Fastest growing retailers discuss best practices

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Economy, social media change playing field

by Louis Innaco

What do some of the fastest growing retailers in the industry do to achieve and maintain their velocities? How has the economy played a role in their growth, or at least the pace at which it’s taking place? Do their locations in the country matter or is success the result of something they do in-house (such as utilizing social media) that draws end users through the doors and away from competitors?

FCNews talked with several of the industry’s top producers who have been able to thrive during difficult times. The following includes what they have done to succeed and, maybe just as important, what practices they have avoided.


Marcus Roman, owner/president

Floor To Ceiling Carpet One

Fargo, N.D.

A major factor [in our success] would be that our overall economy, especially the builder market, is very strong. We have a business model that focuses on offering many design services at no charge as long as we can sell the builder our “main” products of flooring, cabinet tops and window treatments. We offer a “time saving and one-stop” idea that has really taken off. Our commercial side is also very strong and, of course, our people are some of the best.

Our business has been on a steady incline of 5% to 10% each of the last four years now and we project that range this year as well.


Chris Quattlebaum, general manager

Manasota Flooring, Sarasota, Fla.

Our new home construction business has been great. We have a few builders in town who are averaging 40 to 50 homes a month, and another one is at 35 to 45 a month. Right now we are on pace to do an average of 100 homes per month.

As for our retail business, right now we are up approximately 20% so far over last year. Our walk-in traffic has been terrific. We changed some things this year with our media plan [and that] has paid off, one being working the social media market where we have found great results.

Our percentage of growth from 2011 to 2012 was 23%.


Matt Ketterman, CEO

Got You Floored, Greensboro, N.C.

Got You Floored attributed several major factors to its explosive 2012 growth: One being that its business system is second to none. Our employees have written down goals and very clear expectations, which drive our company to excel whether I am there or not. Secondly, customer loyalty is at an all-time high. Driven by a high volume of multi-family replacement and new construction sales, Got You Floored is poised for double-digit growth in 2013.

Third, our employees are engaged thanks to our company values, which are professionalism, gratitude, honesty, teamwork, care and fun. Our core values are recognized in weekly meetings. I’m very proud of my employees for living out these values on a daily basis. Sales and net income were up by 20% in 2012 from the previous year.


Chris Kemp, owner

Kemp’s Dalton West Flooring, Dalton

Our growth has continued to increase over the past three years. This is due to the fact that we have always been very retail driven. The people in our market have continued to put money back into their existing homes. We also had around 12,000 new homes built between 1990 and 2007. These homes have been overdue for flooring for a few years and the homeowners have finally started replacing, and the new flooring typically replaces lower quality products.

Our business in 2012 was up about 5% over 2011, but our profit margin was also up about 5% and that’s what counts. We are also constantly working on cutting the cost of expenses.


Gene Presson, vice president

Abbey Carpet & Floor, Naples, Fla.

Our store is a fairly new one, only being in business for just about seven years. The market we are in is very different than most markets in the country as many people only live here four to six months out of the year; the homes here are usually second residences and most people are retired.

When the downturn came we were probably one of the first areas to be affected, as real estate dropped dramatically in price and our foreclosure rate was one of the highest in the country. Building came to a screeching halt and, as in many other areas of the country, buying floor covering was not a necessity. As time went on and money loosened up, people started sprucing up their condos, apartments, and houses.

Building started to increase and our builder clientele was growing. Along with gaining more market share of the builders, we were also building on our referral business. A lot of our increase has come from remodeling and new construction. From 2010 to 2011, our business increased 25%; from 2011 to 2012 we were up 26%. The real estate market is not back to 2005 levels, but it is coming back. Homes are selling and inventory of available homes for sale is low.


Jamie Hodge, president

Hodge Carpets, Spartanburg, S.C.

We really started feeling a sustained increase in traffic and orders last fall, and it has continued into this year. In fact, we are on track to have the best back-to-back quarters in four years. Business is up across all product categories and all market segments as consumers are finally getting to the home improvement projects they have been putting off.

We are pleased and surprised at how well the new soft carpet styles are selling, and we are able to sell them at nice margins.

Additionally, our commercial business has been quite steady, with gains in the healthcare and education markets. We believe the biggest factor in our recent growth is related to the improvement in consumer confidence, which is certainly a welcome relief. We are now projecting sales growth of 10% to 12% this year, with corresponding profit improvement as we are in a better position to hold our margins.


