35th Anniversary: 35 Women in Flooring

HomeFeatured Post35th Anniversary: 35 Women in Flooring

While the flooring industry has been a “man’s world” for decades, women are rising in the ranks and accomplishing incredible things that have helped move the industry forward. From manufacturing to retail to distribution, we’ve named 35 women in flooring who are at the top of their field and serve as an inspiration to other women looking to break into the industry.

Cheryl Acierno
owner, Acierno & Company

Cheryl Acierno has been engaged in the floor covering industry for her entire career, owning Acierno & Company for the past 21 years. As a Starnet member since 2002, she has served on the board of directors, becoming the first woman ever elected to the board, where she also served as board secretary and was eventually appointed to board chairman.

In addition to the commercial business, which is still the core of the company, Acierno & Company has also established both residential and maintenance divisions. The company has grown from a two-person office to a staff of more than 20. Acierno attributes much of the success of her company to her ability to attract and retain top talent, and the company boasts an exceptional team of dedicated individuals committed to her vision. Up until the pandemic, the company has experienced double-digit growth annually since its inception and expects to finish 2021 at pre-pandemic levels.

Maryanne Adams
president/CEO, Avalon Flooring

With over 30 years of experience in the flooring industry, Maryanne Adams became the president and CEO of Avalon Flooring in 2008. She built Avalon Flooring to be the ninth-largest retailer in the U.S. with her dynamic can-do attitude and loyal employees by her side. As an employee-owned organization, Adams has been instrumental in leading the growth of the company into 17 retail locations across Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

Leading with a culture that focuses on employee’s first and a leadership style focused on not being afraid of change and finding non-typical solutions when issues arise, she has molded Avalon Flooring into what it is today. Adams is devoted to both Avalon Flooring and to mentoring the next generation of leaders within the industry. Within Avalon Flooring, she mentors and nurtures employees to become masters in their roles and primarily fills leadership roles with existing employees. She has become a voice for women and independent retailers alike. In an industry largely populated by males, Adams is a champion for women and an example of fearless leadership.

Betsy Amoroso
senior director, corporate communications, Mannington Mills

Amoroso’s approach to her work is to lead by example, and to do it with a smile. As Mannington Mills’ senior director of corporate communications, she is responsible for public relations as well as internal communications and can be seen wearing several hats at once, including spokesperson, community liaison, event manager, press liaison and speechwriter.

Amoroso joined Mannington in 2002 as public relations manager and, over the years, she has been promoted through a variety of roles—including director of residential marketing—before landing in her current position. During that time, she was instrumental in the initial launch of several product lines and managed Mannington’s Surfaces presence for over eight years. Both personally and professionally she has a passion for helping others and serves on the board of trustees for Meals on Wheels of Salem County, the United Way of Delaware, Stand Up for Salem and has been instrumental in Mannington’s partnership development efforts with Habitat for Humanity and the Gary Sinise R.I.S.E. Foundation.

Maggie Bidlingmaier
president, Performance Solutions, Invista

Hailing from a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Maggie Bidlingmaier took the lessons learned there, added on an economics degree and an MBA, and has been on the move ever since. Major career moves have included a 15-year stint in packaging and the last seven years at Invista.

Initially brought in to rapidly transform the Stainmaster business, Bidlingmaier was immediately struck by the lack of female leadership within the residential flooring market given the dominance of women as the end consumer. She made it her mission to increase diversity of thought among the Stainmaster team, believing it to be key to the brand and the industry’s success. 

Andrea Blackbourn
executive director, FCIF

Helping flooring employees through their darkest days—that is what Andrea Blackbourn focuses on each day. Blessed with an amazing combination of boundless energy, non-profit expertise and limitless passion, she has taken the reins of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation and made a dramatic difference.

