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WFCA empowers members with upcoming 2018 conference

Dalton—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) will host an educational conference titled Empower 2018 from Sept. 20-21 at La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The program will provide attendees with new and refined strategies, along with peer-to-peer connection opportunities, designed to propel their companies to new levels of success. This conference is part of WFCA's core initiative to ensure members access to the best professional training and a second-to-none professional tool kit.

The speaker lineup is a veritable “who’s who” of current stars on the professional business executive circuit. Empower 2018 will kick off with a keynote presentation delivered by Steve Hillis, chief executive officer of Empower Partners in Canton, Ga. He has been in the flooring industry for more than 30 years and has spent portions of his career fulfilling senior roles at Milliken & Company, Floor Focus, Beaulieu Group and The Mohawk Group. His presentation will focus on management leadership and the impact that best practices can have on employee retention, gains in efficiencies and team empowerment.

Jon Newman, owner of JLN Business Development based in Atlanta, Ga., will lead a discussion entitled “The Way to Wealth.” His focus will be on the positive effects of increasing both close rates and average tickets. Newman will shed light on how many dollars actually leave with those customers—even when you make the sale—and how to optimize in-store sales by identifying and addressing the needs and wants of those customers.

Additional speakers include: Debra Trueman, president of Manitzas Trueman Consulting Services based in San Antonio, Texas, who will be talking with audience members about the rapidly changing landscape of workplace sexual harassment and effective methods for the prevention of abusive behavior in the workplace; and Steve Abernathy, WFCA’s own chief financial officer, who will shed light on how to prepare for succession planning in his presentation “Next Steps in Building Your Business for the Future.”

Additional roundtables, panels and discussions will include: “Why Certification Matters” moderated by Robert Varden, vice president of Certified Floor Covering Installers Association, and Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA; and “Managing Your Online Reviews,” presented by Jon Newman, owner of JLN Business Development, and Sam O’Krent, owner of O’Krent Floors. Many other speakers and panel discussions are scheduled as well.

For more information, visit: events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=vr5uzprab&oeidk=a07eff7qeon158d3211.

 

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Armstrong Flooring names 2017 Elite Retailers of the Year

Lancaster, Pa.—Armstrong Flooring has named three companies 2017 Elite Retailers of the Year. Dalton Wholesale Floors was awarded Gold; Airbase Carpet & Tile Mart received Silver; and Flooring America-Fairfax earned Bronze. Mercer Carpet One Floor & Home and Carpets Unlimited received honorable mentions. The award is based on a variety of factors, including sales, lead conversion rates, overall program support, showroom quality and website excellence.

“We are delighted to recognize and thank the best of the best for their continuing excellence as Armstrong Flooring Elite Retailers,” said Chris King, vice president of residential national accounts, residential distribution, Armstrong Flooring. "We are grateful to work alongside a great team of retailers who exemplify the values of Armstrong Flooring and help us to be seen as the world's best and most trusted flooring company.”

The 2017 Gold Elite Retailer of the Year, Dalton Wholesale Floors, has been a proud Elite Retailer since 2015. Barry McEntire and Todd Stephens started Dalton Wholesale Floors in 2004 with only a handful of employees. Through the hard work and dedication of employees, it has now grown to five retail locations with over 70 employees.

Silver winners AirBase Carpet and Tile Mart’s 12 superstore locations serve Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Jersey and South Carolina. Carpet & Tile Mart is a third-generation, family-owned and operated business. They carry a wide variety of flooring options for the home, available to pick up in stores, shipped anywhere in the USA or installed next day by professional installers.

Bronze Elite Retailer of the Year, Flooring America-Fairfax, takes pride in its experience and staying power. Flooring America-Fairfax is locally owned and operated by the Menefee family. The flooring business began in 1979, and FA Design Build was launched in 2004 based on the vision of providing flooring clients with full-service remodeling from inspiration to installation. The showrooms feature a full range of flooring choices—from hardwood, luxury vinyl tile and plank, laminate and tile to carpet, area rugs and runners.

