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WFCA celebrates 60 years, inducts Bell into Hall of Fame

Vance Bell (left), chairman and CEO of Shaw Industries, was inducted into the WFCA Hall of Fame by Scott Humphrey (right), CEO, WFCA.

Dalton, Ga.—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) celebrated its 60th anniversary gala at Barnsley Resort in Adairsville, Ga. on September 19, 2019. The evening celebration included the induction of Vance Bell, chairman and chief executive officer of Shaw Industries Group, Inc., into the WFCA Hall of Fame.

Bell was named chairman and chief executive officer in 2006 succeeding Robert Shaw, the man who hired him back in the 70's. During his decades with Shaw, Bell has worked with everything from sales and marketing to manufacturing and operations. Shaw now boasts more than $6 billion in annual sales and has approximately 23,000 employees.

The celebration was attended by more than 200 industry professionals and executives, including the association's past presidents, chairmen and directors from the original Western Floor Covering Association and the American Floorcovering Institute (formerly the Retail Floorcovering Institute), which merged to become the WFCA as it is known today. The event saluted its past with a memory-filled glimpse of the association's history through a video presentation of vintage photographs from the group's first 60 years.

"The last 60 years have given us reasons to celebrate," said Scott Humphrey, chief executive officer, World Floor Covering Association. "Our industry has progressed over the past 60 years in all areas including products, quality, service and support to our members. WFCA has played a large role in the defining moments of the flooring industry, and we are proud of its achievements. There will always be challenges, but our future is bright."

The goals of the WFCA include promoting the industry, developing quality standards, sponsoring research, representing member interests in government legislative and regulatory issues and providing management tools and educational programs. Throughout the years, WFCA has continually developed programs to meet the needs of the ever-changing flooring industry.

"As we celebrate this milestone, we are proud of the achievements we've made, and we look forward to the next 60 years of accomplishments," said Humphrey. "We've seen a lot of changes over the years, but one thing remains the same—the value of this industry association. Join us for the next 60 years. Combine your voice with ours. Together we can do wonderful, amazing things."

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WFCA empowers members with upcoming 2018 conference

Dalton—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) will host an educational conference titled Empower 2018 from Sept. 20-21 at La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The program will provide attendees with new and refined strategies, along with peer-to-peer connection opportunities, designed to propel their companies to new levels of success. This conference is part of WFCA's core initiative to ensure members access to the best professional training and a second-to-none professional tool kit.

The speaker lineup is a veritable “who’s who” of current stars on the professional business executive circuit. Empower 2018 will kick off with a keynote presentation delivered by Steve Hillis, chief executive officer of Empower Partners in Canton, Ga. He has been in the flooring industry for more than 30 years and has spent portions of his career fulfilling senior roles at Milliken & Company, Floor Focus, Beaulieu Group and The Mohawk Group. His presentation will focus on management leadership and the impact that best practices can have on employee retention, gains in efficiencies and team empowerment.

Jon Newman, owner of JLN Business Development based in Atlanta, Ga., will lead a discussion entitled “The Way to Wealth.” His focus will be on the positive effects of increasing both close rates and average tickets. Newman will shed light on how many dollars actually leave with those customers—even when you make the sale—and how to optimize in-store sales by identifying and addressing the needs and wants of those customers.

Additional speakers include: Debra Trueman, president of Manitzas Trueman Consulting Services based in San Antonio, Texas, who will be talking with audience members about the rapidly changing landscape of workplace sexual harassment and effective methods for the prevention of abusive behavior in the workplace; and Steve Abernathy, WFCA’s own chief financial officer, who will shed light on how to prepare for succession planning in his presentation “Next Steps in Building Your Business for the Future.”

Additional roundtables, panels and discussions will include: “Why Certification Matters” moderated by Robert Varden, vice president of Certified Floor Covering Installers Association, and Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA; and “Managing Your Online Reviews,” presented by Jon Newman, owner of JLN Business Development, and Sam O’Krent, owner of O’Krent Floors. Many other speakers and panel discussions are scheduled as well.

