(THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED by SURFACE & PANEL magazine Q2, 2008; www.surfaceandpanel.com)
Whether you refer to it as thermofoil, foil, PVC Veneer, 3D Laminate or Vinyl, one thing can be certain: there is an identity crisis regarding our product here in North America. As with marketing any product, it is not only important that people know what your product does, but that they also have a positive impression about it and the product segment that it resides in; as a result, the quality and reputation of your product segment as a whole is ever bit as important as your company and brand.
Since there are numerous names for our product segment, it is very difficult to explain to outsiders what our product is. I’ve even met cabinet makers and specifiers, much less people in typical social settings, who didn’t know what product I meant when I said “thermofoil”. I’d have to explain that it’s the same material used for “white vinyl wrapped doors”; even at that, though, they didn’t know that those same 3D laminates were available in wood grains! If I said that I sell granite, they would all clearly identify and usually have a positive reaction about that product segment; however if you take a look at our product segment, we lack all of that. When you think about it, though, how could a product segment that lacks a single, clearly identifiable name build awareness as an industry?
I have long thought that there should be one clear name to identify our product segment. In 1998, I started using the phrase “3D Laminate”. I can’t be certain that I was the first to use it, but I certainly had never seen it used previously. The year prior I had noticed at the NeoCon office furniture show that people would ask how our product was used. In response, knowing that most people clearly understood what an HPL chip looked like, I created a professional board that was backlit and spread chips out in front that were cut to represent the size and look of HPL chips. I used the term “3D Laminates” on top of the board. At that show I received many comments that, “Wow, they have 3D laminates now?” I realized then that the more descriptive name of “3D Laminate” helped to identify our product segment while also adding value over a traditional laminate.
Aside from a more descriptive name, our product segment lacks a positive image. Cabinetmakers and consumers alike do not recognize the quality and high end application potential that 3D laminates can offer. In Europe, 3D laminates are viewed as a durable, hygienic and a fashionable surface. It is not only more economical than wood, but it is also more consistent and offers a great deal more color and design options. If a project called for an exotic West African wood, the cabinet door could cost as much as $50 per square foot; however, a 3D laminate door in that same design and application would cost only a fraction of the price. In addition, a quality 3D laminate would be more consistent in design, and no “Old Growth” forest would need to be touched. Although 3D laminate doors are typically produced using PVC as an overlay, the bulk of the finished product is made by MDF. MDF is composed of blended raw wood material utilizing low priority wood composites of branches, small diameter trees, mill waste and forestry chips. It could be argued that our product segment even deserves recognition in the revitalized green movement.
In Europe, why are 3D laminates perceived as fashionable and modern surfaces to be used in mainstream and high end applications, but not here in North America? In North America, we typically see 3D Laminates as a lower end product used only in the bathroom, for apartments or in the closet. One problem is that, unlike their larger European counterparts, the extremely large kitchen producers here do not promote 3D laminates as a consumer friendly product and product of desire. At the opposite end of the scale, the small custom shop, which got its start as a custom wood craftsman, is pro natural wood, especially since “real wood” has a tendency to be viewed as a product that a cabinet shop without an automated CNC can roll up their sleeves and work with by hand.
So without the large kitchen producers and small cabinet shops pushing 3D laminates, what remains is only a small niche of kitchen and component producers who specify and utilize the product segment. The exact numbers are hard to pinpoint, but it has been reported that over 55% of kitchens in Europe use 3D laminates, whereas in North America that number is less than 10%. Typically, when you do see 3D laminates in North America, they are marketed as a type of counterfeit wood door. Mostly, though, they are promoted as multi-pass raised panel doors which require more CNC time than a slab door, thus warranting a higher price than a single pass routered door.
It’s also interesting to note that the perceived value of a kitchen in Europe is created by the color or design, whereas in North America the perceived value is more closely associated with how long it takes to produce. We have all heard the adage, “You sell what you show.” Well, in North America, the marketing efforts of 3D laminate door producers have collectively leaned towards selling their product as counterfeit, raised panel wood doors, which by their very nature is lower end on the pricing scale; as a result, thermofoil has become synonymous with low end.
As an Industry, shouldn’t we be promoting our 3D Laminate components to the High End design market? I feel that we should. The reason that 3D Laminates are not being offered to the high end clientele currently is a direct result of a category identity problem, which derives from a lack of information and education about our product segment as a whole.
As I mentioned, 3D Laminates are more popular in Europe, but let’s further examine why. First of all, the European market has a greater concentration of large manufacturers whom value consistency in their production line. These larger manufacturers create brochures that rival the automotive industy’s in style and quality and they proudly promote Kitchens that utilize 3D Laminates. Wood is also more scarce in supply and comes at a higher cost, and the average labor rate is high in most European countries. As a result of all of this, the large manufacturers are compelled to better utilize their machinery and material, such as 3D laminates, to add the most value possible to their finished product. Consequently, the 3D laminate product segment is perceived as a high end, high quality product in the European kitchen market. (On a side note, the consumers in Europe also live in tighter spaces; therefore “Euro Style” or “Full Access” cabinetry lends itself to being more desirable since more of the cabinet is usable.)
