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Al's Column: Protect your assets, reduce your taxes

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

By Roman Basi


Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMThere has never been a better time than now to have a discussion on how to create the best asset protection for your business and reduce the tax liability from both the perspective of the business and personally.

The House Ways and Means Committee continues to forge ahead in its effort on tax reform. In July the committee held a hearing with several small business owners who testified about the effects of the current, albeit complicated, tax code and how the new proposals put forth by a subcommittee as well as the White House would help encourage investment across the country.

Asset protection and tax liability go hand in hand; to achieve one, the other must be properly structured. One of the newest methods for asset protection gaining steam across the country is the advent of the Series Limited Liability Company—a Limited Liability Company that has elected to create multiple divisions (or series) that will operate within the company.

While not all states have created these legal structures yet, the number grows each year. And even if your business operates in a state that does not have such an entity, it is quite possible they will allow one that is registered in another state to be filed as a foreign entity in the state in which you are located. The state of Florida, for example, recently revised its Limited Liability Company Statute. While it does not currently have a Florida Series Limited Liability Company, the state expressly provided for the benefits and protections of them if they are filed as a foreign entity.

With a Series Limited Liability Company, each division can possess its own assets and have its own liabilities; the liabilities of one division do not cross over to another. So, for example, if you have a company that has machinery and equipment, you can create a series that owns the machinery and a separate series that owns the equipment—yet you still only have one company. The main benefit, experts say, is you have divided up any liabilities between the two categories of assets, protected them from each other but still have the simplicity of only dealing with one company.

Reducing tax liability
With the changes in the tax code on the horizon, it is increasingly important to understand the current taxation on your business and if your choice of entity selection will be the best going forward. For example, the House subcommittee is proposing to lower the S Corporation tax rate to a flat 25%, which might help someone who is in a high individual tax bracket but hurt a small business owner who is in a lower individual income tax bracket. To that end, a proper analysis of your current tax structure becomes very important when looking at the tax liability of your company to determine whether you need to consider changing the tax status of the business.

I will discuss both topics—asset protection and reducing your taxes—during my presentation at the International Surface Event (TISE) on Tuesday, Jan. 30, from noon to 1 p.m. I will also be available for free, 30-minute consultations after my education session that afternoon. Visit the TISE website today at for the complete education program, event activities and registration details.


Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.35.04 AMRoman Basi is an attorney and CPA with the firm Basi, Basi, & Associates at The Center for Financial, Legal & Tax Planning. He writes frequently on issues facing business owners.







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Al's Column: Turning good leaders into great ones

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

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMDoes your retail flooring store have an effective sales manager? The most important ‘product’ a company owns is its employees. Unfortunately, many store owners spend more time worrying about the merchandise they’re buying than their employees. With TISE on the horizon, this is the perfect time to engage your sales managers into learning new skills and get them motivated and evolve from “good” to “great.”

Coaching is taking on a new face as our team members get younger. The millenniums are constantly engaged in learning through YouTube and other online outlets, and many have entrepreneurial goals. They are used to learning on their own and finding information. Without a good manager/coaching program, they are likely to get bored and seek other employers.

Under the old model, the sales manager was tasked with making the numbers and improving the bottom line. As I remember, employees either got better or were shipped out. The process of “firing and rehiring” is expensive and time-consuming, but a manager with good coaching skills can make the team much smarter so they can take on higher-level tasks. Remember, this is a generation that has been taught to be investigative and has a wealth of online skills.

A great sales manager is one who can move the sales needle, but in order to do this; they have to be more than a sales manager. They need to have coaching skills. Instead of just reaching store numbers, coach develops a strategic plan and goals with the salesperson, so they can reach their goals as well as improving the overall profitability. The key is to motivate your employees to want to learn and get smarter.

