Marcus seeks to grow American Biltrite

Home Inside FCNews Marcus seeks to grow American Biltrite

New York–It’s been a quiet three months for Roger Marcus, the former president and CEO of Congoleum. But that doesn’t mean he has not been busy. At the very least, he’s cut his workweek from six to five days and workday from 11 to eight hours.

Marcus has been turning his attention to American Biltrite, (AB) the $200 million-plus, semi-public company in which he has been CEO since 1984. The Marcus family has held a major interest in AB since its inception more than 100 years ago and is the corporation that held a 50%-plus ownership stake in Congoleum pre-bankruptcy. AB is involved in a number of businesses—costume jewelry, protective paper and film products, rubber belting and flooring.

“I’ve been taking a more active role in the management of the whole corporation,” Marcus said, “particularly with the flooring division.” AB flooring is marketed under several brands, including Estrie in the U.S. and “to confuse the world,” Amtico in Canada. Both brands feature vinyl and rubber commercial products.

According to Marcus, AB offers a number of competitive advantages when compared to many companies seeking to penetrate the market:

1. Family-owned, which means it can move very quickly and nimbly.

2. Decades of experience and an established R&D facility. As an example, the company just introduced AB Pure, a product Marcus suggested could be a “game changer” for the commercial rubber flooring industry.

3. A solid North American representation of distributors, including Kraus, Centura, Mohawk, All-Tile and CMH.

4. Innovative leadership as illustrated in the first company to introduce a non-VOC, PVC-free commercial floor tile, and now AB Pure.

The future

Going forward, Marcus will be looking to improve AB’s share of the resilient flooring market, which is currently less than 1%. How? “There are several areas of opportunity, such as more unique specialty commercial products. We can have more involvement in representing viable commercial products utilizing overseas facilities.”

What about entering the residential arena, where Congoleum excelled? “Highly possible,” he said. But AB would find a host of competitors waiting, both new and old. “Obviously, having had 40-plus years of experience, we would pick what we believe are the growth areas, where we could give the market something unique and different, and give the distributor and retailer an advantage. I think we are clever enough to identify those areas.” He cited his role in the launch of DuraCeramic, which at the time was a totally open area. “That product became the backbone not only for the growth of Congoleum, but also paved the way for the growth of the LVT category.”

Developing a distribution network is no easy task, but Marcus believes having the right product, coupled with the confidence that comes with having experienced people behind it, will win the day.

As for whether AB will grow as a manufacturer or utilize overseas factories, Marcus said the company will choose the avenue that’s most appropriate for each product line it introduces. “Right now we have a flooring manufacturing facility in eastern Canada that today is under utilized, but it is capable of producing a myriad of product types.

The goal, Marcus said, is to have a “show and tell” at Surfaces 2013.

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