For more information, visit: events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=vr5uzprab&oeidk=a07eff7qeon158d3211.

 

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Nebraska Iowa Floor Covering Association disbands, donates funds to FCIF

Dalton, Ga.—The Nebraska Iowa Floor Covering Association (NIFCA) board, a local affiliate of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), voted to disband its organization after 22 years of operation.

“NIFCA was established in 1995,” said Chris Nordin, president of NIFCA. “To have a local association for that long would not have been possible without the support of our members and from the World Floor Covering Association. I would also like to thank all the past and present board members which have worked tirelessly to make this organization a success.”

The NIFCA board voted to donate the remaining funds, $25,135, to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF), a nonprofit organization that assists families in the industry who are suffering from catastrophic illness or severe disability.

Nordin was proud that the funds were able to honor two individuals who left their mark on the industry.

“The gift could not have come at a better time,” said Andrea Blackbourn, executive director of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, who was excited that the foundation was chosen as the recipient of the funds. “We set an ambitious goal of $650,000 in revenue this year, which is up $150,000 over last year. The gift from the Nebraska Iowa Floor Covering Association makes a nice dent in our goal.”

One of the FCIF grant recipients who volunteered to share her story is Melissa Taylor. After her diagnosis of breast cancer in 2017, Melissa quickly realized the financial burden of this disease. “You never think to budget for cancer,” she said. Her rare and rapidly growing cancer required frequent, aggressive treatments, so she had to take time off from work. A 23-year veteran of the floor covering industry, Melissa has worked the past 13 years in claims and customer communications at a manufacturing facility.

After a year of rigorous treatments and doctor visits, Melissa is now in remission. She has returned to work and learned not to take life for granted. “My grandkids, God and the Floor Covering Industry Foundation gave me the strength to push through this difficult time.”

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WFCA presents Gold Standard Award winners

Dalton, Ga.—WFCA has announced the annual winners of the Gold Standard Award, which recognizes stores that have created an outstanding consumer retail experience. In the category including retailers with sales over $10 million, Coles Fine Flooring based in San Diego, Calif., took top honors. In the under $10-million category, Brian’s Flooring and Design based in Birmingham, Ala., was recognized.

The first-place winner in the over $10-million category received a choice either a two-day onsite custom CFI carpet seaming class or a two-day onsite custom sales training class. Additionally, the winner received one-year online WFCA University tuition. The first-place winner in the under $10-million category received the same options as above but only a single-day of classes.

Each award category also recognized second- and third-place recipients. Second-place winners in both categories received $1,000 in WFCA Trade Scholarship funds, plus one-year worth of WFCA University tuition. The third-place winners in both categories were honored with $500 in WFCA Trade Scholarship funds, plus one-year tuition to WFCA University online. Additional winners included:

Over $10 million:

  • Second place—Carpetland USA, Davenport, Iowa
  • Third place—H.J. Martin and Son, Green Bay, Wis.

Under $10 million:

  • Second place—Russell Martin Carpet and Rugs, Naperville, Ill.
  • Third place—Independent Carpet One Floor and Home, Westland, Mich.

Coles Fine Flooring’s standout success is attributable to its firm commitment to client service, employee retention programs and community involvement. The business strives to accommodate consumers in every aspect including the accessibility and presentation of its showrooms which now include a new Kitchen & Bath Design Center that is staffed with experts who boast over 50 years of collective experience, a dedicated customer service department that is staffed seven days a week and a one-year satisfaction guarantee.

The company is also heavily involved in community and charitable causes. It is an active member of the San Diego Humane Society and hosts pet adoption events on site at its retail locations. Coles also supports the YMCA Youth and Family Services Division, Music Matters—an organization that restores musical instruments and gives them to students in need, and the Princess Project of San Diego, a group that furnishes prom dresses to young women. Additionally, in 2017 Coles gave away a total of over 550 area rugs to every teacher that stepped into their stores as a thank you for their hard work.

