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Resilient revolution at TISE 2019

resilient ART(Floor Covering Weekly) At this year’s The International Surface Event (TISE) here, resilient flooring was everywhere, particularly the multilayer flooring category where WPC, SPC and rigid core products continue to develop. And in what is becoming an increasingly crowded market, manufacturers are striving to set themselves apart by being on the forefront of trends and technology.

Trending Now
This year at TISE, grays were still abundant, but the addition of blondes and blonde-gray combinations could not be ignored. Traditionally, blonde wood looks have been popular in coastal regions, however, blondes were popular even in inland areas of the U.S., bringing a clean and bright feel to the TISE 2019 show floor.

Steven Ehrlich, vice president of sales and marketing, Novalis Innovative Flooring, said the company is making better product than ever, taking market share from all other categories. And, he noted, there is a push to make flooring more fashionable. “We need to get better as an industry at making flooring fashionable,” he offered.

Lindsey Nisbet, marketing director, Swiff-Train Company, shared that EarthWerks utilizes a sourcing team to help create its new designs. In the coming year, she said, there will be a trend toward “lighter colors, a lot of blonde, longer and wider planks, and less of the grays that have been popular.” EarthWerks’ new Stadium Collection, for example, is an SPC offering that includes 12 SKUs, eight of which are 60-inch XL planks, positioning these products easily into the long plank trend.

For Karndean Designflooring, light and clean colors in Scandinavian looks are the trend in the coming year. Karndean is now also offering its Van Gogh collection in 7˝ × 48˝ rigid core planks in 14 of its most popular colors.

“Van Gogh is kind of the American collection of Karndean and people relate to that,” said Julie Thomas, retail channel marketing manager, Karndean Designflooring.

In addition, the company is looking to woods no longer available in the market for design inspiration. For example, Karndean Designflooring is offering reclaimed barnwood looks, as well as designs mimicking koa — a Hawaiian wood that is rarely available in the market because it can only be harvested from dead koa trees. It is also utilizing the look of American chestnut, which is commercially extinct, due to a blight that occurred in the early 1900’s.

Using advanced digital printing technology, suppliers are looking to set themselves apart. David Sheehan, senior vice president, product management, Mohawk Resilient, told FCW that the company’s products are getting a visual update to lighter and grayer tones, and emphasized that with so many products in the market today, “The more realistic product will win the day.” He also shared that Mohawk is taking a three-pronged strategy to the coming year, adding SKUs to its SolidTech and SolidTech Marquee lines, as well as introducing Pergo Extreme, which targets a younger consumer.

But it’s not just about traditional wood plank looks. Seen at the show was a trend toward European-inspired patterns, such as parquet and herringbone. Natalie Cady, category manager with USFloors (a division of Shaw Industries) noted that its Coretec The Original is being offered in 40 new SKUs and taking things to the next level with herringbone patterns. Cady also said that The Original is available in “random lengths, which mimic exactly what wood does.” Trees are different sizes, so planks in varying lengths give floors a more organic feel.

Jimmy Tuley, vice president, residential resilient business for Mannington Mills, offered that tile looks are becoming increasingly popular. “Tile visuals are growing fastest,” Tuley remarked, noting that a vinyl format requires “about 40 percent less cost and 60 percent less time than traditional tile installation.”

Technological Advancements
In addition to updating looks, resilient manufacturers are focused on bringing technology into the conversation in 2019, especially as Millennials, a tech-savvy generation, surpass Baby Boomers as the largest living generation.

At Congoleum’s TISE booth, a virtual reality (VR) setup took center stage. The VR tool is a way to showcase the company’s floors in the space the user is occupying at the time. By simply putting on the VR goggles, consumers are able to select a floor sample off of the wall and apply it to the floor being stood on. Tools like this are likely to become more popular as consumers who grew up with technology at their fingertips continue to buy homes.

Engineered Floors’ (EF) marketing communications manager, Emily Scott, told FCW that visualizing your new floors in your current space can really eliminate or drastically reduce buyer’s remorse. Using the company’s EF Eye visualizer tool, available on its website, a consumer can upload a photo of their current space and apply one of EF’s floors to that space in order to see what it will look like after installation. Said Scott, “RSAs say it has helped them close deals because it eliminates that surprise of what your floors will look like.” She added that this tool is giving consumers confidence in their purchase.

Phenix Flooring is also utilizing an online tool to assist its customers with design. According to Jason Hair, vice president of hard surfaces for Phenix, the company had designers put together color palettes in order to make cohesive design easier for its customers. Its new floor displays offer a “one stop shop” for the company’s rigid core offerings and feature Design Mix, which makes it easy to mix and match designs. Design Mix is also available on the Phenix website, showcasing various patterns that complementary planks can be arranged into, and the specific percentages of each product for the pattern, taking the guesswork out of custom design.

Mannington too added technology to its conversation here, offering VR through its site Floors.com as well as through a code on the Adura Max samples that work with the consumer’s smartphone making it easy for the RSA to work instore with the customer and save time.

Standing Out
In order to standout in the crowd, suppliers are also looking to create a brand story that includes performance aspects.

Nox, a South Korean-based company that recently opened its first plant in the U.S., is focused on out-of-the-box designs as well as the best possible customer service to consumers. Jee Eun Lee, general manager, product marketing planning team, explained that Nox has a new production system. “From top to bottom, everything is made in house so customers can have trust in quality control,” she said.

MSI is among the newest suppliers in the luxury vinyl tile (LVT) market. That, according to Emily Holle, director of trend and design for MSI, is an advantage. “We were able to research what was and wasn’t being offered and what are the most exciting things about LVT today,” she said, adding that because the company offers limited distribution, dealers will not be competing with neighboring stores.

Armstrong Flooring, which now focuses entirely on the resilient category, told its Made in the U.S.A. story here, a statement that the company said will be important this year. According to Don Maier, president and CEO, “We intend to be the leader in LVT,” adding that the company will use the cash from the sale of the hardwood business to continue to innovate in the category including retooling an existing plant to manufacture domestic rigid core product. “The composition of the business is much, much stronger. We’re excited about being focused on resilient.”

Dixie launched TruCor, an SPC under the Dixie Home brand. The 27 new SKUs are merchandised in a three-tier gallery display system.

Source: https://www.floorcoveringweekly.com/main/products2/resilient-revolution-at-tise-2019--25567