Southeast Flooring Market Indicates Industry Optimism

ATLANTA—More than 60 vendors kicked off 2018 at the Southeast Flooring Market, held at Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Centre. Hundreds of flooring buyers from the region came to check out 2018 introductions and network with their local sales representatives, and Mohawk and Shaw exhibited in their own spaces, kicking off a month of regional shows for the manufacturers.

There was a general consensus of optimism about the New Year and business among those in attendance. Randy Shoates, the Dalton sales manager for Southwind Carpet Mills, said 2017 was the best year he’s seen in his 40 years in the flooring business. “Hard surface has really taken over,” he said. “Business is completely different now than when I started, but now I’m selling to everyone’s grandkids.” 

After realizing how many more of their customers were attending the Southeast Flooring Market instead of Surfaces, Mannington district sales directors Ron Chapman and Travis Alan Knotts said they decided to exhibit at the regional market.

Lexmark exhibited its Living Select display, which features 30 pins and 16 of the company’s top-selling products. “We had tremendous growth in 2017—double digit growth-—with 1,300 new displays placed,” said Darryl Locke, vice president of the company. He said 2018 will be a “year of harvesting” as the company opts out of Surfaces this year in favor of a road show and sales team development. Kathy Cline, director of residential marketing, said the company is also focusing on developing its rug program and planning quarterly promotions that are aimed to duplicate the success the Lexmark had with the “It Takes Two” promotion in 2017.

In the Shaw space, Anderson Tuftex unveiled its rebranding, new displays, 17 carpet designs and seven new hardwood styles. Katie Ford, director of brand strategy, said the target consumer for Anderson Tuftex is a woman in her mid-40s with a great sense of style who believes that her home’s style is a reflection of herself. She acts as her own interior designer and general contractor, researching design ideas and organizing  the installers who bring her design aspirations to life.

“Activate the Future” was the theme for Mohawk, as the manufacturer showcased four product heros that were surrounded by 360-degree campaigns that create stickiness for the consumer, building trust between them, the flooring retailer and the brand. The first product hero, SmartStrand Silk Reserve, features All Pet Protection, which was launched at the end of 2017. A Solid Tech expansion also features All Pet Protection introduced with new finishes and longer, wider planks. Mohawk unveiled its consumer launch of the Airo soft flooring system, featuring hypoallergenic benefits. Additionally, the company has repositioned its laminate as Revwood Plus, calling it a “revolutionary wood without compromise” with a waterproof feature. “We are hitting a sweet spot for the consumer with this product,” said Karen Mendelsohn, senior vice president of marketing. The Mohawk team also showcased updates to its Omnify platform.

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MSI Identifies 2018 Top 5 Trends

ORANGE, CALIF.—M S International (MSI) has unveiled its top five design trends of 2018, and trend-spotter Emily Holle has identified intriguing styles that will transform homes and businesses this year.

MSI has reimagined tile and introduced styles that are designed for modern day life. With the help of print technology, the company has designed low-maintenance, budget-friendly and durable surfaces like marble-look quartz countertops, wood-look porcelain planks and cement-inspired ceramic tile.
According to Holle, when done right, pattern packs a dramatic punch. With MSI’s encaustic inspired tile on floors and walls, end-users can go all out with tile that shines like Whisper White Arched Herringbone, or take a low-key approach to printed tile with a geometric backsplash using Bianco Dolomite Geometrica Polished.

Also reveling in the spotlight this year is three-dimensional tile. “Our favorite part of this high-impact trend is that it’s always unexpected,” said Holle. Highlights from MSI’s 3D Offering include Dekora Porcelain, White Beveled Subway Tile, and Adella Porcelain.

“We’ve got a thing for bringing irresistible natural stones to hotspots near you,” said Holle. With MSI’s Ostrich Gray Quartzite and Green Soapstone, luxe residential and commercial spaces can easily be created.

For rebels and daredevils looking for a wow-factor, high-octane veins are on-trend, says Holle. Found in MSI’s Stile collection and Onyx countertops, these surfaces offer lots of movement and are an easy with the give a room drama and personality. 

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In Memoriam: Atlanta Merchandise Mart’s John C. Portman, Jr.

ATLANTA—Atlanta architect, real estate developer, entrepreneur, artist and founder of Atlanta Merchandise Mart, John C. Portman, Jr., died in December at the age of 93. The Atlanta-native’s impact on Atlanta’s success and growth as a major international city, and similar impact on other major cities throughout the world, led to the international recognition for significant urban mixed-use complexes. Portman’s design decisions were always rooted in the interpretation of basic human needs, and he believed that architecture was created for, and exists to serve, life and people. From Embarcadero Center in San Francisco and Times Square in New York, to Marina Square in Singapore and Shanghai Centre in China, Portman took people away from the congestion of urban life by creating spaces that are open and uplifting to the human spirit.

