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T&L Distributing opens new branch facility

Houston—T&L Distributing LLP has opened a full-service branch facility in North Little Rock, Ark., providing local delivery service for the state of Arkansas. This opening is in part due to T&L Distributing’s new relationship with Tarkett US.

T&L will represent Tarkett’s commercial and residential products including Johnsonite and Azrock, which will have local stock to service the business immediately. T&L will also represent Raskin Gorilla Floors LVT and Acrylix products, IVC sheet and LVT, Hemisphere and Heritage Hardwoods, and Hill Country Innovations Wood, LVT, Rigid Core and Ceramic in Arkansas.

T&L’s Pro Supply Store at the branch location stocks a full complement of tools and sundry products for the installation of all products including T&L’s newest manufacturer, Ardex and Henry’s adhesives.

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T&L Distributing partners with Tarkett

Houston—T&L Distributing has entered a distribution partnership with Tarkett. Through this collaboration, T&L Distributing will immediately begin offering Tarkett’s resilient residential and commercial products, including Tarkett’s Johnsonite brand, to its customers throughout its distribution footprint, including Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and parts of Tennessee.

T&L Distributing will carry Tarkett’s residential sheet, laminate and LVT flooring, as well as adhesives. Commercial Tarkett products will include Johnsonite resilient flooring, including rubber, linoleum, vinyl flooring and composition tile, and Johnsonite finishing borders, wall base, stairwell accessories and adhesives. Many of these products carry a variety of certifications, including Cradle to Cradle, Floor Score, as well as asthma and allergy friendly.

“This partnership allows us to provide our customers a full range of Tarkett flooring,” said Bob Eady, president of T&L Distributing. “We will be able to provide environmentally friendly products that are produced by Tarkett in a responsible way and feature high design. Our customers want highly designed flooring that performs over time, so we’re thrilled to offer Tarkett’s resilient lines. We’re looking forward to a successful and long-term partnership.”

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Hurricane Harvey disrupts Houston’s flooring businesses

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 1.09.27 PMHurricane Harvey’s catastrophic tear through southeast Texas turned Houston into a life-threatening flood zone with a record-breaking rainfall, shutting down most commerce, including flooring businesses. The immediate impact on the industry is palpable as Houston is home to three top 20 flooring distributors and a major 10-store retail chain.

For Houston-based wholesalers T&L Distributing, Reader’s Wholesale and Swiff-Train Co., as well as Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors, the immediate concern was accounting for the safety of their employees and family members. Jonathan Train, president and CEO of Swiff-Train, told FCNews the company’s Houston facility is threatened with more flooding, but he feels it should not be affected. “Houston remains closed; all other locations are up and running. We have a lot to do over the next several days to get back to normal working conditions.”

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane and subsequent flooring, Train penned a letter to customers, vendors and business partners stating many of its employees lost power and suffered significant property damage, and many evacuated the area. Fortunately, he said, all workers have been accounted for and are safe. The road ahead, however, will be long.

“There is more to come and it will take days and weeks to assess the damage. Conditions are changing every hour so we all have to stay vigilant.”

At T&L Distributing, offices were understandably closed. Bob Eady, president, assessed the safety of his staff. “At this time we have only one employee that I am aware of that has been flooded,” he told FCNews. “We had an employee who made it to our facility Monday morning and sent some beautiful pictures of it being high and dry, thank God. The building just to the south of us was completely flooded at their docks.”

Reader’s Wholesale, a member of the 14-distributor Bravo Services Group, reported that all was well in their neck of the woods. But just to be cautious, the operation will remain closed for the week. Should circumstances change, Reader’s said it can rely on its Bravo members. “Bravo is a tight group,” said John Carney, executive director. “I’m sure if Reader’s does end up needing something it would have unlimited resources at their fingertips.”

John Sher, president of Adleta, in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas, related that the sister of one of Adleta’s sales managers had to be rescued off the roof of her home by canoe. “It is very bad down there. We have offered to do anything we can to help Lucky and Adam Burke at Reader’s. Right now they are just hanging tight.”

Compounding the problem for distributors is the fact many roads are damaged or flooded, making routes treacherous or in some cases altogether impassible. At press time, several major highways—including some sections of I-10 in Texas—were under water.

The situation is equally troubling for retailers. Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors has 10 stores scattered about the Houston market. As of Aug. 29—just two days after the storm rolled in—Sam Roberts, owner, said he was still awaiting word on his businesses. “Believe it or not it’s still too early to get a good accounting on everything. Hardly anything in the city is open. I don’t know how many of our employees have flooded homes. We still haven’t gotten to a couple of our stores. Even for stores that didn’t flood there will probably be some power, phone and Internet outages.”

Roberts expects to reopen for business as soon as the staff can get to the stores. “We can work through minor damage,” he told FCNews. “It is also worth pointing out that large areas have no or intermittent power. We can’t operate if the stores don’t have electricity. We can’t get to our main office and distribution center so it is impossible to send any out installation crews at present—even if it weren’t raining.”

Massive scale
The natural disaster that was Hurricane Harvey is likely to turn into an economic disaster as well, with early estimates of the damage exceeding $30 billion. That would make Harvey one of the 10 most damaging hurricanes on record. In fact, it has already set a record for most rainfall—50-plus inches—from a tropical system in the continental U.S. According to Planalytics, which provides weather analytics for businesses, lost revenue to area restaurants and retailers alone is expected to reach $1 billion.