Since being appointed as executive director in 2016, she has elevated the organization’s relevance and more than doubled the non-profit’s revenue and impact to individuals through financial assistance grants. Her 17-year career in philanthropy and marketing includes previous roles at United Way. A cancer survivor herself, Blackbourn is especially enthusiastic about FCIF’s mission to help flooring families who are battling catastrophic illnesses, disabilities and injuries.

Lisa Browning
executive director, National Floorcovering Alliance

Browning grew up just outside of Dalton. Her floor covering career started as the credit and claims manager at Interloom Mills located there. Her roles continued to grow from there until, in 2006, Lisa joined the National Floorcovering Alliance as executive director.

“The Flooring Industry today is a ‘relational’ industry and Lisa is the most positive, relational person within the industry with connections to everyone,” said Jason McSwain, NFA president. “Lisa values relationships with the unique gift of fostering friendships within her network going back to day one in her flooring career. One of her greatest professional strengths is the ability to know, acknowledge and make welcome every person in the room. She shares her gift of hospitality equally with new connections and those she has worked with for years.”

Lisbeth Calandrino
FCNews columnist/speaker/business coach

Calandrino’s first business began at age 9, when she delved into her father’s seven furniture and flooring stores and learned valuable business principles at her father’s knee. Since then, her career has been spent learning and living all things floor covering. She was—and continues to be—on the frontline of customer engagements, leveraging flooring industry knowledge with her sales skills. She has created and implemented training programs for independent flooring retailers, distributors, manufacturers and sales reps for the past 50 years, developing programs to help grow their businesses.

As a solopreneur, Calandrino has invested the last 20 years in developing a core philosophy that teaches business owners how to acquire market share, gain a competitive advantage and develop a growth mindset, which views problems as opportunities. All this is designed to build a foundation profitability.

Calandrino is constantly reinventing opportunities for growth in the flooring industry as a chief inspiration officer, motivational speaker, business consultant and sales and customer experience trainer—and she doesn’t see that changing any time soon.

Penny Carnino
director of operations, Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile & Hardwood

Carnino started her flooring career in 1982 working as secretary/receptionist (Girl Friday) at Carpet Showroom for James “Dub” Stover and Sam Roberts.  Stover bought Grigsby’s in 1986 and Carnino went with him. Since then, the company has grown to 28 employees and runs 30 installation crews. Since Dub retired in 2017, Carnino and David Stover have taken over running the business and continue to grow it.

Carnino has also served as the secretary of the NFA for six years and was on the Stainmaster advisory council; she is currently serving on the Dal-Tile Statements advisory council. Next February, Carnino will be with Grigsby’s for 40 years. “Penny manages all facets of our company,” Stover said. “She is honest, hardworking and needs no direction or encouragement. She is an invaluable asset to our company and my most trusted employee.”

Sonia Wedell-Castellano
global brand director, Domotex

As global brand director for Domotex, Wedell-Castellano is responsible for portfolio of shows for the largest floor covering platform in the world. She leads flooring events in Germany, Shanghai, America and Turkey. In September 2018, Wedell-Castellano rose to this position after seven years of successfully overseeing a part of Hannover Messe, the largest industrial transformation trade show in the world.

Wedell-Castellano said her goal for the Domotex brand is to broadly expand its range of products to optimize each attendee’s experience. The best way to do that is by listening to what the market needs through conducting ongoing discussions with key flooring manufacturers and longtime attendees. For the industry’s return to Domotex in January 2022, Wedell-Castellano plans to unveil a new, modern show concept boasting an array of innovative flooring categories and products such as wallpapers and other wall solutions.

Carole Cross
founder/CEO, Mobile Marketing

Originally an engineer by trade, Cross began her career at IBM before transitioning to Dell Computers. While at Dell, Carole’s pioneering work in e-commerce earned her special recognition from the company’s founder. After serving as the director of e-commerce for Ikon Office Solutions, Cross joined Armstrong World Industries, marking the first of her 18 years in the flooring industry.

