Michel Vermette recently joined Armstrong Flooring as president and CEO after a successful career spanning more than two decades at Mohawk Industries, where he served in multifaceted positions across the company’s finance, investor relations, sales and marketing and business development operations. Floor Trends caught up with Vermette to gain insight on his new role and future plans.
FT: Why did you take on this role?
Vermette: Armstrong is this iconic name in the industry. I like the position of the business today, with a 100% focus on resilient. It also has a nice international component to it. And where Armstrong is, there's an opportunity to create a next chapter and a unique identity in the marketplace that's very interesting. The team here, they're hungry to win. It will make this a fun and exciting place that will take care of its customers, and where we do innovative and differentiated things. The chance to lead this team was very appealing to me. There’s an opportunity for this team to do some things that may not have been possible in the past.
FT: What sorts of opportunities?
Vermette: There are some markets where we're underrepresented, where the combination of some of my history—both in commercial and residential markets—and the capabilities of the team—its innovation, its design—could play very well in the commercial segment. Armstrong is very well known among people my age, but there is definitely an opportunity to expand the awareness in the younger generations. With the history and the credibility that the brand has, we can definitely have an impact, but we have to tell our story.
FT: What’s your outlook for resilient?
Vermette: Resilient is very dynamic. It keeps changing with new products, new innovation, new capabilities, new providers. It comes from every angle, every source. It's the most dynamic product category in the industry. I've been in flooring for 25 years, and it keeps evolving. I think we'll have a major role play in what the future looks like, and I expect to play a major role with the product and innovation team to get us where we need to be so that we can win in the marketplace.
FT: What role will domestic manufacturing play in your ability to win in the marketplace?
Vermette: U.S. manufacturing is a key advantage. We're very fortunate that we operate in every category of the resilient marketplace. Everybody hears the news about trade wars, so if you want certainty on a project or a program, it goes a long, long way, especially when you think of service, pricing stability, continuity, availability. Having U.S. manufacturing just helps you overall to put some concerns behind you and not have to worry about it and operate at a higher level.
FT: What’s been the response from the marketplace?
Vermette: The response from the marketplace with the announcements has been great. Customers had been reaching out, as have many friends across the industry. There's tremendous support for Armstrong Flooring to do well. There's a lot of people that want to partner and help us be successful. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of Armstrong will be. The other part is the associates at Armstrong—in the field on the sales side, or in manufacturing, or in the headquarters, everyone is highly motivated to build that next chapter. When you have a highly motivated team, it's a great place to start