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Somerset expands distribution in Northeast territory

Somerset, Ky.—Somerset Hardwood Flooring will begin to have Belknap White Group distribute Somerset-branded flooring products throughout its distribution coverage areas, effective Oct. 1, 2018. This appointment adds a top-five distributor to Somerset’s already strong distribution base in the Northeastern U.S. 

Belknap White will serve in a dual-distribution capacity with Somerset Hardwood Flooring's longtime wholesale partner, NRF Distributors, in the northernmost part of its territory. In the southern part of Belknap White’s distribution area, it will overlap with Somerset's distributors, who are already in place there. These include: PC Hardwoods, Elias Wilf (New Jersey area), Olson Floor Supply and Michael Halebian & Co.

"Somerset is proud to add Belknap White to our already strong family of distributors in the Northeast," said Paul Stringer, vice president of sales and marketing, Somerset Hardwood Flooring.

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HLC Summit: Change comes fast for ‘nimble giant’ Haines

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Ken Ryan

Charlotte, N.C.—Change may be inevitable, but the pace of change occurring at Haines in the past two years—all aimed at delivering a strong, stable, scalable and sustainable platform to the flooring market—has been downright dizzying at times.

As Michael Barrett, president and CEO, told FCNews, “If you are standing on the sidelines, you can’t make sense of all the changes. What we’re going through is complicated, complex—a [range] of complexities. We’re waging war on complexity. It’s a challenge, but it’s all about improving the customer experience.”

The April 8-10 meeting—technically the Northern Summit—was held in Charlotte, the southernmost point for this show in the distributor’s history. Charlotte was symbolic for a few reasons: Haines’ market presence is running deeper in the Carolinas; Charlotte is near to its spanking new main distribution center; and Charlotte is also home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So it was appropriate that Rusty Wallace, former driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer, was the keynote speaker.

As both Wallace and Greg Vale, senior vice president of sales for Haines, pointed out, there are similarities between NASCAR and Haines’ trajectory. Both organizations have evolved from their roots; NASCAR’s history dates to Prohibition when runners—people who delivered moonshine—souped up their cars so they could outrun the feds, to today’s aerodynamic and technical marvels. Haines has evolved from a Maryland-based distributor serving the Mid-Atlantic to the largest wholesaler in flooring, with revenue double the size of the No. 2 player and a footprint the length of the East Coast. “We are evolving and our ability to adapt has helped our customers adapt,” Vale said.

The newest piece to Haines’ growing business is the Concord hub, which replaced the old CMH Wadesboro, N.C., as the central station for products. The 500,000-square-foot facility can store 250 trailers and has 33,000 primary storage locations. Haines’ ultimate goal is to provide next-day delivery to any customer in its network. Currently, next-day delivery is at 85%. As Barrett explained, “A lot of distributors can offer next-day delivery but in small increments. We want to do it across 15 states. Nobody else can do what we can do given our portfolio size.”

Barrett took over as president and CEO of Haines about 15 months ago. He is one of several new or elevated members of the executive team who are tasked with transforming a $500-million distributor into a nimbler giant. “We have to go faster, and our team has embraced that. We’re focusing on customer facing improvements, better inventory planning. Our technology is aimed at improving customer-focused systems. We’re looking at the bottlenecks in our processes to make it easier to do business with us. We want to be the best at customer focus. We’re not there yet, but we feel we are further along the road now.”

In the past year, Haines has built out its executive team, brought on a finance/supply chain analytics team and an HR squad to improve effectiveness of people in the organization. It also has a new IT staff to help manage the business.

On the transportation side, Haines has completed phase two of its optimization, which is to have JB Hunt handle outbound delivery.

There were also external moves. Late in 2017, Haines formed a strategic alliance with top-5 distributor Belknap-White Group. Belknap became a minority stakeholder in a collaborative arrangement that will open doors for both companies. In early 2018, Haines executed an agreement with long-time supplier Armstrong to expand distribution coverage in the South and East.

“This business is transforming with lots of changes in the past year and more to come,” Barrett said. “Some moves are necessary to become more scalable and sustainable.”

Long-time Haines Loyalty Club retailers were supportive of the moves. “Haines has made some good decisions over the last several years,” said Ryan Commerce, owner of Indoor City, a Lancaster, Pa., flooring dealer, who has been with club since the beginning. “When you double in size following the CMH acquisition, you are going to struggle to combine those resources. I think they have cleared those hurdles and are on the other side of that. The mass and scale they have will provide value for everybody up and down the chain.”

