Skip to main content

Floor covering shows - the great treasure hunt

I’ve been in the floor covering industry for over 40 years and along the way I’ve been labeled with a few nicknames.  When I bought Color Tile,
Jon Trivers nicknamed me “Jimmy the Grout.” At CCA they called me the “Cork King” because I loved cork flooring.  As their Chief Product Officer I could have covered my office floor with any product but I chose cork which, at the time, was unique.  It was quiet, resilient, warm, wore well and, most importantly, that floor encouraged people to think outside of their paradigm.

I think that is the same reason I love going to Domotex Germany and Domotex Asia China Floor every year -  because what I see challenges what we hold as the norm in North America. When carpet still had over 70% of the floor covering market here, Scandinavia’s carpet market had fallen to 10% share!  While Americans were stuck displaying carpet on waterfall fixtures, Europeans were using sophisticated lighting and design to showcase carpet as fashion.  While sheet vinyl was only available on felt here, Europe used fiberglass to make it more flexible and dimensionally stable. And of course, Europe is where I discovered laminate flooring.

I guess most people in our industry that do not know me well think of me as that guy that brought Pergo to America. What really happened is Paul Murfin (now an executive at Armstrong) and I were walking through the Domotex Hannover show in January of 1992 looking for a unique wood supplier when we stumbled upon the Pergo exhibit.  Laminate had been sold in Europe for well over a year but back in the states we had not yet heard of it. I remember telling the people at Armstrong about it and they had no idea what I was talking about.

Since then every journey to a flooring show on another continent has yielded at least one idea or one discovery that made the trip worthwhile.  Visiting Germany and China wasn’t all bad since I love to travel but from a purely business point of view these trips paid for themselves many times over. 
Domotex is where I first saw glueless laminate.  In fact, it was the demonstration of Alloc’s aluminum locking system at Domotex that gave Unilin the idea that they could profile the tongue and groove to lock together.

Meister showed wood veneer attached to an HDF core at Domotex long before Shaw introduced their product.  High gloss laminate was displayed years before Armstrong introduced Grand Illusions.   Also discovered at these shows…click LVT, printed bamboo that looks like exotic woods, clicking ceramic tile, and the list goes.  For a guy who loves flooring it doesn’t get better than these treasure hunts.

America is the largest consuming market for floor covering in the world.  That does not mean we have a lock on innovation, product advancements or fashion trends. The truth is that innovation and inspirations in flooring come from all over.  Over 1,400 manufacturers exhibit in Hannover and over 1,000 in Shanghai.  Many of these are manufacturers you wouldn’t recognize, but then at one time we didn’t know Pergo or Unilin either.

If you are interested in looking into the future of floor covering spend just a few days at one of these shows and you’ll feel like you’re gazing into a crystal ball.

Domotex Hannover runs January 15-18, 2011 and Domotex Asia runs March 21- 24, 2011. Both shows are worth the trip and I hope to see you there. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about attending as either a visitor or an exhibitor.


Jim Gould is President of the Floor Covering Institute


Popular posts from this blog

Intelligent merchandising in the floor covering showroom

In a ceramic tile and stone showroom the two biggest challenges for customers are  visualizing how the tile or combination of tiles will look installed in the home and determining which tiles are suitable for their intended application. Figuring out how to address these two challenges should be a priority for every showroom.

Along with that, conveying the features, benefits and limitations of the products is the next challenge. And perhaps the most important piece of the showroom puzzle, is to train sales people so they are knowledgeable and competent showroom consultants (I wrote about this previously on the blog in, How Training and E-learning Can Improve ROI).

Years ago, when I was an importer and distributor with several showrooms I coined the term Intelligent Merchandising to represent the approach we developed to help our customers make selections and our sales people more effective in assisting our customers during the selection process. The challenges we faced back then …

Concrete Moisture Leading to Flooring Failures - Is this an Epidemic?

Sheet vinyl  lifting off concrete substrates that looks like blistered skin from a burn, wood flooring turning up at the edges, carpet tiles emitting foul odors from reactions with “wet” slabs.  All of these failures in floor covering occur daily around the country plaguing flooring contractors and end users.  Is this a flooring conspiracy or something more sinister?  Well, it’s not a conspiracy, nothing so colorful as that, and it’s not sinister unless you consider that moisture lurking in the substrates is skulking around waiting to pounce.

What are the reasons for this outbreak of flooring failures?  Have adhesives changed?  Is flooring material different?  Hasn’t concrete been the same for years?  Why is this all happening now?

Adhesives have changed from when solvent carriers were used but adhesives are actually better now.  Flooring products have changed with the onslaught of non-permeable backings which can trap moisture vapor emissions coming from concrete.  Concrete hasn’t ch…

Corporate culture; what does it say about your company?

Culture at a company (corporate culture) is generally developed through the actions of management.  Employees then follow their lead.  “The boss did it this way so it must be the right way.” I share this obvious observation because sometimes leaders do things that ultimately reflect poorly on the company.  This is particularly so during difficult times.

One of the benefits of working with dozens of companies outside the flooring industry is the opportunity to understand their corporate standards and culture by observation.  I recently spoke at a convention for a couple hundred people.  The food was acceptable as you would expect; but the room was dirty and hideous.  The company chose this room because it was the least expensive room available.  The room was so remote and old that most of us didn’t even know that wing of the well-known property existed.  We sat in a dirty room that communicated the company’s own low standards while the corporate president spoke glowingly about their c…