Scottsdale, Ariz.—“Network Rising” was the theme of FCA Network’s 25th annual convention here last month, and while a quarter-century in business is certainly worth celebrating, much of the focus was about being a force for change today and in the future.
With five new members, FCA Network continues to add more quality flooring dealers to the fold. The newcomers—Graham’s Flooring & Design – Andrea O’Connell; Palouse Floor & Carpet Cleaning – Dan Fitzgerald; Salina Appliance & Flooring – Brett Reed; Deco Flooring – James and Claudia Covian; and CJ’s Wholesale Flooring – Chris and Joan Hopkins—were welcomed on stage during the opening general session and presented with certificates.
The meeting included more than 75% of membership, the most in convention history. “I’m thrilled with the response from the members—they are so engaged and ready to do business,” Olga Robertson, FCA Network president, told Floor Covering News. “In many ways it was a better meeting than our 20th. This was so productive. I didn’t want members to miss out because we have so many new things to introduce. And the vendors were prepared. We had some great new introductions. It helps the whole process when you have great products.”
Core vendors including Mohawk, Shaw and Engineered Floors offered new flooring products to FCA Network members, while software vendors such as FloorZap and Roomvo showcased their latest digital tools to help retailers organize and streamline their business and offer room visualization capabilities, respectively.
Retailers speak out
First-year retail members said the convention exceeded their expectations on several fronts. As Brett Reed, owner of Salina Appliance & Flooring, Salina, Kan., observed: “My initial hope upon joining is to learn from the people who have the experience—learn from their mistakes and their victories. You get unique perspectives from people who have been doing it a long time. Retailers are fighting a lot of the same battles, and yet they are willing to help and answer your questions.”
Sean Dinius, owner of Palouse Floor & Carpet Cleaning, Pullman, Wash., said the experience of being among peers was invaluable for a small business like his. “We were a carpet cleaning company for four years and are now a flooring retailer,” he said. “Being here has been a big boost for our business. Olga and her team have helped us get on our feet and choose products that are going to be best sellers.”
James Covian, owner of Deco Flooring, Austin, Texas, spoke to original member Bill Graybeal of Graybeal’s Carpet Plus, Logansport, Ind., about the value of being an FCA member. “Bill told me it was the best decision of his life to join FCA, and so I am looking forward to a long career with the group,” Covian said. “What I have noticed is members are eager to share their wisdom with you. It’s exciting to be here.”
For Chris Friest, president and CEO of The Floor Doctors, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the ability to network with like-minded retailers and share business practices won him over. “I met with dealers from Ohio, Kansas, Indiana and other places; each has their own story. They shared their highs and lows. We shared ideas about growth and overcoming stagnation and more. In the end, we will return to Iowa with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement to continue growing and being the best we can be.”
FCA Network’s 25th anniversary convention was punctuated by several standout sessions and presentations. Keynote speaker Elizabeth Hurley, vice president of retail and national accounts for Shaw Industries, encouraged FCA Network retailers to be a force for change in their communities at a time when change is occurring more rapidly than ever. “How do we make the changes ourselves, so we don’t become obsolete?” she asked members. “We should embrace change and understand you are part of the change. How can you make a difference?”
Conversely, failure to change, or to change too slowly, is not an option. As an example she cited Nokia, which at one point was the leading supplier of phones. Unfortunately, she said, Nokia never kept pace with changing technology and trends. Despite knowing that there was more demand for software than hardware, Nokia stuck to their old ways and didn’t adapt to the changing environment. When Nokia eventually did realize their mistake, it was a little too late because people moved on to Android and Apple’s iPhone.
Hurley also urged Network members to stay ahead with artificial intelligence, noting that 37% of organizations have implemented the technology in some form or another. Dealers, she said, can leverage AI to improve lead generation, provide better inventory planning and communications.
Then there was the timely breakout session focused on shop at home retailing—a format that gained steam during the pandemic. During this educational session, three retailers (Matt Bliemeister from Cincinnati, Don Lovato from Albuquerque, N.M., and Buddy Mitchell from Denver) shared their best practices and approaches to building successful enterprises via mobile showrooms.