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Eye on inflation: Flooring industry meets economic threats head on

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Ken Ryan

 

The flooring industry is operating amidst significant inflationary pressures, the likes of which haven’t been experienced since the end of the Great Recession. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in June that inflation climbed 2.8% in the last 12 months to its highest level in six years.

Inflation impacts all industries, including flooring, which is heavily dependent on raw materials and transportation—both of which have endured substantial cost increases.

“Inflation is a real business challenge that is facing Mohawk and many other industries today,” said Brian Carson, president, Mohawk Flooring N.A. “We hear about it in the newspapers, on TV, everywhere. We see it in our personal lives when we go to the store, the restaurant and even the gas station. The good news is our economy has strengthened over the past few years, but that strength has created constraints in many areas of our businesses—from lumber and petrochemical materials in our products, to transportation and labor to produce and deliver them.”

In response, suppliers across the board are announcing significant price increases in products. Others along the supply chain have acted in kind, passing along cost increases to their end users. At the same time, companies are working to maximize efficiencies to better withstand an inflationary period that some believe will be the new norm.

“If you have only been in business since 2006, you haven’t seen inflation—we have been in a deflationary period,” said Tim Baucom, executive vice president of the residential division of Shaw Floors. “Since the Great Recession we’re feeling legitimate inflationary pressures for the first time. Going forward, we have to manage and lead with an inflationary mindset rather than a deflationary mindset, because we are moving toward a period like in the early ’80s where even if you are making significant improvements in product, you will have to raise prices to maintain profitability, so you can reinvest in your business; otherwise, you will fall behind.”

Like other manufacturers, Armstrong Flooring has implemented price increases and surcharges in cases where it can no longer absorb the effects of inflation. According to Steve McLean, director, global procurement, the company is proactively working to manage the impact of inflation primarily in lumber, resilient raw materials and transportation costs. “We consistently monitor basic energy, petrochemical feedstocks, key raw material markets and macro-economic indicators globally to understand pricing trends. This enables us to identify risks and opportunities in the market. Our efforts include negotiating with suppliers, particularly where prices are not warranted by market dynamics. We also leverage the extensive global supply base we’ve built up over decades to give us flexibility in sourcing.”

Distributors in the middle

Flooring wholesalers feel the pain of inflation as acutely as any member of the supply chain, as they have faced steady margin erosion even while looking internally to control costs. The consensus among several of the top 20 flooring distributors is the consumer of any goods or services should bear the cost of inflation. Accordingly, wholesalers typically pass along a portion of their increased input costs to the channel, much as their various suppliers do as well.

Raising prices or kicking the inflationary can down the road is not enough, however. At the same time, both distributors and their channel partners are working together to drive efficiencies. That’s according to Scott Rozmus, CEO of FlorStar Sales, a top 20 wholesaler based in Romeoville, Ill. Whether it involves finding lighter-weight (but still protective) packaging, reviewing and optimizing delivery routes, introducing additional technology to improve the speed and accuracy of order entry, or otherwise simplifying the business process, he believes any activity that reduces cost provides an opportunity to pass less along. “While we certainly are committed to such efficiencies, at the end of the day much of inflationary supply chain pressure has to get passed along to that end consumer of the goods or services.”

As with others, Haines has certainly dealt with cost increases, particularly in the transportation arena where ELD (electronic logging devices) mandates have caused a significant contraction of capacity. The industry’s largest wholesaler has worked over the past three years to find ways around what was then a projected increase in costs.

“As this forecast has become reality, these plans are helping us,” said Michael Barrett, president and CEO, Haines, Glen Burnie, Md. “We have worked to engage companies such as JB Hunt and CH Robinson to assist us contractually to ensure our costs are kept under control. On the delivery side, we have a multi-year contract with moderate escalators that has aided us in managing through the cost component of transportation. Companies like Hunt also have much greater capability to ensure our driver pool is maintained through their capabilities in sourcing and hiring drivers. The one variable that does affect us and others is fuel. As fuel continues to rise, we will have to address the cost impact of this charge. On the inbound freight side, the positive impact that CH Robinson provides is the ability to find capacity needed to move freight. We are seeing costs escalate here as well and we continue to monitor to ensure we can achieve our goals.”

