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NFA Vendor Showcase: Strong turnout reflects member optimism

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

By Ken Ryan

 

Las Vegas—A record 49 vendors, including 20 first-timers, turned out for the annual National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) specialty vendor meeting, held here on the Monday before Surfaces. The mood inside the Mandalay Bay conference hall was positively upbeat as business leaders look to build on the momentum that carried over from the second half of 2017.

“This is a great turnout and it speaks to the validity of our group,” said Deb DeGraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Hudsonville, Mich.

Her sentiment was shared by other dealers who not only fed off the energy of the vendors but their fellow NFA retailers as well. “Being in this room with retailers who are so successful and getting affirmation about decisions you make is so valuable,” said Dan Mandel, president of Sterling Carpet & Flooring, Anaheim, Calif., the newest among the 42 NFA members. “There is so much value you get for being part of this group. Just the one on one you get here, which you might not get at a bigger show.”

For vendors, particularly first-timers, this showcase provides that rare opportunity to meet so many influential flooring dealers in a four-hour period. “If you are looking for the best retailers in the country chances are they are here,” said Doug Jackson, president of Cali Bamboo. While Cali was a new vendor at this event, he is well familiar with NFA dealers from his days at Tuftex, which was then the high-end carpet division of Shaw Industries. “A lot of these folks are old friends. I worked for a great company in Shaw and it’s great to be able to expand my relationships.”

Alston was another of the new members at the NFA show. The China-based hardwood flooring manufacturer, with U.S. distribution headquarters in California, came in with high expectations. “My goal for this show is 10 new dealers. I think that’s realistic,” said Alan Chou, president.

Bamboo Hardwoods, another first-time vendor, was also glad they came. “It’s been a good show for us,” said David Keegan, president. “We’ve had a lot of retailers come by to show their interest in the product. They also had a lot of questions about bamboo in general, which is a good sign for us.”

For all vendors, the benefit of being here is the likelihood that most NFA members will stop by and spend quality time. Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring in Louisville, Ky., was one such dealer. “These vendors pay good money to be here, so it is common courtesy to make the rounds and see everyone,” said Donna Mudd, manager.

Focus on innovation
The biggest buzz surrounded the Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS) space. The new company, part of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) and headed up by Scott Humphrey, unveiled its new magnetic installation system, designed for all flooring types.

Humphrey said most NFA dealers were “fascinated” by the product. “The biggest question I hear is, ‘When do I get product?’ The coolest thing is every product you see on the show floor can work with this thing.”

NFA dealers weighed in favorably after seeing demonstrations. “I’m a pretty big fan of it,” said Dave Snedeker, NFA president and divisional merchandise manager for Nebraska Furniture Mart. “It’s more favorable than wait-and-see.”

Darren Hearns, president, Great Lakes Carpet & Tile, Lady Lake, Fla., is equally intrigued by MBS, adding “they need manufacturers to back it; if they get that, the sky is the limit.” Meanwhile, Jim Walters, president of Macco’s Floor Covering, Green Bay, Wis., sees the potential. “I don’t see any reason it won’t win in the market.”

But perhaps DeGraaf put it best when she said: “It’s special, I think it could be a game changer.”