Floor Covering Weekly June 23, 2014 : Page 1

Vol. 63 No. 12 A Hearst Business Publication June 23, 2014 $4 Kermit Baker The State of the Nation’s Housing 2014 F LOOR C OVERING W EEKLY The Industry’s Business News & Information Resource 3 america 14 10 20 22 More US LVT plants to feed growing demand FCW Exclusive Supply puts pressure on domestic hardwood American made breathes new life into laminate Carpet: Born and raised in USA Reader’s celebrates 80th, 4 generations strong By Janet Herlihy [Lake Charles, La.] A lot has changed at Reader’s Wholesale Distributors since its start 80 years ago, but core values of honesty and customer service continue to differentiate this floor covering distributor, and keep it growing. Ranked 19th in FCW ’s 2013 Top 25 Dis-tributors report, today Reader’s serves about 1,500 dealers, split half and half between residential and commercial operations across South Texas, Southern Louisiana and most of Mississippi. The company, based in Houston with a single 150,000 square foot warehouse, has about 80 employees. Reader’s celebrated its 80-year anniversary at its Annual Product Showcase held at L’Au-berge Casino Resort here June 10 — June 13 with about 170 of its dealers. Lake Charles, La., retailer Kenny Fuselier has been doing business with Reader’s for 45 years. Soft & hard surfaces fully integrated at NeoCon By Mallory Cruise and Amy Joyce Rush [Chicago] Once again, NeoCon proved its value as the premier show for commercial design and fashion but also as a place to tout corporate messaging, investments and new developments. Held here at the Merchandise Mart, June 9-11, it was a showcase of the floor covering industry’s drive to better marry hard and soft surfaces, offer solutions and provide specific products to meet market needs. Perhaps one of the biggest stories here was the concerted effort to create luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and carpet tile in tandem, offering designers a full package for their installation needs. Patcraft’s Mixed Materials was just that. Three different carpet tiles and two different LVT designs could be integrated into any flooring pattern the designer desired. Jeff West, vice president of marketing and prod-uct development, Patcraft, told FCW , “Here we have the ability to mix carpet and resilient but with no speed bumps,” referring to the Continued on page 24 Shaw’s John Stephens with Reesie Duncan Periodical smooth transition from one tile to the other. Other companies brought hard surface and soft surface together in the showroom to show a breadth of offering. In the past, Beaulieu had partnered with another firm to bring LVT to the commercial sector. In March, according to Rob Cushman, vice president of marketing, For breaking news updated each business day, visit us online at www.fcw1.com Continued on page 8

Reader’s celebrates 80th, 4 generations strong

Janet Herlihy


A lot has changed at Reader’s Wholesale Distributors since its start 80 years ago, but core values of honesty and customer service continue to differentiate this floor covering distributor, and keep it growing.

Ranked 19th in FCW’s 2013 Top 25 Distributors report, today Reader’s serves about 1,500 dealers, split half and half between residential and commercial operations across South Texas, Southern Louisiana and most of Mississippi. The company, based in Houston with a single 150,000 square foot warehouse, has about 80 employees.

Reader’s celebrated its 80-year anniversary at its Annual Product Showcase held at L’Auberge Casino Resort here June 10 — June 13 with about 170 of its dealers.

Lake Charles, La., retailer Kenny Fuselier has been doing business with Reader’s for 45 years. “They’re good people with great product,” said Fuselier, who co-owns the business with his wife Lucy. “They give us personal service. They treat us like family,” added Lucy Fuselier.

J J Bubela’s Floor Center in El Campo, Texas, appreciates Reader’s integrity. J.J. Bubela, owner, noted, “I buy half my hard surface products from Reader’s. You like to buy from someone that you know will stand behind their products and they do,” he added.

Loyalty and commitment are part of the Reader’s tradition. “We have had a special relationship with Armstrong since 1945,” stressed Lucky Burke, chairman and CEO. He added, “We work closely with Armstrong in both residential and commercial operations. We’ve also done business with Bank of America (under different names) for 80 years. They’ve allowed us to invest in inventory and carry receivables. It is typical of the value we place on long-term relationships. More than half of our employees have been with us more than 10 years. Some have been with us more than 30 or even 50 years.”

Reader’s is in its fourth generation, said Lucky Burke because the ownership stays involved and active. “It is a relationship business and we constantly invest back into Reader’s,” he said.

Those investments have kept Reader’s up to date, according to Lucky Burke, who explained that during the recession, when most other flooring distributors cut back on new product introductions as well as inventory, samples and displays, Reader’s made a conscious decision to aggressively invest in all those things. “Having been through downturns before, we knew that our territory would begin to emerge first with renewed business,” Lucky Burke said. “We also kept our employee census stable so that we didn’t lose that great experience factor. We moved forward with technology adding iPads and the needed upgrades for our entire sales force. And we continued to add to our truck fleet as well. All those investments really made a difference as the economy improved,” he reported.

Making sure that the business was efficient was also important. Adam Burke, Reader’s president and Lucky Burke’s son, said, “We took a look at the situation in 2008, and tried to pare down to the essentials. We looked to have deeper inventory from fewer suppliers. And we came though the recent recession with no substantial layoffs.”

When Lucky Burke started in the family business in 1975, carpet was the biggest category of the business. But as mills began direct delivery to retail, Reader’s began to move away from soft surface and now, with the exception of some carpet tile, carry no carpet. “The vast majority of the line is vinyl, wood and laminate as well as all the installation products,” explained Adam Burke.

