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Herregan's Pat Theis: Eager to Work the Problem

Posted By NAFCD, Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pat Theis has served as Herregan Distributors' Vice President of Sales & Marketing since June 2010 after having previously worked as a District Manager for Mannington Mills Inc. This husband and father of two has been in the flooring industry for a total of 18 years. In that time, he has seen his share of successes and change.

But it's not the past that concerns Theis with regards to the business he loves. It's the future. While the U.S. labor market overall is booming, there is a definite need for skilled workers in the flooring biz -- a need that's not being fully addressed. Theis sat down with NAFCD recently to discuss this issue, as well as chat about his career and job, in general.

What follows is our chat:

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

PAT THEIS: First, the worsening shortage of qualified installers. Without qualified installers, it is much harder for our retailers to differentiate themselves from the big-box stores. On the commercial side of the business, if you don’t have qualified installers, you are out of business. Second, the never-ending quest to drive prices down and commoditize whatever the hottest category is at the time. It happened to laminate, and it is happening to the WPC/SPC market. That is why Herregan aligns with suppliers that put innovation and value over price in their product development process.

NAFCD: What are your thoughts on the industry's shortage of flooring installers? What's behind it, and do you see it getting worse or better in the second half of 2018?

PT: We don’t have enough young people getting into installation to offset the experienced installers we are losing each year. Jobs that require hard physical labor are not as appealing to the younger generation. But that hard physical labor can be very lucrative when done right. Until we find a way to get in front of and explain the opportunity to the next generation of installers, things will continue to get worse. That is a major threat to the specialty flooring industry.

NAFCD: Are there any unique market trends in the geographical areas your Minnesota-based company serves?

PT: Although not really unique, the Midwest really embraced the Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) category faster than any other region. A glue-down, grout-able tile that wasn’t cold like ceramic really resonated and made sense. So, LVT was accepted and took off right away. Some of the biggest LVT dealers in the country were in the upper Midwest. That paved the way for click LVT; click LVP; and now into the WPCs and SPCs we see today, which is why those categories are the strongest categories in our region.

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

PT: The people. I really enjoy interacting with our customers, suppliers, and fellow Herregan employees. I feel blessed to have met so many great people that have had such a positive impact on my career.

NAFCD: What do you still find a challenge?

PT: Finding good people. At the end of the day, your people are your difference-maker. They can make or break you. Your ability to find and keep the good ones is what determines long-term success. That is a major reason Herregan is a thriving company after 52 years in business.

NAFCD: Was there a piece of advice given to you earlier in your career with regards to the business that has really stuck with you?

PT: Strive to bring value to your customers … on every call! Show them you are interested in not only selling them something, but helping them to be successful. If you can do that, you go from simply being a rep to a valued business partner.

NAFCD: What advice would you have to anyone entering our industry today?

PT: Work hard and tell the truth. That is the fastest way to gain trust. Once you gain that trust through character and work ethic, doors will start to open.

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

PT: NAFCD has been a great resource for Herregan. The networking with other distributors and suppliers is invaluable, and we have many great relationships because of our involvement in the NAFCD. We have had our management team attend several NAFCD sessions and have seen the value it has added. The NAFCD benchmarking has also been a great tool to see how we compare to other distributors. That helps us to a stronger company. We look forward to what the NAFCD has to offer at the conference every year.

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