Now let’s compare the European situation to that in North America. In North America, “real wood” cabinet doors are viewed to be higher quality than 3D laminates. It is interesting that some of these “real wood” kitchens use the low-end wood doors, cheap hardware, untreated paper on the cabinet sides, and low-grade particle board. Then these kitchens are sold as being a high quality kitchen simply because they utilize “real wood” doors. Compare that kitchen to a Euro Style kitchen produced here in the US using a CNC with an all melamine board construction and Blum hardware; I would contend that the US made Euro Style kitchen offers more quality and value than the former. That is not to say that 3D laminates are superior to wood, but at the same time they are not necessarily lower in quality either. Allow me to give some examples of where man made products can outperform or have a higher perceived value over the “real” surface:
“Real” but LOW END PRODUCTUses Natural Wood, Leather, Steel
“Man Made” but HIGH END Uses Graphite, Plastic or Fiber
Wooden Golf Clubs VS. Callaway Graphite Clubs
Leather Shoes at Wal mart VS. Nike Running Shoes
Leather Handbag from Mall VS. Gucci Designer Handbag
Butcher Block Island VS. Corian Solid Surface by Dupont
Steel Ford Pinto VS. Fiberglass Corvette
Steel Bike from Target VS. Carbon fiber Racing Bike
Low end Maple Cabinets VS. High End 3D Laminate Kitchen
The above examples show that a man made product with artificial surfacing can be of a higher quality or of a higher perceived quality when properly produced, designed and marketed. If you sell your product based upon the wood species or how many passes it takes on the router, then you are not branding your product to its full potential.
Let me give an example:
Two years ago I visited the showroom of an Italian kitchen producer here in Florida, and was very impressed by the size and appearance, as well as the beautiful kitchens on display in large, wide-open spaces... It was obviously a very upscale showroom. I was admiring one of the Kitchens when an attractive saleswoman walked over and asked how I liked the kitchen. I remarked that it was indeed beautiful, and asked whether it was thermofoil. She began to explain to me that it was a special lacquer dipped process they do in Italy, but after hearing this, the showroom manager quickly walked over and corrected the sales person. They did have a special lacquer line, but it was for special order only. As it turns out, the kitchen I was looking at was indeed thermofoil. When I asked how much it retailed for, I was surprised at the high price level. In general, the average retail for their kitchens was considerably higher than the average “real wood” kitchen, but it did have a lot more hardware, function, high quality melamine construction and most importantly style.The Sales Manager and I ended up speaking for hours about the Kitchen Industry, the US market and the perception of foils in the market. I then realized that some of these kitchens coming in from Europe were sold widely into condos, as well as high end homes. When I have mentioned to designers the names of some high end kitchen producers from Germany and Italy, they drool over the thought of specifying them into their next project. They are viewed as an ultra luxury product, yet they don’t know or don’t want to see that they are using products that can be sourced in North America as well. After leaving that showroom, and after multiple trips to Germany and Italy, I have realized my calling. Although I didn’t hear a trumpet sound, I knew that it was my job to bring design and profitability to producers of 3D laminate components and kitchens to North America. I hope that this article reaches those who are in a position in their daily activities to join me in spreading the awareness of 3D laminates for use in high end kitchens.
Original post: September 2011
If your company markets components, melamines, laminates, kitchens, store fixtures or even consumer products, I think you will find this article "THE MARKETING of COLOR" to be of interest. Since we are all in the business of figuring out what consumers want, exploring the history of color, how trends are created and how distribution affects color develop is highly relevant. Its hard to be a predictor of future trends however after you read more of how I analyze past trends, I think you'll see that some predictions can, in fact, be made towards future color trends.
HISTORY OF COLOR
As a fellow human, certainly you can attest to how important color is to our daily lives but think about how important color was to early man. The decision to eat one food over another and the color of poisonous snakes for example could literally determined if you survived to produce offspring. Interpreting color and making predictions could be a life or death situation. As a result, humans have certain innate reactions to color that seem to, in general, be universal across cultures. Lets examine more about the history of colors and how they evoke emotions today.
RED: If you look at the color red it typically has two very different feelings; pleasure and danger. If you look at food, strawberries can be sweet and safe to eat yet Hawthorn's red berries can make you sick. This creates a dual emotion that Red can be a volatile color that could create pleasure or pain. Another example of red, are red lips. Red lips in most cultures signify that a woman is fertile and is therefore loosely translated to passion. Today red lipstick is used not only as a cultural decoration but its origins can be traced far back in various civilizations. Another place red was seen in the history of humans is on the battlefield. Red blood signifies the calamities of war which could be disaster if you were on the loosing side but you might feel elation after winning a war and getting to live another day.