Founder of Atlanta Merchandise Mart, which is now AmericasMart Atlanta, Portman played a dual role in the design and development of the industry staple. Portman founded the Atlanta Merchandise Mart in an old converted office building in 1957, and when success dictated building a new, larger building for the Mart, Portman made the decision to build it downtown to encourage further development, reenergize the city and save the area for future generations.

Further investing in Atlanta’s downtown, Portman designed and developed the Westin Peachtree Plaza, which opened as the tallest hotel in North America. He continued to develop the Peachtree Center over the past 55 years and it now occupies 14 city blocks and includes approximately 21 buildings that contain 20 million square feet—a feat accomplished utilizing no public funds. The success of Peachtree Center achieved Portman’s vision of attracting further development. Downtown Atlanta has flourished, serving as a catalyst for the extraordinary success and growth of the entire region.
Beyond Atlanta, Portman created urban mixed-use complexes focused on connecting people to their surrounding environments. In Detroit, Henry Ford sought Portman’s help to stop urban flight from the city with the design of Renaissance Center. In Los Angeles, The Bonaventure Hotel initiated the renewal efforts in the city’s Bunker Hill section.

Portman’s international work began with the design and development of the Brussels Trade Mart, then shifted to the far East. The Regent Singapore was Portman’s first international hotel, followed by Marina Square in Singapore, a major complex that includes three hotels, a retail mall and an office building. He entered China in 1980 as one of the first American architects or developers to become actively involved when China opened its doors to the West. Portman’s pioneer project, Shanghai Centre, a large, mixed-use complex, has been described by China Daily as “one of the five architectural stars in mainland China.”

Portman leaves behind a legacy hallmarked by honors and awards. His numerous architectural awards include the AIA Medal from the National American Institute of Architects for innovations in hotel design, and the Silver Medal Award from the Atlanta Chapter of AIA for innovative design. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He was recognized for “extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment” with a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

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Domotex to Make U.S. Debut in 2019

CHICAGO—Domotex USA will make its U.S. debut in Atlanta, Feb. 28 to March 2, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress Center. With a focus on the American residential floor covering industry, exhibitors will display the latest machine-made carpets, wall-to-wall carpeting, textile floor coverings, handmade rugs, resilient floor coverings, design flooring /luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and laminate flooring, parquet and wood flooring, as well as application and installation technologies designed for the residential flooring marketplace.

Launched in 1988 in Hannover, Germany by Deutsche Messe, Domotex is a showcase for floor coverings innovation.

“I worked through a systematic approach to evaluate whether or not a Domotex would work in the United States,” said Raymond Bianchi, vice president, events and business development, Hannover Fairs USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Deutsche Messe. “Would it be the right thing? As we went through the process and looked at the market, the existing shows, where population centers are, where the major customers are, who the major customers are, what they are looking for in a show and what a show should look like, we found out that what we’re trying to do doesn’t really exist in the United States. There are some great trade shows, but we are trying to create something different.”

With that, Domotex USA will target North American-based professionals, including wholesalers and retailers of carpets, floor coverings, wood flooring, LVT and other innovative flooring products for retailers, home builders, developers, floor installers and home improvement and buying groups.
“We chose Atlanta because it’s the eastern half of the United States,” said Bianchi. “And it’s very close to a lot of major markets. We are two hours by air to 70 percent of the U.S. population. But the second reason we chose it was that a lot of the attendees said in surveys is that we don’t just want to go to a show, we want to go see factories, we want to visit with the sales people, and being in Atlanta gives us the ability to coordinate with exhibitors and have people visit factories and other people and do education during the week. It gives them the chance to have a whole week and really a good use of their time.”

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Shaw Aids Retailers with Digital Marketing Updates

DALTON—Shaw is kicking off 2018 with new digital marketing updates to add to its portfolio of services, which help retailers reach consumers in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

New features include Pulse, a sentiment analysis tool for retailers looking to improve consumer experiences and make operational changes based on consumer feedback, essentially serving as a finger on the pulse of any business; social media monitoring and publishing which allows retailers to link social accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to monitor all activity on their pages in real time from one location; the ability to track activity and customer sentiment by region with geo-fencing, and measure customer engagement metrics over time; a centralized dashboard that helps retailers respond to reviews on social media platforms more quickly; and custom templates for retailers to use when responding to reviews from the dashboard. This will help with creating recommended or approved responses for team members to use, saving time and ensuring consistency of responses.

Shaw is also enhancing its website creation and management service, Shaw Web Studio. Retailers can continue to expect more color options, with each template offering more than 20 color scheme options and some having more than 30 options, increasing the ability for retailers to customize their website. There are also two new website templates, Simplicity and Intrigue; a tool has been added for dealers to easily create and feature employee information on their website; new website pages can be created quickly using a plethora of existing page templates to maximize a site’s user friendliness and value to consumers; and sale lists can be created and managed with the ability to link Shaw sale products to the Shaw Digital Catalog. 
These updates will be added to the full interactive suite of digital services available from Shaw Floors, including the company’s award-winning website, social and visualization tools.

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