Sign In   |   Join NAFCD
Blog Home All Blogs
News and Updates from NAFCD


Search all posts for:   


As VP of Sales, Mark Johnson Is Keeping TRAXX

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Flooring executive Mark Johnson is very much like the company he has served for the past eight years: flexible, professional, and dedicated to serving a diverse clientele. "Traxx Corporation is continually listening to the industry and markets to determine what is changing," Johnson said during a recent interview. "As a result, we have the ability to make changes that will align with the industry and provide installation solutions for today’s distributors and installers."

Johnson has held the position of TRAXX's Vice President of Sales since June 2016 after serving as the California-based company's National Sales Manager for the previous six years. In his current position, he is responsible for overseeing all business development and sales organization for this leading manufacturer of specialty engineered flooring installation products.

"I started with Traxx eight years ago, but I have been in the industry for 29 years working for flooring installation supply manufacturers," he stated. "I enjoy working for a company that manufactures the highest quality products in the industry. We are highly committed to the training and education of installers, and we invest in and value the relationships with the distributors in this industry. Relationships, training, and installation solutions are equal to providing the highest quality of products available."

TRAXX's products are rigorously tested to ensure long-term performance for even the most demanding of carpet and vinyl installations. Whether the customer is looking for carpet installation tack strip, carpet seam tape, flooring nails, flooring staples, or other carpet installation tools and accessories, TRAXX offers a wide array of flooring installation products that professional installers rely on for performance and value.

The company, though, would not be the success that it is without a highly skilled and dedicated work force. For Johnson, there are few things more important or rewarding than building a team that is in alignment with the core values of the organization. "One strategy I have implemented for over 20 years in hiring is an acronym: CASH," he remarked. "C equals character, A equals attitude, S equals skills, and H equals habits. Character and attitude are most important. Skills and habits can be trained. Without high character and a good attitude, the skill level and habits don’t matter."

When asked what he considers to be the favorite part of his job, Johnson's mind was very much on the human equation. "It's the interaction with the people within this industry," he answered. "I love working with our sales team on a daily basis [and coming up with] strategies of exploring and developing diversification as the industry is continually transforming. It’s never boring!"

Johnson is a University of North Dakota graduate with a degree in Marketing and Business Management. Over the years, he has developed a philosophy of service and leadership that he likes to impart on men and women new to the industry. "Great follow-up will set you apart from many others in this business," he said. "Return phone calls and respond with information quickly. And, of course, have high character with a good attitude."

Looking ahead, Johnson sees several trends that he believes will affect the business. "Acquisitions and expansions are certainly a continuing trend, [and] the landscape is continuing to change as a result," he commented. In terms of product, "the overall trend within both new home construction and remodels continues to be toward hard flooring surfaces. As a result of this shrinking market segment, TRAXX diversified and entered the commercial markets segment by developing four moisture suppression products that are another cost-effective solution for protecting today's floor coverings."

Fortunately, Johnson, TRAXX, and executives and their firms in the business have the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) to rely on and assist them in recognizing the latest trends and keeping them on the path to success. Johnson concluded that NAFCD has provided him and his colleagues with "a connection to industry leaders who are willing to share ideas and strategies. Another key value of NAFCD is the training and information they provide. We all benefit as a result."

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Developing a Company Culture of Innovation

Posted By NAFCD, Monday, June 18, 2018

Technological advances have forced businesses to adapt and reinvent on the fly in recent years. Continuous innovation is not an option; it’s a necessity.

Being adaptable and open to change are essential aspects of any successful organization’s culture nowadays. However, that’s not enough. Business leaders must foster a culture of innovation to drive real success. In other words, you need to lead change instead of chasing it.

But how do you get there? Anyone can say, “We’re innovative,” but those are empty words if you don’t have the people on your team to realize the promise of innovation and creativity. The answer is performance competencies, which compare an individual’s intrinsic motivations to the behaviors that equate to strong job performance. By exploring the competencies of your existing team members, you can both identify hidden potential and uncover the talent gaps holding your organization back.

