With the 2022 Mohawk Edge Summit just six months away, members of the vaunted Mohawk Edge Advisory Council are gearing up for what promises to be an exciting event focused on education, shared best practices, networking opportunities and, of course, new product and program rollouts. Anticipation is particularly high given the event was twice postponed due to the pandemic.
“Our company’s leadership is really looking forward to getting back to convention later this year,” said Craig Phillips, president and CEO, Barrington Carpet, Twinsburg, Ohio, and the longest tenured Mohawk Edge Advisory Council member. “[The Edge Summit] convention checks all the boxes on so many things for us. The opportunity to meet with Mohawk leadership, see new product introductions and preview new marketing program initiatives get us all excited to kick off the next year. The convention has always left me with a feeling of renewed excitement for our industry and our business.”
Others, including Ray Daya, principal/general manager of the Westvalley Group of Companies, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and a six-year Edge Council member, agreed. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to get together to see all of the changes and product innovation that Mohawk is bringing to the market,” he told FCNews. “The presentations are always informative and entertaining but even more so, I look forward to the extraordinary and interesting perspectives that are presented as a part of the Edge conference. It’s interesting to not only see what’s new, but also to objectively review what has changed and how it has progressed over the past year.”
The fact that Mohawk Edge Advisory Council members are often consulted on many of the programs and products that ultimately become part and parcel of the Edge Summit experience is a big plus. “Mohawk, with input from the council, is working to strengthen the Edge Program,” Phillips said. “Edge has helped our business tremendously and its tiered approach gives dealers the incentive to grow their business with Mohawk.”
As an Edge Premier Dealer (the highest tier of Edge), Barrington Carpet has found tremendous value in several key components of Edge. “The customer service solutionist that helps us secure product, enhanced financing rates, priority placement online and priority claims resolution come to mind as the Edge Premier Program benefits that have greatly helped our business,” Phillips added.
For Westvalley Group’s Daya, it’s all about providing dealers with the guidance, tools and knowledge to help them better adapt in an evolving retail environment. “Change, or the lack thereof, is so often associated with stagnation and impeded development,” he explained. “We work in an industry where it is far easier to discuss change than it is to implement it. Mohawk does an excellent job of recognizing this. Edge Council members come from a tremendously diversified background varying in size, market segment specialization and location count. The culmination of these variables and experience creates a synergy that is highly focused but, more importantly, representational, genuine and authentic.”
Even Edge Advisory Council newcomers like Brett Bentz, owner of Pennsylvania-based Harrisburg Wall & Floor, attested to the role that Mohawk retailers—even the mid-sized dealers—play in the ongoing evolution of Edge. “My goal is to make sure all dealers that are investing in Mohawk see benefits of being an Edge dealer,” he stated. “For the business that runs a multi-store operation, they might take a different road on how to be successful with Edge. For example, how do you take a smaller Edge partner that wants to grow larger and make the same program work for them? That’s what I’m focused on.”
Meeting of the minds
Some of these issues and more were open for discussion during a special Edge Advisory Council meeting held in late June. Here, several council members—along with key Mohawk executives—convened to discuss business strategies, program development and other issues of importance to flooring retailers today. Attendees included: Phillips, Daya and Bentz as well as Tom Heffner (About All Floors), Todd Stephens (Dalton Wholesale Floors), Tommy Hughes (Kelly’s Carpet), Sonja Betts (Early’s Carpet) and Aaron Johnson (Johnson & Sons Contractors).
Beyond the core agenda, the meeting was significant in that it was the first time Edge Council members assembled in person since the start of the pandemic. “While we have met remotely over the last couple of years during the pandemic, nothing can replace face-to-face interactions,” Barrington Carpet’s Phillips stated. “People have come and gone from the council during my years, but those relationships developed during council meetings have remained strong between us. I am honored to be included in this group of some of our industry’s best retailers.”
Westvalley Group’s Daya concurred. “There is no substitution for face-to-face contact,” he said. “Edge Council meetings host some of the most dynamic individuals in the flooring industry. There is a tremendous synergy in the room and the ability to reconnect and participate in the exchange of ideas and information is a wonderful experience.”
It’s that sense of camaraderie, partnership and purpose that Mohawk executives value most. “This council is very special to Mohawk; everything Mohawk does is done with our retail partners in mind,” said Angela Duke, senior director of residential marketing, Mohawk. “Mohawk wants to set the standard for what it means to be a good business partner, and it depends on the feedback of the Edge Council to shape the future of partnership together. Since the last meeting, we experienced a global pandemic, market shifts, industry changes and supply chain disruptions leading to numerous price increases. Throughout it all, Mohawk has helped its retail partners not only survive but thrive in uncertain times.”
Updates to Edge
Over the last couple of years, Mohawk has made significant investments in support of the success of its retail partners. This includes investments in both manufacturing capacity and personnel in the form of professional sales representatives. “Mohawk is making these investments to simplify how retailers do business with us, and that was the focus of the Edge Council meeting,” Duke said. “Mohawk continues to invest in its specialty retailer programs (Omnify, Neighborhood Ad Manager and Five Star) to help retailers with their business operations.”
During the meeting, the Mohawk team reviewed these important updates with the council and solicited feedback. “One of the agenda items that I look forward to the most when we meet is the dealer roundtable,” Phillips noted. “The roundtable gives us the opportunity to bring a list of priorities to Mohawk leadership. We sit together without any Mohawk personnel in the room to discuss pain points and opportunities to improve the dealer experience with Mohawk. We then meet back with leadership to go over our priorities. While not always giving us everything we ask for, Mohawk has made many changes through the years that help to make the dealer/manufacturer relationship better. Mohawk listens, they understand and they look to constantly improve the independent dealer’s experience with their company.”
Having direct access to high-level executives at Mohawk is alone worth the time and expense, members say. “Edge Council has given me the opportunity to meet and discuss real issues and challenges that flooring dealers have with Mohawk’s senior leadership,” Phillips added. “Mohawk is committed to independent retailers, and it has never been more clear than now. It starts at the top; Paul DeCock attends our meetings, listens and gives his insight to help make me a better flooring dealer.”
Harrisburg Wall & Floor’s Bentz—although fairly new to the council—also said he sees the benefits. “We had three days of listening, analyzing programs and looking at new products and ideas,” he said. “One thing I learned is Mohawk took the supply chain issue very seriously and has taken great steps on improving the situation. Some of this is with new, state-of-the-art equipment. It was a very productive meeting.”
(Look for more on this story in an upcoming edition of FCNews.)