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Cole's Travis Wichern on Meeting Challenges and Moving Forward

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Travis Wichern has more than three decades of experience in the floor covering industry. But he has only been at Cole Papers as Sales Manager and Senior Vice President of its Flooring Division since 2011. Before that, he owned his own chain of flooring stores for 16 years. He had expanded to six locations before he sold the business to look for a new challenge. At Cole, he has certainly found that and more.

We sat down with Wichern recently to discuss this North Dakota-based company now celebrating its 100th year, along with his career and where he thinks the industry is headed. What follows is our chat:

NAFCD: Cole is involved in more than just flooring. You also have two paper divisions, correct?

TW: We actually have three divisions. One, we call our General Division, which is a building supply division. We also have a Paper Division, and then the Flooring/Cabinet division.

NAFCD: How do they all fit together? Or, do they all fit together? Is there synergy?

TW: The synergies are actually in the logistics advantages. We have nine service centers throughout the Midwest, which is our geographical wheelhouse. We use the logistics that we have set up to move all three of these items where they don't conflict with each other. In some cases, they will overlap. We cater to a lot of assisted living communities, colleges, universities, and so forth where we are selling them chemicals and stuff. But a lot of our partners on the flooring side will also have doors opened for them through these synergies.

NAFCD: Have you seen any unique trends to the various markets that you serve?

TW: In the five states I am responsible for, which include Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, you will always see certain trends in styles and designs. What I've found more interesting is that what stays the same in each area, and that's good business practices. Whether you are out in Wisconsin or Bismarck, N.D., good business is good business. It's about how you take care of people.

In terms of product, luxury vinyl plank remains a popular trend right and growing still. What I envision is we'll see growth in rolled goods again. When people buy flooring, they buy it on style and design. They have to like the look of it, right? Or else they're not going to buy it. The reason luxury vinyl plank and luxury vinyl tile is selling now is because of style and design and also because it has become accepted. I think there will be an uptick in rolled goods in the next one to three years. One of our partners is Beauflor, and they have a product [in this niche] called Black Tex that we are the supporting distributor in our trade area.

NAFCD: What do you see as the industry's one or two biggest challenges of the moment?

TW: I see installation as a challenge for our dealers, which becomes a challenge for me here in distribution in terms of flow of goods. Their production schedules are affected by how much they can put in and how much I can move out. It's a trickle effect. So, even though we're not doing installation as a distributor, it still affects us because of how much goods can we move. We can only move as much as they can install.

It's also an aging industry. That's certainly another challenge. Throughout my trade area, there are flooring stores that have been around a long time. Many are working towards a second generation. There are still strong business models out there. But we all age, and the next generation has to step up.

NAFCD: What do you think are some of the keys to appealing to Millennials and Generation Z behind them? How can they be shown that this is a growth industry and a cool one to work in?

TW: It won't be appealing to them until it comes to be looked upon as more lucrative. We have to appeal to the young designers, architects, and entrepreneurs. The buying groups, I think, are the best way today to draw people into our industry. It's a business model that you can sell to an entrepreneur. It's an industry that can be learned over time, and it can be quite lucrative when done correctly. I mean, there are a LOT more things to be done out there as a career that you make a lot less money at with a lot more work.

NAFCD: What is the favorite part of your job?

TW: I just love what I do. I don't really look at it as work. It's not even so much about the flooring. It's the business side of things. That's my passion. Do I have stress? Do I have challenges? Yes. But I really enjoy helping our dealers with their projects. I like showing them that we are a good choice and why.

NAFCD: What do you personally still find a challenge? What do you still find hard?

TW: A challenge for me is there's just not enough time in the day. I'm never done with what I need to get done. I'm busy all of the time. But it's a seasonal thing, too. We'll see upticks at certain times of the year. So, my biggest challenge is getting to all of the things I need to do or even all of the opportunities that are there.

NAFCD: Was there some advice given to you earlier in your career that has stuck with you?

TW: (laughing). Yeah. Marry rich! No, seriously. I had a great upbringing, and my family was all about strong values and hard work. At the end of the day, you're asked to do your best, and that's all we can ask for ourselves. The Lord takes care of the rest. I believe we are blessed in so many ways. And how we make do with what we are given is how we come out of it. I lived through the housing crash just like everyone else. Nobody liked it. But at the end of the day, how you dealt with it is how you came out of it.

