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Alliance welcomes Debbie Plott as supplier, member relationship manager

Chattanooga, Tenn.—Alliance Flooring has brought on Debbie Plott as the new supplier and member relationship manager working out of the Chattanooga office. She will be providing support with buying, product strategy, account management and relationship building with many key suppliers in multiple categories.

“We have known Debbie for years and worked with her as a supplier when she was with both Shaw and Mohawk,” said Kevin Logue, co-COO and VP of marketing at Alliance Flooring. “She has a reputation for outstanding customer service, extensive industry knowledge and a dynamic personality that’s perfect for building relationships. She will be a strong addition to our team and we are excited to have her on board.”

Plott brings with her a wealth of flooring knowledge and experience from her time running national accounts and buying group business in the area rug division at both Mohawk Home and Shaw Living.

“I am thrilled to be here at this great company,” said Plott. “My entire career has been spent in the flooring industry and I look forward to continuing that tradition by providing the best service possible to current and future Alliance Flooring members and suppliers.”

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Business is truly a family affair at Alliance Flooring

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Ken Ryan

 

Tucson, Ariz.—Not since the heady pre-recession days has Alliance Flooring and its dealers been in such a sweet spot: an improving economy; a growing, contented membership; exciting programs coming of age and a supplier network that treats the annual convention as if it were a family reunion.

The 2018 annual convention held here last month amplified those good vibes—from co-CEO Ron Dunn’s opening Power of 10 talk to the Oscars-like awards dinner to close the show.

Suppliers were uniform in their support and appreciation of Alliance Flooring—which comprises CarpetsPlus/Color Tile and Carpetland USA—and its membership. “Alliance Flooring is an extended family; they treat suppliers as partners and appreciate all of our efforts,” said Kelly Oberschlake, senior director, residential sales, for Mohawk, which won Supplier of the Year (see page 27).

Tim Hanno, vice president of retail sales, Karndean Designflooring, said Karndean has a great relationship with all the buying groups, but “this one just takes it to another level entirely. We love this group and the family atmosphere that exists here. It’s like you’re going to a family picnic. This business is about relationship sales, and this is a great relationship.”

Ann McDermott, vice president, national accounts, Shaw Industries, agreed. “It’s not like coming to a convention; it’s more like coming to a family reunion. This group is special.”

In the past year, Alliance Flooring has added 18 members, bringing to 370 the number of retailer members, which represents well over 400 storefronts. About one-third is part of the Destination program, which was launched in 2015 and is now in its fourth phase. What started as a carpet boutique within the showroom has expanded into hard surface and continues to evolve. “It is the most successful program ever for CarpetsPlus,” said Kevin Logue, co-COO and vice president of marketing. “We will continue to expand the program, especially in hard surfaces.”

In 2018, CarpetsPlus will add 12 new private-label programs to Destination, which is offered to members on an a la carte basis. Members don’t have to take on any elements but are encouraged to do so as research shows the average selling price of products within a Destination showroom goes up $1 to $2 per yard. “Destination has definitely created a buzz, and more suppliers want in on the program,” said Ryan Dunn, co-COO and vice president of sales.

Before convention there were 116 stores in the program. By the end of the second day, there were 121 members in the program—and that number is expected to rise.

“We have some progressive plans to grow this company,” Logue explained. “We’re adding new vendors; we have suppliers coming to us now. As for retailer members, we have to be very selective who we let in. We have spent a lot of time researching the industry and we are not just trying to sign up anyone. They have to be open and willing to share their best practices.”

That willingness to share best practices, to help each other in need, is one of the hallmarks of the Alliance Flooring group that stands out for retailers like Ben Case, owner of Carpet Collection, Lockport, N.Y. “We can have open-book discussions with almost any member we want. This allows growth for my business in avoiding the pitfalls others have experienced. Other members are just a phone call away, and most look forward to helping another member; I know I do.”

Bob Dauenhauer, owner, Carpet World, Bismarck, N.D., concurred. “If you have any questions you could go to any one of the dealers and they will help you out. It’s the friendliest group you could be with.”