Both of these approaches are within Haines’ business model. What is somewhat out of its control is manufacturer price increases. As Barrett explained, “[Manufacturers] are balancing all the transportation cost issues but are feeling pressure on energy costs to run factories as well as raw material cost increases. In these cases where price increases are happening, we are having to pass them through. We continue to look for ways to keep our costs under control, so we can minimize any internal need to raise fees or other costs. We will maintain that approach for the foreseeable future.”

To a large degree, increases in raw materials and transportation costs are part and parcel of doing business in any industry, flooring included. What’s different now as opposed to, say, six years ago is the pace of inflationary pressure, executives say.

Several distributors began working on inflationary strategies long before inflation began creeping into the picture. Madison, Wis.-based Jaeckle Distributing, for example, has had a fuel surcharge in place for many years to help cover the fluctuations in costs that can’t always be addressed through constant price revisions. That helps keep things more stable so the company doesn’t have to reissue standard pricing as frequently. “That said, price changes are happening more frequently these days, and it can be a challenge to stay on top of things and keep all pricing updated,” said Torrey Jaeckle, vice president. “We’ve had one vendor who has increased prices three times already this year. Given the fact that product might only be ordered by a customer once a month or so, it can be confusing for customers to be getting billed different prices on every subsequent order. It also creates issues for distribution and retailers who might bid a job several months in advance only to find costs have changed significantly once the order actually comes through.”

What’s more, he added, vendors seem to be giving less notice on price increases now, which gives distributors less time to implement the increases, which means they are absorbing some increases at least for a short period of time until they can work through the logistics of implementing it on their end. “In addition, pricing has become much more complex over the past several years, which increases the time to implementation,” Jaeckle said. “Many prices are now negotiated between the retailer, distributor and manufacturer, and when prices change trying to get all three of us on the same page with regards to new pricing going forward can be a challenge and time consuming.”

Adleta, a top 20 wholesaler in Carrollton, Texas, has absorbed as much as it could, according to John Sher, president. For the first time in years it has been forced to increase its delivery costs. “However, our one-charge drop fee is still a tremendous value,” Sher explained. “Our customers have told us the consistent Adleta delivery on our trucks with Adleta-employed drivers trained to handle flooring products is one of the value adds we bring.”

Exacerbating the inflationary pressures in 2018 are increases in labor—both in hiring and retaining—insurance premiums and fuel costs. “Workers costs have gone up; entry-level costs have gone up substantially in the last three to five years but really in the last year,” said Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf, a top 20 distributor based in Owings Mills, Md. “The fact is labor, insurance and fuel all continue to rise. This time it’s for real.”

Given the tight labor market, several manufacturers say they have been forced to pay bonuses for new hires and to retain quality employees.

Retailers react

To no one’s surprise, flooring dealers say they are experiencing the same pressures as everyone else. Strategies to combat the inflation differ somewhat, however. Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, Louisville, Ky., said some material costs can be caught upfront and passed on in some cases or not at all. “Retail prices are usually easily adjusted, but builder/multifamily can be hard to change more than once a year,” he said. “Freight and fuel surcharges are those hidden cost that are harder to recover, and those items really eat into the bottom line of a company.”

Adam Joss, co-owner of The Vertical Connection Carpet One, Columbia, Md., said inflationary pressures haven’t negatively impacted his business since the increases get passed on to the consumer anyway. “Personally, I think there’s more to it than just labor shortages and raw material costs—it’s also a result of years of consolidation.”

