Suppliers seize emerging opportunities on Main Street

Home Inside FCNews Suppliers seize emerging opportunities on Main Street

May 23/30, 2016; Volume 30, Number 24

By Ken Ryan
Small business has been the catalyst for the modest growth in the United States following the economic downturn. That trend bodes well for a Main Street commercial sector that includes small retail shops, cafes and other enterprises that are experiencing an uptick in business activity.

Unlike the typical commercial segment, Main Street is fragmented with many different venues requiring a diverse product assortment. For many manufacturers, that represents a valuable opportunity to fill a niche.

“These Main Street businesses all have one thing in common: They need a durable, beautiful floor that’s low maintenance,” said John Wu, president and CEO of Novalis Innovative Flooring.

Novalis is among those companies seizing that market opportunity with the expected launch of Abberly and Davidson, lines intended for typical Main Street environments. Abberly will be available in both direct-glue installations as well as a floating click format. Davidson is a direct-glue installation that piggybacks on the design trend in concrete and rough timber looks that complement the clean lines, chrome, glass and metallics that are popular today.

“Our aim is to bring exciting and practical flooring solutions to the small business market because we believe the floor says as much about the quality of the business as the lighting, wall coverings or furnishings,” Wu explained.

Novalis Innovative Flooring is far from the only manufacturer looking to capitalize on the resurging Main Street market. For Shaw Floors, Main Street projects present an ideal opportunity for flooring retailers to diversify their customer base and meet the needs of local commercial customers. But it also requires them to have the necessary technical product knowledge to respond to customers’ expectations and needs with the correct specifications. “Commercial environments require high-performance products that will withstand foot traffic,” said Quentin Quathamer, commercial brand and marketing manager for Shaw’s Philadelphia Commercial division. “The Main Street commercial market is very diverse, and Shaw provides a wide array of choices to meet those varied end-user needs.”

Quathamer cited Shaw’s 5th & Main LVT collection as a good example of a fashionable product engineered to withstand the rigors of any commercial environment—including Grand Central Station, where it was first installed. Today it is found in commercial areas such as churches, boutiques, barber shops, banks, schools and hospitals—150 styles and colors in all.

As is the case with the residential sector, luxury vinyl tile has found a home in Main Street. In fact, notes Keith Wiethe, channel manager–Main Street, Mannington, LVT is on the verge of taking over the segment on the strength of its easy installation, striking visuals, flexibility and durability that lends itself to so many commercial applications. “There will be a changing of the guard where LVT will be the chosen product, and we expect this growth to continue for the next few years,” he said.

If LVT is choice No. 1, carpet tile is 1A in Main Street applications. Chris Post, director of sales operations, Aladdin Commercial/Mohawk Industries, said the company expects double-digit growth in Main Street, with a 25% growth rate in carpet tile—a subcategory that is often be paired with LVT for maximum flexibility. “Carpet tile and LVT work together because probably every application will have both of those products,” Post explained.

In yet another pairing, Mohawk is adding LVT and resilient sheet to its existing Aladdin Commercial Display. Mohawk is also launching resilient sheet manufactured through IVC via the Visionary Collection. The line features five soft, organic visuals that are textile-inspired along with natural wood grain looks that create a warm and comforting environment, Mohawk stated. The collection is constructed for light commercial and residential spaces and offers excellent performance, durability as well as resistance to wearing and staining by virtue of the company’s M-Force enhanced urethane finish. Post said Mohawk will sample these in rack cards to go in its commercial display and in architect folders along with room scene photography to show how well the product coordinates with its carpet tile and broadloom products.

Another new entry is EnviroStrand, a 100% solution-dyed PET fiber made with Mohawk’s Continuum process that uses the highest grade FDA-approved PET bottle resins and requires less energy to produce. Among its many benefits, Post said, EnviroStrand SD has a Class I rating for improved flammability and smoke density.

In the next month Mannington will be implementing a new premium product it believes will open new end use applications within the channel. “Primarily we have effectively communicated our Quantum Guard HP message, and schools are now seeing the benefits of reduced long-term life cycle costs compared to other resilient products,” Wiethe said. “Interestingly, we actually have seen residential interest in our commercial LVT products. Most of that boils down to visuals.”

Mannington is capitalizing on Main Street growth through its Madison, Ga., manufacturing facility, which has now been expanded three times with the potential for additional space. “Our Amtico acquisition brought us 50 years of manufacturing experience—and there is no substitution for experience,” Wiethe said. “Our combination of manufacturing expertise and our domestic facility will provide us the opportunity to continue to lead.”

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