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Flooring America: Times are good, no time to get complacent

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Grapevine, Texas—Flooring America’s winter conneXtion, held at the Gaylord Texan Resort, was a celebration of the good times that most members are experiencing. And president Keith Spano’s message to the group: Let the good times roll. “We have to make hay when the sun is shining, and the sun is shining now,” said Spano, who oversees the Flooring America, Flooring Canada, Floor Trader and IDG brands.

Spano told FCNews that 49% of members were up 10% in 2017, while 27% were up 20%. That means 24% had gains in the single digits and lower. “If you are not experiencing the success your peers are, we are here to help,” Spano said. “In fact, we have members who came up to us and mentioned that a couple of members were struggling, and they were like, ‘We want to help them.’ That’s the great thing here; everyone’s on the same team. It is all about unity and staying together.”

Rick Bennet, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners, echoed Spano’s sentiment that the economy is in a good place and 2018 is the time to invest. “If you are not having fun right now you may want to think of something else to do because business is good.”

Flooring America/Flooring Canada retails have aggressively ridden the wave of momentum the LVT category has created. As Cathey Gundlach, vice president of merchandising explained, “Our hard surface to soft mix is higher than CCA and the industry. Very early on our members embraced LVT.” As an example, Flooring America retailers have 66 exclusive SKUs of COREtec, USFloors’ highly acclaimed WPC product. Shaw Floors, another major LVT/WPC member, introduced Galvanite to members at the show. This solid core product features a 9.5mm core and 30 mil wear layer; it is offered in plank sizes of 9 x 72 and 18 x 36.  It will be available to CCA members in April.

However, the biggest vendor news was from soft surface company Engineered Floors, which has joined the co-op. “This is a huge boon for us,” Spano said.

New initiatives
For the first time in several years Flooring America did not unveil any new marketing programs at this convention. This was by design as members absorbed a bevy of new programs. “We decided let’s take inventory of everything that is available to us,” Spano said. “We tried to simplify this convention and not overwhelm members.”

The group did announce a new online visual aid, My Design Finder, which is heralded as a way to connect with consumers searching for floors. According to Frank Chiera, senior vice president, marketing & advertising, “My Design Finder is a visual way that allows a consumer to select her design style based on a project need, with Pinterest-like room scene photography which then identifies her persona based on that preference.”

Flooring America has hired a new advertising agency, Comm Creative, which was selected over six other candidates, including the previous agency that had served FA/FC for the past 18 years. “We are asking our members to change, so we have to lead by example,” Chiera said. Beginning in April Boston-based Comm Creative will launch an all-new creative featuring more customization and personalization to customers’ stores. Intricate details such as the size of a store’s windows and ceiling heights will be factored into the creation of signage for a store. “This is going to be huge for us,” said Bobby Meredith, owner of Flooring America OKC, who sits on the advisory council and was briefed on this move. “Comm Creative is very proactive and that lends itself to our group which is ahead of the curve in digital and social media.”

Chiera noted that Comm Creative “is an agency that clearly thinks with its heart. We realized they understood not only how to tap into the mind of our core customer but also that they would be an incredible strategic partner for us.”

Personalization counts

To stay relevant in a shrinking brick-and-mortar retail world, flooring dealers are often urged to deliver more personalization in their customer interactions. That message rang loud and clear at conneXtion with several executives imploring retailers to treat their customers with more tender loving care, Referencing the spate of retail store closings in 2017, co-CEO and co-founder Howard Brodsky told dealers they should treat customers the way hotels welcome guests.

“It’s about personalization, intimacy, one on one,” he said. “Consumers want to be talked to as individuals, not as a mass. And that person is willing to spend more money.”

Spano closed the convention with an important message to the members in attedance: “When you go home don’t get comfortable. Do something different. Make a change. Control your own destiny—or someone else will.”

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Flooring America/Canada appoints new advisory council members

Manchester, N.H.—Flooring America/Flooring Canada, a division of CCA Global Partners, recently appointed Patrick Marlowe, a member since 2009 with two locations in Florida; Jenny Mrozinski, a member since 2000 with a showroom in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Michael Toste, a member since 2011 with two locations in California; and Travis Carlson, a member since 2002 with a showroom in Fort Myers, Fla., to its advisory council.

The council consists of 13 members—11 members from the U.S. and two members from Canada. The members serve three-year terms with various start and end dates to ensure the council has new member representation on a continuous basis.

To qualify for a seat on the council, members must be stockholders of their business, be able to provide strategic and tactical insight on current and future programs, and be open-minded to look outside his or her business to focus on what is best for the overall membership.