While those directly affected say the impact of the event will likely play out over the course of the coming months, if not years, many remain hopeful and optimistic the city will ultimately recover. Roberts, for instance, looked on the bright side, saying the situation could be much worse. “What if all 10 stores had 2 feet of water inside? Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors may yet emerge relatively unscathed. We’ll have to wait and see.”

T&L Distributing’s Eady added, “We are in uncharted territory logistically, but we will get through this and T&L will be stronger because of this.”

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T&L Distributing expands with IVC US lines

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.37.53 AM Dalton–IVC US announced that T&L Distributing is expanding its product portfolio and distribution coverage to all three of IVC US’s floor covering offerings across multiple states.

Effective April 15, T&L Distributing will distribute IVC US’s Flexitec fiberglass sheet vinyl, Balterio laminate and Moduleo luxury vinyl tiles and planks in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Western Tennessee.

“We’re excited for the new opportunity with T&L Distributing and the increased regional coverage,” said Jim Chepalis, director of distribution and strategic accounts, IVC US. “T&L has proven successful with our Moduleo collection, and we’re eager to see what they can accomplish with our Flexitec sheet vinyl and recently launched Balterio laminate collections.”

T&L Distributing is headquartered in Houston, with distribution centers in the Texas cities of Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Lubbock, as well as Shreveport and Baton Rouge, La., and Oklahoma City, Okla.

T&L attributes its longevity and achievements to a corporate emphasis on integrity in customer service, and building relationships with clients that stand the test of time. “Our relationship with IVC US has continued to grow and strengthen over the years, and we’re looking forward to exploring this new venture and what successes lie ahead for us together,” said Bob Eady, president, T&L Distributing.

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T&L Distributing sold to former owner of LDBrinkman

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 9.54.24 AMHouston—T&L Distributing has been sold to Tom Karol, former owner of LDBrinkman in Dallas. Sandy Thomas, current chairman of the board of T&L will retain a minority stockholder position.

Karol owned LDBrinkman for 10 years until 1999 when he sold it to Beaulieu of America. Karol is currently  chairman of the board of Cornerstone Automation Systems (CASI) in Frisco, Texas, which manufactures and integrates turnkey automated fulfillment systems.

Jeff Thomas, current president of T&L, will step down with Bob Eady taking his place. Robert Smith will remain the controller.

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T&L Distributing founder awarded Lifetime Acheivement

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Orlando, Fla.—The late Bob Thomas, owner and co-founder of T&L Distributing, was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 NAFCD (North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors) convention here earlier this month. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes exceptional leadership or outstanding contributions that have led to expanding the vision of the floor covering distribution industry.

Founded on the principles of honesty and excellence, Thomas opened T&L Distributing in Houston in 1972. With his steady hand and a group of motivated managers, T&L has become one of the largest flooring distributors in the nation with multiple locations covering six states.

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T&L event to raise funds for Wounded Warriors Project

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 1.21.52 PMHouston—T&L Distributing’s annual Superfest event for 2014 is going to be extra special this year. With a theme of “Support Our Troops,” T&L will donate to the Wounded Warriors Project $10 for each dealer that attends the event in Dallas. The goal is to donate at least $5,000. T&L also partners with the Texas Sentinels Foundation by donating flooring for remodeled homes that are given to severely injured veterans. Continue reading T&L event to raise funds for Wounded Warriors Project

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Distribution: Wood

Leading the industry out of the woods

By Ken Ryan

Oct. 21/28 2013; Volume 27/number 13

No flooring product has benefited more from the uptick in new home construction and an improving economic picture than hardwood flooring. For some distributors, wood has risen 15% to 20% in 2013, after 2012 outperformed 2011.

“Wood has been the strongest category,” said Bruce Zwicker, president and CEO, J.J. Haines, the industry’s No. 1 distributor. According to Zwicker, the improvement started in late 2010 and slowly continued in 2011 and 2012, with 2013 the strongest of the three years. “The uptick in home building in 2013 helped sustain the momentum. It will be interesting to see how long such momentum continues as rising interest rates and other macroeconomic factors suggest a [slowdown],” he said. Continue reading Distribution: Wood

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Distribution: Resilient

Why LVT is today’s flooring sensation

By Ken Ryan

Oct. 21/28 2013; Volume 27/number 13

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) isn’t merely the shining star in the resilient category—it may just be the best all-around product the flooring industry provides its customers, according to some distributors who continue to grow their businesses on the back of LVT offerings.

“First off, it is a visually stunning product,” said Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf. “You cannot tell the difference between LVT and wood, the visuals are that amazing. And the performance…I don’t think there is a better product out there in the market than LVT.” Continue reading Distribution: Resilient

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FCNews’ annual top 20 flooring distributors

 Distributors emerging from economic stronger, more relevant than ever

By Ken Ryan

Oct. 21/28 2013; Volume 27/number 13

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 4.47.45 PMDistributors. They are the backbone of the industry, the group on which manufacturers rely for moving their products to the point of sale. It is a segment that faces as many challenges as any and works on razor-thin margins.

Still, the good ones have not only succeeded but thrived. In fact, most project growth of 5% to 15% in 2013, driven in part by a housing comeback, both remodeling and new construction.

FCNews’ annual top 20 distributor listing not only looks at the industry’s leaders but also reveals the 10 highest-volume wholesalers in the resilient, wood and laminate categories. In most cases, the information was obtained from the respective high-level executives. Continue reading FCNews’ annual top 20 flooring distributors