The National Wood Flooring Association’s (NWFA) Wood Flooring Expo continues to grow. The event in Nashville jumped in attendance by 30 percent to more than 3,000 show-goers, including over 50 first-time exhibitors. The show also boasted a wider range of educational opportunities, with seminars increased to an hour, the addition of a three-hour Wood Flooring University in three tracks, as well as expanded hours on the show floor.
Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO, told FCI, “We are definitely in growth mode. In 2012 we grew the show 30 percent. In 2013 we grew it 20 percent. This year, we grew the show another 30 percent. This was our highest attendance in more than five years. We’re already well into planning our 2015 show, which will be in St. Louis to coincide with NWFA’s 30th anniversary. We know we have to make St. Louis bigger and better, and we’re up to the challenge.”
Robin Crow, CEO of Dark Horse Recording based in Nashville, gave the keynote with a guitar strapped to his back. Keeping with the musical theme of the show (called “Strike a Cord,” referring both to a musical chord and a cord of wood), he punctuated his advice for building a thriving business with squealing guitar solos and strummed rock rhythms. “Too often business leaders get distracted from mission-critical functions with trivial problems. Constant change is the new normal. Adapting to change is really about the ability to problem-solve.”
Educational presentations. Educational presentations at the convention explored topics including technical know-how, management advice and marketing/sales information. One highlight was a presentation given by hardwood flooring industry consultant and FCI columnist Roy Reichow, on “Radiant Heat and Wood Floors.”
Reichow discussed the different types of radiant heating systems available, including conventional radiators, hot water baseboards, hydronic systems and electrical systems installed under the floor. Speaking on hydronic systems, he cautioned “they don’t all heat the same. You want to locate the manifold, as the hot spot will be in that area.”
For electric heating systems, he explained the importance of calculating the “R-value” of the different flooring materials and subfloors, and staying within a total R-value of 1.5 for standard system designs. “Carpet and pad together usually range from 1.6 to 4.0 R-value, so you’ve already blown that 1.5 number. The homeowner will keep turning the temperature up and up because the heat is being absorbed by the carpet and pad. The result is he or she will end up over-firing the system. Homeowner education is huge. That is going to be the difference between what gives you a claim and what does not give you a claim.”
New exhibitors. Much of the buzz on the show floor was about the new company launched by hardwood flooring industry veterans Don Finkell and Wayne Cotton, called American OEM. The company, which manufactures private-label engineered hardwood flooring, launched both with a booth and a splashy reception at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
At the reception, Finkell shared his reasons for starting the company, which uses prison laborers at a plant in Only, Tenn., in partnership with TRICOR (Tennessee’s Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction) to create the flooring. The goal of TRICOR is to train inmates for life outside of prison through personal and professional development.
Finkell stated, “It’s just impossible for me not to take advantage of this opportunity I see so clearly. This is the third plant I’ve partnered on with TRICOR and the eighth with the prison industry. I want to bring this industry and jobs back to America, to turn the tide of American manufacturing.”
According to John Schutt, vice president of sales and marketing for first-time exhibitor Southern Cross Building Products, the show was worth attending because of its specific focus. “The NWFA show allows us to exhibit our hardwood flooring products in a way that you simply can’t do at a general show.” He displayed Anchor-Weld Platinum Stop, a wood flooring adhesive for use over high-moisture concrete slabs.
Oils and finishes. More companies are stepping into the oils and finishes market. Bona debuted its Craft Oil System, which includes a range of oils in several tones, along with protector, refresher and soap. According to Dave Darche, Bona adhesive sale and market manager, “Oiled floors are easier to maintain now, in a variety of colors, and that’s driving their resurgence in the market.”
MAPEI showcased its Ultracoat wood floor finishing system, comprising water-based polyurethane finishes along with polishers and cleaners. According to Jeff Johnson, MAPEI’s business manager for floor covering installation systems, the line, which was previously launched at Surfaces 2014, represents a growing market for the company. “We’re excited to be part of the finish business. There are billions of square feet out there, and it’s a good market to be in.”
Christopher Sparks, Arboritec global marketing manager, showcased his company’s UVElite line of UV-cured finishes. “This has been a very good show for us. People are associating Arboritec with UV finishes in general, which is a great way to define ourselves.”
According to David Kirby, Osmo sales, the rise of oiled looks is the result of consumers realizing the advantages of the products. “It allows customers to appreciate the beauty of the wood surface while preserving it.”
Patrick Mervyn, Rubio Monocoat USA director, said oil looks have never really went away. “Oil has always been there. People recognize the advantages, and once they see how durable the product is and how it works, they see how it pays off. They have these beautiful pieces of wood, and it’s a waste to cover them up.”
A new cobalt-free formulation of Pallmann Magic Oil was a centerpiece of UFloor Systems’ booth. Kirk Francis, marketing manager, stated, “People like the more natural, hand-rubbed European look. It’s easily repairable and offers a unique and upscale look.”
John Thafvelin, CEO of Woca/WoodCare USA, said his company’s bread and butter is offering neutral oils that leave the floor looking virtually unfinished. “These are hard-wearing European oils that give you that unfinished look while offering low maintenance.”
Tools and adhesives. Tom Laurenzi, Delmhorst Instrument Co. president, said he enjoyed exhibiting at the NWFA convention for several reasons: “It’s the only show focused directly to the hardwood industry, the educational seminars are top-notch, and since it’s a smaller crowd you get to spend a lot of quality time with people.”
According to Grete Heimerdinger, Lignomat vice president, the show was one of the best in recent memory for her moisture meter company. “Wood flooring has always been our main focus, and this has always been a good show for us.”
Demonstrating his company’s products, Jason Spangler, Wagner Meters flooring division sales manager, said there are many types of moisture meters to choose from when performing moisture testing – the important part is actually doing the testing. “Whether you choose an invasive or non-invasive product, just use a meter. Get comfortable with it. It allows you to start having intelligent discussions about moisture situations and make the proper installation decisions.”
Curtis Richard, Primatech account manager, exhibited his company’s Pro 245 Nailer and Expert 250 Nailer and Stapler. Describing the show, he noted, “We love being here because we can meet with lots of local contractors. We’re here to focus on them and to support our distributors.”
Eric Kurtz, Bostik hardwood installation systems market manager, was also happy to be part of the show. “We love being able to focus on one segment of the industry and show the full depth of our capabilities.”
Gary Liddington, W.F. Taylor business manager, stated people were showing a lot of interest at his booth. “People seem to have a very positive attitude at the show this year. They are very knowledgeable and ask specific questions. It’s one of my favorite industry shows because of that focus.”
NWFA has already announced the dates and locations of the Wood Flooring Expo for the next three years. The 2015 Wood Flooring Expo is set for April 28-May 1 in St. Louis. The 2016 show is scheduled for April 27-30 in Charlotte, N.C. Phoenix will be the base of operations for the 2017 event, set for April 12-15.
NOTE: For additional photos see the Digital Edition of the magazine. For more information, visit www.fcimag.com/digitaleditions.