A mood of cautious optimism was evident at Surfaces 2010, held last month in Las Vegas. Exhibitors said it was time to move ahead, and demonstrated their conviction with a wide array of new products. While attendance numbers were not available at press time, those at the show said they expected attendance would top last year’s nearly 24,000 attendees.
“The show is going very well for us and our exhibit has attracted a lot of attention,” said Beth Scott, Custom Building Products marketing communications mgr. Her company was showing a range of new products, including EBM-Lite mortar and CEG-Lite grout. “Surfaces is still a strong show and we’re happy to be here.”
Gary Finseth, Tarkett’s vp marketing, was also happy with the turnout. “We’re quite pleased with the response to our booth and to the show.”
His company unveiled new products along with a realigned brand message. “We’re moving the Nafco brand under Tarkett.” He said Tarkett will represent the company’s residential products, while Johnsonite will represent the commercial side. As part of the transition, Azrock will move under the Johnsonite brand.
Along with new products in the Tarkett Nafco PermaStone LVT line, the company showed a sneak peak of Tarkett Active, a rubber sports flooring product that may be launched at the end of the second quarter or beginning of the third, Finseth said.
Resilient maker CBC Flooring prominently featured its Unica tiles under the Salto brand. The tiles are made using 80 percent recycled limestone. According to Chip Braulick, CBC Flooring’s senior marketing manager, “They are one of a kind.”
The company is also revitalizing its Mature line, a flagship product from the company’s Toli brand. “Mature was the very first product Toli introduced to North America 21 years ago, ” Braulick noted. CBC Flooring is in the second stage of a three-part launch that will drop 45 of the original 60 SKUs, while revitalizing the line with 36 new colors.
At Armstrong, Allen Cubell, vp residential resilient product management, showed off his company’s new Luxe Plank LVT, a hardwood-look resilient which is installed using a pressure sensitive adhesive system.
Additionally, the product can be installed with Armstrong’s new stone- and concrete-look Alterna LVT. “We’re putting different installation ideas out there to help independent retailers position their value and differentiate themselves,” he said.
Bliss by Beaulieu rolled out a wide range of new products, including the Stainmaster with Magic Fresh collection featuring 10 styles. The carpets feature both Stainmaster fiber and Beaulieu’s Magic Fresh odor reducing treatment. Bliss also unveiled the SoftSense collection, a selection of soft carpets in nylon, polyester and solution dyed polyester. The collection comes with Magic Fresh and 3M Scotchgard Stain Protector.
Beaulieu of America also showcased its Armstrong FashionSmart branded collection for builders and the Beaulieu Property Management Solutions carpet line. “Our Property Management Solutions collection was developed by the consumer for the consumer,” explained Michael Porter, sr. vp of Beaulieu’s builder division. “We put a lot of due diligence into this and went into major markets to find out what people wanted.” Products in the program are made using GreenSmart solution dyed PET BCF polyester.
Invista promoted its Stainmaster fiber as a “triathlon of performance”: calling attention to its Durability, Spill Repellancy and Soil Resistance via icons that evoke Olympic medals.
“Retailers in this industry drive our products to the consumer. High-quality, professional retailers are critical to our business model,” said Steve Griffith, Invista’s vp residential flooring. As part of its efforts to better reach the retailer, Invista has created a promotional board that outlines Stainmaster’s triathlon message and the fiber’s three-tiered performance.
Pergo launched its Pergo Commercial collection of laminate flooring; and gave sneak peaks of hybrid vinyl-laminate products that Pergo plans to launch in the third quarter.
“We will be introducing Pergo Luxury Vinyl Tiles and Planks and leveraging our brand in new directions,” said David Small, vp marketing for Pergo. “They’re HDF core products, with a 2mm vinyl adhered to the surface.”
He added Pergo is planning to add small temporary displays to showcase a specific laminate style each quarter. First in the line-up is the Renaissance Oak product, followed by Reclaimed Oak and Fleming Oak styles.
Quick-Step unveiled a partnership with HGTV designer Erinn Valencich, who appeared at the booth to answer questions and show off the design possibilities of Quick-Step laminate flooring. She is also featured in a new Quick-Step display that contains 10 Designer’s Choice floors in its mix that were chosen by Valencich.
She will also help the company choose designs for 2011, said Roger Farabee, sr. vp marketing for Unilin, Quick-Step’s parent company. “In the next few weeks we’re going to get together and plan the direction for 2011, and that will include Erinn’s input.”
While he wouldn’t say specifically what Quick-Step was planning for 2011, Farabee said the high-gloss styles that have dominated the market will wane.
