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News: FCA Network celebrates 20th anniversary

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By Ken Ryan

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—Against the scenic backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra de Vallejo mountains, FCA Network celebrated its 20th anniversary in grand style here last month, complete with a 12-piece Mariachi band, celebratory toasts and, of course, a successful business gathering.

The conference included a vendor showcase featuring a round-robin format in which pairs of retailers spent 20 minutes at each exhibitor station before rotating. The format was well received by suppliers and dealers alike.

“The round robin was awesome,” said Welton Davison, vice president, strategic accounts for Shaw Industries. “There’s no better way to connect. You can talk specifically to important dealers.”

Bob Noe, president of Pacific Solutions, added, “I loved it. We have a captive audience; it couldn’t be better.”

FCA dealers had similar reactions. Sheri Delp, manager, Legacy Flooring, Olathe, Kan., said accessibility to vendors was a big benefit to her business as she looks to leverage the buying power of the group.

FCA Network comprises 51-member retailers encompassing 67 storefronts; many of which readily admit they would not be in business today without Olga Robertson, president of FCA Network, and her management team.

Buddy Mitchell, co-owner of Simply Floors in Denver, is one of those dealers who was thrown a lifeline. When he was in the market for a buying group, he Googled “carpet buying group,” and Olga Robertson’s name appeared. He called the main number and was startled when she picked up the phone. At the time, Mitchell said he was being “blocked” by a significantly larger retailer in his market who tried to “stifle” his business. He was unable to get product from the major mills.

“FCA quickly stopped that,” he said after joining the group. “Without FCA, I wouldn’t have a business today. And now I have a 3,000-square-foot showroom. I think there are a lot of stores out there that don’t know about buying groups. They say they don’t want to be controlled, but FCA isn’t like other buying groups. They gave me the start I needed but I can buy anything I want. Olga is a great leader, and she is picky. She doesn’t just select anyone who applies to the group.”

It is true that Robertson employs a strict screening process. In candidates she looks for people who are willing to be flexible, who can adapt to change, who are embedded in their communities and hard workers. But unlike other groups, they don’t have to change their store names to comply because Robertson believes “their store is their brand” with many of them already established in their respective markets.

Carpet Source, for example, has been a trusted name in the Albuquerque, N.M., market for 25 years, and its place in the market has only been enhanced by its affiliation with FCA Network, according to Don Lovato, owner. “It’s like having a brotherhood here. We share best practices because we are not in competition with one another; it’s symbiotic. At these meetings, everyone walks away with something valuable for their business.”

Being able to help hard-working people succeed in business is what drives Robertson. “What keeps me going is the ability to help someone who really just needs a chance,” she said. “Of course, we cherish our vendor partners as well. We wouldn’t be here without them.”

Discussing disruption

John Godwin, retired executive from Shaw Industries and longtime friend of the group, was the keynote speaker. One topic he touched on was disruptive technologies. He cited Uber, Airbnb, solar power and smartphones as examples. In flooring, rigid core is of that ilk. “Rigid core boards will take share from every other hard surface category—that’s disruptive technology,” Godwin told FCA retailers. “It’s an exceptional product.”

Godwin encouraged dealers to make themselves uncomfortable; in other words, step out of their comfort zones. “You have to change the way you think. It is the only way to grow.”

That change in approach also applies to sizing up the competition, specifically big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Godwin suggested flooring dealers should walk into a Lowe’s or Home Depot every other week and be inquisitive. “See what they are doing; ask basic questions such as ‘What is your best-selling hardwood?’ Every consumer who is buying floor covering is going to go to Home Depot and Lowe’s as part of the shopping process.”

Godwin went so far as to suggest retailers have Lowe’s or Home Depot install flooring in their offices to see how the big box associates/installers handle that part of the process.

“A differentiator to the consumer is to guarantee that ‘we will provide you the right product for your application and stand behind it because Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t have the sales team to do that,’” Godwin said.

