by Ken Ryan
It didn’t take long for Elevations, the floating tile and plank designed by Raskin Industries, to make an impact at retail. It started by capturing a Best of Surfaces award, which has parlayed into multiple distributor signings.
“Our initial allotment of retail displays were sold in three days; we now have several hundred displays placed with our dealer network,” said Mike Welch, president of E.J. Welch Co., Earth City, Mo., one of four distributors that recently agreed to carry Elevations in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest and Midwest.
The loose lay luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is designed so the planks and tiles can be installed over all types of subfloors, including natural wood, concrete, one layer of existing vinyl, ceramic and uneven subfloors.
Brett McHale, president and owner of APT Distributing, with five locations in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, said his mid-sized company made a bigger investment in Elevations than any other product in its history. So far, he said, the investment has worked out. “We started out with two containers, which we are largely through, and we are on the next two containers. Whether we show the product to retailers or our commercial customers, they get excited about it. It’s not often you get both sides equally excited about a product.”
Keith Hemstock, president of New England Flooring Supply, North Haven, Conn., said he was initially skeptical about the product. However, his sales staff kept coming back to him with rave reports from the field. “[Based on] the overwhelmingly positive response we were getting from dealers, my expectations have grown by the week.”
Within the LVT category, Houston-based T&L Distributing wants to compete in the glue, floating and loose lay segments. “So no matter the requirements of the job, we can offer a solution,” said Bob Eady, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
For that total solution, turned to Michael Raskin, CEO of Raskin Industries, and his people. “Michael put together what we felt was a very attractive offering of visuals in both scraped/ rustics and tile visuals,” Eady said. “Elevations is not a bunch of SKUs to drive inventory costs up but the right SKUs for a nice turn and earn index for distribution.”
The four distributors said the simplicity of the Gravity Grip and the ingenuity of the fiberglass sets Elevations apart. “Gravity Grip offers definitive solutions to issues our dealers have in the LVT market on concrete slab,” Eady said.
How it measures up
The distributors liked the performance characteristics Elevations brings to the LVT market, notably a non-skid backing, high grade fiberglass sheet for stability, durable ceramic coating, and water resistance that allows the product to be in-stalled in moisture-prone areas where wood flooring and laminate products would not be used.
“I know of only a few other [loose lay products], but [Elevations] is clearly above the others,” Welch said. “Everything is eye-catching—the design, display, construction, marketing of it. Raskin hit it out of the park with this product. The combination of superior design visuals and outstanding performance features of Elevations makes it the premier LVT flooring regardless of install method.”
McHale added, “The styling is night and day better than other products on the market and the gloss level is much more realistic. We’re getting a very strong response to it.”
Weighing merits of loose lay
T&L’s Eady said “time will tell” which LVT product gains the volume: Click or loose lay. “One other point for the loose lay is because of the bulk of the product—which equates to weight, which means higher costs—I am hopeful that the loose lay category will remain profitable without so many individual competitors.”
McHale, who said his large investment in Elevations validates his faith in loose lay, noted, “I see the premier LVT segment heading in the loose lay direction.”
Hemstock said he was skeptical of loose lay in the early stages, but no longer. “Loose lay, and in particular Elevations, has something for everyone: The professional installer and the homeowner because there’s not a lot of work; and, as a result, the claims will decline a great deal or go away completely because if you have a problem with the floor you just pick it up and replace it. This product looks better and feels better, and will find a home easier.”