In 2013, Cross launched Mobile Marketing. Grown organically, she and her team of top professionals have built a company on the cutting edge of all things digital. Today, Mobile Marketing manages digital services and advertising for hundreds of flooring retailers, including members of the NFA and more than 40% of the top 50 flooring retailers in the country. Over the past eight years, the name Mobile Marketing has become synonymous with integrity, innovation and delivering real business results.

Terri Daniels
vice president, PR, social media & communications, CCA Global Partners

Daniels is a creative innovator with more than 30 years of advertising and marketing expertise that fuels her passion for helping family businesses thrive and grow. She leads a team of 12 people who serve as members of Carpet One Floor & Home, Flooring America/Canada, International Design Guild and The Floor Trader.

Daniels started her career in the United States Air Force, proudly serving worldwide in places, including Belgium and Germany. In 1993, she joined Carpet One Floor & Home as one of the company’s first marketing employees. Since then, she has contributed to the multi-decade growth of CCA Global Partners. Additionally, Daniels is the driving force behind Carpet One’s 17-year support of breast cancer research and awareness and most recently helped the women store owners of CCA connect with each other through the creation of Women of CCA group.

Deb DeGraaf
owner, DeGraaf Interiors

Since starting with her dad 25 years ago and as one of the owners of DeGraaf Interiors, Deb DeGraaf has had the opportunity to wear many different hats—from assisting homeowners with product selection to working as a support system for employees.

In 2016, DeGraaf Interiors joined the National Floorcovering Alliance, which has had a great impact on the business through the priceless relationships and best business practices she has been able to learn from and share. She currently serves as the chair of the World Floor Covering Association and most recently on the board for the new Floor Covering Education Foundation.

“This is certainly a very rewarding and exciting initiative that I have been a part of since its inception,” DeGraaf said. “I am proud to say that we are making significant strides in the plans to assist the independent retailer’s challenge with installer shortages. As a female business owner, I feel blessed to work in an industry so focused on relationships and family.”

Cristen Del Bove
director, residential styling, Mannington Mills

With a hands-on approach to design, Del Bove brings a unique flair to everything she does. As director of residential styling at Mannington, she oversees the hardwood and laminate categories—immersing herself in the process from initial research and conceptualizing to product launch. It is not unusual to find her hand-mixing and applying stains to raw wood to find the visual she’s seeking.

For the past 15 years, Del Bove has been a key member of the Mannington design team and is responsible for two of the company’s most successful laminate designs—Historic Oak and Anthology—as well as numerous award-winning hardwood products. She has a keen eye for color, a talent for trend forecasting and a passion for hand woodworking, which is evident in both her personal and professional life.

Emily Kiker Morrow Finkell
CEO, Emily Morrow Home

With 32 years in interior design, color forecasting, product and brand development, Morrow Finkell brings a global perspective to the market with her unique ability to identify key trends and translate them into salable designs—all while building an inspirational narrative and making her an innovation leader in the flooring industry.

In addition to her reputation in the color, design and flooring world, Morrow Finkell is respected as a tireless advocate for women’s leadership as well as mothers and families in need as a 17-year breast cancer survivor herself. She serves on the executive board for the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, is a native resident of Dalton, a mother to two adult children, William and Mary Morrow. She’s married to the love of her life, Don Finkell.

Morrow Finkell considers it an honor to be named one of the Top 35 Women in Flooring—and hopes to inspire other women in the industry to take a leadership role in design and development of flooring and interior products.

Anne Funsten
president, B.R. Funsten

Anne Funsten proudly carries on her family legacy, following her father, Jim Funsten, in leading the B.R. Funsten and Tom Duffy Companies. Founded by her grandfather, the eponymous B.R. Funsten, her business is now one of the top flooring distributors in the Western United States.

Joining the company in 1995 as a sales representative, she served in many positions, including commercial A&D manager and member of the board of directors. By the time she became president and CEO in December of 2014, she built a deep understanding of the company’s daily operations and was the linchpin in developing its long-term plans.

