Nashville—After a pandemic-induced hiatus, several postponements and years of planning, Mohawk finally kicked off its much-anticipated Mohawk Edge Summit 2023 here. The event drew more than 400 attendees, including some of the company’s top retailer partners.
The theme of Edge Summit 2022, “Ignite Your Edge,” reflects Mohawk’s commitment to give its retailer partners the tools and support they need to succeed in today’s changing retail environment. “This year’s focus is about sparking a Retail Renaissance,” said Jeff Lorberbaum, Mohawk chairman and CEO, in his opening remarks to attendees. “The [historical] Renaissance was an exciting time—a time when people rediscovered the best ideas of the past and made important discoveries about the future. For you, the Retail Renaissance means having an even greater impact on your customer before she even enters the store, and a more powerful impression when she arrives in your store. As the best retailers, you are the perfect partners to optimize new sales technologies, introduce new and innovative products and re-energize the selling process. We’re going to give you all the tools you need to help you succeed.”
Paul De Cock, president of Mohawk Flooring, North America, echoed Lorberbaum’s sentiments in his address to Edge Summit attendees. “Today’s consumers have found new ways to shop,” he said. “While we know more consumers are doing more research and shopping online, we are also seeing more and more new retail sales connected to brick-and-mortar stores. They want to work with knowledgeable salespeople and they seek a purposeful in-store experience. In store and online co-exist in the consumer’s mind, and we must be able to capitalize on that to win.”
One way Mohawk plans to do that is by investing in its suite of digital tools and lead-generation programs—areas where its retailer parts said they needed more assistance. “The last couple of years has changed the way we do business,” Kelli Widdifield, senior vice president of marketing, told attendees. “We listened to you loud and clear. You wanted ways to drive more leads to your store. Mohawk is investing in all our digital platforms, and we’ve also revamped Mohawk Today. On the whole, we’re focusing on making it easier to do business with Mohawk.”
Well worth the trip
Flooring retailers who descended upon Nashville for the Mohawk Edge Summit 2023 were not disappointed. Case in point is Gavin Danks, owner of Auckland-based Carpet Court New Zealand. He flew 19 hours from Auckland to New York, and then drove to Nashville, visiting flooring retailers along the way.
“For us in New Zealand, we are an island in the bottom of the Pacific, stuck in our little bubble,” Danks explained. “America has massive competition, and it flows through with innovation. That’s why I am here. We’re trying to stand out from the pack. Selling sameness is not for us. We appreciate the opportunity that presents itself in the U.S.—at the Edge Summit.”
For many, it was just good to be back rubbing elbows with fellow retailers again. “In-person events are always going to be the most impactful way for manufacturers to connect with their dealers, whether it is showing products or conducting new training,” said Deb DeGraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich. “It was great seeing and networking with many retailer friends I had not seen in quite some time.”
Other Edge dealers like Craig Phillips, president of The Flooring Edge, Akron, Ohio, agreed. “The Edge Summit was a huge success,” he said. “I was most impressed with the unbelievable sense of optimism from my fellow dealers about the future, even the near-term difficulties we all may face didn’t really dampen the spirits of the dealer base. The breakout sessions really hit key topics, too.”
DeWayne Childress, who co-owns Trendsetters Flooring & Countertops in Forth Worth, Texas, with his wife, Melony, said he was happy to be back at the Edge Summit as well. Not only did the event give him the opportunity to learn from like-minded retailers, but he also came to learn more about new ways to market digitally to a wider audience. He found the session about the revamping of Mohawk Today—a B2B portal where dealers can facilitate a host of essential daily tasks—very intriguing.
Retailer attendees also got a first-hand look at, among other things, the revamped Edge partner program, new digital marketing initiatives and an education curriculum focused on today’s retail needs.
“The educational seminars are very beneficial to us,” said Bruce Kautzman, owner of Carpet World Fargo, North Dakota. “Anytime you can get away and come home recharged, it’s good for you and the business. All in all, I’m glad we took the time to come down from Fargo to be here. Just to spend time with other retailers and learn about their experiences—and that we’re not alone—is great.”
Cathy Buchanan, co-owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich., concurred. “The Mohawk Edge Summit was a great networking opportunity and gave us a sneak peek into the new introductions. There was a great energy from Mohawk and the participants, and as for the Edge partner program, the partnership is now easier to understand and has a reachable goal.”
Patrick Smith, co-owner of Gallagher’s Flooring, Grand Junction, Colo., found useful nuggets from the Edge Summit to take back to his business. “Specifically, we’re looking to lay out our showroom in a more customer-friendly way, as our objective is to be the go-to store in our community. That ‘immersive experience’ that was discussed here is the future of retailing, and no one in our community is doing that.”
Beyond all the new products, programs and updates, many Edge dealers tout the partnership they enjoy with Mohawk. “I believe Mohawk is positioning themselves for growth with their retail partners,” DeGraaf stated. Ditto for Richard Akel, owner of Akel’s Carpet One in Little Rock, Ark. “The Mohawk team is awesome,” he said. “I work with every division of Mohawk, and I think they are the best vendor we work with by far. Their communication level with their retailers is absolutely superior to any of the vendors for me. They are great partners.”
(Look for more coverage of the Edge Summit 2023 in future editions of FCNews.)