America’s Floor Source (AFS), one of the largest flooring retailers in the U.S., has purchased the assets of C&S Flooring Group, one of the largest e-commerce flooring businesses in the country through the websites flooringmarket.com and floorlife.com. The move vaults AFS into a channel in which it had not been significantly participating.
Jason Goldberg, founder, chairman and COO of AFS, explained the decision. “First and foremost, this fills a void that is a very important channel for our business,” he told Floor Covering News. “If you look to the future, e-commerce is a way consumers want to do business, and we did not have a strong e-commerce business.”
Despite launching a site three or four years ago, Goldberg said AFS was lucky to do a couple hundred thousand dollars of e-commerce business a year. Now he has a goal of doing $100 million from this channel in five years. “We simply don’t understand that business,” he said. “That’s all they do. That expertise combined with what we do is the magic formula for success.”
What exactly does America’s Floor Source “do”? It has the logistics, 550,000 square feet of warehousing across its network, relationships, buying power and strong marketing abilities, according to Goldberg. “One of the important things about e-commerce is having inventory and filling orders, so it’s just a natural fit for us,” he said. “On the other hand, C&S was looking for a way to grow its business but had neither the capital, facility setup nor relationships we have. We bring a lot to the table, and they bring a lot to the table.”
C&S, based in Rochelle, Ill., is owned by Robert Sandlin and Roxanne Charnock, who together started the business 18 years ago. Her children, Lance Charnock and Brandi Johnson, also have equity now. Johnson manages flooringmarket.com, which focuses on the everyday consumer, and Lance Charnock oversees floorlife.com, which focuses exclusively on the pro. Flooringmarket.com sells everything except for tile, stone and the related installation systems, which is available on floorlife.com. The floorlife.com site also sells hardscape, waterproofing membranes, steam showers, swimming pool applications and more.
Michel Vermette, CEO of AFS, noted that many of the top retailers in the country have expanded into e-commerce. “When I joined AFS, Jason and I agreed that if we were going to do this well, we needed to have a dedicated team. So as part of our scoping and looking at different acquisitions, we were fortunate enough to come across the C&S team. Their task within our business will be to drive this effort in e-commerce because this is how many consumers want to buy.”
Vermette said there is significant demand on the pro side as well. “That’s one thing that Lance does, where DIYers, renovators, professional installers want to buy goods directly, and we can provide the whole suite of products and expertise. That’s another thing C&S does very well; they not only provide product but they also provide expertise on how to make the project happen.”
C&S will also see their offering grow as a result of the AFS purchase. To date C&S was doing business with a limited number of brands. “We’re going to sit down with the team and see what makes sense,” Vermette said. “There are certain things the team would like to add that we have access to, and we’ll have conversations with those manufacturers.” At the same time, he said there will be some curation. “Personally, I believe less is more in a lot of cases. So, there are some brands that we’ll put more effort to and some a little less to. And we will push those to the marketplace so we can really cater to our customers.”
C&S should also see an influx of new customers based simply on AFS’ marketing strength. To this point, the consumer found C&S either organically through search engine optimization or through Google ads. Vermette said AFS will be enhancing that marketing through its dedicated team with increased spend along with other avenues.
“I think we bring the financial wherewithal to make some investments moving forward,” Vermette said. “And with our footprint and logistics, I think we can leverage our network, get from point A to point B easier, faster, more efficiently, and leverage some other relationships to get the product to the consumer.”
Goldberg summed it up: “What we are building at AFS is participation in every channel and doing every channel well. Now with e-commerce, it completes a foundation that we can continue building from to achieve our long-term goals. We are going to be tough to beat.”