Lisbeth CalandrinoThrough the years, coaching has been reserved for executives as a way for them to be more effective and connected to their employees. This same process can have amazing results for sales managers. Sales managers are a great resource but are often outstanding salespeople who have been promoted to a managerial position. Unfortunately, the skills don’t necessarily transfer. Great salespeople have a personal need to achieve and make money; this skill rarely translates into improving the team. In fact, they usually still have a need to compete, which can demoralize and defeat the rest of the team.

There are some stores that have embraced coaching. As Brian Witkin, executive vice president of sales of New Jersey-based Avalon Flooring, puts it: “We are committed to ongoing training and coaching of our sales team from our new hire training program, advanced sales and product training to various additional programs throughout the year. Our store managers follow up and coach their team at the store both in a group and individually, which reinforces the behavior we are driving. I see the results in both the confidence of our sales associates and ultimately their sales performance.”

Managers get results and are always attached to the numbers. A coach gets results and helps the person develop tools to grow. Over the long term, this growth will build stronger, engaged salespeople and make them better team members. To make this happen, your managers must have coaching skills. Coaching includes managing but managing doesn’t always include coaching. Coaching is not only a way to get results but also a means to groomp people to develop clear job goals and give them tools to reach their goals. This takes time but in the long run it helps retain great salespeople and turn them into high-volume producers.

Learn more about this topic during my talk, “The Coaching Edge: Building a Successful Team,” slated for Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2018, at 8 a.m. WE 04, Islander G., at Surfaces.


Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at

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Al's Column: Staying on the same page is key to success

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4
By Tom Shay

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.30.26 AMIn many ways, running a business is akin to playing team sports. And we all know what can happen when members don’t behave as if they are playing for the same team. (Perhaps you have seen that sports clip of the defender on a professional soccer team who, in his attempt to pass the ball to the goalkeeper, kicked the ball in the goal to score for the opposing team.)

There may be parts of our business where it can feel like the same thing is happening. By not working together it feels as if we aren’t playing on the same team. One of the places within a business where this can easily occur is the relationship between the owner and the accountant. This relationship is a partnership. Too often the owner thinks his role is to run the business and the accountant’s part is to take care of all “that numbers stuff.” In truth, the owner’s job is to be able to actively participate in the conversation with the accountant.

There are likely to be many decisions made about the business in which the accountant, along with perhaps an attorney, and the owner simply agreed— such as the filing of the business. A business in the U.S. is one of six legal entities—an LLC, “C” corporation, “S” corporation, partnership, sole proprietorships and LLP. One is best for your business with regards to protecting you, as an individual, from lawsuits. Potentially, the right entity could diminish your taxes.

Your business has assets that are subject to depreciation or amortization. There are options as to when either is reported. Doing so correctly can diminish the amount of tax liability in years your business is more profitable. Did you actively participate in how the depreciation was taken? Or did you passively accept what the accountant recommended?

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMWhen you borrowed money for your business, did the accountant and lawyer ask to look at the terms and covenants of the document? (The covenants are the guidelines of how you are required to operate your business for the length of the loan.) The covenants are generally calculated as ratios from your financial statements. Are you aware of what all the requirements are? Do you know how to calculate the ratios? Should these ratios go in the wrong direction, do you know what measures to take to correct it?

Related to these covenants and ratios is the issue of borrowing money. Think of the ratios as being similar to your personal credit score; the better your ratios, the greater the chance you may get the loan at a more favorable rate. The key is understanding how they are calculated and what you can do to improve them.

Has the accountant shown you how to accurately create a cash flow needs projection chart for the next 12 months? Many business owners have experienced a situation where they had an immediate need for cash. Looking around their business they see inventory or supplies that, if converted to cash, would solve the need. They just didn’t see that need when they made the purchase.

The opposite was making a smaller purchase than necessary because of a concern for future cash needs. However, the business found there was enough cash that they could have made the larger purchase. The cash flow projection would have solved both situations.


