October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By Reginald Tucker
Mohawk Industries’ commitment to quality manufacturing, product development and design is well documented. But the company is also putting a tremendous amount of resources and emphasis on recruiting and training the workforce that will ultimately sell and service those products in the marketplace.
To that end, Mohawk has developed a 12-week accelerated sales development program at its Hard Surfaces division headquarters in Calhoun, Ga. This effort includes recruiting college graduates who demonstrate the capacity and potential to become professional Mohawk sales representatives.
Under the program, college graduates rotate through several areas of Mohawk’s operations from manufacturing to all the other facets of its business.
“In alignment with Mohawk and driving innovation through products and services, it’s important that we continue to evolve our sales team to be the best sales force for our customers,” said Richard Owen, senior director of market development, Mohawk Hard Surfaces. “Through this program, we are able to generate a great salesperson who is well equipped to be the business partner for our customers.”
In its most recent class, Mohawk had 12 individuals from different universities across the country. Graduates were rotated through various departments, including manufacturing, marketing, sample department and even claims. “They touched all areas of the business with a real emphasis on how they utilize that knowledge to become better salespeople and better business partners for the customers,” Owen said. Mohawk also layered in a whole section on fashion. “We want our territory managers who work with customers to really leverage the beautiful products and innovations we bring to them.”
When scouting out graduates for the program, Mohawk looks at traditional metrics such as college rankings, scores, etc. But that’s not the only criteria. As Owen explained: “We look at different schools that offer specialized curricula; for example, N.C. State has its school of textiles. We visited that school and interviewed several new graduates. From there we selected a pool of candidates who came in for a thorough process of interviews. Then they are hand selected based on their background skills, knowledge, etc.”
The track record of graduates who successfully complete the program and eventually go on to become full-fledged Mohawk sales representatives is impressive. Looking at the most recent class, for example, 11 of the 12 participants are already working in territories, according to Owen. The 12th man is still going through the program and is expected to be placed in a territory by the end of the year.
Recruiting and training the Mohawk sales representatives of the future is clearly a benefit for Mohawk as it seeks to fortify its workforce. But the program is also part of a larger initiative to get that next generation involved in the flooring business. In Owen’s experience, he finds many graduates who come out of textile programs seek entry-level positions in the glamorous fashion industry. During a recent career fair, for example, he recalled a situation where graduates were lined up in droves behind clothing manufacturers to get an interview. After speaking with several of them about the many ways that fashion is linked to flooring, he said a light bulb went on. “They all started moving over to our space to listen more about what Mohawk is offering in terms of a career in floor fashions.”