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NAFCD Announces New Partnership with Digital Marketing Agency JAST Media

Posted By NAFCD, Friday, July 21, 2017

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) is pleased to announce a new partnership with JAST Media, a leading Portland-based digital marketing agency that specializes in online strategy for distributors and manufacturers.

JAST Media offers distributors and manufacturers comprehensive web marketing and branding solutions. From websites to room scenes, private label brand assets, eCommerce platforms and more, JAST Media has a demonstrated history of building innovative solutions delivered by industry leading designers, developers and marketing strategists.

The new partnership leverages JAST Media’s expertise and experience to assist in educating and informing NAFCD members on opportunities to leverage digital marketing to achieve sales goals and execute corporate strategy. JAST will deliver content and training to members via a variety of mediums.

“NAFCD's coveted roster of industry leading distributors and manufacturers brought together in an open yet tightly-knit setting is the perfect event to meet new contacts and form lasting connections. The relationships we've built from attending NAFCD events have been unparalleled,” says Yuki Conlon, President of JAST Media.

NAFCD’s partnership with JAST Media will provide distributor and manufacturer members with discounts on marketing services including website design, branding, direct mailing, trade show materials and video production.

“Partnering with JAST Media will give our members the resources to better market their businesses and stay relevant in a competitive digital landscape,” says NAFCD Executive Vice President Kevin Gammonley. “We hope this partnership will accelerate our member’s digital marketing efforts which will help to drive sales growth.”

More information on this new partnership can be found at

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Russell Rogg Raises the Roof at Metroflor

Posted By NAFCD, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Back in March, Russell Rogg celebrated his sixth year as president and CEO of Metroflor Corporation. Before joining Metroflor, he spent more than a decade with Wilsonart International, holding a variety of decision-making positions in both their decorative surfaces and flooring divisions. Throughout his career, Rogg has focused on key tenants from a manufacturers' perspective, delivering exceptional product quality, creating differentiation and uniqueness, and selling through independent distribution with integrity and trust.

We sat down with the married father of two recently to discuss the industry's challenges of the moment, where he thinks the business is headed, and how he plans to impact that business as an NAFCD board member. What follows is our chat:

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

RUSSELL ROGG: Much has been said and discussed surrounding the shortage of qualified, trained installers that our industry is facing. But I believe that organizations such as INSTALL, the FCICA, the WFCA, and perhaps others will creatively develop programs that will entice younger generations to consider floor covering installation as a career. It's even being discussed amongst the leadership at NAFCD how our group can play a role in this effort, whether independently or in conjunction with another association that is leading a particular effort. To be successful, it may have to begin at the high school level, where programs can be offered that promote technical trades as viable career paths. With that said, this issue is on the radar of so many that I believe, over time, we as an industry will tackle the challenge and will address this need.

Aside from this, what I'm troubled by most is our industry’s tendency to devalue the valuable. Meaning, manufacturers continually strive to innovate, make products more authentic, solve problems, and perform longer. And yet when this occurs, the channel defaults to "price" as being the differentiator. Consumers are not always interested in the lowest price. They are interested in value for their money, and that's different than a "low price." It seems that many retail sales associates "presume" their customer is looking for a "lower-price." So, they ask their distributor for a "lower price," who in turn asks their manufacturer for a "lower price." And so the downward spiral begins. So, while the installer shortage is real and must be addressed, I also believe that "sales training" at all levels -- manufacturer, distributor, retailer -- is required to stem this unfortunate scenario that seems to occur time and time again. I might also add that while I provided an example that begins with the "retailer," it also occurs in the opposite direction . . . where a manufacturer can start the downward price-spiral.

NAFCD: Looking ahead to the second half of 2017 and beyond, where do you see opportunity?

RR: For Metroflor Corporation, we are focusing on opportunities in the commercial segment with our Aspecta branded LVT portfolio. We now offer three collections: Aspecta One, Five & Ten, with One & Five being dryback, glue-down LVT and Ten being a rigid-floating LVT built on our Isocore Technology platform. We endeavored to build this portfolio in 2014 with the launch of Aspecta Five. Now, we believe we have a very powerful program to attack all key commercial segments such as Healthcare, Education, Corporate, Hospitality, and Retail. All three of these collections, which encompass over 200 skus, are inventoried in the USA at our distribution center in Savannah, Ga, so as to provide nationwide service in a matter of days.

