Linoleum flooring has been with us for a century and a half. It was invented by Englishman Frederick Walton in 1860. The flooring is made from solidified linseed oil, pulverised limestone, wood flour and cork dust; backings are made from burlap, hemp or other fibres. Linoleum is considered "green" because of its natural make-up and its durability. Linoleum has moved in and out of popularity, with a recent revival starting in the mid 2000s.
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Forbo Flooring Systems began in 1928 as a Swiss company, Continentale Linoleum Union. In 1973, after expanding its portfolio to include other kinds of flooring, the company changed its name, and is now part of Forbo Group.
Forbo linoleum is manufactured in Europe. Among its trademarks are Artoleum and Marmoleum. On its website, it claims a market share of more than 60% of all commercial vinyl and linoleum floors. Forbo Flooring Systems has 14 manufacturing plants in 32 countries.
Armstrong World Industries Inc. is based in Lancaster, Pa. According to EDC Magazine, it imports its linoleum from Germany. The company operates 37 facilities in nine countries. It has three main sectors: Floor Products, Building Products and Cabinet Products.
The company began in 1860 with Thomas Armstrong's cork-cutting shop. The company incorporated in 1891 and entered the linoleum trade in 1906. Armstrong stopped manufacturing linoleum after the popularity of the product waned. However, with its 1997 purchase of DLW, the world's second-largest linoleum maker, re-emerged as one of the leading manufacturers in the world.
Based in Nanterre, France, Tarkett Group was founded in 1942. It is owned by the Deconinck family and investment firm Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts. The company produces other flooring materials, such as wood and artificial turf. The company has four divisions -- Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and Sports -- and it has 28 facilities serving more than 100 countries.
Hamberger Industriewerke GmbH is based in Stephanskirchen, Germany. It is a small, family-owned concern that started life as a matchstick factory in 1866. It manufactures linoleum and other floor coverings sold under the brand name HARO.
Hamberger exports around 40% of its linoleum to more than 70 countries. Its linoleum trademark is HARO Linett.
The first linoleum company was Walton's Linoleum Manufacturing Company, founded in 1864. By 1877, The city of Kirkcaldy in Scotland had become the world's biggest producer of linoleum. The first producer there was Scottish Linoleum Company (later Barry, Ostlere and Shepherd).
One of the most successful Scottish concerns was Michael Nairn and Co., established in 1847 as a flooring company. In 1924, Congoleum acquired Nairn Linoleum Co. and became Congoleum-Nairn, Inc., later just Congoleum Inc. Nairn's use of the term "linoleum" was challenged by Walton on trademark grounds, but the court deemed that the term was already generic. Thus, linoleum is one of the earliest examples of a brand name becoming generic.
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