One of two distinguished Honorable Mentions is Carpets Unlimited, a family-owned and operated company established in 1969. Carpets Unlimited is dedicated to customer satisfaction and committed to bringing the highest quality products to its customers’ homes. Known as Owensboro’s premier flooring and furniture store, Carpets Unlimited was founded in 1969, and has grown in many ways over the last four decades.

Honorable Mention Mercer Floor & Home Carpet One is a local, full service floor covering store for excellent service and quality carpeting, hardwood, luxury vinyl tiles, ceramic tiles, custom area rugs and more. As a third-generation family business, Mercer has been servicing the Greater Baltimore region—especially Carroll and Howard Counties—since 1959.

 

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Business is truly a family affair at Alliance Flooring

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Ken Ryan

 

Tucson, Ariz.—Not since the heady pre-recession days has Alliance Flooring and its dealers been in such a sweet spot: an improving economy; a growing, contented membership; exciting programs coming of age and a supplier network that treats the annual convention as if it were a family reunion.

The 2018 annual convention held here last month amplified those good vibes—from co-CEO Ron Dunn’s opening Power of 10 talk to the Oscars-like awards dinner to close the show.

Suppliers were uniform in their support and appreciation of Alliance Flooring—which comprises CarpetsPlus/Color Tile and Carpetland USA—and its membership. “Alliance Flooring is an extended family; they treat suppliers as partners and appreciate all of our efforts,” said Kelly Oberschlake, senior director, residential sales, for Mohawk, which won Supplier of the Year (see page 27).

Tim Hanno, vice president of retail sales, Karndean Designflooring, said Karndean has a great relationship with all the buying groups, but “this one just takes it to another level entirely. We love this group and the family atmosphere that exists here. It’s like you’re going to a family picnic. This business is about relationship sales, and this is a great relationship.”

Ann McDermott, vice president, national accounts, Shaw Industries, agreed. “It’s not like coming to a convention; it’s more like coming to a family reunion. This group is special.”

In the past year, Alliance Flooring has added 18 members, bringing to 370 the number of retailer members, which represents well over 400 storefronts. About one-third is part of the Destination program, which was launched in 2015 and is now in its fourth phase. What started as a carpet boutique within the showroom has expanded into hard surface and continues to evolve. “It is the most successful program ever for CarpetsPlus,” said Kevin Logue, co-COO and vice president of marketing. “We will continue to expand the program, especially in hard surfaces.”

In 2018, CarpetsPlus will add 12 new private-label programs to Destination, which is offered to members on an a la carte basis. Members don’t have to take on any elements but are encouraged to do so as research shows the average selling price of products within a Destination showroom goes up $1 to $2 per yard. “Destination has definitely created a buzz, and more suppliers want in on the program,” said Ryan Dunn, co-COO and vice president of sales.

Before convention there were 116 stores in the program. By the end of the second day, there were 121 members in the program—and that number is expected to rise.

“We have some progressive plans to grow this company,” Logue explained. “We’re adding new vendors; we have suppliers coming to us now. As for retailer members, we have to be very selective who we let in. We have spent a lot of time researching the industry and we are not just trying to sign up anyone. They have to be open and willing to share their best practices.”

That willingness to share best practices, to help each other in need, is one of the hallmarks of the Alliance Flooring group that stands out for retailers like Ben Case, owner of Carpet Collection, Lockport, N.Y. “We can have open-book discussions with almost any member we want. This allows growth for my business in avoiding the pitfalls others have experienced. Other members are just a phone call away, and most look forward to helping another member; I know I do.”

Bob Dauenhauer, owner, Carpet World, Bismarck, N.D., concurred. “If you have any questions you could go to any one of the dealers and they will help you out. It’s the friendliest group you could be with.”

It’s not just a cliché with Alliance Flooring—the group really does work with each other and can serve as a supplier/distributor when necessary. One example is the relationship between Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus Color Tile in Venice, Fla., and Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, located roughly 200 miles apart—not exactly around the corner. Still, when Montgomery’s was out of stock on a particular product that it needed, it turned not to a supplier but to Josh Elder, who runs the Gainesville store. He delivered the goods in a timely manner and sent them the invoice. Scores of these examples were retold at convention.