There has also been a big increase in imported products as well as many more brokers, agents and private label goods, according to Adam Burke.

In the 1970s there was one supplier — Armstrong — for vinyl and carpet. Now, although Armstrong continues to be Reader’s number one source, there are about 10 suppliers.

For the future, Lucky Burke said, “We have always tried to grow intelligently and conservatively. We are well financed enough to be able to take advantage of opportunities. We want the business to continue into the fifth generation.”

Reader’s added Mississippi about three years ago. “We started from the ground up and it has been good,” added Adam Burke.

Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/Reader%E2%80%99s+celebrates+80th%2C+4+generations+strong/1740075/214441/article.html.

Soft & hard surfaces fully integrated at NeoCon

Mallory Cruise, Amy Joyce Rush


Once again, NeoCon proved its value as the premier show for commercial design and fashion but also as a place to tout corporate messaging, investments and new developments. Held here at the Merchandise Mart, June 9-11, it was a showcase of the floor covering industry’s drive to better marry hard and soft surfaces, offer solutions and provide specific products to meet market needs.

Perhaps one of the biggest stories here was the concerted effort to create luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and carpet tile in tandem, offering designers a full package for their installation needs.

Patcraft’s Mixed Materials was just that. Three different carpet tiles and two different LVT designs could be integrated into any flooring pattern the designer desired. Jeff West, vice president of marketing and product development, Patcraft, told FCW, “Here we have the ability to mix carpet and resilient but with no speed bumps,” referring to the smooth transition from one tile to the other.

Other companies brought hard surface and soft surface together in the showroom to show a breadth of offering. In the past, Beaulieu had partnered with another firm to bring LVT to the commercial sector. In March, according to Rob Cushman, vice president of marketing, it launched 28 new running line products to market. Another 22 products are in the making.

Integration of Tandus/Centiva was also emphasized here. Soft product was shown in the Centiva showroom alongside LVT and LVT was showcased in the Tandus showroom.

NeoCon was also a place where companies spoke about recent investments, goals and strategies.

Shaw focused on its three core principles — design, understanding the market segments and providing solutions, and having a global presence supported by its new carpet tile plant in China.

Invista talked with its partners and their customers about investments in assets, marketing, digital and people. “There is a positive general feeling in the industry. It was a tough January and February but we see an uplift in the second half,” said Dan Haycook, executive vice president, Surfaces, Invista. He added that he sees good growth in value product that offers design and performance. “More value is placed on uniqueness.”

Mohawk too has been putting significant funds into growing its business and Brian Carson, president, talked to FCW about the new plant being built in Belgium for LVT production. “We will be making quite a bit of (LVT) ourselves,” he said noting that the facility will use a new technology. The facility is set to be manufacturing product early next year.

Show posts growth
Attendance at this year’s show, according to Byron Morton, vice president of leasing, Merchandise Mart Properties (MMPI), is up — registration Sunday and Monday of the show was up 25 percent over last year. “Last year we had 42,488 attendees. This year, I expect that to be up by 15 to 20 percent.”

“Business is strong, the industry is up,” said Morton citing statistics released by The Institute of Supply Management — orders are at the highest level since 2011, indicating a return of consumer confidence and business spending. He also noted that there is substantial shift and growth in small business.

New jobs, said Morton, means more space, and that bodes well for flooring and other interior sectors.

But the real excitement comes from new design and technology being presented at the show. When it comes to floor coverings presented here at the show, Morton noted, “It is an opportunity to put their mark on a project through texture, luster and color.”

Hard surface show stopper In true NeoCon fashion, new hard surface introductions displayed some of the most innovative trends in flooring.

Mohawk Group introduced its Why Y collection of LVT, in collaboration with designer Mac Stopa, with the aim of breaking free from traditional LVT offerings.

In fact, Why Y is “unapologetically LVT,” according to Allie Finkel, director of resilient marketing, Mohawk Group.

Created specifically for the commercial market, Metroflor introduced its new Aspecta line at NeoCon. A dry-back LVT offering, Aspecta features 56 wood grain planks, and 50 stone and abstract tile visuals.

“Realism is a central feature of this line, as is durability,” noted Harlan Stone, CEO of Metroflor Contract.

Creating juxtaposition between colors and textures was an important trend at NeoCon. Another big trend seen at the show was products that feature metallic sheen.

Contrasting texture and tone, Shaw Contract Group’s new LVT line Grain + Pigment mixes natural wood tones with metallic sheen, and is available in 22 colors and four metallic sheens.

Launching in July, Crossville’s Basalt line of pressed, calibrated tile comes in five colors.

“We wanted to offer a value proposition product,” noted Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville.

Highlighting its proprietary, and incomparable, custom cutting capabilities, Mannington Commercial introduced a bounty of new products at NeoCon this year.

“We’re going after segments that aren’t traditionally LVT,” explained David Sheehan, vice president of commercial hard surface, Mannington Mills.

One new product introduced by Mannington is Enlighten, a non-PVC, polyolefin rubber composite line of LVT that is set to launch at the end of the month.

USFContract showed its Stratum XL, the winner of best of NeoCon Silver Hard Surface Flooring, at the show this year. Offering a 20 mil wear layer, Stratum XL is 72 inches long and 9 inches wide.

Wood looks in LVT continue to be a popular. For instance, Tandus Centiva’s NuGrain line of LVT is inspired by wood but also contains a unique linear pattern.

Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/Soft+%26+hard+surfaces+fully+integrated+at+NeoCon/1740076/214441/article.html.

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