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Southern Summit: Haines creates new supplies business

July 7/14, 2014; Volume 28/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

IMG_8523Orlando, Fla.—Haines is establishing a dedicated Orlando-based supplies business. The announcement was made at its Southern Summit on June 30, as the industry’s largest distributor seeks to leverage a burgeoning business that offers its Loyalty Club dealers an opportunity to make more money. The new supplies business will be part of Haines’ Wheeler Division, which was developed after the distributor acquired Wheeler Flooring Solutions in 2007.

In making the announcement, Haines CEO Bruce Zwicker called the supplies business “separate but complementary. Supplies [business] in Florida is not well organized, and suppliers are looking for someone to be a supplies company in Florida—that’s us,” he told FCNews. “We’re staking our claim to be that supplies company.”

Zwicker said the supplies division encompasses a multitude of products, including cushion, adhesives, setting materials and moisture meters. These products provide retailers with margin opportunities and the ability to bundle products. Zwicker estimated that supplies is a $75 million business. “We will be [involved] in a big way,” he noted.

Rosana Chaidez, vice president of marketing and inventory for Haines, told FCNews that supplies “is one of the fastest growing trends—it’s already a big part of our business. This has been a long-term strategy for us.”

Jed Collins, formerly Haines’ East Coast sales manager, will head the new supplies division and will be tasked with developing new business. In related moves, Chad Adrian will take over Collins’ former position and Mike Thomas will oversee the entire state of Florida. “It speaks to their efforts and contributions in Florida,” Chaidez said of the promotions of her team members.

The new Haines

When its acquisition of CMH Space is fully integrated in the fall, Haines will comprise four sales divisions—Armstrong Flooring, Diversified Flooring, Flooring Supplies and Non-Flooring—10 warehouses and 26 supplies counters.

During his presentation to southern Loyalty Club members, Zwicker showed two images—a battleship that is a behemoth of a structure but not very flexible or versatile, and an aircraft carrier, also a huge vessel but one that is versatile enough to house squadrons of jets that can take off in a moment’s notice and helicopters that can be dispatched to “rescue retailers” in distress.

“Our mission is to be that big aircraft carrier,” he said.

Retailers in attendance—some of whom are relatively new to the Loyalty Club—praised Haines for, among other things, its responsiveness, which they said is especially impressive given the size of the $500 million-plus company. “You order something from them on Monday, it’s there on Tuesday; you order something on Thursday, it’s there the next day,” said Mark Hernandez, owner of Wilderness Furniture & Floors in Fort Myers, Fla.

David Wadsworth, owner of Wadsworth Flooring in South Daytona, Fla., worked with Wheeler for 32 years and enjoyed its familial culture. He feels the same love from Haines. “They share the same values,” he said. “I am pleased with the partnership; Haines offers exceptional service.”

Included in that service is a bevy of programs and services. For example, Loyalty Club members are provided a $600 Loyalty Fund that dealers can use on virtually anything—including merchandising, promotions and programs. To date, many retailers have not taken advantage of what Scott Roy, vice president of sales and marketing and customer service, called “free money.”

Roy also urged members to take advantage of so-called “blow out” lists that offer deep discount prices on products. “And there is nothing wrong with the material,” he said. Another advantage: Club members get a 24-hour advance notice on the blowout list.

Loyalty Club membership has grown 264% since the program was launched in 2006, with 16 new members this year. Haines’ data shows that members do better than non-Loyalty Club retailers. In 2013 in Florida, overall retail sales rose 13%, while Loyalty Club retailers showed a 23% increase.

Zwicker said Loyalty Club retailers maintain an entrepreneurial spirit while benefiting from many programs and services. “These are folks that want to be in a program like ours that doesn’t tell them what to do,” he noted.

Web services

As Haines’ plans progress, the distributor continues to fine-tune its Web services business. It is testing the idea of an interactive newsletter that offers an instant chat feature. Another program, Haines Connect, provides dealers with access to real-time inventory, as well as the ability to complete online ordering, electronic invoicing and payment, requests for credits, electronic mill claims submissions, pricing and promotions.

Haines continues to drive quality leads its members can take advantage of through its www.flooring-professionals.com portal. Consumers who live in a certain ZIP code can enter it into the Haines website and go to the landing page for a specific Loyalty Club member whose store is also located in that area.

Additionally, Haines is continuing to promote its GE finance program and has expanded its partner programs to include offers that aren’t related to flooring, such as a Sam’s Club membership, Enterprise rental car program or a Dell computer discount.

Retailer of the Year

During the Southern Summit, Haines named International Wood Floors of Sarasota, Fla., as its Southern Retailer of the Year for 2013. The criteria for consideration is lengthy: outstanding sales performance in 2013; demonstrated success with the Loyalty Club; participation in 60-day sales events; excellent showroom appearance; support of Haines and being proactive with its Web services program, and maintaining a profile page.

International Wood Floors did all that and increased sales 45%. “We’re kind of a small store, so it is a surprise,” said owner Mick Dean, who was delighted with the recognition.

Dean’s store is noted for continually updating and upgrading displays, and actively promoting 60-day sales. Chaidez said Dean has done a great job “reinventing his business.” She added, “He has a very attractive showroom and he does a good job separating the high end goods from the lower end goods.”