Red is a very common color used by certain consumer products to invoke passion however many companies such as financial companies avoid red entirely as it signifies danger or loss. When companies are loosing money they are known to be "in the red" for example.
GREEN: Green typically signifies "wealth". Imagine all of our years growing crops and living off the green of the land. Land use to be viewed as the single source for survival and hence the color green signifies money and wealth. Starbucks is a successful company that uses Green and a symbol that looks like a coin. Have you ever thought that Starbucks sells the aspiration to wealth rather than only selling coffee. Books have been written on the success of Starbucks and how vital green was to their overall success.
YELLOW: Just like Red, yellow evokes dual emotion. One is of hope, happiness and sunshine and the other is in betray or deceit. We all can understand that the sun represents hope and brightness but why is yellow often seen as the color of deceit or betrayal? For thousands of years the color yellow has signified betrayal in most cultures (but not all ) however some trace the yellow color to certain deseases and illnesses that have plagued humans from the beginning. I won't elaborate too deeply in this short article however I may expand examples in future articles.
BLACK: Black typically signifies power, authority, fear and death. When you take any color to its darkest value it becomes black. If you can imagine ancient mankind and how a decomposed body turned black or how a crop or home might be destroyed by fire would be black. But the most moving evidence that early man might be afraid of black would be from when the sky turns black. Today black also signifies authority such as in a suit or when a judge wears a black robe rather than a yellow one for example.
BLUE: Blue can be most closely related to Water and the sky. Do you ever feel more peaceful simply by looking at water or the sky? I know I do... Ancient humans always felt safe when they lived close to water because we can live for weeks without food but only a few days without drinkable water. Insurance companies, banks and even 3D Laminate companies often use the color blue to make people feel safe in using their product. Do you use a particular company due to their color unknowingly?
HOW WE PERCEIVE COLOR:
In a previous article I wrote called "Understanding the Language of Color", I went into depth about various things that affect how we perceive colors. I won't go too deep in this article however I will say that how we perceive color is not always accurate... For example, think of the "area effect". To understand the area effect, imagine making a match to a large 2' X 2' board and then looking at a small 3" X 3" match to that board. At first glance you may think the larger board is more light however what if you found out that you were in fact looking at the exact same color!? Simply by looking at a larger piece is creates an accumulation of color in your eye (so to speak) that gives you the perception that it is lighter than the other. In summation, there are various situations such as metamerism, the area affect and others that can make human perceive color differently from situation to situation.
The Mirriam Webster dictionary defines a trend as "A general direction in which something is developing or changing". But what is an "Antitheisis Trend"? First I should say this is a Markism or in other words a definition made up by myself... (you're free to laugh at or with me here) Due to my passion for marketing and exploration of marketing trends I often come up with situations in which there does not exist a marketing industry term. Previously I had come up with the term "Gain Leader"; opposite of "Loss Leader" and I've received a lot of positive feedback on this new marketing term and perspective. Getting back to the Antithesis... My definition of an "Antithesis Trend" is "A new trend created by the desire for change away from the current trend". If you ask a music executive or clothing designer if they have ever experienced an "Antithesis Trend" they would first ask you what it meant and then after you gave them the definition they would immediately point at you and say "Yes ! Thats my reality. "
In the Music Industry, lets examine some examples of Antithesis Trends. Before you think I've gone on a tangent, trust that I will tie this in to how color trends can also be affected by this. Next I will take you on a journey from the 1950s music through 2010 and show how a desire for change drove new trends and then give specific examples of musical artists and how they benefited from the trend change.
Early 1950s; This era was made up primarily with Crooners. This romantic singers appealed to love, relationships and courtship. Artist such as Buddy Holley were big in the 1950s and to say that the decade was full of G rated love songs would be an understatement. Whats the opposite of a G rated love ballad by a Crooner? Elvis...
1956/1960s; When Elvis first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on September 9th, 1956 with his sexual innuendos and gyrating hips he put a nail in the coffin of the days of the Crooner. Elvis was extremely talented but he was also at the right place at the right time. Elvis mixed the Blues with Crooners and became the Antithesis of the Crooner trend. That is until.
1970s; Disco and the Bee Gees.. Disco brought in an era of excess, drug use, disco balls and dance. Although Elvis had smooth moves of his own, Disco brought in an error of the individual dancing. It is a bit difficult to draw an exact correlation of how Disco was the opposite of Elvis however one can certainly argue that Disco dominated the 70s and that it was very different to say the least.
1980s; Hair Bands. Motley Crew. When the 80s music scene came it as if someone turned out the lights and took the disco ball home. "No more disco for you" they probably grumbled as they exited out the back door of Studio 54. Bands such as Motley Crew and Warrant wore make up, teased their hair and did not come close to breaking out into dance as in the days of disco. It is easy to see how the Hair Bands were the Antithesis of Disco until...
