Following is the 17th edition of the Real Wood Coalition editorial coverage, which can also be seen in the November 1 print edition of FCNews.
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
The trick to selling waterproof wood is managing the customer’s high expectations
The concept of waterproof floors—whether it’s hard-wood, SPC/WPC or rigid core/wood hybrids—is truly resonating with consumers. For proof, just look at all the ads and signage in store, online and on TV touting flooring’s resistance to moisture incursion. If that’s not enough, many consumers in the market for flooring today have an expectation that their new floors will perform well in any installation scenario.
The key to responsibly promoting waterproof flooring, experts say, lies in proactively managing the customer’s expectations. “The problem for retailers is that what waterproof means to the consumer and what it means in regard to warranties are two entirely different things,” said Penny Carnino, COO at Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile & Hardwood in Tulsa, Okla. “A lot of the time all they hear is ‘waterproof’ and no matter how many times we explain that [applies to] topical spills they don’t hear it.”
In today’s hypercompetitive environment, it’s not unusual for consumers to expect their new floors to be able stand up to spills and minor household accidents. However, in extreme cases such as a flood, any flooring will require replacement.
Truth be told, innovations utilized in today’s 100% solid or engineered hardwood floors or hybrids help address some common everyday accidents and spills. Case in point are the Hearthwood and American OEM lines—brands that were recently acquired by AHF Products. According to Don Finkell, vice president at AHF, these products are made with a six-sided coating system called WetWorx Splatter and Spill Guard. “Compared to an untreated engineered wood floor—after three days of sub-
mersion in water—water absorption is reduced by 250%,” he explained. “More importantly, after the floor dries out, you don’t see the effect of the water on the WetWorx-treated sample, whereas the untreated sample shows water damage.”
Waterproof wood might be considered new territory for hardwood flooring; however, suppliers are confident their products will hold up to claims. “Wood floors have been used for centuries and up until now they have not had much resistance to water,” Finkell stated. “But, with improved technology, it’s now available, so why not get it?”
Dealers score with Somerset
Greg Bruce, the owner of specialty store Virginia-based-Fredericksburg Hardwood, has been selling the Somerset Hardwood brand for at least 15 years. When you’ve been working with a particular supplier for that length of time, there’s usually a very good reason for doing so.
“It’s domestically made, the quality is great and you can make a really good margin on the product,” Bruce stated. “We always make sure we have Somerset products stocked in our warehouse.”
Some of Fredericksburg Hardwood’s top sellers in the Somerset line include its Character Collection, in both engineered and solid formats, as well as the popular Handcrafted Wide Plank offering. “It’s not always easy to get a customer to upgrade to 61⁄2- or 7-inch-wide product and feel good about the installation,” Bruce noted. “But with Somerset’s Handcrafted product it’s possible. The line does really well for us.”
Another long-time Somerset dealer is Kevin Daniel, owner of Heartland Hardwood, Knoxville, Tenn. Like Fredericksburg Hardwood’s Bruce, Somerset’s deep product lineup is the clincher. “We like the different options they offer,” he explained. “A lot of their products are available in both an engineered and solid platform, and their engineered platform has a 3mm wear layer on it—something that I really like.”
Both retailers say Somerset’s extensive offering provides many opportunities to renovate many areas of a client’s home— not just a room here or there. “Somerset installations are going in entire houses in our market,” Bruce said. “In fact, we do more entire homes with Somerset than single rooms.”
While Somerset’s expansive portfolio covers all tiers across the good/better/best spectrum, it’s that mid-to-upper range that’s really popping. “I don’t really sell their entry-level stuff,” Daniel said. “Every now and again we’ll sell the usual gunstock oak and butterscotch colors, but most of the stuff we move for Somerset is wider plank upgrade.”
Bruce agreed. “Somerset has a pretty wide range of products from middle of the road on up— not a lot of low-end stuff. But it’s all quality driven.”
TRIED AND TRUE
Castillian from Mullican
Mullican’s Castillian collection is precision manufactured from the finest European white oak; this collection is inclusive of four different series and is offered in wire-brushed, hand- sculpted and distressed surface treatments. The Castillian collection is available in 16 colors and offers widths of 6, 61⁄2, 7, 71⁄2 and nearly 91⁄2 inches. All products carry a 50-year wear warranty.
NEW AND NOTABLE
Mirage Rocking Horse
Rocking Horse conveys a subtle variation of the popular natural white oak visual. This new color from Mirage offers consumers a visual that’s still trending, but features a little twist to differentiate it from the vast majority of white oak floors on the market, the company said. Rocking Horse is part of the company’s signature Sweet Memories Collection.
Want to sell more wood? Lay it down
It’s pretty much a given that if you want to effectively promote hardwood flooring in your store, the product displays you carry need to not only be “front and center,” but they must also offer a broad enough selection to suit a variety of end-user needs. However, it’s not the only way to draw the customer’s attention to the hard- wood flooring department.
At Richmond, Va.-based Costen Floors—which counts Bruce, Hartco, Mirage and Mullican among its vast hardwood offering—the retailer utilizes floor space to
complement the standard upright merchandisers. “Our total square footage of our showroom is about 12,000 square feet, and within that space we’ve carved out a section where we have 22 different kinds of hardwood flooring installed,” said Tripp Costen, owner. “It’s tough to sell wood off a sample alone; you have to have it down on the floor.”