FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO—Change is in the air at the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA), but only in a good way. In fact, much of what’s changing could simply be considered progress.
The most noticeable change is at the top, where Jim Mudd, president of Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring, Louisville, Ky., was elected the group’s president for a two-year term. Mudd succeeds Jeff Macco, Macco’s Floor Covering in Green Bay, Wis., who held the position for the past three years. Mudd told FCNews he will look to continue on the path Macco and prior president Sam Roberts, Roberts Carpet and Fine Floors in Houston, has led the group down over the past six years. “Everything is going in the right direction,” he said.
That direction, Mudd added, is defined by the group’s mission statement, which has not changed since day one:
“Bring the highest value to members financially via idea exchange, and make a real difference for our suppliers, creating a unique synergy and leadership to our industry.”
One focus, he said, will be continuing to improve the committee structure. “It has gotten better,” he said. “If you go back six years, 5% of the people did 95% of the work. Now it’s gotten to about a 40/60 split. All you have to do is look how good the committee reports are now. New people have negotiated all these great deals in a short amount of time. People have taken ownership. We have to continue to get more young people involved.” He particularly cited Michael Longwill, Airbase Carpet Mart, New Castle, Del., for the deals he has brought to NFA members as chair of the resilient sheet and LVT committee.
More specifically, Mudd would like to see the NFA break into products beyond flooring. “This year I got into granite countertops, frameless glass shower enclosures, sinks, faucets, etc.—things I never thought I would do. If you are going into that kitchen and put- ting granite on the floor, why wouldn’t you want to put it on the countertop? When we go into these houses, we have to grab a greater share of consumers’ dollars. We have to take more of that room.”
Mudd will also look to address some NFA weaknesses as defined by the long-range planning committee.
• Members who do not always fully participate in the group’s programs
• The need for greater unification within the group
•A better balance on the part of members between self interest and group interest
• Perception of vendors that the group cannot easily shift business
• Lack of participation from committee members
• Lack of confidentially
Finally, the next six months will be focused on finalizing a voteable draft of the group’s bylaws.
Mudd was returning to the executive board after a three-year absence. However, brand new to the board is Darren Braunstein, Worldwide Wholesale, Edison, N.J. Braunstein was elected vice president after incumbent John Fitzsimmons, Fitz Flooring, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, withdrew his name from consideration in order to ensure the board was infused with some new blood.
The remaining members of the executive board were re-elected to two year terms. Tom Hadinger, Hadinger Flooring, Naples, Fla., and Penny Carnino, Grigsby’s Carpet, Tulsa, Okla., will again serve the group as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Another area of change for the NFA involves its bylaws, some of which were discussed at this meeting. According to Macco, the biggest change on the table is any sale or transfer of ownership triggers an NFA review. “While the actual NFA member is the company and not the person, a new owner of any particular company is not automatically in,” he said. Upon review, NFA will decide whether membership is maintained. Reasons for expulsion could be character issues or conflicts with an existing member or the potential for a better fit for the group within that geographic territory.
A potential addition to the bylaws, and possibly the most controversial, involves having every member uphold minimum rebate requirements to maintain NFA membership. “We want to make sure all NFA members support NFA vendors,” Macco said, “and the way we can police that is through rebates.” Approximately three NFA members are at potential risk—“not because of their overall volume, but because of their volume with approved vendors of the NFA.” Members will be given until the end of 2011 to meet the requirements. The formal vote on this bylaw change will occur at the group’s Surfaces meeting.
Other bits and pieces to emerge from the meeting:
•The creation of a six- or seven-vendor advisory council that will determine how NFA can better service their interests at the meetings. The council will include one vendor from each product category and will meet periodically. Jim Jensen, Fashion Carpets, Denver, is the chair. Already agreeing to take part are Jay Koppelson, Mannington; Steve Staikos, Armstrong; Jim Hardimon, Carpenter, and Tony Prestipino, Gulistan.
•The long range planning committee is working on ways to best invest excess NFA funds for the betterment of the group. One thought was to hire an individual to consult on members’ websites as well as the overall NFA site. Another was to coax longtime NFA member Steve Pulsipher, RC Willey, out of retirement to consult for the group in negotiations with suppliers. “Steve is one of this industry’s best negotiators and was responsible for many of the great deals that put a lot of money in NFA members’ pockets,” Macco said.
•While some in the group want to cap the number of members out of fear it will lose its fraternity-like nature, it was decided against setting a maximum number. Rather, the group will be ultra-selective in increasing the roster beyond the current 39. “We will continue to assess open territories and see if there is a viable potential member,” Macco said. Among the areas where NFA has no representation are Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, New England and Long Island, N.Y. “We are not looking for quantity. We are looking for great, like-minded retailers who are willing to share their ideas. They also need to be big volume drivers so they can help us with our rebate threshold.”
•The number of core vendors will be limited to 26 with no limit on Tier II vendors. Only Tier 1 vendors attend the bi-annual meetings; Tier II vendors can attend the meeting on the day prior to Surfaces.
•The spring 2011 meeting will be held in New Orleans, followed by the group’s 20th anniversary meeting in Sonoma Valley, Calif., which won by a narrow margin over St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.