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David Romano sells Benchmarkinc Recruiting

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 11.05.45 AMWichita, Kan.—Earlier this year, Bradley Cotlar, former vice president and CFO of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet of America franchise group, and his wife, Jennifer, acquired Benchmarkinc Recruiting, the recruiting division of Benchmarkinc Consulting, from David Romano, founder and well-known consultant, trainer and author. The division is one of the leading job recruiting firms in the flooring, disaster restoration, window coverings, home furnishings, electronics and home improvement industries.

“David Romano and Benchmarkinc have a strong reputation and are the leaders in recruiting, consulting and training in the industries they have serviced,” Cotlar, owner and chief matchmaker, said. “Their proven practice and systems made it an easy decision to pursue this opportunity.”

With this acquisition, Cotlar will be able to leverage the company and systems Romano created and continue on his legacy of providing clients exceptional, hassle-free service by quickly finding and placing top-notch candidates into their companies.

“We were adamant our successor understood exceeding client expectations was as important as profitability,” Romano said. “We considered many proposals and believed Brad to be the most capable of carrying on our legacy, because his ethics are impeccable and he understands the industries that we serve. We are grateful to all of those who have allowed us to be part of their companies and feel supremely confident the new version of Benchmarkinc Recruiting is poised for even greater success.”

Since the acquisition, the office in Raleigh, N.C., has been moved to Wichita, Kan. The Benchmarkinc Recruiting name will remain.

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Installation: Retailers get creative in recruiting next-gen talent

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 11.11.19 AMVarious sectors of the industry are working closely to tackle the two-headed installation crisis—an aging workforce coupled with the challenge of finding the next generation.

Leading the way is the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), which believes installation-training programs should be created and funded at the industry level and executed at the local level. “My experience is installers will not travel a great distance to attend training classes,” said Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA. “In addition, many installers do desire to improve their skills but are simply unaware of the opportunities that exist. It is critical that local dealers and distributors make training as publicized and accessible as possible to reach the greatest audience.”

In some cases, that is already happening. For example, retailers like Fike Brothers, Yeagertown, Pa., look for early opportunities to recruit installers. Denise Fike, CFO, has cultivated a relationship with the faculty of local vocational schools in her market. Fike and her staff visit the school, talk with students about opportunities in the trade and even conduct installation demonstrations. “You have to start at the high school level to give them a taste of what it’s like,” Fike said. “We go in with a two-week program to whet their appetite.”

Taking that strategy to another level, Tom Jacobi, owner of Jacobi Carpet One, Hastings, Neb., utilizes what he calls “guerilla recruiting.” He leaves no stone unturned and does outreach with the Nebraska-Iowa Flooring Association, the Department of Labor in Nebraska and the Central Community College Hastings Campus.

“You look around to find young men who need some guidance and you put your teeth into them and provide the proper employment plan. We start in the high school shop classes, which are geared more to the construction trade and carpentry.”

Other retailers take a different approach. Richard Quinlan, co-owner of DownRight Floors, Abbotsford, British Columbia, strays away from traditional online job searches. Instead, he relies on friends and colleagues to recommend people of character who could fit the culture of DownRight Floors. The skills part, he says, can be taught. “I would rather find someone who is raw but has the people skills all day long than someone who has the mechanical skills but can’t deal with people.”

Beyond searching for installers, some retailers are developing creative incentive programs to entice both current and new employees. Matt Andrews, service manager/scheduler, Allwein Carpet One Floor & Home, Annville, Pa., said the company has upped its wages for hourly employees and implemented newer ways of paying some of its teams. He also looks to hire in pairs as a way to incentivize his experienced teams to split up for a period of time to train the new guys. “We have a modified apprentice program where we give them benchmarks to work toward.”

Along the same vein, Carpetland USA (The Langan Group), Davenport, Iowa, encourages continuous training, sponsors mechanics to attend installation training seminars and has raised the bar in terms of compensation. To continue its growth the retailer acknowledges it must ensure its mechanics are motivated and satisfied. “We are very aware we have to keep them happy,” said Doug Bertrand, executive vice president. “We feel if we show them they are important they will be loyal to us.”


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Mohawk prepares the sales representatives of tomorrow

October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By Reginald Tucker

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-3-29-38-pmMohawk Industries’ commitment to quality manufacturing, product development and design is well documented. But the company is also putting a tremendous amount of resources and emphasis on recruiting and training the workforce that will ultimately sell and service those products in the marketplace.

To that end, Mohawk has developed a 12-week accelerated sales development program at its Hard Surfaces division headquarters in Calhoun, Ga. This effort includes recruiting college graduates who demonstrate the capacity and potential to become professional Mohawk sales representatives.

Under the program, college graduates rotate through several areas of Mohawk’s operations from manufacturing to all the other facets of its business.

“In alignment with Mohawk and driving innovation through products and services, it’s important that we continue to evolve our sales team to be the best sales force for our customers,” said Richard Owen, senior director of market development, Mohawk Hard Surfaces. “Through this program, we are able to generate a great salesperson who is well equipped to be the business partner for our customers.”

In its most recent class, Mohawk had 12 individuals from different universities across the country. Graduates were rotated through various departments, including manufacturing, marketing, sample department and even claims. “They touched all areas of the business with a real emphasis on how they utilize that knowledge to become better salespeople and better business partners for the customers,” Owen said. Mohawk also layered in a whole section on fashion. “We want our territory managers who work with customers to really leverage the beautiful products and innovations we bring to them.”

When scouting out graduates for the program, Mohawk looks at traditional metrics such as college rankings, scores, etc. But that’s not the only criteria. As Owen explained: “We look at different schools that offer specialized curricula; for example, N.C. State has its school of textiles. We visited that school and interviewed several new graduates. From there we selected a pool of candidates who came in for a thorough process of interviews. Then they are hand selected based on their background skills, knowledge, etc.”

The track record of graduates who successfully complete the program and eventually go on to become full-fledged Mohawk sales representatives is impressive. Looking at the most recent class, for example, 11 of the 12 participants are already working in territories, according to Owen. The 12th man is still going through the program and is expected to be placed in a territory by the end of the year.

Recruiting and training the Mohawk sales representatives of the future is clearly a benefit for Mohawk as it seeks to fortify its workforce. But the program is also part of a larger initiative to get that next generation involved in the flooring business. In Owen’s experience, he finds many graduates who come out of textile programs seek entry-level positions in the glamorous fashion industry. During a recent career fair, for example, he recalled a situation where graduates were lined up in droves behind clothing manufacturers to get an interview. After speaking with several of them about the many ways that fashion is linked to flooring, he said a light bulb went on. “They all started moving over to our space to listen more about what Mohawk is offering in terms of a career in floor fashions.”