By Reginald Tucker Providing retailers, distributors and end users with their underlayment needs for a quarter-century. That’s the milestone MP Global is on course to achieve when the calendar flips to 2022.
“I started MP Global in 1997, and at that time I had one employee—me,” said Al Collison, president and founder of the Norfolk, Neb.-based company. “We started out making carpet padding, but we knew we could make a variety of things with the equipment we had.”
Indeed, as MP Global grew and evolved, so did its product offering. The company struck gold with an innovative underlayment system for laminate flooring in the mid-1990s, just when the nascent category was gaining steam in the U.S. market.
“There was a lot of excitement surrounding laminate flooring back then, but it had some shortcomings,” Collison recalled. “It made that ‘clickety-clack’ sound when you walked on it with heels, and it was susceptible to water. In response, we developed a product called QuietWalk, which not only deadened the sound, but whenever water was present it would absorb it like a sponge. It literally dissipates through the fibers of the underlayment over time, preventing moisture damage to the product or the subfloor.”
Quiet Walk officially launched in late 1999, and by 2004 it was the highest selling laminate underlayment in the U.S., according to Collison. He estimates the company sold more than 400 million feet of the product annually in its heyday. “Twenty-plus years later, QuietWalk is not only our flagship product, but is still the dominant upgrade laminate underlayment sold today.”
That pioneering spirit of innovation continues at MP Global today as it adapts its technologies to suit other emerging hard surface categories, including WPC, SPC and wood/rigid core hybrids. “We offer QuietWalk LV for floating WPC and SPC products, and we have another product, QuietWalk Plus, which works well in glue-down applications,” Collison said.
Then there’s Aqua Layer, a 2021 introduction that reflects the wildly popular waterproof trend. How it works: the underlayment draws harmful water away from surface/finish of the wood flooring plank. The underlayment’s fibers quickly attack and wick away moisture, allowing a slow rate of dissipation, where it can evaporate and escape. In lab testing, Aqua Layer dispersed up to five times its own weight in moisture, the company stated.
“We rolled out Aqua Layer earlier during the year, but we were at standstill because of COVID-19,” Collison said. “But we’re going to be showcasing the product at Surfaces next year.”
Small-town values; global-scale thinking. That’s the mindset driving MP Global’s manufacturing philosophy and its approach to serving customers. Given all the various challenges associated with the supply chain issues at the ports, domestic manufacturers appear to have the upper hand.
“We’re making the product right in the middle of the U.S.,” said Deanna Summers, marketing specialist and account manager. “We can ship to either coast, and we have adequate capacity to service our customers.”
MP Global is also environmentally conscious in its approach to manufacturing. The company said it recycles roughly 800 tons of textile/carpeting waste per month into fibers to make many of its underlayment products. Its current capacity is about 10 million feet per month. “Over 90% of our products are made from recycled material,” Collison stated.