Armstrong officials gave a preview of some of their latest products during a press event recently at the company’s headquarters in Lancaster, Pa. The company showed off additions to existing lines and discussed the benefits of its recently launched Migrations BioBased Tile product range as well as several green programs. While the products were eye-catching, it was clear that the company is treading carefully in a softening market that one staffer called “a unique economic situation.”
Armstrong Floor Products president and CEO Frank Ready was even more blunt. “It’s a very tough environment,” he said. “We’re very happy where we’re positioned right now – we feel very good about where we’ll finish in 2007, but the market in 2008 is going to be really tough.”
One of the reasons the lines have been popular is due to their higher end “piano finish” and elegant exotic looks, according to Armstrong’s general manager of laminate, Milton Goodwin. “Our philosophy is to take things that are real wood, and turn them into laminate flooring,” he said.
The company said it planned to expand its laminate range with new exotics, hand-scraped looks and a collection inspired by the coast set to launch in the second quarter of ‘08. Additionally, many of the products will include pressed bevels and pillowed edges for a greater feeling of authenticity.
In a related announcement, Armstrong said it is working with a third-party producer based in Clarion, Pa., to bring more laminate flooring production back to the U.S. “The long-term goal is that 60 to 70 percent of our laminate floors will be produced in the U.S. in this new facility,” Goodwin said. He noted that while Armstrong does not own the plant, it has “a significant investment” in the location. Additionally, the plant can produce “an annual capacity of up to 250 million square feet.”
Armstrong also outlined its “green” plans for 2008. The company went over the benefits of its recently launched BioBased Tile range which is made using BioStride, a polymer derived from corn, and contains 10 percent recycled materials. In another “green” move, Armstrong said its hardwood flooring plant in Vicksburg, Miss., was recently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
“This is the first step in a journey,” said Dick Quinlan, general manager of Bruce Hardwood, adding that the FSC certification could pave the way for the company to produce FSC-certified floors. Armstrong also partners with the Tropical Forest Foundation to ensure all exotic woods used in its flooring are certified following the group’s standards for “chain of custody” and “reduced impact logging.”
Armstrong also said it has added “EcoScorecard” to its website. The web-based tool is designed to let users “search, evaluate and document” the company’s full portfolio of products against green rating systems including LEED, NAHB Green Home Standard and others.-Michael Chmielecki