February 2/10, 2020: Volume 35, Issue 16
By Ken Ryan
Las Vegas—Every Surfaces-eve, a select group of flooring vendors gets an opportunity to spend meaningful face time with the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA), among the most influential flooring dealers in the industry.
These four hours are mutually beneficial: Vendors look to break in or—in some cases—expand their business with NFA members, while the retailers look for niche products or to fill out a line or offering.
“This format works,” said Jason McSwain, president of the NFA and owner of McSwain Carpets & Floors, Cincinnati. “It’s efficient for both members and vendors.”
There were 38 vendors at this year’s meeting—same as the year before—with nine first timers. McSwain said the NFA counsels the vendors on effective ways to approach the meeting as well as to follow up with the dealers in the days and weeks after the show. “We want the meetings to be more fruitful for both parties,” he explained. “We want the vendors to be engaged, and each one I have talked to has wanted to build momentum with us.”
One vendor looking to build on that momentum was Keith Wiethe, director of sales for Eagle Creek, which was introducing SPC, rigid core and WPC products. “Probably everyone in this room has vinyl; however, we think we have a strong value message for the group.”
Wiethe said differentiating the product offering is especially important in dealing with the NFA given their market clout. “If you don’t do channel segmentation with these people they will throw you out. You can make good margin with these guys, which you can’t do with the big box stores. It’s a good opportunity.”
Decorative Concepts, which showed an array of broadloom in wool and woven visuals, was a new vendor as well. However, John Sheffield, vice president of sales and marketing, is well versed with the NFA. “I’ve been doing business with some of these dealers for 20 years, so I can tell you this is a phenomenal group to be a part of,” he told FCNews. “I have some very good relationships with these folks, and I think they have stood up for us here as a vendor that pro- vides quality wool products.”
Sheffield said being a carpet supplier—in particular wool—has its advantages in a market saturated by rigid LVT. He said he believes some NFA retailers understood that during his meetings. “The response to our products, especially our color lines, have been very well received here,” he said. “We think this launch is going to be a big deal.”
Indusparquet, a supplier of premium hardwood flooring, was another first-time vendor with a veteran presence in Jodie Doyle, vice president of sales and marketing, who spent many years with Gilford-Johnson Flooring. Doyle said Indusparquet is a good match for NFA because these retailers demand flexibility and Indusparquet is nimble enough to fulfill that need.
“For example, instead of having an 80-SKU display we can give them a few wide planks,” Doyle explained. “If we can get some good opportunities, that’s our goal—it’s all about exposure.
We do more than Brazilian cherry, and this is an opportunity to let these dealers know what we have to offer. This is money well spent.”
NFA dealers said they look to spending quality time with potential customers in a noncompetitive arena. “Personally, I like that it is a more intimate setting, and being here also gives me a chance to fill in some holes,” said Steve Brannen, chief operating office for Carpet King, Minneapolis.