In talking to many of its dealer partners, Mohawk’s Carson said he knows they have seen inflation in their costs as well—things like installation labor and rents. “At Mohawk, we are constantly investing in our plants to innovate new products, but also to innovate our processes to drive efficiencies and lower our costs and to do our best to offset inflation. Despite these efforts, sometimes the input costs rise to a degree where we have no alternative but to pass them along. I know that’s difficult, but it’s a reality in today’s markets. I think these pressures of additional inflation will be with us for a while.”

Keeping its plants financially healthy is the fuel that allows for continued investment in new products, new capacities, new services and new efficiencies, Carson added. “These investments in innovation are vital to all our businesses whether the dealer, the distributor or the manufacturer. Mohawk will always be committed to continuous innovation.”

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HLC Summit: Change comes fast for ‘nimble giant’ Haines

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Ken Ryan

Charlotte, N.C.—Change may be inevitable, but the pace of change occurring at Haines in the past two years—all aimed at delivering a strong, stable, scalable and sustainable platform to the flooring market—has been downright dizzying at times.

As Michael Barrett, president and CEO, told FCNews, “If you are standing on the sidelines, you can’t make sense of all the changes. What we’re going through is complicated, complex—a [range] of complexities. We’re waging war on complexity. It’s a challenge, but it’s all about improving the customer experience.”

The April 8-10 meeting—technically the Northern Summit—was held in Charlotte, the southernmost point for this show in the distributor’s history. Charlotte was symbolic for a few reasons: Haines’ market presence is running deeper in the Carolinas; Charlotte is near to its spanking new main distribution center; and Charlotte is also home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So it was appropriate that Rusty Wallace, former driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer, was the keynote speaker.

As both Wallace and Greg Vale, senior vice president of sales for Haines, pointed out, there are similarities between NASCAR and Haines’ trajectory. Both organizations have evolved from their roots; NASCAR’s history dates to Prohibition when runners—people who delivered moonshine—souped up their cars so they could outrun the feds, to today’s aerodynamic and technical marvels. Haines has evolved from a Maryland-based distributor serving the Mid-Atlantic to the largest wholesaler in flooring, with revenue double the size of the No. 2 player and a footprint the length of the East Coast. “We are evolving and our ability to adapt has helped our customers adapt,” Vale said.

The newest piece to Haines’ growing business is the Concord hub, which replaced the old CMH Wadesboro, N.C., as the central station for products. The 500,000-square-foot facility can store 250 trailers and has 33,000 primary storage locations. Haines’ ultimate goal is to provide next-day delivery to any customer in its network. Currently, next-day delivery is at 85%. As Barrett explained, “A lot of distributors can offer next-day delivery but in small increments. We want to do it across 15 states. Nobody else can do what we can do given our portfolio size.”

Barrett took over as president and CEO of Haines about 15 months ago. He is one of several new or elevated members of the executive team who are tasked with transforming a $500-million distributor into a nimbler giant. “We have to go faster, and our team has embraced that. We’re focusing on customer facing improvements, better inventory planning. Our technology is aimed at improving customer-focused systems. We’re looking at the bottlenecks in our processes to make it easier to do business with us. We want to be the best at customer focus. We’re not there yet, but we feel we are further along the road now.”

In the past year, Haines has built out its executive team, brought on a finance/supply chain analytics team and an HR squad to improve effectiveness of people in the organization. It also has a new IT staff to help manage the business.

On the transportation side, Haines has completed phase two of its optimization, which is to have JB Hunt handle outbound delivery.

There were also external moves. Late in 2017, Haines formed a strategic alliance with top-5 distributor Belknap-White Group. Belknap became a minority stakeholder in a collaborative arrangement that will open doors for both companies. In early 2018, Haines executed an agreement with long-time supplier Armstrong to expand distribution coverage in the South and East.

“This business is transforming with lots of changes in the past year and more to come,” Barrett said. “Some moves are necessary to become more scalable and sustainable.”

