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NAFCD presents 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winner

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 3.39.10 PMChicago—The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) recognized Bob Wagner of Fishman Flooring Solutions in Baltimore, Md., as the recipient of the 2017 NAFCD Lifetime Achievement Award, Nov. 15. The NAFCD Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has shown exceptional leadership and made outstanding contributions that have led to expanding the vision of the floor covering distribution channel.

Wagner currently serves as president and CEO of Fishman Flooring Solutions. His experience in the flooring installation business dates back to the mid-1970s, when he was trained as a floor covering installer while in high school and worked in his family’s flooring installation supply business. He is a strong believer in giving back to the flooring installation community, which has provided him with continuous employment for four decades. He is actively involved in industry affairs and is a past president of NAFCD.

“Bob Wagner has given a significant amount of time and energy to not only NAFCD over the years but other industry organizations all in an effort to enhance the industry for all,” said Kevin Gammonley, NAFCD executive vice president. “He is an effective and passionate voice in the promotion of the value of the wholesale distributor in the channel. He has been a committed volunteer leader who always has the industry’s best interest at heart.”

In his current capacity, Wagner oversees more than 210 employees working in 35 locations who, since May 2012, own 100% of their company. His customer-centric leadership has helped the employee-owners of Fishman focus on improving how they serve and help their customers do their jobs better.

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Thabet receives FCNews’ Lifetime Achievement Award

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9


Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.24.15 AMSt. Georges, Quebec, Canada—Pierre Thabet, owner of Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage prefinished hardwood flooring brand, was honored Sept. 14 with Floor Covering News’ sixth annual Al Wahnon Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented to Thabet by publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman, associate publisher Dustin Aaronson and sales associate Nadia Ramlakhan at Boa-Franc’s headquarters here.

Floor Covering News established the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 to recognize and celebrate those people who have not only made significant contributions to the floor covering industry, but, more important, worked toward its betterment and made a difference over a sustained period of time. Simply stated, the award is intended to recognize service and leadership that is of a scope and duration to be considered a lifetime achievement.

Thabet exemplifies everything this publication seeks in a Lifetime Achievement Award winner. It was 1983 when Thabet purchased Boa-Franc, which at the time had three employees. Six months later, he watched as flames tore apart his establishment. It was Saturday, March 3, 1984, and it was 25 degrees below zero. He tried to save as much as possible but then the roof collapsed. By 9:45 p.m. that night, nothing was left but ashes.

Thabet returned to the location the next day at 4:30 a.m., gathered his insurance papers and put together a plan to rebuild. Seventeen days later, the reconstructing began. The company was back in production less than three months later.

Out of the ashes of that March 3 fire a flame was lit that still burns 33 years later. Thabet rebuilt and grew his company to become the fourth-largest hardwood flooring manufacturer in North America with nearly 400 employees.

Growing up in St. Georges, Thabet said many people from this area were instilled with the work ethic that success only comes from perseverance. One of his favorite sayings is: “I play not to play, I play to win. To be the best in everything is not possible, but you should be the best at what you commit to. One of our common values at Mirage is ‘GCS,’ which stands for good common sense. It is about having pride in what we do.”

Thabet founded Boa-Franc with the belief that quality would be the best weapon to differentiate itself from its competition. And he has hammered that “quality” theme for over 30 years. He believes quality extends beyond a product—it is the quality of service you provide; it’s the people you hire and the customers with which you align yourself.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.25.10 AM“Pierre’s drive for progress and quality has established a culture that is dedicated to doing the best work in all things and at all times,” said Bruce Zwicker, the former CEO of J.J. Haines, the industry’s leading distributor. “The word ‘compromise’ is not in his vocabulary. His flair for flooring fashion and design means Mirage offers some of the most beautiful hardwood floors available.

“Consumers will tell you the product is virtually flawless,” he continued. “Mirage is the best flooring manufacturer in North America and probably the world.”

Mirage and Thabet are never satisfied with the status quo and have worked relentlessly for the past 33 years to produce quality products on a consistent basis without compromise. The company strives to be the best every day by applying rigorous and painstakingly small details that make all the difference in creating a high-quality product.

Ray Mancini Jr., president of Belknap White Group, the industry’s No. 3 distributor in sales, has carried the Mirage brand for seven years. When asked what attributes come to mind when he thinks of Mirage, he said, “Best quality, great culture, great partners and successful, excellent marketers. They are very good at communicating their mission and vision to their people.”

Thabet, in keeping with his unselfish manner, credits his employees for the company’s ongoing success. “This award belongs to every employee from the Boa-Franc team. They deserve all the credit because they’re the ones who have made all the difference these past 35 years. Of course, nobody can be the best in everything they do, but you should strive to be the best at what you’re really committed to.”