Join Tom Shay at The International Surface Event (TISE) on Wed., Jan. 31, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., in an interactive session, “What Your Accountant is Not Telling You.” Registration for TISE is now open at For more tips from Tom Shay, visit

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TISE changes day format for 2018

TISElogoDallas—The International Surface Event (TISE) dates have shifted to a new day format for 2018. Next year’s event will run Tuesday through Thursday (Jan. 30-Feb. 1), with the education program occurring Monday through Thursday (Jan. 29-Feb. 1). The exposition will feature the latest industry products, materials, equipment and services, including a wide variety of hardwood and laminate flooring, carpet, tools and equipment, natural stone and machinery, all types of tile and much more.

TISE is the largest North American event serving the floor covering, stone and tile industries. Comprising three world-class tradeshows Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomac | Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 1.20.49 PMTileExpo, TISE features four days of the newest products, hands-on demos, inspiring trends, key manufacturers, industry suppliers, along with unmatched education and networking. Held annually each year in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, TISE is the industry marketplace that brings together distributors, retailers, architects, designers, installers, fabricators, contractors and homebuilders, and many other industry professionals from all over the world with the manufacturers and suppliers needed to do business.

TISE 2017 was a banner event for the industry—an incredible 34,000 square foot increase in exhibits and over 800 presenting brands—drawing an attendance growth from the industry of 7% over the already successful 2016 event. Attendees experienced technical installation demonstrations in the Installation Showcase, viewed product demonstrations and award winning technology from Best of Product & Event Winners, discovered trends in the Speed Trending Breakfast and the Trends Hub, heard first-hand techniques and knowledge from over 100 industry experts and influencers in the Ignite Education program and across the event floor, and were even honored with a presentation from the acclaimed architect, Art Gensler Jr., founder of Gensler.

For additional information about TISE 2018 visit

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My take: Random ramblings from NeoCon

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By Steven Feldman


Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.46.11 PMHow can 2017 have less than half of it remaining? Time really does fly. Walking around NeoCon last month made me realize just that. There was no way we could be five months removed from Surfaces. Then again, show management is probably saying there is no way it’s been five years since they changed the name to TISE, or The International Surface Event, and I still refer to it as Surfaces. (That’s because most of you do, too.)

Anyway, as the ADD kicks into high gear as the years go by and my brain goes in 100 different directions, here was what I was thinking about on the plane ride home from NeoCon:

If only I booked the 1:30 or 4:30 and not the 2:30, we wouldn’t have been stranded an extra day in Chicago… Kudos to Metroflor for going the extra mile in creating awareness for its Aspecta brand with a public area on the first floor of the Merchandise Mart where attendees could stop in and get a smoothie. This in addition to a well-attended party at the Godfrey… Encryption, the subway tile-looking carpet tile planks from Milliken, is an innovative design… Does anyone know how to fold a fitted sheet?… Great to see old friend and former Bentley boss Anthony Minite heading up the U.S. operations for Denmark-based Fletco. There’s a good story there…

Impressed with the huge Tarkett/Tandus Centiva/Johnsonite/ Desso space on the third floor. Bringing everything together makes all the sense in the world…Speaking of the third floor, there may be more attendees per square foot in the Mohawk space than anywhere else… And speaking of Mohawk, Gavin DeGraw headlined its annual NeoCon soiree. Great performance, but would have preferred Earth Wind & Fire… I think Aquafil is one of the best-kept secrets in this industry. What they do with fiber from a color and sustainability standpoint is unmatched…

Always love the Bentley showroom design on the 10th floor… Speaking of high floors, no more elevator waits for me. Take a non-NeoCon elevator to a non-NeoCon floor, like 12 or 13, and walk down. I should have thought of that 20 years ago… They may not be a household name, but Taj Flooring has some innovative designs. With the right exposure they could make some noise in the next few years… I miss not seeing Don Miller at the Roppe booth. Hopefully next year… I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent an idiot from cutting in at the front…

The Raskin purchase of To Market is sure to pay dividends… I like what companies like Gerflor and American Biltrite are doing in the U.S…. Gibson’s vs. Mastro’s vs. Gene & Georgetti. Who wins?… I am expecting Atlas to be more visible going forward with rumors of some new branding on the horizon… While carbon neutral is the buzzword for many, Interface is moving forward with the first carbon negative carpet tile a few years down the road… Noticed more companies with Declare labels than years past…

At the end of the day, though, one of my favorite aspects of NeoCon is seeing executives of competing manufacturers visiting each other’s showrooms and spaces. There is a certain camaraderie unseen at other events. It’s more than just checking out the competition. There is a palpable level of respect and friendship. I like that.