Dennis Thiets, senior vice president of residential sales, Mohawk, spoke to FCA members about Air.o, the company’s new category of united soft floor covering known for its healthier choice benefits and ease of installation. “Indoor air quality is absolutely critical,” Thiets said. “Paint used to contain 100% VOC, now it is down to 20% as consumers complained about its harmful effects. We believe they will vote the same way for carpet.”

With the average age of today’s installers at 54.5 (Mohawk’s figure), the ease of installing Air.o is another benefit for dealers. “We have lightning in a bottle here,” Thiets said. “Few people are entering the [installation] trade and Air.o is so much easier to install, but this is not a do-it-yourself product. It is exacting.” Overall, it should take about 30% less time to install Air.o vs. regular carpet, he said.

Empire Today, the shop-at-home giant, is private labeling Air.o and making a big push in its TV commercials. As Thiets explained, “Empire is promoting this in a big way and has first-mover advantage.”

FCA’s Robertson called Air.o “disruptive technology” and urged members “to think hard about this product. You have to say this is the direction we want and take the lead here. Open up your mind to this new disruptive technology. It truly is a healthier choice.”

In addition to Air.o, the members were briefed on RevWood and TecWood as the company makes a strong push in hard surfaces this year.

Members were also briefed on new offerings from Congoleum (CLEO Home Studio); Engineered Floors’ PureBac by DreamWeaver; and Signature Classique, a private branded Phenix display with their top polyester styles.

To round out the event, members and vendors alike came together Saturday evening for the group’s annual awards banquet. The event turned out to be a spectacular setting of camaraderie, good food and great fun.

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U.S.-China tariff tiff troubles some flooring executives

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Flooring executives are acting with trepidation amid the escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which ratcheted up a few notches last week when the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs on some $50 billion in Chinese imports across 1,300 categories of products.

The imports targeted for 25% levies range from high value-added goods, such as medicines and medical equipment, to intermediate products like machine tools and chemicals as well as durable consumer goods such as dishwashers, TVs and automobile parts. The list also includes machinery used in the production of some flooring products, including carpet and rugs, as well as milling or molding machines for products such as wood, cork, hard rubber, plastics or similar hard materials.

The day after Trump’s announcement, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of U.S. exports. The 106 affected products included soybeans and chemicals and came one day after China announced tariffs on $3 billion in imports of U.S. food and other goods, 128 categories in all.

The penalties will not happen right away, if at all. The designation of targeted products will be followed by a comment period in which American companies can provide feedback to the Trump administration on the product choices. The administration will hold a public hearing on the submissions on May 15 in Washington, and companies will have until May 22 to file final objections.

The move stems from a White House investigation into China’s use of pressure, intimidation and theft to obtain American technologies.

Flooring executives argue that in a global economy, any trade war between economic powers would ultimately result in a slowdown of the world economy. Thomas Baert, president of CFL Flooring, a China-based LVT supplier, said issuing large import tariffs sounds like a great idea since theoretically it would help local production in the West but would hurt categories like LVT, which are mostly sourced in China. “In our industry, the product categories that are imported at this stage cannot be made on the domestic machines,” Baert said. “Although several manufacturers are now transforming some production lines to be able to, it is questionable whether this will truly replace China production.”

Don Finkell, CEO of American OEM, a domestic wood manufacturer, had a different take as he pointed to the U.S. trade deficit. “We’re running at an $800 billion trade deficit with the rest of the world, of which $500 billion of that is with China. Most economists say that it is unsustainable, but they don’t really agree on what the consequences are. It’s been this way for more than a decade and growing. Since more jobs are involved in making a product than in importing a product, loss of jobs seems to be the long-term consequence of a trade deficit.”

Finkell said wood flooring going to China from the U.S. has a combination of tariffs, fees and taxes in the range of 27%. If there is a tariff on wood flooring under these trade actions, he said he would expect it to be in the range of 25%. He termed it “significant but not catastrophic to the industry.”

