February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16
By Ken Ryan
Las Vegas—The National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) welcomed a record 42 vendors to its Specialty Vendor Showcase, which was held on the Monday prior to The International Surface Event [TISE].
The showcase has grown steadily in recent years and has proven to be mutually beneficial for both the suppliers and the NFA. The vendor meeting is ideal for these more specialized suppliers because it is reasonable for them to attend as they’re already at Surfaces. Likewise, for the NFA, the show provides additional leverage with a broader variety of vendors.
Dave Snedeker, division merchandise manager-flooring, Nebraska Furniture Mart and NFA president, said the record number of exhibitors “is a huge deal” to his group. “We want to make sure the people we bring on are going to be good for our members, and I believe that is the case here.”
This year new specialty vendors included EarthWerks, Foss, DriTac and Schönox. “[Being in this group] has opened doors for us,” said Jonathan Train, CEO of EarthWerks, which showed new LVT products, including a 20-mil offering and a WPC product with a waterproof core. “I think consumers can relate to the waterproof core,” Train said. “However, we don’t see WPC impacting glue-down LVT; we see WPC impacting laminate sales. At the end of the day it is still about style and design. We’re trying to be more innovative with colors and we look for variation.”
Schönox unveiled a new self-leveling system that it is positioning as a solution to subfloor preparation issues. “There are a lot of people on this list we want to do business with, and this event is a good opportunity to get in front of them,” said Doug Young, executive vice president of Schönox.
One of those dealers on the list is Jim Mudd, president/owner of Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring with multiple locations in the Louisville, Ky., area. “I was most impressed with the self-leveling system from Schönox—a product that in previous years I would never have gotten to,” Mudd said. “It was easy to use and will help fix a lot of problem subfloors.”
For suppliers looking to deal with the upper echelon of retail, NFA represents the Holy Grail. “The NFA dealers have more collective wisdom of what a vendor needs from a long-term profitability relationship than any other group,” said Peter Spirer, CEO of MaxWoods. “It’s like dealing with a senior person—they can sort out the phonies in the market.”
Ian Newton, general manager of Flooring 101, a four-store chain based in Ventura County, Calif., said the benefits of attending the specialty vendor event are evident. “Companies that don’t have the manpower to go all over the country can come here and for one fee see 43 dealers; that’s a good deal,” he said. In fact, every vendor who attended the 2015 showcase returned for 2016.
Marquis Industries, which joined the NFA specialty vendor group in 2015, was touting its traditional broadloom carpet and hard surfaces lineup. “Our size plays into our favor with the NFA; we’re able to fill more niches,” said Charlie Kelley, vice president of sales and marketing, hard surfaces division. “Not every dealer wants to do business with a big company.”
Several NFA dealers said that while they normally don’t do any buying at the vendor event, occasionally there are some great bargains. “You never know when there may be a great deal out there,” said Penny Carrnino, director of operations, Grigsby’s Carpets & Tile, Tulsa, Okla.
When Snedeker took over as president of NFA, he said his primary goal was to increase the participation among members. That objective, he noted, is being realized. “At our meeting [here in Las Vegas] every member who wanted to sound off sounded off,” he said. “That is the way a group should be.”
Sterling Carpet and Flooring in Anaheim, Calif., is the 43rd member of the NFA. Sterling attended the fall meeting as a prospective new member and was subsequently voted in. Sterling took advantage of an opening in the Orange County, Calif., market that was vacated by Carpet Distributors.
One housekeeping note: The NFA spring meeting will commence April 9 in Asheville, N.C.