Mirage: 30 years of success, value, quality, hard work and still going strong

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Passion and commitment to excellence burnishes a legacy

Oct. 21/28, 2013; Volume 27/number 13

By Ken Ryan

Six months after founding Boa-Franc, Pierre Thabet watched helplessly as flames tore apart his establishment. “It was Saturday, March 3 [1984], and it was 25 degrees below zero outside,” he said. “I was on the site at the time and tried to save as much as possible…but then the roof collapsed. It was 9:45 p.m. that night when I realized nothing was left but ashes.”

Thabet returned to the location the next day at 4:30 a.m., gathered his insurance papers and put a plan to rebuild in motion. “On March 20 we started reconstructing. We were back in production by May 28, less than three months later,” he said.

Out of the ashes of March 3, a flame was lit that still burns 30 years later. “You have to look forward, not backwards,” Thabet said.

Growing up in St. Georges, Quebec, Thabet said many people from the area were instilled with the work ethic that success only comes from perseverance. “We had entrepreneurs in St. Georges who started from nothing. They believed in hard work and strong values; if you want success, you have to work for it.”

One of Thabet’s sayings is: I play not to play, I play to win. “To be the best in everything is not possible, but you should be the best at what you commit to. That has always been my belief. You have to be a fighter. One of our common values at Mirage is ‘GCS,’ which stands for good common sense. It is about having pride in what we do.”

Thabet founded Boa-Franc (the Mirage brand name came later) with the belief that quality would be the best weapon to differentiate itself from its competition. “We have hammered that ‘quality’ theme for 30 years,” he said. “Quality is not just a product, it is the quality of service you provide; it’s the people you hire and the customers you align yourselves with. If you want to win the Cup, you must have the best people on the team and deal with the best customers because, without customers, we could not exist.”

Lifetime achievement

At next month’s North American Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) convention, Thabet will be honored with the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes exceptional leadership or outstanding contributions that have led to expanding the vision of the floor covering distribution industry.

Bruce Zwicker, CEO, J.J. Haines,  nominated Thabet for the award. “Pierre’s drive for progress and quality has established a culture that is dedicated to doing the best work in all things and at all times,” Zwicker wrote in his nomination letter. “The word ‘compromise’ is not in his vocabulary. His flair for flooring fashion and design means Mirage offers some of the most beautiful hardwood floors available.”

Thabet explained that while he is honored to receive the award, “I told Bruce, ‘I am not done yet, I have some things still to complete.’ Thirty years to me is like last week.

“The team we have put in place here—the brand, the network we have—will continue to grow; this is the legacy we have built,” he added. “We are very passionate about it. The Mirage flame is what drives and motivates us every day to improve.”

Luc Robitaille, vice president of marketing at Mirage, said the company has been successful, in large part, because “we are never satisfied with the status quo and have worked relentlessly for the past 30 years to produce constant-quality products without compromise. We are striving to be the best every day by applying rigorous and painstakingly small details that make all the difference to create a high-quality product.”

What distributors are saying

The chief executives of two of the three largest flooring distributors have practically run out of superlatives to describe the man behind the Mirage brand and the value the company delivers to the marketplace.

Ray Mancini Jr., president of Belknap White Group, the industry’s No. 3 distributor in sales, has carried Mirage for seven years. When asked what attributes come to mind when he thinks of Mirage, Mancini said, “Best quality, great culture, great partners and successful, excellent marketers. They are very good at communicating their mission and vision to their people. They have great integrity and hire very good people who are enthusiastic about Mirage’s success and the company’s product.”

Mirage has always been committed to making the best, most innovative products, Mancini said, and cited the aged maple product within the Sweet Memories collection as an example.

J.J. Haines, the industries No. 1 distributor in sales, has carried the Mirage line since 2007. “Consumers will tell you the product is virtually flawless,” said Zwicker, who called Mirage “the best floor covering manufacturer in North America and probably the world.”

Zwicker added that Mirage’s signature feature is the “very powerful story it tells for value selling. That story is backed up with excellent support. They stick to it and make you, the distributor, stick to it as well, for the benefit of everyone. Mirage’s disciplined approach to its business, and to ours, is unique and we welcome it. Mirage’s statements about value really mean something. That’s not always the case in today’s world.”

Retailers’ thoughts

The Mirage brand of hardwood flooring can be found in approximately 2,300 dealer locations in the U.S. and Canada. One specific retailer, East Windsor Carpet One in Connecticut, has carried Mirage for more than 15 years.

“They offer the best product in the market, hands down,” said owner Bruce Block. “As a dealer, I first look for an easy, no-problem install. Mirage’s un-surpassed quality and customer service makes it an easy go-to product in my showroom.”

Pat Wallett, co-owner of Wallet’s Flooring in Hummelstown, Pa., has sold Mirage products for a decade. “Mirage is the king,” Wallett said. “The quality of product elevates it above its competitors. The meticulous attention to detail through the entire manufacturing process is impressive. And through mill trips Mirage offers, the retailers are educated with expansive facts making the products easy to sell.”

Wallett said Mirage distances itself from the competition in many ways—small v groove, Nanolinx technology and QR codes on the new Maestro Elite Display, for example. In the end, though, she said it’s about the high standards and uncompromising product quality that sets the company apart from the rest.

“Mirage exceeds customers’ expectations,” Wallet explained. “They give the customer the choice—solid or engineered, board width and finish, semi-gloss or cashmere. No one else comes close to giving the consumer that many options.

Mirage equals quality whether it’s in the work force, products or management. The product is easy and worry-free to sell, which makes our jobs stress-free. If you told me I could only sell only one product, I would choose Mirage.”

Thabet said that while the first 30 years have been fun and rewarding, the job is not complete. “We still have 30 more years to go.”


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