Strategic Exchange: Let’s stop Omicron before it stops us – Jan 2022

By Kemp Harr

Just as the world thought the end of the Covid-related isolation was on the horizon, in steps the Omicron variant, and it appears that in its fight to survive, the virus has mutated to a more infectious, faster-spreading strain. While the current vaccinations won’t guarantee immunity, fortunately they drastically reduce how sick a patient gets if he or she catches the virus.

If there is any silver lining to this latest wave, it does appear to have motivated more people to get inoculated-especially now, as the public learns that a booster shot can give as much as 37 times more protection. When it comes to the decision about whether or not to get inoculated, there is probably no better instance to heed JFK’s advice, given in his 1961 inaugural address, and take the necessary steps to do “what you can do for your country.”

Here in this industry, as you might imagine, there is already some debate as to how we should react with our season-one exhibitions, which-up until last week-were building momentum. We’ll be the first to tell you about any changes to show and meeting schedules in the coming months via FloorDaily, as we learn them.

Knowing that innovation leads to differentiation and increased demand, we were encouraged to learn of all the new product innovation that is being introduced next month in the season one rollout. There is no denying that technological enhancements distract the buyer from focusing on “how much.”

By now, you’ve learned that better-end carpet sales are recapturing marketshare due, in part, to the need for cozy and quiet spaces in homes-which are now much more than a place to lay your head-and also because of the improved aesthetics that patterns bring to the mix. Card-Monroe has been successful in selling its Tailored Loop technology into all of the major mills, which have integrated that technology into some unbelievable visuals. Additional enhancements are coming from improved yarn and backing technology, as well. Shaw Industries has announced a $400 million investment in new fiber manufacturing equipment in South Carolina and enhancements to its LifeGuard Spill-proof Backing. Mohawk is rolling out a new ReCover branded carpet backing that is latex- and filler-free and made of 100% PET-which will make the carpet super easy to recycle after its useful life.

On the hardwood side of the business, we see that AHF Products, now the leader in U.S. hardwood sales, is extending its “densified” engineered Dogwood program into its Hartco brand. Dogwood was introduced in mid-2021 under the Bruce brand.

In the laminate category, one recent news item is Mohawk’s RevWood Signature technology. Five years in development, this aesthetic enhancement makes Mohawk’s melamine-topped laminate product much more realistic than previous generations. For the last several years, LVT has taken marketshare from laminate flooring, but this made-in-the-USA technology could stabilize or reverse that trend.

The porcelain industry continues improving its offerings with stunning three-dimensional realism, and larger and larger format gauged porcelain panels. As the installation side of the business becomes more familiar with these products, they will see greater use on both floors and walls.

One of the constraints with all of the new LVT capacity being added here in the U.S. has been the availability of quality, locally sourced print film used to create the surface image. However, German-based Hymmen in conjunction with I4F has now sold digital imaging lines to Engineered Floors so they won’t have to import that component from Asia-thus eliminating those supply chain issues, shortening the product development cycle and minimizing pattern repeats.

A second innovation from I4F that allows for installation of planks in a pattern is its new herringbone locking system, which uses a drop lock/angle out floating click system.

Last on the innovation list, which is more of a service than a product innovation, are the new credit card processing platforms being offered by both RFMS and QFloors. See Jennifer Bardoner’s new product preview story on page 27 and business software story on page 67 for more details.

If you have any comments about this month’s column, you can email me at

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Related Topics:Armstrong Flooring, AHF Products, Engineered Floors, LLC, Shaw Industries Group, Inc., Mohawk Industries