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Mr. David’s Flooring, RD Weis join forces

By Megan Salzano

Two formidable players in the contract commercial space, Mr. David’s Flooring International and RD Weis Companies, have entered into a strategic partnership.

The primary goal, according to the parties, is to improve their diverse services while adding value to their vendor and specifier communities. The partnership is also designed to create new growth opportunities by leveraging advanced technology to deliver a superior commercial customer solution.

“Being able to combine our network and ability to service our customers is truly at the heart of what we’re doing,” Leonard Zmijewski, CEO of Mr. David’s Flooring, told FCNews.

Randy Weis, CEO of RD Weis Companies, said he hopes the larger, more competitive business can serve as the provider of the future. “We want to be the model for how business is conducted between flooring contractors and their client community—wherever they might be,” he explained. “We’ve always felt our greatest value to our customer base was providing good solutions and good information, and—for both organizations—that will continue to be a lot of what we stand for.”

At its core, the partnership brings greater access to a network of skilled installers, expertise in a broader range of commercial flooring materials and special performance conditions and technology that delivers greater project efficiency and effectiveness.

Weis added that while “doing good work” used to mean success, investments in technology are crucial for future growth. That investment is a key strategy when it comes to bringing added value to the expanded business and its partners. Zmijewski noted that Mr. David’s has already invested $1.5 million into technology systems that will benefit both the vendor and specifier communities.

When it comes to the vendor community, Weis said information technology will no doubt change the game. “I don’t think anyone else in our industry is going to have the kind of information database that we’re creating here,” he explained. “That will benefit our vendor partners. They are very much trying to do the same thing, and I see us doing it in more of a partnership going forward than ever before. With the path our businesses are on collectively, from a technology standpoint, we will distinguish ourselves and really become industry leaders beyond just doing great work.”

For the specifier community, Zmijewski said the group has the ability to look nationally rather than locally when it comes to product knowledge and installation issues. As such, investments in technology will help elevate the company’s value proposition. “There truly are differences from one part of the country to the next as far as how things are going to be installed,” he said. “There are some issues that you’ll run into. The ability to have that knowledge and talk intelligently about those issues is a huge value.”

Lastly, the partnership will look to support the industry into the future by investing in its people. Zmijewski noted the loss of skilled installers, RSAs and other members of the industry due to a lack of career path for most. Part of the long-term goal of the partnership is to provide new growth opportunities for its employees.

“There aren’t too many companies in our business that are truly investing in their employees or have the ability to hold onto the best and brightest that might start in our industry,” Zmijewski stated. “What I’ve seen, being a dealer, is we lose some of the brightest people in our industry because there is not any type of career path. When we decided to grow and expand geographically, our goal has been to advance our employees. We have some great people; they energized our company. It’s truly exciting to be able to do that.”

To read the full story, see the upcoming Oct. 21 print issue of FCNews.

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Starnet fall meeting: Commercial group positions for future growth

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

By Ken Ryan

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-12-17-amNashville, Tenn.—“Forward to the Future” was the theme of the 2016 fall meeting of the Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership. Based on statistics and anecdotal evidence, the future looks very bright indeed for the industry’s largest group of flooring contractors.

Unlike the spring meeting, which is mandatory, Starnet members are not required to attend the fall gathering. And yet, each autumn the attendance numbers continue to increase, as was the case this fall at the Omni Nashville, where 368 attendees turned out. This represented more than half of membership—and an uptick over last year’s meeting in Boston.

Starnet now has 167 members “with two more in the hopper,” according to Jeanne Matson, president and CEO, who celebrated her 10th year with Starnet at the fall meeting. Starnet members, which generate between $3 million and $130 million in sales, are closing out a year in which most of them are forecasting solid single-digit gains in revenue, with a healthy backlog of projects to start 2017. The group typically adds two to four members per year, and Matson suggested they might accelerate that pace going forward, although they will be choosy.

“This is not an easy group to get into,” she told FCNews. “We have what we call a ‘no-jerk policy.’ We want the right members. We set high standards, and therefore it can be a challenge to grow membership because all our members have to be full-service flooring contractors. But if we achieve our goals for 2016 we will be at an all-time high in membership.”

Matson has an explanation as to the reasons why the optional fall meeting is becoming a must-attend conference. “This event is strictly business and strictly education and they like that. In fact, some members prefer this show to the spring show. Also, we are getting tremendous support from our vendors and they are bringing more people to this meeting.”

The fall workshops included discussions on the future and family. More than 62% of Starnet members are family-owned businesses, and many of them are facing issues such as succession planning. One panel discussion was titled: “Leadership Planning for a Family Business,” which—as members have found—can be a contentious issue when one or more members of a family are interested in taking over the business while others are not interested. What might be the financial obligations to the non-participatory family members?