Impact outside flooring
But owning arguably the best hardwood flooring company in the world is only part of what makes Thabet deserving of a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also worked for the betterment of his community. Through Boa-Franc, Thabet supports the regional hospital foundation, children—as it relates to both health and sports—the homeless and people with addictions. He believes he has been blessed to have a beautiful, healthy and loving family (four children and 11 grandchildren) and to live in a safe and prosperous community. With that, he recognizes there are those born without a supporting family, health and resources. Thabet believes it is our duty to give back to the community and help those less fortunate by giving them access to shelter, food, good hospitals and other services.

Thabet has also stepped up when someone at Boa-Franc needs assistance. There was a time when the wife of an employee had been enduring multiple symptoms of severe joint inflammation, extreme fatigue and even had to stop working. One day Thabet learned after numerous visits with her physician, the employee’s wife had not received a specific diagnosis. He proceeded to introduce the couple to top-of-the-line physicians and specialists. He followed up with the physician and employee’s wife to make sure she was receiving the appropriate care. She eventually was diagnosed with Lyme disease and is now getting proper treatment for her condition.

Another example: Back in the spring of 2015, Thabet became the honorary president of the annual fund raiser campaign for LEUCAN, which provides services and care to sick children dealing with cancer. Among the activities was to have your head shaved in a symbol of empathy toward the sick children battling cancer. Thabet convinced a group of 22 Boa-Franc employees, including himself, to be shaved against sponsorships that the company matched dollar for dollar. It ended up gathering $93,000 from employees and Boa-Franc, and totaling $238,000 from Pierre’s presidency.

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Mohawk’s Lorberbaum honored with Lifetime Achievement award

Jeff Lorberbaum HeadshotDalton—As EY celebrated the 30th anniversary of its unique entrepreneurial awards program, Mohawk Industries’ chairman and CEO Jeff Lorberbaum became the first flooring industry leader honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award in the Southeast U.S. Region.

Lorberbaum joined Mohawk Industries in 1994 after the company merged with Aladdin Mills, the carpet and rug company his parents founded here. Under his leadership as first CEO and then chairman and CEO, Mohawk has grown to become the world’s largest flooring company with 2015 sales of more than $8 billion and 34,000-plus employees worldwide.

“I began my career in a small family business, which has grown into a large public company, and the success of both depended on talented, dedicated people,” Lorberbaum said. “I’m here tonight because of thousands of individuals who create, sell and deliver innovative flooring products to our customers around the globe.”

The EY awards honor entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Award winners are selected by a panel of independent judges, most of whom are past Regional Entrepreneur of the Year award winners.

EY, the world’s third largest professional services firm, pioneered the concept of recognizing entrepreneurs in 1986 when the company spotlighted business leaders in the Midwestern U.S. The awards program is now global in scope, and during the past three decades more than 10,000 emerging entrepreneurs have been recognized in 60 countries. The Lifetime Achievement awards more selectively honor those individuals who have delivered extraordinary success in the field of business.

Past Southeast Regional Lifetime Achievement honorees include CNN founder Ted Turner; Spanx founder Sara Blakely; Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy; and Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank. With this regional honor Lorberbaum becomes one of the finalists for EY’s national Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The black-tie award ceremony was held on June 23 in Nashville’s award-winning Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and attracted an audience of several hundred business leaders from across the region.

In his remarks, Lorberbaum explained his success was an extension of the important work of many people within Mohawk’s business and that even with the organization’s dramatic growth, he always views success as being “halfway there.”

He added, “Mohawk has become a successful business through the exceptional work of many people, but we remain dissatisfied with the status quo. For us, entrepreneurship is not about celebrating what we did yesterday; it’s the excitement about what we can achieve tomorrow.”

Lorberbaum expressed his gratitude for the EY honor but reinforcedthe Lifetime Achievement award only served as further motivation to continue the good work that has led to Mohawk’s growth and that has benefited the company’s customers around the world.

“All of us at Mohawk are proud of our past, but we’re more excited about our future,” he said. “We continue to invest in the business at record levels, drive innovation in all product categories and develop programs and services that help our customers succeed. We’ve made great progress, but we’re still only halfway there.”

He concluded his remarks by thanking Mohawk’s employees for their commitment to excellence, the company’s thousands of customers for their trust and support, and his family for their encouragement.

Winners of EY’s national Entrepreneur of the Year awards will be announced in November during the firm’s strategic conference in Palm Springs, Calif.