Mercier at 40: Still innovating through the years

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By Reginald Tucker

It’s one thing to be in business for four decades—it’s quite another to continue growing over such a long stretch and still be relevant and innovative in today’s market, particularly in the face of intense competition from competing hard surface categories. But that’s precisely what Mercier has accomplished as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. From its early innovations in prefinishing launched in 1980 to the development of sophisticated coatings and product constructions in recent years, Mercier has employed a winning formula for longevity.

Following is an overview:

Secret to success

“We have consistently innovated decade after decade,” said Marielle Mercier, who co-owns the company with Richard Mercier. “Since our very beginnings, we have made an imprint in the market thanks to our innovations that have systematically become industry norms—starting with the development of prefinished hardwood floors. Our unwavering commitment to ingenuity will continue for years to come.”

Mercier owes much of its success to pioneering efforts in the development of prefinished hardwood floors. “The willingness to eliminate the inconveniences associated with varnishing floors after they had been installed quickly transformed into a true culture of innovation that has propelled the company for more than 40 years,” Richard Mercier said.  “We introduced non-toxic aluminum oxide and plant-based oil to our finishes. Mercier was also a pioneer in successfully layering coats of stain that still reveal the beauty of the wood underneath, which is evident in our Elements and Naked collections.”

Strength in partnerships

A company can offer top-notch products and merchandising systems, but that alone won’t guarantee success. It literally takes a village (of supporting distributors and retailers, that is) to promote and sell those products.

Earlier this year, Mercier recognized its top-performing distributor partners during a special event in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, coinciding with the company’s 40th anniversary. J.J. Haines—the industry’s top-ranked distributor—was named Mercier’s Merchandiser of the Year, while the Distributor of the Year and Salesman of the Year went to Michael Halebian & Co., and Joe Cellini, respectively. “Haines dedication to implementing the sales programs is equally as remarkable,” said Wade Bondrowski, director of sales USA.

Regarding Cellini, Bondrowski added. “After being among the top five in our product sales for many consecutive years, Joe managed to grab first place. This is a worthy accomplishment.”

Marielle Mercier agreed, adding: “We would not be where we are today without the support and trust of our partners of the past 40 years. My father, Marcel Mercier, would be so proud to see how far this small company that he started has come since the early ’80s.”

Whether it’s Mercier’s longtime distributors or those who have carried the brand for just a year, a common theme emerges—customers feel confident in both the quality and service the company consistently provides over the years.

“Over the past 40 years, Mercier has shown first-class quality and exception service,” said Eric Weishaar, Southeast regional sales manager, builder property management, commercial, J.J. Haines. “They have brought the customer service element to our market at JJ Haines, they have a production schedule whereby in advance we know when they’re going to be making products and they give our customers high-end products. They also have a lot of SKUs, which in this day and age is important due to customization. They offer a wide variety of different gloss levels and different widths, species and colors and the ability to mix and match those products.”

Michael Wanta, director of sales at Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors, agreed. In fact, he can speak to the quality of the Mercier brand as both a flooring dealer and distributor, given his past experience selling Mercier at CarpetsPlus of Madison before coming on board with Jaeckle. “The quality is excellent,” he said. “It’s the Cadillac of quality.”

And that translates into confidence and reliability. “You don’t have to worry about callbacks, and the supply chain is very smooth,” Weishaar stated. “Plus, it’s a higher-end product that has not been impacted by the pandemic, and with Mercier’s line, we’ve been able to be much more profitable.”

Employees committed to excellence

You can’t achieve ongoing success without brand ambassadors. From workers on the production lines all the way to the C-suite, Mercier is filled with them. When asked to identify what most motivates them, company representatives cite leadership from the top.

“It’s a family business built with family values,” said Michel Collin, director of marketing. “They have great respect for their employees. They make each floor with the idea that someone in the family bought it.”

Wade Bondrowski, director of sales, USA, concurs. “To represent a company that’s been a pioneer in the industry is a proud moment for everyone who works here,” he said. “It’s a first-class operation.”

For Luc Robitaille, vice president of sales and marketing, it all goes back to heritage. “Mercier has always remained true to its essence,” he said, citing the brand’s association with innovation, quality and service.

(For more on this story, see the Aug. 31, Sept. 7 issue of FCNews.)

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Sept. 7, 2020