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When pergo floors entered the U.S. market in 1994 after 20 years of success in Europe, the usually sleepy flooring industry woke up.

As VP-marketing, residential, for Perstorp Flooring, the company that makes Pergo floors, Anne West has led the effort to build awareness for the laminate product, a substitute for hardwood flooring that promises more durability and easier maintenance than traditional hardwood.

"Nobody had ever heard of this little Swedish company," says Ms. West, 42. "We had a credibility issue to overcome."

Pergo has educated consumers about the product and promoted the brand name through advertising from Richards Group, Dallas.

The Pergo business is valued at an estimated $200 million and is growing fast. Media spending was up to $8.2 million in 1996 from $6.1 million in 1995, with Pergo far outspending its competitors.

The effort is paying off, says Ms. West.

"We're driving people into stores asking for a brand by name," Ms. West says.

Its national print campaign has brought ads to women's magazines and home magazines like House Beautiful and Country Living. Cable TV spots also run during shows such as "Martha Stewart Living" and "Bob Vila's Home Again" as well as during programming on Home & Garden Television.

Since Pergo's entrance into the U.S., about 25 other marketers have appeared. Yet Pergo retains about 60% of the market by pushing brand credibility with consumers.

"We invented it 20 years ago and have been perfecting it ever since," Ms. West says.

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