Mike Blanton, president

Dalton Carpet One Floor & Home

Athens, Ga.

Our growth from 2011 to 2012 was driven by three factors. The first was more participation in student housing projects. Having been in Athens (home of the University of Georgia) for more than 35 years, we have done our share of student housing. As this category has started to expand, we’ve broadened our outreach, working with builders on their projects located in the southeast, southwest and up the East Coast.

The second factor was ex-panding our geographical reach in the large commercial installation arena. We have worked with many general contractors in our local market for years, but decided in 2006 that we wanted to expand this business. This allowed us to make up for some of the builder business that evaporated in 2008 through the present.

The third factor is the rebound (albeit slowly) of the builder market. Our business grew by 21% in 2012 ($20 million to more than $24 million). Our budget for 2013 anticipates growing over 40% due to the same three markets. I will add that all market segments, including retail and renovation, seem to be improving this year along with those previously discussed.


Jeff Burrows, owner

ProSource of Marietta, Marietta, Ga.

ProSource Marietta was able to withstand the recession throughout the past few years due greatly to loyal trade professionals, the right employees and a vision for a better future. Our location saw a 20% growth from 2011 to 2012. We are extremely grateful for that and look to keep growing at that pace or higher each year. ProSource Marietta has the goal to be the only source for flooring in the metro-Atlanta area for all trade professionals and their clients. With our current members and staff that carries the same vision, we firmly believe this goal is not out of reach in the near future.

Our corporate allies are full of great ideas and visions for each ProSource location. Following their lead and experience is another thing that contributes to our success. The flooring industry is ever- changing and we’re happily challenged to constructively change for the better of our customers. Our younger staff members have easily adapted to the introduction of social media in the business world over the past few years and they have ownership of that aspect of daily activity. This area of growth has been reaching even more people and helps spread the ProSource word.


Michael Goldberg, owner/CEO

Rite Rug, Columbus, Ohio

We’re fortunate to be in the position to control our own destiny. Because we are a stable, independent, family-owned business, we have been able to take advantage of the many opportunities that have been surfacing over the last couple of years. From new suppliers and new fiber systems to new customers and new markets, we are able to choose, without influence, the opportunities that compliment our business model best. Our business grew approximately 29% from 2011 to 2012.

It’s all about the people. We have a strong team that shares the same direction and are positive about the future. This is compounding on itself and now we are fortunate to have more and more great people wanting to join our team.


Donny Phillips, owner

Atlanta Flooring Design Centers

Suwanee, Ga.

Going into 2008, management made sure we were operating as efficiently and conservatively as possible to look for opportunities. The biggest of those came when  we capitalized on an opportunity to move into the track home or national builder business both in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., due to the demise of some rather large retailers.

Prior to this, our home-builder business had mostly been custom homes so our decision required substantial commitments of space and capital. This move didn’t pay much return until 2010 and 2011 when builders began to enter the market again. The initial growth supported our commitment and was very welcomed but the more rapid growth occurred in 2012 and the beginning of this year.

National and strong regional builders have ramped up their sales and production to keep up with a growing demand. Demand for new houses in 2012 increased our sales in the builder division by over 50%. The synergies of having a strong builder division added to our already established commercial division and retail sales fostered an excitement and enthusiasm that lifted the other divisions. The company enjoyed growth of over 30% in 2012. We’re very humbled by this growth and plan to now focus on margins to capitalize on this development.

Another factor that has led to our growth has been the continued commitment to maximize the efficiencies of our locations. In Atlanta, we organized builder and retail space to accommodate each other (even when it was hard to spend money). Even in the last few weeks we are remolding our entire retail layout to make sure every rack/square foot of space represented is utilized.

In Charlotte, we moved our offices to a larger facility in a better location to accommodate the commercial and builder growth. These last five years, as painful as they have been, made us more aware of opportunities and have forced us to be the most efficient (flooring) business possible.

In retrospect, I realize there were times we had to save every nickel and times we had to spend money to take advantage of op-portunities. In that regard, we have just recently opened a service branch in Birmingham, Ala. I’m blessed to have partners Riley Gazzaway and Frank Winter, and an experienced and dedicated team to guide us through these decisions. I believe our decisions were a Godsend rather than the result of my own ability. This makes me only work harder to be a good steward of future possibilities. We also welcomed over 20 employees the last 18 months to keep up with the growth. We feel our positioning in Atlanta and Charlotte is “spot on” for anticipated healthy growth again this year. Dedicated employees and suppliers make it all possible.

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