In addition to our commercial efforts, in 2016, Metroflor launched a new merchandising system called the Metroflor Selection Center, which was offered in conjunction with an Aligned Dealer Program for select retailers throughout the country. Our goal is to continue driving customers to and through this retail network, while simultaneously providing them with new products, sales collaterals, and training -- in essence, creating a network of highly trained and educated retailers to whom we can drive consumers who are interested in our products.

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

RR: We try to stand out through our “Specialist” mentality. Unlike many other brands in the industry, we focus on one category: LVT. We think this focus results in greater credibility for our people, our products, and our company when we promote Metroflor-branded goods. We believe ourselves to be experts in how we manufacture LVT, and this expertise is evident in what we publish and communicate related to our products through materials such as Tech-Data Sheets, Environmental Data Sheets, Installation Manuals, HPDs, and so forth.

NAFCD: Have you implemented any innovative strategies or approaches when it comes to your distributor partnerships that you would be willing to share with the readership?

RR: Over the years, we have done a few things to work with our distributors in what I would call a "collaborative manner." To address inventory challenges with our distributor network, we have created "Master Distributor" programs whereby we work collaboratively with a particular distributor to underwrite their ability to sell to "other" distributors in our network at a price that is not cost prohibitive. Currently, we have two such programs in place, with Ohio Valley Flooring acting as our Konecto master distributor and Triwest, acting as our Engage Genesis master distributor. These programs allow us to offer a broad assortment of skus which might otherwise be impossible for smaller-market distributors. The Master Distributor enjoys "margin" on these transactions and it helps them with inventory turns. For the purchasing distributor, it allows them to enhance their service posture without the corresponding inventory demands.

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

I cannot speak to other distributor-manufacturer relations. But, in our case, I feel very good about our current situation. We are blessed to be supported by some of the best distributors in North America, and I think that they would echo that they’re happy with the support that we provide in kind.

For Metroflor, we believe in and recognize the value that our distributors add in the sales and service process. They carry deep inventories, they offer credit, they offer sales and product training, many offer spec-sales support and ultimately, they have local relationships that win business. We know that to best penetrate a marketplace, we need great distribution. Fortunately for us, we are aligned quite nicely.

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

RR: Building relationships! My fondest memories and deepest pride derive from the relationships that I’ve built with colleagues with whom I’ve worked with in the past and work with now. And, of course, from the relationships that I’ve formed with our distributors and our factories. It’s said all the time: "It’s a relationship business." That's definitely true!

NAFCD: What is still challenging for you?

RR: E-mail! I have to find a way to be less inundated by a barrage of non-productive and non-critical e-mails that hamper my ability to do what I need to do. This is my biggest challenge!

NAFCD: How has NAFCD been of value to you personally and to your company, in general?

RR: Whether with Wilsonart or now with Metroflor, the organizations for which I've worked have always been strong supporters of the NAFCD. I think it's a great opportunity for me, as a manufacturer, to see and hear about the challenges that distribution faces and think about ways that we can help distribution be more effective in the future. Manufacturers always have strategies that we'd like to employ. But unless we can have an unbiased perspective -- i.e., looking at things from the eyes of a distributor -- we will never be able to implement those strategies successfully.

NAFCD: You are a new member of NAFCD's board, yes? What drew you to board service, and what impact would you like to have?

RR: I was drawn to the board for two primary reasons. First, current President Heidi Cronin is a long-time friend and industry colleague for whom I have a great deal of respect. To be part of the NAFCD board along with Heidi was an easy decision. Second, I’ve been very fortunate and blessed in my career, and much of that I owe to my experiences with independent distribution. This is a small way to give back!

