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Carpet One Floor & Home welcomes new advisory council members

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 3.42.04 PMManchester, N.H.—Carpet One Floor & Home has announced four new members to its advisory council: Kelly McDonald, McDonald Carpet One Floor & Home, Boulder, Colo.; Chris Taylor, Carpet Master Carpet One Floor & Home, Latham, N.Y.; Laura Rosborough, Carpet One Floor & Home, Mentor, Ohio; and Dean Kelly, Carpet Baggers Carpet One Floor & Home, Charleston, S.C. Carpet One Floor & Homes 12-member council meets periodically through the year to advise senior management and help shape the direction of programs developed by the flooring retailer cooperative.

“Our advisory council is essential to make sure our strategy is in line with what our members need,” said Eric Demaree, president of Carpet One Floor & Home. “We depend on them to be the voice of our membership and they are there to challenge us to provide the best service possible to our members.”

Each new advisory member was selected to represent one of four regions previously represented by retiring members Cindy Corbett, John Mazzullo, Scot Hill and Will Dukes.

All new members of the advisory council will take on their official duties at the annual fall advisory council meeting taking place the first week of October in New Orleans, La.

For more information, visit joincarpetone.com or ccaglobalpartners.com/divisions/carpet-one.

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MFA completes first annual general meeting

MFA_photoCalhoun, Ga.—The Multi-layer Flooring Association (MFA) welcomed new members at its first annual general assembly meeting in Dalton. The newly formed association gathered to define the innovative, robust category of multi-layer polymer composite flooring as well as discuss the need for industry standards regarding performance, terminology, safety and sustainability.

“The MFA meeting was extremely productive with very robust discussions highlighting the pressing need for clear standards and industry terminology for all to use in this fast growth category,” said Harlan Stone, MFA president. “It was hard to believe it was only our first annual general assembly.”

Peter Barretto, president and CEO of Torlys, an MFA member, also serves as MFA’s marketing committee chairman. During the general assembly meeting, he outlined several goals and objectives. Among them: 1.Have the first ASTM standard for WPC products established and in place by the end of the year; 2. Create identifiable category names for the new rigid core LVT sector; and 3. Expand MFA’s marketing committee to help communicate the aforementioned standards and agreed-upon names.

In addition, MFA announced plans to create a new sustainability committee to develop environmental standards for the category. Metroflor’s Rochelle Routman will serve as sustainability committee chair, while David Sheehan (Mannington), Troy Virgo (Shaw Industries) and Amy Costello (Armstrong Flooring) will serve as members on the committee.

The MFA, as an association, is developing very fast, which is needed in this fast-paced segment,” Barretto said. “This new association already represents the majority of the industry in terms of the top brands and sales volume. We expect the few remaining players will join shortly to make MFA the unequivocal voice of the new rigid polymer flooring category.”

The association comprises 15 of the most influential flooring suppliers, including: Armstrong, CFL, EarthWerks, IVC, Karndean, Mannington, Metroflor, Mohawk, MP Global, Novalis, Pak Lite, PLI, Shaw, Torlys and USFloors. Board members are as follows: Harlan Stone (president) Metroflor; Philippe Erramuzpe (vice president) USFloors; Jamey Brock (secretary) Armstrong; and Mark Hansen (treasurer) Novalis.

 

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Carpet One strategy hinges on ‘Owning the shopping experience’

August 14/21, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.19.22 AMSalt Lake City—Competition for the consumer’s disposable dollars has never been more fierce, especially when it comes to renovation/remodeling projects. To gain an advantage, experts say, it’s critical that retailers take complete ownership of the entire sales process—from the research phase all the way through installation—if they are to close more deals and generate repeat business.

That was the underlying message Carpet One management conveyed to its members in attendance here at the group’s summer convention. During his opening welcome speech, Eric Demaree, president, Carpet One Floor & Home, challenged retailers to “own the customer service experience,” beginning with online, where the consumer typically begins her research; to the store when she’s ready to pay the retailer a visit; all the way to her home, where the installation and post-sale care take place.

In driving home the importance of providing complete and professional customer service throughout the process, Demaree cited published research and reports on the issue. “The Harvard Business Review describes it as the customer’s “end-to-end” journey. A major international consulting firm describes it as the product of the interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. That all sounds so academic for me; I see it this way: ‘A great customer experience is any value add that any person or company delivers to me that makes me feel good and want to tell other people about the company.’”

Regardless of the difference sources, there’s a common theme that emerges. “There’s a wealth of evidence out there that shows those who own the customer service experience generally outperform the competition in every single area,” Demaree stated. “These retailers tend to make more money, they have less employee turnover and they get more positive reviews. More importantly, 50% of consumers—including all of us in attendance here—will spend more money with companies that provide us with a superior customer experience, according to American Express.”

To that end, Demaree told attendees this year’s convention is all about discovering and sharing ways members can make their customers feel good, with the hope they will tell others about their positive experiences. To drive the point home to members, Carpet One showed a documentary-style video/testimonial that showed one woman’s journey through the entire purchasing cycle—from the research phase all the way through to final installation. The video—which was broadcast in segments or “episodes” over the course of the convention—followed the journey of “Karen,” a 45-year-old working, married woman with two kids—and pets.

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.19.38 AM“For the next two days,” Demaree told attendees, “we are going to go on a journey through the eyes of Karen as she shares her story about finding the perfect floor, from the time she goes online to start her search to the in-store shopping visit, to what she experiences when the measurer and installer go through her home as well as the services she receives after the job is complete.”

