by Steven Feldman
New York—Longtime New York commercial contractors Lane’s Floor Coverings & Interiors and Fraser/Gold Carpet Corp. have formed a strategic alliance. Through this union, the two Starnet members will combine forces to create a stronger, full service floor covering business to meet the varied needs of their clients.
According to Lane Brettschneider, president of Lane’s Floor Coverings, the company is in the process of merging all Fraser/Gold’s business, warehouse and purchasing into Lane’s. The combined entity will be based out of Lane’s W. 26th Street showroom and eventually all inventory will be warehoused in Lane’s facility on Long Island.
That is not to say Stanley Licker, president of Fraser/Gold, is disappearing. Rather, he is facilitating the transition. “We are currently setting up meetings with Stanley’s clients, and he will be with us,” Brettschneider said. “He is terrific with customer relations. And he will continue to service his accounts when we need his assistance.”
Licker said the strategic alliance with Lane’s “will greatly complement Fraser/Gold and enhance our ability to serve our clients for many years to come.” The company has been servicing large and mid-sized corporations for 60 years. It has earned a reputation as a high quality consultant and provider of floor coverings services on a national level. Meantime, Lane’s has been providing full services to institutional, commercial and residential customers across the U.S. since 1965.
“We have been friendly competitors for a long time,” Brettschneider said. “Now that we formed the alliance, we inherited some of the accounts we may have lost to Stanley. It was eye opening.” He added the merger is a great fit given the similarities in the way both companies approach the commercial business.
Lane’s Floor Covering, already one of the top flooring contractors in the New York metro area, becomes an even greater force. “Together, we are now a full-service flooring contractor from specification to project management to logistics to service and maintenance,” Brettschneider said. The latter is new territory for Lane’s. “We’ve always wanted to get into a cleaning and maintenance business, something that Fraser/Gold is already doing.”
In addition, Lane’s’ business was primarily corporate, healthcare and retail in the New York area. “The merger allows us to further our reach in the commercial sectors, like hospitality,” he said. “Fraser Gold also has national accounts, and one of our growth focuses was to expand geographically. They acquired some major clients over the years, giving the company some serious numbers.”
Umberto Aponte, managing partner of Lane’s Floor Covering, said his company has always been about people—its own and its customers. “For example, our longest-standing client relationship is over 40 years old. I personally have been with this company for 25 years and still have clients I had when I started. It’s all because of the one-on-one relationships we have. Our clients know they can call me at 9 p.m. to do a repair for them in Kansas City, and we’ll have someone taking care of it within 48 hours. And that’s because of our Starnet alliance as well as other sources we have developed.”
That Starnet alliance has not only allowed Lane’s to rely on flooring contractors that are top of the line, but also offers great purchasing power as a whole. Incidentally, Fraser/Gold was a founding member of Starnet.
Brettschneider said Starnet has actually become part of the Lane’s family, “or we’ve become part of the Starnet family. We have had numerous social visits from Starnet dealers across the country. We visit Starnet dealers when we have a meeting, and we plan trips around many of the Starnet family. We can’t emphasize the value of networking in Starnet—the camaraderie, the sharing of ideas.”
Lane’s Floor Covering’s roots stem in residential retail, having sold carpet and linoleum out a Queens storefront in 1965. “We did tons of kitchens and dining rooms with loose lay vinyl sheet goods,” Brettschneider said.
After about a year, a designer came in and bought an area rug Lane’s had hanging in the window for $65. “He came back a week or two later and asked if we could get him carpet for the Fort Hlll Country Club in Yonkers, N.Y. He gave us all the specs and quantities. We gave him a price and it was the first time we did a real contract job. That was pivotal because it led us to getting more involved in the contract business.”
Brettschneider cited another pivotal moment in the company’s history, one that would have impact beyond Lane’s Floor Covering. “We were probably the first carpet company to hire a woman salesperson. We had this woman calling on architects. Today, there is not a contractor or a mill that doesn’t know the value of hiring women.”
Brettschneider eventually moved into Manhattan, first in a 10-foot-wide storefront with nothing but the female salesperson, a telephone, an answering machine and some architectural folders. That led to their first contract showroom across the street from the New York Design Center. A decade later they took on larger space in a two-floor, 20,000 square-foot space at 2 Park Avenue, where the street level was residential retail with the commercial showroom below.
And in 2004, Lane’s Floor Covering abandoned residential retail and became strictly to-the-trade with the move to its current, 6th-floor showroom in Chelsea. “We got out of pure retail because the opportunity in New York City for higher profitability is designer driven,” Brettschneider explained.
Lane’s has also gotten into the recycling game. Any carpet tile or broadloom it recovers from job sites go to a Starnet-approved recycling plant and are diverted from landfills.