Long-time Haines Loyalty Club retailers were supportive of the moves. “Haines has made some good decisions over the last several years,” said Ryan Commerce, owner of Indoor City, a Lancaster, Pa., flooring dealer, who has been with club since the beginning. “When you double in size following the CMH acquisition, you are going to struggle to combine those resources. I think they have cleared those hurdles and are on the other side of that. The mass and scale they have will provide value for everybody up and down the chain.”

For other dealers, it is about the bottom line. “I couldn’t ask for more from this group,” said Rob Smith, owner of RPS Carpet & Floors Wholesale, Baltimore. “Last year we were up 20% and I get great backing from their reps who support my business very well.”

Bill Zeigler, co-owner of Charles F. Zeigler & Sons, Hanover, Pa., added, “Considering the low cost, benefits and huge portfolio of products offered by Haines, there isn’t any program in the industry that compares.”

Haines Loyalty Club retailers and some suppliers were happy with the news that starting in 2019, Haines will have one summit. It will be held March 14-15 in Savannah, Ga. In the past, Haines has held a Northern Summit (usually near Baltimore-Washington) and a Southern Summit in Orlando. The Savannah summit will be held at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa and is positioned as a destination with more entertainment added. “I think that is a really a smart move, a great idea,” Commerce said of the single event. “Hopefully it will allow them the resources to provide even more for their members.”

John Himes, president of Wood Flooring International, said that as long as the Loyalty Club members attend, he’s all for the one summit. “To get in front of their customers is the goal, so if we can do it one set-up, so much the better.”

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Haines to bail out of Bravo Services Group

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Ken Ryan

 

Haines, the flooring industry’s largest distributor with 2017 sales of approximately $495 million, has announced plans to exit the Bravo Services consortium, effective April 1, 2018. Haines, in a prepared statement, said the decision to end the relationship with Bravo, which dates to 2000, was based on the distributor’s inability to justify the cost and time commitment vs. the overall return on investment.

“Our decision, while difficult, is simply a matter of return on our investment from the efforts we put in,” Mike Barrett, president and CEO of Haines, said in a press release. In a follow-up call, Barrett told FCNews that over the past year he had evaluated the “the time and effort required to attend meetings, answer surveys, attend the annual [summit], plus our dues, and we frankly haven’t been able to justify a return on those investments.”

Barrett said he kept John Carney, executive director of Bravo, and John Sher, president of Adleta, and a group leader, apprised of his concerns the entire year. “So this, while not their hope, was not a surprise,” he stated. “John Carney and John Sher are great leaders in our industry, and we wish them and the Bravo members the best.”

Bravo disseminated its own release confirming the departure of Haines following a lengthy management review. “Bravo wishes to thank Haines for their many contributions to Bravo over the years,” Carney said.

Haines recently expanded its distribution coverage with Armstrong to the South (FCNews, Feb. 5/12). However, Barrett said that move had nothing to do with its Bravo decision. Also, in November, Haines and Belknap-White Group forged a partnership aimed at improving the  effectiveness of both companies. As part of the deal, Belknap will hold limited shares in Haines through an equity investment, which would help Haines reduce debt and continue to invest in new initiatives.

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Haines makes changes to executive team

Glen Burnie, Md.—Haines has added two new executive leaders to its team: Brian Green, senior vice president-CMH sales division; and Greg Vale, senior vice president-Armstrong division. In addition, Hoy Lanning, senior advisor to the CEO, will work directly with Green and Vale as champion of total sales, with responsibility for the successful Armstrong expansion integration.

Green has been with Haines since 2004 and has held various positions within the sales organization. As a member of the executive leadership team Green will continue to play a key role in strategy and leadership within the CMH division. He will also expand his focus to include total company performance and direction.

Vale has been with Haines since 2000 and has held key positions within the sales team. As Haines begins the efforts of integrating the expanded Armstrong territory into Haines, Vale will play an instrumental role in leading growth and execution within this division. He will also focus on total company performance and strategy as a member of the executive leadership team.

