May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24
By Ken Ryan
Oxon Hill, Md.—In the first 100 days of the Mike Barrett administration, the new Haines president and CEO, along with Chris Pratt, chief sales and marketing officer, and Hoy Lanning, special CEO advisor, set out to personally visit customers, mostly retailers but suppliers as well—including one- and two-person dealer operations.
Barrett presided over his first Haines Loyalty Club Summit here May 4-5. The venue, the Gaylord National Resort, sits on the Potomac River, a mere 11 miles from the White House, where another new occupant recently marked his first 100 days in office.
Barrett, who took over as president and CEO of Haines on Jan. 1, said the road trip with the senior leadership team was about staying connected to their constituents. “It is, and will be, a critical part of what we have to do,” he told FCNews.
The Haines executive team, led by Barrett and Chris Pratt, also includes Doug Drew, chief logistics officer, who started in January after previously serving in logistics for Dollar Tree Stores.
Haines may be the largest flooring distributor in the industry but it is not too big to take time out to greet its base. As Lanning put it, “without them, we’re nothing.”
Lanning, a holdover from the CMH acquisition, will serve Haines in an advisory capacity through the end of the year. He said the distributor visited about 100 customers since the beginning of the year. “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.”
Suppliers and retailers in attendance were impressed with the steps Haines has taken to solidify existing relationships, some of which have lasted for more than a century—as in the case of Armstrong. “I’d say the last six months we have had regular meetings, positive meetings, with the new management to plan the business moving forward,” said Joe Bondi, senior vice president, chief product officer, Armstrong.
Joe Cole, owner of DeHart Tile Co., a Christiansburg, Va., dealer, added, “It was good to be with the new management and hear what they had to say. The partnership they want to build—the bridge they want to build to their dealer base—will help all of us be successful.”
Haines’ Loyalty Club Northern Summit drew a record attendance of nearly 600, including 184 retailers. Now in its 11th year, HLC membership has experienced “straight-line” growth, Pratt said, to where 400 retailers are now HLC members. According to Haines, HLC retailers who take full advantage of Haines’ resources—including special pricing, $700 rebate and exclusive product offers—perform several percentage points better than non-HLC members.
While maintaining close ties with customers was a theme at the Summit, perhaps the bigger story was the distributor’s push for improved logistics and service, or what Barrett called “a leveraged differentiated service model. We want to create a model that services customers like no one else can.”
To that end, Haines announced a transportation deal with J.B. Hunt, a $7 billion Fortune 500 transportation company that specializes in supply chain logistics. Haines will outsource its route deliveries to Hunt, which is known for connecting shippers and carriers using data to match freight with capacity to create efficiency and cost savings. “We felt this was a great cultural fit,” Barrett said. “We are not a trucking company; we sell flooring—that’s what we do. Hunt will provide the logistical and transportation excellence to support us. We are a month into this relationship and the accuracy and flexibility that Hunt provides is amazing; they hit the ground running. We are also getting good intelligence back from them. This is one of the smoothest transitions in logistics transportation that I have been a part of in my career.”