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TISE 2018 call for presentations deadline approaches

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 3.06.41 PMDallas—The deadline for The International Surface Event (TISE): SURFACES I StonExpo/Marmomac I TileExpo call for presentations is March 24. This invitation is extended globally for experienced professionals to present at the largest floor covering, stone and tile event in North America. Interested presenters should submit their concepts before the deadline.

TISE is seeking committed speakers who are experts in their field with great concept ideas and who want to share their knowledge in an active setting during the event. Submitted proposals should be collaborative and provide an interactive learning environment across a variety of disciplines to discuss, debate and nurture the sharing of ideas.

“Attendees are seeking more engagement, in-depth, and practical programs from TISE education each year,” said Carol Wilkins, senior conference manager. “We are looking for presentations that cover all our key categories and increases audience engagement; before, during and even after the event. The evaluation results reflect that growing demand, and our aim is to continually build more engagement into our program.”

The primary audience of the education program includes retailers, distributors, designers, architects, installers, contractors, fabricators and other industry professionals. TISE is seeking and building sessions focused on targeted educational tracks that speak to these audience segments for both the residential and commercial sector and that cover a wide range of topics from trends, forecasting, business and marketing to expanding technical skills and proficiency.

Interested parties should complete the call for presentations survey on the show website. An industry advisory planning committee will assist in the proposal selections. For any additional questions, contact Wilkins at or call 972-536-6320.


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Suppliers pull out all the stops at Surfaces

Dealers, distributors applaud industry’s innovative offerings

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By Nicole Murray

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.03.52 PM

Las Vegas—By most accounts the 2017 International Surface Event (TISE) was a success on several different fronts: Vendors witnessed brisk booth traffic, particularly on the first two days of the exhibition; retailers expressed genuine interest in the depth and variety of products unveiled at the show; and show management reported increased participation in terms of both exhibitors and attendees.

According to Informa Exhibitions, which manages the show, there was a 10% increase in exhibit space booked, with a total of 734 companies taking up 386,000 square feet. Amie Gilmore, TISE show director, was pleased with the final outcome of the show based on the positive feedback from exhibitors and attendees alike. “You can really feel the energy on the floor,” she told FCNews. “This show is indicative of the industry and sets the tone for the year in terms of new products and business. If the vendors have a good show it really motivates them for the year.”

For the most part, exhibitors and attendees interviewed by FCNews supported Gilmore’s observations. “There was a large increase in traffic this year, which has made people much more optimistic,” said Amir Majard, Aladdin Carpet, Rockville, Md. “My goal was to find new products and opportunities for my business, and I have accomplished both.”

Other dealers agreed, citing not only the many products on display but the high level of professionalism among attendees. “The quality has been amazing and the showroom is filled with friendly people simply trying to do business,” said Jorge Contreras of Unique Design Coverings, Chula Vista, Calif. “I am using this opportunity to improve and learn how to open up my own showroom floor with quality products based on the advice given by professionals.”

In addition to a welcoming environment, attendees easily managed to browse through the booths without feeling any pressure to finalize any purchases.

“I am impressed with all of the vendors and how they are not too pushy toward everyone who enters their booths,” said Deanna Turner of G & D Turner of Clamath Falls, Ore. “This gave us the opportunity to look around and purchase the product we truly wanted.”

Another helpful aspect of the show, attendees say, was the organizational layout, which eased logistical issues. “We were warned that our first year [at TISE] might be overwhelming but the format was very well done and a lot of information has been made easily available,” said Lake Killian of Applied Surfaces Technology, Clarkson, Wash. “They make everything easy, even for first-time attendees.”