NAFCD: Do you have any advice to anyone new in the business who is just starting out?

TW: I have some Millennials who are working for me today, and they bring a great value to our organization. They see things different, for sure. I think they get a bad rap sometimes. I tell them to find what they enjoy doing. What's your passion? If you enjoy what you are doing and have a passion for it, then it doesn't become work. Do whatever that is long enough to see a value in your time. Even if you are going to dig ditches for a career, stay at it, learn how to do it, be efficient, stay positive, and do it long enough that you become an expert in it. Time takes time. It really does. You can't force the hand of time nor do you want to.

NAFCD: And, finally, how has NAFCD been of value to you personally and to your business overall?

TW: It's been huge for us. When they hired me to evaluate the division, our CFO Brian Haugen went to an NAFCD convention and made a decision that we needed to find new business partners and determine what the next product trends were. That's where we started, and that was six years ago. We gained partners at that convention that are still our partners today.

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ITR Economics: Insights from our CEO

Posted By NAFCD, Monday, April 9, 2018

Three Steps to Prepare for 2019 Business Cycle Decline

We are at that point in the business cycle when the leading indicator signals become “mixed.” Our leading indicator methodology is set up to account for this. We wait until two, then five, and ultimately 10 indicators have flipped from rise to decline, as is the case for 2017-2018. When two leading economic indicators shift from rise to decline, it gets our attention. When five change direction, it is that much more significant, and you will start to see a shift in the emphasis of the presentations conducted by ITR Economics’ speakers . By the time 10 roll through a high, it typically is reasonably obvious that the economy will move through a period of slowing rise in the immediate future. Slowing rise normally turns into contraction.

Step 1: Know what the leading indicators are telling us.

Globally there are easily more than five leading indicators that have turned down. Restricting our view to just the US reveals that we have five leading economic indicators that are trending lower:

  • Purchasing Manager’s Index (Production) 1/12 rate-of-change
  • Bond Prices
  • ITR Consumer Activity Leading Indicator™
  • Savings as a Percentage of Disposable Personal Income
  • ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index

Tentatively rolling through the top in the next one to two quarters:

  • S&P 500
  • ITR Leading Indicator™
  • Nondefense Capital Goods New Orders (excluding aircraft) 3/12 rate-of-change

Step 2: Know where you fit within the context of markets and indicators flowing through the business cycle.

  • Run the rates-of-change on your business (use revenue or shipments or orders).
  • DataCast can create your company-specific rates-of-change
  • Review the ITR Trends Report™ to see where your business fits within the ITR Trends 10.

Step 3: Ascertain which of your markets (if any) will perform like GDP in 2019 and which markets will perform more like US Total Industrial Production; the latter will experience a deeper recession, and you will need to take more action to protect the company.

We will talk about economic forecasts and how they can help you maintain (or even improve) profitability in a future blog.

Brian Beaulieu
CEO

ITR Economics™ provides the best economic intelligence to reduce risk and drive practical and profitable business decisions. Since 1948, we have provided business leaders with economic information, insight, analysis, and strategy. ITR Economics is the oldest privately-held, continuously operating economic research and consulting firm in the US. With a knowledge base that spans six decades, we have an uncommon understanding of long-term economic trends and how to react to critical changes in market conditions. Our reputation is one of excellent, independent and objective analysis.

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4 Ways to Ensure Employee Engagement

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Employee engagement begins with leaders showing that they value their people and that they are willing to spend time and resources helping them capitalize on their strengths. However, studies show that only a small fraction of today’s leaders are creating an engaging environment for their people.

Engagement can be increased by creating appropriate development programs both for your leaders and your individual contributors. Start by determining what your organization needs and what goals you want to achieve. Then you’ll be ready to explore what kinds of plans and programs are available to address the specific issues, challenges, and objectives that are critical to achieving your ideal organizational state.

Development programs are customizable based on the needs of each organization. Below are some examples of what some programs might look like. Note that companies will often combine features of the following options if doing so is the most effective method for improved engagement.