1990s Grunge Rock. Nirvana. From the moment I saw the video "Smells like Team Spirit" and cought wind of the growing Seattle Grunge movement I knew that Hair Bands were simply uncool. Think of how Grunge is actually the opposite of hair bands and make up. Many in the Grunge music scene avoided showers and there were no sequins or makeup to be found. Is it possible that Grunge became popular BECAUSE it was the opposite of Hair bands?
2000s Rap/Bling. Tupac. What is the opposite of a white guy from Seattle who believes in minamalism? Hmmm. Well certainly the opposite of Grunge Rock is Rap featuring videos with gold chains, cars and excess. Rappers are the new rock stars....they say...
ANTITHESIS TRENDS can be witnessed in the music industry over the past 60 years and one could argue that no new fad would have quite the impact if people weren't so darn tired of the past trend. It could be argued that if you want to know whats going to be big, just figure out whats the opposite of whats hot now.
Color Trends Antithesis: Many laminate colorists often discuss how when an economic market declines that darker colors become more popular. Our best seller for the past four years has been Wenge which is a dark woodgrain and certainly one can argue that its in line with what colorists have been saying. On the flip side, colorists also say that lighter colors tend to become more popular during economic growth. This has been applied to laminates however it becomes more complicated when we look at cars or fashion. But in a bigger sense, its important to understand how trends can be created based upon using a feeling for the bigger world around you.
MASS THOUGHT'S EFFECT on COLOR TRENDS
Mass Thought or Mass Consciousness essentially means that there are common thoughts shared by your community that are influenced by religion, culture and socio-economics. As a human you share many common thoughts and each person influences mass opinion through his or her vote or opinion towards a given subject. We have all heard of the "butterfly affect" however mass thought is much more easy to describe and understand. Above I mentioned how trends can be created by the general public desire for change (Antithesis) away from a current trend and I've also given a history of color and how our emotions are influenced by our preconceptions about what colors mean to us. What if I gave a test and where I had a picture of a red ball and a blue ball and then asked the general public "Which ball do you desire more". Wouldn't logic tell you that it would be 50/50? What if you found that the 70% desired the red ball? How would explain it? What if you had a society who was sick and tired of taking chances and dealing with products that did not work and then gave them the test whereby 70% then chose the blue ball? This is a theoretical question and no such study has been done however if you understand color more deeply and if you have spent much time studying consumer trends then you can start to see that such a result may be possible.
The DISTRIBUTOR EFFECT.... on COlOR TRENDS
The next area that can affect a color's success is the Distribution of that product. Imagine that you are a colorist for a melamine board producer and your job is to select colors that will be a hit in the market. Of course you will consider the following:
1. What you are seeing at trade shows. Example: textures
2. What has been selling more in the recent past. Ex: dark colors, warm tones
3. What has not been selling in the recent past. Ex: Items with knots
4. What the market is asking for. Ex: Less movement in the wood speciesand more linear
5. What you believe your distributors will buy into
What would you add?
So you start to ask yourself questions such as "Will the market like it?" "Whats in my line now?", "What trends are coming?", "What trends are going?" and then finally "What items can I get my distributing customers to buy into?" Now imagine that the distributors make a comment such as "I don't have anything in a warm honey shade ..." Bingo. Now if you find a wood species that is linear, warm in tone, looks good with that new ticking texturing you just launched, doesnt have knots and one of your key distributors thinks it will fill his line. Now you've got something.
Now of course I've just simplified the process for the sake of this article but think about the importance of a Distributor for any product line. Do you think that Ford considers their dealerships when creating new cars? Of course its a consideration since they will be preordering the inventory.
In addition, imagine that you are going to buy a sedan and you really want a black Camry and then you go to a few Toyota dealers in your town but they are all out of black Camrys but they do have black Avalons which cost more. It could be that the Distributor might have known that there is a demand for black sedans and so he intentionally stocked more black Avalons since they were a higher margin car. Now imagine deciding to go ahead and buy an Avalon because you really really wanted a black Toyota sedan. Now imagine that simply by Toyota allowing the Avalon to be a higher margin car and then knowing that black luxury sedans sell better than gold ones and then mysteriously black Avalons outsell black Camry's 2 to 1 yet Camrys outsell Avalons. I call this the Distributor Effect...A truly powerful persuasion on the outcome of color sales.
As we examine the MARKETING of COLOR we can clearly see that how humans interact with color can be based upon our preconceived feelings that are on a primal level, based upon trends , Antithesis trends, Mass Thought and even based upon the Distributor Effect. The Marketing of Color sounds like a crap shoot but the more you examine humans, the market and human behavior you will find that its not only possible to predict color trends but to actually create color trends.
Language is required for humans to communicate, learn and grow but what are the origins of a particular language? In reality there is a linear progression in language whereby as a society new words are created out of necessity and they either thrive or die.
