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Michael Halebian & Co. receives American Biltrite’s 2016 Outstanding Performance Award

haleiban-outstanding-perf-2016Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada—American Biltrite, a North American manufacturer of specialty commercial flooring products, presented its Outstanding Performance Award for 2016 to Michael Halebian & Co. at their offices in Carlstadt, N.J. on Dec. 20. The award is presented annually to the American Biltrite distributor that achieves the highest growth during the year.

“The decision to present the award to Michael Halebian was an easy one,” said Jean-Pierre Benoit, general manager for American Biltrite. “They had an outstanding performance in 2016 in all product categories and we look forward to our mutual success in 2017.”

Michael Halebian & Co. distributes American Biltrite products throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Pictured from right to left: Lou Soscia, commercial sales manager, Halebian; Jean-Pierre Benoit, general manager, American Biltrite; Michael Halebian, president; Joe Choflet, general manager, Halebian; John Kronemeyer, VP sales & marketing, American Biltrite.

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Distribution—Michael Halebian & Co.: 85 and still growing

October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By Ken Ryan

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-3-46-02-pmMichael Halebian & Co. (MHCO), a New York-based distributor since 1931, has been doing business with Consolidated Carpet for 60 years. By any business measurement, that qualifies as a long-standing partnership. And yet, as solid as that relationship is, Michael Halebian Jr., president and CEO, continues to heed the words of his late father, Michael Sr., who warned about never taking anything for granted—not even a 60-year customer.

“He would always say to never feel entitled to the business even though we have been with Consolidated for all these years,” Halebian Jr. said. “He would say you have to earn their business every single day.”

When told about that comment, David Meberg, owner of Consolidated Carpet, said: “I can hear Mike Sr. saying that…he was always diligent that way. Our bonds are strong with Halebian. We are family.”

That credo of serving the customer every day, buttressed by a conservative, fiscally sound growth strategy, has served MHCO well for 85 years, from its infancy when it sold supplies such as needles, threads and tools to the oriental rug repair trade in the New York Metro market, to today.

Michael Halebian Sr. entered the business in 1945 upon founder Sam Halebian’s retirement, bringing a work ethic and vision about how to grow the company. “My dad was one of the original pioneers of the flooring accessories distributor model,” Halebian Jr. said. “At that time it was believed that an accessories distributor could not exist as a standalone distributorship, but his success—and that of several of his contemporaries around the United States—proved this belief to be wrong.”

The flooring accessory model flourished throughout the balance of the 20th century. It existed to fill the needs of flooring installation firms, or labor shops, that existed. For many years and decades it was a successful partnership as accessories distributors and installation workrooms grew together.

In many ways, Consolidated Carpet has paralleled the growth of Halebian. Both companies started out in supplies and other sundries before growing into full-service companies. “Michael has taken what his father gave him and expanded and grown and diversified the business, and I would like to think I did the same thing from my father,” Meberg said. “Both of our businesses have grown exponentially over the years.”

A new era
Michael Jr. entered the business in the early 1980s. While recognizing his father’s success he realized that competing distributors who sold similar products were being established in great numbers. “This reality, coupled with the entrance of the big-box stores, motivated me to consider how we could differentiate ourselves into a hybrid entity whose presence would be needed by our clientele.”

Halebian Jr. knew MHCO would have to expand beyond New York if it were to grow and prosper and compete with the major players in the marketplace. When Joe Choflet, current general manager of MHCO, joined the company in the late 1980s, he and Michael Jr. created a commercial flooring specialties distributor with a strong emphasis on specifying large jobs. “Although we continue to perform the duties of the traditional distributor in terms of inventory and delivering commodity products in a timely manner, our primary importance to our clientele today is in our ability to specify large jobs and pull them through the commercial flooring dealer chain,” Halebian Jr. explained.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-3-46-20-pmMHCO has seven full-time specification reps and 18 full-time salespeople strategically placed within its Northeast footprint. The distributor maintains two warehouse locations in Carlstadt, N.J., which services the New York area. “We are the only distributor with a showroom in the Times Square area of Manhattan, which is available for use by our dealer community and is often the venue for new product introductions and training seminars,” Halebian Jr. said. Meanwhile, the company’s Hartford, Conn., warehouse location serves New England and upstate New York. Its Bensalem, Pa., location services Philadelphia, central Pennsylvania, the southern portion of New Jersey and the northern-most county in Delaware.

Once it developed a reputation for specifying resilient flooring including sheet goods and LVT, it set out to enter the competitive hardwood segment. “Wood flooring presented a challenge that we never anticipated from the beginning but would ultimately become a huge source of success for us,” Halebian Jr. said. “Our first wood line was Kahrs, which offered an innovative floating engineered wood line that at the time was not well known or accepted in our market area.”

Bill Baker, MHCO’s commercial wood manager, worked to introduce this new technology to flooring dealers as well as facility managers and developers. His efforts over several years resulted in this new technology being embraced and used extensively in multifamily housing sites.

Prior to its entry into wood flooring, Halebian was strictly a commercial distributor. Today, it has taken its wood lines into major retail stores. Marty Ackerman, residential wood manager, has grown this segment dramatically to where it is now 25% of total volume. The company expects its residential mix to grow over the next few years.