There were also forums on hiring, training and retaining, and on the financially healthy dealer. Chris Adams, owner of Value Carpet One in Salisbury, Md., joined Starnet this fall to reinvigorate his business. “We have a lot of competition in our area, and I felt like we needed to step up our game. It is easy to fall into a rut when you are a family-run business, and while we haven’t gotten complacent, I am concerned about that.” Roughly 50% of Value Carpet One’s business is commercial, with more than 50% of its profits coming from that side.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-12-02-amStarnet, which emphasizes benchmarking and networking at all of its meetings, formalized its leadership exchange program at the fall meeting. This program enables members to host other members at their facility, or in the field, for a few days to learn their way of doing business in a non-competitive structure. “It is bringing into practice what Starnet is all about, which is networking and sharing,” Matson said. “Basically the leadership exchange is speed dating. We’ve been doing it informally but this event is where we formalized it. It is much more structured today.”

Several members who have gone through the program said the experience was enlightening, gave them ideas that they could implement in their own businesses and was much more fun than they would have expected.

Panel discussion
The higher education segment continues to be one of the strongest in the commercial market, especially those financially well-endowed institutions. During the opening session, facilities managers representing higher education convened for a panel discussion hosted by Tarkett North America.

At one point cheers were heard when Dave Irwin, associate vice chancellor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, told audience members that LEED certification has become such a cumbersome process that he no longer uses it in projects. Irwin said LEED paperwork, which can amount to hundreds of pages of documentation, was costing an additional 3% to 5% in costs and delaying projects. “We also found that contractors and designers were chasing LEED points that were not necessarily beneficial to the end user.”

Irwin said the university will reinvest the 3-5% savings toward products that are energy efficient and carbon-neutral—so in the end the building is sustainable, it is just not LEED certified. Some Starnet members confirmed that the process of LEED certification has become tedious and needs to be dialed back.

Irwin said college students have become activists in environmental matters. “They’ll come up to you and want to know what will happen to the carpet that’s on the floor after the end of its life cycle. They are also asking about transportation costs of getting the product to the site. Our students are very focused on climate change and sustainability. There is not even a question about climate change with them—it is ‘what are we going to do about it?’”

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Fuse Alliance welcomes two new service providers

fuse-allianceLaguna Niguel, Calif.Fuse Alliance, a member-owned organization of professional commercial flooring contractors, has added two new service providers to the network: GP Land and Carpet of Brockport, N.Y., and Nevada Contract Carpet of Las Vegas. With the addition of these two members, the Fuse Alliance network now reaches 84 member dealer partners with more than 150 locations throughout the United States and Canada.

“The addition of GP Land and Carpet and Nevada Contract Carpet illustrates our commitment to establishing a strong network of flooring professionals that have the same high-quality level of skill and knowledge throughout the network and in every location,” said Geoff Gordon, executive director at Fuse Alliance. “It is members such as these that continue to set us apart in the building industry.”

GP Land and Carpet, a certified Woman Business Enterprise and authorized dealer on the New York State flooring contract, is a full-service flooring company that specializes in commercial carpet and hard surface flooring. GP Land and Carpet Corporation’s projects include corporate, education, government, institutional, public spaces, airports and healthcare.

Nevada Contract Carpet is a full-service flooring company that works in both the residential and commercial market segments. The company’s commercial projects cover most segments including corporate, hospitality, retail and healthcare.

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Fuse Alliance launches Spark Awards

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 3.30.22 PMLaguna Niguel, Calif.Fuse Alliance, a member-owned organization of professional commercial flooring contractors, today announced the launch of the Spark Awards. As a platform to honor the network’s most impressive flooring designs and installations, the Spark Awards are made up of eight categories including Best in Show and Member’s Choice.

“We are thrilled to offer our members a program that really showcases the craftsmanship of their teams,” said Geoff Gordon, executive director of Fuse Alliance. “Our network is made up of some of the industry’s best and brightest flooring professionals and the Spark Awards further support our efforts to champion the positive impact they have on the built environment.”

Based on originality, quality of installation and design innovation, the awards represent outstanding craftsmanship, skill and expertise in the flooring industry. Categories include Toughest Site Conditions, Best Branded Environments, Most Aggressive Timeline/Schedule, Greatest Space Challenges, Best Flooring Solution, Most Maximized Budget, Best in Show and Member’s Choice. Except for the Member’s Choice category, which will be based upon a vote process by network members, a panel will review all projects. The panel of notable names includes leaders in the design and flooring industry: David MacDonald, executive vice president, project management and construction, Lendlease; Lew Migliore, leading technical flooring expert and founder of LGM and Associates; and Susanne Molina, FIIDA, CID, LEED AP, a principal of the Los Angeles-based interior design firm K2S Studio.

Awards are open to Fuse Alliance members only and must include flooring products from network suppliers. Fuse members access a straightforward, streamlined process to enter projects. There is no limit to the number of entries. Winners will be announced at the network’s annual conference, which is held in the first quarter of every year. To find out more about the Spark Awards, visit sparkawards.fusealliance.com.