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Women in Flooring: Elise Demboski – The power of mentors, teamwork

January 19/26, 2015; Volume 28/Number 15

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 3.16.09 PMFollowing in the footsteps of her mentors—David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations for Mohawk, and Phil Prince, former vice president of sales promotion and marketing services for Karastan Bigelow—Elise Demboski likes to lead by example. While she has created much success for herself and the companies for which she has worked, she attributes her recent accomplishments as Mohawk’s vice president of creative services to collaboration with a strong team. “I never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself,” she said.

With that, she encourages her marketing team to share ideas as she has during her career, going the extra mile and encouraging each other to help them develop and grow as a group. “I once had a boss who did not want his team to advance,” Demboski recalled. “He wanted a good team and wanted them to himself. That was hard for me because it really limited my ability to grow. I want to be able to give my team every opportunity to grow, to advance and try new things.”

And grow she did. Nearing 30 years in the industry, Demboski can certainly provide insight on what the journey of a successful woman in the flooring industry entails. Strategic—though sometimes lateral—moves brought her to the prominent role she has today, helping create some of the most innovative advertising and marketing campaigns in industry history.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at UNC Chapel Hill, Demboski had plans to earn her Master of Arts degree in Business from Elon University in North Carolina. While pursuing her higher-education dream, she worked for Karastan, which was soon purchased by Mohawk. Though strides were being made in her career, Demboski’s plans had to change.

“I started as a co-op advertising clerk for Karastan,” she said. “I was very ambitious. I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, which is one of the reasons I went back for my master’s degree.” A new opportunity at Karastan soon presented itself; however, it was a lateral move to the position of administrative assistant for the vice president of advertising. While it wasn’t necessarily a leap in her career, Demboski was positive about new opportunities, refusing to be discouraged by titles. She also credits her mentor early in her career, Prince, for giving her the confidence and support she needed to make moves of which she was initially unsure.

“I really admired Phil and saw the opportunity as a chance to learn more about advertising and public relations. A year after accepting the position, we were purchased by Mohawk. Only a handful of positions were being transferred to Calhoun and assistants were not one of them. Phil stood by me and convinced upper management to promote me to communications manager and move me to Georgia. I was blessed to have someone who believed in me. You can work really hard, but unless you run across people who give you a chance and believe in you, the results may not be the same.”

With someone in her corner, Demboski had faith that the baby steps would move toward something big. “I told Phil in my initial interview that I was trying to get my master’s degree and that I aspired to be more than a clerk and assistant. I wanted more than a lateral move and needed to know there would be opportunities to grow if I worked hard. Phil promised that if I put in the time and effort, he would do everything he could to support my career aspirations—and he held true to that promise.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 3.16.02 PMDemboski’s hard work and creativity continued to drive her forward, working as Mohawk’s communications manager for several years until she was contacted by Wools of New Zealand to hold the same role. While she eventually went back to Mohawk, her time spent with Wools of New Zealand gave her the opportunity to travel the world, exposing her to a global market. But again, plans changed.

“I started having children, so traveling far became challenging,” she said. But becoming a mom didn’t mean losing sight of her career. Though Demboski gave up her position at Wools of New Zealand, her ambition continued to hold strong and she started her own PR and marketing business in 1998 called Impressions Marketing. She kept the company thriving for 11 years and during that time Karastan and Wools of New Zealand became clients.

After going back to Wools of New Zealand as executive director in 2008, Demboski landed in 2011 in the role she carries today, a new position developed by Duncan. “I’ve known David for many years and couldn’t turn down the chance to work with him,” she said. “David is incredibly talented and is one of the few people who can think creatively, rationally and analytically at the same time. He can see the full effects of an idea and quickly map out a strategic course of action that turns a potentially worthy idea into an attainable and successful initiative. His passion is contagious and I have learned a lot from him. He is the reason I came back [to Mohawk].”

Her journey has, in fact, been successful, but Demboski cites one of her biggest challenges as getting that first break in her career. What helped her? Staying dedicated and having people who believed in her from the start. “When you’re at that beginning, base level, you’re learning, whether man or woman. At that point it’s hard for people to take you seriously. You have to work extra hard to stand out and be recognized.”

She also sees obstacles—which tend to come up more often for women—as opportunities. “This is a man’s industry; we all know that. But if you think about it, women make up a large portion of our target audience. Women in this industry know what a woman wants, and not only what she wants in a product but how she wants her home to feel. That’s why it’s important to have diverse perspectives in the conversation because it allows us to find new, exciting ways to reach the consumer that others may not think of.”

