The 42 members of the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) escaped to Cancun this spring for their biannual conference where they shared best practices, spent time with friends and explored new business opportunities in a casual setting. 

A highlight of the event is the member/vendor meeting, which is a day-long tabletop exhibit where members and vendors negotiate product and merchandising strategies, discuss new partnership opportunities and troubleshoot issues that are affecting their businesses. 

The Mohawk team went over some of the finer points of new hard surface introductions, Revwood and TecWood, while Mohawk President Brian Carson updated members on plans for the acquisition of the Godfrey Hirst Group, the flooring company in Australia and New Zealand that represents $400 million in wool business. Carson said the company presents an opportunity for Mohawk to bring more tufted wool into the United States. 

Larry Pellegrini, eastern regional sales manager for Godfrey Hirst, offered special pricing on rolls of carpet in an effort to make room for new introductions coming in May. “Wool has come down to the price of synthetics and it is such a better story,” he said.

Jeff Macco, CEO of Macco’s Floor Covering Center based in Green Bay, Wis., said carpet continues to be robust in Wisconsin thanks to months of colder weather with more than 90 percent of soft surfaces sold being nylon. 

In tile, Marazzi showcased new displays, announced they were finishing up two builder showrooms, and promoted its StepWise porcelain technology that adds slip resistance for outdoor and commercial use. 

Manny Llerena, sales and marketing director, MSI, reported that the company reached $1 billion in growth in December 2017 and has reached its fifth consecutive years of $100 million in annual sales growth. MSI is planning new branding initiatives and Llerena hinted at a potential new category for 2018. 

Resilient flooring continues to provide new opportunities for growth, particularly to answer the needs of durability, faster installation and easier product changes.    

Piet Dossche highlighted USFloors’ Coretec Stone, a new line stone polymer composite (SPC) tiles that is going to compete with the ceramic market and will be available later this year. The product is easier to transport, easier to install and can be installed over an existing floor, he said. 

Kelly Taylor, president of Ambassador Flooring based in Chesterfield, Mo., said new LVT products are already taking a bite out of ceramic in the St. Louis market: “I can get the look with a product that clicks together with less time and investment.”

Keith Anderson, senior vice president of sales at Congoleum, promoted the upcoming launch of CLEO, a new brand of resilient floor that prints imagery directly on a limestone core. Launching early summer, the visuals on CLEO are clearer because there isn’t separate wear layer and the glue-down product can be cut with a utility knife.

Russ Rogg, CEO and president of Metroflor, showcased a new wall product that he said, “offers retailers an opportunity to take advantage of a new category before it explodes.” The product can be installed in residential and commercial settings and could be an advantage for projects where the end user wants to apply a fresh look over existing material, like a backsplash. 

“It’s not going to fly off the shelves like floors, but it is new and interesting for the consumer,” said Phil Koufidakis, president of Baker Bros. Floor Covering in Phoenix. 

Mannington is simplifying the selling and shopping for luxury vinyl with a new display for Adura, which showcases three constructions and will be available this fall, according to Jay Kopelson, vice president, Mannington. 

With the variety of LVT, LVP and other rigid core products on the market, dealers expressed concern about differentiation. 

“We have to make decisions about what makes margin and what is going to give us an advantage competitively,” said Greg Loeffler, vice president of sales and marketing at Pierce Flooring in Butte, Mont. “For it to mean something to my people, it has to be private labeled.”