by Matthew Spieler
Earlier this month, Mannington CEO Russell Grizzle told FCNews during an exclusive interview the company was returning to the main show floor at Surfaces, Jan. 24 to 26 in Las Vegas. His reason? “We are having one of the largest product launches at Surfaces we’ve had in a long time…and being on the show floor is the best place to do that.”
To that end, company executives rolled out a bevy of new products, additions and technologies in every residential category the mill participates in during an exclusive preview with editors of FCNews.
The central theme around the introductions was utilizing Mannington’s expertise in style, design and function to create products that bring greater value to the consumer and sorely needed sales to retailers.
“The No. 1 driver for consumer purchases is style and design,” explained Paul Mixon, resilient product manager. “Our goal for this year was to elevate our style and design at every price point so as to offer the consumer more opportunities to buy the floor she wants. We call it Style 360 degrees”
He pointed to Mannington’s popular Sobella line as an example. “We now have the best styling, design and value. There are some products that are normally at the highest end and now at a stronger price point.”
Mixon explained the company was dropping its Classic collection and adding Deluxe to the Sobella lineup, which now goes from Prime at the lowest price point to Deluxe to Supreme to OmniHD. Deluxe is the new Classic and starts off with seven designs and 21 SKUs.
While Classic is being dropped, Mannington has kept the collection’s best sellers and added from there to create the new Deluxe lineup.
Some of the new designs retailers will be seeing in Sobella’s Prime and Deluxe offerings include Rockwell, a 6-inch stone in four colors; Serena, a traditional marble but with a lot of color variation, and Hatteras, a refined rustic with subtle scaraping in a 4-inch wide plank. “It’s got all the bells and whistles, including aluminum oxide and a urethane finish at a great price,” Mixon said.
When it comes the upper end Sobella products in Supreme and OmniHD, Mixon said “we have to continue to feed these with top styles and designs.”
As such, Cambridge is a slate but on staggered squares. He described it as a laminate slate look in sheet, but using five and six colors instead of the usual four. At 150mil thick, Poseidon is a top-of-the-line 16-inch tile limestone look that utilizes the entire expanse of the engraving cylinder.
Terry Marchetta, director of residential styling, said that means Poseidon’s patterns do not repeat until 27 tiles later. “So it will be very difficult for consumers to find a repeat. Plus, if you give the tile a quarter turn it looks different, thus making the repeat even harder to detect.”
David Sheehan, vice president, resilient, said the line continues to grow by double digits and Mannington wanted to make sure the momentum continues in 2012. “The 16-inch format is still our most popular, so we added a lot of mainstream whites and beiges as well as some new colors and patterns.”
Mannington also added products featuring its LockSolid technology as it “has seen phenomenal growth,” he said.
Because Mannington has a unique position in that it is involved in every type of flooring product—resilient, hardwood, laminate, tile, even carpet on the commercial side—Sheehan said “we like to share between categories. So when we see a hot style we can quickly deploy it into other areas.”
As an example, he pointed to Mannington’s Restoration Collection in laminate, which was launched in 2011. “It was one of our most popular introductions, and the best seller was Historic Oak. So, we came up with Dockside for Adura.
Joe Amato, vice president of residential styling, pointed out it was such a hot look “we put it into all the other categories in one way or another.”
Dockside’s five colors come as either glue-down in the new Distinctive Plank format or featuring LockSolid.
Sheehan said the company will continue to offer both glue-down and locking options for its LVT products “because there is still a segment that loves glue-down LVT.”
Pushing the envelope
“We’ve been looking for ways to push the envelope in terms of style and design,” noted. “Up to now, we have not been able to achieve exotic looks or polished marble or stone visuals. These visuals tend to be higher gloss, and to achieve that you need a urethane that will not only provide higher gloss and clarity, but also perform.”
Borrowing once again from another category, Mannington’s Diamond Finish technology has been incorporated into Adura. Kona, in two SKUs, is new to Adura and takes advantage of this new technology. “It needed the right gloss, one that was higher than matte but not super glossy,” Amato said. “But enough to capture the look of the natural material. It has great visual depth and color play.”
Oasis and Calypso are tile products, each in four SKUs. Sheehan described the marble looks as “more sophisticated. We are slowly growing the line.”
The big news? Mannington’s LockSolid, which has been on its Stainmaster resilient tiles for a few months, is now available on Adura tiles. “It installs just as easy as planks,” he said. LockSolid is currently on Adura’s 16 top sellers and will be expanded later in the year.