New offerings
Alliance Flooring has added 40 LVT-type products since September, and the combined LVT/WPC/SPC category now represents 20% of its mill shipments; resilient sheet makes up another 10%. Carpet is now at 39%, down from 80% in 2002. “I never thought in my days that I would see carpet at 39% for our group,” Logue said. “Meanwhile, LVT is going off. My phone is ringing once, maybe twice a week from people who say, ‘Hey, you want to see my rigid core line?’”

Rather than take them all in, Alliance chooses roughly five “winning” lines for its members, with WPC and SPC commanding equal time. As Logue explained, “We are never going to be the group that has 35 suppliers in one category. We pick the right ones. We boiled down our LVT business to five lines because we need to put our members in a position to be as competitive as they can be in their own markets.”

This year’s new offerings include denser, more rigid cores; wider and longer planks; and tile and stone visuals in larger formats. The lineup features Shaw’s new Floorte Pro products (48 SKUs) and COREtec Stone. “No other group is showing this right now—we think this product is going to be hot,” Logue said.

The carpet introductions “are pretty short and sweet this year,” Logue noted. Leading the way are Anso Foundations and Bellera from Shaw and Dixie’s PetProtect Destination.

For Color Tile dealers, ProGen from Tarkett and Korlok from Karndean are new offerings in rigid. “This is their foray into the floating arena,” Logue said of Karndean. “They really did their homework and took their time in bringing this to market.” Laminate represents 4% of the group’s sales but has stabilized, Logue said. “We feel the waterproof story is compelling.” To that end, Mohawk’s RevWood, a new waterproof collection, will fill that niche.

Alliance Flooring welcomed several new suppliers. Phenix Flooring is the replacement for Beaulieu, which was acquired by Engineered Floors in 2017. Phenix is expected to help Alliance dealers in the area of solution-dyed products.

Peerless (which is Beaulieu Canada; however, legally the name Beaulieu cannot be used in the U.S.) is a new member with a familiar name running the program—Greg Payne, formerly with Shaw. Also new is DuChateau. “We needed a higher-end line,” Logue noted. “I have been after them for two years. DuChateau is a good pickup for us.”

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Installation: Flooring dealers grapple with tight labor market

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

By Ken Ryan

 

A strengthening economy coupled with an increasingly tight labor market—with unemployment at 4.1% nationally—has exacerbated the installation crisis for many dealers, observers say. The issue has forced some to turn work away because of a scarcity of crews, while others are having to pay substandard mechanics more just to retain them.

While flooring dealers say business is still up in 2018, they believe the installation challenge is stunting this growth. “Our business is being affected in three ways,” John Taylor, president of Taylor Carpet One, Fort Myers, Fla., told FCNews. “First, the shortage of labor is affecting our growth. Second, because of the shortage, our labor prices are going up because [installers] know there is a shortage. Lastly, the quality of the installers out there has gone down drastically, and the workmanship is not where it should be. This will continue unless we all somehow pull together and figure out a way to recruit and train people for our trade. Not everyone is meant for college and there is a great opportunity installing if it is done the right way.”

Such a tough labor market makes finding skilled workers more difficult in sectors like flooring installation. As such, some dealers are forced to pass on certain jobs, unable to fulfill their customers’ needs. In other cases, wages appear to be rising even for mediocre installers. “Unfortunately, I only see this problem getting worse as our labor force is aging—unless we can get the next generation interested in the trades,” said Josh Elder, owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, Florida.

For Carlton Billingsley, owner of Floors and More, Benton, Ark., the labor market is challenging his business to be more strategic, particularly on the commercial side as he picks and chooses which partners to work with. However, as the backlog grows, his business suffers. Rather than bemoan his situation, Billingsley has a solution he believes will pay off. “We are creatively working with other skilled/non-skilled laborers to learn flooring skills to grow with our business. We continue to invest in training at manufacturer facilities, our facility and in our regional area, too, to diversify the mechanics’ skill set so they can do different types of flooring. This way we can accelerate our growth together.”

