Anaheim, Calif.— Fritz Munzinger and LaVone Pirner are the latest industry icons to be inducted into the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) Hall of Fame. Each is recognized for groundbreaking achievements and has placed his indelible stamp on the industry as a whole. The formal induction for both men will take place May 9 as part of the WFCA’s Annual Meeting and Board of Directors Meeting in Asheville, N.C.
The paper trail of industry accomplishments by Munzinger could very possibly circle the globe more than once. Most notably, he is recognized for his merchandising and selling skill-set in the retail sector.
“During his career at Gulistan, Fritz changed the game completely by revamping the sales organization from one that called on distributor size accounts to one that called on key dealers in each market,” said Riley Gazzaway, chairman of WFCA’s Hall of Fame committee. Munzinger then helped to expand Baker Bros. from a four-store retailer in Phoenix to an 11-store giant that ultimately grew into one of the 50 largest retailers in the U.S.
“Being a true visionary, Fritz went on to become a pilot dealer for the DuPont Stainmaster Flooring Center Program—an organization of Stainmaster Carpet’s largest customers,” he added. “He experienced tremendous success in this endeavor and, in time, developed a groundbreaking selling system for the program that continues to be one of the industry’s best.”
With a growing reputation for retail mastery, Munzinger launched Munzinger Consulting. His namesake firm worked exclusively for Invista with manufacturers and retailers of all sizes to improve the mills’ and retailers’ overall business model. Through this collaboration, he helped build the SFC dealer network. He also guided the organization in its development of breakthrough yarn systems and developed many of Stainmaster Carpet’s successful marketing programs.
In 1984, Munzinger was named Flooring magazine’s Merchandiser of the Year and in 1989, Western Floors magazine gave him the Outstanding Retailer Contractor Award. He also received the NFA Retailer of the Year Award in 1996.
In addition to his professional achievements, Munzinger has donated much of his time and financial success to a multitude of community and non-profit endeavors. He, along with his wife, are large supporters of Friends of the Orphans—an organization that provides resources for homes for orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children in Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. He has also worked to raise funds to have homes and buildings built for those in need, as well as victims of disasters in various parts of the world.
Pirner’s impeccable résumé
To say that Lavone Pirner is a visionary is a serious understatement when you consider how things started out for him, Gazzaway said. It began in 1967, when he was approached by a friend and a family member about investing in a company called Discount Carpet Center—now known as CAP Carpet. “Needless to say, he soon found himself immersed in the flooring world, and for someone that had never run a business or encountered a balance sheet, he learned quickly how to swim with the big fish.”
Starting with an inventory of just six rolls of carpet—all on consignment—Pirner grew his small business into 19 different business units that span the industry in the areas of retail, wholesale, transportation (aircraft interiors) and manufacturing. His company is regarded as one of the largest flooring retailers in the country, employing over 180 people. The business has experienced double-digit annual growth since the early ‘90s.
By 1971, Pirner knew that in order to grow CAP, he would have to see how others were succeeding in the industry. This desire drove him to join the Retail Floor Covering Institute (RFI), where he served on various committees and in every officer position, including president and chairman from 1982-83. Through this organization he met Howard Brodsky and Alan Greenberg. His relationship with them resulted in the founding of the Carpet Cooperative of America (CCA) in 1985. CAP was one of the founding members of CCA. To this day, Pirner serves on the CCA board and acts as an outspoken advocate for dealers.
In addition to his notable professional achievements, Pirner is well known within the industry for nurturing and helping to strengthen and grow other flooring businesses. Sharing knowledge about the flooring industry and fostering professional growth in others are among his greatest contributions, whether it’s developing training models for employees or creating new relationships.
“Lavone is firmly committed to helping those around him in the same way that he was supported by his peers and those he respected,” Gazzaway concluded. “His mentoring spirit can be seen far and wide throughout the industry and in the leaders that he has cultivated, including his son, Aaron.”
Along with his industry contributions, Pirner has dedicated substantial time and money to a multitude of non-profit and civic causes, including: Interfaith Ministries, Senior Citizen Centers, The Lords Diner, Trees for Life, Wichita Sexual Assault Center, Battered Women’s Shelters, the Guadalupe Clinic and Feed My Sheep.
For more information, call 800.624.6880 or visit wfca.org.