Brian’s Flooring and Design caught the judging panel’s eyes in the under $10-million category due to its company growth and dedication to total customer satisfaction on every job. Brian’s Flooring describes itself as “deliberate, adaptive and efficient” in fulfilling the expectations of its customers. According to the retailer, part of its success is due in part to never over-promising or setting up unrealistic expectations with clients. Brian’s Flooring takes its relationships with its customers very seriously. The retailer has ongoing, committed customer appreciation initiatives and, with a relationship built on trust and satisfaction, its customers keep coming back for more.

Brian’s Flooring supports at least a dozen community related causes through financial investments, sponsorships and in-kind gifts. Its most recent community service project included supporting and staffing the local community food bank in Birmingham. In 2018 the company plans to donate its time to a Habitat for Humanity project.

Companies interested in entering or nominating an entrant for the 2019 Gold Standard Awards can visit wfca.org for more details.

 

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Lessons learned: Taking a page from the restaurant industry

January 22/29, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 16

By Tom Jennings

 

No flooring store seems to be making easy money today. Competition is fierce and margins are squeezed. As with every budget in the business world, the need to watch expenses is very real. I get it. It’s just that there are some areas of your business which may be poor places to attempt to save money. In fact, in order to actually grow your clientele you may want to consider just the opposite.

What I don’t get is why most flooring retailers I encounter seem to think sales and installation training can often be identified as an area of cost containment or reduction, when service is the only element of a sale that really differentiates us from our competition.

To illustrate, allow me to make a comparison to the restaurant business, as I feel the flooring business has much in common with full-service dining. In the food trade, every morning a food supplier makes the rounds to the various restaurants in a trade area. Whether it’s a carton of eggs or a sack of flour, essentially the same ingredients are available to all establishments.

What we all realize is while the deliveries into the kitchen are very similar, the deliveries from the kitchen to the customer’s table vary greatly. The ultimate success of the restaurant relies heavily on both the chef’s abilities and the recipes used. A great chef using inspired recipes will create a wait for a table at which to be seated. However, a mediocre cook using bland recipes will eventually create a “for rent” sign in the front window. Similar ingredients can produce very different results.

For example, let’s say an entrée cost $15. Ask yourself, if a restaurant added $1 to the price of every item on its menu, then consistently delivered a great meal using more skilled cooks, what do you think the net results in their amount of business would be?

Now, ask the same question, but reduce the prices by $1 and use a less skilled kitchen staff. Do you really think they would prosper by being a little cheaper at the expense of delivering a better meal? I sure don’t. Isn’t this scenario in many ways very similar to our own? Our trucks carry names such as Shaw and Mohawk on their sides. They essentially deliver the same ingredients to the dock of all flooring stores. It is only the efforts of those who can craft a beautiful bathroom from boxes of tile, for example, that differentiate a great place from which to buy flooring from a mediocre one, thereby reducing the emphasis on price alone.

At the restaurant, you judge the meal presented on the plate, not the ingredients themselves. Just as not everyone wishes to eat from the dollar menu; neither do all flooring customers want an installation bargain. The $1 illustration above represents a 6% price difference. Have you ever gladly paid 6% more for something that you really wanted? We all have. What would a 6% change in revenue do for your business?

My experience tells me customers will gladly pay a bit more to have a superior experience. This is nothing new. Nearly a century ago, Will Rogers said, “It’s not what you pay a man, but what he costs you that counts.” It’s still great wisdom today. Don’t let lower initial costs for more questionable workmanship mislead you. Their real cost may prove to be quite high.

 

Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a retail sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.

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Mobile Marketing partners with WFCA

Royersford, Pa.—Mobile Marketing, a full service strategic mobile and digital marketing agency, has partnered with the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) to provide retailers with a unique e-commerce platform to sell area rugs direct to consumers.