It’s not just a cliché with Alliance Flooring—the group really does work with each other and can serve as a supplier/distributor when necessary. One example is the relationship between Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus Color Tile in Venice, Fla., and Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, located roughly 200 miles apart—not exactly around the corner. Still, when Montgomery’s was out of stock on a particular product that it needed, it turned not to a supplier but to Josh Elder, who runs the Gainesville store. He delivered the goods in a timely manner and sent them the invoice. Scores of these examples were retold at convention.

New offerings
Alliance Flooring has added 40 LVT-type products since September, and the combined LVT/WPC/SPC category now represents 20% of its mill shipments; resilient sheet makes up another 10%. Carpet is now at 39%, down from 80% in 2002. “I never thought in my days that I would see carpet at 39% for our group,” Logue said. “Meanwhile, LVT is going off. My phone is ringing once, maybe twice a week from people who say, ‘Hey, you want to see my rigid core line?’”

Rather than take them all in, Alliance chooses roughly five “winning” lines for its members, with WPC and SPC commanding equal time. As Logue explained, “We are never going to be the group that has 35 suppliers in one category. We pick the right ones. We boiled down our LVT business to five lines because we need to put our members in a position to be as competitive as they can be in their own markets.”

This year’s new offerings include denser, more rigid cores; wider and longer planks; and tile and stone visuals in larger formats. The lineup features Shaw’s new Floorte Pro products (48 SKUs) and COREtec Stone. “No other group is showing this right now—we think this product is going to be hot,” Logue said.

The carpet introductions “are pretty short and sweet this year,” Logue noted. Leading the way are Anso Foundations and Bellera from Shaw and Dixie’s PetProtect Destination.

For Color Tile dealers, ProGen from Tarkett and Korlok from Karndean are new offerings in rigid. “This is their foray into the floating arena,” Logue said of Karndean. “They really did their homework and took their time in bringing this to market.” Laminate represents 4% of the group’s sales but has stabilized, Logue said. “We feel the waterproof story is compelling.” To that end, Mohawk’s RevWood, a new waterproof collection, will fill that niche.

Alliance Flooring welcomed several new suppliers. Phenix Flooring is the replacement for Beaulieu, which was acquired by Engineered Floors in 2017. Phenix is expected to help Alliance dealers in the area of solution-dyed products.

Peerless (which is Beaulieu Canada; however, legally the name Beaulieu cannot be used in the U.S.) is a new member with a familiar name running the program—Greg Payne, formerly with Shaw. Also new is DuChateau. “We needed a higher-end line,” Logue noted. “I have been after them for two years. DuChateau is a good pickup for us.”

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My take: A holy ‘Alliance’

February 27/March 6, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 19

By Steven Feldman

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.46.11 PMIt had been a number of years since I last attended an Alliance Flooring/CarpetsPlus Color Tile/Carpetland convention. No slight to the group. It was always just a matter of timing. After Carpet One and Flooring America and Shaw Flooring Network and Surfaces and Abbey, by the time late February rolled around, I was spent. Plus, I try to save my weekends for…me.

But this year was different. Alliance was celebrating its 20th anniversary. We had published the special supplement for the group that rides along with the issue you are holding. It was in Atlanta, which is not too far from some of the industry’s major manufacturers. And last but not least, the group asked me to speak. Consider it the perfect storm.

On top of that, after having dinner with and getting to know Ron and Ryan Dunn better than I had, I knew there would be an element of fun. And I was curious how the members of this group as well as the event itself would compare to the Carpet Ones and Abbeys and Flooring Americas of the world.

As the final curtain fell on day three of the show, to say I came away both surprised and impressed would be an understatement. It’s a different feel, a different flavor than the other retail group events. It’s by far and away the least regimented event, and the members appreciate it.