Due to the shortage of qualified installers, Tim Schoolfield, owner of CountrySide Flooring America, O’Fallon, Mo., said he is “less confident” these days in spite of an improving economy. “I am less confident we can get flooring installed in a timely fashion or in the ability of new hires to exceed the expectations of an increasingly demanding customer,” he explained.

That sentiment was shared by other flooring dealers such as Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich. “It is an uneasy feeling to sell high-quality woven products, hardwood, LVT, laminate, etc., not knowing if you’re going to overwhelm your existing installation crews,” she said. “And then once their knees give way—who do you have? Having a back-up plan just isn’t the case today. No offense to millennials, they just aren’t driven to the challenge of such a difficult job. And when talking about the sales floor, office/support staff, [they] seem to get bored quickly and look for a better position.”

What’s regrettable, Buchanan added, is the flooring retail industry should be primed for growth. “There is so much opportunity in our field of retail—not so much with the shopping centers—because Amazon can’t quite get the touchy-feely experience of buying carpet. People have an opportunity to make a lot of money selling and even more so by installing, and also taking pride in the field of installation. It’s a scary thought.”

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Flooring America: Times are good, no time to get complacent

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Grapevine, Texas—Flooring America’s winter conneXtion, held at the Gaylord Texan Resort, was a celebration of the good times that most members are experiencing. And president Keith Spano’s message to the group: Let the good times roll. “We have to make hay when the sun is shining, and the sun is shining now,” said Spano, who oversees the Flooring America, Flooring Canada, Floor Trader and IDG brands.

Spano told FCNews that 49% of members were up 10% in 2017, while 27% were up 20%. That means 24% had gains in the single digits and lower. “If you are not experiencing the success your peers are, we are here to help,” Spano said. “In fact, we have members who came up to us and mentioned that a couple of members were struggling, and they were like, ‘We want to help them.’ That’s the great thing here; everyone’s on the same team. It is all about unity and staying together.”

Rick Bennet, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners, echoed Spano’s sentiment that the economy is in a good place and 2018 is the time to invest. “If you are not having fun right now you may want to think of something else to do because business is good.”

Flooring America/Flooring Canada retails have aggressively ridden the wave of momentum the LVT category has created. As Cathey Gundlach, vice president of merchandising explained, “Our hard surface to soft mix is higher than CCA and the industry. Very early on our members embraced LVT.” As an example, Flooring America retailers have 66 exclusive SKUs of COREtec, USFloors’ highly acclaimed WPC product. Shaw Floors, another major LVT/WPC member, introduced Galvanite to members at the show. This solid core product features a 9.5mm core and 30 mil wear layer; it is offered in plank sizes of 9 x 72 and 18 x 36.  It will be available to CCA members in April.

However, the biggest vendor news was from soft surface company Engineered Floors, which has joined the co-op. “This is a huge boon for us,” Spano said.

New initiatives
For the first time in several years Flooring America did not unveil any new marketing programs at this convention. This was by design as members absorbed a bevy of new programs. “We decided let’s take inventory of everything that is available to us,” Spano said. “We tried to simplify this convention and not overwhelm members.”

The group did announce a new online visual aid, My Design Finder, which is heralded as a way to connect with consumers searching for floors. According to Frank Chiera, senior vice president, marketing & advertising, “My Design Finder is a visual way that allows a consumer to select her design style based on a project need, with Pinterest-like room scene photography which then identifies her persona based on that preference.”

Flooring America has hired a new advertising agency, Comm Creative, which was selected over six other candidates, including the previous agency that had served FA/FC for the past 18 years. “We are asking our members to change, so we have to lead by example,” Chiera said. Beginning in April Boston-based Comm Creative will launch an all-new creative featuring more customization and personalization to customers’ stores. Intricate details such as the size of a store’s windows and ceiling heights will be factored into the creation of signage for a store. “This is going to be huge for us,” said Bobby Meredith, owner of Flooring America OKC, who sits on the advisory council and was briefed on this move. “Comm Creative is very proactive and that lends itself to our group which is ahead of the curve in digital and social media.”

