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Sika USA's Mike Croes on the Opportunities of a Manufacturer Selling to Distributors

Posted By NAFCD, Friday, November 10, 2017

Mike Croes, Sika USA's Vice President of Sales for Interior Finishing, sees the floor coverings industry as a business of both challenges and opportunities. He has been with Sika since 2005, having previously served as the company's Western District Manager for Interior Finishing. Sika manufactures and sells to distributors flooring installation supplies and accessories -- a real growth area for NAFCD. Croes' segment services the industry with self-leveling underlayments, moisture mitigation products, and wood flooring adhesives.

One of the biggest challenges of the moment that he sees is "fast-paced, design-built construction." Croes explains, "We have large projects with tight time frames. This challenges products to 'set' faster, manufacturers to react faster, and distribution to service faster." Such projects are becoming increasingly plentiful in the larger U.S. cities. For sure, he added, "I see the greatest opportunity in the major cities. They are growing in population and in the volume of homes being built."

With the pace accelerating and the competition intensifying, Croes says this is where a company like Sika USA really tries to set itself apart from the competition. "The Sika approach to the market is focusing on projects and being an extension of the distribution sales team," he said. "Sika manufactures projects for many phases of the building, such as: roofing, window fenestrations, waterproofing, insulation, air barriers, joint sealants, and coatings just to name a few. This level of exposure allows the flooring contractors to use a manufacturer that the general contractors and architects can trust."

From Croes' vantage point, he is able to offer an experienced perspective on the current state of manufacturer-distributor relations. "This needs to be a partnership," he stated. "Distributors want to sell products that fit best into their business model, and we need to align our products to distributors that service the markets where our products are being used or can be used."

He is also able to remark on the benefits and importance of continued innovation in the industry. The real buzzword going around the business now is "efficiency." He commented, "We have launched a new line of self-leveling and prep products this year, and the goal was efficiency. We now have a line of products that allow floor covering to be installed faster, and a movement to take products that are traditionally installed on your hands and knees that can now be installed standing up."

He and Sika also see the value in industry representation, which is why the company became a member of NAFCD in recent years and why Croes will be joining the association's Board of Directors for 2018. Earlier this year, Sika became an NAFCD Education Supporter, which has positioned the company as a supplier willing to help support the education of their customers. "We saw the value," Croes said, "and wanted to support the organization in this way."

Croes is especially eager to start his board service. He concluded, "I am looking forward to understanding what the distributors are looking for in an organization, so we can make that happen and create a stronger industry."

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