Mohawk’s Momentum Roadshow kicks off

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Momentum Roadshow
Mohawk’s Dallas stop on it’s Momentum Roadshow is the first in-person event of its size in almost a year.

Mohawk kicked off its Momentum Roadshow

An FCNews exclusive
By Steven Feldman and Megan Salzano

Dallas—Mohawk kicked off its Momentum Roadshow here this week, which serves as the first in-person trade show event of its size to take place in almost a year. Mohawk said it recognized the need for retailers to see new products for the spring selling season against a backdrop where most other shows had been canceled or postponed.

Mohawk told FCNews that it expects about 600 customers will attend the event over a three-day period. While a typical Dallas event usually garners around 1,000 attendees, Mohawk said it expects to see the same amount of retail customers as usual. “The main difference is that in previous Dallas markets a retailer might bring six or seven people,” said Trey Thames, senior vice president, residential sales, Mohawk. “Now, it’s limited as far as the number of people they’re bringing. Sometimes it’s just the owner. So, the number of people is down, but I don’t think we’re seeing a falloff in customers.”

Safety first

Momentum Roadshow
The Mohawk Momentum Roadshow is fogged about every hour to provide a safe environment for attendees.

To set the stage, Mohawk is taking several safety precautions to ensure the health and wellness of all attendees and instill confidence in the show and its format. FCNews can attest to temperature checks prior to walking into the show space as well as a mandatory Q&A regarding health. Once inside the show floor, the group size is limited by social distancing protocols as well as scheduled appointments for all. There is also regular sanitation throughout the space, as well as sanitization checkpoints.

Social distancing lends itself to another benefit: “When you have smaller numbers of people, you have the ability to provide a more personal experience for the customer,” said Brennan Swing, vice president of creative. “We have specific blocks of time for everyone so it’s more tailored to each customer who comes in rather than everybody at once.”

Retail reacts

FCNews spoke to several retailers in attendance at the show, all of whom said they felt completely safe at the in-person event. “I’m glad they took the initiative to do this; I wish others would,” said Kirt Krystynik, owner, Buffaloe Floors and Up in Houston. “They’re going to see the benefits because people are tired of sitting at home, and you can only shop online for so long. At some point, you have to put a sample in front of someone. At the end of the day, you can run an event like this—you just have to be smart.”

Richard Matthews, owner, Flooring Source, Friendswood, Texas, noted his initial reaction to the news of the in-person event. “When I heard they were holding the event in-person, I was on board,” he said. “Whenever they do this show, you want to see what’s going on. If you’re not there, you’re going to be behind. We were not afraid to come. They did their due diligence. I never felt like I was in an unsafe environment. All in all, we’re happy that Mohawk went through with this. We’re getting the value. Those that choose not to come will be behind.”

Charlotte Wuestewald, owner, Yampa Valley Design, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, told FCNews she was never apprehensive about attending the in-person event in January. “It was good to get out and see product in person,” she explained. “Mohawk is taking a ton of [precautions]—from the hotel all the way through the show. And, nobody was climbing on top of you to get to the same display. At no point did I feel unsafe.”

In-person vs. virtual events

virtual digital
Retailers that spoke with FCNews say in-person events hold more value than their virtual counterparts.

As retailers lauded the show’s safety protocols, they also emphasized the importance of in-person events vs. their virtual counterparts. Bill Sonntag, Twin Cities, Minn., Suburban Floor Covering, third-generation owner, for example, went as far as to say virtual events “don’t make sense.”

“When people go online to look at our product, it’s almost useless,” he explained. “It doesn’t look the same. If I see something on the computer, I don’t know what I’m actually going to get. I just don’t see any purpose in a virtual event.”

Flooring Source’s Matthews said virtual events are unable to hold a retailer’s attention. “We’ve attended the virtual events, but I don’t feel they have any value. I like to do things in person. I like to see the products and have the dialogue. Nine times out of 10, when you’re doing a virtual show, you’re doing two things at once. It’s background noise. You’re not fully engaged.”

Buffaloe Floors and Up’s Krystynik simply said he’s not a fan. “We have kept our showrooms open for the same reason I want to be here,” he explained. “I want to put my hands on the product, see it, understand how it’s made. It’s the only way to do it or you won’t get sales. No question, in-person is better than virtual.”

Pent-up demand continues

Momentum Roadshow
Retailers in attendance say being able to touch and feel new product will be key in meeting the needs of its customers in 2021.

Despite the hardship, 2020 turned out to be a good year for many flooring retailers. Pent-up demand that was experienced in the second half of the year has continued into 2021, and retailers say they expect another record year. To do that, they said they need to see new product lines. “We were up 25% over last year, and we are expecting the same this year,” Yampa Valley Design’s Wuestewald said. “It’s very important to see and touch and feel. It makes all the difference.”

Suburban Floor Covering’s Sonntag, added, “We’re projecting it’s going to be a strong year. I don’t know how you can continue business if you don’t see what’s out there.”

Buffaloe Floors and Up’s Krystynik, added, “I’ve been coming to this for 20 years; My family has been coming for 40-plus years. Our biggest deal is having an idea of what people are expecting and then leaving here with things that can match that. People have seen similar intros online before we can get to these meetings, and then the expectation to see that in the store is pretty immediate. I want to make sure that what I’m seeing can be in the showroom pretty soon.”

To answer that need, Mohawk said most products will be available in early 2021. “As we go into these shows, 90% of the product will be available at the end of Q1 or early Q2,” Swing said. “So, what retailers will be seeing at these shows is product they can put in their stores fairly quickly.”

That was certainly true on Day 1 of the Roadshow where Mohawk put its product where its mouth is. The company rolled out new product lines in both soft surface and hard surface categories, including the new UltraWood as well as additions and upgrades to popular RevWood, SolidTech and SmartStrand lines, among others.

(See fcnews.net throughout the week for more on Mohawk’s new product launches from the Roadshow.)

Planning ahead

Mohawk has four additional stops scheduled along the way:

  • Atlanta – Feb. 1-3
  • Indianapolis, Ind. – Feb. 9-11
  • Atlantic City, N.J. – Feb. 16-18
  • Huntington Beach, Calif. – March 2-4

While all stops are currently scheduled as planned, new safety measures in states such as New Jersey and California may cause changes. “I think Atlantic City and California both depend on the capacity they are stating,” Mohawk’s Thames said. “We need the ability to have at least 25 people in a room for it to make sense. In some cases, right now, it’s 10. That won’t work. But, when I talk to our people who are in the Northeast and California, they are optimistic. We’ll have to wait and see. We still have time for both of those shows to make a change if needed. We’re hoping to have both, but really, it’s up to state and local governments.”

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