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National Floorcovering Alliance: Member involvement at the core

Sept. 16/23 2013; Volume 27/number 11

By Steven Feldman

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 11.15.45 AMBoston—When Phil Koufidakis, co-owner of the seven-store Baker Bros. in Arizona, began his two-year stint as president of the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA), his immediate goal was to get more (translation: all 42) members involved in the direction of the group. After all, the NFA prides itself on being a group run by the group. And with that, the association’s fall meeting held here Sept. 15–18 was the first since its committees were streamlined and restructured.

Penny Carnino, Grisgsby’s Carpet, Tulsa, Okla., told FCNews that Koufidakis “made it a salient point that he would get more involvement across the board from all the members on a day-to-day basis and spread responsibilities around, and we are moving toward that goal.”

Specifically, the NFA now has eight committees: carpet, ceramic tile, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, area rugs, cushion and marketing. Gone are commercial, roll buy, website, long range planning, best practices, membership, financial, ethics and advisory. “Many of the functions of those committees are already carried out by the executive board,” Koufidakis noted.

Now, every NFA member will be involved in one committee, although companies that traditionally send more than one member to the biannual events could split up and serve on multiple committees. Each will consist of a chairman and about four other members with specific tasks assigned to each individual within the committee. For example, one person will be responsible for specialty vendors, while another will be charged with co-op and promotions.

Because all committees were populated only within the past month, the meeting served to nail down responsibilities. “This is a huge undertaking,” Koufidakis said. “The committees have not yet met or put together an agenda.”

One of the specific responsibilities within each committee is a specialty vendor liaison, who will be actively involved in recruiting and adding value to the specialty vendor meeting, held in Las Vegas on Surfaces eve. This is something that was discussed in earnest at the NFA’s spring meeting in Colorado.

“One of the ideas is to bring in specialty product vendors,” Koufidakis explained. “For example, one of our members is having success with vacuum cleaners; it doesn’t have to be flooring. It could be financing, advertising, windows—things that could add value to some members and maybe put them into a business others may already be in successfully. That’s a big part of this group—the sharing of success. The room is filled with incredibly bright people; our job is to get them to share.”

Vendor support

Many of NFA’s 25 core vendors have come to the table with special programs that have befitted the group as a whole. “They have upped their game so the time we have with them at these meetings is more valuable than it used to be,” Koufidakis said. He added that there is a lot more dialogue between the group and the vendors leading up to the meetings. This allows NFA members to convey their desires, and gives the vendors a chance to come up with the appropriate programs.

In terms of the vendors who have been going above and beyond, Koufidakis cited a few. For example, “Armstrong continues to redesign all the time. And they offered an amazing hard surface promotion that most members continue to take advantage of.” In addition, he mentioned Mannington as the first to jump into the proprietary Lifetime Luxury program, and Mohawk Hard Surfaces with the NFA-exclusive Smart Solutions program along with MSI, which debuted as a Tier 1 vendor in Colorado, as coming as prepared as any supplier in recent memory with products and special deals.

In other NFA news…

•According to Koufidakis, the group is not actively pursuing new members, “but if someone approaches us or a vendor recommends a retailer, we will look at them. We would be interested in a prime dealer in an area where we have no presence. It’s more about fit. If you have the right fit, it enhances the intimacy of the group. We ask who would be an addition that makes us stronger as a group. Who shares, who has a like business, who has ideas.”

•Another Stainmaster roll buy is in the works, with the specific products and vendors to be chosen later in the year. Koufidakis told FCNews the most recent roll buy was the biggest in NFA history. He attributes that, in part, to splitting the roll buy among multiple vendors for the first time. “It’s better for us, and better for the vendors who felt left out when we limited it to one vendor.”