Ryan Dunn and Kevin Logue, sons of the respective founders Ron and Jon, want to inject more fun than some of the speakers you’re accustomed to seeing at retail buying group shows. Ryan and Kevin are young and energetic. Much of their presentation style is off the cuff rather than teleprompter perfect. Yet somehow, the message comes across just as professional. And if a presentation goes 15 minutes longer than scheduled, or if members linger on a break 10 minutes longer than it should, or Ryan Dunn wants to speak from the heart for 5 minutes more, so what? No one seems to mind.

The average member is smaller than the typical Carpet One, Flooring America or Abbey member. Ron Dunn told me the average member does about $1.8 million. Certainly not chump change by any standard. But what sets this group apart is a family feel on the part of members unlike anything I have seen before. Group leadership is family, and that feel trickles down to the smallest member.

With that family feel comes networking opportunities. When it came to instances where members sought help from fellow members, more owners were able to cite the specific person and related issue where they sought and received guidance.

The other unique aspect is autonomy. No product or program is mandatory. Members get to pick and participate in as much as they want or as little. Its showroom concept, dubbed Destination, is as impressive as any private-label display out there. This year, Ryan Dunn announced the number of members who signed up for Destination more than doubled the total heading into convention.

And like any other group there were breakouts on web, social media, marketing, etc., which members said make them more professional than they ever would have been on their own.

And then you have Ron Dunn’s Drive Across America, where for the last six years he and his wife, Sandy, pack up the RV and visit 18-35 members two or three times a year. At last count only 54 have not yet had the pleasure of a visit, something Ron hopes to rectify this year. It’s that closeness between leadership and member that stands out.

It’s hard to believe this group was born in a 10 x 10 booth in the basement of Surfaces 1997. They’ve certainly come a long way.

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Alliance Flooring marks 20 years of growth

February 27/March 6, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 19

By Ken Ryan

 

Atlanta—This year’s Alliance Flooring conference coincided with a significant milestone: 20 years in the business. But the event also provided a glimpse into what’s shaping up to be a promising future for the nearly 400-member group.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.39.54 AM“We know who our team is, what our core is,” Ron Dunn, co-founder and co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, told CarpetsPlus, Color Tile and Carpetland members during his keynote speech. “We are going to grow. This room is going to get bigger, and we are going to grab more market share.”

While Ron Dunn and Jon Logue, the co-founders and co-CEOs, are the current leaders, the next generation—Ryan Dunn and Kevin Logue—has been actively involved in running the business for years and is poised to carry the baton in the future.

“Our members can rest assured the future leadership is already in place—no other buying group can say that,” said Ryan Dunn, co-COO and vice president of sales. “We have many second-generation businesses in our group—probably 35% of our members are second generation. Kevin and I are second generation so we have grown up together with many of our members.”

Raising the bar was a major theme at the conference. To illustrate the point, an actual pole vault apparatus was set up on stage. Interestingly, Jon Logue was a pole vaulter in high school and he took the stage to make a mock attempt at clearing the bar. Touching on that theme, Ron Dunn asked members, “We have three choices: We could walk away, we could lower the bar or we could raise the bar. With this group we are going to continue to raise it.”

One important component in raising the bar on retail performance is through the Destination showroom concept. The Destination portfolio includes up to 10 private-label displays offering the best products from the premier carpet mills and hard surface manufacturers in easy-to-use, easy-to-sell formats emphasizing style, design and larger samples. Here’s the best part: Alliance dealers are not forced to take any displays if they don’t want to.

Prior to convention, 28 members had signed up for the Destination program. Alliance Flooring executives hoped to pull in another 20 or so. By the convention’s second day it had already signed 37 members, bringing to 65 the total number of Destination dealers.

“We knocked it out of the park,” said Kevin Logue, co-COO and vice president of marketing. “We don’t tell members what to do; it’s their choice. However, in today’s market you have to keep improving your showroom. Flooring is about fashion and design, and the Destination concept offers the tools to help our retailers evolve their businesses and achieve those goals.”

Josh Elder, co-owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, sits on the buying committee that helped develop the program. For him, the best part of the Destination program is the 56-pin carpet displays because they free up so much room. “Every inch of my showroom has a cost associated with it, and I want the biggest bang for my buck.”