What goes hand-in-hand with those ideas, Demboski said, is having the confidence to share them with others. “Take your idea and present it to your boss in terms of the value it can bring to the business. Even if your ideas are not embraced, at least you are showing executives you have ideas, that you are willing to take that extra step, that you have passion for your career. This is what helps you stand out from the rest.”

That confidence is something Demboski encourages others to seek within themselves. Finding something you love to do is the first step, she said, along with hard work and perseverance to help prove your strengths to others.

“I love being a woman in this industry; there is a lot of opportunity to grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to ask questions. The more people see your desire to learn, the more you’ll get recognized. That’s what a go-getter does.”

These are qualities Demboski seeks in her own team members, male or female. “We don’t require anyone to work long hours, but they do because they’re passionate about their work. We treat each other with respect, and we care about each other beyond work—we are family. My team loves what they do and it shows. I think that’s important.”

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Mohawk’s SmartStrand Unleashed campaign launches webisode series

Image of Mo on SmartStrand[1]-2Calhoun, Ga. — Mohawk continues to put the amazing soil- and stain-resistance benefits of SmartStrand carpet to the test. This year, Mohawk introduced the world to “Mo,” a messy, four-legged yellow lab who serves as a regular correspondent on the nationally-syndicated The Better Show. Now, Mohawk is launching Mo’s webisode series, Make Room for Mo, to showcase the durability and cleanability of SmartStrand.

According to the company, the fun-filled series, available for viewing on Mohawk Flooring’s YouTube page, provides a humorous narrative of the daily struggles experienced by a family with young children and a mischievous dog.

“SmartStrand Unleashed is a multifaceted campaign designed to educate consumers on the powerful benefits of SmartStrand, a premium soft carpet with durability and stain resistant features that can stand up to the messiest of pets,” said Elise Demboski, vice president of creative services at Mohawk. “The ‘Make Room for Mo’ webisode series serves as a fun way to connect with dog-loving consumers by featuring the occasional plights associated with pet-ownership while simultaneously communicating the benefits of SmartStrand as a way to overcome some of those challenges.”

Mo is currently serving as the world’s first canine correspondent on The Better Show, a lifestyle and entertainment program airing to one million viewers every weekday. Mo makes regular appearances on the show’s pet-oriented segments, which range in topic from throwing the ultimate dog birthday party to a how-to series on exercising with pets.

To add even more excitement to the campaign, Mo is also raising awareness for pets in need through Mohawk’s partnership with the Petfinder Foundation. In addition to making a donation to the Foundation and spreading the word about the organization via Mohawk Flooring’s Facebook page, the company also worked with the Petfinder Foundation to identify deserving dog foster homes throughout the country in need of pet-friendly products for their homes. In total, five foster homes were selected as recipients of a SmartStrand prize pack, including a carpet of their choice and a dog-bone shaped rug for the families’ dog(s) to enjoy.

Mohawk launched its 2014 national campaign, SmartStrand Unleashed, with Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl X, which aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.

To learn more about the campaign and meet Mo, visit

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Mohawk’s License to Spill campaign a finalist for Sabre PR award

Mohawk License to SpillCalhoun, Ga. – Mohawk’s “License to Spill” campaign, a year-long campaign of onsite demonstrations to showcase the cleanability of Mohawk’s SmartStrand carpet, was named a finalist for the prestigious Sabre public relations award.

The Sabre organization is said to be the largest awards competition for the public relations industry.

Mohawk is a finalist in the Home and Furnishings category for License to Spill, an interactive coast-to-coast tour in collaboration with the nationally syndicated The Better Show.

“It is an extraordinary achievement to be selected as a finalist for the most prestigious award in the public relations industry,” said Elise Demboski, vice president of creative services at Mohawk.

Mohawk and The Better Show traveled the country from March –November 2013, bringing License to Spill to festivals in Boston, Atlanta, Hilton Head, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Festival goers across the country were invited to spill normally tough stain-producing agents such as chocolate, soy sauce and red wine on SmartStrand carpet—and then clean it with just water. On-site celebrity designers and Mohawk spokespersons addressed flooring or design questions, and Mohawk’s License to Spill team, along with the co-hosts of Better Show, provided coverage of all the mess-making. Better Show also hosted an event recap at every stop, which broadcast in 170 markets and reached more than 1 million viewers per show.

Additionally, Mohawk hosted two successful Twitter parties–which trended at a national and global level–and worked with top-tier bloggers to spread the word in the digital space. The tour resulted in phenomenal exposure for SmartStrand and Mohawk, the company said. Local retailers also joined in by hosting their own License to Spill events, which successfully increased sales.


