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Apollo Distributing: A family affair

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

 

The following is the 11th installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on Apollo Distributing.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 9.51.59 AMIt began in 1920 in Newark, N.J., when entrepreneur David Slobodien founded the Apollo Radio Co. to market a device to improve radio reception. It was well received and after many years of hard work and astute business management he grew the company into an appliance and electronic powerhouse distributing the finest brand names such as Crosley, Norge and Zenith throughout the New York metropolitan marketplace.

Forty-two years later, in 1962, David relinquished the reins of Apollo leadership to his son, Richard Slobodien, and retired. Under Richard’s skillful direction the business continued to grow and prosper. In response to changing business conditions, he redirected the company’s focus to the distribution of floor covering products with the purchase and assimilation of the O.F. Ruprecht flooring distribution company and, at a later date, the acquisition of Empire Carpet Co., a distribution division of Armstrong World Industries. In 1973, he moved the company to its current nine-acre location in Fairfield, N.J. The company, Apollo Distributing, was soon recognized as a leading flooring distributor.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 9.51.53 AMIn 1995, Richard Slobodien stepped aside to permit his son, and David’s grandson, Keith Slobodien, to become Apollo’s third president. Under his leadership Apollo has continued to excel by following the successful examples set by his father and grandfather. Of note, two of Keith’s college-age children, Harrison and Rachel, have completed the second of three Apollo summer internships to familiarize them with flooring distribution.

Tradition and continuity are important at Apollo. Among Apollo’s family of employees, 25- and 30-year tenures of service are common. Externally, in the metropolitan New York dealer base, many key accounts have built their solid relationships with Keith upon associations their parents established. An example is Apollo’s 35-year-old partnership with Armstrong Flooring.

“Floor covering distribution is in our blood,” Keith Slobodien said. “It is our passion. The business lessons learned from my family are elementary. They are: first, represent the finest products; second, provide the best service possible; and third, be fair to everyone. If we remain true to these principles the future of our company will continue to be bright and, who knows, maybe it will include contributions from additional family members.”

 

For more information on Apollo Distributing, call 973.228.5000 or visit apollodist.com. For more information on Bravo Services, contact John Carney at 214.215.2880 or visit bravoservices.com.

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William M. Bird: A preferred partner for 152 years

The following feature is the eighth installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on William M. Bird.

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.41.53 AMHeadquartered in Charleston, S.C., William M. Bird has been delivering the goods since 1865. The company’s first product was whale oil, but soon expanded into paint, glass, and hardware supplies. In 1936, Bird began distributing Armstrong floor coverings and by the 1980s made flooring its single focus. Today, William M. Bird is one of the leading flooring distributors in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic with 10 branch locations in nine states.

One way the company strives to separate itself from competitors is through advanced online marketing and services. More than 50% of customers actively use WM Bird Online to place orders. “We also differentiate by the products we provide our customers,” said Maybank Hagood, CEO. “We purposefully partner with manufacturers Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.41.48 AMwho are aligned with our company’s vision, mission and core values.” Hagood believes the corporate values set them apart. He continued, “Our No. 1 value is ‘We care about each other.’   Our simple view is how will we ever care for our customers if we don’t start with caring for each other?”

Looking ahead, Bird is going through a transition phase. As Hagood explained, “Three years ago, more than 50% of our sales reps were within 10 years from retirement age. We need to work diligently to transition to the next generation. Consequently, we work closely with each associate to understand personal career goals and timing. With that in mind, we are hiring new associates, at the right time, to effectively pass the baton.”

Going above and beyond
From the time an order is placed to the point when it is delivered, Bird’s entire team is dedicated to going the extra mile. If it is past the delivery cut off, it is not uncommon for Bird’s sales reps to personally drive a sample or an order to ensure customers have what they need in a timely fashion. For example, when a hurricane barreled down on Charleston last fall, a team of customer service reps traveled to Atlanta to set up and take calls.

Nuts & Bolts
Geographic coverage: Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Brands: Armstrong Flooring, Aspecta, Azalea Lane, Bostik, Bruce, East Bay Supply Co., HomerWood, Johnsonite, Metroflor, Palmetto Road, Protect-All, Roberts, Roppe, Schönox, Stauf, Tarkett, Ultimate RB and XL Brands.

For more information on William M. Bird, call 843.744.8289 or visit wmbird.com. For more information on Bravo Services, contact John Carney at 214.215.2880 or visit bravoservices.com.

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OVF: From challenging times to top-tier status

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

The following feature is the fifth installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on Ohio Valley Flooring, a top 20 distributor founded in 1978 as CDC Appliances (Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus).