The Rug Shop is an e-commerce platform offering a retailer branded online rug shop with more than 35,000 brand name area rug SKUs that can be seamlessly incorporated into WFCA retail member consumer websites. Each area rug portal store is powered by Mobile Marketing’s scalable flooring e-commerce technology that equips each individual store application with a robust catalog offering and powerful online e-commerce marketing tools. The mobile first platform is fully responsive, providing consumers with the ability to view, select and order their area rugs from their mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. The Rug Shop service includes catalog management, customer service, returns, orders and credit card processing. Retailers adopting The Rug Shop platform receive a live, branded website within two weeks of placing an order.

“We’re excited to partner with the WFCA to offer The Rug Shop to their members,” said Carole Cross, president and CEO, Mobile Marketing. “The e-commerce tool will enable retailers to add an element of business to their online offering with minimal effort. They will be able to grow new revenue channels with zero inventory and compete with online retailers like Wayfair, among others. Many flooring retailers do not sell area rugs because of the cost of inventory, space restrictions on the showroom floor, catalog maintenance issues and technology challenges. We’ve created an e-commerce solution that solves these problems and will increase revenue while meeting the needs of these retailers.”

Eligible retailers will be able to sign up for The Rug Shop with Mobile Marketing representatives located at the WFCA booth 2057 at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas, Jan. 30-Feb. 1.  Retailers can also inquire online at www2.rugs.shop/info/.

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WFCA, ESR Commercial become partners

Dalton, Ga.—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has developed a new business partnership with ESR Commercial, the country’s largest trade association real estate broker.

With more than 35 years of experience, ESR offers a multitude of real estate services for clients of all sizes whether opening their first location, expanding or relocating. ESR services include identifying, researching and analyzing potential sites for expansion or new locations, negotiating lease and purchase terms, and guiding clients through the spectrum of issues and concerns in the acquisition process. Access to ESR’s business portfolio of services will be available to WFCA members free of charge.

“As part of our mission to ensure the success of our retail members, WFCA is committed to providing our members with the tools they need to thrive and succeed,” said Freida Staten, vice president, marketing and communications, WFCA. “ESR is at the top of its game, equipped with the expertise and business tools our members can tap into at any time to ensure they are making sound business decisions for their companies.”

Staten went on to explain that growth and expansion are critical components of every business and the new partnership with ESR would enable WFCA to equip its constituents with tools integral to their ongoing success.

For more information contact Garrett Aries at 818.519.5040 or  garrett.aries@esrcommercialrealty.com.

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WFCA partners with Mill Creek Media Group

Dalton, Ga.—In an effort to help member constituents stay on top of their game in today’s competitive business landscape, WFCA has aligned itself with another organization whose mission is to help retailers expand and enhance their business presence with desired audiences. Mill Creek Media Group, based in Rocky Face, Ga., offers services in a wide array of marketing and communications capacities including videography, photography, online and social media content, to name a few.

Mill Creek Media Group has over 30 years of experience in the flooring and media production industries. They have served a wide variety of clients including Shaw Floors and Novalis International. Their strongest suit of talent lies in branding strategies designed to help individual and small chain retailers enhance market share in their local communities.

As part of their suite of offerings, Mill Creek Media Group offers a full scope of corporate services including: training, marketing and how to videos, commercial development, product introduction marketing and promotions. The company also creates content that can be used on social media platforms, conducts live streaming and product launch debuts as well as a wide line-up of photography services including product, room setting and corporate portraits.

WFCA members will receive discounted rates on all services offered by Mill Creek Media Group.

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WFCA, MBS launch MagneBuild

Dalton—World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has announced the launch of MagneBuild by Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS), an LLC partially owned by the WFCA. MagneBuild is a revolutionary new underlayment system utilizing magnetic technology as the foundation for all types of floors. It will make its debut at TISE 2018.

The new MBS technology works across all flooring categories from carpet to hardwood to stone. To install flooring with this product, MagneBuild simply needs to be “rolled out” over any smooth, clean and dry subfloor. It alleviates many installation issues, eliminating the need to bond flooring. It can also be used at any stage in the construction process.

