Calhoun, Ga.—Mohawk’s luxury flooring brand Karastan plans a new chapter for 2020 when it will launch its first hard-surface collections and transitions under new leadership. Bill Storey, the seasoned Mohawk executive who helped lead the premium brand to success over 32 years, announced his plans to retire in early 2020. In response, the company is promoting 20-year Mohawk veteran Jason Randolph to senior vice president of Karastan.

“I’ve worked with Bill on and off for the past 15 years, so it’s been quite a long relationship; he’s been a great mentor to me,” Randolph said.

Randolph’s Mohawk career included handling national accounts, selling to home centers, developing hard and soft surfaces, and most recently, managing the SmartStrand portfolio across all residential channels.

“I’ve always aspired to work more on the Karastan and fashion side because that is our premium brand,” Randolph said. “Premium is still a growing category in carpet. It also gives me the ability to manage the product development side, and it also allows me to get back into sales, seeing customers, managing the regional vice presidents and the sales structure.”

As part of the move, Randolph is overseeing the restructure of the Karastan sales teams, which in the past, have worked in conjunction with Mohawk teams. Going forward, the Karastan brand will have dedicated regional vice presidents that will focus on Karastan and Godfrey Hirst fashion brands, and they will have dedicated regional and territory managers.

“The premium brands allow you to develop forward-thinking styling and innovation, it allows you to be a bit more creative and also allows you the ability to get out of the price war,” Randolph noted.

The Karastan hard surface launches will include hardwood, marketed under the BellaLuxe brand, and resilient offerings, marketed under LuxeCraft. The sales team is receiving eight weeks of intense training via webinars to prepare for the 2020 launches.

Randolph said specialty retailers are eager for Karastan to enter the wood category as an answer to the category’s commoditization: “They’re looking for something that can give them a differentiated, high-quality visual. We’re doing some Old World looks and we’re doing some unique surface texturing on handcrafted products that go up to almost 11 inches wide.”

Luxury vinyl was another logical step for the brand, addressing a need for more interesting visuals that can garner higher prices for the category.

“If you go back and look into all the charts, LVP was not non-existent 10 years ago, and over the last three years, that’s the fastest growing category in all flooring,” Randolph said. “With all the imports coming in, it has become very difficult for a dealer to make any margin. They’re looking for something with the brand premium, with a high-style aesthetic, that will allow them to make a margin and the consumer can feel good about purchasing.”

Karastan is also introducing more than 20 new broadloom styles in 2020, emphasizing its continued commitment to soft surface.

“We’re taking a new approach to Karastan,” Randolph explained. “We have the traditional customer and we also need to attract the younger generation, and so we are doing some higher-style designs.”

He said he sees the bell curve on carpet changing with customers opting for high-impact carpets and rugs in smaller areas of the home, which prompts homeowners to change their carpets faster, like fashion.

“When you’ve got the backing of Mohawk with R&D and the financial capital, we are able to invest and create new visuals.”

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