Karndean: Celebrating 50 years of excellence in luxury vinyl

Home Featured Company Karndean: Celebrating 50 years of excellence in luxury vinyl

KarndeanChanging consumer preferences. New buying habits. Constantly evolving technologies. Social and economic upheaval. Shifting design trends. These are just a few of the challenges any company will face over 50 years. Needless to say, it’s no easy feat. Karndean Designflooring has tackled its 50 years in flooring with a steadfast refusal to bring anything other than superior design and top-notch service to its retail partners each year—a pillar of the brand that has not waivered since its founding in 1973.

“Although we’ve grown tremendously since [our founding],  evolving into a global group with operations in the UK, USA and Australia/New  Zealand, we retain the same core values that our company was founded upon,” said Bill Anderson, CEO. “We continue to move forward with the same passion to craft beautiful, innovative  flooring designs that are not only inspired by nature but are equally design-led and durable.”

Trusted products sell

It’s true, Karndean is one of dozens of suppliers of luxury vinyl flooring in 2023 but, nonetheless, remains a rarity within the crowded market. Not only has Karndean specialized in luxury vinyl—and only luxury vinyl— since its founding 50 years ago, but it also has set a bar of excellence against which most other suppliers aim to achieve.

“A quality product, in both performance and aesthetic, has built trust in our company and that’s not something we take lightly,” Anderson said. “LVT certainly wasn’t the most popular format of flooring in 1973, but we believed in its relevance and have dedicated ourselves to creating the best luxury vinyl flooring for 50 years. We possess a level of experience and expertise in this format that only comes with time.”

That sacred trust doesn’t come easy—as many flooring dealers will attest. Karndean’s dealer partners, however, say the company’s promise of quality is founded on more than just sentiment. And they hold the brand in high regard as its product is unmatched in the industry and always makes the sale.

“Karndean, by far, has the best looking, most realistic product on the market—it sells itself because of that,” Gail Jenkins, sales manager, Foxwell Floor Coverings in Annapolis, Maryland, which has been a Karndean dealer for more than 20 years, told FCNews. “A definitive reason why we are so pro-Karndean over other LVTs is because we trust it; my installers trust it. We know when we install this material, it is always true. That is a big factor because a lot of these jumping-on-the-bandwagon LVTs that come in at a cheaper price are not manufactured well.”

What’s more, Jenkins said, is that many LVT suppliers also manufacture wood, carpet, laminate, etc. “Luxury vinyl is what Karndean does,” she explained. “And they’ve been doing it for a long time. So, I feel much more confident with their product than I do with some of the other [brands].”

Danielle Kallquist of Riverview Carpet and Flooring in Verona, Pa., which has been a Karndean dealer since the early 2000s, agreed. “Karndean is a product that can virtually sell itself,” she explained. “It is the top of the line in durability and style when it comes to vinyl products and is competitively priced for the quality you get. It is our go-to for almost every home considering the use of a hard surface product. It’s a good feeling knowing we can sell a product that we can stand behind without the fear of it failing.”

Visuals seal the deal

KarndeanWhat makes Karndean luxury vinyl flooring unique to the industry is not just the quality of its designs and proven performance, but the fact that its visuals are designed by, and unique to, Karndean. Not only does this give its dealers a competitive edge against big box stores, Anderson noted, but it gives homeowners a natural and personalized high-end look.

“As a global company, we develop visuals from materials that aren’t typically found in the U.S., like Australian spotted gum or reclaimed French oak from a 17th century chateau,” he explained. “In addition, we develop visuals from materials that are either too scarce or protected in its natural form, like our Hawaiian Koa design, allowing homeowners to have a beautiful floor without further endangering its natural inspiration. Along with every original product design comes a unique story and history, which is something that resonates with dealers and end users alike.”

Dean Merrell, owner/president, Castle Floors in Mesa, Ariz., which has been a Karndean dealer for almost three decades, told FCNews he witnesses the quality, durability and style prowess of Karndean flooring on a daily basis. “To this day, we have a Karndean floor that has been in our showroom for 21 years now. People come in and their jaws are on the floor: ‘That looks so new,’ and ‘That is, too, real wood.’ I have to tell them, ‘No, honest, it isn’t.’ And it’s just held up under all kinds of abuse, really. We’ve moved displays across it, brought in heavy traffic—it looks new.”

Exceptional customer service

KarndeanAs a family-owned company, Karndean places customer service at the heart of what it does. “Our responsive, knowledgeable sales representatives and dedicated customer service representatives develop relationships with their customers, know their order histories and take great care to consider each account’s unique needs when placing orders,” Anderson explained. “We are only as successful as our customers, and we value their businesses as much as we do our own. I feel this comes through in every interaction we have, from all levels of our organization.”

Karndean’s dealer partners say they’ve found no equal in customer service. “Karndean’s customer service is unlike their other competitors,” Riverview Carpet’s Kallquist said. “They really have focused on creating a relationship with our company to assist on ordering product as well as offering technical support when needed. It is a pleasure to work with them.”

But the company’s well-known dedication to the people behind the business does not stop at its retail partners but is a value that is ingrained within the walls of Karndean itself. “Al- though much has changed since 1973, we are so proud to say that many of our early employees, including some who worked out of the Walker home [where the company was founded], are still with the company today,” Anderson said. “We’re the type of company where someone can start in our customer service department and grow to become CEO of our United States business, and now CEO of Karndean Holdings, as Ed Perrin has.”

In fact, Castle Floors’ Merrell happily noted his first Karndean sales rep, who introduced his store to high-end LVT and laid the groundwork for their 30-year relationship. “We started with a small display and, actually, our rep was Ed Perrin, who’s now the CEO of Karndean Holdings. Ed came by at Surfaces and set us up. We loved the product; we loved the range of choices. We loved the whole idea of vinyl—partly because in Arizona woods don’t do so well. So, when I saw [Karndean’s vinyl], I went, ‘That’s it. That’s what we need.’ And so, we took it on early. We had a lot of our competitors telling our customers, ‘Oh, you don’t want to put that vinyl crap in your house.’ But it wasn’t long before everyone was on board with it while we were going, ‘Duh.’”

Looking ahead to the next

50 years, Anderson noted the company’s primary objectives remain the same as it builds on its previous 50 years of success. “We feel so proud to have inherited this legacy from the Walker family and it’s my hope that we continue to move the industry forward in positive, innovative and exciting ways that keep our customers, colleagues and communities at the center of all we do.”

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