Awards program succeeds in setting new benchmarks
By Steven Feldman
Volume 26/Number 20; February 18/25, 2013
Las Vegas—Six companies brought home the hardware in the second annual Best of Surfaces competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Hanley Wood, proprietors of Surfaces. The awards have quickly become the benchmark for product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show.
The winners were:
•Innovation: Emser Tile’s Flash Brite Linear Mosaic
•Style & Design: Mannington’s Adura
•Sustainability: Mohawk’s SmartStrand Silk
•Technology: QFloors’ Instant Stock Check
•Best Booth Design Over 1,200 square feet: Quick•Step
•Best Booth Design Under 1,200 square feet: Olde Wood
The judging was conducted by a panel of retailers who were initially tasked with narrowing the entrants in each category to a manageable number by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were asked to delve through all submissions and select their top five in each category. The five most popular selections in each category made it on to the final round, where five judges viewed each finalist first hand on day one of Surfaces. They convened at FCNews’ booth at the close of the day and openly discussed their opinions with each other for the first time. From these discussions emerged the Best of Surfaces winners.
Flash Brite Linear Mosaic from Emser Tile
Emser, the only two-time Best of Surfaces winner after its St. Moritz took home the Style & Design category award last year, this time around captured the Innovation award for Flash Bright Linear Mosaic. Flash, a glittering and exclusive combination of glass and metal, uses mixed materials and finishes to achieve a contemporary look. This series also includes decorative glass pieces with a linear metallic effect and matches popular colors from Emser’s Lucente series. Flash is available in a unique linear mosaic format, which features pieces of both varied lengths and widths mounted on mesh.
“Surfaces was a tremendous success for us this year,” said Bob Baldocchi, director of marketing at Emser Tile. “Our focus for the show was to launch new products and highlight some unique merchandising and marketing concepts. We are pleased to be recognized for our innovation.”
Messner said the addition of metal lined behind the glass gives Flash Bright more texture. “That whole line blends so well. There are three or four different variations. And it’s a really good blending agent as it ties wall tile with floor tile.”
STYLE & DESIGN
Adura from Mannington
Mannington’s style leadership shined through once again with its Adura LVT. Adura offers a wide range of award-winning styles in tiles and planks.
“It’s extremely gratifying to win a Best of Surfaces award, particularly in the Style & Design category, because style and design are what Mannington has long been known for,” said Ed Duncan, senior vice president of marketing. “Simply put, we believe Mannington Adura stands out from the crowd because it is the most realistic looking LVT on the market. Our design team has incredible talent for developing realistic color and texture. Combine that with state-of-the-art design development technology, a variety of sizes and grouting options, and you’ve got a complete line of luxury vinyl looks to suit any consumer’s style.”
Best of Surfaces judge Deb DeGraaf, owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich., echoed Duncan’s comments. “I think Mannington delivered what it always does—technology, visuals and the realism in emulating hardwood and stone. And the addition of the larger-body tile visual is a home run.”
Peter Messner, owner of Messner Carpet in Rochester, N.Y., another Best of Surfaces judge, added, “Adura has always had more sizes than competing products, which has made the design more interesting. I think with all of these LVT lines, the new technology allows them to have so many unique patterns that the thought of duplication in a typical installation is so remote.”
And judge Mike Faust, Carpeting by Mike, Somerset, Wis., cited Adura as one of the better LVTs he has seen. “I especially liked the texture, and the locking system makes it easy to install.”
SmartStrand Silk from Mohawk
SmartStrand Silk revolutionized the market when it was introduced a year ago as the industry’s only luxuriously soft carpet made in part from annually renewable plant-based material. This year Mohawk expanded the styling of what it bills as the softest carpet on the market.
Messer told FCNews he uses the sustainability angle in the selling process. “I let people know it is partly made of corn, a renewable resource. People won’t pay more for green, but they like the story and it makes them feel good. Plus, the softness sells itself, and when that is combined with the sustainability story, it resonates with consumers.”
DeGraaf said the sustainability angle is what differentiates SmartStand Silk from other soft carpets on the market. “Everyone has a soft product; the bio-based content allows for a different angle and story.”
She also appreciates the styling. “I think Mohawk expanding upon what has truly been a winner in that product line, in the patterns, LCLs and textures, and will again show dominance in the market from style and softness. While I believe consumers buy the feel of the carpet, we do share that green story.”
Instant Stock Check from QFloors
QFloors is the first company to offer Instant Stock Check, which affords dealers the ability to check available stock in their suppliers’ warehouses. Clicking on another button will bring up a product’s applicable related items and their availability (i.e., trim pieces, quarter rounds, glue, etc.)
“We’re so flattered to win the award,” said Chad Ogden, president and CEO, QFloors. “Technology influences hundreds of different products, techniques and services in this industry. When you think about it, technology is behind anything new in the industry, whether it’s a new product or a new way to do our jobs. With all of the options, and such an expansive category, we feel very honored that our product was deemed worthy of the award.”
Messner told FCNews he is a big fan of QFloors. “Its system takes things to the next level with the ability to check stock in other locations as long as you have a B2B connection with those companies. So you bypass the customer service desk. That’s important because it seems the biggest thing out there is how fast we can complete projects. Generation X and Y are hell bent on getting it done [yesterday]. Instant Stock Check gives us the ability to check distributors’ or manufacturers’ warehouses just as fast as checking our own. It’s just a very logical application.”
BEST BOOTH (over 1,200 square feet)
The theme of Quick•Step’s award-winning booth was “Long Live Style,” which was designed to depict how the brand’s fashion-driven product line works in tandem with extreme durability and low maintenance. According to Paij Thorn-Brooks, senior director of marketing, Unilin Flooring, the booth sought to achieve four goals:
1. To serve as an exciting, social meeting place on the show floor for its customers.
2. To offer a level of style and design inherent in the booth aesthetics that was commensurate with Quick•Step’s reputation as a leader in style and design.
3. To present an engaging and memorable message.
4. To showcase new products in a way that distributors and retailers could grasp the visuals and performance features of its new products.
Visitors entered the Quick-Step booth through archways topped by either a 10-foot spilling glass of red wine or a 10-foot red high heel shoe. Once inside the booth, customers found innovative new products, beautiful vignettes, inspiring photography, clever messaging, videos, demos, majestic product towers, new merchandising, displays, and the presence of Quick-Step’s celebrity designer.
Faust cited the vertical vignettes. “The high heels, the hammer, it all showed the performance and durability of the product in a creative way.”
BEST BOOTH (under 1,200 square feet)
The Olde Wood booth offered a stylish and eye-catching display that showcased a balance of reclaimed and old growth flooring, hand-hewn beams and barn siding.
“Surfaces has always been a great show for us,” said Tommy Sancic, president. “Being recognized for a great-looking booth by judges is something we’re very proud of.”
DeGraaf said she was drawn to the story of the reclaimed wood and “how you get different visuals based on the part of the barn where the wood comes from; that was very impactful. The booth displayed beautiful hardwood floors, but it was much more than that. There was a story that created more interest than what you were standing on.”