By Jenna Lippin
Volume 26/Number 19; February 4/11, 2013
As the industry’s fastest growing category, resilent suppliers had to bring their A game to Surfaces given the vast amount of competition. With revamped or expanded LVT and sheet vinyl offerings and fresh merchandising displays, all sought to impress existing and potential customers and garner attention not only at the show, but most importantly, for the rest of 2013.
Some of the industry’s biggest players met with FCNews at Surfaces for a detailed look at their latest offerings.
Continuing its specialization in sustainable and green products, Base King previewed EnviroHealth, a PVC-free resilient sheet designed expressly for healthcare facilities.
“[EnviroHealth] is something the industry has needed for a long time, especially when it comes to claims involving moisture,” said Devin Schlisner, vice president and operations manager. The product line touts durability under various conditions and high dent-resistance.
Also unique to EnviroHealth is the ability to print any design on the sheet. According to Schlisner, most rubber products are “fairly basic” because of their construction. “We are able to put a print film on a synthetic product, so any look the end user wants can be created.” The line will initially be available in three styles and 26 colors.
The mill came to Surfaces with the goal of conveying to attendees that it is seeking to appeal to a younger audience. One way in which that was reflected was the injection of more color into its products and
The show also marked Congoleum’s first foray into the commercial segment in quite some time with the introduction of Structure LVT. The line is distinguished by its large sizes: 18 x 36 and 20 x 20. Seven designs—three tiles and four planks—comprise the 30 SKUs that will ship in March. “We have an 18 x 36 tile, which is not something offered by other people,” said Dennis Jarosz, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The reaction to this so far has been, ‘Wow!’ People are even saying they can see this product in their homes.”
Congoleum also showcased the new Airstep Advantage, a 12-foot sheet that is 20% thicker than any other Airstep offering and can be installed loose lay, perimeter adhered or fully adhered with pressure-sensitive adhesive. The line is meant to appeal to the female customer with names that “are part of life’s advantages” according to Mike Sansone, vice president of sales, such as Cup of Tea, Wine and Roses, and Playtime.
Finally, Congoleum’s Endurance line has been updated with new colors and four tile looks. In addition to the beiges that appeal to the multi-family market, Endurance will now feature gray tones, responding to a growing trend in flooring.
The emphasis for Cryntel was on its Premiére floating 6 x 36 plank and 18 x 18 tile with a beveled, rolled edge. Premiére comes in 50 colors and is sold to distributors in 12-SKU packages. The line is offered at the aggressive price point of $2.99, retail.
Also displayed at Cryntel’s booth was a pair of groutable LVTs: Simplicity, which was first introduced five years ago, and Advantx, a natural stone look unveiled last year. Advantx is unique in that it can be installed on top of existing ceramic, making it ideal for remodels.
“We are the largest importer of vinyl tile into the U.S.,” said John Hunter, national sales manager. “We can make anything needed, which gives us an edge in the market.”
L.A. Train, president, best summed up the company’s positioning in the LVT category: “Some offer LVT; we are LVT.” Under the EarthWerks brand, 21 plank and tile SKUs have been introduced. One highlight was Avante, the company’s grouted LVT collection that enhances the ceramic look by incorporating real grout into installations.
The company is also expecting big things from Aurora, a loose-lay luxury vinyl plank that is 4.5mm thick, comes in eight colors and includes fiberglass for dimensional stability. “The greatest thing about Aurora is its portability and speed of installation,” Train noted.
Aside from Avante and Aurora, the company, under its LinkWerks moniker, launched 12 x 24 tiles with a four-sided beveled edge in its Accu Clic tile line and 6 x 36 planks under Accu Clic plank. A total of 22 new SKUs were unveiled.
Train concluded that the optimism he observed at Sur-faces on the part of attendees bodes well for business this year. “I think we’ll see a reasonable increase. We’re hoping for a 10% to 12%
increase in 2013.”
Along with its new consumer-friendly merchandising units, IVC introduced a number of fresh products at Surfaces, including the Lofty Expectations line. Lofty Expectations is a new concept collection like those originally introduced in Europe, but with a more modern look and packaged by color family instead of design. The group names are inspired by areas that are home to loft apartments and studios, such as Soho Sensation and California Dreaming.
“I would like to believe [Lofty Expectations] will expose sheet vinyl to a different group of customers who might never have dreamed of showing it before,” said Paul Murfin, president and co-CEO. “The reaction to this collection has been very exciting.”
