October 13/20, 2014; Volume 28/Number 9
By Ken Ryan
What’s in a name change? For Max Woods—the company previously known as Max Windsor Floors—the new moniker represents more than just a rebranding, but a full transformation touching all areas of the operation.
“We changed the name to Max Woods to underscore a new start for the company,” Peter Spirer, CEO, told FCNews. “This is a very different company from Max Windsor, and we thought with a new name, new logo, new team and new vision, we would have a better chance to be our own brand.”
While acknowledging there are not a lot of advantages for smaller companies to compete against larger entities, Spirer believes flexibility and contained overhead are among the few advantages Max Woods can leverage in the market. “We pick our opportunities very carefully, and our top managers have the time to spend with customers, rather than managing,” he said. “It’s a hands-on business, and that’s a major advantage.”
For the sake of simplicity, Max Woods is segmenting its product line into three categories. Not a good/better/best concept, which, Spirer said, presumes that it is possible to trade the consumer up from an inexpensive starter product to higher qualities.
“At Max Woods, our price points take for granted that the consumer has done her homework and has set a fairly rigid budget,” he explained. “We offer a value platform with retail price points that allow our retail partners to go nose-to-nose against the boxes, Lumber Liquidators, and other national chains. These are 3⁄8-inch birches, hickories, maples and oaks. They’re good looking and affordable, and they wear about as well as planks with thicker wear layers. Put them on the floor and no one can tell the difference.”
Max Woods’ next platform targets the residential and builder step-up segments. Spirer calls this the “heart of our business” and embraces the notion that there are a number of end users out there with varied tastes and needs. “The offerings need to be abundant and beautiful,” he said. “We call this platform Heart & Soul. Products in this platform represent a retailer’s day-in, day-out sales.
“Lastly, there is our fastest growing platform, Imagine. This is where our customers can ‘max-imize’ their profits. These are our uniquely styled monumental planks, with widths up to 9.5 inches and lengths of 6 and 7 feet. These products are bought by the relatively small percentage of consumers who have both the pocket and the willingness to try something new.”
Max Woods currently has two collections in its Imagine group and will be exhibiting two more at The International Surface Event East (TISE East) in Miami Beach this month. Spirer calls these offerings “knockouts.”
Another linchpin in Max Woods’ retail strategy is based on the size of the businesses it targets. Spirer said the company has adopted distribution geared to the largest few hundred retailers in the country. “By keeping the size of our customer base manageable, we can talk with or visit almost all customers frequently. We share our thoughts, as do they, in order to correct and improve how we perform.
“We recognize that to truly build a partnership with customers, it is incumbent on the supplier to be loyal to the customer,” he continued. “We are obligated to do what it takes to maximize the sales and profits of our customers. We demand next to nothing of them, figuring if we do things right, they will give us increasingly more of their business. The burden of performance is ours.”
Spirer said in order for flooring dealers to hold their own and build market share, they have to compete with the growing penetration of the big boxes. That requires a more diversified product line, sold by knowledgeable sales professionals. “To compete most effectively, many of these retailers stock the ‘value platform’ products and meet competition head-on. This validates their competitive stature in the minds of shoppers, making the purchase of better goods more credible. Accordingly, we sell them container quantities as well as truckloads and pallets.”