by Steven Feldman
Monday, May 21, 2012. Boca Raton, Fla.—The search to find the next president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has officially begun. A five-person search committee was formed at WFCA’s biannual meeting here as well as the process by which the next executive will be named.
Jim Walters, WFCA chairman, admitted it would be impossible to fill Chris Davis’ shoes. “But that’s not to say we can’t buy a new pair of shoes.”
Among the items on the agenda was formulating a roadmap to find Davis’ successor. “A lot of clarity was put to the process,” Walters said. “But before we can do anything, a job description must be articulated.” The requisite attributes are much different than they were 18 years ago, the last time WFCA was seeking a leader.
“When Chris was hired, Surfaces had gotten so big we were looking for someone to run the trade show,” Walters said. “Today, it is different. We are looking for a whole different set of parameters. For starters, we need a spokesperson, a face to represent WFCA as it relates to the entire industry. We need someone who understands our industry and how all the parts work together—manufacturers, distributors, independent retailers, buying groups, installation. Every group has its own interests. As a trade association, WFCA has to bring it all together and find agreements as to how we can move the industry forward. That includes training, legislation, etc.”
The search committee is chaired by Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, Louisville, Ky. Incoming chairman Harold Chapman, president and CEO, Bonitz Flooring Group, Greenville, S.C., will also be part of the committee given his experience with Starnet in the process of hiring its CEO, Jeanne Matson, five years ago. Other committee members include Aaron Pirner, CAP Carpet, Wichita, Kan.; Donny Phillips, president of Atlanta Flooring Design Centers, and Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington. “The thought was to have a strong, diverse group of individuals, each bringing their own strength to the process,” Walters said.
He added because these people have businesses to run, WFCA contracted with a firm to organize the process. “They are in the process of reaching out to all board members and past chairmen to find out what is important, what is not and what would be the best attributes for a candidate,” Walters said. The firm will develop a job description, and from there it will go to an executive search firm. That firm will entertain resumes and then recommend suitable candidates to the search committee.”
Walters said the goal is to either have someone in place by the WFCA’s fall meeting or at least have a candidate to vote on. “We are not looking to make a quick decision, but rather the correct decision.” In the meantime, Cammie Weitzel, WFCA’s general manager, has been empowered to take over Davis’ role in “moving all initiatives forward.”
Hall of Fame inductions
The meeting also served to officially induct Sonna Calandrino, Sandy Mishkin and Paul Pumphrey into its Hall of Fame, which now numbers 40.
Calandrino, a retailer, author, columnist, speaker and instrumental in developing the Mo-hawk Floorscapes concept, was inducted posthumously. Her sister, Lisbeth, accepted on her behalf.
“Nothing was impossible for her,” Calandrino said. “Her retail stores were her laboratory. Then she decided she could help other retailers. She convinced a distributor to put together a retail program in 1981. She then took that program on the road in upstate New York. She was ahead of her time.
“She saw that helping people was important. One day she decided we needed a magazine for consumers to get them in the stores. She said we will help retailers by telling consumers they have to buy flooring.” That magazine is Fabulous Floors.
Mishkin, who began his career as a buyer for Korvettes, is best known for his role as president of Carpet One for the past 27 years. He recalled the formation of the group:
“Back in 1984 we (Mishkin, Alan Greenberg and Howard Brodsky) locked ourselves in a hotel room for 12 hours. It was minus 10 degrees. We sat in the Peachtree Plaza with blankets around us. We came out with the idea of Carpet Co-op of America. We started the business on a shoestring. We would have had nothing to eat if the manufacturers didn’t throw stuff at us. We had a vision we could make retailers more profitable. We had passion. Failing was never an option. Now we have a lot of successful dealers that would not be in business if not for Carpet One. Long after this evening is over, my hope is that we are remembered for making a difference.”
Paul Pumphrey founded Cleaver Carpet Center in Pueblo, Colo., in 1953. He was named to the Western Floors magazine Hall of Fame in 1975 and is the only person to serve as president of both Western Floor Covering Association and American Floorcovering Association. In 2012, he will celebrate 66 years of service in the floor covering industry.
Paul Kanitra, president of Lobbyit.com, WFCA’s Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist, provided an update on the Marketplace Fairness Act. “Republicans have realized public sentiment is on the side of streamlining the sales tax issue. They are slowly acquiescing. But there’s a real chance Congress may wait to do anything until after the election. Some people [who are up for re-election] do not want to have their names associated with any tax bill whatsoever. But when it gets passed to the House, it will be a rubber stamp.”
Another issue of interest to the industry is the Lacey Act, which Kanitra said will be amended to grandfather any wood purchases made before 2008 or 2009. “So if anyone has anything in their stockpile, they will not get penalized. Also, going forward, the penalties will be a lot less harsh for violations.”
Two bills just introduced are HR 5154 and HR 4731. HR 5154 focuses on the reliquidation of certain laminate flooring in response to lawsuits from Faus and Witex. “Apparently, they had stockpiles of product seized by U.S. Borders and Customs Protection that have been sitting in government warehouses for years,” Kanitra said. “The government now wants to reliquidate that back into the marketplace.”
HR 4731 is a bill to clarify tariff rates for carpet cleaners.
In other news…
•The incoming WFCA board includes Chapman as chairman, Walters as past chairman; Janice Clifton, Abbey Carpets Unlimited, Napa, Calif., chairman-elect; and Paul Johnson, Interiors One Carpet One, Tulsa, Okla., secretary. A treasurer has not yet been named. Also, Terry Wheat, president of RFMS, was elected to another three-year term as associate director, and Summer Turner, Cam Crenshaw and Daniel Kennedy retired as directors.
•Jeff King, WFCA’s legal counsel, advised the board the hot topic right now in government circles is piecework. “If you pay a piecework rate, you are still obligated to pay minimum wage. And you have to keep track of hours. This will be next wave of litigation for you all.”
•A committee was formed to review the certification process for the WFCA. Ron Leach will chair and fill the committee.
•WFCA has been attempting to get ANSI installation standards for the carpet industry. The target is now early spring 2013. “This is something that can get us on the front page,” said Tom Jennings, chairman of WFCA Services. “There is nothing more critical than installation.”