Best Buy becoming major industry player

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Carpet producer is a total flooring solution provider

Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014

By Louis Iannaco

Best Buy Flooring, a division of Marquis Industries, started out as a carpet specials company in 1996 by two principals, Tim Bailey and Larry Heckman. According to Heckman, the company’s goal since its inception has been to provide flooring dealers with the best styling, value and pricing available in the market. “That has been our philosophy for 18 years and has proven to be a winning combination, along with a much broader product selection.”

Best Buy has grown from a small specialty carpet company with just a few employees to an entity that now employs more than 250 people, including 23 full-time salespeople. It has become a “low-cost, efficient and fully integrated, modern carpet mill with over 750,000 square feet under roof,” Heckman said. All of Best Buy’s carpet manufacturing, processing and fiber production takes place in the U.S.

While Marquis Industries is the parent company of Best Buy Flooring Source, Marquis also serves the industry under A-O Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary, which produces extruded monofilament nylon and polypropylene textured yarn. The yarns are marketed to customers producing products for golf applications, sports fields and synthetic landscaping.

M&M Fibers, a division of Marquis, produces millions of pounds of continuous filament solution-dyed polyester consumed in Best Buy’s residential carpet programs, Heckman added. “This integration has allowed Best Buy to be one of the lowest cost polyester producers in northwest Georgia for the past 10 years.

“Dealers ask all the time what separates us from our competition,” he said. “We tell them, ‘Plenty.’” Heckman considers Best Buy to be a “promotion-oriented carpet mill featuring 21 running line styles offering great values” in a new cut order display program—the Marquis Industries Showcase Display.

“We also offer special values in polyester styles for promotional buyers,” he explained. “The most unique program we offer is an ongoing residential nylon roll-buy.” Marquis buys millions of pounds of nylon yarn in the secondary market, which enables Best Buy to offer select dealers “outstanding values on high style residential cut pile berbers and multi tones in low profile saxonies. The nylon specials provide tremendous value to our dealers.”

The mill also produces a 24- and 28-ounce face weight commercial graphic level loop nylon in six colorways, “producing 4,000 square yards per color,” Heckman noted. Best Buy stocks over 200,000 square yards of loop style carpet for immediate shipment at promotional prices.

Hard surface offerings

In the past 10 years, Best Buy has developed one of the strongest and most competitive high styled hard surface lines on the market. “It was created by the growing demands of our dealers looking for value in hard surface styles,” Heckman said, “both in pallet goods and roll goods.

“Our hard surface line is a strong mainstream lineup of high-styled LVT products, several unique laminates and hand-scraped engineered wood lines along with six series of vinyl lines,” he explained. “We also feature hundreds and hundreds of rolls of vinyl specials in 6 feet, 12 feet, 13 feet, 2 feet and 15 feet x 6 inches at promotional prices.”

One of those dealers looking for hard surface value is HMS in Girard, Kan., and owner Hank Smith has been pleased with what Best Buy can deliver. “We do some backhauling, sending our own trucks to Georgia, and Best Buy has been pretty easy to work with in getting merchandise hauled back to us here.

“We’re involved with many different categories with Best Buy, but the hottest one right now is probably its click LVT,” he added. “A couple of its products, Glenwood Plank and Country Home, are doing extremely well for us. And while we are known as a carpet store and still sell mostly carpet, as far as percentage-wise growth, I’d say LVT is really growing. We do well with some of its sheet vinyl as well as some of its carpet, especially its Doral collection in the low end and Waterford Place on the medium to high end.”

Cami Culpepper, store manager, One Stop Flooring, Pampa, Texas, likes what Best Buy products have to offer, particularly its carpet offerings. “It has really upped its game and come out with many super soft yarns for a very reasonable price. The major mills have emphasized soft and Best Buy is very competitive with them. We stock more Best Buy broadloom products than we do any other carpet. We’re in a region that gets pretty harsh winters, so people here like carpet, and Best Buy fits our demographic well as far as the price and quality you get.

“We also have good response to its vinyl plank,” she added, “especially its floating vinyl plank.”

Another plus from Best Buy for Culpepper is its customer service. “Best Buy is one of the easiest companies to work with because its reps are very personable and quick to get back to you. With other mills you often don’t get very personal service, you have issues and you can’t get anyone to answer. We never have that trouble with Best Buy; its turnaround is extremely quick and they’re quick to resolve any issues, if there are any.”

Jay Hill, manager, Deluxe Carpet, St. Paul, Minn., is another dealer who finds a number of benefits in doing business with Best Buy. He noted the mill makes quality products at price points “that work very well for our store. Best Buy offers quite a range of styles at different costs, and costs are what we look for. Over the years we’ve learned what our clientele is going to spend. Fortunately, Best Buy has some very nice products in the price range we’re looking for.”

And, like Culpepper, Hill is a big fan of Best Buy’s customer service. “Best Buy handles complaints very professionally. It has a great turnaround, and [any replacement carpet needed] is up here very quickly. That means a lot to us as a company—how a carpet mill handles its complaints. Best Buy does an outstanding job on it.”

Dealer response is what drives Best Buy, allowing the company to meet retailer partners’ needs and stay on top of demand. “As a strong carpet manufacturer, our management team travels extensively and is constantly listening and looking to our dealer base to determine their needs,” Heckman explained. “For example, in 2013 we heard from a number of dealers looking for high style and high performance polyester products. Due to the high demand for polyester styles in today’s market, the dealers are requiring higher performance styles and construction.”

At Surfaces 2014, Best Buy introduced eight new carpet styles with 6.8 twists or better in tight gauge constructions. “The dealers responded with outstanding support since our styles have some of the best performance ratings in the industry,” Heckman noted. “It’s all about knowing what the dealers need and responding to them in a timely manner and at the best price.”

According to Heckman, Best Buy has the innate ability to respond quickly to market changes and the needs of the dealer. “In some cases, it’s less than 14 days from conception to finished product. Not many companies can turn product that quick. We can.”

What the future holds

The company’s plans for 2015 call for expansion into new markets and growth in existing arenas, as well as increasing its selection products in ultra soft and super soft fiber styles for the winter market. “We see a big spread between promotional-minded, big value dealers and high end retailers looking for value, high style and high performance,” Heckman said. “We plan to keep both camps happy with our new introductions.”

In the residential and commercial print area, Best Buy is seeking to grow both markets with its newly installed, multi-million dollar Zimmer Chromojet printer at its Artisans facility in Calhoun, Ga. “This state-of-the-art printer is capable of recognizing a picture and computer calibrating it to carpet,” Heckman explained. “This new technology again will change the way carpet is printed and its applications are endless for rugs, specialty logos and hospitality.”

Future endeavors for Best Buy include the introduction of a new Home & Hospitality display featuring top residential patterns along with mainstream styles for hospitality, healthcare and service industries at popular price points. Custom print projects will also be available for all industries.

“If you can imagine it, we can print it,” Heckman said. “That’s exciting, unique and puts Marquis Industries/Best Buy on the cutting edge of another specialty market segment of floor covering.”

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