These are the key performance competencies that point to leadership in innovation:

  • Analytical Thinking – The capability to identify and synthesize information from diverse sources by looking for patterns in data, making connections between seemingly unrelated events, and understanding how different parts of a system are interdependent
  • Creativity and Innovation – Showing divergent thinking and the propensity to question existing practices; challenge commonly held assumptions; originate new or radical alternatives to traditional methods, processes, and products; and build on others’ ideas
  • Information Seeking – Displaying an underlying curiosity and desire to know more about things, people, or issues; people strong in this competency go beyond routine questions and dig for exact information, to understand the dynamics at play in a business situation
  • Initiating Action – This competency suggests the drive to take a leading role in improving or enhancing a product or service while developing entrepreneurial opportunities and avoiding problems. Those who initiate action often demonstrate a positive attitude toward getting things done and seek additional responsibilities beyond the scope of their formal job description
  • Learning Agility – The capacity to discern patterns in data, recognize relationships between concepts, and apply learning from one context to solve analogous problems in other contexts
  • Strategic Thinking – The capability to develop and help drive a shared understanding of a long-term vision that describes how the organization needs to operate now and in the future

These scientifically validated competencies are based upon years of research into – and data analysis of – intrinsic personality traits as they relate to job performance. Ultimately, people who demonstrate these competencies are much more likely to be innovators than those who do not show them. If you truly want your company to be a creative leader in your industry, you have to examine your organizational “bench strength” and start filling in the gaps with those capable of innovating.

Changing a company culture is not something you can accomplish with words alone. It takes time and effort to move the needle, and the best place to start is by measuring people’s performance competencies.

To learn more about enhancing company culture, and how to develop your leaders to embrace innovation, visit or email

To learn more about Caliper and special discounts to NAFCD members, visit

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.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Joe Cavanaugh: Continuing His Leadership Excellence at Tarkett

Posted By NAFCD, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Joe Cavanaugh describes himself as an "anomaly" in the floor covering business in that he had other careers before joining the business. The most notable of these careers was in the U.S. Army, which he retired from after nearly 23 years of service. Today, he credits his time in the military as shaping his way of thinking. "The Army taught me how much can be accomplished in an organization when great leadership has been provided," he stated, during a recent interview.

His desire to perfect the craft of leadership eventually drove him to earn a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership. His subsequent flooring career began at Mohawk Industries just as its Hard Surface division was being formed. "Uniquely," he noted, "this gave me the experience of working for a Fortune 500 manufacturer as well as a new start up." While at Mohawk, he became the North East Regional Manager in 2006.

Flash forward a decade later, and he joined the Tarkett Residential sales team. He is now the Vice President of Residential Distribution. More recently, he joined the board of the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD). We sat down with him recently to discuss his career, the industry, and his thoughts on the association.

What follows is our chat:

NAFCD: What do you think will be one or two of the biggest challenges our industry will face in the second half of 2018?

JOE CAVANAUGH: In my mind, the largest challenge will be additional pricing pressures especially in the areas of LVT/LVP, WPC, and rigid core products. The barrier to entry for a new brand in this arena is very low. This, in turn, will bring in new brands that have not properly vetted the manufacturing process. Additionally, advancements will happen so quickly in this arena that brands will introduce new flooring products having done very few or perhaps no test floors.

NAFCD: Where will the opportunities lie?

JC: The opportunities lie where the growth is. As advancements in technology along with manufacturing continue to improve, we will see products that will perform incredibly well in the consumers' home while having a level of beauty that until recently seemed impossible in these categories.

NAFCD: Are you seeing any trends within the flooring distribution channel?

JC: Distributors have always been great at getting products to the retailer in a timely manner. However, I have recently witnessed an increased level of service and a pride associated with that increased level. Distributors are proud of their ability to ship products quickly in their markets, and they should be.

NAFCD: Are there any unique trends in the specific geographic markets your firm serves?

JC: What I find amazing is that the core color preferences do not change that much. Gray and Greige -- a hybrid of Gray and Beige -- are still very popular colors for interior design across North America. However, the method of delivering those colors can differ greatly. In some areas, ceramic tile may be the preference while in others areas resilient floors may be the choice.

NAFCD: What makes your company stand out in the marketplace?

JC: What makes Tarkett unique is the deep level of caring the organization has for people and the environments they live in. It is widely known that in North America, people spend a majority of their time indoors. With that in mind, Tarkett has been a leader in the "Green Movement" within flooring. Currently, we have products certified by the Asthma and Allergy Association. If a floor is healthy enough for someone that suffers from either asthma or allergies, it will certainly be a good choice for any consumer's home.

NAFCD: Have you implemented any innovative approaches or strategies that have been particularly successful that you would be willing to share?

JC: At Tarkett, we focus on pull-through sales of a distributor rather than simply selling a product to a distributor and leaving them to handle the heavy lifting of getting those products into the local retail stores. We find that our relationships with our Distribution Partners is greatly enhanced as we help to generate sales at the local level within the distributor's market.

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

JC: People! I absolutely love people and the flooring industry is loaded with great people.

