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Preferred Brands delivers value, programs for members

ADAIRSVILLE, GA.—In a retail group arena that boasts divisions of CCA Global Partners, Alliance Flooring and Abbey Carpet, Preferred Brands may not be considered a household name, but what it may lack in brand awareness is more than offset by the services and value it offers to members.

Preferred Brands is comprised of the Floor To Ceiling and World of Floors formats. While the latter is strictly flooring for the most part, Floor To Ceiling dealers, as the name suggests, separate themselves from the Carpet Ones, Flooring Americas and Abbey Carpets of the world via their product mix. A typical Floor To Ceiling dealer does about 50% of his business in flooring, 40% in kitchen and bath, and 10% in decorative products like widow treatments and lighting.

The edge, according to Steve Sidlinger, president, is that the diversity allows Floor To Ceiling to be a project-based program. “When Mrs. Consumer walks in the store, she sees a full selection of everything she needs for the home, like cabinets, vanities, etc. After a beautiful kitchen has been designed, which can cost $10,000 to $25,000, she is convinced that dealer knows what he is doing. At that point, floor covering is an add-on sale and that dealer has instantly raised his margin because he is not bidding the job.”

The other advantage of a project-based program is the dealer controls all aspects of the job from soup to nuts. “You have sold her the entire project, so she has one point of contact with everything going on with that job,” Sidlinger said. “We design the project, we source the project (practically all sales are special order), we deliver it and we install it. It’s full service.” He added that Floor To Ceiling retailers also do their share of product sales, but the ones that are doing project work are the ones “really pumping.”

Ken Jackson, CFO for Shaw Industries, said this is what sets Floor To Ceiling apart from other groups. “These guys are big into kitchen and bath renovation and new construction. They have a platform that helps their members diversify their businesses; they are not just dedicated to flooring.”

Steve Rosenthal, vice president of sales for Midwest distributor All-Tile, said the Floor To Ceiling dealers understand diversification better than most because they were the first flooring group to be diversified. “The other flooring groups grew into it.”