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AJ Warne on the Future of Flooring

Posted By NAFCD, Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AJ Warne currently serves as Director of Resilient Sales for the Abraham Linc Corporation, a service-oriented floor covering distributor based in West Virginia. At age 27, he is also one of the youngest members ever to be named to the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors' (NAFCD's) board of directors. We recently sat down with him to discuss the challenges facing our industry, the importance of attracting more Millennials to the business, and his experience attending the association's University of Innovative Distribution program. What follows is our chat:

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

AJ WARNE: I believe our industry’s biggest challenge over the next 10 years will be the changing of the guard in all positions of every type of flooring organization. I do not see Millennials entering our industry at a rate that will be sustainable as the Baby Boomers prepare to leave the work force. I see this as a problem in sales positions in retail stores as well as for distribution and manufacturing positions, but I see the primary pain point in the skilled installation trade. Skilled mechanics are not passing on those skills to a large enough pool of apprentices to fuel the future of our industry. We need to work together to incentivize young people to choose this industry, for our own, collective future.

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

AJW: Distributor-manufacturer relations could always be better, but I believe that the majority, and a growing number of manufacturers see the indispensable value that regional, wholesale distribution brings. Who would be able to replicate the local knowledge, inventory, and logistics on a national scale successfully without sacrificing the very things that are important to the incoming generation of consumers? Going are the days of "5-10 business days," and manufacturers have to rely on regional distribution to allow them to focus on their core competencies.

NAFCD What makes your company stand out in the marketplace?

AJW: We obsess over the minutia of getting the order right. We define the perfect order as "the customer receiving what they want, when they want it, damage and dirty-free." We measure the perfect order with our "perfect order index" and know to one-hundredth of 1 percent how we are consistently performing. This index is at the top of mind for managers making decisions, our customer service personnel pacing orders, and our logistics teams picking and fulfilling orders. We believe that this is the characteristic that makes us important to our customers.

NAFCD: Have you implemented any new technology that is driving efficiency?

AJW: Technology must be constantly evolving. Organizations can rarely build a sustainable competitive advantage based on technology, but can easily be left in the dust without being up to date enough to satisfy the masses.

NAFCD: How has NAFCD been of value to your firm relative to you personally and your company, in general?

AJW: Abraham Linc benefits from NAFCD membership through its annual conference and through related service organizations. This year, we’ve partnered with Jast Media to revamp our Web presence, and we are reaping the rewards of working with an industry-specific Web design company. Additionally, our executive management uses and values the industry benchmarking report. Personally, I have benefitted from NAFCD through networking opportunities and the educational sessions provided at the annual conference.

NAFCD: How important is getting more Millennials interested in our industry? Do you have ideas about how to attract more of Generation Y to flooring?

AJW: Millennials are the future. If our industry does not find ways to attract, retain, and promote the leaders of tomorrow, we will be left behind. In 20 years, most of the leaders of the companies I deal with on a daily basis will be in their mid to late 70s, whereas the oldest of the Millennials will be in their early to mid-50s. The leaders of today need to waste no time training the future leaders of their organizations.

NAFCD: You have attended NAFCD's four-day University of Innovative Distribution (UID) program, correct? How did you like the program and what did you learn from it?

AJW: I attended UID in March and found the program to be very useful. I think the program was a great opportunity to disconnect from my everyday responsibilities and to look at my business with a more objective perspective than is possible from the trenches. I learned useful strategies for positively affecting sales performance, profitability, and hiring practices. I gained particular insights into the strategies that some companies are using to manage Millennials in their work force. Jim Pancero, an upcoming speaker at the NAFCD Conference in Colorado Springs, provided a particularly useful insight into the difference between working with Millennials and working with Baby Boomers. When Baby Boomers would play sports as children, they would organize themselves and play ball in their neighborhood. They would spend one-third of the time picking teams, one-third of the time playing, and one-third of the time arguing about the rules. These Boomers always knew where they stood in the pecking order of athletic dominance. They learned to stand up for themselves, and they spent time organizing the competition for themselves.

Millennials played on well-organized sports teams with coaches and snacks. They were given instruction from a young age about how to play those sports and given consistent feedback about participating as a group to reach group success. As a result, the Millennials learned how to work together on a team and how to correct course with feedback. I think this simple analogy really helped me understand what values various members of my team come to the table with, and it has contributed to my effectiveness in my organization.

NAFCD: Do you feel it is a good program for your industry professionals to participate in and why?