For other dealers, it is about the bottom line. “I couldn’t ask for more from this group,” said Rob Smith, owner of RPS Carpet & Floors Wholesale, Baltimore. “Last year we were up 20% and I get great backing from their reps who support my business very well.”

Bill Zeigler, co-owner of Charles F. Zeigler & Sons, Hanover, Pa., added, “Considering the low cost, benefits and huge portfolio of products offered by Haines, there isn’t any program in the industry that compares.”

Haines Loyalty Club retailers and some suppliers were happy with the news that starting in 2019, Haines will have one summit. It will be held March 14-15 in Savannah, Ga. In the past, Haines has held a Northern Summit (usually near Baltimore-Washington) and a Southern Summit in Orlando. The Savannah summit will be held at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa and is positioned as a destination with more entertainment added. “I think that is a really a smart move, a great idea,” Commerce said of the single event. “Hopefully it will allow them the resources to provide even more for their members.”

John Himes, president of Wood Flooring International, said that as long as the Loyalty Club members attend, he’s all for the one summit. “To get in front of their customers is the goal, so if we can do it one set-up, so much the better.”

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Haines, Belknap-White Group enter strategic partnership

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.29.09 PMGlen Burnie, Md.Haines and Belknap-White Group have recently completed an investment and collaboration agreement designed to improve the strategic effectiveness of both organizations. This partnership is expected to lay the groundwork to better position both organizations for the future as the industry continues to consolidate, according to both companies.

“We are excited to be working with the Haines team creating a flooring platform from Maine to Florida that differentiates us from our competitors while working together to help our customers be more successful,” said Raymond Mancini, CEO of Belknap-White Group.

As part of this arrangement, each company will hold a seat on the other’s board of directors. In addition, Belknap will hold limited shares in Haines. Both distributors will continue to operate as they do today and there will be no change in leadership structure at either organization.

“Raymond Mancini and his team are great partners,” said Michael Barrett, CEO and president of Haines. “We are very pleased to begin developing an east coast distributor partnership we believe will create added value for our companies, our vendor partners and, most importantly, our customers.”

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Flexco names Belknap White northeastern distributor

BWG_FLEXCO_LOGOMansfield, Mass.—The Belknap White Group (BWG), one of America’s leading full-service flooring distributors, will be marketing and selling the comprehensive Flexco line throughout all six New England states and upstate New York.

“We’re very excited about this new relationship,” said Dan Doyle, vice president branch sales and operations, BWG. “When you work with Flexco, you’re working with a flooring partner that has the experience, determination and dedication to make customers’ rubber flooring visions become realities. For more than 50 years, Flexco has advanced as an industry pioneer and innovator by remaining performance-driven, progress-oriented and partnership-minded.”

BWG will carry all Flexco vinyl and rubber wall base products and trim/molding accessories, the complete range of rubber flooring as well as the entire Flexco stair tread category.

“Flexco believes responsible manufacturing goes hand-in-hand with environmental stewardship,” Doyle continued. “The firm is an active participant in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. During our mill tour last week, Flexco announced it is now ISO 14000 certified, which took over 18 months to accomplish. Most of its products are Floor Score Certified as well as NSF 332 certified. Many of the products also meet the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). Flexco is able to provide Environmental Product Declarations for many of its product categories. And, its products are all made in the USA.”

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Belknap White Group unveils interactive website

BWG_WEBSITE_SCREENSHOTMansfield, Mass.—The Belknap White Group (BWG) has launched a revamped website, designed to serve as a comprehensive and valuable resource for floor covering industry professionals.

“Our new user-friendly site has been crafted to be mobile-friendly,” said Derek Morrocco, BWG digital strategist. “It is just as easily accessed, just as simple to use, by those on the go as it is when used by someone sitting in front of a computer. One upgrade feature to note is our ‘Resources’ page, which provides an overview of everything BWG. From new products to local training events, industry news to manufacturer installation videos, browsers can now find anything they need all in one spot.”

Another key feature of the site includes access to BWG’s extensive portfolio of best-in-class surfacing materials and preparation products. Customers are invited to join BWG’s Décor24 Program to search inventory and easily place orders 24/7 through the site. Price lists, invoice access, delivery status and special promotions are just some of the added-value items the new BWG site offers.

The new website, which is in sync with the group’s ongoing commitment to help customers succeed, also offers the opportunity for clients to sign up for BWG’s Flooring Plus Program as well as a plethora of information on merchandising, marketing, technology, education and business resources.

