It wasn’t so long ago that Jim Walters, president and co-owner of Macco’s Floor Covering in Green Bay, Wis., viewed the vinyl category with disdain. “It was a non-issue residentially; it didn’t exist in our market,” he said.
Then grouted luxury vinyl tile hit the market, and products like Armstrong’s Alterna LVT completely transformed the category for Macco and many other flooring retailers and distributors. “We classify LVT as a separate category from other vinyl products, and it is now the second-largest hard surface category for us,” Walters said. “It has gone from zero to No. 2 in a very short period of time, and it keeps growing.”
For Chris Taylor, regional manager of Carpetmaster Carpet One, Latham, N.Y., nothing exemplifies value better than resilient, and with Armstrong’s Alterna and Luxe Plank he can offer customers affordable products that are stylish, unique and durable.
Carpetmaster Carpet One is doing exceptionally well with Alterna with Taylor citing “a mix of several things” as to why:
1.“The product is innovative, which makes it exciting to show and talk about.
2. “Most consumers have not seen a vinyl tile that can be grouted before, so it has that immediate impact of being new and exciting.
3.“My sales staff sees the customers’ positive response to the product, which makes them even more confident to show Alterna first in their presentations.”
As an Elite Armstrong dealer, Taylor said the support on training and pricing his company receives provides distinct advantages. “My Armstrong rep and I have identified Alterna as a major growth opportunity, so we have programmed very aggressive pricing on the product to drive volume.”
Taylor said one of the perks with the Elite program is all phone call leads are recorded. “I have the luxury of being able to listen to each call. I would say at least 50% of the calls are about Alterna, which means Armstrong is doing a great job showcasing this line on its website or consumers just tend to really like the visuals and concept of this particular floor. Either way, it is generating a lot of business.”
Armstrong’s exclusive manufacturing technology is what makes Alterna flooring tiles look distinctly unique, creating random, natural visuals. Customers are drawn in by the color of the visuals, according to Michael Goldberg, owner of Rite Rug, Columbus, Ohio. “Alterna has really great visuals and patterns vs. the other five or six manufacturers in the market. Plus, Armstrong is a really good marketer.”
Rite Rug started carrying Alterna at the end of February and the product took off soon after. “For the length of time it has been on the market it has done really well for us,” Goldberg said.
At Dalene Flooring Carpet One, South Windsor, Conn., president Gordon Crunden said his customers truly appreciate that Alterna and Luxe provide the design customers are looking for while eliminating many of the real wood and ceramic attributes people don’t like. “Consumers always like that Alterna is softer and warmer than traditional ceramic tile.”
Softer, warmer products resonate in Taylor’s upstate New York market, where homeowners do not often install ceramic tile in kitchens and bathrooms. As a result, he said, “People view Alterna as being a perfect floor for these areas because it is not as cold and still provides the high-end visual of ceramic tile. We have Alterna and real ceramic tile installed in our showroom, and most consumers cannot tell the difference
between the two. Alterna provides a solution to a common problem [cold floors] without sacrificing the visual and performance consumers want.”
Setting sales records
Tyler Barr, the new Kansas City sales manager for distributor W.C. Tingle, ran a two- day warehouse sale of Armstrong’s vinyl products during Surfaces. Barr said the combination of products offering sharp visuals coupled with the incentives tied to Armstrong’s direct-ship program made for two banner sales days. “Armstrong gave us some great price incentives, and that really created a sense of urgency to buy on the spot, which customers did.”
Barr said Alterna and Luxe have set sales records in his market every month since he took on the products. “Compared with the competition, Armstrong has the style and design people are looking for.
The advantages to Alterna are that it is an easy product to install with 16 unique patterns that do not give you any repeats when you are installing the tiles. Plus, the merchandising display Armstrong came up with is really eye-catching and shows the product off well.”
Retailers and distributors have lauded Luxe for its ease of installation and resourcefulness to work in commercial and residential applications. The floating design of the Luxe product adds to the flexibility, they say.
“Luxe can provide the look of wood with the maintenance of a resilient floor and eliminate elevation problems of a new wood floor,” Crunden said.
Barr added that Luxe can be installed over almost any flooring surface. “It’s a very easy installation system and very unique glue system, that if the installer had to tear the floor apart, he could put it back down and still get the same bond strength as before. It’s also a very good DIY product as well as a high performance product.”
“Luxe is a very good looking plank,” Rite Rug’s Goldberg said.