Flooring observers say the tariffs—should they be implemented—would impact the full line distributor to a greater extent than other sectors since wholesalers have been importing LVT/WPC/SPC products in large part to promote their own private-label brands. Jeff Hamar, president of Galleher, a top 20 distributor from Santa Fe Springs, Calif., which sources from China, said he would be very surprised if flooring is ever involved in the tariffs. “There are already duties on wood flooring produced in China so, in theory, the government is already adjusting those prices to reflect market realities,” he said. “If they were to go after rigid LVT flooring the argument would be that there is so little U.S. domestic capacity, who are they harming? Clearly, any duty would be passed onto the consumer and would result in higher prices. Duties on LVT would cut the gap between wood and LVT possibly helping wood flooring sales.”

Jonathan Train, CEO of Houston-based Swiff-Train Co., which also sources extensively from Asia, is clearly not an advocate for excessive tariffs. “Small tariffs that are clearly understood and fairly implemented are fine and do not block trade,” he said. “Plus, they add a reasonable means of revenue for the government. But larger, volatile and retroactive tariffs disrupt markets unnecessarily and do not fix anything.”

Many economists see a trade war as little more than punishing the other country rather than protecting domestic producers. Some flooring executives have similar views. “Unfortunately, it’s going to be a ‘tit for tat’ kind of game that we can’t afford to play,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network. “Imagine just for one second if Walmart couldn’t fill their stores with goods—it would be Armageddon.”

manufacturing to make more stuff here in the U.S.,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network, Shorewood, Ill. “But unfortunately, it’s going to be a ‘tit for tat’ kind of game that we can’t afford to play. Imagine just for one second if Walmart couldn’t fill their stores with goods—it would be Armageddon.”

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FCA Network: Retail members praise industry’s ‘best-kept secret’

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.27.17 AMChicago—Cottonwood, Idaho, is located on the Carnas Prairie (population 910, as per 2010 U.S. Census), 158 miles from Spokane, Wash., the nearest city with more than 100,000 people. It is home to Hoene (pronounced Hay-nee) Hardware Co., a 108-year-old, fourth-generation retailer that sells items including appliances, bedding, furniture and flooring—and is the newest member of the FCA Network.

Gus Hoene, owner, said that after buying out his partner last year he wanted to join a group. He started looking online and came upon the FCA Network and Olga Robertson, its president. Hoene said he dialed an 877 number and Robertson immediately picked up. “I was driving and had to pull over to the side of the road because I didn’t think I would get through, and I wasn’t prepared to talk,” Hoene told FCNews. He spoke with Robertson for 90 minutes and verbally committed to joining the group.

To seal the deal, Robertson personally visited Hoene’s Hardware. She flew to Spokane, traversed rugged mountain ranges and arrived “white as a ghost” from the trip, Hoene said. During the visit, Robertson rearranged the store’s merchandising and collaborated on a new marketing slogan for the store. “Olga bulldozed through my store, which I liked,” Hoene recalled. “She said, ‘Move that,’ ‘Get that crap out of the window,’ ‘Put that here.’ The store has never looked better since she redesigned it.”

The Hoene Hardware scenario is not uncommon at FCA Network (except perhaps for the long and winding road traveled), where Robertson and her team are a mere phone call away. FCA Network is not the largest buying group, but to hear its retail members tell it you would be hard pressed to find a more loyal group of dealers.

“The FCA Network may be the best-kept secret in the industry,” said Carlton Billingsley, owner of Benton, Ark.-based Floors and More, a member for 15 years. “I don’t think they realize how great having a female leadership of a flooring buying group adds to each member’s success from not only a woman’s expertise, but the female perspective of what the customer really wants.”

The majority of FCA’s newest retailers (it has 54 members and 62 storefronts) come via online searches or referrals from existing members. As Robertson explained, “We don’t have people beating the bushes looking for new members.”

