Resilient: Novalis rides commercial sector’s rising tide

April 22, 2016

April 11/18, 2016; Volume 30, Number 21

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.08.11 PMBy most accounts, 2015 was a fortuitous year for Novalis Innovative Flooring. During that time, the company—known for its modern, environmentally friendly approach to LVT product development—expanded its global manufacturing and warehousing capabilities to better serve its distributors and end users.

The end result, according to John Wu, the company’s president, was not only the successful launch of new product lines and programs that drew praises from its customers, but also vinyl tile rollouts that managed to garner some prestigious commercial contract industry awards along the way.

“In 2015 we had two major commercial launches: the Birkdale collection from the branded NovaFloor line, which features extra long planks and tiles; and a new product offering under the AVA banner,” Wu said. “These 18 x 36 tiles and

9 x 50 planks have been very well received by distributors in the marketplace; they have been asking for this larger format. It’s definitely trending up.”

With AVA, Novalis launched 64 SKUs in planks and in tiles across three collections: DGSN for corporate, retail and hospitality; SNSE for education and healthcare; and STYL for multi-family developments. AVA offers a broad selection of designs in dryback, loose lay and click installation formats. This marks the company’s first foray into commercial flooring under the Novalis brand.

The reception of the AVA-branded commercial line has been particularly warm, according to Wu. Just a few short months after the line’s official launch in the summer of 2015, the collection made an even bigger splash at NeoCon East in Philadelphia in November. What’s more, AVA took home the coveted Kapok Award from the commercial interior-focused Guangzhou Design Week show in China the following month. (It’s worth noting that more than 1,000 products competed for the prize.)

“We wanted an attention-grabbing display for our new AVA product,” Wu said, describing the full-size, sprawling skateboard course that was built right into Novalis’ booth at the Guangzhou event. “Hundreds of people visited the booth to watch skateboard athletes showcase the beauty and demonstrate the durability of our AVA floors.”


2016 objectives

Wu is confident the momentum of award-winning products such as AVA will carry over into 2016. This is based on his hunch that two entirely new offerings will generate just as much buzz—if not more so—than last year’s breakthroughs.

As an encore act, Novalis is launching a pair of fresh products under the NovaFloor banner. The first line is called Davidson, which is a commercial-spec glue-down product for the Main Street/commercial market. The second product is branded Abberly, a Main Street commercial floating LVT floor with a Valinge 5G locking system.

A soft launch of these products took place at Surfaces in Las Vegas back in January, followed by a larger, full-scale rollout earlier this month.

“Our distributors are very excited about the product,” Wu said, noting the focus on these specific formats reflects the company’s confidence in the Main Street commercial sectors. “With Abberly in particular, we believe this is one of the strongest click products on the market.”

While Wu stresses the fact that Novalis spends significant funds on researching design trends to develop what the company predicts will be the hot colors and patterns, it’s not taking all the credit for the inspiration behind the new 2016 offerings. “Every year we invest a lot of money into developing new designs, but we also couple that with feedback from our distributor partners as well,” he explained.

For those dealers who carry existing NovaFloor products, Wu said the company has made it easy to incorporate the newer lines into the fold. This is courtesy of Novalis’ modular display system, which can be adjusted using “sidecars” to accommodate the latest samples. The updates will be supported by new literature.

“We think this will be a very successful program as more and more distributors recognize that they need to be involved not only in residential but also commercial,” Wu stated. “Our research shows LVT is becoming a bigger part of the overall pie, and with these two new products distributors will have a much greater chance of grabbing a larger share. “

The 2016 objectives don’t end with the product launches. Wu also revealed that Novalis is working hard to bolster its online presence, particularly as it relates to building a social network for the flagship brand.

“Even though we have been in the business for 30 years, we are still the new kid on the block with respect to the U.S. market,” he explained. “That’s why we feel that we need to have a stronger social network presence (i.e., LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook). I think you will see a lot more of that from us.”

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