Chiera noted that Comm Creative “is an agency that clearly thinks with its heart. We realized they understood not only how to tap into the mind of our core customer but also that they would be an incredible strategic partner for us.”

Personalization counts

To stay relevant in a shrinking brick-and-mortar retail world, flooring dealers are often urged to deliver more personalization in their customer interactions. That message rang loud and clear at conneXtion with several executives imploring retailers to treat their customers with more tender loving care, Referencing the spate of retail store closings in 2017, co-CEO and co-founder Howard Brodsky told dealers they should treat customers the way hotels welcome guests.

“It’s about personalization, intimacy, one on one,” he said. “Consumers want to be talked to as individuals, not as a mass. And that person is willing to spend more money.”

Spano closed the convention with an important message to the members in attedance: “When you go home don’t get comfortable. Do something different. Make a change. Control your own destiny—or someone else will.”

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CCA Global Conventions: Carpet One dealers welcome new supplier, push digital, training

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Grapevine, Texas—Fresh off a year in which it achieved its highest purchase volume in 11 years, Carpet One Floor & Home convened its winter convention here with a strong tailwind that portends an even stronger 2018.

“You translate purchase volume into sales,” Eric Demaree, president of Carpet One, told FCNews. “We have strong economic indicators. Our overall performance was two times higher than the industry average, and a lot of that is coming from LVT and ceramic.”

In 2017, CCA members generated $250 million in LVT sales (including WPC and rigid core products), and the category continues to grow at unprecedented rates, according to Charlie Dilks, chief product officer for the co-op. Ceramic and wood are healthy as well while laminate now represents less than 3% of the business.

Overall, carpet shrank in 2017 although the rate of decline slowed to 45% compared to 55% hard surface. Residential carpet volume improved in the fourth quarter for members, Dilks said, and will likely get a boost now that Engineered Floors and its DreamWeaver brand is part of the group. EF’s acquisition of Beaulieu’s assets served as an entree for Bob Shaw’s company to join the co-op.

Demaree referred to EF as “the bright new shiny penny.” However, Carpet One dealers see dollar signs. “The color, style, design and price of the DreamWeaver brand is excellent—there is perceived value there,” said Heather Gollihur, owner, Carpet Master Carpet One, Champaign, Ill., who noted that EF’s emergence “will make all the other mills sharpen their pencils.”

Craig Dunn, manager at Miller’s Carpet One, Seaside, Calif., said he is “thrilled to death” that EF has been added as a vendor. “There is a niche they are in that we weren’t getting anywhere else. They’ll fit in well with this group. They always have plenty of stock—as a lot of their product is stocked on the West Coast, which is a big deal for us because of our location and for the fact people want product now.”

Palmer Johnson, manager at Johnson Carpet One Floor & Home, Tulsa, Okla., added, “with Beaulieu out [EF] is filling a void. You have a vertically integrated company that is very competitive.”

EF’s DreamWeaver brand is a strong player in PET, which is now over 50% of the residential replacement market, according to industry observers. What’s more, EF is a leader in cost efficiencies, another reason for their desirability among retailers. To no one’s surprise, the EF booth was the busiest during the two-day trade show portion of Carpet One, and executives appreciated the retail love. “We are incredibly excited to be here,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing. Told that many Carpet One members urged the CCA executive team to bring on EF, Will Young, director of national accounts, said, “grassroots efforts usually work. It just takes time. We have a product line that can be sold to just about anyone who walks into a flooring store.”

DreamWeaver introduced its Resista line to Carpet One dealers. Available in 30 styles, Resista makes up half of the group’s polyester offerings.

Online leads and follow-up

The question was asked during the convention: Why does CCA continue to focus on digital marketing even though store traffic is trending down? As executives pointed out, people don’t shop like they used to, and they certainly don’t browse flooring stores. To attract consumers, Carpet One has invested significantly in digital media—including paid search, SEO and SEM. “Our website presence is amazing,” Demaree said. “Our members, when they get the opportunity to engage with a customer, are pretty good at getting the business.”

