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.com or (818) 224-8035 ext. 2218.
NFTspoke recently with Tarkett’s Bill Cralley, president of the North America residential division, and Gary Finseth, vp marketing. The two executives talked about streamlining their brands, introducing new retailer programs, being recognized byConsumers Digest, the company’s approach to sustainability, and what’s ahead for next year.
What has been the process of streamlining your brands under Tarkett Residential?
Cralley:In 2008, we started working on moving the Domco brand out of the marketplace. That incorporated changes in distribution as well as revising the sheet product offering, and eliminating some SKUs in Domco and Tarkett. We kept the good SKUs, and added new SKUs, merchandising and branding for Tarkett.
In 2010, we’re continuing to simplify. NAFCO is no longer a standalone sales organization, but a product line under the Tarkett brand. We combined the sales organizations of NAFCO and Tarkett sheet vinyl into one. We now have a single U.S. sales force representing the Tarkett Residential brand (sheet vinyl and fiber), along with the NAFCO by Tarkett offering and Tarkett Laminate.
As we go forward, our brand residentially is Tarkett, and our brand commercially is Johnsonite.
What new programs have you launched for retailers?
Finseth:This year we introduced our Tarkett Elite program, with platinum, gold and silver levels. Each one of those levels receives co-op advertising, incentive rebates, and an inspection program. If a retailer has a complaint, they can settle it themselves up to a certain point without having to get the distributor or the factory involved. All of this is available at all levels, except for retailer training, which for 2010 is only offered at platinum and gold levels.
We also recently launched our roomvue visualizer. It features a library of room scenes, or customers can upload their own room photo. Aside from choosing the floor, customers can choose wall paint colors from Sherwin-Williams, floor transitions and trim boards.
What does it mean to have FiberFloor recognized as a Consumers Digest “Best Buy”?
Cralley:I think it validates the work and the investment we’ve made in our manufacturing facilities, and our Tarkett Residential and Johnsonite design teams working together as one North American design team. This award is extremely important to us as we are becoming a bigger player in the marketplace. Our goal with customers is to become more relevant than in the past, and be a stronger global brand.
Finseth:That kind of endorsement is truly a wonderful thing. The announcement was up in Times Square right after it came out.
How important is sustainability to Tarkett?
Cralley:We’ve been one of the pioneers in sustainability long before we were calling it green. We’ve developed a unique program where, for example, when a very large retailer redoes their store, we take up 100 percent of the floors, recycle them and put them into new floors.
Today it is fair to say that some residential consumers are willing to pay a premium on a green product, but many are not. The green story right now is a little more valuable to end-users on the commercial side of the business. It’s going to take a little more time for consumers to fully understand it. But I believe that will change over time.
Finseth:All of our products are FloorScore certified. We also follow a very stringent sustainability charter. We are very stringent on our manufacturing plants to filter out any emissions and reuse as much waste as we can. We also want to be good stewards of the environment.
What are your plans for 2011?
Cralley:We’re gonna be looking at an update to our laminate collection going into next year. A lot of what’s being worked on right now is for 2011. This year, the Elite program has been quite an undertaking for us, along with the reorganization of our sales and our major NAFCO PermaStone update.
We’re also looking at improving and building a stronger dealer portfolio for our distributors. We are changing Tarkett month by month for long-term growth to add more value to our customers (distributors/dealers). Our goal is to be a more relevant partner. We want to grow our position within the industry, and have numerous strategies in place to do that.