Also included in IVC’s new offerings is Collection 21, a good/better/best line that includes two slate looks, two wood looks and two ceramic tile looks in each category. The merchandising display for the line coincides with the vast span in the collection, ranging from small for the good group to large for the best group.
One of IVC’s larger introductions is Itec with about 72 SKUs, which is geared toward the specified commercial market—education, healthcare, hospitality and other institutional types of applications, Murfin explained. The four lines within the Itec collection come in an array of colors and designs. Plus, the series features “Color Me Itec,” allowing a customer to have a custom color created for 5,000-square-yards minimums.
Finally, Moduleo, IVC’s first LVT introduction manufactured in Belgium, was completely restyled for the North American market with 70 SKUs. The line comes in two qualities: Vision with a 12mil wearlayer in click or dryback, and Horizon, featuring a 22mil wearlayer and only available in click.
According to Murfin, one of the features of Moduelo is two layers of fiberglass, making it more dimensionally stable. “That is really important with a floating floor. Our product will not buckle due to temperature variations.” In addition, Moduleo features patterns that repeat on a much larger scale than most other wood looks, meaning the same plank is seldom seen for increased realism.
At Surfaces, Metroflor focused on three of its seven brands: Aspire, Metroflor and Engage.
Aspire, a 16 x 16 floating groutable tile, is installed using the company’s Grip Strip technology that employs a spacer creating a 3mm channel in between each tile. Russ Rogg, president and CEO, felt Aspire’s popularity at Surfaces was in part due to the installation demonstrations at Metroflor’s booth. The line retails from $4.50 to $4.99.
Metroflor’s flagship brand of LVT has been revitalized with its new floating product called Intact, a true loose-lay plank and tile. The company’s WaveTrac technology features embossing on the backside of each plank in the form of a wave that is coated with a dry glue and provides slip and skid resistance.
Also, the wave backing allows Intact to be laid on top of concrete as the pattern helps moisture escape and evaporate, by migrating laterally to the edge of the tile and eventually the end of the room. The recessed wave channel also helps fight sound transmission. Intact retails at approximately $4.50.
Engage was also given a facelift for 2013. The entry-level Essentials, which was previously available only in plank, is being enhanced with a 12 x 24 tile format featuring a 12mil wearlayer. Retail price point is about $3.79 a square foot. Additionally, six designs in a rustic oak pattern across different colorations were added to the plank offerings. Finally, 5¾- and 8½-inch widths are being added to Engage Select, which was previously available only in a 7-inch width.
Fueled by the success of its 2012 flagship introduction Elevations, a true loose-lay LVT, the focus for Raskin Industries this year is Elevations5, billed as the first 5-foot floating LVT plank.
Elevations5’s visuals are inspired by Old World chalets. High definition photo scanners are used to capture the graining and tone variation while delicate embossing and a micro bevel add to the authenticity. The collection is offered in three colors—a dark brown, cherry and butterscotch.
Because of the line’s visuals, Michael Raskin, president and CEO, sees Elevations5 in more fashion-forward locations such as a trendy boutique hotel in a major city like Manhattan.
The company also rolled out Formations, its first entry into the dryback arena. Formations is comprised of three products that mimic real wood: Equinox offers unique 7 x 48 planks with rounded edges for enhanced realism; American Classics capitalizes on popular slate and wood looks at a sharp price point, and Prodigy features eight designs with a delicate embossed scrape and micro bevel, also at a sharp price point.
Setting up shop in a large space off the show floor, Tarkett, in addition to its new iSelect display and merchandising system, showcased its latest LVT product, Transcend.
A feature of the line is its FreeSpan locking technology, which the company claims to be the strongest on the market and very easy to install. According to Cindy Mansfield, residential marketing communications manager, Transcend’s durability and click system are two of the product’s best features. “Also, third-party testing shows [Transcend] is the strongest product on the market in terms of subfloor installation.” No underlayment is needed for this LVT, and it remains stable due to its FiberCore stability layer.
Transcend features micro-beveled edges to closely resemble natural wood. The line is offered in 16 colors and is enhanced by the company’s Tritonite finish, a ceramic coating that protects against wear and tear. In addition, the collection has a lifetime limited residential warranty and 10-year limited light commercial warranty. Transcend also boasts a sustainable story in that it contains no heavy metals and is phthalate-free.
(Editor’s note: Armstrong’s resilient introductions were covered in the Jan. 7/14 issue of FCNews, and Mannington’s resilient introductions were covered in the Jan. 21/28 issue.)