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Belknap White Group taps Paul Castagliuolo as new president

paulc-pressMansfield, Mass.—The Belknap White Group, one of the largest floor covering distributors in the United States, has announced that effective Jan. 1, 2017, Paul Castagliuolo will become president of the company.

Castagliuolo joined Belknap in 1997 as controller and has served in various roles including, vice president of finance, CFO and mostly recently executive vice president and general manager. He has an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA both from Bryant University.

Prior to joining Belknap Castagliuolo held finance positions for The Chase Manhattan Bank, Raytheon Company, The Providence Journal Company and Fleet Financial Group.

Raymond Mancini, Jr. will continue as chief executive officer and will focus his time on strategic initiatives.

“Paul has been a key member of the executive team for almost 20 years and is uniquely qualified to lead us into the future,” he said. “He has the skill set and work ethic that my family and I admire and appreciate. Over the years Paul has gained a tremendous amount of industry knowledge and has been integral in helping us grow our business.”

Castagliuolo welcomes the opportunity. “I’m very thankful for the confidence shown in me by the Mancini family. We have created a very strong company over the years and there is more opportunity ahead of us. We want to continue to best serve our customers and be their first choice when they need floor covering. The more successful we help them become, the more successful our manufacturing partners and Belknap will be.”

Belknap, which is privately held, was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Mansfield, Mass. Belknap serves the New England, New York and New Jersey markets and is a full-line flooring distributor carrying hardwood, resilient, ceramic, carpet, laminate and flooring installation supplies. Several of Belknap’s manufacturing partners include; Armstrong, Bruce, Mirage, Appalachian, Kahrs, American Olean, Crossville, Shaw, Miliken, Ten Oaks, Oakcrest, Ardex and Halex. Belknap has three major distribution facilities and six branch locations throughout the Northeast.

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FCNews’ annual top 20 flooring distributors

 Distributors emerging from economic stronger, more relevant than ever

By Ken Ryan

Oct. 21/28 2013; Volume 27/number 13

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 4.47.45 PMDistributors. They are the backbone of the industry, the group on which manufacturers rely for moving their products to the point of sale. It is a segment that faces as many challenges as any and works on razor-thin margins.

Still, the good ones have not only succeeded but thrived. In fact, most project growth of 5% to 15% in 2013, driven in part by a housing comeback, both remodeling and new construction.

FCNews’ annual top 20 distributor listing not only looks at the industry’s leaders but also reveals the 10 highest-volume wholesalers in the resilient, wood and laminate categories. In most cases, the information was obtained from the respective high-level executives. Continue reading FCNews’ annual top 20 flooring distributors

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Wood: Despite builder woes, the segment is still strong

By Ken Ryan

Amid the deepening housing downturn in 2008, Jaeckle Distributors’ president Jeff Jaeckle decided the best course of action was to spend money. Specifically, he chose to invest in new product lines, primarily hardwood.

“We knew it would be a risk because no one knew what the economy would do, but we thought it would be a bigger risk to do nothing,” he said. “We added some new hardwood lines, including Mercier and Somerset. We already had strong existing lines, like Mannington, so we felt blending them with new products would work for us.” Continue reading Wood: Despite builder woes, the segment is still strong

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Distribution: Top wholesalers revealed in FCNews' survey

It has certainly been a rough ride for the industry the last four to five years, with sales off anywhere from 25% to 40% depending on the area of the country and the product category. Caught in the middle of all this are flooring distribu- tors who have had to reinvent their businesses in order to remain relevant to both their suppliers and retail customers. FCNews’ annual survey of the distribution channel reveals how industry distributors have done over the last 12 months. While most of the top players continued in their role, there was quite a bit of shuffling in the order in which they are now ranked. And, when broken down by resilient, hardwood and laminate distribution, there was more than just shuffling as a number of new names appear on this year’s listings. Continue reading Distribution: Top wholesalers revealed in FCNews' survey

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Distribution Special: FCNew's annual survey reveals top wholesalers

Economic turmoil remains the key issue for just about every business in the supply chain. For the distribution sector, the end of 2009 and the first 10 months of this year have been a mixed bag, as much depends on which part of the country they service. Nonetheless, the top players overall and within each flooring category managed to maintain their positions within the hierarchy of distributors. Continue reading Distribution Special: FCNew's annual survey reveals top wholesalers