Eric Langan, president/ owner of Carpetland USA (The Langan Group), Davenport, Iowa, said his main takeaway is the Alliance Flooring group still puts an emphasis on networking and collaboration within the group. “The sense of family was mentioned frequently here. While we have freedom to make whatever decisions we deem best for our business, it is important to know we can get more accomplished more quickly if we march together as a group instead of individual store owners.”

Mike Montgomery, vice president of Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus Color Tile, Venice, Fla., said the beauty of this convention is members are fully invested in the group. “Unlike some groups, they don’t withhold our rebate checks unless we come to convention. Our members genuinely want to be here.”

Alliance Flooring, which welcomed 20 new members in 2016, converted two prospects at this year’s show. The expectation is for at least double-digit member growth in 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.40.00 AMObservers attribute Alliance Flooring’s success to its laser focus on members’ success and the close relationship management has with its retail partners. “Their leadership is amazingly approachable not only to their members, but also to vendors and all who are committed to success,” said Scott Humphrey, WFCA chairman and CEO, who also delivered a keynote presentation during the conference. “Ron and Jon bring vast experience to the table. They are not bound by traditional ways of doing business in the flooring industry. By far the greatest trait that makes doing business with CarpetsPlus a pleasure is the fact that their leadership is truly committed to the success of the members. They care at the personal and professional levels. That is rare in the business world today.”

Suppliers’ support

In addition to new retail members, Alliance Flooring announced four more suppliers to the group: Beauflor (LVT, rigid core), Bolyu Commercial (commercial carpet, LVT), Southwind (residential carpet, WPC and dryback LVT) and Tarkett (luxury vinyl plank and tile, resilient sheet and laminate).

Beauflor has received plaudits recently for its Pure Click featuring a patented 360 locking system that allows mechanics to install the product in patterns, boarders or quarter-turn the material from one room to the other without the need for transitions. Kevin Logue sees Beauflor as the next USFloors or another IVC. “In three years they are going to be huge—once they get distribution up and running.”

Likewise, existing vendors attested to their strong partnership with Alliance Flooring dealers. Sam Ruble, vice president of sales for USFloors, called the relationship “refreshing.” It doesn’t hurt that USFloors doubled its business with the CarpetsPlus group in 2016 and is poised for an even bigger 2017. “I am a farm boy from Ohio, and to me these people are so down to earth and genuine, they really make me feel like my neighbors.”

Karndean, a longstanding member with CarpetsPlus, was named Hard Surface Supplier of the Year by the CarpetsPlus membership at the show. Throughout the past year, the prominent LVT supplier has worked closely with CarpetsPlus to produce Design Destinations, a private-label merchandising system that is part of the Destination program. “We love these guys,” said Tim Hanno, vice president of retail sales. “We have a great relationship with this group. They more than meet us halfway. There is a level of trust here.”

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Alliance Flooring: Introductions enhance Destination location

March 14/21, 2016; Volume 30, Number 19

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.56.16 AMTucson, Ariz.—On the heels of its recent success with the 2015 launch of the Destination program, Alliance Flooring revealed the next stage of this initiative at the group’s annual convention held here March 4-7. With 385 members in attendance—the most since 2009—the focal point of this year’s introductions revolved around a “natural extension” of the group’s flagship program, according to Kevin Logue, vice president of marketing and co-COO.

What started as a carpet boutique within the showroom has expanded into hard surface and will eventually include new POP materials and advertising efforts. “Everyone was in agreement at stores across the U.S.,” explained Ryan Dunn, vice president of sales and co-COO. “They loved the new displays and said they were really grabbing the consumer’s attention. So we thought, ‘Where do we go from here? How do we continue to grow?’”

While the initial launch of the Destination program drew upon color, pattern and performance, phase two includes the Fashion Destination, which serves as a design center for retailers; the Hardwood Destination, which puts dealers at the forefront of the hard surface category’s gain in market share, and Destination Cut Sets, a pair of displays to complement the package.