Speaking of Stainmaster products, Sheehan said the company converted the line to all fiberglass from felt and separated the LVT and sheet products by offering a new LVT display.
In addition, Tanzania in four SKUs is new this year and comes in both glue and locking versions. With this grouping, the Stainmaster line now features 42 SKUs with LockSolid.
Dan Natkin, director of wood products, said function and design were the main elements guiding the company’s introductions in this area as well. HE pointed out how a few years ago locking systems were making their way into wood then went quiet as the economy went downhill. In the last year, though, there has been a resurgance, as there is more pull from the market for these kinds of products.
“More people are wanting to put them in themselves as well as property managers in high rises. They like that it minimizes installation time, is quiet when installing or taking up and so on. It has reinvigorated the concept.”
As such, Mannington has worked with Välinge, the leading suppler of locking technologies, to come up with a proprietary lock under the LockSolid banner. The result? “A very simple lock using Välinge’s 2G technology and with great strength.”
The system has been incorporated into Mannington’s American Hardwoods, its best selling collection. “So now we offer locking, glue and staple,” Natkin said. “And, the pricing, warranties and styles are the same across all platforms.”
Along with LockSolid, three new wood collections have been added to Mannington’s offering: Mayan Pecan, Hayworth and Mountain View. The latter feeds off the popularity of rustic, he said, “but with a more subtle, softer scrape.” In terms of color, Natkin added, the bright oranges and reds are not as popular, instead browns are gaining favor and that can be seen in the three SKUs offered under the name. It has to do with the “whole cooling off of exotics.”
Hayworth features heavy wire brushing and glazing in its one style, Platinum. “It’s been tinted to take some of the brightness away,” Amato said. “It’s Mannington’s whitewash look” and is in response to homes going more modern.
Mayan Pecan is this year’s “feature” product, Natkin said. “It’s a unique visual and we take advantage of its natural character with a subtle rustic finish.”
Amato added the product is hand rubbed to create a shading effect from board to board. “It has more of a furniture look that you can’t get from a machine.”
Natkin called the three-SKU line “one of the prettiest products we’ve ever produced. You won’t find two planks the same.”
When it comes to laminate, he said this year’s theme was easy for Mannington: expand the Restoration Collection. “This was one of the best products we ever sold.” And, with the category still not performing too well, the product’s success “proved to us there is still a market for high-end laminate.”
The result is three new products under the Restoration label to make it a complete line of its own. Ten SKUs make up the Chateau, Arcadia and Chestnut Hill lines.
Amato said the latter was inspired from a plank found in a Pennsylvania lumber yard and comes in thee colors. Arcadia is a “very refined rustic” in three colors and Chateau’s four colors are not as heavily rustic and feature more of a high-gloss look, but not as much as the high-gloss craze of a few years ago.
Jim Dougherty, director of porcelain tile, said Mannington is making a “big push” to round out all the price points in a wide variety of product styles.
“One of the challenges we have is Mannington is known as a vinyl company,” he explained. “We’re slowly making headway to be an alternative, rather than a competitor.”
As a result, Marchetta said, “you won’t see a lot of beiges in this year’s introductions.”
Five new lines are being added to Mannington’s porcelain offerings— Slate Valley, Acropolis, Babylon, Strata and LaJolla.
She described Acropolis as a soft subtle marble available in 13- and 18-inch tiles, a 3×13 bullnose and a mesh mosaic. “It’s a higher end look at a lower price point.
Slate has been “extremely popular” for us, Doughtery explained and is the reason behind Slate Valley, “but this is a little softer.” Like Acropolis, it comes in 13- and 18-inch tiles, a 3×13 bullnose and a mesh mosaic.
LaJolla has a sand-type texture with a “subtle blush movement,” Marchetta said. It is available in four colors in 12×12, 18×18, 12×24, 3×12 bullnose, and a 3×6 offset brick mosaic. “We’re bring more rectangles to market as we’re seeing them grow in popularity with consumers.”
Dougherty said Strata is a more modern high-end tile that “fills a space in our portfolio. The five-color line comes in the same sizes as LaJolla.
The final product, Babylon, is a digital printed product in a travertine look. Each tile was hand designed giving it a “very antique, biblical look,” Marchetta said. A total of 48 visuals are available in a range of sizes—6×6, 12×12, 18×18, 12×24, 3×12 bullnose and a mesh mosaic.
Dougherty noted Babylon pretty much summed up what Mannington is offering this year. “A huge amount of looks.”