These features include educational insights, new and staple hardwood products and a spotlight featuring one of the Coalition’s members. A new edition of RWC coverage will be available in every print issue of FCNews throughout the year.
DID YOU KNOW
Positive market indicators bode well for increased hardwood flooring consumption
So much has been said about competing hard surface categories nipping into hardwood flooring’s market share in recent years—and there’s evidence supporting that trend. However, the health of key end-use sectors bodes well for hardwood flooring’s short- and long-term prospects.
“The last few years the hardwood category has lost share to these categories, but hardwood is rebounding and getting back to growth in 2021,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage brand. “Single-family new construction and residential replacement is driving the growth in the hardwood category.”
Observers say they are seeing growth at the upper end of the spectrum in particular. “The high end in both new home construction and the remodeling market are very strong for hardwood today,” said Neil Wenger, vice president of distribution sales, Mullican. “We see wide width demand in 3⁄4-inch solid hardwood flooring growing with wire-brushed lighter tones garnering the most interest. Buyers who are purchasing larger, premium homes are choosing hardwood floors for their natural beauty, high-end finishes and the value added to their home.”
Other suppliers are experiencing growth across several end-use sectors. “Our business tends to be much more focused on residential replacement business, but we’re honestly seeing good demand across all those segments of the building market,” said Jodie Doyle, vice president, U.S. sales and marketing, Indusparquet. “In the commercial contract segment, we are experiencing really high demand for products for specification. The pipeline had a bit of a lag during the first quarter and into Q2, but we expect robust activity for the second half of 2021 and all of 2022.”
The prognosis is also rosy for Mercier. The company cited a strong housing market on top of what Wade Bondrowski, director of sales, U.S., described as a robust remodeling market. “We don’t see that stopping anytime soon,” he said.
Nor is he overly concerned about the impact of alternative, entry-level wood look-alikes on genuine hardwood’s prospects. “Many consumers are trading up to better goods,” he said.
Myriad ways to accentuate hardwood
Given the myriad hardwood flooring options available today—as well as the countless wood “look-alike” products that are in high demand—it’s critical that RSAs develop a strategy to help the consumer find the right hardwood floor that meets her needs. Oftentimes, it boils down to communication.
That’s the approach taken at Cincinnati, Ohio-based McSwain Carpets & Floors, where sales- people are trained to listen for cues. “We seek to understand, not funnel all customers to simply what we stock,” said Jason McSwain, owner. Prior to recommending a product, his sales associates fully investigate which hardwood solution is best for the customer by first determining her design needs and wants.
Other dealers follow a similar strategy. At The Flooring Gallery in Louisville, Ky., RSAs take the time to explain the differences between the available options. Once the customer expresses what she is seeking, it’s just a matter of explaining the difference between the alternatives. “[Compare] a wood floor vs. a simulated floor—wood flooring is meant to be permanent and becomes part of the home, while alternative types of flooring are meant to cover their subfloor and be changed at some point,” said Nick Freadreacea, president.
Dealers are also able to help consumers narrow down their choices by asking probing ques- tions. For instance, a skilled RSA will find out if the customer plans to live in the home for some years to come. In that case, it might be advisable to emphasize wood’s permanence, Freadreacea noted.
Beyond communicating the many positive attributes of hardwood flooring, RSAs and store owners can also demonstrate the features and benefits of hardwood in other ways aside from standard displays and talking points. In this regard, Verhey Carpets, Grand Rapids, Mich., a Mirage retailer, takes a two-fold approach. Within the store, hardwood is installed on the floor in addition to upright merchandisers. The company normally has a high volume of people in its showroom, often in inclement weather conditions during the winter. This has proved to be an effective selling tool for Verhey Carpets, as customers walk in and see how well the floor stands up to everyday wear and tear. “We use our own showroom to [tell the story],” said Karla Wischmeyer, designer.
TRIED AND TRUE
Platinum from Mirage
Designed for minimalist modern décors, Platinum from Boa-Franc—parent company of the Mirage brand—is one of the most popular colors in the Mirage line. The product, originally developed in 2013, features a mineral-inspired tone that remains very trendy over the years. Platinum, which is available in both maple and red oak, conveys a deep taupe grey color that aims to impart a distinctive, luxurious look to any room. The line features the Nanolinx HD coating for a natural matte (yet durable) finish.
NEW AND NOTABLE
Mercier extends Atmosphere line
Mercier Wood Flooring expands its popular Atmosphere Collection with a new color, Hush, which is available in maple and hickory species. Floors in the Atmosphere collection reflect warm tones and variations of beige and caramel hues. A technically advanced finish allows the natural characteristics of the wood flooring to come through.
Torlys wood: Floors to suit any need
Spanning eight distinct hardwood flooring collections, Torlys offers end users an array of products designed to satisfy a range of needs and tastes. Ranging from the Artisan Elite and Artisan Premier lines all the way through the Summit, Everest and Select Strip series, Torlys offers its partners a bevy of options.
The collections are part of Torlys’ Smart Hardwood floors offering for specialty retailers. Made with an intelligent design to capture the beauty and feel of natural wood, Torlys hardwood floors are also gap, cup and dent resistant. More importantly, they are designed for the real hardwood flooring enthusiasts. “Authentic hardwood remains the gold standard, and retailers, builders and/or consumers should look for products that deliver on performance while maintaining real wood values,” said Derek Brooks, senior vice president of sales and business development, North America. “Companies delivering high-performance hardwood while keeping both the indoor/outdoor environment in mind will present the best possible value.”
Not only are Torlys’ hardwood floors designed to look good and endure for years, they also aim to provide consumers with peace of mind in a pandemic-weary world. Select Torlys wood products feature an attached CorkPLus Blue attached underlayment boasting Microban antimicrobial protection. The technology is embedded into the product to ensure long-lasting protection for years to come.