June 6/13, 2016; Volume 30, Number 25
By Ken Ryan
Rarely do a few weeks pass without the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) making some significant news, whether it is partnering with another flooring association or funding entities such as fcB2B or CFI. So it was no surprise that the recent WFCA board of directors meeting in Colorado Springs was themed: What is our next move?
Scott Humphrey, CEO of the WFCA, told FCNews that sometimes the next move is to “walk away from a deal; sometimes it is to double down and other times it is to consider something completely different than what you have been doing.”
Following are some highlights from the meeting.
In January, the WFCA announced a partnership with the Floor Covering Business to Business Association (fcB2B) through a financial commitment that included hiring a full-time executive director, Phillip Zolan. WFCA has taken the next step by folding fcB2B under the WFCA umbrella “as a way to secure its future viability,” Humphrey said.
Over the past 15 years the fcB2B team has worked to create a seamless digital program for the flooring industry, and studies show the program could save flooring retailers and manufacturers significant time and money. Humphrey encouraged flooring retailers to embrace this technology. “Not utilizing fcB2B is like using a rotary phone as opposed to a smartphone,” he quipped. Nine new members have joined fcB2B since January; dozens more are being recruited.
The WFCA, which absorbed CFI as a standalone division last year, has amended its bylaws so CFI will have at least two positions on the board. This is meant to give CFI a voice within the WFCA hierarchy. Tom Cartnell, who has two years remaining on the board, is currently the lone CFI member. However, CFI will create an advisory council to choose a second CFI member who will join the board during the next board rotation in January 2017.
In a move with implications for scores of flooring retail owners, the Department of Labor recently announced its biggest changes to overtime regulations in more than a decade, essentially doubling the salary threshold at which workers are eligible for time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours per week.
The final rule, as it is called, focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for executive, administrative and professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the final rule sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the south ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker). Additionally, the final rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level. The effective date of the final rule is Dec. 1, 2016.
The WFCA, lobbying on behalf of independent dealers, urged the Labor Department to adopt the southern data, which in this case lowered the salary threshold by $3,000 to $4,000. According to Humphrey, more than 270,000 comments were submitted on this law, with the final rule included WFCA’s proposal to recalculate and lower the minimum salary requirement, to include bonuses in salary calculations and to make no changes to duty test.
The OT rule is one of several actions being addressed by the lobbying arm of the WFCA. There is the much-discussed employee/independent contractor issue, which puts flooring installers and retailers at the mercy of various government agencies and their specific benchmarks for what constitutes an IC vs. an employee; and the Marketplace Fairness Act, in which a state cannot require out-of-state online sellers to collect the sales tax owed from its customers who purchase flooring products. WFCA members, however, must collect the local sales tax, which ultimately affects the final price on their products.
Humphrey noted the WFCA’s lobbying efforts are gaining influence. “It’s because we represent the mom and pops. The lawmakers see the mom and pops on Main Street as having real votes—they matter. The legislators look at Walmart as one vote. I want our dealers to understand the power of their influence. We want to amplify their voices; we want to give them more clout in the marketplace.”
In other news…
Paul Pumphrey, now 90, is going to Washington, D.C., to visit the National World War II Memorial. The trip was made possible by the WFCA in recognition of Pumphrey’s contributions to the association as well as his military service. He served in the U.S. Merchant Marines from 1943 to 1945. He will be joined by Humphrey and others who will go to Washington to meet with lawmakers.
Pumphrey is the only individual to have served as president of both the Western Floor Covering Association and Retail Floorcovering Institute (later named the American Floorcovering Association), the predecessors of the World Floor Covering Association. Pumphrey, who regularly attends WFCA meetings, is a member of the association’s Hall of Fame.