Welcome to a Q&A with Kendall Waller, Quick-Step Australia’s National Product Manager. We talk about the new Titan Vinyl and Laminate collections for Premium Floors, among other things.
Q. Hi Kendall, and thanks for participating in this piece for Flooring magazine. In your own words, explain to our readers a bit about what you do there at Quick-Step? Your role, company structure and the Quick-Step “relationship” with Premium Floors….
My role is a varied one, which is just the way I like it. My normal title is Products and Technical Manager Australia / New Zealand, however in a customer focused business, I am frequently engaged in sales, and all other sorts of problem solving for our customers in Australasia. On the product side, I am responsible for new product, design and range development for our ranges of Quick-Step flooring products, along with development of other non-Quick-Step products sourced through our worldwide manufacturing.
Premium Floors Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilin in Belgium. As such, we have exclusive access to Unilin’s worldwide expertise in manufacturing Laminate, Wood and LVT flooring. Premium Floors’ role is to bring our international reach to our local retailers in a compelling and efficient way.
Q. How long has the company been around and what makes it stand -out from the pack? Is it the company’s extensive range of flooring products?
Premium Floors began in 1981 and has grown into the largest distributor of hard flooring products in Australia. In 2015, Floorscape in New Zealand joined the Premium family and is today the largest hard flooring distributor in New Zealand. Product excellence and brands like Quick-Step have been instrumental in its success, while a continual focus of service, problem solving and making it easy for our customers to install our products has been vital.
We have taken a strong role in training over the years. This is now underlined by our Quick-Step Academy for Excellence in Flooring, where we offer our “Quick-Step Master Installer Course” which is in its 2nd year and going strong. After completing the three-day course, the Master Installers receive first-class benefits and unrivalled technical support. The Unilin Academies worldwide have trained more than 2000 Master installers, with outstanding results.
Q. I understand that Premium Floors has introduced the Titan range – an all-new Vinyl and Laminate flooring collection. Please tell us a bit about this new range.
Our network gives us access to world class manufacturing in both Asia and Europe. The Titan Laminate and LVT ranges showcase this. These are cost effective hard floor products of the highest quality. They provide a luxury look, with our famously supported warranty all over Australasia. We are really excited to launch this range in the coming months.
Q. Durability, quality and longevity seem to be the hallmarks of Premium Floors’ products. Would you agree and what makes these products so special?
I have been in hard flooring distribution for more than 25 years, and it has never been more demanding than today. Never has there been more competition, and never has the consumer been better informed or more demanding. Our role is to make sense of all this for our retailers, while focusing on service, support and products that stand the test of time. The brand-new Titan ranges are another expression of this.
Q. What about the price point for these Titan ranges? Competitive?
The new Titan ranges boast mid-market pricing and a lot of features and design for the consumer who knows the look they want but wants to save a little money.
Q. Discuss the new formats of the Titan Vinyl range please.
Out new Titan LVT range is unique, it offers 8 identical products in both 2mm and 5mm options. Most suppliers provide 2/2.5/5mm ranges that do not share designs. The Titan range allows the consumer to select a design, and then let the retailer offer 2 different options and price points for that same design, depending on the application and customer.
Q. Why was it important to ‘Revamp” the Titan Laminate range?
Over the past few years we have seen a move away from both gloss and Chinese produced laminate flooring. Gloss finishes are now out of fashion, and difficult to live on, while the reputation for poor quality continues to hound Chinese laminate manufacturers. The new titan Laminate range takes advantage of state of the art European manufacturing, with Oak designs in matt finish. The long panels are over 2m long, while the range hits all the right colours.
Q. Are there any exciting additional up-coming product launches which you can share with our readers? Any future plans?
The thing about the flooring business, like so many other businesses, is that the pace of change and technology is greater than ever. In 2018, we will see exciting performance innovations in both Quick-Step Timber & Laminate. Next to that, we will see a further expansion of the Quick-Step Laminates with waterproof surface, and a broadening of the role of our Quick-Step Master Installer Academy. For the commercial business, we are rolling out a unique new wood design product. The next few months will be a very exciting time at Quick-Step and while it is a little early to share, we look forward to launching a suite of smart and beautiful flooring. So, watch this space!
Q. How important is it for you to be working in the flooring business? What does it mean to you and can you see yourself doing anything else if you had the opportunity?
My career in the flooring business began in cork tiles and coating manufacturing in the late 1970’s whilst in school. I have seen the introduction of floating systems in the early 90’s, introduction of Laminate flooring in the mid 90’s, and an explosion of products and technology in the flooring market ever since. In flooring today, as in other fields, we see the world getting smaller due to technology, driving complexity and a tidal wave of products, specification, standards. The consumer more than ever wants to be across all this complexity, from emissions, to slip, to sustainability and a multitude of performance criteria. It’s an industry full of passionate and often eclectic people, all linked through the common thread of flooring. It’s a market I have learned to love, while developing close relationships within the business. After all, its these relationships that make our work lives meaningful.
Q. Any last words you’d like to share with our readers here at the magazine? Thanks!
I continue to be thankful for the business we are in, and for the people within it. Flooring brings so many odd balls together, in a common field. We are all the richer for these diverse interactions, as we all form common threads within the dynamic flooring industry of today. For me, it is all about the innovation when it comes to designing and creating flooring. We continue to strive in finding ways to improve flooring quality so that our customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on their perfect floor.
Q. Tell me about the all-new Colonial Plus range? What sets this apart from other laminates on the market?
The all-new Colonial Plus range is simply a beautiful and technologically advanced laminate flooring that has the look, uniqueness and feel of real Aussie timber. The design is made by using high definition variable dot digital printing and allows the creation of high definition colour contrasts and natural colour variations. It is ideal to perfectly replicate the Australian wood species in the finest detail, including all the cracks, colour nuances and even insect marks. The all-new Colonial Plus range has the same waterproof technology as the immensely successful Quick Step Eligna and Impressive range. It also boasts more than 7m² of unique surface compare to the 2m² which is market standard.