NRF celebrates 40 years at its annual NEFM market

Home Inside FCNews NRF celebrates 40 years at its annual NEFM market

by Steven Feldman

Volume 26/Number 21; March 4/11, 2013

Uncasville, Conn.—NRF Distributors kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration last week with its annual Northeast Floorcovering Market (NEFM). Approximately 400 accounts, which included over 1,000 attendees, gobbled up show specials and sought to win one of the many cash and prize giveaways valued at $20,000.

Terry Gray, senior vice president of marketing, was pleased with the turnout, which she said was comparable to last year. Given the distributor’s vast geographical footprint, which spans from the northern-most tip of Maine to upstate New York and as far west as Pennsylvania, customers came from far and wide to this market. “People have driven as much as five hours to be here. Aside from product, we sell the NRF friendship. In fact, I’d say 50% of the people in this room have been on at least one NRF trip.”

NEFM has greatly evolved since its inception in 1980. Back then, 150 retailers showed up at NRF’s warehouse in Augusta, Maine, where the show remained until moving to the Mohegan Sun casino here in 2005 to accommodate its many customers. “The market today attracts more people because they want to be at a venue like Mohegan Sun,” she said. But it’s more than just the venue. “People want to buy goods. We offer limited specials on a first come, first served basis. We also have a plunder room, where we sell aged and discontinued products at 50% off.”

When everything is said and done, NRF projects to sell $1 million of product at any given NEFM. “We then follow up with a phone blitz that can do another $1 million,” Gray said.

She added, the goal of NEFM has always been to showcase the breadth of products NRF offers. Many of our customers tell us, ‘I didn’t know you had that.’ We encourage people to come, touch, feel. That was the first reason for this show.”

One common theme that resonated among NRF customers was how NRF helps them increase profitability.

Such was the case with Joe and Debbie Marotta, owners of Personal Touch Flooring in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which has been doing business with NRF since 1995. “When we first started our business 27 years ago, we were buying mill direct and dealing with many different reps,” Joe Marotta said. “Then NRF came down and we became a Flooring Network dealer. We now deal with just one company that handles all our needs. We get unbelievable prices, and the service is far superior to anything we have ever experienced. As a small business owner, NRF allows us to compete against any large company or big box store. We are dealing top-grade products at a very competitive price.”

Tarkett spotlight

This was also the second NEFM in which Tarkett participated as a full-line supplier. (NRF has been distributing Johnsonite, its commercial brand, for some time.) And with the relationship a little more than a year old, both sides are pleased with the progress. “We have exceeded expectations in display placements,” Gray said. “Changing over is always the most difficult part,” adding that last year NRF fielded many questions after switching from Mannington. “At this show, dealers have come up to us praising Tarkett’s marketing, product and great potential for adding profit. There’s a lot to be said about this partnership program.”

Jeff Krejsa, Tarkett’s vice president of marketing, told FCNews that NRF is a brand in this market and stands for nothing but positive for dealers. “As a manufacturer, we want to establish that level of service and delivery through the channel. So NRF is a perfect partner and puts challenges on us to live up to that.”

He noted that NRF has actually helped make Tarkett better at what it does. “As a group we had previously looked at the commercial and residential market spaces differently. But the truth is there is more commonality than differences today, and because of NRF’s strengths, it has helped us understand that and approach both markets more effectively.”

One component of that is product development, particularly on the LVT side. “That is the one category where there is a blurring of the line as to what is right for residential and commercial,” Krejsa said. “Like wearlayers, and products that are right for long-term care because of maintenance issues, or college dorms and military housings that take on the performance of commercial but require a more residential aesthetic. That was a market brought to our attention by NRF.”

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