FCA Network, which bills itself as the low-cost buying group with high-powered expertise, is unique in that it is the only retail group actually run by retailers (it has its own corporate stores). The group, an offshoot of Floor Covering Associates, a $40 million-plus retailer based in Shorewood, Ill., was launched in 1998 with the goal of assisting independent retailers in expanding opportunities through marketing, merchandising and buying power.

Appropriately, this year’s convention theme was “Opportunity Knocks,” and against a backdrop of an improving economy and more favorable housing numbers, the outlook is indeed bright for the group. “I really believe there are unlimited opportunities for us,” Robertson told members. “We all have to step up our games because the status quo is not a business strategy. Retail is getting more complex every day. Creative thinking, networking and the strength of our product assortment are what are needed. FCA has the muscle to help [members] survive and thrive.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.27.49 AMDennis Thiets, senior vice president of residential sales for Mohawk Industries, a keynote speaker, tapped into Robertson’s positive outlook in his address, saying, “There is once again reason for optimism all around us. If you look at consumer confidence, for example, the most optimistic of all age groups is 35 and under, which is very encouraging for our industry.”

Ninety percent of membership attended the Chicago event, which is par for the course, and yet a rather significant statistic considering the conference is not mandatory. “Our members are here because they want to be here,” Robertson said. “They are committed to this business.” As with everything with this group, no program or product is mandated; retailers remain autonomous in how they want to run their business. FCA Network is there to provide the necessary support through professional assistance.

Bob Gaither, owner of The Carpet Gallery and Quality Carpet & Flooring, Akron, Ohio, was one of the original members of FCA Network. He said each convention gives him a renewed sense of purpose. “I wouldn’t call it a pep talk, but I think it is a shot in the arm when I come here—and when I get back to the office I am fired up. I remember Bob Hill [FCA Associates founder] saying 15 years ago that if you did things the same way you did them a year ago, then you are doing something wrong. This group is constantly evolving with products and programs, which they have to do because the industry is evolving.”

Supplier executives who took part in the vendor trade show said FCA Network’s can-do spirit starts at the top. “While a lot of groups help out with their buying power, Olga does that and more—she helps them with their merchandising and store layout,” said Ann McDermott, vice president of national accounts for Shaw Industries. “Many of the smaller dealers in this group who may not have known where to turn if they have a problem can count on Olga. She takes care of their needs. She’ll go into their stores and give them a facelift. She really beautifies their stores.”

Joe Ross, regional vice president of sales for the north central region, Phenix, noted, “Olga always tries to create a unique venue to inspire her members in a different way, whether it is product assortment, merchandising or digital platforms.”

Robertson is happy to oblige. “FCA Network is a partner in our members’ success; helping them improver their profitability while maintaining their local identity.”

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FCA Network gives dealers chance to thrive

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

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.51.47 AMChicago—Richard Quinlan, co-owner of DownRight Floors in Abbotsford, B.C., was in business for only about a year when he realized he needed a lifeline. Quinlan said the store was situated in a competitive retail market and was paying higher prices buying through distribution.

He searched the web for retail groups and found FCA Network 1,700 miles away in Illinois. “We started to have conversations and we quickly realized it would be beneficial for us,” he said during FCA Network’s spring event here. “We have one store and it was difficult for us to compete. Joining FCA Network completely changed all that. Having access to premium accounts that we couldn’t touch in the past and getting better pricing has changed everything for us. We wouldn’t be here without them.”

Don Lovato, owner of Carpet Source in Albuquerque, N.M., shares Quinlan’s sentiment. “We joined 12 years ago, and I wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for them, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “I hear from so many people who say, ‘Why did you go with a buying group?’ I tell them it’s about finding the right group that fits your needs because they are not all the same.”

For Carpet Source, gaining access to private label brands and favorable pricing made all the difference. “As an independent you are so exposed if you don’t have a private label line. Otherwise, you can be commoditized and get priced out of the market. FCA has afforded me a way to make a profit and stay in business.”

