Mannington’s day of races and relationships

Home Inside FCNews Mannington’s day of races and relationships

by Steven Feldman

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.—Mannington has always put a premium on customer relationships, so it’s only natural its distributors share the same philosophy. That could not have been better illustrated earlier this month when Mannington and Dealers Supply North hosted about 40 retailers from upstate New York at Saratoga Racetrack for a day of camaraderie and playing the ponies.

According to Kim Holm, president of Mannington’s Residential division, and Jay Kopelson, vice president of corporate accounts, events like these are all about the relationships Mannington and its distributors cultivate with their retail partners. “We want it to be about more than business,” Kopelson said. “This allows us to get to know our customers as well as their families in a social setting. People want to do business with people they like.”

Holm added that one of Mannington’s core values is to work hard and play hard. “In this business environment we’ve been under the last few years, it’s nice to let your hair down and have a good time. That’s why we do several of these a year.”

Ed Wiethe, president of Dealers Supply, said this event took on added significance since the distributor expanded into the market in March when it was vacated by NRF. “This is a great opportunity for us to meet dealers and create the relationships we desire to have with our customers. We can show who we are as people, as well as professionals.”

Wiethe said Dealers Supply is now in eight major metro areas, and it tries to do at least one retailer event annually per market. “The idea is to build relationships and get to know people and their businesses in a friendlier, more social environment.”

Dealers respond

Mannington’s efforts are not lost on its customers. In fact, many told FCNews the company goes where other flooring suppliers do not. Take Lou Mandela, owner of Pro Carpet in Rochester, N.Y., who says it’s the people that set Mannington apart. “I’ve been a Mannington dealer for 30 years. If there is ever an issue, we know we can count on them to take care of it.”

Accessibility to top management is also something the retailers appreciate. “There are very few manufacturers that have allowed us to meet top management,” Mandela said. “With Mannington, you have the feeling you are part of the family.”

Michael Masucci, owner of Ted’s Flooring and Interior Design in Albany, N.Y., agreed Mannington’s service is second to none. He said the company has taken care of every one of his claims dating back to the Mannington Gold days. “Compare that to other manufacturers, where if you don’t cross every t and dot every i, the claim does not get resolved. With Mannington, service is the name of the game and they do it.”

Chris Taylor, owner and general manager, Carpetmaster Carpet One in Latham N.Y., agreed. “Any time there is something out of the norm, a special request, they are accommodating.”

Service is great, but if you don’t have the right product, nothing else matters. Mannington shines here, too, dealers said. “The patterns and designs are state of the art, on trend and a step ahead of the competition,” said Kim Walcott, Will’s Carpet One in Batavia, N.Y. “They do not play ‘research and copy.’”

Bill Snyder, owner of Snyder’s Flooring in Westmoreland, N.Y., came from the installation side of the business, so he sees the value of Mannington from a different perspective. “When I take on a product, I take an installer’s point of view. I look at those that will give me fewer headaches. Mannington makes it easy. Its 800 number for claims eliminates headaches because it takes the problem out of our hands. Consumers can call them directly, they handle the problems and then call us.”

Aside from fewer headaches, Mannington’s product quality helps Snyder make money. “You have very few problems with its products. You lose money on callbacks. The more callbacks, the less you are making, and we have hardly any with Mannington. I would say we don’t get two callbacks a year with Mannington. And when we do, nine times out of 10 it’s not the product’s fault—it’s the consumer.”

Dave Hill, owner of Oswego Quality Carpet in Oswego, N.Y., said minimal problems pay dividends on the sales floor. “When the sales force has confidence in a product, we find it very easy to sell the right product to the end user, everyone’s happy.”

Carpetmaster’s Taylor also cited Mannington’s Made in America story as something that aligns with his 35-year-old company’s messaging. “We push the ‘buy local’ and ‘locally owned’ story, which is a perfect tie-in. And Mannington, like us, is a family-owned business. That’s also a perfect tie-in.”

Some dealers stay loyal to Mannington even if it may not be “politically correct.” Case in point: Dave Tomasek, owner of Towne Decorators in Schenectady, N.Y. “I’m an Abbey Carpet member, and when Mannington and Abbey parted ways, we felt the loyalty to stay with them because they have been loyal to us. This is a relationship business, and our relationship with Mannington is as good as with any manufacturer. We can always count on it to deliver the best product, the best pricing and the best service.”

It’s not just the residential dealers who sing Mannington’s praises. For example, Tim Wilber, Flooring Environment, Round Lake, N.Y., talked about the company’s “absolutely tremendous responsiveness. On Monday, we placed an order for 2,500 yards of sheet vinyl. The lead time was two-and-a-half weeks. I changed a color to one they had in stock and now we are getting it in four days. And when I call for pricing or any other issue, they call right back. The response time is second to none.”

Wilbur said in the commercial world it’s all about protection. “We specify Mannington products and it gives us the best value for the dollar. Mannington allows us to make greater margins than with any other manufacturer. Plus, as a single-source supplier across hard and soft surface platforms, it’s easier to track all the products ordered for the project.”


Making money

All of the above is well and good, but any supplier that doesn’t help a retailer make money is not worth its salt. But dealers say Mannington is a great partner in this area, as well. How? “It offers products that in some cases are unique,” said Pro Carpet’s Mandela, “but it also has a full breadth of products that are competitively priced. I think the fact it has products from carpet to ceramic to resilient to wood to laminate allows you to work within a customer’s budget. They will be more flexible to provide that total solution.”

Carpetmaster’s Taylor noted Mannington helps his company make money by being selective with whom it chooses to do business. “First and foremost, it is not in every store in every market. And by selecting the specialty retailer, we don’t have to go head-to-head with Home Depot and Lowe’s and drop prices.”

Joe Gagne, owner of Ballston Carpet and Tile in Ballston Spa, N.Y., said the fact that Manning-ton focuses on the mid- to higher-end of the spectrum translates into greater margins. “I sell the higher-end laminate and vinyl; I’m not selling 99-cent material. I sell the best quality in its line. And I stock it. Not a lot of dealers stock the higher-end. When people dropped its guard on vinyl, I stepped up. I sell rolls and rolls of vinyl. Also, Mannington protects me by not being in the home center; it allows me to make greater margins than I do with most of the other manufacturers out there.”

Ted’s Flooring’s Masucci may have summed it up best: “I have every Mannington display it offers. You have to be married to someone in this business, and I got married to Mannington 30 years ago and it’s been a great marriage.”

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