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Distributors’ perspective: NAFCD spoke. We listened.

by Bob Wagner

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) has had a back-to-basics year. It began when I, along with the rest of the association’s leadership, wondered whether we were providing good value to our members. As we are always recruiting new members, we asked if our story was strong enough to attract new firms to NAFCD. I found out early in my tenure as NAFCD president that we didn’t know how we were doing, so that begged the question: How do we find out?

NAFCD’s executive team and its board of directors decided to survey our members to see what they thought. The survey results are in, and the data is being compiled for our review at the 2011 NAFCD/ NBMDA Distributor Marketplace, to be held Nov. 8 to 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

I have seen a preview of the results, and the response is clear: NAFCD has some things it can do better. In particular, our members want a “how-to” guide from speakers. They want to learn how to sell more, collect faster, deliver goods cheaper and reduce business costs.

Fortunately, the NAFCD board likes to get things done. We met quickly after the initial survey results were available and added a couple speakers to the Distributor Marketplace who are specialists in the “how- to” realm. The feedback we have gotten has been quite positive, and we are happy with the changes.

The back-to-basics part of this is simple: If you want to know what members want, then ask them. We did just that, and we are happy with the information that emerged from the survey. We are confident that this year’s Distributor Marketplace will be beneficial for all who attend.

The past few years have presented interesting challenges to NAFCD’s board. We have faced a declining industry, a struggling U.S. economy, and many of our member companies are feeling a financial pinch. This is the driving reason why we spend so much time providing valuable experiences to our members. The general membership does not get to interact with the board very much, but I’d like to assure all NAFCD members that the people serving on the board care a great deal about what you think. The organization belongs to the members, and the board wants to provide a great experience.

Next year will be my last year on the NAFCD board, and it will mark my 11th year serving NAFCD through board duties. This industry has been good to me and my family, and I thought it only right to give something back. Of course, time and effort goes into board service, but what you get back far exceeds what you give.

I have made many new friends through my NAFCD work, and I have learned more than I ever imagined from people who have successfully solved problems similar to my own. I have even learned what not to do at times. As I step off this board, I can say with confidence that I am a better man, manager and president because of my service. I will be forever grateful to NAFCD for allowing me to serve, and I am humbled by our board and the general membership for voting me president. I have served with pride, and I would do it again in a minute.

If you are not yet a member of NAFCD and would like to learn more about the organization and how to get involved, please contact NAFCD executive director Michelle Miller at 312.673.5701.

Robert Wagner is president of L. Fishman and Son, located in Baltimore. He is also president of the NAFCD. To contact him, call 410.633.0066, ext. 333.