Other dealers attending the event provided similar endorsements, saying that FCA Network is unique because it is comprised of and led by retailers who understand the issues other dealers encounter.

Bill Graybeal, owner of Graybeal’s Carpet Plus in Logansport, Ind., joined FCA in 1998 as one of the first members. He has seen the group evolve from primarily a Midwestern network to essentially a North American buying group with coverage in Canada as well as the Southeast and Southwest U.S. “It’s gotten better and sharper over the years,” he said. “Olga [Robertson, FCA Network’s president] is a great ambassador for our business. She brings us a great selection of merchandise and goes to bat for us on pricing that a little independent couldn’t possibly get [on its own]. And the caliber of people at this show is a testament to Bob [Hill, founder and owner of FCA] and Olga. When Randy Merritt [president, Shaw Industries] comes up to you, puts his arm around your shoulder and asks, ‘What can we do for you?’ that’s pretty impressive.”

FCA Network welcomed two new members to the group, which now consists of 56 retailers, including two from Canada. “Every year it seems to get better and better,” Robertson said. “2015 was good for our members and 2016 is off to a great start. Purchases are up, rebates and membership are up, and attitudes are positive.”

The theme of the spring event was “Retail Evolution: Then and Now.”

In his keynote speech, Hill read a letter his father-in-law, a businessman, wrote 40 years ago that illustrated how sound business principles really don’t change over time. “Know your product, bring imaginative ideas, be honest; if you don’t know the answer say you will find out the answer. Each day brings with it new opportunities; you need to seize them.”

Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington, spoke about how small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy and do a much better job serving customers than larger, publicly traded companies.

He said Mannington has operated under a core set of values for 100 years. “No. 1 is doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is hard but it is the No. 1 multiplier in bringing success to your business and is often what separates a small business from a larger public enterprise. No. 2 is caring for your associates, for your customers, for your community and for your environment. No. 3 is controlling your own destiny; that is important five to 10 years out as well as for the next generation. And No. 4 is to work hard and play hard; have a life beyond work.”

New products and programs

Robertson unveiled several new lines to the group, each with favorable pricing terms. New offerings include:

  • The Cut A Rug program from Tuftex
  • 10 Mohawk SmartStrand “silk style” products
  • A residential line of solution-dyed nylon from Engineered Floors’ DreamWeaver
  • A laminate line from Provenza that mimics hardwood

Two new private label brands introduced were a Happy Feet LVP click display and a Shaw Epic hardwood collection: Brookline Mills. “We want to do more business with Shaw in hard surface; they’re a great partner,” Robertson told members.

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The ins and outs of marketing to the female customer

Times, methodology have changed to appeal to target consumer

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

By Amanda Haskin

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 2.33.29 PMIn a 1961 ad for Congoleum-Nairn Fine Floors, a smiling and stylish housewife stands in the corner of a colorful living room, accompanied by the text: “From hem to hairdo, every detail is right for her, the result of skillful blending, mixing and matching… just as every room in her home is carefully coordinated to give complete style harmony.”

If this woman represents the quintessential 1960s housewife, to whom is this ad appealing—men who wish to please their wives or women who strive to become design-savvy individuals?

Times have certainly changed since then, but the quest to market toward today’s modern woman still seems to be the Holy Grail for many flooring manufacturers and retailers alike. A 2012 study by i-on-Women, a division of Chicago-based Insights in Marketing, showed that 91% of women feel that companies are not marketing effectively to them.

Denise Fike, member of the family of ownership at Fike Bros. Carpet One in Yeagertown, Pa., believes the flooring industry has never particularly succeeded in marketing to women. “Ten years ago it was a big deal to get the flooring vendors, merchandisers and even advertisers to realize their customer was a woman in the first place. Sales staffs would be all male and displays were 7 feet tall.”

Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier at Simple Marketing Now, agreed with this assessment of the industry. “We live in a world designed by men, intended for women. This is particularly true in flooring.”