Following is an overview of the major trends in the major product categories. (See each respective beat sections for more specific details on new product introductions.)

Manufacturers of LVT, LVP, WPC and sheet vinyl are all innovating and differentiating their products with the consumer in mind. With the hopes of cutting the number of customer calls post-installation, new products are marked by design with specific innovations in waterproof, scratch- and heat- resistant capabilities. In terms of style, newer tile patterns, improved wood looks and varying lengths and widths of planks were prevalent.

As the category continues to evolve companies are looking to keep resilient on par with the natural elements it mimics. This includes better wood, tile and stone visuals for consumers who want the look but are hesistant to spend more money.

Those who attended the show were intrigued by what they saw. “DreamWeaver has some new LVT products coming out and those are interesting because they provide the visuals that are nice but they also have the texture which we haven’t seen in much of the products out there,” said Rick Barton of M&D Carpets, Vacaville, Calif.

Florence Matthews of Imerys, Roswell Ga., was interested in the new WPC products. “I think there are some very unique designs and very creative ideas that are being presented so I’m very interested to see how they go in the marketplace.”

Bill Murray of Quality Flooring Co., Richfield, Ill., took note of the wide selection of new products both in hard surfaces and with respect to resilient. He also commented on the tension between resilient and laminate. “There seems to be a lot of competition between the new luxury vinyl products and the waterproof laminates so it’s kind of interesting to see those two and what they’re coming out with.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.04.08 PMWith respect to WPC, there was much talk at Surfaces about whether the category, which is dominated by COREtec and Shaw’s Floorte (some estimate their market share at 60%) is already saturated. Some dealers worry that WPC will follow the same path as laminate and will be cannibalized in a few years by sharp pricing degradation. However, others are not buying that argument, believing that as long as companies can bring innovative features to the market, the category can continue to grow and prosper for retailers.

In terms of unique offerings, Beauflor stood out with its rigid core product featuring a 360-degree profile, patented tongue-and-groove locking system. This specific locking system is exclusively Beauflor’s, and the company is not licensing it. The floor can be installed in multiple directions, starting from the center of the room if necessary, giving installers greater flexibility. Each plank is 6 feet long and 8 inches wide.

Mannington and Mohawk certainly have the marketing prowess to muscle its way into retail showrooms with its WPC products. Mannington showed three of them—DuraMax, Max Prime and a commercial WPC product, City Park, which includes a rigid design that passes all commercial specifications.

Mohawk SolidTech rigid core line uses the company’s Uniclic multifit technology in three collections. Mohawk demonstrated the products’ durability and waterproof qualities at the show.

The market shift change from soft surfaces to hard surfaces was noticeable at Surfaces, which has fewer carpet vendors on the show floor than existed 10 or even five years ago. Still, the soft surface products that were displayed never looked better or performed better, carpet executives said. Mohawk is a case in point. The company reported positive responses to SmartStrand Silk Reserve, its luxuriously soft carpet, and Airo, its carpet installation system. Flooring dealers also noted that Karastan had many stunning new introductions, along with the Dixie brands Fabrica and Masland launched at the show.

For Engineered Floors, Lexmark and Kane Carpet, Surfaces was as much about launching new displays into the market as it was offering new products. In a stagnant market, fresh innovative displays can prove effective in drawing consumer attention to the showroom. “We are not in the fixture business but we needed a vehicle to drive our message,” said Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Lexmark.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.04.18 PMMany of the dominant themes from Surfaces 2016—longer boards, wider widths, innovative surface texture treatments—carried over into 2017. Many suppliers also broadened their offering of species to provide variety.

At the Mannington space, for example, the latest introductions and product line extensions reflected wide, long planks that are subtly textured and distressed, then stained in an on-trend color palette. Tracy Pennington, M&D Carpets, Vacaville, Calif., liked the new hardwood introductions. “Mannington is probably the most impressive,” she said.

