By Reginald Tucker
Las Vegas—With scores of his peers, friends, associates and family members in attendance, Piet Dossche—CEO and founder of USFloors and executive vice president of Shaw Hard Surface—was officially welcomed into the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) Hall of Fame. Dossche, who becomes the 50th inductee into the hallowed hall, joins a list of distinguished leaders and pioneers who have earned this coveted honor.
“This list of inductees includes successful men and women, manufacturers, retailers and distributors, installers and WWII veterans—real people with real passion who sought to make a real difference in our industry,” said Scott Humphrey in his opening remarks during a special ceremony on the show floor at Surfaces. “This is not a list of people who want to be; this is a list of people who are action oriented. Without their insight, inspiration and innovation, the industry that we all home would be dramatically different. In recent years, no one has had a greater impact on the flooring industry than our guest of honor, Piet Dossche. Like those who joined this list before him, Piet opted to take action.”
Dossche, often referred to as the “father of WPC” within industry circles, is largely credited with bringing this nascent category to the U.S. market in 2013, paving the way for many of the various iterations we’re seeing today. He saw how the underlying technology was being utilized in China to produce paneling, and that spawned the creation of what would eventually become COREtec.
Pami Bhullar, director of retail development for Invista, North America, submitted Dossche for consideration for the Hall of Fame. During his address to the attendees on hand for the induction ceremony, Bhullar cited his longstanding relationship with Dossche in addition to his contributions to the industry. “There are some folks who make a difference in this industry, and then there are some folks who take it to the next level—the innovators and transformational geniuses who really understand the sixth sense of focus. That is who our friend Piet is.”
Bhullar recalled an example of Dossche’s customer-focused mindset when he once asked the Hall of Fame recipient this question: ‘What do we need to do to make our industry successful?’ To which Dossche replied, ‘We need to make our customers successful; if you make them successful, we will all be successful.’ That comment, Bhullar noted, provided insight into the kind of leader Dossche represents.
Grace and passion
During his acceptance speech, Dossche profusely thanked Bhullar, Humphrey, WFCA board members as well as the many associates, friends and family members in attendance. He also recognized the dozens of WFCA Hall of Fame recipients who came before him, including Shaw Industries CEO Vance Bell, who marked the hall’s 49th inductee last fall.
“As the newest member of this illustrious group of industry leaders, I want to recognize the achievements of those 49 executives who were inducted ahead of me and established our industry early on and the growth and prosperity we enjoy today,” Dossche stated. “The entrepreneurship and vision of leaders such as Alan Lorberbaum, Harry Saul, Bob Shaw, Alan Greenberg, Howard Brodsky and Phil Guitierrez—just to name a few—have created a thriving and prosperous industry that once you enter you will never leave. I’m especially honored to be inducted in the same year as Vance Bell, an executive that I had the pleasure and privilege to work for during the past three years and who I respect tremendously for this strong and steady leadership and unwavering integrity.”
Dossche also used the opportunity to recognize all those who had a hand in the success of USFloors, the company he founded in a spare bedroom back in 2001. “This recognition is not just about me; I didn’t do this all by myself,” he said. “There are a lot of people who helped me get to where we are today. It’s not just about my achievements and contributions to the industry. This is as much recognition for all the people who have supported, guided and believed in me all the way.”
Dossche also acknowledged members of his family—many of whom made the trek to honor his induction. “I want to thank them all for their support and love. Over the years I travelled a lot, and I wasn’t home all the time. I missed a lot of great things with the family, but at the end of the day it’s all been worthwhile because they supported me tremendously all those years.”
Special thanks were heaped upon his son Julian and wife, Rachel, for spending five years in Shanghai to help the company build the brand. Also in attendance were Dossche’s brother and his wife, who flew over from Belgium. “But above all,” he said, “I’m grateful to my wife, Sabine, for her unwavering support and encouragement she has given me over the years. I know it wasn’t always easy, but great achievements never come easy. But at the end, together we pulled it off. Thank you very much, I love you.”
Dossche closed his remarks with a spirited, impassioned admonition about the importance of protecting the WPC/SPC category from overcapacity and commoditization. The tremendous success of LVT, he said, has resulted in many companies manufacturing, importing, distributing and selling the product. Overcapacity in the sector, he warned, is creating constant downward spiraling and pricing pressure—which is leading to profit erosion and strong warning signals toward commodization.
“The easiest strategy to get the product sold is price; but there’s always someone eager to respond to lower pricing,” Dossche stated. “This type of competition is destroying the profitability of this category and will lead to its demise—just like the way laminate ended up. Profit is not a dirty word! Profit is the lifeline of any business. Profit enables us to invest in our associates, reward our shareholders and give back to our communities. Shame on us if we let this become a commodity! Shame on us if we let price erosion destroy what we worked so hard for! Shame on us if 10 years from now all that’s left is a history lesson on how not to do this!”
(For more on Dossche’s acceptance speech, see the Feb. 3/10 Post-Surfaces issue of Floor Covering News.)