growth of your company in 2017?
Novalis will continue to grow at a double-digit rate internationally.

What is the “X factor” that will impact business next year?
In the U.S. there will be a new Presidential administration, so the “X” factor will be to see how this new administration’s policies and changes will affect the U.S. and world economy.

Where do you see opportunities for next year? Challenges?
LVT continues to be a huge opportunity, especially for Novalis and other large and experienced players. The challenge is to continually innovate. We have some interesting developments in that area for 2017. The other challenge the LVT industry faces: increased raw material costs.

What are some of your biggest initiatives for 2017?
Continued growth in the areas we started in the last half of 2015 and through 2016—commercial, Main Street and our high-performance core (WPC) product.