The fact is, however, few companies (across all industries) are good at following up on online leads, and studies show these lapses are costly. Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies to measure how long each took to respond to a web-generated lead. The results:  37% responded to their lead within one hour; 16% responded between one and 24 hours; 24% took more than 24 hours, and 23% of the companies never responded at all.

These results are especially shocking given how quickly online leads go cold—a phenomenon it explored in a separate study that involved 1.25 million sales leads received by 29 B2C and 13 B2B companies in the U.S. Companies that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.

Similarly, a paper written and published by MIT professor James Oldroyd found that the chance of qualifying a lead drops to 10% after the first hour, and that no leads were qualified past the 10-hour mark.

To increase its conversion rate Carpet One emphasizes training and encourages owners to certify their sales professionals. Certification entails an annual knowledge assessment that RSAs must pass to earn professional development hours leading to certification. “I highly encourage every one of our flooring dealers to take the exam and to put the accreditation on their business card,” Demaree said. “I don’t give my taxes to someone whose card doesn’t say ‘CPA,’ so why would consumers buy from a sales associate who doesn’t have the proper credentials.”

Beyond flooring initiative

Carpet One announced a partnership with Serta Simmons Bedding. The “Sleep Boutique” program is being tested with eight members. The upside: higher profit margins, no inventory in member stores and no installation worries. The downside: it takes up showroom space.  Chris Taylor, owner of CarpetMaster, Latham, N.Y., has mattresses in two locations and has enjoyed success. “Be fully committed before you begin,” he told members.

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Floors & More: Members put pedal to the metal

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Las Vegas—The main objective of Floors & More’s 2018 winter convention was to drive business for members—literally. In keeping with the conference theme, “EXCELerate,” the latest initiatives were designed to help members accelerate profits and growth.

Highlights included expanded private-label branding campaigns, a renewed focus on digital marketing strategies and, of course, new vendor programs. The three-day conference was also packed with education and networking opportunities.

“EXCELerate is about being the best and getting more aggressive,” said Vinnie Virga, founder and CEO, Floors & More. “Times are changing and they’re changing quickly. Therefore, our members need to be nimble and move faster. We’re helping them to understand the importance of building their local brands using the tools we bring them. We’re also reinforcing the importance of customer experience.”

According to Virga, the group’s focus in 2017 was on setting the right foundation and reworking its business model. This year the group plans on growing at an accelerated pace. “We’re growing organically, and we’re also growing through acquisition,” Virga said.

A big part of Floors & More’s success hinges on executing multiple facets of a particular design project. To that end, the group has added eight new vendors to provide dealers with the whole flooring package. In addition to taking on companies such as Lonesome Oak, the group has added insurance and benefits vendors.

What’s more, Floors & More is providing its members with multiple services to help the collective grow. “We’re extending our private brand offering,” said Mike Cherico, the group’s vice president. “We actually reiterated the importance of education and private branding [at general session]. We have some killer programs with private branding and we’re going to continue down that road.”

Cherico pointed to the success of private-label branding opportunities available through Stainmaster, adding there is more on the way. “It’s the No. 1 brand name in flooring, and we have it as our brand,” he said. “We also have another collection coming with 10 PetProtect products.”

Embracing digital
Beyond private-label branding the group is supporting members on the digital front. “Our digital marketing is already very good, but some of things we’re doing are blowing the minds of our members,” Virga said. “The digital aspect is cutting edge and very effective with unbelievable ROI, and most of it is included in the base membership.”

Kim Weber, office manager and interior design for Greeley, Colo.-based Steamway Floor to Ceiling—a member since 2002—is a big fan of the digital services. “A lot of the benefits to Floors & More are the background things they do such as advertising and the website. I also like all of the new companies they’ve brought in and the social media support they’re doing for us.”

Brad Millner, CEO, Synergy Holdings, Yuma, Ariz., is similarly impressed with the group’s initiatives. “To be successful, dealers must embrace product line extensions to capture more revenue,” he said. “After listening to RFMS, Flooring Financial, Creating Your Space (CYS) and other dealers, we are examining each step of our sales, operations, installation and customer services processes to create a more streamlined, efficient system.”