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.31.32 PMWhen Ohio Valley Flooring was established as a flooring division of CDC Appliances in 1981, it joined a group entailing RCA consumer electronics, air conditioners and kitchen appliances. It was smooth sailing until 1989, when RCA was purchased—a move that resulted in Ohio Valley Flooring immediately losing 80% of its sales.

This abrupt change forced Ohio Valley Flooring to consolidate and forge ahead as a standalone flooring distributor. Led by a group of high-caliber, motivated individuals—most of whom are still with Ohio Valley Flooring—the company rose to the challenge and proved it could not only survive but thrive as it grew into one of the industry’s leading flooring distributors.

Ohio Valley Flooring has flourished by partnering with the best manufacturers—including Armstrong, which it has been with since the beginning—and cutting-edge product lines. In addition, the wholesaler concentrates on its core territory and hires and retains top-notch people. In fact, about 30% of the company’s employees have been with the company for more than 25 years.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.31.38 PMAs a group, Ohio Valley Flooring focuses on product and customer service, continually educating its customers and sales force. “There are so many new products and vendors coming from everywhere, so it is important that our customers know the difference and know what product best fits their needs,” said Jud Hurt. “We strive every day to be the easiest supplier to do business with and exceed our customer’s expectations.”

Competitive advantage
Ohio Valley Flooring attributes much of its success to its stability in the marketplace along with several key competitive advantages—the people that make up the company, its manufacturers and the products they represent. A common theme that runs throughout the company is the continuous investment in and development of people and technology.


GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Ohio Valley Flooring has a full-time installation manager/product trainer who operates the distributor’s onsite installation school and training center—a facility through which Ohio Valley Flooring offers product-specific installation certification. As Hurt explained: “This all works toward our goal of making us the easiest and most efficient supplier to do business with.”

NUTS & BOLTS
Geographic coverage: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
Brands: Armstrong, Aqualok, Artistic Finishes, Aspecta, Bella Cera, Bruce, Custom Building Products, Del Conca, DriTac, Florim, Heartland Hardwood, IndusParquet, Konecto, Marazzi, Metroflor, Milliken, Mirage, Mullican, Maxwell, Quick-Step, ShawMark, Stauf, Teragren, Ultimate RB Rubber, VPI

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Cain & Bultman: True partners in business

April 10/17, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 22

The following feature is the fourth installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on Cain & Bultman, which was founded in 1924 and has been in the flooring business for more than 80 years.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 11.41.00 AMCain & Bultman, based in Jacksonville, Fla., got its start in flooring in 1935 when it was named the distributor for Armstrong Cork Company. Since then Cain & Bultman has grown its relationship with Armstrong (it is now a separate division) and expanded its reach across Florida and most of Georgia.

Purchased in 1960 by Norwood Sandifer, today Cain & Bultman is a third-generation, family-owned business under the leadership of Mike Sandifer, chairman and CEO; Buddy Faircloth, president; Kirk Sandifer, executive vice president and vice chairman; and Alan Kimball, vice president and general manager.

When it considers its competitive advantages, the wholesaler starts with its people—a seasoned group of professionals that averages 20 years of service, with a sales and an executive team that averages 22 years. That experience has enabled Cain & Bultman to develop long-term relationships with customers, dealers and suppliers. “Within reason and good business judgment we continue to grow this relationship to serve them as a true partner in business,” Faircloth said, echoing the company’s motto “Partners in Business.”

Faircloth said one of the biggest challenges Cain & Bultman faces is obtaining dealer showroom space. As such, the distributor must make sure it has the right products, programs and displays at a reasonable cost. “We can provide the very best flooring solutions for our customers and open up the best selling opportunities for them to sell and service their customers.”

NUTS & BOLTS
Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 11.41.05 AMGeographic coverage:
With the Armstrong product line, Cain & Bultman covers Florida, excluding the Panhandle, and 34 counties in southern Georgia (from Savannah south).With most of its other product lines, it covers all of Florida and Georgia.

Brands: Armstrong, Bruce, Homerwood, VPI, Kahrs, Stauf, Wicanders, Bella Cera, Nature, Floor Muffler, H.F. Designs, Norwood Hill, R B Rubber Krono Original, Aqualok, Struxtur, Pinnacle, Greenfield.

GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Cain & Bultman’s north Florida location allows it to provide next day delivery service to customers throughout the state of Florida as well as Georgia. Its cutoff time for next day delivery is 11 a.m., however Faircloth said there are many occasions in which a dealer calls after the cut off time and asks for next day delivery. In virtually every instance Cain & Bultman is able to fulfill that request.

For more information on Cain & Bultman, call 904-356-4612 or visit cainbultman.com. For more information on Bravo Services, contact John Carney at 214.215.2880 or visit bravoservices.com.