By Ken Ryan
COVID-19 may have slowed growth in some segments of commercial flooring, but not so much on Main Street. In fact, the novel coronavirus has resulted in stronger-than-expected activity for many Main Street businesses—with carpet mills capitalizing on the revenue opportunity.
“Many smaller businesses have taken the opportunity to move forward with renovations while being shut down or seeing reduced in-store foot traffic that they might have been holding out on during busier times,” said Jason Surratt, vice president – residential carpet business, Phenix.
Amy Tucker, senior Main Street marketing manager for Shaw Industries, said since the outbreak of COVID-19, Main Street has proven to be an even more viable business segment. “With the residential flooring market seeing a quicker return to pre-COVID-19 trends than traditional commercial sectors, Main Street is well poised to capitalize on commercial flooring needs while leveraging its residential sales channels.”
Stanton Carpet is one of the mills taking advantage of this new opportunity as its retail customers often return for commercial projects. “By supporting the Main Street segment, it provides more opportunities for our customers to expand their product offering, enabling them to broaden their own customer base,” said Jonathan Cohen, CEO. “In addition, the level of style and design of commercial product has been elevated dramatically over the past few years to become more appealing even in residential applications, again giving the end user more options to complete their projects.”
Main Street has long been a key category for Shaw Contract. “Our Philadelphia Commercial brand and our recently refreshed 5th & Main collection under the Shaw Floors brand have both been a strategic focus for 2020, prior to the pandemic,” Tucker said.
While Main Street businesses like salons, schools and churches were closed during the early days of the coronavirus shutdown, Mohawk said it stayed busy leveraging EnviroStrand SD, its Main Street brand for carpet tile and broadloom, as well as ColorStrand nylon. As Robb Meyer, vice president of business development for Mohawk, noted, “We’re very bullish on the Main Street category going forward.”
Mohawk’s PET platform, EnviroStrand, took off for a couple of different reasons, according to Meyer. “Residential dealers like that these carpet tiles were mergeable pieces—12 x 36 and 24 x 24,” he explained. “I call these formats DIY—not do it yourself but design it yourself. With EnviroStrand I can match the broadloom with plank tiles to give it a good coordination story. Mohawk has been able to grow its broadloom platform year over year as a result.
At Engineered Floors, Main Street has long been an important target market as it allows the company to offer diversified products (broadloom, modular tile or LVT) and solutions for its retailer base in the non-specified segment. “Specialty retail generally realizes higher-margin tickets and allows businesses to diversify their local clientele by serving customers who own shops, medical offices and other various small businesses,” said Eric Rupert, Pentz product cate- gory manager for Engineered Floors.
Who’s offering what
In 2020, Pentz Commercial launched more than 20 new offerings across carpet and hard surfaces. “Our focus was on high-performing, high-styled APEX SDP polyester broadloom products as well as Encore SD nylon carpet tile like Universe/ Element, which focuses on set- ting trends in style, design and colorways,” Rupert said. “Pentz also dove into the retail, corporate and education segments with styles like Amplify, Magnify—all of which allow for a wide variety of design and color options. One of the designability factors of these new products is that it will let designers use the floor to aid in social distancing guidelines.”
With specified commercial sales slowing and DIY on the rise, Foss Floors developed a Main Street display for its residential dealers built around its signature Peel & Stick tiles. The tiles, which can be cut to fit with scissors, are stain resistant, durable for high-traffic areas and won’t fray or unravel. Applications run the gamut from outdoor pool decks to medical offices. The tiles can be installed over ceramic tile, concrete, hardwood and low-profile carpet. The Foss Floors display has already received orders from three major flooring distributors. “Our business is really good in Main Street and lends itself to that person doing DIY,” said Sam Ruble, vice president of sales.
Since launching Stanton Street Commercial for the Main Street market in 2018, Stanton has been aggressive in coming out with new looks. Two new notable introductions for 2020 are Flat Iron carpet tile and Headquarters plank—styles that are dramatic, colorful and multi-functional. Flat Iron carpet tile is made of 100% SD Royaltron polypropylene. It is offered in a 20 x 20 format and is suitable for heavy commercial. Headquarters plank is an SD nylon available in varied formats. It is also good for heavy commercial applications.
Fiber Arts from Shaw aims to showcase the balance of patterns and colors that bring the warmth of a home-like environment to the workplace, plus the ultimate performance in the most demanding, high-traffic areas. This 18 x 36 carpet tile features EcoSolution Q nylon and EcoWorx tile backing in three styles: Knot It, available in 20 colors; String It, 12 colors; and Weave It, 12 colors.
Phenix held off on introducing styles shown at Surfaces due to the unforeseen volatility of business conditions stemming from the pandemic. Several new styles are planned to help round out the current Phenix on Main portfolio set to be introduced at the beginning of 2021.