  1. Coaching: a customized, in-depth coaching process and developmental plan from an objective, third-party coach that helps pinpoint abilities, motivations, and growth opportunities.
  2. High-Potential Retention and Development: a consultant works one-on-one with top performers to help them assess their talents, identify hidden potential, and clarify their goals, while linking their abilities and interests with the needs of the organization.
  3. Engagement/Climate Survey: the ideal method for gathering objective, company-wide intelligence on employee attitudes and perceptions; in essence, the equivalent of giving your organization a health check-up.
  4. Competency Modeling: a process that helps a company gain a clear sense of their top performers and their strengths, what distinguishes them and how to both hire people like your top talent and develop those currently on board who have high potential.

To learn more about how to engage your employees at your organization, visit www.calipercorp.com or email info@calipercorp.com.

To learn more about Caliper and special discounts to NAFCD members, visit www.calipercorp.com/nafcd.

Caliper is a human capital analytics company leveraging decades of data and validated assessments to predict and select high-quality candidates. Caliper partners with all types of organizations, industries, and sectors – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and from government agencies to non-profits. We help companies reduce the risk of bad hiring decisions; build high-performing teams; and engage, develop, and retain their employees. Contact us to learn more.

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litzstein Gives 'Em Heck as VP and Co-Owner of Roesel-Heck

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dori Blitzstein co-owns Roesel-Heck Company Inc., a Baltimore-based wholesale flooring distributor, with her husband, Rob. But the flooring business is not where she got her start. Married for 25 years, she joined her spouse as Vice President in 2007 after more than a decade serving the nonprofit sector in a variety of membership sales and operations management positions.

Now more than a decade in, Blitzstein sat down with us recently to discuss the flooring industry's challenges of the moment, the challenges she's faced in a male-dominated business, and the opportunities ahead for her firm, specifically, and the industry in general. What follows is our chat:

NAFCD: What do you see are our industry's one or two biggest challenges of the moment?

DORI BLITZSTEIN: There are vast differences in the challenges faced by the large-scale distributor, the independent distributor, and the specification house. We look at distribution through different lenses, and our businesses react to the industry in different ways. As an independent distributor, our greatest challenge is to flourish in the wake of the large-scale distributors taking over more territories in combination with specification houses developing distribution sites. The landscape of distribution has certainly changed. Ten years ago, the Baltimore-Washington corridor was home to many independent distributors just like us. But now the arena is dominated by a few very large players.

NAFCD: What makes your company stand out from the competition? What makes it unique?

DB: We find ourselves to be one of the sole remaining mid-sized traditional distributors in our region. To be successful versus the dominating players, we must offer better service from the phones to the trucks. We must offer a higher level of management and problem-solving, and we must represent brand-name product lines and maintain expected levels of sales. I have found that it’s important to know your core business in order to overcome challenges in this competitive landscape. Are you focusing on specs and following them through from inception to implementation, or are you shipping material every day and competing on negotiated work? Are you selling everything to everyone no matter the margin, or are you selling on service and accountability rather than price? Are you marketing to the end users as well as your customers, or are you respecting the supply chain?

Our core business is negotiated work. We understand that our customers seek quality products, accessible and immediately available, at a competitive price point. While we love shipping the large, specified jobs -- and that, too is important to us -- our daily goal is to ship full trucks every day. We need to move product. But we need it to make sense, and we need to care for our margins. Therefore, we balance inventory levels, competitive margins, and make sure that our people are the best and that they are giving their best every day so that it is not always about price, but also about value and service.

NAFCD: What do you consider the favorite part of your job?

DB: I love pushing myself above and beyond my comfort level. I believe that as you grow into higher professional positions, you often find yourself doing things that are uncomfortable, having difficult conversations, or teaching employees to push above their own limits whether they are prepared or not. When working with customers, employees, or vendors, I love putting out fires. I do it well, and I do it every day. There is a lot of drama in the workplace, which we call "floor covering emergencies" inside our walls and over the phones and e-mails. I like to attack issues head on and when I can resolve a conflict and everyone is happy, I know I can go home and sleep well.

NAFCD: What do you still find a challenge?