Under her progressive leadership, the company grew stronger and has expanded Tom Duffy to 29 locations across Arizona, Nevada and California. By committing to remain relevant in a competitive market, she has maintained an impressive portfolio of best-in-class supplier partners, while improving efficiencies with technological upgrades and customer experience enhancements.

Terry Pomerleau Gray
senior vice president of marketing, NRF Distributors 

Gray’s career at NRF began as a teenager as a front desk receptionist and customer service agent where she learned key aspects of distribution—most importantly how to treat customers as part of the NRF family. She was promoted to product manager of cushion and then, after only a few years, advanced into her current role as senior vice president of marketing.

Some of her proudest accomplishments include custom-branding 40-plus NRF trucks, implementing a partnership with CCA Global, expanding the company’s cushion footprint and taking a lead role in assisting NRF through COVID-19 safety protocols.

She still strives to keep a work-life balance and is dedicated to serving her local community. Her advice for other women in this industry is to be brave and follow your path.

Susan Hadinger
owner, Hadinger’s

Chris Cosentino, a man who has been in the flooring business for more than 30 years, is happy to tell people he works for a female CEO: Susan Hadinger. “I’ve never met a leader that cares more about her people. Susan joined the family business in 2010 with little knowledge about the flooring industry. Since then, she has worked hard to learn about the business but, more importantly, learn about her employees, ‘The Hadinger Family.’ One of the things I enjoy about her leadership is she is all-inclusive, she works hard to seek advice from everyone before she makes important decisions. Hadinger Flooring has been recognized as one of the Top 50 flooring retailers in the country for many years. We’ve been in Naples for 40 years and, under our current CEO and leadership team, we see nothing but growth and opportunity in our future. We are poised to be a top flooring retailer and will continue to be extremely successful in Naples for another 40 years.”

Mara Villanueva-Heras
vice president of marketing, Emser Tile

Mara Villanueva-Heras has been immersed in the building and construction industry since her start as an interior designer. She first joined a small firm covering both contract and residential design, and then earned her MBA at the University of Michigan and as a marketing professional where she led teams and drove growth at well-respected brands including Armstrong Residential Flooring and CertainTeed.

Her earlier career includes KraftMaid Cabinetry, where she pioneered the development of a breakthrough campaign that elevated brand perception and purchase intent, as well as significant time with Whirlpool Corporation. Now as the vice president of marketing at Emser Tile, Villanueva-Heras is responsible for leading and executing Emser’s brand and marketing strategies nationwide, which has included building the company’s digital team, establishing research initiatives and expanding public relations, advertising and merchandising programs.

Emily Holle
director of trend and design, MSI

Emily Holle has been instrumental in transforming MSI’s design presence while delivering an effective marketing pull strategy. She is focused on enhancing MSI’s product portfolio while meeting current and future product trends. Her design style is felt throughout all of MSI. Holle is also responsible for streamlining MSI showrooms to ensure consistency and placement of new product introductions.

Holle and her team play an integral role adding relevant trend and design content to our website, social media platforms, email marketing, trade show booths and with key customers. Her greatest talent is her ability to reinvent categories by introducing design and quality products appealing to the mass market. She works closely with the company’s product teams to ensure a curated offering of the most on-trend products are brought to market.

Anita Howard

A graduate of Towson University in Towson, Md., Anita Howard joined the flooring industry 20 years ago when she moved to St. Louis. Looking for a part-time job while raising three small children, Howard took a communications position with the National Wood Flooring Association. Little did she know, the flooring industry had big plans for her. Eventually, she would serve NWFA in three capacities: communications director, senior director, communications & events and currently as chief operating officer.

Howard is known for her passion within the wood flooring industry where she helps NWFA members be successful. She is responsible for leading NWFA’s own Women In Industry group and is also instrumental in locating and providing wood flooring for the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. program. To date, she has secured wood flooring and installation services for the homes of 57 veterans and their families, totaling more than $5 million in in-kind donations.