Moving forward, Floors & More is partnering with CYS and getting insight from digital experts to better serve its members with respect to their lead-generation initiatives.

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WFCA, ESR Commercial become partners

Dalton, Ga.—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has developed a new business partnership with ESR Commercial, the country’s largest trade association real estate broker.

With more than 35 years of experience, ESR offers a multitude of real estate services for clients of all sizes whether opening their first location, expanding or relocating. ESR services include identifying, researching and analyzing potential sites for expansion or new locations, negotiating lease and purchase terms, and guiding clients through the spectrum of issues and concerns in the acquisition process. Access to ESR’s business portfolio of services will be available to WFCA members free of charge.

“As part of our mission to ensure the success of our retail members, WFCA is committed to providing our members with the tools they need to thrive and succeed,” said Freida Staten, vice president, marketing and communications, WFCA. “ESR is at the top of its game, equipped with the expertise and business tools our members can tap into at any time to ensure they are making sound business decisions for their companies.”

Staten went on to explain that growth and expansion are critical components of every business and the new partnership with ESR would enable WFCA to equip its constituents with tools integral to their ongoing success.

For more information contact Garrett Aries at 818.519.5040 or  garrett.aries@esrcommercialrealty.com.

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WFCA partners with Mill Creek Media Group

Dalton, Ga.—In an effort to help member constituents stay on top of their game in today’s competitive business landscape, WFCA has aligned itself with another organization whose mission is to help retailers expand and enhance their business presence with desired audiences. Mill Creek Media Group, based in Rocky Face, Ga., offers services in a wide array of marketing and communications capacities including videography, photography, online and social media content, to name a few.

Mill Creek Media Group has over 30 years of experience in the flooring and media production industries. They have served a wide variety of clients including Shaw Floors and Novalis International. Their strongest suit of talent lies in branding strategies designed to help individual and small chain retailers enhance market share in their local communities.

As part of their suite of offerings, Mill Creek Media Group offers a full scope of corporate services including: training, marketing and how to videos, commercial development, product introduction marketing and promotions. The company also creates content that can be used on social media platforms, conducts live streaming and product launch debuts as well as a wide line-up of photography services including product, room setting and corporate portraits.

WFCA members will receive discounted rates on all services offered by Mill Creek Media Group.

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NTCA adds new Five Star Contractor members

San Diego—The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has accepted three new companies to its Five Star Contractor program: American Tile, Premier Tile & Marble, and Della Maggiore Tile & Stone.

American Tile (ATC) was founded in 1967 by Vince Mattingly, Sr. and his wife, Dola. ATC grew from being a small home-based business to serving industry, commercial and institutional clients throughout the Midwest. After Mattingly retired in 1990, his son, Vince Jr., took his place with his wife, Jewell, and son, Vince III. ATC is based in Louisville, Ky.

Since 1993, Premier Tile & Marble has had the distinction of being a high-quality ceramic tile and stone installer. Despite the company’s growth, it continues to focus on maintaining the same high standards that helped launch the company many years ago. A key component is qualified labor; many company foremen have been onboard since its inception, working with Greg Games, president, as tradespeople out in the field. Premier Tile & Marble is located in Gardena, Calif.

Della Maggiore Tile & Stone, equally owned by both Rich Della Maggiore and Nick Della Maggiore, has been setting tile since 1977. In order to grow into the company, the Della Maggiores have made it their objective to provide the highest quality craftsmanship on a daily basis by providing an opportunity for any employee willing to successfully obtain the highest skills necessary to become a certified tile layer/setter. This commitment to qualified labor has made Della Maggiore Tile & Stone a premier tile installer in San Jose, Calif.

To obtain Five Star Contractor certification, contractors must be a member of NTCA and complete an application process that includes submitting examples of work, reviews and recommendations from peers and customers, and demonstrating proven commitment to service, quality, safety and superior job performance. Five Star Contractors are also required to certify a minimum of 10% of their installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer program or have completed a three-year apprenticeship program approved by the Dept. of Labor.

If you are a NTCA member and interested in gaining Five Star Contractor certification, contact Amber Fox at amber@tile-assn.com.