DB: When I entered this business as a wife and business partner, I was very aware that the flooring industry is a male-dominated business. There are few women in management positions. Even our own company is traditional, with few females working beyond the customer service departments. It never surprised me that when sitting in a conference room with a new vendor, the sales rep rarely acknowledged my presence. Often, the focus of the meeting was directed to Rob. A man and woman can often say the same thing, but it is perceived in very different ways.

As a female executive, it’s an ongoing challenge to balance the strength of a decision maker with the sensitivity expected. But throughout the years, I developed a sense of confidence and determination that I would change things. I want vendors, customers, and business associates to get to know me and the strengths that I bring to the table. Now, I reach out to the vendors and make new connections. I expect their return calls. I set the meetings. I quote the jobs and strategize with the customers. In order to gain respect in this industry as a female, one needs to be at the forefront of the business, strong and sensitive, and always quick and sharp.

NAFCD: What is your assessment of the current state of distributor-manufacturer relations?

DB: As an independent distributor, it has always been challenging to land name-brand manufacturers when up against large distributors who promote their reach, their ability to stock, and their own name brand. As an independent distributor, we market our service and our ability to focus on the brands that we represent, and the fact that we sell product and we don’t monopolize product lines in order to avoid competition. We market that we are healthy competitors and can strongly compete against the larger distributors. We focus on our lines. We found that some manufacturers fail to see the importance of that focus and they prefer to be on the roster of products with the large-scale distributors or specification houses.

Up until this past year, some manufacturers shied away from our company because our geographical reach was not as great as our competitors and our footprint was a bit smaller. However, in 2018, we have seen a shift in the manufacturer's perspective. Many suppliers are now specifically searching for a distributor who is focused; who learns and listens; who markets product through both negotiated and specified jobs; and who, at the end of the day, well represents their brand and sells their products.

NAFCD: Are there trends unique to the geographical markets your firm serves?

DB: Because we are located in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, government work has been a reliable and consistent source of our business. We consider ourselves lucky to be in close proximity to this type of recession-proof work. Both government and healthcare jobs help us to maintain our business levels through difficult times. And it challenges us to source American-made products for every type of application.

Also, we have found ourselves being asked for products that we never sold before. For example, over the last few months, we've received frequent calls for gymnasium floors, specifically basketball floors. It is difficult to gain access to these floors through the distribution channel, as many of the basketball floor manufacturers require extensive training and certification on their products and go direct to the flooring contractor. Now we are entertaining the idea of sourcing the floors ourselves, a new concept for our logistical team.

NAFCD: Have you implemented any innovative strategies or approaches that have proven effective that you'd be willing to share?

DB: Our niche is the commercial and property management segments, and we focus on hard surface. Recently, we had changes to our product offering which altered the way we do business. In the past, our sales were focused on specifications geared towards the large commercial flooring contractor. With our product line changes, we are forced to re-think how we conduct business. We began to strongly market to all our customers, including the mid-sized and smaller accounts. We created promotions more geared to these smaller accounts. We expanded our product offerings and considered products that we never considered before. We further developed our residential offerings and targeted residential accounts. We entered into the recycled rubber market and partnered with vertical companies. We also launched soft surface collections and expanded our hardwood offering. Having launched commercial carpet tiles a few years back with tremendous success, we are now creating a private collection which couples commercial hard surface with commercial soft surface, both broadloom and modular.

NAFCD: Was there some advice given to you earlier in your career that has really stuck with you?

DB: One of my female mentors told me that women need to know their numbers. She's right. Prior to going into any meeting, I am prepared with pricing, budgeting, freight costs . . . whatever numbers are involved or are to be discussed. I don’t want to be the one at the table asking questions about numbers.

NAFCD: What advice would you have to anyone just coming into the business?

DB: Be a good learner. Be a good student. Ask questions. Be patient. Learn to negotiate. And, most importantly, bring enthusiasm, energy, and passion to your job.

NAFCD: Finally, how has NAFCD been of value to you personally and your firm overall with regards to such things as networking, education and training, and so forth?