The Fashion Destination offers a wide selection of products for dealers to work with in a two-tiered display that features 56 cards. “At the end of the day, we’re in the business of creating beautiful spaces, beautiful rooms and beautiful homes,” Logue said. “We’re in the fashion business and that’s the way we need to look at ourselves. [The Fashion Destination] is a one-stop destination in a CarpetsPlus retail showroom for style, design, pattern, color—it has it all right there. It’s a beacon intended to draw consumers in and give them opportunities to get aw
ay from beige or taupe. It’s designed to suggest and offer a designer approach to doing something different or making a statement.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.56.59 AMRetailers are also looking forward to continuing their success with the Destination program in light of the new displays. “It’s changing the way we [will] market in the future,” said Stacey Pape, president of SP Floors and Design Center in McMurray, Pa. “It makes us more professional and pulls us together as a group. It gives us the vehicles that can help us sell and better promote our stores and image. It’s really taking us to the next level.”

Todd Ramsey, co-owner of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus ColorTile in Fort Wayne, Ind., noted the new additions to the program will help differentiate the CarpetsPlus brand from other groups in
the industry. “We all know we are in the fashion business but if you don’t show that to the consumer as soon as she walks through the door, you are not allowing yourself to make higher margins on your products. The displays, the wood, colorations, etc., allow us to sell a product at a higher margin because it looks nicer. [This program] will put us ahead of the curve and on the cutting edge of development, technology and fashion.”

Rustic, timeworn hickories, wide planks, mixed widths and wire-brushed oaks—among other on-trend visuals—can be found across 48 SKUs in the Hardwood Destination. “Hard surface is becoming half the industry or more, depending on what part of the country you are in,” said Ron Dunn, co-CEO. “It’s not only functional but it’s a design product as well. So now the whole showroom flows together and lets you design all aspects of [the home].”

Hand-in-hand with the Hardwood Destination is the group’s new Cut-A-Rug program as every product in the Fashion Destination is available in wall-to-wall or custom area rugs. Because consumers who buy hard surface flooring typically purchase a
n area rug two to three weeks later, the Cut-A-Rug program aims to eliminate big box stores from the equation and allow retailers to offer custom area rug options without having to manage inventory.

“It’s extra-high-margin business right there for the taking,” Logue said. “We definitely see opportunities with cross merchandising hard surface and area rugs. It’s a challenge for specialty retailers to be in the area rug business; devoting the floor space and cash is not something everyone is willing to do. So the beauty of Cut-A-Rug is it puts someone in the rug business and gives them options, styles and designs they can sell the consumer. We want them to get [these choices] from us.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.57.05 AMJon Logue, co-CEO, said the Destination displays allow for a more cohesive showroom set up. “When a consumer walks in a typical store, she will find soft surface flooring [in one area] and she will run to the other side to look at the hard surfaces and then she will run back to look at rugs. So what we are trying to do is focus on creating a complete destination.”

Josh Elder, co-owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus in Gainesville, Fla., is one dealer who exited the area rug business and can appreciate the efficiency of the complementary Destination displays. “I got tired of having tens of thousands of dollars in inventory,” he said. “And now with the Cut-A-Rug program, we can sit down with the homeowner and design [a rug] quickly and it ships right to her. We can modify and tweak them as much as we’d like. It makes it a lot easier not only for the consumer but for my staff and me as well. Instead of having 100 rugs in stock we have 10,000 in a smaller space.”

With the introduction of Destination phase two, Ryan Dunn and Kevin Logue hope to refresh the group’s identity as a whole and eventually turn the entire retail showroom into a Destination location rather than featuring Destination displays within the store. The 2016 member summit, scheduled to take place later this year at SP Floors and Design Center, will be one of the first looks into a fully transformed retail showroom.

“We had a great turnout with the Destination program and I think this year will equally piggyback that,” Ryan Dunn said. “This year is really the launch of the Destination location—it’s going to be a whole new look and revival to our entire program and who we are. Ron [Dunn] and Jon [Logue] started this in 1997 and we’ve always been a group of options—a hodgepodge of product. This is going to give a jolt to not only our membership but the industry as well.”