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SmartStrand Unleashed 'kicks off' with major results

Mo with I Heart NY WallNew York — Before a record 13.5 million people watched the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet during Super Bowl Sunday, visitors to New York City were treated to a live “Puppy Bowl Experience” at Discovery Times Square. Mohawk was actively involved in the weeklong celebration, which created millions of consumer impressions for Mohawk and its retailers via a detailed plan encompassing digital, social and experiential components.

As the official carpet sponsor of Puppy Bowl X, Mohawk’s SmartStrand starred on the field and created the perfect stage for the entire 15,000 square-foot facility.  Visitors enjoyed a fully interactive experience, including a live Puppy Bowl game, tailgating activities and photo opportunities with Mohawk’s SmartStrand Unleashed mascot, “Mo.”  More than 5,000 attendees snapped photos with Mo, including top-tier media and celebrity guests.

“Both Animal Planet and event visitors were amazed by the durability and cleanability of SmartStrand carpet,” said Elise Demboski, Mohawk’s vice president of creative services. “Not only did SmartStrand hold up beautifully to the large volume of human guests, it also came clean after six days of accidents and messes made by all the canine players. All attendees received a SmartStrand Silk carpet sample and several people were already on their mobile devices on-site to locate a local Mohawk retailer. The ‘Puppy Bowl Experience’ proved to be the perfect interactive setting, enabling thousands of people to experience SmartStrand carpet in a way that generated major editorial coverage and social media excitement.”

In addition to several on-air mentions during the big game, Mohawk was brought to life online through the live Puppy Bowl X Times Square Practice Cam at, through multiple digital banner advertisements and mid-roll videos directing consumers to Mohawk maximized on the weeklong action with daily sponsored posts on Facebook and Twitter, reaching more than 200,000 targeted consumers. Through Mohawk’s social media vendor partnership, aligned retailers had access to social posts and images, so they could share the excitement with consumers in their respective markets.

To build on the social success of the SmartStrand Unleashed kick off, Mohawk invited 10 top-tier pet-focused bloggers to participate in the “Puppy Bowl Experience” and blog about the event and their experience with SmartStrand carpet.  According to Demboski, the resulting posts engage targeted consumers in an organic way that yields great convergence results.

“We’re just getting started! The Puppy Bowl is only the beginning of Mohawk’s year-long SmartStrand Unleashed campaign, and retailers can promote the sponsorship throughout the year,” Demboski said. “Stay tuned to for new developments and to view Mo’s adventures on The Better Show. SmartStrand Unleashed is a multifaceted campaign designed to generate leads for our aligned retailers, while providing them with a fun, unique way to communicate the powerful benefits of SmartStrand.”

Mohawk’s aligned partners recently received the SmartStrand Unleashed POP Kits, which includes a full suite of marketing materials and event kits,  available now on

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Mohawk 'takes the cake' with new campaign

by Louis Iannaco

Dalton—“Now You Can Have Your Cake and Drop It, Too.” That’s how Mohawk is positioning its newest innovation, SmartStrand Silk with DuPont Sorona, in a high-profile national advertising campaign currently hitting newsstands.

SmartStrand Silk revolutionized the market when it was introduced less than a year ago, making its mark as the industry’s only luxuriously soft carpet with built-in stain and soil resistance that never washes or wears off, said Elise Demboski, Mohawk’s vice president of creative services. “Mohawk’s retail partners have quickly discovered that one swipe of the consumer’s hand is equal to one SmartStrand Silk sale. Continue reading Mohawk 'takes the cake' with new campaign

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Social networking becomes tool for success

by Emily J. Cappiello

Social networking is no longer an added part of success; it has become one of the main tools to help businesses thrive. Social networking allows companies to get closer to their customers and can even help consumers find local flooring stores, since Facebook is becoming an ever-increasingly popular search engine as well as social networking site. YouTube can enable people to network with each other but can also be used to supply partners and potential customers with educational information about products. And with new additions like Pinterest, social networking is growing by leaps and bounds. Continue reading Social networking becomes tool for success

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Mohawk launches contest searching for America's messiest kid

Dalton — Mohawk is utilizing a new social media campaign to show consumers that its flooring can stand up to even the biggest messmakers. The manufacturer has launched a three-month Facebook contest in search of the messiest kid in America. Moms across the nation are invited to upload a photo or video of their messy children in action to the Mohawk Flooring Facebook page for an opportunity to win some big-ticket prizes. Continue reading Mohawk launches contest searching for America's messiest kid