DB: NAFCD has allowed me to meet other distributors and learn about their operations. I love hearing about the different methods people are using to run their businesses, however alike or different that they may be from our business. I always walk away with some value. At the 2017 convention, we learned about the importance of not only understanding but also communicating your competitive advantages. Soon after, we focused on relaying our 12 quantitative competitive advantages for our company to our dealer network. We launched them as our 12 New Year’s promises to our customers and received nice notes and comments. We communicate the advantages regularly to our staff.

Now, we market one advantage each month, and we are sure that everyone in our company from the top down is aware of the message that we are conveying and expect them to support and publicize our advantage to their customers. NAFCD gives me tangible ideas to implement which have helped to strengthen and grow our company.

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How to Hire and Develop Effective Salespeople

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Identify the success factors.

To hire effectively, you have to be absolutely clear about the kind of person you are looking for. You don’t just want a job description; you want a description of the person you are seeking.

First, you must gain a meaningful understanding of the personality qualities shared by your top salespeople. They are probably persuasive, able to read others’ reactions, and capable of bouncing back from rejection. But what else do they have? Is it high energy? Discipline? Good analytical skill? Assertiveness? A solutions-oriented mindset?

Those attributes, once pinpointed, become the profile of your ideal candidate and, therefore, the model you should use when hiring new people. The closer your applicants match the profile of your top performers, the more likely they will meet or exceed your performance expectations.

Avoid Overvaluing Experience.

Conventional wisdom is that experience will prepare someone to hit the ground running. But the cost can be high for hiring managers who assume experience equates to talent. All too frequently, “experienced” job seekers don’t live up to this promise. Ten years of experience can be one year of bad experience repeated 10 times. Effective hiring has less to do with checking for experience than it does with uncovering potential.

Data show there are many people out there in the general population with untapped sales potential; more so than half the workers already in the sales profession, in fact. This is not to say that experience should be disregarded, but experience should not be the primary determinant in making a hiring decision. Past experience does not necessarily equal future success.

Consider using a personality assessment.

The information from an in-depth personality assessment can provide you with the insights you need to make a better-informed decision.

Will the individual fit in with your culture? Work well with others on your team? Connect with his or her manager? Those are the important nuances that can make all the difference as to whether an individual will succeed.

A validated personality profile can provide you with a measurable, objective view of an applicant.

Use the interview process as an opportunity to address concerns.

Interviews often end up being a ritualistic dance in which applicants and employers are both trying to put their best feet forward – and end up tripping over each other.

Sometimes, a new employee’s best performance takes place during the interview. Use that stage of the hiring process to probe areas that concern you.

If you have questions about the applicant’s level of resilience or how they will deal with rejection, you can ask questions about past situations in which they struggled or faced disappointment. You can ask about how the applicant felt and what he or she did to make sure the scenario wouldn’t occur again.

Through that exploration, you may discover that the individual is well suited to the opening you have. Or it could save you from making a huge mistake.

Find the right fit and coach for success.

The work doesn’t end once you find the right person for the job. The first few days for a new employee are the most critical. As a manager, you want to ensure that new hires are given the tools to be successful. In return, they will know your company is committed to them and invested in their future. Team members who feel valued are more likely to stay with with the organization over the long term.

By coaching new employees as soon as they start their new jobs and setting up a training program with milestones, they will understand how to avoid potential clashes and adapt their work style to fit in with your organization’s culture.

Provide ongoing development.

To keep employees engaged, you must make a solid commitment to developing their potential. In doing so, business projections become more predictable, and you retain more top performers.

Development can take the form of personalized coaching, team building, or management training—or a combination. The key is to keep your top performers engaged so that they don’t feel tempted to leave for a competing organization. Ongoing development is not limited to the new employee; veteran team members and leaders all benefit greatly from ongoing development and growth.

To learn more about Caliper and special discounts to NAFCD members, visit www.calipercorp.com/nafcd.

Caliper is a human capital analytics company leveraging decades of data and validated assessment results to predict and select high-quality candidates. Caliper partners with all types of organizations, industries, and sectors – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and from government agencies to non-profits. We help companies reduce the risk of bad hiring decisions; build high-performing teams; and engage, develop, and retain their employees. Contact us to learn more.

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Haines to Exit Bravo Group

Posted By NAFCD, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Haines has made the decision to exit the Bravo Services group effective April 1, 2018. After a long relationship with Bravo, the decision to end membership in the group was based on the ability to justify the cost and time commitment needed against the initiatives and projects made available as a member and the associated return on that investment.