One interesting thing about learning foreign languages is that you occasionally learn a new word in which there is no exact equivalent in your native tongue. These terms can range from tastes, circumstances and even emotions. What does it mean if your society doesn't have a word for a thing, does it mean it does not exist or are we just lost for words and move on in the conversation stumbling around with our limited vocabularies speaking to others who are not even understanding the majority of what we say?
As a student of marketing occasionally I run across situations in which there is no word to describe the subject so I create a marketing term and speak about it at a conference or write about it in a blog. Occasionally I've been emailed or called about marketing terms or concepts I've created to site for a paper or even from professors utilizing the term. One of the most popular marketing concepts I've created is called the Antithesis Theory and can be read about in my post "the Marketing of Color".
The second most common marketing term I've created is called "the Gain Leader". We've all heard of the term "Loss Leader" as its a very common marketing determine that describes when a product is sold at a loss in order to attract customers. If you imagine a gas station selling either gas at a lower price to attract people to shop in their store before credit cards were as prevalent or a convenience store selling milk at a lower price to bring people in to buy the other products then you are familiar with the term. But what is a Gain Leader?
If a consumer is attracted to a product or service which stands out in some manner from the rest then that product or service becomes a magnet for either purchase or from investigation. Consumers may purchase at a place ongoing out of convenience or because their needs are being met or exceeded at their particular level of expectation. But consumers also look for anomalies for a bargain OR as a novelty. So if a Loss Leader attracts consumers to your standard offering whilst they seek out a bargain what is the marketing term for attracting consumers to your standard offering when they are seeking novelty? It doesn't exit.... Years ago I had created the marketing term Gain Leader so let me break down the definition.
Loss Leader: Loss means lower profit, Leader means it is put front and center to garner attention from consumers with the intent of them also buying the standard or slightly above standard priced products
Gain Leader: Gain means lower profit, Leader means it is put front and center to garner attention from consumers with the intent of them also buying the standard or slightly above standard priced products
But why offer Gain Leaders? Isn't that greedy?
With Loss Leaders there is additional value being given to the consumer that is greater than the market price for that product. By its very nature of selling more volume it also enables the company to buy more volume and drive down costs. In a Gain Leader its a novel product which may actually not sell as well because of its novelty. By definition a Gain Leader would be sold at a higher cost due to its lower production efficiency of smaller volume or buy the unique attributes that make that product cost more.
What is the goal of a Gain Leader?
The goal of a Gain Leader is to attract customers to your standard offering while selling a product at a higher margin.
I hope that as you've read this article that you think of ways to offer new and exciting products which are beyond the norm and that you assign internal value to how those exciting products create attention for your standard offerings. Its my goal to someday publish a book that collaborates my various marketing terms, anecdotes and observations. Although I do not consider myself a writer per se, I do feel that my observations can be useful to others in helping them grow their businesses. I hope you have enjoyed this article and be sure to send me a message.
High Gloss Films have been considered the most difficult film to press using a membrane press and even more difficult to press with a vacuum press. This article will discuss the nature of this surface and give useful advice.
Earlier in my career I worked for a leading Japanese manufacturer of 3D Laminates and I worked as their technical guru to help companies press High Gloss. I must admit that at times I wanted to just give up but the finished products were so unique and special that I persisted.
A lot of companies in Europe who press High Gloss do so with a Fritz Bladder press that uses a hot liquid in the bladder to press the doors. The bladder presses have great pressure and they distribute the heat evenly. The bladder presses though are not really promoted and the most common membrane presses simply use air to push their membranes. Unless you intend to buy a press just for your High Gloss I would recommend using your existing press and working with the parameters to get the best results you can.
The most common problems with High Gloss are wrinkling, orange peel and telegraphing. Typical High Gloss Foils are 0.7mm thick or 28 mil and they are made using an Extruder rather than a Calender. This thicker guage of PVC requires more exposure to heat but with too high heat it will inevitably cause wrinkles in the finished part. Therefore it is recommend to press using a lower temperature such as 105 Celcius versus 118 Celcius for an average woodgrain. The preheat however, should be increased to 60 seconds or even 90 or 120 seconds rather than an average of 30 to 45 seconds for a 12 mil solid or woodgrain. As a rule of thumb, the above two settings are the biggest difference between pressing a High Gloss and a Solid or Woodgrain.
Another trick is to space your parts out a bit farther than normal from each other. What this does is to give more material and it requires less stretching of the material. Its common sense but the closer your parts are with this thicker material then the more the material has to stretch to get down on the edges.
If you encounter wrinkles then you will most likely need to decrease your preheat slightly or possibly even your temperature by a few degrees. There is a small window of settings that will get your High Gloss to press.
If you encounter orange peel in your parts you may want to reduce your preheat time and potentially even the pressure slightly. The orange peel is equivalent to small islands of built up heat if that makes any since. When you press High Gloss you really want to have the least amount of temperature for the least amount of time as possible. Some companies are very light on their application of glue to the center of the door component to reduce the glue/heat reaction that can cause orange peel. If your doors are sprayed thoroughly on the edges then you should not have any delamination issues.
