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FIANA: First-time distributors and manufacturers highlight show

KANSAS CITY, MO.—The 17th annual Floor Installation Association of North America’s (FIANA) convention held here was well attended by membership, according to Gary Verhey, president and CEO, but even more positive signs came from several companies attending the event for the very first time.

“Overall attendance was up slightly, but more encouragingly,” he commented, “there were 10 new manufacturers exhibiting at the trade show and six new distributors attending the convention.”

The new manufacturers included B&H Manufacturing, CENO Group, CMP Speciality Products, FilmTech, Imperial Blades, Miracle Sealants, Mozart Blades & Tools, Rollmaster Software, Wagner Electronics and Wedi Corp. The half dozen new distributors were Carpet Products (Belknap-White), Carpet Cushion & Supply, Marvin’s Floor Supply, Mountain States Market/Sales, Southland Group and W.C. Tingle.

Attendees were able to sit in on three networking sessions covering sales compensation, vendor requirements by distributors, and a review of the recent association membership survey. The general business session focused on the FIANA University training program, which is Internet based for distributor member employees, on products and proper installation methods.

“A total of 60 booths allowed distributors to view new products, methods and ideas, along with quality time for relationship networking between the manufacturers and distributors,” Verhey said. “Being a trade show, special purchasing opportunities were offered to all distributors in attendance.”

Grahame Poferl, director of customer development for first-time exhibitor Personna, said FIANA offers the ability to have conversations with distributors in a controlled environment. “We were well received and reinforced Personna as well positioned in the tool market.”

Like Poferl, Mike Ball of BPI believes one of the biggest benefits of attending the FIANA show is the networking that takes place among distributors and exhibitors. “It’s all about the sharing of information and the plans for improving our business. “I also enjoy the ability to see all the new and unique products from the exhibitors in one location,” he explained. “BPI has managers that attend Surfaces, but I feel there is a unique closeness among FIANA participants.

“2011 has been a challenging year for all of us and at FIANA, I can gather information on how other members are coping with an uncertain economy,” Ball said. “There were some excellent breakout sessions where we all put our heads together to solve and discuss these issues.”