Renewed interest one year removed from fed shutdown

Home Inside FCNews Renewed interest one year removed from fed shutdown

November 10/17, 2014; Volume 28/Number 11

By Ken Ryan

Baltimore—In recent years, NeoCon show organizers said they have made a concerted effort to move away from “fluff” and focus more on specified, hardcore product solutions for the commercial marketplace.

In so doing, they noted that flooring has emerged as a key solution-oriented product category, especially in healthcare, as demonstrated at the show held here Oct. 29-30.

NeoCon East, billed as the premier commercial design exposition and conference on the East Coast for the industry, draws the region’s top architects, designers, facility managers, dealers, distributors and purchasing managers.

For exhibitors, the intimacy of the regional show allows for more quality time with customers. “Certainly the show was much improved from over a year ago when the government was shut down,” said Susan McCullough, senior vice president, Vornado/Merchandise Mart, the show organizer. “We heard mostly positive things about the show and anecdotally we know there were some great orders placed, and that is always a good thing to hear.”

At press time, final attendance figures were still being tallied. However, exhibitors said there was a vibrancy that did not exist a year ago, when GSA members (which make up about 10% of attendance) could not attend because of the shutdown.

“The attendance feels more robust,” said Sherry Dreger, vice president of marketing at Bentley Mills. “It feels like there are more people in the space. Last year it felt sparse.”

Ralph Grogan, Bentley president and CEO, said it was a strong show for his company. “The uniqueness of our booth [a Best in NeoCon East winner for showroom] with the Bohemian theme certainly help[ed] generate traffic. But in the end it is about the product, and we have that.”

The Mohawk Group’s space, which displayed new products in carpet tile and LVT, was brimming with visitors both days. Mark Oliver, senior product director, called the booth traffic “staggering” compared to last year’s event. “I am shocked at this; all [the booth visitors] are working on active projects; they are not just window shopping. They have an end goal in mind.”

Product highlights

At NeoCon East, Shaw revealed a new branding strategy for Philadelphia Commercial, recasting it from a Main Street brand to a higher-end brand for specifiers. The existing Main Street by Philadelphia brand now focuses on more core commodity products. The tradition of Philadelphia Carpets as Shaw Industries’ oldest and broadest mainstream commercial flooring line extends to 1946, and the brand has undergone some name changes over the years including Philadelphia Queen Commercial.

The rebranding of Philadelphia Commercial included a new logo, graphics and a carpet tile line. “What we found in our research is the brand has good recognition and is known for quality,” said Trey Thames, vice president of residential marketing and product management at Shaw.

Philadelphia Commercial introduced five new lines at the show—four fiber products and Burnished, an LVT collection featuring a 20 mil wearlayer in a 12 x 24 format.

During 2014, Bentley has been filling its product pipeline with distinctive offerings that span all price ranges. “We are here ready to talk about carpet tile and sing it from the highest,” Dreger said.

Bentley was also in Baltimore to drive home the message that it cares about delivering “uniquely different” products to the market, no matter the price points. “Above all, we want to keep that unique boutique factor,” she said.

The company introduced Light Play, a coordinated collection of Bentley carpet tile as well as textiles by C.F. Stinson, designed specifically for contract interior applications. Two other collections, SoHo Dawn and Melrose Dusk, use branded Antron Legacy type 6,6 nylon fiber and are available in 24 x 24 formats. Melrose Dusk is also available in 18 x 36.

Patcraft showed off its hard surface/soft surface hybrid product, Mixed Materials, an LVT and carpet tile blend. “The reaction we are getting all day is that it’s ‘very cool,’” said Rodney Dennis, territory manager at Patcraft. The new line, which launched Nov. 7, is specified for healthcare facilities and educational environments.

As presented at NeoCon East, Mohawk’s position in modular carpet tile continues to grow. Breaking Form is its latest introduction, a 12 x 36 carpet tile that can be used in conjunction with all its other standard-sized products to create stylish new designs for public spaces.

“Our design team has rebuilt the color brand,” Oliver said. “We now have 300 new colors that didn’t exist a few years ago. It is amazing what they now can create.”

In hard surface, Mohawk’s Hot & Heavy LVT garnered attention for its commercial wear layer and performance with no glue or click system required. These true “free lay” install products come in wood and stained concrete patterns.

During 2014, Mohawk has introduced 115 SKUs on the hard surface side. “It sounds like a lot, but if you look at it in terms of a complete LVT offering and what that entails—you have light commercial, glue down, click, loose lay—it’s not a lot; it’s just the beginning,” said Allie Finkell, director of resilient marketing for Mohawk.

“What we are noticing at all these shows is everyone is asking about hard surfaces. It is very important to commercial.”

Also on the LVT front, Karndean Designflooring showcased six new wood planks as part of its LooseLay series. The colors range from pale and warm oak tones to rustics and deep grays. The company said the combination of rustic looks and grain patterns with new color trends represent some of its best designs to date. 

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