For five consecutive years Kahrs has named MHCO its Distributor of the Year. Halebian, which is Kährs’ largest wholesale partner in the U.S., also represents wood flooring lines from Johnson Hardwood, Mercier and Somerset.

The distributor has a major presence in resilient as well, with the likes of Tarkett, Azrock, Johnsonite, Toli, American Biltrite, Raskin Industries, Centaur by Ecore, Floor Source WPC and Burke. Raskin honored Halebian with a distributor award at Surfaces in 2016 for achieving the largest percentage increase in one year. Michael Raskin, CEO, said Halebian “is invested in people who can generate specifications and also commercial jobs. It’s hard to find a good distributor, and we found one serving the New York market.”

Halebian Jr. credits Lou Socia, resilient flooring manager, with elevating the resilient business. “Lou’s ability to forge strong, mutually beneficial relationships with architects, designers and end users continues to make us a primary go-to distributor for our flooring dealers.”

MHCO also does large volume in subfloor preparation products, with Ardex, Mapei and USG representing its main lines. “Our floor prep manager, Tom Gillespie, is often found on construction sites making suggestions to our dealers who actively promote floor preparation as well as moisture mitigation,” Halebian Jr. said.

MHCO plans to continue to grow at a measured pace, with a near-term view to expand in New England. As Halebian Jr. put it, “I have no desire to have 4,000 branches. I don’t want to go to Baltimore, Boise or Baghdad. I don’t want to be the biggest; we just want to be a major player in the Northeast.”

 

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Obituary: Michael Halebian

Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21

Former CEO of Michael Halebian & Co.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 5.28.56 PMEnglewood Cliffs, N.J.—Michael Halebian Sr., who built Michael Halebian & Co. into one of the largest flooring distributorships in the Northeast and whose tenure in the business spanned nearly 70 years of active participation, passed away Feb. 2. He was 90 years old.

After serving with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, he returned home to New York in 1945 and acquired his uncle’s Oriental rug supply business, with a product offering that included needles, thread, scissors, yarn, binding and wax.

From a small room located in an office building on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, Halebian, known in the industry as “Big Mike,” was instrumental in pioneering the concept that would become the business model of the “flooring accessories” distributor. He incorporated newly created products such as tackless strip, seaming tape, moldings and a variety of flooring adhesives into the product line.

In 1958, the company moved to a storefront location, and by 1970 the business had grown to the point where it was necessary to obtain warehouse space in Carlstadt, N.J. Ultimately, a new generation with new ideas entered the family business. The product line was expanded to include residential and commercial floor coverings such as resilient, rubber, vinyl and wood as well as an emphasis on floor leveling products. The number of sales representatives expanded and a specification staff was created. Branch operations in Hartford, Conn., and Bensalem, Pa., were added as well as a showroom in New York.

Now one of the largest hardwood flooring distributors in the Northeast, Halebian & Co. serves the New York metropolitan area, southern New England, upstate New York, western New York and the greater Philadelphia area.

Under a tough exterior was a heart of gold, noted his son, Michael Halebian Jr., who now runs the company. “Dad was always willing to help people enter the flooring industry. Many fondly recall his desire to be of assistance when a helping hand was needed. ‘Big Mike’ was proud of his success in the industry. He marveled at how his business expanded during his career and enjoyed monitoring changes in the industry.

“He not only loved the flooring industry,” he added, “he lived it and will be missed by family, friends and business associates. He was surely one of a kind.”

Halebian Sr. continued working until recently. As Dave Meberg, president and CEO of Consolidated Carpet, noted, “Big Mike was a tremendously generous, thoughtful and giving business partner. Over the years our relationship with Mike transcended business, and the Halebians became like family to us. Mike lived a great life, but his loss is mourned by all of us at Consolidated, and he’ll be remembered not as a vendor to us, but a dear and loyal friend.”

Halebian is survived by his wife of 64 years, Katherine; sons John, Michael Jr. and Edward; daughter, Carol; two grandchildren, and sister, Alice Bendian. He was predeceased by his sister, May Chakmakian.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to St. Leon Armenian Church, 12-61 Saddle River Rd, Fair Lawn, N.J. 07410.

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Halebian wins Kahrs distributor of the year award

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 12.32.05 PMNew York—Northeast distributor Michael Halebian & Co. has received the Kahrs Distributor of the Year award for 2012. Halebian is one of the largest Kahrs distributors in the U.S. serving the New York Metro, Philadelphia Metro and Southern New England area. Continue reading Halebian wins Kahrs distributor of the year award

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NAFCD elects 2013 board

ORLANDO, FLA.—The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) has announced its 2013 slate of executive officers and directors.

Executive officers appointed for 2013 include incoming president, George Roth of Lockwood Flooring; vice president, Craig Folven of Herrigan Distributors; secretary, Rosana Chaidez of J.J. Haines, and treasurer, Chris O’Connor of CMH Space Flooring. Continue reading NAFCD elects 2013 board

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NAFCD announces 2013 officers and board members

Chicago– The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) announced its 2013 slate of executive officers and directors at the 2013 NAFCD Annual Member Business Meeting during the 2013 NAFCD Annual Convention and Executive Networking Forum, in Orlando, Fla., November 13-15.

Executive officers appointed for 2013 include: Continue reading NAFCD announces 2013 officers and board members