Editor’s Note: Welcome to Industry Q&A, an ongoing feature highlighting members of the industry and their companies. Interested in participating? Contact Jeff Golden at GoldenJ@bnpmedia.comor (818) 224-8035 ext. 2218.
NFTrecently spoke with Dennis Jarosz, Congoleum’s sr vp sales and marketing. The company recently launched Connections, a glueless flooring system which features an adhesive film used in the aerospace industry.
How did Congoleum get involved with technology from the aerospace industry?
Floating floors have been gaining in popularity, and we challenged our R&D people to come up with a floating product. Our sister company, American Biltrite, was producing an adhesive film for the aerospace industry that has tremendous tensile strength but doesn’t shrink or expand. They created an adhesive that prevents side-to-side movement, but is not difficult to remove when needed.
We applied the film to a number of planks and did a lot of examination in our research lab to create a new floating floor. We found that if you put two pieces of this flooring together incorrectly, you can pull them up and reposition them without difficulty.
Is Connections your first floating floor?
We actually have a fairly wide array of floors that can float today. We have this new product, Connections. We also have Underflor, which allows retailers to install our DuraCeramic or Endurance Plank products in a floating installation.
We also have a family of products called AirStep Plus and Evolution. Those products compete directly with the fiberglass sheet market. They can float or be perimeter installed, with our guarantee that they won’t buckle.
How are you marketing this product?
We’re marketing it through our wholesale distributors to floor covering retailers. Most of it is going to be professionally installed. Some retailers will sell it to do it yourselfers as well.
The Connections Plank Display is 2’1” wide, 1’6” deep and 6’2” high. Certainly the smaller footprint makes it easier to get into stores.
How has Connections been received?
It’s taking off so much faster than we forecasted. We launched it with distributors at the end of April, and expected to start selling displays at the end of May. We forecasted about 4,000 display placements in year one. To date, we already have orders for about 5,200 displays.
Is Connections geared toward commercial or residential use?
We do have a light commercial warranty on it, and it will perform really nicely in light commercial installations. But primarily, the product is designed for the residential market. There is also a lot of interest in using the product in multi-family property management environments. Property managers are typically responsible for replacing floors whenever they turn over tenants, and this floor is very easy to install and replace as needed.
Looking at the broader picture, how do you see the economy faring this year?
All of us came into this year thinking it was going to be a lot better year than last year, but January and February were pretty tough months. However, March more than made up for January and February. I think it gave all of us in the industry a false sense of hope that March would be us turning the corner. But then April let us down a little bit and May has been a little spotty. Based on what I’m hearing, I think business is okay. It’s not great, but it is a little better than it was a year ago.
Certainly one of the things that would help us is some extension on those rebates for purchases of homes. That seemed to have a significant effect on the month of April.