For the fifth year in a row, the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) posted record growth at its Wood Flooring Expo. Held next to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., the 2016 Wood Flooring Expo grew 10% over last year’s event in St. Louis, and also included 55 first-time exhibitors.
Commenting on the growth during the opening session, Jeff Fairbanks, NWFA outgoing chairman, stated, “This is the second year in a row the tradeshow sold out early. [We are proud of] the growth we’ve accomplished in Charlotte.”
Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO, announced several new programs and initiatives during the NWFA convention, including NWFA University and the 2016-2018 Wood Floor Styles and Trends consumer guide.
Set to launch this month, NWFA University is an online training portal comprising a series of 15- to 20-minute learning modules. As students complete courses, they will earn digital badges that can be shared on social media and will also get them higher positioning in the Find a Professional search on NWFA’s consumer site, woodfloors.org.
“The courses will cover all skill levels and interests, and digital badges can bring students closer to certification,” Martin noted. “They can finish the lecture portion of the training online, at their leisure, before going to a hands-on class to complete their certification.” At launch, paths for installation and sales certification will be made available. For more information, visit www.nwfa.org/nwfa-university.aspx.
Sponsored by Bona, the 2016-2018 Wood Floor Styles and Trends guide features room scenes that walk consumers through commonly asked questions about hardwood flooring such as choosing between engineered and solid construction, glossy vs. matte finishes and basic tips on maintenance and care.
Dave Darche, Bona’s adhesives sales and market manager, stated, “We want to get people excited about a variety of wood floors and reach out beyond our current base. Our goal is to close the loop between the consumer and the wood flooring contractor.”
2016 Board of Directors
The NWFA also announced its 2016 Board of Directors. They are: Tommy Maxwell, chairman; Chris Zizza, vice chairman; Craig Dupra, secretary; Julie Russell, treasurer; Jeff Fairbanks, past chairman; directors Kevin Murphy, John Wooten, Jon Namba, Dan Natkin, Brenda Cashion and Scott Sandlin; and ex-officio directors Jim Gould, Steve Brattin, Lenny Hall, Jon Smith, Kirk Roberts and Mitchell Brown.
Taking the stage, Maxwell announced, “Maxwell Hardwood Flooring will be celebrating our 25th anniversary at next year’s expo. As an association, we need to continue to grow our scholarship funds, and we need to continue to speak up in Washington. I look forward to hearing how you’ll help use your time and talents to make NWFA stronger.”
Befitting the event’s theme of “Floor It!” the NWFA show included appearances by NASCAR racing legends Junior Johnson and Rusty Wallace. Johnson spoke about his career and his roots of learning how to drive by running moonshine for his family.
Wallace gave a keynote where he compared the wood flooring business to racing. “They both require teamwork, with everyone sending the same message and paying attention to the details. Without our partners, we’re in trouble.”
MAPEI demonstrated its Ultracoat family of wood floor base coats, finishes, accessories and maintenance products. Jeff Johnson, MAPEI’s floor covering installation systems business manager, added, “I have to tip my hat to NWFA for its hands-on training and schools. They are training people the right way.”
Bona’s Darche talked about his company’s DriFast Stain, available in 26 colors. “We’ve added eight new stain colors and broken our stains into four lifestyle collections that are designed to pull in the homeowner,” he said.
Bill Treiber, head of sales and account development for Moldings Online, showcased his company’s newest moldings and profiles. “What we’re seeing now are straighter lines and thinner profiles. People are requesting simple designs that are also highly functional. At the same time, people are requesting thicker stair treads.”
Bostik’s Eric Kurtz, hardwood and resilient flooring systems market manager, listed off a wide range of surface prep products from the company, including self-leveling underlayments, a ramping product, patches, primers and polymer-modified gypsum underlayment. “We’re focusing on the importance of surface prep for hardwood flooring installations,” he noted.
Among the many products Norton/Saint-Gobain displayed was ProSand hook and sand multi-hole vacuum discs. According to Dave Mansfield, Norton’s DIY/contractor market manager, “These Multi-Air Cyclonic discs feature a laser-cut, spiral-hole design that creates suction across the entire face of the disc. It cuts cleaner, lasts longer and provides maximum dust extraction.”
Randy Cox spoke about Saicos Coating Systems, a German oil finish company founded in 2002 and known for its Premium Hardwax-Oil, Ecoline Hardwax-Oil, and Ecoline MultiTop lacquer systems. “Saicos is just being introduced nationally [in the U.S.], and we’ll sell direct in some areas until we get distribution,” Cox said.
Jon Namba, FCI’s editorial director and a member of the 2016 NWFA Board of Directors, gave a presentation covering new technology for hardwood flooring contractors and installers. “Whenever I see something that works for installers, I want to pass it on,” Namba said.
He demonstrated Bosch’s GSL 2 laser system. “It has two lasers, and you dial it in to where there’s one continuous beam. Anywhere the beam splits on the floor, you’ll know there’s an undulation. The system also spins 360 degrees. That means one person can target an entire room, mark it out with a pencil and know what needs to be done to achieve the proper floor flatness.”
Namba also invited Daniel Bennett, inventor of the Seamer Down Now! carpet seaming tool, to demonstrate some of his latest inventions. One prototype was a compressed air tank worn on Bennett’s back and connected to a nail gun. Namba stated, “This tank is designed to replace an air compressor. With a 16-gauge nail gun, it can fire between 1,500 and 2,000 fasteners before it needs to be refilled. The two benefits are you’re not constantly battling 100 feet of [air compressor] hose, and you don’t have to listen to a compressor running in an occupied space.”
Since the tool is still a prototype, the only way to refill it is to bring it to a fire department and ask them to fill it with compressed air, Namba added.
The other product Bennett demonstrated was a vacuum featuring a straight wand with a swivel head. “Once you get used to the motion, it’s much more ergonomic,” Namba said. “If we can save you guys time, money, and wear and tear on your body, that’s a good thing. As installers we need to think of ways to keep our bodies healthy.”
NWFA will hold its next Wood Flooring Expo April 11-14, 2017, in Phoenix. For more information visit nwfa.org.