It seems everywhere you looked, laminate suppliers were incorporating some new water-resistant or waterproof attributes in their product lines. In illustration, water-resistance tests were conducted at the Quick-Step booth as well as the Mannington space. From an aesthetic standpoint, many laminate suppliers took visual cues from their sister hardwood offerings.

The trend toward larger, more dramatic sizes was readily evident across the various tile booths at Surfaces. Suppliers also showcased their capabilities in the area of digital printing. This technology lets suppliers scan in virtually any image and reproduce that image on tile, allowing for the replication of virtually any visual on the surface.

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Metroflor presents 2016 Performance Awards at Surfaces

metroflor-newLas Vegas—Metroflor celebrated its distribution partners across the entire brand portfolio by bestowing its performance awards during a reception at Caesars Palace hotel, coinciding with The International Surface Event (Surfaces) 2017. Metroflor’s distributor personnel attended, along with the company’s entire sales team, its Aligned Dealers and other key customers.

“Our outstanding results last year were achieved in large part to the efforts of our distributors, in concert with our sales team,” said Russ Rogg, Metroflor’s president and CEO. “Our partners outdid themselves once again in 2016, and we’re proud to acknowledge their role and achievement.”

Among the winners were Adleta Corp., Herregan Distributors, William M. Bird Co., Tri-West, Ltd., Ohio Valley Flooring and Reader’s Wholesale.

The Surfaces awards banquet also celebrated the unveiling of a bold marketing campaign for Metroflor’s revolutionary Isocore Technology luxury vinyl tile (LVT) core layer. The “I am Isocore” concept establishes a strong, relatable, human and personal voice for the brand, designed to provide a vehicle to communicate the product’s vast scientific, functional and emotional benefits. At the rock ‘n’ roll-themed gathering, in addition to a live band, achievement recognition and dancing, the evening prominently featured the new Isocorecampaign. As guests approached the ballroom door, the “Red Carpet” photo took place in front of a 7.5-foot tall “vinyl” record album made entirely of Isocore LVT flooring, in a record sleeve emblazoned with a colorful, abstract “flaming” guitar and the words “I AM A ROCKSTAR. #IAmISOCORE.” Inside the venue, the dance floor, coasters and other accents were also fashioned from the Isocore flooring, including 3- and 6-foot table tops designed to look like record albums.


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How the experts navigate industry’s biggest event

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

By Ken Ryan


Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 10.37.40 AMIt’s crazy, energizing, fun and tiring. And that’s just the first day. The International Surface Event (TISE), a.k.a. Surfaces, the flooring industry’s largest event, is two and a half days of fast-paced action with executives pounding the pavement from early in the morning until late at night.

“Surfaces is still the best all-round flooring show to attend,” said Sean O’Rourke, vice president of hard surfaces at Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J. “To loosely paraphrase Sinatra, ‘If you can’t see it there you won’t see it anywhere.’”

Many flooring retailers and distributors prepare for Surfaces with a well-defined game plan, not unlike a football coach and his staff getting ready for the Super Bowl. In this case, the smallest details can make the difference between a successful show and a frustrating experience.

FCNews spoke to veterans of the trade show to get their thoughts on effective strategies and helpful tips for covering the show. Here are some excerpts.

Best strategies
“We go to Surfaces with a good idea of what we need so we can find the best deals. Prices on things like pad are usually discounted at the show so it’s wise to purchase as much as you can. We also like to find new products we feel will be trending so we stay ahead of the game.”
Mark Presson, Lonnie’s CarpetMax, Rockford, Ill.

“Schedule meetings with your key partners in advance. Allow plenty of time between meetings; manufacturers may be displaying at a hotel or another off-site venue. It can be a logistical issue if appointments are too close together.”
Enos Farnsworth, Denver Hardwood

“I usually take a group of employees with me so they can spread out and visit the booths I am unable to. We usually meet at the end of the day and discuss any areas of interest.”
Eric Mondragon, R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, Salt Lake City

Best thing about Surfaces
“Being able to see the majority of all our vendors under one roof.”
Dan Mandel, Sterling Carpet and Flooring, Anaheim, Calif.

