Volume 27/Number 23; March 17/24, 2014
By Ken Ryan
San Antonio, Texas—The theme for Alliance Flooring’s 17th annual convention was “Accelerate Your Leadership,” and while an opening video showed many well-known figures, co-CEO Ron Dunn noted there are numerous everyday leaders among the ranks of CarpetsPlus Colortile, Carpetland USA, Floorco and Clean Touch Pro—the retail stores that make up the group.
“There’s a reason why Mike and Tammy Robinson in Oregon have been awarded by their local media for being the best place to do business,” he said. “There’s a reason why Montgomery’s [in Venice, Fla.] has been named the best retailer for 13 consecutive years….”
Dunn rattled off the names of other Alliance Flooring dealers who have demonstrated true leadership while facing difficult odds or who overcame obstacles to achieve success in their markets.
The convention’s opening rally set the stage for an enthusiastic two-day convention. And with good reason: As a group, Alliance Flooring’s business grew 11% in 2013, led by hard surfaces.
Jon Logue, Alliance’s co-CEO, said the luxury vinyl tile/plank segment of resilient was up 50% last year, and the momentum has continued into 2014. “Many members had their best Februarys ever, even in the midst of record winter weather,” he noted.
Seven new dealers joined the group in 2014, and Tom’s Home Furnishings, a Harvey, N.D.-based dealer, rejoined Alliance after a few years as an independent. Owner Rod Marchand said the buying power of the group and the familial atmosphere were among the factors in deciding to come back to Alliance.
Attending the 2014 convention in San Antonio meant giving up three business days at the store, but for dealers like Joe Andrews of CarpetsPlus Colortile in Griffin Ga., it was time well spent. “We like the leadership at CarpetsPlus. Nobody has [a poor] attitude. They all work so well together to do what it takes to get the job done.”
Robin Osterhaus, owner of Flooring Frenzy in Owatonna, Minn., said the energy at the convention jump-started her 2014. “It’s truly like a family reunion here. Other groups are not like them.”
Refreshed programs, features
Alliance introduced a bevy of merchandising displays and products for members, with a major emphasis on soft carpet. “Our high-end sales have gone through the roof,” Jon Logue said. “The customer seeking luxury appears to be back, and we made sure our members are ready for her.”
Online marketing and social media were major topics of discussion during the conference. To address that trend, Alliance Flooring introduced Define Your Reach, a pilot program intended to provide an all-inclusive, in-house solution for members’ needs in social media, website maintenance and advertising. “Today, it’s become a lot more complicated to market and advertise your business,” Dunn told members. “How do we figure it out? It’s all being done on a smartphone. We’ve done a lot of research on this and put together a team dedicated to doing that for you.”
In addition, Alliance Web Pro, the group’s website program, is being redesigned and revamped with a new content management system.
Suppliers who took part in Rush Hour, a fast-paced buying event in which retail members had an opportunity to get in on special buys, appreciated the vibe of the show. “If you were only around these guys for 15 minutes you’d see these dealers are a very family-centered, optimistic, high-energy group,” said Tim Hanno, national retail account manager with Karndean Designflooring.
Bill Storey, Mohawk’s vice president of sales, said the dealers’ positive outlook was evident throughout the convention. “They are optimistic despite the bad winter weather in many areas of the country,” he said. “We are happy to be a part of this group.”
The convention concluded with the annual awards banquet, which honored those retailers who demonstrated growth and leadership in 10 specific areas, including increased market share, employee training, member networking, merchandising, brand advertising, community involvement and core supplier support.
Todd Ramsey and Jeremy Wirges, co-owners of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus Colortile in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Kevin Rose, owner of Carpetland USA in Rockford, Ill., were the winners.