“The Advisory Council plays an important role in the management of the cooperative as it’s our connection to understand the needs of our membership,” Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada said. “These new appointees will be a tremendous addition to the council based on their business acumen and their experience as successful flooring retailers.”

For more information visit the Flooring America/Flooring Canada websites.

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CCA Global Partners promotes Gundlach to VP, merchandising

CCAglobal-Logo-680x320Manchester, N.H. — CCA Global Partners has announced the promotion of Cathey Gundlach to vice president of merchandising for the Flooring America/Flooring Canada, International Design Guild and The Floor Trader groups. In her new role, Gundlach will chart the course for proprietary, private label programs and execute the necessary trade up strategies for three of CCA’s flooring businesses. These businesses represent full service retail, luxury and outlet models.

Gundlach first joined the CCA team in 2006 working for the ProSource division. Most recently, she held the position of vice president of hard surface flooring. With nearly 20 years of buying and merchandising experience, Gundlach brings her knowledge of vendor relations and merchandising as well as 10 years of experience in the hard surface flooring category to her new role.

“Her prior positions at CCA have made Gundlach an ideal candidate for this position,” said Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada and The Floor Trader. “She has helped CCA enhance their hard surface programs and has helped develop new brands that fit the growing demand for hard surface styles.”

Gundlach brings with her a practical understanding of cooperative members’ needs from both a product knowledge and pricing standpoint, as well as, long standing vendor relations to immediately impact members.

“I’m thrilled to see Cathey take on this new role,” said Charlie Dilks, chief product officer for CCA. “She will be an asset to her new team and I’m sure she will make great strides for each of these unique businesses.”

Gundlach will continue to operate out of CCA Global Partners’ St. Louis office.

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Flooring America/Flooring Canada gains three new members

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.45.44 AMManchester, N.H.—Flooring America/Flooring Canada, a division of CCA Global Partners, the nation’s largest floor covering cooperative, has expanded its North American footprint with the addition of three Canadian member stores: Mike’s Carpet & Flooring in Burnaby, British Columbia, Grand Forks Flooring in Grand Forks, British Columbia, and Brant Flooring Canada in Brantford, Ontario.

“Independent business owners recognize the power of belonging to a cooperative,” said Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada. “Hands down, gaining access to best-in-class technology, outstanding product selection and innovative marketing campaigns allows our members to propel their businesses forward.”

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Flooring America/Flooring Canada rebrands meeting

FlooringAmerica_FlooringCanadaPhoenix—Flooring America/Flooring Canada kicked off its rebranded bi-annual meeting Thursday, now called “conneXtion.”

The meeting connects its more than 500 independent floor covering retailers at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The company said it wants the meeting to become what “SXSW (South by Southwest)” is to technology and music industry. Continue reading Flooring America/Flooring Canada rebrands meeting

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Top training initiatives for 2013-14 and beyond

Industry professionals keep top rank thanks to continued education

Nov. 18/25 2013; Volume 27/number 15

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 12.29.56 PMCommitted, prepared, well-trained professionals represent a hallmark of the flooring industry. In an effort to maintain momentum of this legacy, a number of manufacturers and organizations host training initiatives for its members and partners. Continue reading Top training initiatives for 2013-14 and beyond

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Providing help to retailers: who’s doing what

By  Matthew Spieler

(First of two parts)

When it comes to giving retailers the necessary ammunition to succeed, there are plenty of options from which to choose as just about every segment of the industry provides some type of resource or tool for dealers to allow customers to prosper and grow their business.

These tools are numerous—from educational training to professional marketing services to social media and more. In many cases most are offered at no charge. Even when there is a charge to improve oneself, there are ways for retailers to offset some or all of it depending on their affiliation with an association, buying group or manufacturer. Continue reading Providing help to retailers: who’s doing what

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Flooring America/Flooring Canada: Brand repositioning targets consumer recommendations

by Melissa McGuire

Orlando, Fla.—Flooring America/Flooring Canada (FAC) is repositioning its brand to a corner of the world it believes is currently unoccupied: The most recommended flooring retailer in North America. A new tagline reflects a new way of doing business: “Where Friends Send Friends.”

The brand repositioning is a result of what Keith Spano, president, referred to as a sea of sameness in terms of the advertising message flooring retailers attempt to convey to consumers, FAC included. “We lost our message; we fell into the same me-too trap. It was tired. It was same-old, same-old. If you took off the Flooring America logo and put something else on, you’d find there was no uniqueness. So we went back to the drawing board and developed a message we can truly own.” Continue reading Flooring America/Flooring Canada: Brand repositioning targets consumer recommendations