March 30/April 6, 2015; Volume 28/Number 20
By Ken Ryan
Cincinnati—Paul Murfin, co-CEO of IVC US, was the headline speaker at the Gilford Flooring spring event where he addressed independent dealers about the rapid ascent of IVC, an ever-changing flooring landscape and how retailers can compete amid increased competition.
Founded in 1997 as part of the Balta Group, IVC US “is still a teenager,” Murfin said, but a fast-growing one at that, doubling in size in the last three years.
Everything IVC touches seems to turn to gold these days. Two years ago, IVC expanded into the laminate category by acquiring Balterio, the Belgium-based fiberboard and laminate floor divisions of Balta Industries. “We bought Balterio in a laminate market no one wanted to talk to us about,” Murfin said. “In the last year we have taken orders for 2,000 displays.”
Murfin told retailers most people do not realize that IVC has 1,250 employees worldwide, has a presence in 110 countries and is the largest supplier of residential resilient flooring in the world. “We are the No. 2 supplier of sheet vinyl and I expect we will be No. 1 at the end of this year.”
Even before Mohawk Industries acquired it, IVC US was the fastest growing resilient company in the industry. In the last four years IVC has built two LVT facilities, one sheet plant, expanded into laminate and invested $400 million into its business.
“What is the formula?” Murfin asked. “Passion for new technology and an obsession for operational excellence. We buy the latest equipment and drive our people to achieve excellence. No. 2, a passion for color and design.” He noted that each cylinder used to create a new design costs $100,000; IVC has invested $1.7 million in design cylinders alone.
“We are very focused on product performance and have some of the best performing products in the industry. We are customer focused. We find a way to say, ‘Yes.’ I work for a company today that is concerned about what is best for you.”
He called IVC a “perfect fit” for Mohawk and said the company can help Mohawk grow beyond North America, particularly in Europe and Russia.
In a word, today’s flooring industry is “dynamic,” Murfin said. “You have felt moving to glass [in sheet vinyl], VCT shifting to rubber, a continued shift of soft surface to hard surface, broadloom to modular with massive increases in carpet tile in the commercial segment, you have an almost fanatical interest in LVT. Today it’s a smaller industry with, unfortunately, fewer independent dealers than ever before. It is also a consolidated industry.”
He noted that the rate of growth and change is going to be even greater in the next five to 10 years, “and we need to pay attention to these changes. Today you are getting competition in floor covering at a pace you never saw before. The percentage of the Internet flooring business is 7% to 10% but growing rapidly.”
Because flooring dealers face a bevy of new threats, from Floor & Décor to warehouse clubs and the web, Murfin offered a few pointers for independent dealers:
1) Make sure you have a presence on the Internet and that you are relevant in a local search. If a consumer is looking for a dealer in Covington, Ky., and that is your market, make sure your name comes up.
2) Your showroom is a big asset. Are you making the most out of it? The first impression a consumer has is when she walks into your showroom. Think of ways you can get better in your business, such as lead generation.
3) Work with suppliers that are committed to your success. Seek out those who are the future and not the past. You need to do business with people who will stand behind their products.