2019 investment in Gilford-Johnson paves way for growth opportunities
March 2/9, 2020: Volume 35, Issue 18
By Reginald Tucker
Las Vegas—Billy Ko has been elevated to the position of CEO of Johnson Hardwood. The move follows on the heels of former CEO, Bill Schollmeyer, transitioning full time to the president of Gilford-Johnson Flooring, a Johnson Hardwood distributor.
Last summer, Johnson Hardwood announced plans to invest in Gilford-Johnson, a top-20 distributor. With Johnson Hardwood looking to strengthen its distribution network and focus less energy on direct-to-retail marketing, that paved the way for changes in leadership and a reallocation of resources.
“The whole thing that precipitated the move was our investment in Gilford-Johnson,” Ko told FCNews. “We had Bill [Schollmeyer] transfer to Gilford-Johnson to run things as president. He is the best person to do that to make it a success.”
Johnson Hardwood said it was more feasible to revert back to a traditional distribution model vs. continuing to go direct largely based on feedback from customers. “We were finding the service levels were not there as we got into more territories,” Ko said. “Our goal is to focus on producing more on-trend products and letting our distributors service the customers. Over the past few years of dealing direct, we
lost some of that focus. Now, we can turn our full attention to bringing newer and better products to market while building up the Johnson Hardwood brand name.”
By working closely with sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and finance teams, Ko—who has been with Johnson Hardwood since 2012—is laying a foundation for future growth. He plans to apply all he has learned thus far to implementing strategies that will further build the brand.
“In the beginning I worked in logistics, then accounting, before moving into the product development and marketing side,” Ko said. “I learned a lot by working with Bill, who’s very knowledgeable and supportive. In addition, the more senior-level members—including the owner, Johnson Ku—have taught me a lot. Obviously, I’m still young and I have a lot to learn, but I look at this as a tremendous opportunity.”
Indeed, Ko will be supported by an experienced management team. Carol Ku, supply chain manager, will work closely alongside Danny Chen, the new chairman. The pair will work hand in hand to ensure that products are safe and compliant, and they also work on product designs, Ko noted. In addition, Ko will have the support of 18-year Johnson Hardwood veteran Louie Wang, currently vice president of sales; Irene Tsai, CFO; and John Ousley, director of sales and distribution.