In terms of pressure, I have have heard of different theories such as using less pressure however in Europe many companies have presses that will go above the 4 or 5 bars that a US press has. I have heard of 7 bar and up presses being used for pressing High Gloss doors however I have never personally worked with one of these machines.
If you encounter telegraphing when pressing your parts then you may need to sand your parts to get a more smooth texture before applying the glue. If you are encountering small dust particles then you may need to look at a few things. Is your roll rack grounded? If not then the static electricity could be pulling particles up onto your roll. Is your press in the same room as your router? If so you may need to think of your next investment being into building a special room for the press. Just a room to keep the dust out is adequate so you could use framing and clear plastic. Another common trick is to put a fan on top of your press to direct particles away from the press. This will decrease the small particles showing up under the door.
Most High Gloss films come with a masking film. In addition to having more rejects, High Gloss is more succeptible to scratches during installation. In the past there have been problems with some masking films being difficult to pull off. Most manufacturers have made improvements in this area so the film will come off more easily.
The gloss level of a High Gloss film ranges from 70 to 100 degree sheen. Dackor offers a Semi Gloss foil that has a 55 degree sheen. This semi gloss product does not have the mirror finish that a High Gloss does but instead has a slight stipple to it that is very subtle. This in affect hides telegraphing, scratches and debris from showing up. The product is also a 16 mil so it presses more easily and costs less than a High Gloss film. The appearance of the semi gloss film gives the look of a semi gloss paint that is shiny and looks as if it has been sprayed on.
In summation, High Gloss and Semi Gloss films are an attractive surface finish that give Kitchen doors a clean and modern look. With the right settings you can successfully offer either finish to your customers. Semi Gloss films press just like any other 16 mil film but if you should have trouble pressing the 28 mil High Gloss films you can call or email me and I will be glad to help with your settings.
Last month I visited Milan's Furniture fair called Salone del Mobile. As always, its a big inspiration to see furniture but I've noticed in my travels around the world that I'm much more inspired by the sights and smells of street food, old architecture and natural surfaces.
Design and Color is more than a job or some fantastical name we can throw out sitting at our desks. The names we select come from our memories and tell stories that not only bring a smile to our faces but also inspire future travels. Dolphins from the Fijian Islands inspire the name High Gloss Dolphin Gray and as you'll see below, Pompeii is inspiring new stone colors that are coming your way.
To the left is a Kitchen in Pompeii. Pompeii was a city destroyed by the Volcano Vesuvius in the year 79. For over a thousand years this ancient city remained buried and hidden under many feet of ash.
This image has inspired the DACKOR colors Pompeii Ash and Pompeii Cream which are new stone designs that will soon be released.
When you specify colors and textures by Dackor do they spark your imagination? If so, leave us a comment below and let us know your favorite color and I'll send you a message telling you the adventure that drove that color name.
We are... where designs form.
Properly manufactured Thermofoil doors will not delaminate without exposure to heat. To determine if a door has a good bond and the glue line was activated simply pull a part from production and do a pull test. In a pull test you cut a triangle shaped amount and pull the vinyl off the corner of the door. If the bond is good you will notice that there will be fibers on the film and also it will be very difficult to pull off the vinyl as pliers will need to be used.
If you are pulling heavy fibers then you almost certainly will pass heat tests. If you are not pulling heavy fibers you may need to give extra spray to the sides of the door or increase heat or preheat to give total heat exposure to fully bond the glue line.
So what about heat delamination?
The two most common places of delamination from heat are directly above a tea kettle or beside a self cleaning oven. Keep in mind that these temperatures are so hot that they will strip lacquer off wood doors too however with thermofoil its more noticeable because the vinyl will actually shrink and will expose the MDF. This is not a defect in the door. Tea kettles should be pulled out from under the upper cabinets and the doors should be hinged away from the oven during self cleaning mode with the doors open and drawers open during self cleaning operation. One other helpful tip is to have your cabinet manufacturer use a heat shield next to ovens.
As a thermofoil door manufacturer how do you test your heat resistance?
Firstly, a 1 part glues resistance is typically 150 to 175 degrees F and for a 2 part glue 170 to 200 degrees. Simply heat an oven up to 150F for one hour and then raise the temperature by 5 degrees until failure or delamination occurs. You will notice the delamination as the vinyl will pull up revealing the mdf. If your oven doesn't go that low simply utilize a digital thermometer and run the cord beside the part. Heat your oven on low and crack the door if necessary to keep the temp at 150 and raise at intervals to get the highest temp reached before delamination occurred. You may also use heat strips on your test to ensure accuracy of the highest temp reached.
The proper machine to professionally test is a Blue M lab heat test machine however they are quite expensive. One other tip is to ask your glue supplier to run a heat test on your parts.
