As sales continue to be hard to come by, laminate manufacturers are putting more emphasis on products that give consumers extra value for their dollar while touting the fact more of these goods are being produced domestically.
“The buying process in 2011 finds consumers almost universally scrutinizing their flooring purchases through a new value lens,” said Roger Farabee, senior vice president of marketing for Mohawk’s Unilin divison. “A strong price/value relationship is of paramount importance to them.”
Beyond just price and performance, part of that value proposition has to do with whether a product carries the “Made in U.S.A.” label. As manufacturers are finding out, it is becoming more important than prior to the recession and the laminate industry is responding with almost 70% of products being domestically produced.
The following is an example of what retailers can expect to see from some of the leading brands this fall.
Classic Estate is one of the first lines to be produced via the company’s expanded production capabilities in Barnwell, S.C. But Fred Giuggio, vice president of the Formica Flooring and Kronotex brands, said the line not only captures the Made in U.S.A. appeal, it takes it a step further by focusing solely on American hardwoods.
The six hardwood looks—Victorian Mahogany, Mt. Vernon Maple, Tavern Oak, Colonial Heritage Walnut, Auburn Walnut and Plymouth Walnut—capture the look of “stately, refined American hardwoods,” with authentic details such as beveled edges, he explained. “The collection was designed to push Formica’s styling to a new level of sophistication.”
As the company continues to push this brand further into the market, it is launching Beaufort Traditions this fall. Giuggio said it is with collections such as this that “Kronotex USA will continue to break out as a more recognized brand.”
Made up of six traditional hardwood looks—Centennial Maple, Homestead Cherry, Bristol Cherry, Potomac Cherry, Colonial Harvest Oak and Brandywine Oak—they include many of the styling features consumers are seeking in a thick 12mm construction.
“Beveled edges, new surface textures and popular decors are just a few of the features we are offering as we move forward in developing new products under the Kronotex name,” he said.
When Farabee spoke of a good value proposition he did not mean cheap. “It means offering consumers a quality product at an attractive price.”
That is the thinking behind the new Modello collection. Featuring both exotic and traditional designs, he said the “high level of realism ensures consumers receive the best combination of style and value.”
The Made in the USA collection includes five traditional rustic oak designs. There are also two exotic looks: wenge and merbau.
Modello planks are micro-beveled and 6 1⁄8 inches wide by 54 inches extra long on an 8mm platform, which utilizes the Uniclic glueless installation system.
When it came to bringing out something new for its laminate offerings, Eric Erickson, laminate manager, said the company decided to give dealers something different to help boost sales. Instead of a new laminate collection or additions to existing lines, Shaw has become the exclusive provider of Selitac underlayment.
“This product brings many features and benefits that competitive products can’t offer and is extremely price competitive,” he said. “We feel it is a new and better approach to underlayment and how to work with it.”
Billed as “three times simpler to install,” Erickson said Selitac is “a more rigid material but lightweight, that is folded up like an accordion so it is packaged very similar to laminate, which makes it easy to handle and ship. Because of its design, the product can simply be unfolded and will lay perfectly flat. It has an edge design that locks together so rows won’t slip. It also has a foil top that acts as a great moisture barrier and helps provide thermal insulation.”
The 100% recyclable, American-made Selitac will have a free standing display and brochures with a sample included.