Las Vegas—The NFA vendor show is that rare opportunity for an under-the-radar supplier to spend quality time with one of the premier flooring retailers in the industry. Likewise, the four-hour format allows for the big-name dealer to perhaps uncover a diamond in the rough in a more intimate setting.
With 10 first-time companies among the 41 vendors in attendance at Mandalay Bay, the NFA meeting created the kind of buzz not seen since, well, before the pandemic. “Our vendors brought more people than they’ve ever brought,” Lisa Browning, executive director with the NFA, told Floor Covering News.
Ian Newton, NFA president and general manager of Flooring 101 in Oxnard, Calif., called the event “one of our best turnouts” as it pertains to vendors. “When you have 41 you only have so much time, so we had to be organized,” he stated. “But everybody’s engaged here. This shows the strength of this group.”
NFA dealers pay more than lip service when it comes to exhibiting vendors. In fact, they make it a point to visit with each company in hopes of finding something to fill out a line or perhaps a niche product. “There’s something unique about this format,” said Sam O’Krent, president of O’Krent Floors, San Antonio. “It’s an opportunity to see some companies who you wouldn’t be able to see on the showroom floor of Surfaces. You don’t know what kind of jewel is around the corner until you come here, which is why we talk with everyone.”
Sam Locher, vice president of business development and marketing for A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, with three Massachusetts locations, agreed. “Here we’re trying to find the product that is missing. For example, laminate is something that we don’t have a lot of—compared to LVT, where we have so much we don’t know what to do with it all. So we may find some opportunities with laminate while here.”
Vendors prime the pump
For City of Industry, Calif.-based SLCC Flooring, an SPC provider, the NFA show held a dual purpose—to showcase new products and to introduce its new management team. While Ted Rocha was starting his second week as executive vice president; chief influence officer, Vincent Circosta, was literally starting day 1. In his role, Circosta said he will look to expand the business nationwide through new channels to new and unique users around the country. “Jan [Luan, president] has done an amazing job curating these SPC lines,” he told Floor Covering News.
While not new to the vendor show, Indusparquet returned with a newfound purpose, according to Jodie Doyle, who was recently elevated to president of the company’s U.S. operations. “We’ve been here twice but the truth is we weren’t prepared the first go-round,” he stated. “We didn’t know what they expected from us. So, we came back with a plan for them; we are offering 24 SKUs of exotic hardwoods (Lasting Luxury) that won’t conflict with what we sell through distribution. Lasting Luxury is sold to dealers. This is a good talking point for NFA members. The majority of NFA members don’t want to buy through distribution because they don’t have to—they’re big enough to buy direct.”
The vendor show includes its share of buying, and one of the hot products was something called “My Name is Best,” which is a carpet cushion offered exclusively to Premier Flooring Centers, the heir apparent to Stainmaster Flooring Centers. The cushion—developed by Future Foam’s Mark Foster, director of sales, carpet cushion, and The Dixie Group’s Pami Bhullar, VP of development— was designed to provide more comfort underfoot due to its density and comes with a SpillSafe guarantee.
“Our business has expanded so much since it was launched in July that I have switched the stores to ordering individually for the (five) locations,” said Ashley Young, purchasing specialist, Floor Covering Associates, Shorewood, Ill.
Bhullar noted that My Name is Best, which uses post-consumer content, cuts very easily and can be used with any material.
Foster added, “It checks more boxes and reduces SKUs because we have improved it for other applications.”