I hope that this information is useful and remember that the most important thing is to purchase your components from a reliable producer in which you have a good relationship.
Retailers have faced a mounting challenge since the massive success of Amazon has cut in-store sales dramatically. It has led many at the top of national chains to assess the way they are doing business. One area in particular that must be addressed to keep customers coming back is store design and decor. You can imagine that putting money into something that isn’t immediately affecting the bottom line is a tough pill to swallow, so in most cases that I have seen, maintaining a reasonable budget is very important. However, the last thing retail chains want is something that is cheap and won’t last. They want sustainable, durable, and cost effective.
To decide where to go with this decision, it is first important to understand where we’ve been with interior décor in retail in general. Keeping in theme with needing a value-engineered solution, retailers have been shying away from real stones, leathers, and woods for years. The solution, as it seemed, was high pressure laminate (HPL). The designs offered by HPL were (and are) plentiful. They offered a look that simulated the real thing, but at a fraction of the cost. The scratch resistance was great.
All seemed well, until the first customer came down the aisle haphazardly, with their kid tugging on their arm to request a trip to the toy section. And then, bam! It hit it exactly in the right place on the seam. That cart ran right into the brand new fixture that was designed to save money and look great. But now, the fixture was chipped, cracked, not looking quite as new. But, it’ll pass for now. Fast forward a year and take a look at that and all of the other fixtures that have been abused to the point of damaging the brand every time customers see it. Couple that with all of the fixtures that are just too badly beaten to even be seen in the store. They are lined up in the spare warehouse that used to be the garden center before that idea didn’t work out. There in an empty warehouse, lies thousands of dollars in investments, waiting for another several hundred dollar truck ride back to wherever they came from for preparation to sell to the highest bidder and be put into some lower end stores, or bought by a refurbisher and resold.
How could have this been prevented? If only that laminate wasn’t so rigid. If only there was no seam. In comes 3D laminate; it’s a more pliable laminate that can be formed around a smooth wooden core (in most cases, MDF) to eliminate the seam and dramatically improve impact resistance. What’s more, the wide array of design options remains. The texture options are more plentiful. The price point is the same. The amount of impact that would have cracked and chipped that old HPL fixture now only dents the fixture, at best.
So, how does one find this type of fixture? Can my normal fixture manufacturer use your material? In order to take advantage of the ability to go seamless, you just need to find a manufacturer with a vacuum or membrane press. In the U.S. alone, there are over 200 manufacturers with this potential. The material can also be applied to any flat surface to give you the impact resistance you desire on the face of the shelf or fixture; or, it can even be flat-laminated and miter-folded over the edge to eliminate the seam. This means, that most manufacturers can use a 3D laminate in such a way that will make your fixtures more protected from impact resistance.
If you would like more information on 3D laminate specification, designs trending in your market, or for technical data, feel free to reach out to me at 407-654-5013, Austin@dackor.com.
If you work in an office environment you are aware of how frequent texts interrupt work. We've all heard the adage of "multi tasking" however recent studies uncover that its highly inefficient. In fact, it is found that a more accurate term is "task switching, not multi tasking".
Task switching : So what's the harm in frequent texts?
- takes more time to get the same tasks completed than if you just focused on one at a time. Its been reported that you loose up to 40% by task switching.
- error rates soar when you switch between two tasks
- brain scans show that when you switch task it works the brain harder in a bad way. These scans show the pre-frontal cortex is involved to shift tasks, the posterior parietal lobe activates rules for each task you switch to, the anterior cingulate gyrus monitors errors and the pre motor cortex is preparing you to move your body even if its not required for that task but it goes on alert after shifting your task
What's a better way? Batch Processing
A more efficient way of working is in batch processing. By batch processing you simply focus on an activity until you have completely finished it and then you shift to the next task such as texting. But here's the problem.... With texting, you do not have a captive audience. People tend to become easily distracted in today's society or maybe they are a habitual task switcher subjugating you to their inefficient work style. Below are some tips on how YOU as a task switcher can improve.
Tip 1: To set up complex plans for lunch or the weekend pick up the phone. Calls are faster than the back and forth texting.
Tip 2: Don’t check your phone as soon as a message comes in. If it were urgent they would call. Finish your existing task or set of tasks and when you check your phone do so with the intent of responding.
Tip 3: When you engage to respond, continue to respond until the conversation is completed. If you need to end the conversation tell them you’ve got a pressing matter and end the conversation.
Tip 4: If the other person has a lull in communication simply move on to another task and do not go back to the texting until that task is completed. This reduces your task switching while simultaneously teaching others that when they’ve got you to stick with you through the conversation. Remember, you teach people how to treat you.
Tip 4: Reduce talk /text times by making proposals. I propose we meet at 10 or 2pm on either Tuesday or Thursday next week. 90% of the time the other person will respond. Or... I propose we eat at Thai or Italian at either 12 or 12:30 on Tuesday.