Carrie Edwards Isaac
vice president of strategic accounts, Shaw Residential

While still in college, Edwards Isaac began her career with Shaw as an intern working with the customer service team. Eager to learn every aspect of the industry, she has since worked in design, sales and marketing positions on both the commercial and residential sides of the business throughout her 25-plus years with the company.

Now serving as the vice president of strategic accounts for Shaw Residential, Edwards Isaac has leveraged her broad industry experience to successfully launch Shaw’s premium residential carpet and hardwood brand, Anderson Tuftex; utilize design thinking methodology to launch the Floorigami brand and help Shaw’s customers tap into the growing consumer interest in DIY projects; and help unveil innovative digital marketing tools such as Shaw’s award-winning Floorvana+.

As an advocate for change and growth in our industry, Edwards Isaac embraces diverse perspectives to drive and influence strategies. She is passionate about the consumer and customer experience, working closely with customers to exceed their expectations by providing industry-leading business solutions. She continues to serve as a driving force in the flooring industry, leading Shaw—and its customers—to new heights.

Lori Kisner  &  Barbara Stroup
managing partners, Market Maker Events

women in flooringIn 2016, Lori Kisner and Barbara Stroup set out to change the U.S. regional market landscape by leveraging their combined 70-plus years of event management experience, versatile portfolio management expertise and market launches.

Kisner and Stroup both started their careers in the tradeshow industry in 1986. Based in Atlanta, the all-female team at Market Maker Events has established themselves as leaders in creating and producing hyper-regionalized experiences that connect people to brands, build businesses and leave a lasting impact. Starting with the launch of the Southeast Flooring Market in 2017, the duo quickly identified the need to organize existing individual dealer meetings to give buyers one location and one date period to attend the market. After establishing Atlanta, the MME team launched Dallas and Biloxi in 2019.

The Flooring Markets have continued to move the industry forward by providing convenient locations for dealers and exhibitors to conduct critically needed business in a more focused, intimate setting. Flooring Markets attendees and exhibitors alike have enthusiastically embraced the regional markets due to minimal travel, complimentary registrations, access to both regional reps and top management, manageable event size and exciting networking events and giveaways.

Nina LoCicero
vice president of marketing and digital commerce, Shaw

women in flooringWith more than 25 years of marketing experience across a variety of industries (both B2B and B2C), LoCicero brings a fresh perspective to the flooring industry in her new role as vice president of marketing and digital commerce for Shaw. Since joining Shaw in April, she immediately made her mark on the company and its residential brand strategy by challenging assumptions and amplifying digital marketing efforts. Her adept ability to identify top talent has already strengthened Shaw’s residential marketing team, bringing in more diverse and innovative leaders to collaborate and drive change.

LoCicero is currently spearheading a bold brand transformation in support of Shaw’s specialty retail customers, empowering her new team to think beyond the status quo to create an elevated consumer shopping experience. She is future focused and believes in a holistic approach to marketing that captures and inspires consumers in the digital space, cultivating leads and, ultimately, driving traffic in-store where consistent messaging helps retailers close the sale. Above all, she wants to win—and she knows that Shaw wins when its customers are successful and prosperous.

Terry Marchetta
senior director, residential styling, Mannington Mills

women in flooringTerry Marchetta has always possessed natural artistic talent and an eye for style—traits that make her perfectly suited for her role as senior director of residential styling at Mannington Mills. In 1998, Marchetta came to Mannington where she was initially hired as a sheet vinyl designer but moved up quickly through the ranks to her current role where she leads the design team responsible for all of Mannington’s residential hard surface categories. In fact, Marchetta was instrumental in the initial launch of Adura as the principal designer for the category.