AJW: I believe UID is a crucial program for the health and future of our industry. We can get mired into the details of our organizational goals and objectives and miss out on ways to incrementally improve ourselves and our respective companies without time to retreat and reflect. I learned from other industries who may have similar or different challenges and similar or different successes. The diversity of experiences in the room lead to greater outcomes than would’ve likely been found in a room full of my industry peers, and definitely greater outcomes than anyone could hope to achieve in a room with their organizational peers.

NAFCD: What has you most excited about the second half of 2017?

AJW: I am looking forward to NAFCD’s Annual Convention in Colorado Springs, of course.

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NAFCD Releases Spring Flooring Industry Updates

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) has released two spring 2017 flooring industry reports, compiled by the Cleveland Research Company. These reports are available to all NAFCD members.

The Q1 Flooring Industry Update and the May 2017 Flooring Industry Update are designed to give industry professionals a comprehensive overview of current growth rates, developing trends, economic forecasts and more.

“These reports are especially relevant to NAFCD members because they will shape the way companies develop strategies for business growth and success,” says NAFCD Executive Vice President Kevin Gammonley. “Our hope is to give our members the tools to operate at optimal efficiency in the current economic landscape and these reports are key to those insights.”

Important themes that stand out in the Q1 report are: (1) total U.S. flooring industry growth rates eased roughly 3 points in Q1 compared to the upside performance in Q4 (up roughly 1 percent through late March versus Q4 up in the 4 percent range year/year), (2) homebuilder shipments have remained the most impressive piece of the U.S. flooring industry year-to-year, an area with estimated sales growth of 8-10 percent, and (3) the industry is seeing strong acceptance for flooring price increases year-to-date, estimating the Q1 carpet price increase is on pace for 85 percent or higher realization with the low-end of the U.S. market particularly impressive.

Trends that stand out in the May report are: (1) U.S. flooring demand looks better in the last 30-60 days after pause in January/February, (2) hard surface share gains can add to organic growth through 2017, and (3) price increase traction across surfaces year-to-date, near-term cost pressure looks stable.

NAFCD members can read the full reports in the online NAFCD Research Center at

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NAFCD and NBMDA Will Co-Sponsor Their Annual Convention and Tabletop Networking Forum for the 7th Consecutive Year

Posted By NAFCD, Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) and the North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA) have extended their partnership in 2017. The highly anticipated NAFCD + NBMDA Annual Convention with take place November 14-16, 2017 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Bringing together more than nine hundred distribution professionals representing the leading distribution companies in the U.S. and Canada, the tabletop networking forum allows distributors and manufacturers to connect face to face and conduct meaningful business planning. Semi-private tabletop booths provide an ideal forum for senior executives and key decision makers to discuss distribution plans and strategies for the future while also reviewing past performance. Meetings are coordinated by appointment to ensure a highly focused and productive environment.

In addition to strengthening partnerships, the event fosters networking and knowledge sharing between attendees. In 2017, the Annual Convention will host concurrent sessions on topics like the latest tech, political, economic and sales trends.

The three days of the NAFCD + NBMDA Annual Convention will also be filled with value learning through general sessions, roundtable discussions and the 2017 Distribution Management University (DMU). Rated highly year-over-year, education sessions allow attendees to take away relevant and practical business and sales knowledge.

“More than 900 distribution professionals from NAFCD and NBMDA are expected at the 2017 Annual Convention,” said Kevin Gammonley, NAFCD and NBMDA Executive Director. “The joint event between the two organizations continues to be a solid foundation where members can rely on valuable education and insights while making meaningful business connections.”

Learn more about the event at Attendee registration will open in July.

Suppliers and service providers interested in securing a tabletop exhibit and/or sponsorship at the 2017 NAFCD + NBMDA Annual Convention can contact Robb Shrader at or 312.673.5581.

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Michael Welch Charts a Full-Speed Ahead Course for E.J. Welch Company

Posted By NAFCD, Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Michael "Mike" Welch is President of E.J. Welch Company, a leading wholesale flooring distributor that has been catering to contractors, dealers, design professionals, and the installation trade since 1962. In addition to flooring products, the company engages in the wholesale distribution of installation supplies, tools, and accessories. Azrock, Johnsonite, Raskin, and Tarkett are just a few of the product lines it represents. With locations and offices in Chicago, the St. Louis area, Indianapolis, Green Bay, and more, E.J. Welch has quite the geographic reach throughout the nation's Midwest.

