FOUNTAIN INN, S.C.—One of the industry’s hardest hit categories during the recession has been laminate, so it would be hard to fathom a company trying to enter the sector now. Don’t tell that to Anderson Hardwood Floors, which threw its hat into the ring with the launch of an extensive program of products and technology designed to distinguish itself from what is in the market and give retailers the chance to once again create sales and earn profits.
“Laminate is under pressure in the marketplace,” explained Eric Erickson, laminate category manager for Anderson’s parent company, Shaw Industries. “However, being able to bring out a focused program under the Anderson brand will create separation and value to this offering. To be able to build on what is already the strongest wood brand in the market will bring both distributors and dealers value.”
Don Finkell, CEO of Shaw Hardwood, noted, “Anderson is offering a versatile, stylish and varied laminate program at competitive pricing. Representing the leading-edge styling of Anderson from a visual perspective, the products are an affordable alternative for consumers who love our hardwood.”
The initial introduction consists of three collections—Essentials, Artisan and Brilliance— with 18 total SKUs. Erickson said all products are made in the U.S. by Shaw including its new OptiGuard finish technology that can be found on every plank.
Scott Sandlin, Shaw’s vice president of hard surfaces, added OptiGuard is a high-gloss, durable laminate finish, that is highly scratch resistant and “will dramatically increase detail, beauty and realism in laminate floors.”
He pointed out three of the main benefits of OptiGuard:
• Extremely durable: “Pliant and adaptive, the remarkable OptiGuard surface is compounded to resist scratching and marring which creates a highly durable floor in the toughest environments.”
• Ultra-high gloss: “OptiGuard has outstanding clarity and one of the industry’s highest gloss levels. The surface is exceptionally smooth, fine and reflective.”
• Most realistic finish: “The clarity of the OptiGuard finish makes the most natural and realistic finish allowing the detail and design of the product to resonate. Combine this with the durability of OptiGuard and you have the best laminate available today.”
Sandlin said back in November, Shaw actually “staged a torture test” at the company’s laminate manufacturing facility in Ringgold, Ga., “to demonstrate the strength and resilience of OptiGuard.”
The test pitted Shaw/Anderson laminates with OptiGuard against an 18,790-pound forklift. “The laminate endured 1,500 passes,” he said. “The OptiGuard technology represents innovation that takes our laminate offerings to the next level. And, the high-gloss, realistic visual and unmatched durability is a true differentiator for retailers. We’re excited to see the industry’s reaction to this technology.”
That chance is starting to happen across the country at Shaw’s Winter Markets where Anderson has set up a “substantial” booth for visitors to see the new products and see how the technology works.
Beyond OptiGuard, Erickson shared more details about the Anderson laminate program and why the company feels it will be a winning proposition for everyone in the selling chain.
The Brilliance Collection features two exotic species—koa and quabracho—known respectively as Exotic Brilliance in three rich colors and Tropical Brilliance in two golden hues. “This stunning collection,” he noted, “features 5½-inch wide bevel edged planks, extraordinary clarity and mirror-like finish and a 25-year warranty.”
Mirroring the look of luxurious hand-hewn hardwood is the three-pronged Artisan collection which features a handscraped texture that is “subtle, refined and artfully designed with an extremely realistic visual,” Erickson said. “The light directional scraping is soft and subtle in a stylish 5½-inch wide plank with four-sided beveled edges.” Artisan Oak and Artisan Cherry are available in two colors while Artisan Hickory comes in three hues.
The Essentials Collection is offered in Oak Essentials, Cherry Essentials and Hickory Essentials all in two color selections—and at attractive prices, Erickson said. “Plus the durable, textured finished is designed to highlight each wood species in a dramatic 8-inch wide plank.”
In addition to offering extra wide planks Essentials differs from Brilliance and Artisan in one more area: Its locking system. Essential utilizes the patented angle system from Välinge while the others feature the single action fold down system.
Though Anderson is a subsidiary of Shaw and the products are made at Shaw’s Georgia manufacturing plant, Erickson was quick to note Anderson’s laminate products are “completely exclusive designs and colors sold only through distribution.”
As such, Anderson’s laminate products will be housed in their own dedicated display to separate them from their hardwood counterparts and allow retailers to position them properly in their stores.
For distributors who already carry Anderson hardwood floors, he added, “The value of the brand certainly brings value to the market and it will also allow distributors to bundle the laminate products with their Anderson hardwood products allowing them to reduce their inventory levels and provide exceptional service.”
For more on Anderson’s laminate program, contact your Anderson sales representative or check it out in person at one of Shaw’s regional markets.