What's New in Wood Flooring
Bruce Launches New U.S.-Made Wood Collections
Mountville, Pa.—Wood flooring manufacturer AHF Products introduces new engineered and solid hardwood flooring collections from Bruce – American Honor, Next Frontier, Early Canterbury and Blacksmith’s Forge engineered floors, and the newly refreshed Natural Choice solid hardwood. These new collections are made in the U.S.A., featuring precision craftsmanship and premium materials.
Bruce, with a proud legacy of Authentic American craftsmanship since 1884, is one of the most recognizable and most respected names in hardwood, with the power to drive sales at the specialty retailer as well as home centers. Bruce also is the preferred brand for the trade professional, providing best-in-class hardwood flooring material, construction, technologies and support.
The Bruce offerings are forging new ground with the Next Frontier collection, updating a traditional favorite with wider width planks, matte finish and 10 new, on-trend colors. Made from 100% real North American hickory, one of the toughest and hardest American wood species, these floors feature a classic hand-scraped texture which gives depth to the wood. The floors feature the most scratch and stain-resistant coating offered in Bruce products, for enhanced performance. They can be nailed, floated or glued down.
American OEM Rolls Out Assertive Growth Strategy
Burns, Tenn.—Don Finkell, CEO of wood manufacturer American OEM is taking an assertive approach to reclaiming market share for the wood category. He said since wood manufacturers typically voided warranties for wood floors that have any exposure to water, it opened the door for LVT companies to gain share from consumers looking for waterproof features.
“I don’t think anybody realized how successful the waterproof story was going to become—it has its own momentum,” he said. “I think we kind of allowed this business to slip away from us.”
While consumers still aspire to wood floors, in many cases retail sales associates steer them to vinyl because it’s an easier sell thanks to the water-resistant story and traditional lower price point.
In response, American OEM is taking a three-pronged approach to drive more business. The first strategy is to offer less expensive product options.
“Instead of just having the wider, longer version of our products, we’re coming out with value-priced products, which we’re calling tariff busters,” Finkell said. “They’re shorter, they’re five feet long instead of eight feet long. That’s generating a pretty good bit of business for us.”
These tariff-busting products are targeted toward the builder business, offering middle of the road styling and are less expensive than his higher-end Hearthwood branded products.
While Finkell said the tariff-busting business is not as profitable, it does help the entire organization by ensuring there is enough volume running through the plant.
The second strategy is adding waterproof performance to wood flooring.
“Some of this is an answer to the success that vinyl has had with the waterproof story,” Finkell said. “For the last 18 months, we’ve been working on a water-resistance technology which dramatically improves its water resistance on our traditional wood floors.”
Called “Wet Works”, the protective coating goes on all six sides of the board, reducing the water permeability of the surface. This performance addition is being added to all American OEM floors with no extra price.
“If you have topical moisture coming from splashes and spills from above, we see this as a barrier, keeping water from penetrating between the boards. Also, if you have moisture coming up from a crawl space where there is a a damp slab, this barrier protects the flooring from damage from below,” said Finkell.
The third major initiative is American OEM’s introduction of Raintree rigid core flooring, which is targeted toward younger consumers, including millennials, and is approved for wet mopping. In Raintree, Finkell pairs a real wood veneer with an SPC core. Rolling out to distributors through the end of the year, he said the product will be merchandised in the wood section of specialty flooring stores.
“The National Wood Flooring Association and the Decorative Hardwood Association, who writes the spec for engineered wood floors, recognize this as a composite wood floor,” he added.
With Finkell’s Hearthwood-branded engineered wood products, he targets a higher-end, older consumer, maybe whose children have moved out of the house. In comparison, Raintree is targeted toward a younger consumer who still has the lifestyle concerns surrounding children and pets. Pricing for Raintree is similar to Finkels’s mid-tier wood products and slightly more expensive than luxury vinyl.
“A lot of people used to think that they’re going to postpone buying a wood floor until kids leave home—you know, empty-nesters—but we feel like this range allows them to go ahead and have the beauty and authenticity of a wood floor and not have to worry about their kids or their pets destroying it,” he said.