Mannington launched a range of new products, including the Earthly Elements line of 12” by 12” and 12” by 24” hardwood tiles. What makes the collection unique is the number of ways the tiles can be combined to offer unique patterns and looks, said Dan Natkin, Mannington’s director of wood business.
Patterns available by combining the tiles include Checkerboard, Weave, Herringbone and Pinwheel. “We can package the configuration the consumer wants, and send it on to distribution and out to the retailer,” Natkin added.
Peter Connor, president of W-D Flooring, rolled out what he called a “very niche product.” His company’s Stang-Lund collection is a prefinished American hardwood product with a distinctive Scandinavian design influence.
“W-D Flooring does about 80 percent unfinished, and 20 percent prefinished,” he explained. “This is a very niche product with a very distinct design. Our total production is about 12 million sq. ft. We’re expecting to do about 400,000 sq. ft. with this.”
Trillium showcased its latest Strand Woven Bamboo flooring products, including the new Burled series. Bill Friend, vp of parent company Strategis International Inc., likened the texture to “the look of a Rolls Royce dashboard.”
The product is made by slicing bamboo into fine strips about 1/8” wide. These strips are then twined into strands and braided into a rope that is about 7 ft. long, which is then compressed into blocks and cut into boards. “We apply the décor right into the surface fiber, so it blends and looks natural. We can essentially recreate wood species or make up our own, with all the variation and color intact,” Friend added.
Brenco Exotic Woods, a new company launched about six months ago, exhibited its African hardwood flooring, veneers, moulding and decking. Jeffrey Brennan, Brenco’s coo, said he was reliant on Surfaces to get the word out.
“We’re brand new, and Surfaces is how we’re getting our message out there,” he said. “It’s the first thing we’re doing to market the product and interest people in carrying our lines.”
Retailers said they came to Surfaces to stay on top of what was new in the industry. “I’m here learning, and finding a lot of new things,” said Bader Obeid, managing director of Carpet Mills of America Flooring & Design Center in Carrollton, Texas.
Walter Magee, a retail salesperson for Westwide Flooring, Victoria, British Columbia, agreed. “Coming to Surfaces is like getting a collage of the whole industry. We’re a little bit separated from the rest of the world, and there are products here that haven’t crossed my desk yet.”
Selling to women a focus of educational coursesSocial marketing and the role of female consumers were big topics during Surfaces 2010. Patricia Flavin, Beaulieu of America’s sr. vp. marketing, led “Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer: Women,” offering tips on targeting female consumers. Christine Whittemore, of Simple Marketing Now, taught “Social Media 101,” a course which included an overview of popular online tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
Flavin said 92 percent of decorating purchases are made by women, making it essential that retailers ensure their stores are women-friendly. “If your store is cluttered with too many things just strewn about, you will lose her business. Look at your store from an outsider’s perspective, and fix things that aren’t right,” she noted.
Whittemore added that 84 percent of social media users are women. “To appeal to women, you must present yourself or your company in an information-offering mode, in-store and especially online.”
National Floor Trends’ columnists taught several educational courses, including Dave Stafford, presenting “Expanding Into Commercial Business: What is Your Next Step?” with Sim Crisler, owner and president of LGM and Associates; Annette Callari, presenting “Color Vision 2010”; and Sam Allman, presenting two courses, “Managing Financials for Business Success” and “Heart and Mind Selling.”
NFT also sponsored the Business and Technology stage at Surfaces, an area offering a series of one-hour On-Floor Education events during the show. NFT not only sponsored the stage, but two of its presentations: “WFCA Consumer Study: Understanding the Female Consumer” with Beth Surowiec of Clear Seas Research; and “Learn How Retailers Use B2B/EDI for a Competitive Advantage,” with Aaron Pirner of CapCarpet and Pam Bowe, fcB2B’s executive director.
Sister magazines Floor Covering Installer and TILE Magazine sponsored the Installation Stage, along with three of its presentations: “Moisture Problems Defined and Solved” with NFT/FCI columnist Ray Thompson, Jr. of the Ray Thompson Floorcovering Institute; “Causes and Preventions of Ceramic Tile and Stone Failures” with Donato Pompo of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants Inc.; and “Seams Easy to Me” with Jim Walker, ceo of International Certified Floorcovering Installers (CFI).
All three magazines sponsored the New Product Showcase, which gave show goers a sneak peak at products that were being launched at the show. Participating companies were also judged in a Best New Product contest during the show. Anderson Hardwood Floors won for its Tropical Reflections line of hardwood flooring.
Surfaces 2011 will switch venues to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Tuesday, Jan. 25, through Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. Pre-show educational events are planned for Monday, Jan. 24. For more information, visit www.surfaces.com.