Orlando, Fla.—Shaw held its first full-fledged, in-person Shaw Flooring Network (SFN) conference since 2019—and it was one for the record books. At roughly 4,500 guests, including spouses and children of store owners, it marked the highest-ever level of attendance at SFN.
“When we first started this event, someone said this group would get smaller and smaller over time,” said Scott Sandlin, executive vice president, residential, Shaw. “They were wrong; it has only gotten bigger and bigger.”
Digging deeper into the total attendance numbers, Shaw estimated that roughly 970 unique accounts, which translates into well over 2,000 storefronts, were represented here at convention. On top of that, more than 1,000 “virtual attendees” took part in the event’s festivities remotely.
For Shaw, it signaled a return to normalcy. “We’ve had a lot thrown at us over the past few years, but it’s events like this that build us back up again,” Sandlin added. “To me, this is absolutely the best event in the industry. When you leave here you really feel better about the partnerships we have.”
Danny Crutchfield, vice president of SFN, agreed, citing another significant milestone for SFN retailers at the event. Back in 2019, he predicted member dealers would achieve $2 billion in annual purchases of Shaw product. “We have surpassed that number, with members achieving $3 billion in sales,” he announced to attendees. In that same vein, the sales goal set for the convention specifically also broke records. “We set ambitious sales goals here at convention, and we greatly exceeded them,” Crutchfield added.
Moreover, the collective sales revenues of the 1,600-plus SFN members totaled $7B last year, with the SFN work force representing 18,500 employees and 6,000 installation crews.
Independent & United
The theme of this year’s SFN convention, “Independent and United,” which was conceived by members of the Shaw Advisory Council, reflects both the entrepreneurial drive of the members as well as the unified front they represent as some of the top Shaw retailers.
“I’m really proud of our Dealer Advisory Council,” Crutchfield stated. “They really challenged us and inspired us. At Shaw we’re really focused on being customer centric, so we really try to include our customers in everything we do. This is the best event that we do and it’s all for our best customers.”
Sandlin concurred. “The thing I love about this group is their entrepreneurial spirit, especially as we went into the pandemic. I admire their speed, agility and resiliency. They don’t wait around for things to happen.”
For many SFN members, the feeling is mutual. “Shaw has been our strongest partner since the inception of our business,” said Kyal Wilson, CEO of Nampa Floors & Interiors, Nampa, Idaho. “This is due to their embracing a customer-centric model. SFN has only strengthened that bond with the connectivity of our network, which allows for unsurpassed collaboration amongst its dealers.”
And that bond has stood the test of time through different generations. Wilson recalled coming to the SFN conference as a kid, way back when his father ran the day-to-day operations. Nearly two decades later, not only is he running the family business but he’s also a member of the esteemed SFN Dealer Advisory Council. “Shaw is truly a great partner to its retailers,” he said. “They put the retailer first in everything they do.”
Other longtime SFN dealers shared similar experiences. “I’ve grown up going to these events and now I’m taking on a larger role in the family business,” said Josh Detalente, owner of Benny’s Flooring Design Center, Warwick County, Ind.
One of the main attractions at this year’s SFN conference was the sprawling exhibition area that featured Shaw’s key brands. But these were no ordinary exhibits; the entire showroom was modeled after a small town to reflect a local neighborhood feel, according to Dani Brock, director of retail marketing, Shaw Floors. “The Wells Fargo booth looks like a real bank, there’s a ‘pet store’ featuring our pet-proof products and then you have the COREtec smart home,” she explained.
Sam Locher, vice president of business development, A.J. Rose Carpet and Flooring, Burlington, Mass., was quite impressed. “I was blown away by how elaborate and impressive their presentations were — just the overall production of building out a city was outstanding,” he said. “They pulled out all the stops.”
Other dealers in attendance gravitated toward refreshed merchandising programs. “We are very excited about the redesign of the Color Wall,” said Deb DeGraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich. “We have always done well with this display vehicle and cut and loop is our No. 1 selling carpet style. The marrying of those two things should do very well for us.”
Another key point of interest on the show floor was Shaw’s Floor Tech Collective. Here, several of the industry’s top technology providers helped educate dealers on the many digital tools available to help streamline their operations. SFN members got the opportunity to learn about digital marketing solutions from the likes of Mobile Marketing, Roomvo, Promoboxx, QFloors, RFMS and Samplesapp. “We’re here to show retailers the great tools to help their business that they might not be aware of,” said Chris Ogden, director of marketing for QFloors.
NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders kicked off the event by sharing his words of wisdom on teamwork and being prepared. Shaw also released key findings of comprehensive research the company has been doing in the area of consumer psychology and buyer purchasing habits. Mapping the consumer shopping journey has long been a strong area of interest for Shaw and its SFN dealer partners. To that end, the company unveiled “Shop Your Lifestyle, Shop Your Way,” a novel selling system.