Key responsibilities for Lanning include sales deployment, customer relationship management, key supplier relationship management and overall sales results and strategy. With over 42 years of flooring industry expertise as well as over 27 years of ownership and executive level leadership in the Southeast, Lanning is positioned best to ensure Haines’ total sales plan execution continues to improve and expand.

“I am excited to have these three leaders taking on additional responsibilities as we continue the work of creating a world-class distributor,” said Michael Barrett, president and CEO, Haines. “Their contributions have been integral to our new success and they will be instrumental as we take on new territory with Armstrong.”

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Haines, Belknap-White form partnership

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

Deal leverages strengths, broadens opportunities

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.16.19 AMHaines and Belknap-White Group, the No. 1- and 3-ranked flooring distributors in annual revenue with a combined $700 million in 2017 sales, announced the formation of a partnership intended to improve the strategic effectiveness of both organizations.

As part of this arrangement, each company will hold a seat on the other’s board of directors, and Belknap will hold limited shares in Haines by virtue of an equity investment in Haines, the industry’s top distributor with 2017 revenue at $490 million (FCNews, Nov. 6/13). The investment will help the Glen Burnie, Md.-based wholesaler reduce debt and continue to invest in new business initiatives. “It is a real win for us,” Michael Barrett, president and CEO of Haines, told FCNews.

Barrett emphasized the Belknap-White investment should in no way be misconstrued. “We didn’t need the money; we saw it as a way to start a collaboration process that allows us to do things at a quicker pace than we could have done on our own. We’ve done a lot of benchmarking and best practices with [Belknap-White] in the past. Through this alliance we are taking benchmarking and best practices to a new level.”

The two distributors, members of the Bravo Services Group, will continue to operate as they do today with no change in the leadership structure at either organization.

Ray Mancini, CEO of Mansfield, Mass.-based Belknap-White, said his company is excited to be working with the Haines team in “creating a flooring platform from Maine to Florida that differentiates us from our competitors while working together to help our customers be more successful.”

Specifically, Barrett said the partnership will help both companies in the areas of logistics and global sourcing. “This official relationship will allow us to work very directly with Belknap-White and opens doors in helping us build a strong distribution business. In some areas, they might be able to help us, and they can learn from us as well. It is really a two-way opportunity.”

Employees from Belknap-White will be invited to spend time with their counterparts at Haines to learn how their internal operation works. Conversely, Haines will send some of its key staff to work alongside Belknap-White employees in areas of strategic importance. “My approach is I don’t have all the answers,” Barrett explained. “They do things on the sales and marketing side that we think we can learn from.”

The distributors formed a six-person steering committee with three members on each side. The idea is to collaborate on ways to make each stronger in their respective markets at a time of consolidation within the distribution industry. “The number of distributors is going to shrink in the industry over time,” Barrett stated. “Having a partner like Belknap helps us become stronger.”

One aim of this partnership is to create added value for its vendor partners. Both Haines and Belknap-White are long-term Armstrong distributors. Earlier this year, they were recipients of the Thomas Armstrong Award, which recognizes wholesalers that exemplify integrity, a resilience of spirit and a deep dedication to their customers.

Don Maier, president and CEO of Armstrong Flooring, hailed both companies as exceptional distribution leaders. “Their collective financial strength has allowed them each to invest in their business, build exceptional sales capabilities and deliver world-class service,” he told FCNews. “We believe their partnership should encourage even higher levels of business excellence.”

Maier said he does not believe the alliance will have any negative impact on Armstrong, noting, “Solid, long-standing relationships with our distribution partners, in every geographic region, allow us to continue our legacy of excellence…We believe the investment and collaboration between these two phenomenal distributors should lead to good results, both for them and Armstrong Flooring.”

