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NFA showcase: Fewer vendors, more time for partners

February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18

By Ken Ryan

 

Ross Oliver and Luxia Hong of Amaz Floors, a new NFA vendor, sample some of their signature products for dealers.

Las Vegas—After years of increasing vendor participation, including a record 49 exhibitors in 2018, the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) decided a little downsizing would yield a more meaningful—and intimate—vendor show.

To that end, the 2019 vendor show, held one day prior to The International Surfaces Event (TISE) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, was trimmed by about 25%.

“Last year’s vendor show was too big; it did not allow retailers the opportunity to spend quality time with each vendor,” said Jason McSwain, NFA president and owner of Cincinnati-based McSwain Carpets and Floors. “This paring down [to 37 vendors] gives us more time and more elbow room in which to work.”

McSwain, who in November 2018 was elected president for a two-year term, said the group’s aim in 2019 is to enhance the profitability of the 42 members in the mix. “That’s what we are tasked with here. Fortunately, the health of the organization is excellent.”

Many retailers felt the new, smaller showcase worked well for their needs. “It’s a win-win situation for us and for the vendors,” Jimmy Poulos, president of Flooring 101, Oxnard, Calif., told FCNews. “The format here is good—it works. What we can do in four hours here would normally take two days to do.”

Kelly Taylor, owner of Ambassador Flooring Co., Chesterfield, Mo., said the easy pace allows for more effective dialogue with vendors. “This is a great way to do it. This is a no-rush, no-pressure situation. We can openly talk in this room because it is all NFA. We don’t have to worry about Joe’s Carpet Mart down the block listening in on our conversations. It makes it easier to do business.”

Tom McConnell, co-owner of Custom Carpet Centers, Buffalo, N.Y., said he loves the intimacy of this environment compared to busy trade shows. Likewise, A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of AJ Rose Carpets & Flooring, Burlington, Mass., makes it a point to visit with each vendor, adding that meeting with 37 vendors vs. 49 allows for more productive conversations.

Elated exhibitors
Vendors appreciated the opportunity to spend that quality time with an elite group of 42 of the industry’s most successful flooring dealers. That fact was not lost on Paul Dominie, vice president of sales at Mobile, Ala.-based Bella Flooring Group, a new vendor at the show. “We are thankful for the feedback and honesty we get from the NFA,” he noted. “They can help you craft programs that will be successful.”

Matthew Siler, chief revenue officer of Bella Flooring Group, said the company’s first-year goal is to build a program of “full-service” visuals. “We are going to stick with the things we know work, bring the most value we can with tremendous visuals that our retail partners can sell successfully and make a good margin.”

DuChâteau was another new vendor at the NFA show. However, no new introductions were needed for retail veteran Gary Cissell, the company’s first buying group and national programs manager, who himself is a former NFA president. During the show, Cissell who was once an executive at Nebraska Furniture Mart, held court with numerous former colleagues. “It’s like old home week for me catching up with a lot of friends,” he told FCNews. As for his new post, he said he was fortunate to land with DuChâteau. “They were looking for a retailer translator—that’s literally what I am. Our proposition is to help the retailer increase their average selling price.”