FEI Group has entered into a strategic partnership with Nationwide Marketing Group, the independent retail channel’s largest buying, marketing and business support organization. The alliance aims to provide FEI members with an expanded slate of digital tools to enhance their business needs.
The partnership with Nationwide Marketing Group, which supports more than 5,000 independently owned businesses across North America in several industries, includes an equity position in FEI, the flooring industry’s largest network of interior and exterior finish contractors and interior finish showrooms.
“We think it is a great opportunity,” said Graham Howerton, FEI president, adding that FEI spent six months trying to find a “really smart” strategic partner to help the group better compete and succeed in a rapidly changing business environment. “What [Nationwide] is doing with digital platforms, data intelligence and technology is where our members are going to benefit the most. The ability to build out data will accelerate our growth. Our goal will be for everyone across the board to benefit, but there are certain divisions that will have quicker benefits such as KBx and Roofing (Exterior Contractor Alliance). However, we will build it out for everybody.”
Max Holland, FEI COO and president of the Home Solutions division, said the synergies between FEI and Nationwide make this merger so fitting. “They help independent dealers thrive on their own terms just like we do—they just have a larger infrastructure than we do,” Holland explained. “It would take us years and lots of capital to begin to play catch up to where they are now.”
The menu of offerings Nationwide can provide to FEI Group members is vast, according to the organization, and will impact members differently and at their own pace. “One member might benefit from the learning management team, which is really robust—the most comprehensive we have come across,” Holland said. “They also offer a whole suite of back-of-the-office solutions, nearly 100 programs that could certainly be beneficial. The list goes on across all of their different departments.”
FEI said it will phase in the Nationwide programs. “We are going to be methodical and strategic,” Holland explained. “We’re not looking to disrupt the current service our members expect from us now. Our members are really excited by the move.”
Howerton noted that in today’s market, “bigger, faster and more sophisticated contractors compete in multiple markets and across multiple categories. We have to be able to better serve our members and to do that we have to have really good tools.”
CCA Global, which is affiliated with FEI, said it will continue to maintain an investment in the group and provide the same services as it has historically, including rebate processing and contract negotiation and management.