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Wood: Wickham partners reap the rewards

Specialty hardwood flooring supplier helps channel partners fill a niche

July 4/11, 2016; Volume 30, Number 27

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.00.13 PMCraig Dupra, president of Installers Warehouse, a Rochester, N.Y.-based wholesale flooring distributor, likes the flexibility and deep range of options the Wickham Hardwood Flooring brand offers his customers. “I don’t know how they manage the logistics of it, but they’re very good at making a particular product for a particular customer and still get it to my customer in 10-15 business days from the time the order is placed.”

For other Wickham dealers like Mike Winter, president and owner of Builder Surplus, Warwick, R.I., the main attraction is the Canadian manufacturer’s ability to crank out a high volume of specialized product without compromising on quality or caving in to the commodity game. “When you’re working with a lot of vendors it can get a little convoluted because you’re dealing with companies who are doing a lot of the same things—it makes it harder to sell the product,” he said. “As retailers we like to have a product we can build on—a product that others don’t have.”

Scenarios such as these are playing out across Wickham Hardwood Flooring’s network of dealers and distributors across North America. From specialty hardwood flooring distributors looking for quality wood flooring products that provide a good “turn and earn” to specialty retailers and installation houses serving the residential replacement and builder communities, Wickham’s products are helping to fill specific niches within the marketplace while still appealing to mainstream consumers in the market for trendy hardwood flooring products.

“Wickham has a unique business model in that they produce an enormous amount of product but they don’t apply a color or a finish until the product has been ordered by the retailer or distributor,” Dupra explained. “This gives them an enormous amount of flexibility in terms of how the particular floor can be made regarding width, species, grade, color and sheen. Having Wickham as a vendor is like having 10 lines at the same time.”

This capability is particularly important for dealers who service a broad customer base. For example, at Builder Surplus, whose clientele runs a wide gamut, a diverse range of options is key. “Most of the Wickham products we sell are going into residential replacement applications as well as new homes,” Winter noted. “The product is superb relative to what you might find at Home Depot and Lowe’s. It’s just a wonderful product. And from a service standpoint, Wickham’s salespeople are excellent.”

The fact that they can produce a high volume in a short period of time is also a plus for Builder Surplus, a Wickham Hardwood Flooring partner for the past five years. Winter purchases a full truckload of product roughly every six weeks—and that’s just during the offseason. “We’ve been a good partner for them and they have been a good partner for us,” he said.

 

Profit opportunities

Beyond providing a deep selection along with a relatively quick turnaround, Wickham’s dealer and distributor partners point to another important benefit of stocking the line: trade-up opportunities. Due to the manufacturer’s cost structure and overall business model, it is in an enviable position to give its partners great deals on pricing.

At the end of the day, this approach allows Wickham’s distributors to be “more aggressive on the street while accessing more customers with a greater variety of products. “Wickham has allowed us to grow our business by leaps and bounds,” Dupra said. “By stocking the Wickham line, we have easily doubled our bottom line.”

Greg Arnold, national sales manager for Wickham Hardwood Floorinbg, attests to the value of good partnerships. Over the past 10 months he said the company has added distributors and strengthened relations with retailers. “We recognize the fact that relationships are earned. Wickham would not be succesful without these relationships, and we take great pride in growing these relationships daily.”