Pierre Lefort, NAFCO’s general manager and vp, describes the benefits of the company’s newly redesigned display.

NAFCO’s commemorative anniversary logo.

Proudly recalling its deep roots in the flooring business while showcasing some forward-looking initiatives, Tarkett’s NAFCO kicked off its 50th year with a tour of its cavernous manufacturing facility in Florence, Ala. Company officials noted that a five-year, $10 million upgrade has enabled the resilient floor maker to operate with greater efficiency without compromising quality. In addition, the company’s golden anniversary is being marked by a product rollout and new merchandising displays, a new Cash Card for dealers and other incentives.

Pierre Lefort, NAFCO’s general manager and vp, predicted that the manufacturing enhancements and marketing initiatives will help propel the company well into the future. “We are here for at least another 50 years,” said Lefort, with obvious pride as he hosted a day-long media event tied to the anniversary celebration recently. He added that the company’s rich history would be an important element of the milestone celebration.

Included will be a consumer marketing campaign that recalls NAFCO’s early days. Black and white ads reminiscent of the 1950s feature a typical family scene from the era with a slight twist: NAFCO’s floorcovering appears in color, suggesting that the product is still a fashionable choice. The ad’s headline reads “NAFCO 50 Years of Flooring Innovations.” The slogan appears in a special anniversary logo created to mark the occasion.

NAFCO said the signage celebrating its 50 years would be seen on in-store displays, catalogs, product sample boards and literature. Also, the company’s 2007 Design Studio merchandising display has been engineered to house 22 patterns in 18 textures and 120 colors, yet occupies a relatively small footprint in the showroom.

On the product side, the company added two patterns to its popular PermaStone tile collection: Mirabello, with its sandstone look, is being offered in three variations: Elegant, Mod and Posh. The second new pattern, Washed Travertine (reminiscent of limestone) is available in Cashew, Butternut and Tobacco. Both additions feature NAFCO’s 1/8” GroutFit, which puts a grout visual on only two sides of the tile to create a seamless floor. NAFCO product manager/residential, Erica Hubbard, noted that the company’s manufacturing process creates variations in each product, meaning, “no two tiles are exactly alike.” The line extension comes on the heels of a product introduction last year that included 31 SKUs.

The plant tour for media members was intended to promote the 50th anniversary celebration and underscore the company’s longstanding commitment to environmentally responsible domestic manufacturing. While Lefort said the company is proud to stamp “Made in the USA” on its products, he is also calling on lawmakers to help the company compete against lower priced imports.

“We put our money where our mouth is,” says Lefort, referring to the investment in U.S. production. “We have spoken with our state’s representatives and presented ideas about tariffs or taxes on anything made outside of the U.S. and then imported [here] to sell. We’re working with the ITC [International Trade Commission] as well. Nothing will happen overnight, but we’re putting pressure to make things happen.”

He added that the work force at the Alabama plant was a big plus for the company. “The average of our workforce is 18 years of employment,” he explained. “They understand the product and they are good people.”

The plant tour, led by plant manager Norman Freebeck also stressed NAFCO’s reclamation efforts. “Every piece of scrap, trim, rejects, and even dust from our collectors is reclaimed and reused back into the product,” explained Freebeck.