“The ground breaking ‘roll and go’ attributes of MagneBuild are made possible by the combination of two proprietary layers,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO, WFCA. “The magnetic base layer is applied to the subfloor, then topped with the receptive layer consisting of the actual flooring.” That surface layer—carpet, stone, or tile—adheres to the magnetic base by virtue of the proprietary MBS technology.

The magnetic subfloor also acts as a sound barrier, and even offers crack isolation protection for ceramic floors. Once the subfloor is installed end-users can easily change from an LVT to a ceramic tile to a carpet tile and back again effortlessly with no floor prep time.

Aside from the ease of use, interchangeability and aesthetic flexibility associated with the MagneBuild system, the new product provides quantified savings. “This key selling feature translates to less down-time for contractors, builders and other businesses,” Humphrey said. He explained MBS products are ideally suited for commercial settings where timing is a critical factor.

The new MBS technology utilizes recycled materials and is entirely environmentally friendly, with no VOC emissions at any stage of the process. End users can even easily roll-up and take their flooring with them if they chose when they move.

For more information, visit magneticbuildingsolutions.com.

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Lorberbaum named to WFCA Hall of Fame

Dalton, Ga.—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has named Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum, chairman and CEO of Mohawk Industries, to the organization’s Hall of Fame. Lorberbaum is the 47th inductee since the Hall of Fame was established in 1992. He will be joining a distinguished list of industry pioneers and leaders, including his parents, Shirley and Alan, who founded Aladdin Mills. Lorberbaum will be honored during a ceremony at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas, Jan. 31.

“I nominated Jeff because his leadership changed the industry while expanding Mohawk into all flooring products to create the largest flooring company in the world with numerous acquisitions, exponential global growth and ground-breaking financial returns for more than 20 years,” said Larry Nagle, WFCA Hall of Fame member, president of N.L. Nagle and founder of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. “I look forward to honoring his influential impact on our industry and welcoming him into the Hall of Fame.”

After graduating from the University of Denver in 1976, Lorberbaum entered his family business as the company was expanding from bath and area rugs to broadloom carpet. Under his leadership, Aladdin Mills merged with Mohawk Industries in 1994, creating one of the largest flooring manufacturers in the country with revenues of more than $1 billion.

Durimg the remainder of the 1990s, Mohawk led the consolidation of the U.S. carpet and rug industry and began exploring the sale of hard surface products at the end of the decade. Mohawk foresaw the changing of consumer flooring preferences and shifted its strategy to provide all flooring types, which expanded their customers’ revenues and margins.

Mohawk’s acquisition of Dal-Tile in 2002 was the next major step in becoming a total flooring company that manufactured all soft and hard surface products. Dal-Tile’s market share grew rapidly under Lorberbaum with new investments to expand its manufacturing capabilities, sales organization and distribution network. Following multiple European acquisitions during this decade, ceramic has become the largest category within Mohawk’s product portfolio.

Today, Mohawk is one of the largest flooring manufacturers to offer ceramic, stone, carpet, rugs, laminate, wood, sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and countertops. While transforming the U.S. business, Lorberbaum built Mohawk into a significant international enterprise with more than 30% of the company’s revenues generated outside the U.S. With 38,000 employees, Mohawk sells products in more than 160 countries around the world with manufacturing operations in 16 nations.

For the WFCA, the combination of Lorberbaum’s leadership of Mohawk into a global flooring powerhouse, his transformative impact on the industry and his lasting influence on how people buy and sell flooring made him a natural choice for the Hall of Fame.

“Mohawk became a member of the WFCA in 2003, and, since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with the company and Jeff,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO, WFCA. “He is a true visionary who has invigorated product innovation, enhanced customer results, shaped countless leaders and revolutionized the flooring industry. Jeff will be a great addition to the Hall of Fame.”

Lorberbaum has received a multitude of awards for his leadership and accomplishments during the course of his career. Recent honors include the 2016 Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship (SE Region); the 2016 Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO Award (Manufacturing); the 2017 Leonardo International Prize, presented by the President of Italy for transformative investments in Italian industry; and the 2017 “Let Us Do Good” Award, presented by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, for his support of housing for severely wounded veterans.