Domotex asia/ChinaFloor: U.S. mills expand into Asia as Eastern mills grow in west

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As noted, China remains a hotbed of sourcing for many companies. But it is no longer considered the place for low-end commodities, as mills have invested in technology and equipment that allow them to compete with products offering a higher value by combining unique looks and performance.

Philippe Erramuzpe, COO of USFloors, was not only meeting with current suppliers, he was searching the market for products with high looks “but without compromising quality. We need to fight the war and this is a good market to look for new ammunition.”

Ark FloorsAaron Priner, owner of CAP Carpet in Wichita, Kan., called his first trip to DACF “amazing. I loved the energy I felt in its halls. There was a huge assortment and rich variety of products available for purchase.”

While the struggling U.S. economy has taken its toll on companies throughout the selling chain, executives from the U.S. divisions of Chinese owned mills said the recession has actually helped them grow.

“The crisis has been good for us,” said Perry Coker, president of Lamett, North America. “The status quo is no longer accepted and it’s helped us gain share.”

Thomas Baert, president of parent company Chinafloors, added the manufacturer sold 1,500 displays just at Surfaces and expects to have national distribution before year’s end. “The economy opened people to new ideas; they realized they have to try different things. But you still have to make sure you supply them with quality products and help educate their salespeople to understand they can make more money on our products.”

Ira Lefkowitz, president of Ark, the U.S. division of A&W Group, one of China’s largest wood manufacturers, said continual investment into North America has allowed the company to build market share. “In this bad economy, people are looking for value and because we are a vertically integrated company, we can offer quality and price.”

With five warehouse/distribution facilities around the U.S., he added, Ark is positioned to help American retailers earn more profits. The company will be expanding on its success in the wood market and will soon introduce a comprehensive laminate line, Tru-Craft. It will have about 30SKUs in 8mm and 12mm constructions and feature the Uniclic locking system.

Pete Ciganovich, executive vice president and co-owner of Lamipro, said the company is up 28%, which is why DACF is important. “The purpose here is not so much for us to meet with customers—we use Surfaces to work with our dealer network—rather it is to improve our business structure in order to ensure we help our retailers turn a profit.”

As such, he said DACF allows the company “to reset our styling and broaden the base of our product line. We want to bring additional value to our aligned dealers and make them extremely competitive with the Lamipro label. If they make money, then we make money.”

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