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Newest member of CarpetsPlus ColorTile holds grand opening

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.15.37 AM

Andrews, N.C.—The newest member of CarpetsPlus ColorTile, Locust Trading Company, recently held its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 21 here. Owners Margo and Kenny Locust were joined by members of community as well as industry figures to celebrate.

“Margo and Kenny are a true blend of passion for their jobs and compassion for others,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO of World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). “Their professionalism and expertise in the field of flooring is a perfect match for the beautiful community of Andrews.”

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Alliance Flooring: New selling system, web initiatives revitalize members

March 2/9, 2015; Volume 28/Number 18

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 4.45.21 PMAtlanta—After “driving” for five years, Alliance Flooring has finally arrived at its destination.

At its annual convention held here Feb. 21-24, the group introduced a plethora of programs to help dealers upgrade their showrooms while staying true to this year’s theme: “Renew. Recharge. Refresh.” One such initiative, dubbed Destination, was the star of the show and is expected to be a “game-changing” selling system, according to Kevin Logue, vice president of marketing and co-COO.

Seventy solid colors comprise a new colorwall in the color destination, while a focus on geometric, small-scale and random patterns is included in the pattern destination, officially called Inspired Living. Each is designed as a statement piece to immediately attract customers in the showroom and serve as a new flagship for the company. In addition to offering upscale fashion and design to today’s modern customer, the group’s goal is to provide superior functionality with its performance destination, SpillStop with LifeGuard, which highlights a waterproof backing.

“We see it as the next logical step for this group,” Logue said. “For the first time we had our CarpetsPlus buying committee in Chattanooga going through products with us, helping us make decisions in terms of merchandising and displays. The Destination idea arose from that meeting; dealers were expressing an interest in doing something bolder, modern and more dramatic—something that would make a statement on the floor, set our group apart and take it to the next level.”

Among a total of 10 introductions, other highlights include ColorTile Enhanced Vinyl Plank, featuring a LifeGuard waterproof core and Fold-n-Tap installation system; two groutable ColorTile LVTs, and ColorTile Premium Values Laminate with ArmorMax Finish.

With carpet upping the ante to include added performance benefits and new features such as SpillStop’s revolutionary waterproof backing and Stainmaster PetProtect’s ability to reduce pet odors and release pet hairs, dealers and executives alike are expecting a major comeback. “People with pets would never buy a carpet because they didn’t want to maintain it, but now [manufacturers] are making them pet-friendly,” said Katira Hurst, assistant manager at Floorco in Mandeville, La. “I often had people come in and I was very limited on carpets, but now I have a wider range to sell to my customers.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 4.45.52 PMRetailers were especially impressed with the new colorwall and feel confident the updated system is the best way to stand out amongst the competition. “For our business in particular, having a tool like that in your store makes the process of helping your customers that much easier,” said Todd Ramsey, co-owner of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus ColorTile in Fort Wayne, Ind. “It’s above and beyond anything we have in our showroom right now. It’s very user-friendly; [customers] can interact with it, touch it, feel it and we can eliminate four or five displays because it encapsulates them all in one.”

Part of the reason Alliance Flooring decided to take the plunge into bolder colors and more striking patterns is an effort to attract the growing number of millennial consumers. Members and executives felt it was time for a change, and in order to appeal to this younger generation of buyers, products had to be designed with high fashion and style in mind to really make a statement while also incorporating a wide array of options to please the older consumer base.

“What we’re seeing with this millennial generation is they’re not afraid to choose a bolder design,” Logue said. “They’re not afraid to express themselves with colors and patterns.”

What had most people talking at the show was not necessarily products or the selling system themselves, but rather the process through which they were developed. Scott Melkonian of Karen’s Advance Floors in Clarkston, Mich., noted that although Alliance Flooring has always encouraged its members to get involved in the decision-making process, this year’s intros relied heavily on their input. “One of the things we’ve always pushed as board members is to be involved,” he said. “Alliance Flooring, good as it is at what it does, isn’t a retailer. [The group] doesn’t live in the day-to-day retail environment and understand the challenges business owners face with sales staff, etc. Our input as retailers is extremely important, and this is the first stepping stone to making that more common.”