Mike Welch recently sat down with NAFCD to discuss the challenges of the business, the success of his company's separate online division, and where he thinks the industry is headed. What follows is our chat:

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

MICHAEL WELCH: For the industry, the biggest challenge currently is no secret. It’s the critical shortage of flooring installers. The second biggest challenge in my opinion -- as it relates to independent distribution -- is building and demonstrating value to relevant stakeholders.

NAFCD: What makes your company stand out? What makes it unique? 

MW: The support and value that our people bring to our customers. Our people genuinely care about our customers' success and well-being, and we’re built for the long-haul. We recognize opportunity is as much about customer need as it is about timing. We know when a customer chooses to do business with us, it’s a mutually beneficial and long-term relationship. We’re unique because our management team is lean, empowered, and expected to move the company forward. Our meetings are short and decisive.

NAFCD: You operate a separate online division called Tools4Flooring, yes? Could you provide some details? 

MW: We were very fortunate to be one of the first e-commerce sites in 2004 selling the flooring installer. We now sell to a broad range of customer types around the world and have shipped to over 70 countries. Canada, the U.K., and Australia are our largest markets outside the U.S. We often scratch our head as to what the Scandinavian countries do with all the hardwood nailers purchased!

NAFCD: What have been the benefits of having such a Web-based store, particularly for a distributor?

MW: For us, it has deepened and strengthened relationships with our wonderful vendor partners. We are now the largest customer to seven key vendors, and we have brought them into new markets that they had not ever imagined selling.

NAFCD: Have you implemented any strategies or promotions in the last year or so that have been particularly successful that you'd like to share with the readers?

MW: Nothing that is new or unique. We are continuing to improve -- make them sexier and more appealing -- our e-mail marketing campaigns, and we continue to work with third parties to add more installation events at our advanced training facility in Elk Grove Village, Ill.

NAFCD: What is the favorite part of your job?

MW: Watching our own people develop and prosper!

NAFCD: How has the business changed since you first became involved?

MW: (laughing) Since the steam engine hadn’t been invented at that time, you can only imagine! Seriously, consolidation within the industry is the biggest change, which brings both challenges and opportunities. In 1981, we seldom passed on any new product line opportunity. And the products were likely produced domestically. Today, there is too much product chasing too few means to market. We’ve all had a chuckle with the poorly written e-mails from overseas companies looking for “you partner” in U.S. As for other ways the business has changed, some say it’s “less fun” today. I find that to be a statement from folks near retirement, although I would say, it is definitely a more competitive environment today.

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

MW: Yes. In regard to vendor negotiations, “Give a little, grab a LOT” was the advice from my Uncle Mike, who owned Michael Halebian & Co. It was tongue-in-cheek advice that I’ll never forget, likely because he was just bigger than life. My cousin, Michael Halebian Jr., had taken over the business many years ago and they have become a dominant flooring distributor in the Northeast. The other advice in various forms over the years has to do with the importance of careful hiring. Every successful business owner recognizes this, yet when the labor market tightens, we may compromise on our requirements or standards to fill a position.

NAFCD: How has the NAFCD been of benefit to you personally and your company, in general?

MW: In the early years of my career, the NAFCD was hugely beneficial. Compiled reports on distributor members’ operations allowed us to benchmark and identify areas for improvement. Networking and building relationships, however, has been the most significant benefit. So much opportunity came about through these relationships and the friendships that developed have truly enriched my life. We stopped supporting the NAFCD in the late '90s as we felt the educational component had become “old news.” What we failed to realize is that our company had grown and that our younger executives could benefit as I did in their early years. We’re happy to be back, and I believe the NAFCD Board and management have done an excellent job of making the association very relevant and beneficial to all members.

NAFCD: What has you most excited for the year ahead?

MW: Our company joined the Merit Distribution Group earlier this year. Our combined resources and a commitment to strengthen our operation and grow market share is very exciting. The best part is that our employees are now able to see the same opportunities I recognized in the early stages of discussion with MDG. It’s full-speed ahead! Additionally, business is always more exciting when there is optimism about the economy.

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11/6/2018 » 11/8/2018
2018 NAFCD Annual Convention