Michael Barrett, President & CEO of Haines commented, “Bravo is made up of extremely talented distribution companies that deliver value to their customers. Our decision, while difficult, is simply a matter of return on our investment from the efforts we put in. John Carney and John Sher who lead the group are great leaders in our industry and we wish them and the Bravo members the best."

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FCLC Fast Tracks Installation Research Initiative

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Members of the Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC) held their first meeting of 2018 on February 13, 2018 in Atlanta. At the meeting, FCLC members officially authorized the launch of an installation research initiative utilizing Chicago-based research firm, Blackstone Group, to take an in-depth look at the current and future state of the flooring covering industry labor force. Member associations of FCLC donated funds necessary to kick-off the initial phase of the research project. Ongoing industry fundraising will be coordinated to generate the funding needed for additional stages of the project.

Primary objectives of the research project include:

  1. Estimating the current size of the gaps between supply and demand of floor covering installers as well as the projection of these gaps in 5-10 years
  2. Quantifying the financial impact of the installer shortage up the supply chain
  3. Identifying the key drivers behind the installer shortage as well as potential solutions

Both quantitative and qualitative research methods will be deployed to help define the severity and scope of what is widely considered the flooring industry’s most complex challenge. Tactics to be used include in-depth phone interviews with industry stake-holders, online surveying targeting hundreds of professionals across all industry segments and collaboration with other industry organizations doing work related to labor force issues such as Home Builders Institute (HBI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Initial findings are expected in late summer 2018.

The next meeting of the Floor Covering Leadership Council is scheduled for Friday, April 13, 2018 in conjunction with the Wood Flooring Expo in Tampa, Florida.

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Drew Mittelstaedt Goes the Longust Yard

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Drew Mittelstaedt, Partner at Longust Distributing Inc., is an Arizona native born and raised in Phoenix. He never had to leave his home state to find his true calling and his life's work. After several years as a project manager for a commercial developer, he went to work for a commercial flooring outfit. Two years later, he caught the entrepreneurial bug and opened his own flooring business.

This was the late 1980s. At that time, he was a loyal customer of Arizona-based Longust, a growing company launched in 1974 that has since become a major wholesale flooring distributor servicing the Southwestern U.S. "Almost 28 years ago," Mittelstaedt recalled, "Tom Longust and Steve Wallace hired me to be their Armstrong Resilient Manager. Having held various management titles, I’ve worked into an ownership role, actively involved in sales and marketing."

Over the years, Mittelstaedt's evolution has mirrored the company's. Longust currently services five states -- Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and west Texas -- with a broad array of flooring products. With so many years in the business, Mittelstaedt can definitely speak to the challenges the business has faced and those it will be facing in the year ahead.

"Oh, there are plenty of challenges AND opportunities," he remarked. "The speed at which new products are being developed is incredible. It's great to have the innovation … to secure the right lines and partners, to manage inventories and deliver to the market on pace. Clearly, though, other factors are presenting themselves: Internet sales, direct sales by manufacturers, transportation and insurance costs, and labor shortages [to name a few]."

He went on to state that it's hard to identify what the next great opportunity is going to be. For the near future, he and his colleagues see continued growth in luxury vinyl tile (LVT), wood polymer composite (WPC) flooring, and stone plastic composite (SPC) flooring, along with thin porcelain tile. "We also believe the hardwood business will see some exciting innovation this new year," he added. "'Wood look' everything continues to grow, especially the wood plank tile."

Also on the positive side is his assessment of the current state of distributor-manufacturer relations. "Our relationships are better than they’ve ever been," he beamed. "Because we’ve narrowed our focus, we constantly strive to do more with fewer suppliers. Stability and success breeds loyalty in both directions."

It helps to be affiliated with a company that has such an extensive inventory. Longust offers hard surface solutions for nearly every type of project, both residential and commercial. So, in Mittelstaedt's view, what makes his firm stand out in the marketplace? What makes it unique? He replied, "Having operated as a family-run business for nearly 45 years has created a culture of trust with our employees, customers, and suppliers. We don’t claim to be perfect, but our team works like crazy to maintain the high standards Tom Longust instilled in us for decades. We proudly feature some of the industry’s very best brands and deliver them through an excellent, dedicated logistics system. I’m most proud of our employees, many of whom have been with us for decades through thick and thin."

