Zhangjiagang, China -- While retailers, distributors and specifiers often find the resilient flooring industry to be a quagmire of confusing products, muddled marketing, and questionable product claims, Halstead International/Metroflor Corporation is aiming to drive more transparency. For three decades, the corporation has worked closely with its Chinese manufacturing partners to establish a system-wide commitment to innovation, achieving the most rigorous third-party certifications in product, process, sustainability and transparency which are driving the resilient flooring industry forward.
The company recently invited more than 100 of its customers to China to capture a first-hand look at what it takes to produce its resilient flooring products. They saw not only the innovation in manufacturing operations, but also the company-subsidized programs for factory employees—all testament to the commitment to social responsibility.
“By the end of your visit to Zhangjiagang, you guys will be able to see the deep commitment that we are making to driving the future of LVT—the commitment to capacity, the commitment to technology, the commitment to people, the commitment to the environment, and our commitment to you, our customers,” said Harlan Stone, CFO and Group CEO, Metroflor.
The close transcontinental relationship has resulted in the company’s ability to earn Declare labels across its entire Aspecta and Metroflor range of flooring and be first to translate and publish them in multiple languages. Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) have also been issued for all Aspecta’s flooring products, with EPDs for Metroflor products to be available in second half of 2019 joining the full line of HPDs. Two factories achieved the first-ever JUST social justice labels for Chinese companies, based on a wide range of metrics including safety, diversity, worker benefits and community engagement.
Over the course of two days, customers saw three of the firm’s Chinese manufacturing partner facilities: Zhangjiagang Elegant Home-Tech Co., Ltd.; and Zhangjiagang Yihua Rundong New Material Co., Ltd. (known as Yihua); and Tai Chang Colorful Press (TCP), a Taiwanese printing company specialized in plastic film for interior applications.
Elegant Home-Tech has a 27-year relationship with Halstead/Metroflor. The company employs 1,200 Employees who work 10-hour shifts and live in factor-subsidized housing. Workers benefit from day- and after-school care and leisure facilities. The nearly 1.2 million-square-foot facility has a production area of 860,800 squre feet and manufacturers an array of Metroflor products (Konecto, Artisetek, Metroflor luxury vinyl tie, Engage and Engage Genesis and the new Verçade Wall Fashion line) and Aspecta products (Aspecta One, Aspecta One Ornamental, Aspecta Five, Aspecta Ten, Tilt and Tones, and the Elemental collections.
Yihua celebrates 30 years of business with Halstead/Metroflor. The factory of more than 2 million square feet boasts a production area of 1.85 million square feet and employs 2,200. It produces Engage and Engage Genesis products for Metroflor and Aspecta 10, Elementa Commerical and Elemental Rigid Core for Aspecta.
Lastly, the customers visited the construction site of TCP’s 700,000-square foot facility that prints semi-rigid film for LVT.
“Of course, we benefit from having this facility so close to our LVT factory,” said Russ Rogg, president and CEO of Metroflor. “The original design of film oftentimes comes from a scan of natural material, or companies purchase a design, so it’s exclusive to them.”
While there is a lot of talk about digital printing among LVT manufactures, digital files are turned into an engraved cylinder, or sets of cylinders, and each one of those cylinders on that line delivers one color of ink.
“We have the luxury to take natural material, scan it, and perhaps if we are unhappy with a knot or unhappy with some part of that grain structure, they can digitally manipulate it and basically take a natural product and make it more perfect,” Rogg said.
For faster moving volume items, Metroflor’s factories will keep a certain amount of inventory so when they receive an order, they don’t have to go all the way back to the printing stage.
“But now with this factory being located, this factory being located so close to ours, not only will we keep inventory at the two LVT factories, but based that are our direction, TCP will keep certain amounts here as well so we have a redundant inventory to make sure that the orders can be processed even that much more quickly.”
For more information, visit metroflor.com.