The female buying demographic has changed dramatically over the years. Women buying home décor elements are not necessarily housewives anymore. While many are still stay-at-home wives and moms, they are also 9-to-5ers, breadwinners, entrepreneurs, single moms, house-flippers and online researchers.

“Women are in the workplace,” Whittemore said. “They are educated, income earners, more demanding and chief purchasing officers at home and often at work. Women are also more digitally connected and savvy online.”

Fike believes that since the industry realized its No. 1 customer was female, retailers have moved all their marketing in that direction. But she has also found that the market is no longer just the woman, but oftentimes the couple.

“Thirty years ago the home was the wife’s territory,” she said. “Now we’re talking to the team. The house is their shared domain; they’re participating in it together. Homes have become smaller, so they both make their impact on it.” She added that she even sees many men pre-shopping for their wives, because “the team” doesn’t have the time to waste.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 2.33.23 PMWhittemore expanded upon this idea to include various types of couples. “Younger generations seem to be more collaborative in the shopping process. Retailers need to know how to sell to couples, which could mean husband and wife, two girlfriends, or mom and daughter. You need to be able to adjust.”

But many believe things haven’t actually changed all that much. Even though the demographic has evolved, the core values and interests of the group are relatively unvarying.

“Women have always been our main market,” said Judith Huck, owner of Classique Floors in Portland, Ore. “The partner may have a little more interest now, but it is not equal interest. I know personally my husband doesn’t care what we put in our home; he just isn’t interested. Yes, we’re not all housewives these days, but we still take more interest in the home. I still hear husbands say, ‘Well, if you like it, let’s get it.’”

FCA Network president Olga Robertson has a similar view of today’s female market. “Whether you are a housewife or in the workplace—or both—women want what they want. If they can get what they want at a discounted price, that’s even better.

“Generally, they are not inclined to sacrifice quality for price, but women do have a tendency to trade themselves down. It’s up to the sales associate to help them justify spending the money on what they want. Women, in most cases, are the ‘careful steward’ of the house and responsible for getting the best value for themselves and their families.”

Establishing a sense of community is also an important tool for selling to the female demographic. Twice a year, Classique Floors hosts a “Ladies Night Out,” which includes local vendors selling jewelry, lotions, candles and other luxury goods, wine tastings and even a tarot card reader.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Huck said. “We’re getting more strategic about it; this year we’re going to have one event two or three weeks before Mother’s Day and one before Christmas. Anything that brings people into your store for any reason will help business in the long run. They know where we are, what it looks like in here, and that we won’t attack them when they walk in the door.”

Whittemore echoed this approach by recommending hosting events that bring customers though the door. “Maybe it’s a bring-a-friend event to hear someone talk in the store. Those are successful because she has a reason to go into a non-threatening environment. I can’t stress enough: no hard sell.”

Because of the nature of the female demographic, word of mouth is another important tool for reaching this group. “We get a lot of referrals,” said Kelly Cantrell Sisk of One on One Floor Covering in Hazel Green, Ala. “A lot of times we get women who have friends or family who have already used us. The mother/daughter/cousin/aunt relationships go a long way.”

Women are also more visual customers than men and communicate their individuality and originality through the home. A well-styled showroom and captivating online presence will help target this aesthetically minded customer.

“Savvy retailers are paying attention and realize their stores are sets for showing off how product looks at home,” Whittemore said.

“We should be targeting today’s woman with inspiration,” Fike added. “Give her ideas, cool visuals and new product attributes. Get her excited about the project.”

Today’s online culture has augmented this idea of women being visual consumers. The Internet, specifically sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz, have made it possible for women to envision what they want before they walk blindly into stores.

“They do their online research before they come in,” Sisk said. “They normally already have a look they’re going for. Of course the price point is still very important, but even if they have to get the cheapest version of that look, they’re going to get that look they came in wanting.”

According to experts, retailers should concentrate less on selling and more on being a resource for their female customers.

