NFA showcase: Attendees relish face-to-face opportunities

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By Ken Ryan
Las Vegas—The NFA specialty vendor showcase that convenes on the eve of Surfaces has been called the most meaningful four hours in flooring—a forum that allows more than two dozen vendors to meet with 43 of the most influential flooring retailers in the industry, all in one room.

Flooring 101 president, Jimmy Poulos (center), explains the merits of SLCC’s SPC offerings to fellow NFA dealer T.J. Anderson of Jimmie Lyles Flooring Gallery while SLCC owner, Jan Luan, looks on.

Indeed, the NFA showcase is mutually beneficial for both parties as vendors look to create or expand their business while NFA retailers seek niche products to fill out a line or to meet potential customers. This year’s event featured 29 vendors—down from 38 companies in winter 2020— including five newcomers.

While most new products were introduced earlier in the year, this year’s show still provided great value for those in attendance. “Being our first official meeting, we were very busy,” said Sam O’Krent, president of San Antonio-based O’Krent Floors, the newest member of the NFA (FCNews, June 7/14). O’Krent was joined on the trip by his wife, Margie, and nephew Jason, both company executives. “It’s obvious that the vendors are as excited to be affiliated with NFA as we are. The respect that the membership receives from the vendors is unmatched.”

Also attending his first NFA vendor meeting was Sam Locher, vice president of business development and marketing, A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, with three Massachusetts locations. “This show is great,” he told FCNews. “It has opened my eyes to some vendors that we aren’t doing business with that maybe we should be.”

For longtime NFA retailer Eric Mondragon, hard surface flooring buyer for RC Willey, with multiple locations in the West, the specialty vendor showcase represents a welcome change from the usually much larger Surfaces show. “It’s a little more personal and gives me more time to discuss product and programs with those vendors I’m already doing business with,” he said. “It allows time to process and compare products with those that I may have an opportunity to support. I’m also able to get—and give—feedback about products from the other NFA members.”

Jeremy Sax, director of sales at Interceramic USA, talks tile with O’Krent Floors executives (from left): Margie O’Krent, Sam O’Krent and Jason O’Krent.

The vendor show comes at a time when business is booming for flooring retailers everywhere, with many of them struggling just to keep up with the workload. That’s especially true of NFA dealers who have multiple large stores. And yet, the chance to be face to face with customers for the first time in a year was a big draw. “This is super to be here—we’re seeing a great deal in one afternoon,” said Jason McSwain, president of the NFA and owner of McSwain Carpets & Floors, Cincinnati. “Here you can spend as much time with a vendor as you want.”

Among the new vendors that appreciated the quality time was Fuzion Flooring USA, a Frisco, Texas-based supplier of engineered hardwood, luxury vinyl, composite waterproof flooring and carpet tile. While Fuzion is new to the show, Jason Strong, president, has ties to the NFA. With Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana as its core territories, Fuzion is already doing business with Houston-based Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors and Akin Bros. Flooring of Oklahoma City. “This sets us up nicely because we don’t want to be everywhere,” Strong explained. “If we can connect with four or five [NFA dealers] this time and four or five next time, we’ll be good. This is a select group of retailers who are savvy buyers. You learn a lot of from them.”

New vendor Soft Touch, had the opportunity to discuss its POS and payment systems with potential new customers in the flooring industry. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be here—it gives you insight into where the market is,” said Evan Fytros, CEO.

One vendor that needed no introduction was SLCC, a supplier of hardwood, laminate, WPC and SPC. “Just today we made five or six commitments,” said Jan Luan, owner.

Among NFA members, Flooring 101 has been arguably the most supportive customer for several years. “I bought 10 containers and it sold out; then I bought seven more,” said Jimmy Poulos, president. “Never had one complaint. The looks, colors, everything is great.” Poulos even spent time extolling the features and benefits of Treasure Lakes SPC to fellow NFA dealer T.J. Anderson, owner of Jimmie Lyles Flooring Gallery, Jackson, Miss. The SPC product is distinctive for its ½- inch thickness in a 9-inch x 60-foot format and 20-mil wear layer.

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