Mohawk’s focus for 2013: Soft, stylish and tough

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Wear-Dated Embrace is not only soft, but offers the body that is missing from some soft nylons.

Highlights include Wear-Dated Embrace, Armormax 

By Steven Feldman

Volume 26/Number 19; February 4/11, 2013

Las Vegas—Soft is all the rage when it comes to carpet introductions across all fiber platforms, and Mohawk is at the forefront. While hosting its Western regional in conjunction with Surfaces, the world’s largest flooring manufacturer not only introduced Wear-Dated Embrace—heralded as the softest nylon carpet on the market today and backed up by third-party testing—it took the wraps off four SmartStrand Silk additions.

While much of the conversation over the past few years has surrounded triexta, nylon is still about 40% of the marketplace, according to Eric Ruppert, product director for residential nylon. “As a company we had not put the innovation toward nylon as we had with other fiber systems. So, we took what we learned with Silk and applied that technology to Wear-Dated Embrace and target [retailers] who have built their business models around nylon.”

He said one thing Mohawk learned with lower denier per filament (dpf) fibers is you can get softness but lose the bulk and body of the yarn. “Instead of building a Silk junior, we wanted to build a nylon product that had softness plus the body that was missing from other soft nylons. So, we built Wear-Dated Embrace on bulk with softness as the No. 2 focus. This product is a result of investments in extrusion and heat-set technology.”

Embrace debuts in 11 styles: a good/better solid texture, a good/better/best berber fleck texture, a good/better/best tonal texture, a solid tonal, and a solid and tonal pin dot. Color options range from 10 on the berber fleck to as many as 40 on the solid. Retail price points range from $2.99 to $4.29 a square foot, product only.

SmartStrand Silk

It’s only been a year since Mohawk took the wraps off SmartStrand Silk, which combines soft with built-in soil and stain resistance that never wears or washes off. It launched with four styles and was enhanced
last summer with two multi-color products.

Now Mohawk is expanding that into more fashionable products: three LCL patterns and one loop pattern. “The multi-color look is surpassing sales of solid,” said Frank Andrew, senior product director, Horizon Carpet. Colors on the four new products range from 16 to 24 depending on style. Retail price points range from $3.29 to $4.59 a square foot and will join the six existing Silk products in its own display.

SmartStrand Silk is being expanded upon with more fashionable looks.

But Silk is about much more than good looks. According to Jason Randolph, pro-duct director, Smart-Strand, Mohawk can demonstrate Silk’s dur-ability. “Silk offers three times the wear of ordinary soft nylon” by virtue of Mohawk testing that reveals soft nylon shows visible levels of wear after 20,000 footsteps vs. 60,000 for Silk.

Finally, for the consumer seeking a value fiber, EverStrand Revive with triexta brings some new colors to the party by virtue of a black solution dyed fiber. “EverStand Revive is our collection of soft filament polyester products that bring fashion through color, pattern and innovation to a value category,” said Jon England, product director, polyester, “where we blend yarns to get some unique colorations.”


Innovation is the name of the game, according to Roger Farabee, senior vice president of marketing, Mohawk Hard Surfaces, but not just for innovation’s sake. “We are always trying to create meaningful innovations in a way for retailers to make more money.”

Performance is one method, as illustrated by the expanded Rockford collection, which features Armormax for durability and Scotchgard for cleanability. “We introduced a slimmed-down version of this product a couple of years ago only in solid oak,” Farabee said. “We had such great success we have now quadrupled the assortment.” The 34 SKUs now include solid and engineered; oak, hickory and maple; and three widths, all housed in its own merchandiser touting the Armormax finish.

“This finish is unlike anything on the market,” he said. “We did lots of testing and found Armormax is up to five times more durable than aluminum oxide.”

Farabee stressed the visuals also set the line apart. “Some products in Rockford use water-based stains. The traditional paint- or lacquer-based finishes tend to cover up more of the wood. Water gives you a more realistic look. So there’s a great performance story here as well as a great color and design story.”

Mohawk says its Armormax finish is up to five times more durable than aluminum oxide.

Mohawk is also introducing textured products at a price point designed to compete with Chinese products. They include Somerville, a 5-inch, soft-scraped, solid introduced last year now available with a 3¼-inch option; Coleridge, which takes the basic look of Som-erville and mixes 3¼- and 5-inch widths in one carton; Henley, a new engineered hickory that features a heavier scrape with chatter; and Atherto, a new engineered with wirebrushing and light scraping.


Laminate is still a very important category for Mohawk despite industry-wide pressure from LVT. As such, the strategy here is to move the line to more of a great value proposition while the company’s Quick•Step brand tackles the higher end of the spectrum. “By early next year, everything in the Mohawk line will be 7mm or 8mm to keep price points down with the same performance benefits everyone has become accustomed to,” Farabee said. “All our main products are AC4 rated, while some of the cheaper Chinese imports we have tested are not even an AC1. We think we offer the best value because of high quality, lowest claims rates and great looking products.”

Marcina is a perfect illustration—redesigned to bring more high-end visuals at a value price point. Mohawk took its best selling designs in 9.5mm and introduced them in 8mm.

He cited the new Timberloft with three widths—5¼-, 6- and 7-inch—in one carton. “It’s a smoked hickory design in four colors. It appears the color comes from the wood as opposed to staining. It offers plenty of character in a more livable version.”

In addition, Celebration, a 7mm top seller for a number of years, has been refreshed with five single-plank looks with a European influence. “It allows us to offer a wide-plank, premium look at a very affordable price point.”


Last year served as Mohawk’s entrée into the LVT category with the launch of Simplesse, a click product that has done “extremely well,” according to Farabee. Now the company is adding transition moldings to the line.

Also introduced was Pros-pects, an entry-level, 2mm gluedown LVT designed for multifamily. The line includes six wood looks and three stones. “The big difference between us and the competition is our product contains only virgin vinyl,” Farabee said. “You have no nasty things showing up in your floor like mercury, lead, plasticizers and other contaminators. We think recycling does not have a positive story in vinyl.”

Farabee added that he is excited about some of the new introductions from Congoleum, for which Mohawk serves as a national distributor. “The new management team has a different perspective on the business. The result is some new innovative products like AirStep Advantage and designs that are more fashion forward than you would traditionally expect from Congoleum. I think its new de-signer, Doty Horn, has tremendous talent, a great eye for color and design, and she has applied her years of experience across multiple categories to help broaden Congoleum’s product line.”


The theme here is adding value into mid price points as the five new products serve as the largest ceramic introduction under the Mohawk brand. Most utilize the proprietary Reveal Imaging technology that creates realism and are manufactured by Mohawk. In addition, some of the new products are offered in some unique, rectangular sizes as the market “continues to go toward big,” Farabee said. “The use of technology to add value is the common theme across all hard and soft surface products that look and perform better for the consumer.”

•Venice is an entry-level floor/wall combination in a soft rustic visual in four colors.

•Tarvisio is a rectified porcelain in four sizes and three colors.

•Stonehurst is a porcelain that offers a stronger rustic visual and represents Mohawk’s first foray into a 24 x 24 tile.

•Cressone offers an even more rustic porcelain stone look with a unique 4 x 8 wall tile among its size options.

•Bertolino is a natural stone look regular vein cut travertine.

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