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Mannington: Retailers’ best friend for a century

October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By Ken Ryan

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In its storied 100-year history, Mannington Mills has earned some lofty accolades from its retail customers who often describe Mannington as the flooring dealer’s “best friend,” or the company that says “Yes.” Others characterize Mannington, a fourth-generation, family-owned business led by chairman Keith Campbell, as the sum of “great people and great products.”

Some of the industry’s leading voices in flooring retail shared their thoughts about what makes Mannington so special.

Relationships
For Jim Walters, president of Macco’s Floor Covering in Green Bay, Wis., his favorite Mannington story has little to do with flooring yet speaks volumes about the company’s leadership. As Walters recalled, “Some years ago I was attending my first WFCA board meeting. As it was my first meeting I hardly knew anyone there. I was in the hotel lobby early in the morning after the meeting trying to get a taxi back to the airport. Keith Campbell spotted me and asked me to ride with him and his wife Shirley as they had a car and were also going to the airport. They could not have been more gracious and friendly. I’m sure they have long since forgotten this but I have never forgotten their simple act of kindness. In a nutshell, this story exemplifies the entire Mannington organization and it clearly starts at the top.”

Loyalty
There is a reason Mannington has won high praise from its dealer base for its commitment to the independent channel. Worldwide Wholesale in Edison, N.J., for example, has been doing business with Mannington since it opened 25 years ago. But the relationship between the Braunsteins and the Campbells date back almost half a century. “One thing that sets Mannington apart is its complete loyalty and commitment to the independent flooring retailer,” said Darren Braunstein, vice president. “I can’t think of another company of similar significance in the flooring industry that has maintained that kind of loyalty to the specialty retailer.”

Dave Snedeker, division merchandise manager-flooring for Nebraska Furniture Mart, has been doing business with Mannington for more than 30 years. “The thing that is most impressive to me is it is exactly the same company today as it has always been in terms of how they treat their customers. Mannington puts their customers first in everything they do— always have and always will. A company that is proud of its heritage, proud of its employees and happy to serve its loyal customer base.”

Products
screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-49-06-pmNo company can survive 10 years, much less 100, unless it has great products in its arsenal. Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J., is the closest major retailer in terms of proximity to Mannington, and its staff has worked closely with Mannington for decades starting with sheet vinyl. “Mannington’s business continued to grow with the launch of Mannington Gold and Silverado and a few years later Avalon added the engineered hardwood displays,” recalled Sean O’Rourke, vice president of hard surfaces. “Who remembers California Oak and Charleston Oak? We expanded our Mannington portfolio in 1997 when it added laminate and since then we have continued to grow our business with the Adura LVT line and most recently with the Adura Max WPC introduction. Mannington has always put style and quality in the forefront of product development and has often asked for input on trends happening in other floor covering products—and primarily ceramic and stone, which Avalon is heavily invested in.”

Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer for R.C. Willey, with 14 locations in four Western states, added, “Mannington has always been a leader in style and design from its early days in resilient sheet to laminate flooring and now again in the luxury vinyl category. They’re never afraid to push the boundaries of the latest trends.”

Integrity
When flooring retailers were asked to name a story that best exemplified Mannington’s integrity most mentioned the way it handled the Gold episode. Sam O’Krent, owner/CEO of O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring in San Antonio, said so many other companies would have handled Mannington Gold differently. “They would have cared more about their shareholders or their bottom line. Mannington took care of this while almost at the risk of going out of business. That, to me, is the kind of company I want to do business with. There are other major vendors out there that we don’t do business with—and they may even sell great products. But do they stand behind their mistakes? With Mannington on our floor, we know they will stand behind their products.”

Mondragon agreed that the way the entire Mannington organization stepped up and took care of the Mannington Gold problem—saving not only their reputation but also that of many flooring retailers—is what sets them apart. “It’s that integrity that has kept Mannington in business for 100 years and why R.C. Willey will continue its relationship with Mannington for the next 100.”

People
screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-49-13-pmOne thing that hasn’t changed in 100 years is flooring is still a people business, and people want to do business with people they like. “At Surfaces they are the first booth you want to visit every year because they continue to push the needle in style and color in every flooring category,” O’Rourke said. “They are the best friends to sit with at the end of the day around a dining room table. The flooring business has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years, and in an era when there are fewer players with more conglomeration, it is nice to do business with a family-owned and run operation.”

Snedeker noted that what sets Mannington apart—more than great product, progressive styles and on-trend fashion—are its people. “Keith Campbell genuinely cares about his customers and his entire team follows his lead at every turn. I have a long and treasured relationship with Mannington.”

Phil Koufidakis, owner of Baker Bros in Phoenix, is another dealer who values the personal relationship he has with Mannington. “They have an incredible culture that permeates throughout their entire organization. At every level they have a can-do attitude and always make themselves accessible for even the most minute things. You always feel like they value you and your company as one of their own.”

Koufidakis recalled when Zack Zehner, senior vice president and fifth-generation Campbell, came to Phoenix. “I asked if he would be so kind as to speak to my entire sales organization in an early morning meeting. He graciously agreed and asked what I wanted him to talk about. I replied simply to tell the story about Mannington. While we often get our group together to do PK’s, Zack’s presentation was the most engaged I have ever seen the group. Why? Because he told the story with only the passion that the author can. Our group left that day with a Mannington education that they will remember for a very long time. And for the record, you can include me in that, too. Great people, great company.”