Her passion for her work inspires designs that have won dozens of awards over the years, including the Surfaces 2020 “Best of Show” trophy for style and design. She was also named to FCNews’ “10 People Making A Difference” in 2019.  Marchetta has remarkable talent, vision and insight but relies equally on customer feedback and market research to balance out each year’s introductions. It’s a winning formula that is evident in the success of the Mannington product line.

Ann McDermott
vice president of national accounts, Shaw Residential

women in flooringAnn McDermott is a true trailblazer for women in the flooring industry. When she first began her career at Shaw 40 years ago as an intern in the financial services department, the flooring industry looked quite different—few women worked in sales, let alone held leadership positions. She quickly became determined to serve in a sales leadership position herself. Since then, she has held a variety of roles across the company before assuming her current position as vice president of national accounts for Shaw Residential.

McDermott has shattered the glass ceiling and paved the way for future generations of women to excel in prominent roles across the flooring industry. Passionate about mentoring and empowering other women at Shaw, she helped establish the Women’s Innovation Network (WiN), an associate resource group dedicated to helping women drive successful careers and achieve their desired work-life balance. She believes the sky’s the limit for women in flooring, and she’s committed to laying the foundation for others to follow in her footsteps.

Donna Mudd
president, Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring

women in flooringWith a master’s degree in early childhood, Donna Mudd left teaching when she and her husband, Jim, went into business with Sam and Pat Kinnaird 32 years ago. She always comments that “Mudd Flooring” just didn’t have a good ring to it, so that is why it was aptly named Sam Kinnaird Flooring. (The name Sam Kinnaird has been “the name in flooring” for more than 50 years.) Mudd currently oversees the advertising, buying, sales and marketing for the company. Under her leadership, the business has weathered many unprecedented events, including 9/11, the 2008 recession and a global pandemic.

Mudd has also been a member of the National Floorcovering Alliance since 1994 where she chaired the rug committee for 12 years and attends all board meetings. She was also on the WFCA board from 2008-2011.

Kelly Oberschlake
vice president of national accounts, Mohawk

women in flooringWith over 23 years of industry experience, Kelly Oberschlake has held various positions within Mohawk, including director of sales operations, where her sales forecasting skills and strategic growth plans were recognized and she quickly moved up the ladder to become senior director of residential sales, managing sales, communications and relationships for Mohawk’s partnership with Lowe’s.

She was recently promoted to her current position, leading national programs and customer relations where her managerial and liaison expertise is highly valued. Oberschlake has been honored with prestigious awards such as vendor of the year and partner of the year.

Kimberly Oderkirk
president, Association Services Stellar Events, CFI

women in flooringKimberly Oderkirk, the owner of Association Services Stellar Events, has 30 years of experience in event and construction education management. She started out managing associations in the Detroit market, representing the American Subcontractors Association and the Walls and Ceiling Association, followed by more than 20 years managing the nationwide Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA). She created magazines for both FCICA and CFI and continues to be the senior editor for Flooring Specialist.

Nowadays, nothing holds her back from new opportunities to foster growth and education. While still managing events like CFI’s 2021 Convention, she has also recently launched an online trade school (pdr.academy) and is starting a nonprofit (Connections2Careers) to match candidates to careers in the trades.

Allison Rea
vice president of marketing, FEI Group

women in flooringAllison Rea joined FEI Group nearly 20 years ago and today specializes in brand building and strategy, website strategy and development, search engine optimization, email marketing, business development and more.

She is being recognized as one of the Top 35 Women in Flooring as a result of her commitment, dedication and selflessness. Rea has been an invaluable resource, guide and sounding board for the FEI Group membership over the course of her career. Her willingness to learn, adapt readily to change and devotion to her teammates helped her carve a unique path in this industry. She is truly an example for young women entering the flooring industry now.

Olga Robertson
president, FCA Network

women in flooringOlga Robertson, the only female president of a retail buying group in the industry, has been with FCA Network since its inception in 1998. She has a reputation as one of the toughest negotiators in the industry, advocating for her members on all things. For the group, Robertson is steadfast in her belief that the Network helps support her retail members through extraordinary buying power, partnership and individualized branding.