He adds that one of the things that has benefitted Longust the most has been its affiliation with the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD). The company has been an association member for more than two decades now. Mittelstaedt commented, "We cherish the relationships made with fellow distributors and vendors alike. I’ve met and learned from some of the best people I know through this organization. I’ve also noticed that the annual conventions have improved in recent years in terms of the content and quality of the speakers. We’ve also benefitted from the Savings 4 Members program."

Looking ahead, he concluded, "Despite the political noise, the economy appears to be strong [and] hopefully with a tailwind. Our A&D firms, commercial dealers, and builder accounts all share encouraging numbers. Here’s to a great '18!"

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Haines Announces Executive Team Changes

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Haines is pleased to announce the following changes to their Executive Leadership team.

The company has added two new executive leaders: Brian Green, Senior Vice President-CMH Sales Division and Greg Vale, Senior Vice President-Armstrong Division.

Brian has been with Haines since 2004 and has held various positions within the sales organization. He will continue to play a key role in strategy and leadership within the CMH division; and as member of the Executive Leadership team, he will expand his focus to include total company performance and direction.

Greg has been with Haines since 2000 and has held key positions within the sales team. As Haines begins the efforts of integrating the expanded Armstrong territory into Haines, Greg will play an instrumental role in leading growth and execution within this division. He will also focus on total company performance and strategy as a member of the Executive Leadership team.

Also, in addition to his current role as a key member of Haines’ Executive Leadership team, Hoy Lanning, Senior Advisor to the CEO, will work directly with Brian and Greg as Champion of Total Sales, with responsibility for the successful Armstrong expansion integration. Sales deployment, customer relationship management, Key Supplier relationship management, and overall sales results and strategy will be key responsibilities for Hoy in this role. With over 42 years of flooring industry expertise as well as over 27 years of ownership and executive level leadership in the Southeast, Hoy is positioned best to ensure our total sales plan execution continues to improve and expand.

Haines President & CEO, Michael Barrett said, “I am excited to have these three leaders taking on additional responsibilities as we continue the work of creating a world-class distributor. Their contributions have been integral to our new success and they will be instrumental as we take on new territory with Armstrong.”

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NAFCD Announces 2018 Officers and Board Members

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) is pleased to announce the organization’s Board of Directors for 2018. The NAFCD Board is comprised of industry executives from both distributor and supplier member firms that handle all types of floor covering materials, related products and accessories.

“We are excited to kick off the new year with such a strong volunteer leadership team,” said NAFCD Executive Vice President, Kevin Gammonley. “I am confident that this year’s Board of Directors will positively impact NAFCD’s mission and help to continue the positive momentum NAFCD is experiencing in membership growth, Convention participation and value creation for our members.”

The 2018 NAFCD Board of Directors includes:

Executive Officers:

  • President: David Powell, Erickson’s Flooring & Supply Co., Ferndale, MI
  • President-Elect: Steve McKenna, McKenna Distribution Ltd., Regina, SK
  • Treasurer: Geoff Work, The R.A. Siegel Company, Mableton, GA
  • Immediate Past-President: Heidi Cronin, The Cronin Company, Portland, OR

Distributor Directors: Sven Johnson, Taiga Building Products, Calgary, AB; Dunn Rasbury, A&M Supply, Maretta, GA; Shane Richmond, Fishman Flooring Solutions, Baltimore, MD; David Schmelzer, Lanham Hardwood, Louisville, KY; AJ Warne, Abraham Linc, Bridgeport, WV.

Supplier Directors: Joe Cavanaugh, Tarkett, Salon, OH; Mike Croes, Sika USA, Lyndhurst, NJ; Mark Johnson, Traxx Corporation, Pomona, CA; Russ Rogg, Metro Floors, Norwalk, CT; Rich Willett, United States Gypsum Company, Chicago, IL; Zack Zehner, Mannington, Salem, NJ.

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2018 NAFCD Annual Convention