August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5
By Lindsay Baillie
Over the years, Mohawk has diversified its flooring offerings to cover the gamut of both soft and hard goods. At the same time, the company is also garnering attention by helping floor covering retailers sell the total installation project via a broad selection of cushion products.
“We are the only U.S. carpet manufacturer that has its own carpet cushion production,” said Al Buniak, director of pad and cushion business operations, Mohawk Industries. “We currently make everything from a basic product to a premium memory foam cushion, including synthetic fiber pads for the growing area rug market.”
Mohawk, which entered the cushion manufacturing business after it acquired Alliance Pad in 2002, manufactures every type of carpet fiber from wool to synthetic in all different constructions. This allows the manufacturer to pair each type of carpet with a specific pad to offer the overall best performance. In addition, Mohawk operates an efficient distribution network that allows for a single delivery of both cushion and carpet, which cuts down wait time for various products.
“People spend a lot of time selling carpet, but the cushion is really an extremely important component of the sale,” Buniak explained. “It’s the piece that helps the carpet maintain its texture and appearance, so we provide all of those different types of cushions to leverage our carpet products’ features.”
Following a good/better/best model for its cushions, Mohawk offers retailers its most premium product, SmartCushion, with the added bonus of giving back to a key foundation—Susan G. Komen. With each purchase of its SmartCushion preferred product, Mohawk makes a donation to Susan G. Komen. What’s more, SmartCushion is pink in color and its packaging contains the Susan G. Komen logo—all of which drives further awareness of the cause.
“Mohawk partners with many non-profit organizations throughout our various communities, and Susan G. Komen was one we started with approximately six or seven years ago,” Buniak explained. “It is a wonderful organization and we are excited to be a part of helping the organization achieve its goals of bringing an end to breast cancer. It’s one of the top recipients of Mohawk’s support.”
SmartCushion is a win-win in other aspects. For many retailers, it helps increase margins. Just ask Joe Zago, president of The Carpet Guys in Troy, Mich. The dealer has been selling the product for about three years with excellent results. “It’s a great thing for any retailer to carry. Not only are you doing a great thing, but people like doing business with people who like to do good things. When people in the community see us taking part in a lot of these events, it really helps the business.”
Jeff Balsom, owner of Kenny Enterprises in Buffalo, N.Y., has also noticed a positive response to Mohawk’s SmartCushion. “Our sales are good and the performance of the pad is very good. The Susan G. Komen story has been very good [for business]. Our customers seem very happy with what Mohawk is doing and what we’re doing to support the entire organization.”
As a premium product, SmartCushion provides retailers with the opportunity to upsell, creating higher margins. In addition to the product’s story, its overall quality and characteristics make SmartCushion an easy sell.
“Of all our cushion it is our top-selling product,” said Fred Gaines, owner of Bells Carpets, Raleigh, N.C. “We train our salespeople to take consumers to the best option first. We always stress to our customers that the cushion is the foundation of their carpet purchase. If you don’t start with a good foundation you’re not going to get the performance of the carpet you want over the years.”
For many retailers, having an entire package helps generate higher margins. For example, Tommy Hughes, general manager, Kelly’s Carpet, Omaha, Neb., sees value in giving his customers Mohawk-branded carpet and cushion along with Mohawk-certified installation. “SmartCushion is packaged with some of our higher-end carpet collections. It’s a premium pad that’s going to perform well under the carpet.”
Hughes also sees value in offering a product that ultimately gives back to the community. “It’s important to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and [SmartCushion] is one way, as a store, that we can support them and that our customers can support as well.”