Tip 5: Let friends and family know that you exercise batch processing and remind them that if its urgent to call you. You can give them your work number too. Put simply, Emails are less important than texts, texts are less important than calls .
Tip 6: Silence or turn off social media notifications. Social media notifications are for people who have a need for acceptance and not for winners who are doing something in this world that actually is worth a tweet.
In conclusion and as stated, task switch is extremely inefficient, increases errors and depletes your mental energy. Mental energy is gold, even top tech executives wear the same clothes every day to reduce just one more decision from their day. So if your goal is to grow and to succeed, batch processing rather than task switching is paramount to your success. You'll be sharper, complete more and be mentally fresher at the end of the day.
Too often sales people push their products, feature dump or talk ill of their competitors. The ideal sales person is a Sales Consultant. The term Sales Consultant refers to a sales person who asks detailed probing questions and listens carefully to their clients needs. A Sales Consultant helps their clients grow their business so that the two companies can both grow together. A basic or simple sales person simply tries to take business that already exists.
So how can you be a Sales Consultant?
1. Be prepared. Go to your client’s website , linked in or google their company to learn as much as you can before calling. Failing to do so is lazy and disrespectful.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”. Alexander Graham Bell
2. Build Rapport. Build a connection with your customer by being personable, neatly dressed if in person and be sincere. Looking around their office for something to pose a connection to is disingenuous and fake.
It is important to respect your customers time and space. Use a public restroom before visiting their office, do not read any names on the paperwork on their desk. Give sincere compliments on their knowledge and give your customer the ability to educate you. To build rapport, remember the following quotes:
“Rapport equals trust plus comfort” Neil Strauss
“Rapport is the ultimate tool for producing results with other people. No matter what you want in life, if you can develop rapport with the right people, you’ll be able to fill their needs and they will be able to fill yours” Tony Robbins
3. Ask open-ended questions. Ask the most broad questions as possible to start
“When you talk you are repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is listening to what another has to say” Bryant McGill
4. Follow up questions. Things such as
“To be heard we must first listen”… LR Knost
5. Move them to topics that parallel to your strengths. “So you mentioned that quality is important. I know we are more expensive but if it cut down on your rejects would that actually save you money?” This transition should be smooth and fit into something they have already said
6. Be respectful of their time. Remember that learning about your client is not an interrogation and should not feel clinical. This means that you should sound smooth and listen closely to signs they need to go. Sometimes you can bring up a subject that makes them want to stay and talk but the most important thing is to remember to be respectful.
“Respect is not imposed nor begged. It’s earned and offered.” Author unknown
7. Winding down. Once you get a good direction or course of action its important to transition the end of the meeting or conversation. You can be honest that you have a conference call but the best is to be direct and say “I need to go but I will send you the samples or quote you requested by tomorrow. Is that OK?” And always , always keep your word.
Remember that as humans, there is no sweeter sound than to hear our names or the sound of our own voices. Are you speaking to your client so that you get to hear your own voice or so that they get to hear theirs? Ask detailed , probing questions, listen, be respectful and do what you say you will do. Simple.
Wall covering news:
Dackor has launched Accent Planks which are an ideal product for wall decoration. These planks decorate Accent Walls for an upscale look. The options vary from the wood-look , Stone and leathers.
The Accent Planks standard size for woodgrains and hand painted white are 6" x 48" whereas the Accent Planks XL for "extra large" are 24" X 48" since the larger format of leathers and stones look better in a larger size. Due to these panels light weight there are no issues in the panel size.
Accent Planks are made by Dackor in their Orlando based production facility utilizing their rigid 3D Laminates via a hot fused lamination technique to expanded PVC foam and the entire back utilizes an acrylic based peel and stick material rather than the strips used commonly in the plank market. The 6" wide planks come 16 square feet to a box whereas the XL planks come 32 square feet to a box.
To install the planks, you simply peel and stick with no need for grout, sealers or saws. To cut you simply score with a utility knife and pop the plank to its desired length.
The benefit of this unique wall covering is its ease of install, simple and unique look and lower cost. Dackor supplies renowed sculptured wall plank producers such as Interlam, Vertical Illusions, Lumicor, Soelberg Industries and 3form. Dackor highly recommends these companies due to the unique dimensional look that can only be achieved by these manufacturers. The Accent Planks are simply a more affordable wall covering that is meant to compete more with tile and fabrics.
The look of these Accent Planks are actually created by our selected series of designs which are textured to give a luxury look and since the planks have defined shapes the outline of the planks themselves give the desired finished look.
Dackor expects that the most popular items will be the leather series such as the black and white alligator as well as the stone series, especially the Sahara Stone concrete prints in 24" x 48" panels.
The company will be launching a new website to support the sampling and ordering at www.accentplanks.com
Color inspiration from around the world, backstories on design inspiration and informative articles about marketing, membrane pressing and personal development. Author Mark Viers delivers fresh content that will help you and your business grow and thrive.