By Steven Feldman
Volume 26/Number 17; January 7/14, 2013
LAVAL, QUEBEC, CANADA—It’s not every day a flooring company takes the wraps off something revolutionary, a true differentiator that also, most importantly, gives the retailer a story that can translate into higher-margin sales. But Canadian wood manufacturer Lauzon has just checked both of these boxes.
Its new feature is called Pure Genius and is based on a “revolutionary” purifying coating technology, explained Jennifer Currie, brand manager.
Pure Genius is similar to the Magic Fresh odor-reducing additive marketed by Beaulieu for its carpet in that it reduces common household odors caused by pets, food and cigarette smoke. But that’s just the beginning. It also has the capability to break down harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and even toxic pollutants like NOx (nitrogen oxides) from engine exhaust.
Currie noted while each VOC source is produced within certain limts, there is a cumulative effect that exceeds the limit to which humans should be exposed. The result can be as extreme as sick building syndrome and even be a cause of cancer, especially in children under age 10.
What’s more, Pure Genius breaks down all kinds of micro-organic matters such as bacteria, viruses and mold. So, in essence, it is a hardwood floor that improves living environments. But unlike an antibiotic, where an organism fights another organ- ism and can create a more resistant strain, Pure Genius creates no resistance from the organisms. Rather, it interferes with their metabolisms and destroys them.
How Pure Genius works: When a photocatalyst, in this case titanium dioxide (TiO2), absorbs ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or an illuminated light source such as fluorescent lamps, it will produce pairs of electrons and holes. These then form a powerful oxidizing agent that decomposes the ambient organic compounds into harmless water and carbon dioxide. The process is akin to photosynthesis in plants.
“This has been popular in Europe and Japan for a long time,” Currie said. “It is used on windows, in exterior cladding and for outdoor structures such as phone booths—mainly for its self-cleaning properties, which is one more interesting benefit of a photocatalytic surface. It does the equivalent of what several other treatments do in this industry: Magic Fresh, Scotchgard, Microban, Silver Release, Silver Knight, etc.”
She said Lauzon is the first hardwood manufacturer to offer the technology. Seven ceramic manufacturers are already including it in their products. An agreement with Välinge, licensor of the technology, gives Lauzon certain exclusivity. “We have rights to sell and market the product in any country we want.”
When it comes to incorporating Pure Genius into its products, Currie said, the company is “at least two years ahead of everyone else. Getting the right balance of the concentration while maintaining the right luster and clarity that Lauzon is known for was challenging. But we have overcome all those hurdles.”
What’s more, Pure Genius is effective for the life of the floor. “It is incorporated in our lacquer layer,” she added. “So as long as you don’t sand the floor, it remains active for the useful life of the product.”
Pure Genius will be available in the U.S. sometime during the third quarter on all products within Lauzon’s Ambiance collection as well as about half the products in its high-end Designer collection.
The new technology isn’t all that sets Lauzon apart. Currie claims the company is the only hardwood flooring supplier to offer a titanium finish on its products. “It is much more clear er than an aluminum oxide finish so the beauty of the wood grain is highlighted, plus it offers superior resistance to scratching and maintains its lus ter over time.” She also touted Lauzon’s proprietary Sunshield treatment—a UV inhibitor that blocks ultra violet rays from the sun and prevents yellowing over time.
Last year, Lauzon introduced a new selling system for the Canadian market. The merchandiser reflects research that reveals the consumer sales process in flooring choice. Design boards have been created in four color palettes: lights, mid-tones, darker tones and grays. Within each color category there are three decor suggestions: traditional, modern and contemporary. Each shows floor choices, paint colors and fabrics for coordination.
As the consumer is looking at the display, the salesperson takes her through the floor selections, which are divided into three collections: Designer is the high end, Ambiance is the mid-range and Essential is the entry level. “So regardless of her budget, she will be able to find a quality hardwood in her choice of color,” Currie said.
Despite the large footprint—three modules that combined total 15 feet wide x 40 inches deep—Lauzon has exceeded display placement by 50%.
In other news
•This year, Lauzon will work on strengthening its relationship with existing distributor partners in the U.S. The company will provide innovative merchandising, training and support to help customers differentiate its products, allowing them to command a premium price.
•The Home stead series is Lauzon’s latest introduction. The solid-sawn engineered line offers character with either a soft scrape or a scrape coupled with a wire-brushed effect. “We have coined a new term for this category: ‘time worn,’” Currie said. “For the last five years, the textured hardwoods on the market have been very aggressively scraped with a high luster. We have purposely softened the amount of texture and have opted for a lower gloss level. This represents a new styling direction that creates authenticity and a century-old look that is trending right now.”
•In lieu of exhibiting at Surfaces, Lauzon will conduct a series of regional road shows. “We absolutely believe in Surfaces,” she said. “It’s just that this year we want to focus our marketing efforts on getting closer to our customers to truly understand their needs. We feel we can best reach them in this format.”
•The company has retained a reputable stylist and trends researcher, Cheryl Grant, to oversee color and design.