Dealers descend on NRF Distributors market

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NRF Distributors
Now in its fourth generation, NRF Distributors is well positioned for the future with key family members Jonathan Stred and Danielle Gray playing key roles.

Ledyard, Conn.—It has been billed as “the Surfaces of the Northeast,” and for many retailers located in New England, upstate New York and parts of Pennsylvania, NRF Distributors’ New England Flooring Market (NEFM) is indeed their signature flooring event of the season.

This year, more than 250 dealers converged on Foxwoods Resort Casino here to shop for great deals, earn casino chips and cash along the way. The mood was celebratory and flooring retailers said they were happy to be together again. “We come down here religiously every year—this is our big show,” said Timmy Garnham, manager at Carter Mountain Flooring and Design, Meredith, N.H., echoing a refrain shared by many of his fellow retailers.

The 11-hour trade show included food, games, prizes and, of course, plenty of networking and buying opportunities. As Garnham noted, “We know who wants a deal and we’re here to try and build up inventory. A lot of what we do is look for deals and, of course, catch up with old friends.”

Fellowship certainly permeated the large showroom floor as NRF members reconnected since their last meeting and shared best practices. “I’ve been coming to this show for 20-plus years and love everything that NRF has to offer,” said Joe Gagne, owner of Ballston Carpet & Tile, Ballston Spa, N.Y. “No. 1 is I love NRF’s service and their wide variety of products. Of course, I look for the specials when I come here, too.”

Ditto for Jorge Morgado, partner/president of sales, Allied Flooring & Paint, Agawam, Mass., who agreed that service is a differentiator for this top 20 distributor. “NRF cares about the customer,” he said. “I know because I used to call on them when I was with Tarkett. They are all about service, which is what Norman [Pomerleau, founder] has always preached. It’s not always easy delivering to a customer five days a week but they do it, and they make it look easy.”

Providing excellent service also means having your customers’ backs in the event a claim or dispute arises. In his ascent from a small dealer spending $4,000 a year with NRF to spending over $1 million for the past three years, Sanford Flooring owner, Jason St. Jean, said he has never lost sight of the importance of doing what’s right.

“I’ve eaten jobs even when there were gray areas,” the San- ford, Maine-based specialty retailer told Floor Covering News. “Doing what’s right—even when it hurts—is the way to go about it because in the end you’ll get it back tenfold. This is a lesson that NRF and Norman have also taught me.”

St. Jean, who like NRF runs a family-owned business, said he appreciates the legacy Norman Pomerleau created 51 years ago. “To this day I can call Nor- man’s line and he will answer the phone. There is not a single man- ufacturer or distributor out there who I can call and have a direct line with the president or CEO. I don’t look at our relationship with NRF as buying from them. I consider it a partnership. I like to do business with people I like.”

Four generations strong

In an age when many of the major flooring distributors are being acquired or tapping into private equity money, NRF is something of an outlier. The Augusta, Maine, distributor is now in its fourth generation, with 15 family members working in the business. “We’re very proud of our family legacy,” said Jonathan Stred, vice president of corporate strategy and the oldest grandson of Pomerleau. “How many businesses get to the fourth generation? Less than 4%? We’re in our 51st year, which is a long time for a business.”

Vendor showcase

Industry leaders including Amer- ican Olean/Marazzi, Del Conca, Fusion, Hallmark, Lauzon, LX Hausys, Maine Traditions, Ma- pei, Nextfloor, Proma, Quick- step, Revolution Mills, Schluter, SLCC Flooring, Tarkett, United Surfaces and Venture show- cased their latest products and services at the spring meeting. Tarkett, which had a major pres- ence showcasing both hard and soft surface offerings, also spon- sored a reception the evening be- fore the show. American Olean/Marazzi and Tarkett each gave away a trip for two to Aruba in 2025 as NRF is planning another group trip there next year.

New NRF Distributor vendor SLCC Flooring showed Painted Sky, its popular SPC line. Boasting 7mm overall thickness, each plank of Painted Sky is meticulously crafted to replicate the texture and grain of real hardwood, giv- ing the floors an authentic look and feel. “We showed at Turning Stone [NRF’s fall meeting] as a test and received overwhelming support,” said Vincent Circosta, chief influence officer.

Also drawing interest was a digital print line from NRF Select by United Surfaces, the Chatsworth, Ga., private-label company that is among the first U.S. manufacturers of SPC to produce leading digitally printed and digitally embossed SPC flooring products.

Retailers including Andy Brousseau, owner of Brousseau’s Flooring, Sturbridge, Mass., took interest in some of the new of- ferings in the NRF Select space. “I usually come here with a shopping list, and LVP/SPC is at the top of my list this year,” Brousseau said. “We look at ev- erything here but basically, we look for what’s new. You have to be up to date in this business, otherwise you fall behind. Fortunately, this show has plenty of new products.”

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March 25/April 1, 2024

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