Over the past 20 years, she has helped push FCA Network into the future with programs such as new marketing and hiring campaigns focused on drawing younger entrepreneurs into the business, growing the groups membership and much more. Robertson’s influence reaches far and wide, and in 2020 she was named Chicago Floor Covering Association’s Person of the Year at its annual Presidential Ball in January.

Paij Thorn-Brooks
vice president of marketing, Daltile

women in flooringPaij Thorn-Brooks has been a key driving force behind the success of Mohawk Industries and Dal-Tile Corp. for more than 20 years. It’s not an overstatement to say she is one of the most well-respected marketing talents in the flooring industry. Today, she leads all marketing initiatives from online to in-store, for each of the company’s many brands.

Throughout her career, Thorn-Brooks has always been an innovator and a trailblazer. Her vision, approach, plans, methods and programs have always stayed ahead of the curve. She brings a rare and valued combination of creative, operational, strategic and financial acumen while always keeping customers at the forefront of each directional move. Her professional talents are magnified by her genuine concern for others and the way in which she mentors, motivates and inspires those around her. Her passion, effectiveness and spirit of innovation not only benefit the company, but the entire flooring industry.

Ann Wicander
president, WE Cork

women in flooringAnn Wicander represents the fifth generation of her family in the cork industry. Her foray into the flooring industry started at 9; sticking cork samples on boards for a marketing piece for extra spending money. She worked for the company throughout her high school and college years but never thought it would be a career path.

After three years working for a pharmaceutical distributor, in sales, her father offered her a job marketing WE Cork Underlayment in the West Coast in 1990. From there, she quickly rose through the ranks, taking on positions ranging from marketing manager to territory manager to sales manager to president, her current title. During her 31-year tenure, the flooring business grew to adopt new technologies and visuals that appealed to a wide audience. Embracing new technology helped grow the business not just in the product development but also office management. Throughout these years, her passion for cork never wavered and combined with persistency, has paved her road to success.

Lindsey Waldrep
vice president of marketing, Crossville

women in flooringSandy Jones, product launch manager, Crossville, summarized her experience working with Lindsey Waldrep. “In working with Lindsey the last 10 years, she has been an inspiration to strive to be the best you can be. She is encouraging to the entire team. She gives us opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. As a fellow woman in the tile industry, she gives us the courage to stand up and be heard in a male dominated industry. She has taught us how to do this respectfully, but in a way we are respected for our opinions in return. Lindsey instills in us the need to become experts in our fields so we can express our knowledge with confidence. I am proud to call her my teammate, my boss and, most of all, my friend.”

Kaye Whitener
director of operations, FCEF

women in flooringWhitener has early childhood memories playing hide and seek among the carpet rolls in her dad’s warehouse. She grew up in the floor covering industry developing both a strong commercial background and highly successful retail career prior to joining the WFCA. As a female, it’s not always easy working in this industry; however, with applied determination (and her mother’s stubbornness) she has developed a successful career that continues to teach her new lessons after 38 years.

Kaye was the first employee the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) hired and is an invaluable asset to its work developing pathways for a new generation to enter this industry. Her passion and drive for the foundation’s mission are truly what is needed to make a difference.

Candince Zhu
CEO/owner, Create Flooring

women in flooringCandince Zhu came to the U.S. from China in 2009, at the age of 24, and started selling from one container of flooring that her parents shipped over. She did not know anyone in the U.S. and just picked up the phone and started calling people in Georgia.

Slowly she expanded her floor covering offerings and customer base over the years and began bringing more and more inventory to her warehouse. Her road to success was not easy but she has jumped all the hurdles put before her and is now looking to expand into her third distribution center in the U.S. Zhu is described by her associates as a great person to work with, and she has helped so many of her own customers get their businesses off the ground when no one else would.

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