Brad Coty of Carpet Brokers of Missoula in Missoula, Mo., was also pleased to learn that Alliance is getting input from members across the country. “The U.S. is such a large, vast area that each region is totally different. My [neighboring town] is Bozeman and next is Billings, and even in that little area those markets are completely different. There was someone from Colorado on that committee thinking in one direction and people from the East Coast thinking in another direction; it works out great.”

Things to come

Improving social media integration and web presence for retailers is another important initiative on the forefront for Alliance. “The way social media is run now is such an important factor of how we’re moving forward with business as a whole,” said Ryan Dunn, vice president of sales and co-COO. “Recycled content doesn’t work anymore. Everything is changing very fast, so we need to stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening.”

After 18 months of researching and planning, the group is ready to take on an updated version of its web program, Alliance Pro Plus, which will deliver ideas as well as content in the form of photos, promotions and more. Another major feature of the new site is its ability to accommodate mobile and tablet devices. As more and more consumers are researching and educating themselves online, Dunn believes being mobile and tablet friendly are priorities for the business.

Alliance recently gained six members and 10 suppliers, but the No. 1 difference between the 2014 and 2015 conventions is the optimism, according to Jon Logue, co-CEO. “The main difference I see is the dealers are upbeat. They are all talking about the great year they’re having, no matter where they are or the weather situation. They see business turning up better than last year. They’re optimistic—about the economy, the business, the group, networking and growing.”

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Dealers optimistic about fall selling season

Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.42.40 AMThe harsh 2014 winter that disrupted business for many flooring dealers is but a distant memory, replaced by optimism built on a strong summer and the prospect of a robust fall selling season.

FCNews spoke to several flooring dealers who said business is good—in most cases exceeding expectations—and the outlook for the fall is even better.

Abbey Carpets Unlimited – Napa, Calif.

Not even a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Napa—the largest earthquake to strike Northern California in 25 years—can shake the momentum that Abbey Carpets Unlimited has been experiencing.

“We have been busy all summer and I only see our business increasing as fall arrives,” said owner Janice Clifton. “It might be a little hard to judge actual numbers this year because of the [Aug. 24] earthquake. I’m sure quite a bit of our business will be related to quake damage, but, even without that business, we are seeing a positive trend in sales across the total line of products. Once again, in our area we are seeing a much larger increase in hard surface versus soft surface floors.”

Enhance Floors & More – Marietta, Ga.

Elisabeth Stubbs, co-owner, is “extremely optimistic” about sales this fall. “In fact, other than January and February—horrible, horrible winter weather in Atlanta—2014 has been excellent,” she said. “Once spring began to arrive, sales became very steady and consistent.

“Another reason for our optimism is that we are moving into a new, larger (by 2,000 square feet) design center later this month. We are bringing in quite a few new product lines and will have some exciting grand opening specials from our vendor partners. And that will be on top of other events that we will participate in, such as the Mohawk Anniversary Sale, National Karastan Month, Shaw’s 30 Days of HGTV Home and the Shaw Floor Now, Pay Later promotion. We believe anyone who has been waiting and dreaming about their new floors will have no good reason not to purchase this fall.”

Through July 2014, Enhance’s sales are up almost 9% from the year-ago period, Stubbs said. “Hardwood flooring and luxury vinyl are up. We also do kitchen and bathroom remodels, and those are up significantly as well. Carpet is down a little, but we are selling more higher-end carpets. Tile and laminate are flat.”

Dillabaugh’s Flooring America – Boise, Idaho

“We’re looking at things remaining much the same as they’ve been—which is good,” said Casey Dillabaugh, vice president. “We’ve had one of the busiest summers in recent history, not just from a new construction standpoint, but also from a retail and commercial standpoint. When you factor all aspects of our business, we expect much of the same growth to continue, which is roughly 10% to 15% over the previous year. We’re seeing more and more clients wanting the full renovation experience, whether it be for one room or the entire home, and our ability to service that with flooring, granite, cabinets and window coverings definitely helps us continue to grow.”

