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Fuse Alliance: Flooring contractor group seeks to be ‘go-to network’

March 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 19

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.44.00 PMLas Vegas—Less than two months after naming Geoff Gordon executive director, Fuse Alliance is rolling out several new initiatives that were unveiled to the group’s 75 commercial flooring contractors at their annual convention, held here March 3-6.

Fuse’s goal is to be the “go-to network,” which is not impossible seeing as this year’s Launch Pad event attracted a record number of members and suppliers. “We have the best and most financially stable flooring contractors in the country,” Gordon said. “We are a best practices group and want to build relationships with suppliers.”

One of the biggest initiatives Fuse has undertaken on its way to becoming the “go-to network” is updating its web and marketing profiles with experts Lyndsay Johnson, principal and owner of Bound by Marketing, and Catherine Minervini, owner of Green Owl Studio, assisting in these efforts. Fuse’s new online member dashboard is a meeting place of sorts, allowing dealers to log on and view regularly updated content. In addition, a public-facing website was launched earlier this month.

“The old site design lacked a story, brand voice and current design techniques,” said Johnson, whose perspective comes from outside the flooring industry. “This is now the one-stop shop. There are details on what Fuse Alliance is all about, responsive design and an updated Find a Contractor function. Multiple content blocks can be turned on and off, which helps keep things fresh.”

Supplier spotlight, continued goals

To showcase its record number of suppliers—now at 25—Gordon highlighted the goals for the Fuse Alliance Preferred Supplier 2015 program. They include driving the sales growth of Preferred Supplier products, maintaining a consistent and dependable stream for these suppliers, and providing a set of financially stable, credible, trained partners for Preferred Suppliers to go to market with, plus more. “We can’t be successful without the support of our suppliers,” he said. “We talk to our suppliers all the time. Part of that is conflict resolution; we’ll work through [issues] in a very positive way.”

In terms of gaining new suppliers, Gordon said the group is comfortable where it’s at. “The only reason we would add a company now is if it offers a unique product we don’t have, like Ecore did. Adding another carpet or LVT supplier is disruptive to what we have. We get called all the time, but for us to add another major supplier would do more harm than good.”

In addition to maintaining valuable supplier relationships, another goal for Fuse is to bring in members from geographies where it does not currently have representation. But Fuse’s standards make that mission easier said than done. “We don’t want just anyone,” Gordon said. “We want quality contractors. We have areas in the country where we want to fill gaps, which doesn’t necessarily mean we want to get bigger, but we do want full network coverage.”

Helping the group reach all corners of the country is Fuse Commercial, a national accounts program that has “exceeded our wildest expectations,” Gordon said, with a major opportunity in correcting job failures. “Owners contact us about job failures because they don’t want to go back to people who did a bad job in the first place.” This part of the business has helped Fuse differentiate itself as an organization in which the management team brings business to members, creating an additional revenue stream.

“You don’t have to labor shop,” he added. “Proposals, invoices, etc., come through Fuse, but I pick the member based on where the job is.”

Members attest to success

KScreen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.44.20 PMirk Wurdack, owner and CEO of Certified Installation in Chattanooga, said a major benefit of Fuse membership is working with others toward a common goal. “The more volume we do as a group the more strength we have with manufacturers. We share information in the group which helps with training, installation techniques—if someone has a problem they can communicate with the rest of the group.”

Wurdack cited HPS Schönox as one Fuse supplier that has been particularly helpful in his business. “Schönox is a great company; I call them and they respond to me in real time. My rep is never out of pocket; if I call he answers. I had a crew in Texas and we had an issue in an office building job. I got him on the phone and virtually the next morning he had a rep in Texas visit my guys on the job, requested the products we needed and solved our issue.”

Dale Stevens, owner of RHI in Eldridge, Md., said the Fuse event introduced him to unkown product. “I just saw that Mohawk had lines I wasn’t even aware they had. They are one of my best vendors and I didn’t know about it. At large shows it’s hard to get that one-on-one time with people who are better able to service my account. Here [manufacturers] are focused on Fuse so you have a direct channel.”