By Melissa McGuire
Volume 26/Number 22; March 18/25, 2013
With a focus on networking and new initiatives, the Fuse Alliance flooring contractor group held its annual conference in San Diego from March 6 to 8 with more than 154 people in attendance, including 86 members, 21 suppliers and 68 company representatives.
Executive director Ron Lee kicked off the meeting stating, “2012 was a year of negative news and positive results” with a nod to the issues small businesses are facing today, particularly onerous regulations, cash flow, attracting and retaining employees, reinvesting for growth and planning for succession.
He quickly revealed an array of initiatives for 2013. These include the expansion of FuseUSA, the addition of 50 new service associations to provide coverage to areas not currently being serviced, and a plan to expand and grow the e-commerce distribution offering available to Fuse Alliance members.
Heading up the expansion endeavor will be SCS Systems president Geoff Gordon, who joins the Fuse Alliance team as senior vice president of business development. “My job will be to call on our key suppliers as well as large end users around the country to solicit their business through our network,” he explained. “I recognize many large end users buy direct. As part of their business plans, many times they will work with our suppliers on turnkey projects. At Fuse we are hoping to capture some of this work by partnering with our suppliers.”
Member Ken Jackson, president of ReSource Flooring and Maintenance in Tampa, Fla., said, “The program will help our partner vendors and fellow Fuse members by generating new business with corporate customers throughout the country.”
In addition, the organization announced the development of a selection of co-branded products with the group’s preferred suppliers. “The product program will allow Fuse Alliance preferred suppliers to partner with Fuse to provide products in a modular sample format that can be customized for the end user’s needs,” said Kris Keller, vice president, marketing and member services. “The sampling tool can be designed to target a specific market segment the Fuse Alliance member is seeking to penetrate or to create standards for an existing customer.”
Keller explained the goal of the program is to increase Fuse Alliance member companies’ credibility, knowledge and consultative position as flooring experts by leveraging the recognizable brands of the group’s preferred suppliers. The initial co-branded products to be launched in May will include offerings from Armstrong Commercial Flooring, Mohawk Group and Johnsonite.
“I really enjoyed hearing the testimonials from fellow members about their experiences in a tough business environment,” Jackson noted. “These types of meetings allow us the opportunity to talk and share similar problems and successes within our group. It is nice to get advice from other Fuse business owners that have had similar business challenges.”