The exercise was designed to inspire ideas that retailers could not only share with other members but also bring back to their businesses after the show. Gayle Selden, president of Ed Selden Carpet One Floor & Home, Lakewood, Wash., believes retailers can improve the way they interact with customers by remembering their own customer service experiences. “A lot of it is just returning to the things we know but have forgotten to do over time,” she explained.

Others agree, adding that focusing on the little things—such as how employees greet customers—can go a long way in making customers feel appreciated. “Everyone who answers the phone is part of the process—even if they are not in sales,” said Juan Cisneros, sales associate with Upland Carpet One Floor & Home, Ontario, Calif.

Other fundamental ideas include improving the look and feel of your showroom, beginning with the entrance. Jim Aaron, vice president of merchandising, CCA Global Partners, believes the in-store experience starts in the parking lot and the window. “You’re trying to create a feeling of, ‘Wow, I feel really comfortable here.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.19.43 AMTheresa Fisher, senior vice president of visual merchandising and brand development, concurs. Comfort is key, she said, given the fact most flooring purchases are not something people are accustomed to making. It helps to make sure traffic lanes within the store are wide open and that the space is decluttered. “People in general don’t feel comfortable when they’re confined, and women in particular don’t want to feel crowded.”

But let’s not forget about drawing customers into your store in the first place. For Stevie Leasure, owner of Carpetbagger Carpet One, Charleston, S.C., the key was transferring advertising and marketing funds from traditional means (print and billboards) to online initiatives. “We have really embraced the digital space; 75% of our advertising is through electronic marketing today.”

All in all, management likes what it is seeing at the membership level. “We have the best dealer base, and we are exceeding the industry growth rate,” Howard Brodsky, co-founder, chairman and co-CEO, CCA Global Partners, told FCNews. “It’s an exciting time for the industry.”

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U.S. Congressman Duncan visits TCNA

TCNA_logoAnderson, S.C.U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan, SC-3, spent time meeting with the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) staff and touring TCNA’s facilities on Aug. 9.

Eric Astrachan, executive director, provided the Congressman with a brief current state of the ceramic tile industry and discussed issues in Washington most relevant to the tile industry including U.S. trade agreements, EPA regulations and increasing problems with fake ceramic tile products and false advertisements. The Congressman’s visit ended with a tour of TCNA’s state-of-the-art performance testing laboratories, led by lab manager Katelyn Simpson.

“We are honored Congressman Duncan took time out of his busy schedule to stop by the Clemson Research Park for a visit with TCNA,” said Bill Griese, director of standards development & sustainability initiatives, TCNA. “With our association headquarters right here in the Congressman’s backyard we wanted him to see firsthand the relevance of the ceramic tile industry and our organization’s involvement in research, testing and the development of standards.”

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Haines retains its laser focus on the customer

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.43.24 AM 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.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.43.07 AMSuppliers 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.”

Record turnout
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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.43.12 AMWhile 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.”

 

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MFA outlines near-term goals, objectives

February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18

By Lindsay Baillie

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.38.27 PMLas Vegas—The newly formed Multilayer Flooring Association (MFA) held a meeting during Surfaces 2017 to discuss the organization’s initial goals and objectives. Among the key topics discussed were category standards, membership and third-party certification.

“[This meeting] was about getting new members, talking about the ASTM standards we are trying to create and the speed at which we want to do it,” said Peter Barretto, MFA marketing chairperson and president and CEO of Torlys, one of the group’s founding members. “We already have a first draft [of the standards] to get that ball rolling. By May we want to have the next round of meetings.”

The standards Barretto is referring to will be created within the ASTM framework to better define the multilayer flooring category for the benefit of retailers and customers. “It’s a new category; we don’t have the standards here that we have in other categories such as LVT, laminate and wood—all of which are established,” he explained. “It’s a hybrid category so we need to make sure we have a hybrid standard.”

After creating standards, the MFA will look into different types of certifications for association members. “We are looking at creating performance and safety standards for the product with third-party certification,” Barretto explained, adding these standards will be categorized according to residential and commercial specifications.

Barretto believes the MFA has to continue developing to keep up with the ever-evolving subcategory. “The association is moving at the same speed as the subcategory itself. It has come from nothing to over half a billion dollars in four years.”

Thankfully, the association already has dedicated members who are willing to work hard to achieve the primary objectives. “We’ve got a group of people who are all rolling up their sleeves and just doing it,” Barretto said, noting each original member provided a number around $25,000 for membership fees.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place in the second quarter. Anyone interested in membership should contact Philippe Erramuzpe, membership chair, at philippe@usfloorsllc.com.

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National Floorcovering Alliance Members share their blueprints for success

NAPA, CALIF.—The recent National Floorcovering Alliance meeting made up for a relatively light business agenda with exceptional value for its members. Aside from the standard networking opportunities and one-on-one meetings with key suppliers, members shared some of their most successful initiatives over the past 12 months that others can and will incorporate in their businesses. Continue reading National Floorcovering Alliance Members share their blueprints for success

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Georgia congressman to speak at annual CRI meeting

DALTON—The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) reported that Georgia 9th District Congressman Tom Graves will be the featured speaker at the CRI’s Annual Business Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Lecture Hall of the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton. Continue reading Georgia congressman to speak at annual CRI meeting