“Respect her and her research,” Whittemore advised. “Help educate her and help make sense out of the very complicated flooring category. Be transparent with pricing and installation to prevent issues. She’s your toughest customer; satisfy her and it will be easier to meet the needs of your other customers.”

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Women in Flooring – Olga Robertson: Taking risks, making mistakes part of the journey to success

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Jenna Lippin

SONY DSCSONY DSCWhen Olga Robertson, president of FCA Network, was first approached about joining the flooring world in the early 1970s, she was reluctant to get on board. “I said, ‘No, that’s not for me. I’m not going to work in a floor covering store.’ The only knowledge I had of flooring at the time was that my mom ordered carpet from someone and he ran away with her money, so that wasn’t a good experience.”

However, Robertson at the time was working as an insurance claims analyst, a job, she said, that “bored her to tears.” A friend who worked as an installer suggested she talk to Bob Hill, owner of Floor Covering Associates (FCA) in Shorewood, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. One interview later, Hill offered her $15 more a week than she was making, so she decided to take the position as “something transitional.” Continue reading Women in Flooring – Olga Robertson: Taking risks, making mistakes part of the journey to success

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FCA Network ‘hits the floor running’

Sports-themed market, products, pricing plays to rave reviews

Volume 27/Number 24; March 31/April 7, 2014

By Louis Iannaco

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 11.22.29 AMChicago—FCA Network on March 21-22 hosted one of the most successful conventions in its 17-year history. Led by president Olga Robertson, the buying group consists today of 60- plus retailers, the overwhelming majority of which made their way from various points in the Midwest for two days of networking, education and product specials.

The show’s theme, “Market Madness, Hit the Floor Running,” played off the NCAA basketball tournament combined with day one of the event, also known as Vendor Day, in which more than 25 suppliers exhibited their latest products. The ballroom was buzzing with excitement during the sports-themed event, as FCA dealers shopped the show while keeping abreast of the latest tournament action on a big screen TV complete with a grandstand where they could enjoy a courtside view. Continue reading FCA Network ‘hits the floor running’

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Smaller buying groups take retailers a step ahead

Volume 26/Number 17; January 7/14, 2013

From education to networking to competitive pricing, FCA Network gives members what they need to be successful.

In today’s economic climate, retailers have to fight for every piece of the market, no matter how small or large the slice. Buying groups are not only for new products and services, but can also provide retailers with the tools needed to succeed in business.

Two buying groups, FCA Network and Big Bob’s, have unique characteristics
that attract retailers to join. FCNews contributing editor Emily Cappiello spoke to several members of both groups to find out what makes the organizations different and why joining was the best decision for their businesses. Continue reading Smaller buying groups take retailers a step ahead

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Phenix repositioned to rise to new heights in 2013

Volume 26/Number 17; January 7/14, 2013

Mark Clayton

Phenix Carpet, a division of Dobbs Mills, is somewhat of an enigma. Those who know the brand rave about the company and its products. As an example, it has a strong position with groups such as the National Floorcovering Alliance and FCA Network. But many retailers are not completely aware of the value and high style Phenix brings to market. That’s all about to change. Industry veteran Mark Clayton came on board last year as president and CEO, and 2013 is the year the company will shift into overdrive with updated products and a new brand position. Clayton recently spoke with FCNews publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman about what the industry can expect to see from Phenix this year. Continue reading Phenix repositioned to rise to new heights in 2013

S² Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2013 launches mobile app

Dallas — Surfaces|StonExpo/Marmomacc has released the 2013 S2 mobile app available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. The app gives attendees and exhibitors access to a fully integrated trade show solution that streamlines real-time information including alerts, interactive floor map and networking tools.

“The S2 mobile app is a great tool that will make your trip to the show very productive,” said Dana Teague, group director, Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc. “Everyone should take advantage of the benefits this free app offers, which will maximize your efficiency on the show floor and help you easily plan your time at Surfaces.” Continue reading S² Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2013 launches mobile app