“It’s reconnecting with vendors/business partners we may only see once a year.”
Sean O’Rourke, Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Sage Advice
“Leave free time for hidden gems in categories you may need. Study the vendor list to see where those gems may be rather than roaming.”
Phil Koufidakis, Baker Bros., Phoenix

“You will find the most influential people leave the hotel room at 6 a.m. for early meetings and return to the hotel at 9 p.m. following a dinner meeting. If you are hoping to gamble or attend a show, stay a couple days after the event.”
Enos Farnsworth, Denver Hardwood

“Block off at least half of a day to walk the show floor with no appointments to see what is out there that you have not seen or may not know. ”
Richard Cutting, Haines

Tips for newcomers
“Wear comfortable shoes, bring Purell, drink lots of water and get to bed before 1 a.m.”
Sean O’Rourke, Avalon Flooring

“Create a schedule with hour time slots and begin setting appointments ahead of time. Some events will overlap so be sure you are fair and equitable with everyone. And, don’t kill yourself with appointments or meetings from morning to night. Enjoy a little down time if you can.”
Scott Roy, Gilford-Johnson

“Embrace the craziness of it all. Make sure you eat breakfast. You’ll need it.”
Richard Cutting, Haines

Toughest thing about Surfaces
“Time management. With suppliers up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, it’s tough to get from place to place.”
Scott Roy, Gilford-Johnson

“Having enough time to see everybody I am currently conducting business with and still make time to see vendors I am not as familiar with.”
Eric Mondragon, R.C. Willey Home Furnishings


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Al's Column: Managing a family-run business

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

By Jacqueline Tabbah

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMThere are many issues facing floor covering retailers today, especially family-run businesses. For instance, how do you keep your business running smoothly and successfully when generations work side by side or begin the succession process?

How do you keep family and work balance? What is the influence of your corporate/family culture on business structures and policies?

I will be addressing many of these issues and more at Surfaces this week when I convene a panel of real-life members representing different segments of the stone industry Wednesday, Jan. 18, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. During this presentation, “Managing a Successful Family Business,” participants will share their experiences and encourage attendees to share their own observations in this interactive town-hall style discussion.

In my experience working in a family-run business, I have found there is a fine line between respecting your family’s business that they’ve built from the ground up and being an innovator. This line can often feel like a tightrope, but once you make it to the other side, you will achieve a rewarding and meaningful career.

For instance, in many cases I have found working in a family business requires adapting to a system that’s already in place—and may have been for years. My advice is to embrace this system initially by trying things “their way” in order for you to earn and build trust. Over time, you can slowly tweak the areas where you think there is room for improvement.

Another issue to be mindful of is nepotism or the appearance of favoritism. I strongly recommend managers demonstrate proficiency at all times during office hours by communicating in a professional manner in the presence of employees and customers. The workplace is not the venue to make family jokes or have a heated discussion. Instead, set aside differences and work together respectfully. When family members who work together trust and respect each other, your employees will follow suit because they will see that you are taking your family business seriously.

After these fundamental concepts are established, you can start introducing your innovative ideas. My advice is to start with baby steps. For instance, you may want to upgrade your social media skills. It costs nothing and can really boost the company’s web presence. You can even reorganize your filing system by simply creating a shared drive or cloud-based system that everyone has access to at all times.

You may want to get involved in numerous local and national groups such as the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and the Natural Stone Institute (MIA+BSI), to name a few. Most of the national groups have local chapters. Start locally as your business is local, and people do business within their community.

Finally, I encourage you to broaden your scope and think outside the box. Successful family businesses thrive over generations because every person brings something new to the table. Each generation must adapt to fit the times. Learn everything you can from your fathers and mothers and build on that.


screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-4-09-49-pmJacqueline Tabbah is vice president of International Stoneworks, an active member of the Marble Institute of America. She also writes a weekly blog, which includes stone care tips, fun facts and product recommendations. Visit