NWFA Highlights 2013 - May 2013
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By Anne Harr
They say “in Texas, everything is bigger” and this year the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) was determined to prove that statement true. The 2013 annual convention was held at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas, and the expo theme was “Think Big.”
This marks the second year since the NWFA restructured itself, and the new format seems to be working. The goal of the reorganization was to take the association back to the basics it was founded on, providing significant, appropriate education for the members and showing the newest and latest innovations in wood flooring.
This year’s keynote speaker was Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines. Putnam spoke to members and attendees about how a small regional airline competed with significantly larger companies and, ultimately, grew to their level. This was a message that resonated with many in attendance.
There were also numerous education seminars that dealt with marketing, technical and management issues, design, industry trends, and forecasting. Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri, HGTV’s Cousins on Call, presided over the awards luncheon, and there were on-going demonstrations on everything ranging from a nailing contest, prepping a floor for stain to setting up edgers and prefinished repairs.
This year the showroom floor was 20% larger than last year’s and was completely sold out. This marks two years in a row that the NWFA has sold out of space on its showroom floor. Attendance this year was down slightly, but that is not surprising since the show always does better when it’s held in the eastern U.S. Next year’s show will be in Nashville, Tennessee at the brand new Music City Center and Omni Hotel.
There were several recurring trends at the expo. At every booth, the general theme seemed to be wider, longer, easier. Not only do the wide boards look very pretty, the extended width and length of the boards make installation easier because there is simply less installation work involved. Another big trend at the show was a finish that had the appearance of oil rubbed but is in reality a simple-to-maintain UV finish.
Most manufacturers also said that the distressed look has remained popular because if you install a new floor that already looks “old,” it retains that character, and any additional scrapes or scratches can actually enhance the look and style of the floor, requiring less maintenance and providing longer life. There was plenty of hickory, maple and oak this year and noticeably fewer exotics. Made in America also seemed to resonate throughout the show. Most manufacturers reported that 2012 was a good year, and almost all agreed that things are definitely looking even better for 2013.
Shaw Hardwood was a platinum sponsor and had a large booth just inside the entry. The booth theme, “The Power of Two,” was centered on the power of the two strong brands, Anderson and Shaw. New from Anderson was its Urban Loft series, an engineered, wirebrushed product in 61/2” widths. Shaw was also highlighting the Hudson Bay product that it launched last year, which has been doing very well. This product comes with mixed widths in the box (3”, 5” and 7”). Both of these products are part of the Epic line, which features an HDF core. The Epic products have longer, straighter board lengths, which make them easier to install. In the Power of Two space, there were ongoing installation races between Epic products and other typical engineered products. All of the Shaw and Anderson products have an aluminum oxide scuff-resistant finish.
Mullican had two new products to showcase at the Expo: San Marco and Ponte Vedra, both 6’ long engineered collections in oak, hickory, maple, cherry and walnut. According to Mullican, these are the first domestically produced, engineered, 6’ long products on the market. They are available in 5” and 7” widths.
Preverco had the new XL version of its SolidGenius engineered flooring platform. This collection is a pre-oiled line that is 7” wide and 7’ long and is available in seven colors. The product was introduced at Surfaces and has been a very popular collection.
In addition to highlighting some of its more successful collections introduced earlier this year, Mirage was showing its new display rack, which enables retailers and distributors to display more products in the same footprint as its previous rack. It has a more contemporary look, which Mirage feels is a better match to its product offerings. The Imagine Collection of textured engineered flooring continues to be a popular collection. It features an oil rubbed look in grey hues.
Mannington was showcasing its Maison collection, introduced earlier this year at Surfaces. This wider (7”), longer (up to 7’ long) collection has an oiled look that is actually a UV finish.
“Craftsmanship isn’t dead, it’s hiding in Middle Tennessee” is the mantra of Middle Tennessee Lumber, which is a lumber company that also manufacturers solid hardwood floors. All the flooring it produces at its operation in Burns, Tennessee is unfinished. It slow-molds the planks at 130 to 170 lineal feet per minute, compared to the current industry standard of 450 lineal feet per minute. The slow molded process requires less sanding of the resulting product, produces less waste, and accepts finish more thoroughly. The company raised its level of sponsorship of NWFA to platinum in its goal to build brand awareness.
Mercier has six new series of 61/2” engineered products. These had varying types of texture and coloration. Some were actually two-toned in their colorations. This year, Mercier went to a smaller booth, stating that its focus is on producing better quality products.
Somerset had a larger space at the expo this year and was showing its new SolidPlus engineered line. This engineered product has a sawn face veneer instead of a rotary cut veneer, making it look more like a solid. It is available in random lengths and is at about the same price point as a solid. SolidPlus is manufactured at Somerset’s plant that opened in Crossville, Tennessee in 2012. Somerset’s wood pellet fuel division collects the more than 50,000 tons of wood fiber and sawdust that it generates annually and uses it to produce wood fuel pellets, instead of sending it to landfills.
Urban Floor was showing its new solid hardwood product, introduced earlier this year at Surfaces. It was also showing its ultra wide (111/2”) engineered Composer collection, which looks like a reclaimed antique floor.
Johnson Hardwood featured the successful English Pub series, which was launched last year. This series is crafted to resemble the old floors found in the pubs of England, with filled splits and knots to aid the Old World look. The series consists of 71/2” wide planks that are 7’ long.
Harris Wood was reinforcing the Aspen and Highlands collections that were introduced earlier this year. It was also rolling out its new architect boxes. The boxes feature small chips of engineered, spring lock and cork products and take up only a small amount of space.
The Century booth showcased the brand’s most recently launched new products, including the new Hampden Collection. Hampden solid hardwood combines subtle, soft scraped character with a low-luster, multi-stain antiquing process. Hampden is made with CenturySeal advanced finished. It is available in traditional tongue and groove format in a diverse mix of red oak, maple and hickory species in 5” wide planks.
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