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Haines, Belknap-White Group enter strategic partnership

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.29.09 PMGlen Burnie, Md.Haines and Belknap-White Group have recently completed an investment and collaboration agreement designed to improve the strategic effectiveness of both organizations. This partnership is expected to lay the groundwork to better position both organizations for the future as the industry continues to consolidate, according to both companies.

“We are excited to be working with the Haines team creating a flooring platform from Maine to Florida that differentiates us from our competitors while working together to help our customers be more successful,” said Raymond Mancini, CEO of Belknap-White Group.

As part of this arrangement, each company will hold a seat on the other’s board of directors. In addition, Belknap will hold limited shares in Haines. Both distributors will continue to operate as they do today and there will be no change in leadership structure at either organization.

“Raymond Mancini and his team are great partners,” said Michael Barrett, CEO and president of Haines. “We are very pleased to begin developing an east coast distributor partnership we believe will create added value for our companies, our vendor partners and, most importantly, our customers.”

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Distribution: Haines’ secret to success

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

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 9.58.47 AMFor Haines, the industry’s largest distributor with $490 million in sales, 2017 has been a year of transition and transformation under Michael Barrett, who was appointed president and CEO on Jan. 1.

For Barrett and his new executive team (which includes Hoy Lanning, senior CEO advisor; Reid McCarthy, CFO; Bill Rothenback, chief human resources manager; and Doug Drews, chief supply chain officer) the year started by re-establishing relationships with customers, its supplier network and 600-strong Loyalty Club members.

“We have traveled the entire network, listened to what their thoughts were on how we can be a better service provider,” Barrett told FCNews. “I know I have spent a lot of time in airports this year but it is well worth it.”

Lanning said it was the new CEO’s desire to meet with Haines’ constituents on their turf. “We were welcomed by the retailers. They really appreciated the commitment Mike has made to being with his customers and listening to their concerns. In our industry, there are not that many businesses that would go around to their customers to the extent we have and ask what we can do for them. I think it makes us unique. It is about the customer, after all. They are our livelihood.”

Barrett and his team take over a distributor that has finally absorbed the acquisition of CMH, which at the time was a top 5 wholesaler. Haines’ nearly $500 million in revenue dwarfs the No. 2 player in the field. Its geographic coverage encompasses the East Coast from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the southern tip of Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia. Today Haines operates 25 supply centers and nine warehouse locations and is about to open a 500,000-square-foot central hub in Concord, N.C., which has the capacity to expand an additional 100,000 square feet.

Barrett, whose background is in operations and logistics, wants to transform Haines into a large-scale distributor that is also nimble in its market approach. “Our East Coast footprint and the service model that is being established will further differentiate our company in the future,” he explained. “We continue to look for ways to deploy technology that is additive to our service model and gives us the ability to successfully run the company. This, combined with a powerful logistics model that is continually evolving and improving, will be key to our ability to provide uncompromised service.”

During 2017 Haines outsourced the shuttle network that moves inventory from building to building, and it outsourced its delivery fleet component to JB Hunt, a Fortune 500 transportation company. As Barrett explained, “We are not a trucking company; we sell flooring—that’s what we do. JB Hunt will provide the logistical and transportation excellence to support us.”

JB Hunt’s Dedicated Contract Services unit (DSC) provides Haines with a host of outsourcing solutions to enhance efficiency. One service—dynamic routing—creates routes from scratch, typically for the coming hours or days using a given set of orders instead of using static/master routes. “It just makes sense to partner with someone with JB Hunt’s capabilities since they already have the software and the people with the engineering knowledge,” Barrett noted.

In 2018, Haines will deploy a customer-facing analytics technology called Predictive Delivery that provides customers with real-time information on estimated deliveries. Other technology enhancements designed to improve the supply chain will be rolled out in the coming months.  “We’re using technology to maximize efficiency,” Barrett explained. “We want to be good and fast.”

