UNCASVILLE, CONN.—More than 1,500 representatives from as many as 650 stores turned out for the NRF Distributors’ Fall Flooring Market here last month. Members raced to take advantage of unique buying opportunities from 80 vendors across all categories as well as multiple educational credit courses.
“You can hear the buzz on the floor,” said Terry Gray, senior vice president of marketing. “With the economy improving there is a lot more activity and not so much doom and gloom.”
Especially with cash giveaways totaling $20,000 from NRF. Two winners received $2,500, one received $5,000 and a lucky fourth took $10,000 away from the event. With that kind of celebration, business has to be good in the New England states. (Editor’s note: To see the final $10,000 giveaway, visit the FCNews‘ YouTube channel.)
A strong supporter of Mohawk branded carpets, NRF has confidence in the economic upswing for high-end wool from Godfrey Hirst. Value-minded consumers in the Northeast region are sure to identify with its inherent durability and stain resistance. “It’s hair,” Gray remarked. “You can dye it but you can’t stain it.”
As the manufacturer’s first appearance at the Fall Flooring Market, Larry Pellegrini, Eastern regional sales manager, said response to the product was enthusiastic. “Our wool display differentiates and upgrades NRF retailers’ showrooms from the competition’s with an inherent environmental story.” He spoke highly of the distributor’s reputation in the industry as a leader and noted its financial strength. “The decision to work together was mutual.”
Formica was also excited about its burgeoning relationship with NRF, said Fred Guggio, vice president. Working with NRF for the last three years has extended Formica’s products to an important target audience for the company.
“New Englanders are conservative with their buys and Formica fits that,” he explained. “We market the company as a value brand.” He said the name has a 92% recognition rate among consumers, the same brand awareness of companies like Honda and Starbucks. Even better is that 78% have intent to buy.
With Wilsonart’s exit from the laminate business, there is room for growth in the commercial arena that Formica could fill. Couple that with the segment’s programs from NRF and retailers could be doing very well in that area.
“NRF didn’t have a commercial division seven years ago,” said Leah Ledoux, regional vice president of NRF’s Commercial Flooring Solutions division, so a program was designed to assist specifiers like a manufacturer with added assistance. As an intermediary between the manufacturer and the designer, NRF’s Commercial Flooring Solutions division can work more intimately and fulfill a project’s need for sampling availability, sundries, sub- floor needs and accessories with haste, she noted. “By creating options we’ve become a resource that empowers dealers to provide more,” Ledoux explained. “Distributors are particularly valuable right now because commercial materials are all going through that channel.”
To help the designers and architects they service, NRF offered continuing education unit (CEU) courses free of charge for the first time. Ledoux said it was such a success she hopes to expand the offering to several hundred members of the design community next year.
For more images from the event, see the photo album on Flickr.