Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15
By Steven Feldman
Dallas—Shaw Industries has long been known as the industry’s largest carpet mill, but in recent years it has exponentially stepped up its game on the hard surface side. In illustration, Shaw is among the two largest resilient companies—despite entering the category about five years ago—while significantly raising the bar on its hardwood and laminate styling.
And with that, Shaw took the wraps off a number of hard surface introductions earlier this month at its winter markets with an emphasis on LVT, the fastest growing category for both the industry and the company. According to Carr Newton, vice president of resilient and laminate, Shaw’s differentiators include design, innovation and “our logistics and inventory are second to none.” Innovation, he said, is illustrated by Floorté, introduced last year as Shaw’s answer to the WPC craze. “That’s one of fastest growing products we’ve had and there is a lot of room to grow. Now we have to figure out how to make Floorté and the WPC category better.”
Shaw is taking that success and building two new Floorté platforms: Alto and Valore. Alto brings Floorté into the popular longer/wider category with 12 new 8 x 72 high-end looks. “We took the best-selling SKUs from the original Floorté line and made them longer and wider,” Newton said.
Valore is an entry-level WPC, or enhanced vinyl plank (EVP) as Shaw calls it. Newton believes this will allow the LVT subsegment to transition into the builder market. The line launches with four SKUs with 10 more on the way.
In addition, Shaw has freshened its click (Array) and dryback LVT with new styles, colors and widths. The dryback line gets its own merchandising system. “We never had a display for dryback,” Newton said. “But it is growing in the market and we needed a way to showcase it.”
Newton told FCNews he believes the laminate category was up a point or two in 2015, but Shaw exceeded that by “a good amount,” citing growth in all three channels: specialty retail, home center and builder—a segment that only recently stepped up its acceptance of laminate. “Laminate is becoming a good solution for builders doing entry-level work,” he said. “It’s about design and the right price point.” He added that the average selling price at specialty retail was up, meaning consumers were buying better goods in 10 mil and 12 mil constructions.
For 2016, Newton classified Shaw’s laminate introductions as “modest” centered around better looks: longer and wider planks, more texture and mixed widths, which is the trend.
Much like laminate, Shaw’s hardwood business is outpacing the industry. So said Jeff Sills, executive vice president of sales. Why? “We have a good sales force and good distribution system. The products have been well styled and competitively priced for a domestic manufacturer. And our service is exceptional; everything is always in stock.”
He noted that Shaw is seeing growth in engineered along with sawn, sliced-face visuals. “We are seeing big volume in entry-level products and from there we jump to the high end.”
Shaw has completely reengineered its Epic product for this year. “We had a great product; we made it better,” Sills said.
The re-engineering was designed to address moisture issues. “That’s one of the biggest challenges in hardwood,” he noted. “Builders are trying to get the homebuyer in the house as fast as possible, and sometimes the floor goes down before the slab is completely dry.” Shaw sought to come up with a product that would perform better in high-moisture environments.
The result was a re-engineering of the core and also a repositioning of the tongue and groove, where products are installed through the traditional method of nailing through the tongue.
Other wood intros include a collection of exotics. “There is still a need for exotics, and there is not as much competition as there has been,” Sills said. “We have been getting enough requests for exotics that we had to bring them out.”
Finally, on the Anderson side, all products are being converted from 42-inch lengths to 60 inches. It still remains Shaw’s premium hardwood brand.