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Haines sales, marketing department undergoes changes

HainesGlen Burnie, Md.—Haines announced that Chris Pratt, chief sales and marketing officer, is no longer with the organization effective Oct. 3. The Haines team thanks Pratt for his contributions to the business and wishes him much success in his future endeavors.

In addition, Haines has promoted Brian Green to senior vice president – CMH sales and marketing. In this new role, Green will lead all sales and marketing efforts for the company’s CMH flooring division. Haines’ Armstrong Flooring division will continue to be led by Greg Vale, Haines vice president – Armstrong Flooring sales and marketing, who will now lead all marketing as well as sales efforts for his division. Randy Ahlgrim, Haines director – supplies division, will continue in his role as leader of the company’s supplies division.

All three division leaders will report directly to Michael Barrett, president and CEO, with the two sales leaders also being supported by Hoy Lanning, Haines’ senior CEO advisor.

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Lanning to stay on as Haines senior CEO advisor

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 2.22.56 PMGlen Burnie, Md.—Haines’ Hoy Lanning has agreed to stay with the company as senior CEO advisor. Lanning originally planned to retire at the end of 2017. After working with the new leadership team at Haines there was mutual agreement for Lanning to remain as part of the executive leadership team for the foreseeable future.

“We have worked very hard the last three years integrating Haines and CMH,” Lanning said. “The payoff to our work is now happening. When Mike Barrett (president and CEO) discussed me staying on with Haines longer to help maximize our efforts, I was happy to agree. I really enjoy this business and the people (employees, customers and suppliers) in it. We can do great things together.”

Barrett also expressed excitement about the decision. “[Lanning’s] advice and experience are a key part of the success Haines has been having this year. He is a trusted advisor to me and someone I have tremendous respect for as both an industry leader and a person.”

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Haines: Large in scale, nimble in approach

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

The following feature is the seventh 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 Haines, the industry’s largest distributor.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.11.18 PMHaines was founded in 1874 by John J. Haines, who used his poker winnings from his time as a prisoner of war (Civil War) to start the company. Casper Marston, his son, helped transition the business into flooring through an agreement with Armstrong—a partnership that remains intact today. Acquisitions such as Peerless and CMH catapulted the company to its position today as the largest U.S. flooring distributor with sales approaching $500 million.

Haines has a new executive management team in place and recently embarked on what company executives say is an organizational transformation focused on improved logistics and providing optimal service over the largest distributor footprint in the industry. “Our East Coast footprint and the service model that is being established will further differentiate our company in the future,” said Michael Barrett, who took over as president and CEO in January.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.13.59 PMTechnology will be a catalyst for this new business model, according to Barrett. “We continue to look for ways to deploy technology in a way that is additive to our service model and ability to successfully run the company. This, combined with a powerful logistics model that is continually evolving and improving, will be key to our ability to provide uncompromised service to our customers.”

Haines by the numbers

  • 700 employees
  • 12 million miles driven by the Haines fleet yearly
  • 800,000 stops per year
  • 25 supply centers
  • 9 warehouse locations

Going above and beyond
The 500-dealer strong Haines Loyalty Club continues to be a true differentiator. “Not only can we create customized product lines and provide first looks at new products coming to market, but it is also a way for us to provide business services to our members,” Barrett said. “Whether it is website development assistance, training on installation techniques, or how to establish relationships in the financial arena, our Loyalty Club is a way for Haines to help our customers.”

Nuts & bolts
Geographic coverage: The East Coast from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the southern tip of Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Brands (partial list): American Olean, Ardex, Armstrong, Bruce, Columbia, Congoleum, DriTac, FloorMuffler, IndusParquet, Interceramic, IVC, Marazzi, Mirage, Mohawk, Mullican, Quick-Step, Shaw, Stanton and Tarkett.

 

For more information on Haines, call 800.922.9248 or visit jjhaines.com. For more information on Bravo Services, contact John Carney at 214.215.2880 or visit bravoservices.com.