Carpetland USA – Davenport, Iowa

Eric Langan, who operates nine stores in Iowa and Illinois, believes the fall selling season will be slightly above average this year. “We lost sales this spring due to the severe and lengthy winter in the Midwest. Since then, we have seen an above average summer and I believe we will see something similar this fall in regards to sales.”

Redi Carpet – Stafford, Texas

Redi Carpet specializes in the apartment industry, which means summer is its high season. “Our business this year is running 8% ahead of last year, including our summer season, which will wind down after this month,” said Jerry Hosko, president and COO. “Business overall this year has been good but not as robust as 2012 and 2013.”

Contract Furnishings Mart – Tigard, Ore.

Matt Bechtold, operations manager, said this National Floorcovering Alliance member is expecting a solid fall. “Business has been good so far this year, and we haven’t seen any signs that would lead us to believe it won’t continue. I do expect carpet sales to be soft as more and more customers are looking for hard surface products.”

Carpetland ColorTile – Rockford, Ill.

Housing starts are up in the Midwest, and although overall building permits are down, Carpetland ColorTile is seeing substantial growth in the nearby region with corporate and education renovations and new construction, according to Kevin Rose, president. “Cranes are moving again, [you can see changes in] part of the skyline in downtown Chicago, and that is exciting for us. I expect a strong end of the year and a solid first quarter into 2015. The retail and commercial sectors are both strong, and I don’t see that declining anytime soon. Hopefully the Feds will keep the interest rates low into 2015 and the economy can continue to slowly grow with more new hirings.”

Ron Dunn, co-CEO, Alliance Flooring

Management of the group that operates under the CarpetsPlus and ColorTile brands is optimistic about the remainder of the year. “Based on the analysts we pay attention to and the RV tour we just completed, I would project sales will be up for those who go after them,” Dunn said. “There are plenty of reasons for this. Housing starts are up, which is the No. 1 indicator for our industry. New construction in general is up. Sales movement in existing homes is up. Remodeling is up.

“However, one of the problems independent retailers are experiencing is more and more consumers of all age groups are buying from the big box stores and national chains. Still, there is strong opportunity. Sales activity as a whole will likely be up 5% to 7%. This will be a strong fall for those who have not lost their competitive spirit and have established competitive advantages with their businesses.”

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Alliance Flooring ‘leaders’ step up efforts

Volume 27/Number 23; March 17/24, 2014

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.34.57 AMSan Antonio, Texas—The theme for Alliance Flooring’s 17th annual convention was “Accelerate Your Leadership,” and while an opening video showed many well-known figures, co-CEO Ron Dunn noted there are numerous everyday leaders among the ranks of CarpetsPlus Colortile, Carpetland USA, Floorco and Clean Touch Pro—the retail stores that make up the group.

“There’s a reason why Mike and Tammy Robinson in Oregon have been awarded by their local media for being the best place to do business,” he said. “There’s a reason why Montgomery’s [in Venice, Fla.] has been named the best retailer for 13 consecutive years….”

Dunn rattled off the names of other Alliance Flooring dealers who have demonstrated true leadership while facing difficult odds or who overcame obstacles to achieve success in their markets. Continue reading Alliance Flooring ‘leaders’ step up efforts

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Alliance Flooring names retailers of the year

CLUSA-ROY_KevinRose(1)CPCT-ROY_3KingsCPCTSan Antonio – Amid stiff competition, Alliance Flooring named a Retailer of the Year for each of its retailer brands. Retailer of the Year finalists were chosen from a group of candidates who demonstrate growth and leadership in 10 specific areas including; increased market share, employee training, member networking, merchandising, brand advertising, community involvement and core supplier support.

CarpetsPlus ColorTile Retailer of the Year was Todd Ramsey and Jeremy Wirges, owners of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus Colortile, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Carpetland USA Colortile Retailer of the Year was Kevin Rose, owner of Carpetland USA, Rockford, Ill.