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

JC: I am very fortunate that I have had some great mentors in the industry. Those great mentors have taught me a lot of the things that I currently use every day in this job. However, in general, the greatest lesson I have learned is the importance of real, long-term relationships in this business. Almost every day, I speak with an old friend in the industry. Those conversations can range from an old friend making a major purchase from Tarkett to helping an old friend find the right position in the industry to just calling to keep in touch. It doesn't matter what the conversation is. What matters most is that they are all real and meaningful conversations between friends.

NAFCD: What advice would you give to someone young and just entering our industry today?

JC: My advice to anyone entering the industry in a sales role is "answer your phone every time you can. And if you can't, call the other person back quickly." I realize that many people reading this article take it as an automatic that sales people will answer the phone, but it is not. I make it a habit to ask retailers who the best sales person is in their market. Once they tell me who it is, I inevitably ask them "Why?" The answer I hear over and over again is that the sales person answers the phone or calls back quickly.

NAFCD: Finally, how has NAFCD been of value to you personally and to your company?

JC: Tarkett’s primary way to the end user is through distribution. Because of that, the NAFCD has been incredibly important to Tarkett over the years. However, if I was to identify one area that NAFCD has helped my organization, it would be education. I try to teach a deep level of empathy and understanding for what our Distribution Partners experience on a daily basis to my sales team. The NAFCD, because of its makeup of both suppliers and distributors, offers unique insights into both sides of the business. This unique approach gives us great tools to better understand our Distribution Partners' unique needs.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Haines Welcomes Jon England as Chief Sales Officer

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Haines is pleased to announce that Jon England will be joining Haines as Chief Sales Officer effective later this month. In his new role, Jon will report directly to Michael Barrett, President & CEO. Jon’s responsibilities will include all planning, processes, procedures, and policies related to the Haines sales force and also for brand marketing. Reporting directly to Jon will be Brian Green (SVP, CMH Sales) and Greg Vale (SVP, Armstrong Sales).

Jon was most recently Vice President, National Accounts at Mohawk Industries, where he has been employed for almost 15 years in a variety of sales, marketing, and operational roles. He has 20 years total experience in the flooring industry.

Jon England commented, “Haines has a long tradition of market leadership and connecting with its customers through great products and service. Having the opportunity to see what is on the horizon, I am excited to bring my experience and leadership to join an already strong team of great people."

Michael Barrett, President & CEO of Haines added, “I am delighted to have someone of Jon’s caliber join an already strong sales leadership team. His focus on strategy as well as top line growth will allow us to achieve our goals and expectations as a company.”

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

FCLC's Installation Research Project Is Producing Valuable Insights

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Members of the Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC) united on April 13, 2018, in Tampa, Florida, to hear preliminary results of the FCLC installation labor force research initiative currently being conducted by The Blackstone Group Inc., a Chicago-based research firm. The initiative will provide an in-depth look at the current and future state of the flooring covering installation labor force.

The FCLC initiative has three primary objectives:

  1. Estimating the size of the gaps between the supply of and the demand for floor covering installers, now and in five and ten years.
  2. Quantifying the financial impact of the installer shortage up the supply chain.
  3. Identifying the key drivers of the installer shortage as well as potential solutions.

Work is complete on the initiative’s first three tasks: resource identification, preliminary analysis of labor force issues, and in-depth telephone interviews with industry stakeholders.

The preliminary analysis of installer labor issues delivered a profile of the floor covering installation labor force; an examination of the gaps between supply and demand; estimates of the size of the gaps now and in five and ten years; and approaches to analyzing the financial impacts of installer shortages on the supply chain.

In-depth telephone interviews targeted qualified stakeholders from key segments of the industry, including floor covering installers, builders, unions, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. These interviews gathered insights on the drivers of shortages, the importance of training and certification, barriers to recruiting installers, the upstream financial impacts of installer shortages, and potential solutions to the shortages. Participants were asked to comment on the impacts that immigration, globalization, automation, regulatory changes, labor unions, product mix changes, and competition have had on flooring installation in the past five to ten years.

The fourth phase of the research is an online assessment being sent to a pool of industry stakeholders compiled by the members of the FCLC. The assessment has launched and will conclude by June. All who receive invitations to the assessment are strongly encouraged to respond.

The next meeting of the FCLC Communications Committee is scheduled for July 20, 2018, in Chicago. Final results of the floor covering installation labor force research are scheduled to be delivered to the FCLC membership on August 15, 2018, in Orlando, Florida.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

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.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

It’s Time for HR to Embrace People Analytics

Posted By NAFCD, Thursday, May 3, 2018

“Talent is now the most scarce and valuable commodity on earth, so companies who really understand how to attract, retain, and manage people will win.”

-Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. (1)

It is undeniable that the demand for talent across the business world has been picking up for the past few years, and the things employees value most have shifted as well, partly because of generational attitudes and partly because new technologies redefining the workspace.

How can HR departments effectively respond to this challenging business environment? Part of the answer can be found through the use of People Analytics. By analyzing the personality traits and intrinsic motivations of current talent, companies can make data-driven decisions related to hiring, employee development, retention, and team selection to ensure that an organization is successful now and in the future.

“HR and People Analytics have the potential to transform the way organizations hire, develop, and manage people” says Jason Geller, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Leading organizations are already using talent analytics to understand what motivates employees and what makes them stay or leave. These insights help drive increased returns from talent investments, with huge consequences for the business as a whole.” (2)

Although People Analytics has the potential to deliver significant value to an organization, the adoption by HR professionals has been slower than expected. Common reasons for hesitation in People Analytics implementation include:

  • A perception that HR teams are not yet staffed with individuals who are fluent in the collection, aggregation, comparison, and analysis of various datasets. Additional training may be required around the skills needed to translate People Analytics into decision-making insight. However, some People Analytics solutions are designed specifically for non-technical leaders in order to empower them with critical human capital insights and real-time analysis.
  • A lack of awareness regarding the variability of People Analytics solutions. That is, some platforms are easy to use and responsive for non-technical users, and others are not.
  • A belief that People Analytics will require a lengthy implementation process with significant IT resources. In actuality, some applications can be implemented in a few days, at most, and without the need for internal technical support.
  • A concern over limited access to the data required to power People Analytics solutions. Relevant data related to individuals and teams can be efficiently collected by many advanced People Analytics providers.

Once appropriate data have been collected and an advanced People Analytics platform in in use, HR leaders will be able to:

  1. Rapidly assess and analyzing hundreds of candidates for an entry level position and predict potential fit for future positions.
  2. Conduct career-path and bench-strength analysis for existing teams.
  3. Compare recently promoted senior leaders to their new teams or predicting the fit of potential managers with various teams.
  4. Identify high-potential candidates for emerging-leader programs.
  5. Target onboarding programs to suit maximize each new hire’s development.
  6. Assembling teams with a proper mix of strategically focused individuals who can facilitate, implement, and execute.
  7. Mine existing talent pools (full-time, part-time, and contractors) for people that can fit a wide range of positions.

People Analytics plays a critical role by supporting a full range of talent-planning and talent-management strategies. Many of the current challenges and barriers can be overcome once HR leaders commit to embracing a technology that enables when to answer the big questions and gain tremendous competitive advantages.


  1. Nov. 4 2014 – The People Analytics Market Heats Up With New Cloud Offerings.
  2. Managing Talent Costs with Talent Analytics Technology – Deloitte CFO Journal.

To learn more about how people analytics can enhance your talent management process, visit or email

To learn more about Caliper and special discounts to NAFCD members, visit

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.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

ITR Economics: Insights from our CEO

Posted By NAFCD, Thursday, May 3, 2018

Follow the Money

The US economy could use an upward bounce in corporate profitability. “Follow the money” is very good advice at this stage of the business cycle and the trend through April 24 was not encouraging. The profits-trend in the US varies from positive for the utility and machinery manufacturer industries (not enough to spur on the economy) to already negative for essentially all other financial and non-financial industries (declining below year-earlier levels). This is not what the economy needs right now to keep the upward momentum in Industrial Production and Employment going. ITR’s Economic Speakers are telling audiences that a revival to the rising trend in corporate profits would be good news for seeing the stock market head higher and for reversing the nascent signs of a cyclical slowdown in nondefense capital goods spending. Alas, while it would be good news, it is looking less probable as the months go by.

Like many folks, we are anxiously waiting to see if the tax cuts provide enough profit-inducing stimulus to offset the larger deficit spending and higher bond yields. The data to date is inconclusive at best; however, using the leading indicator trends at hand means that our forecasting services are going to be urging caution and wariness for 2019. The consumer is saving less and the corporate side of the equation is making less profit. This is not a good scenario for seeing ongoing business cycle rise in 2019.

The money trail is telling us that to avoid margin squeeze in 2019, we need to make sure our budgets are right-sized for the backside of the business cycle.

Brian Beaulieu

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.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

NAFCD Releases Quarterly U.S. Floor Trends Reports

Posted By NAFCD, Friday, April 20, 2018

In partnership with Market Insights, LLC, NAFCD is pleased to share the first NAFCD Quarterly U.S. Floor Trends Report.The report provides a narrative of U.S. economic forecasts along with flooring market data and an analysis of the current competitive environment.

The report is broken down into three sections: (1) Executive Summary, (2) Detail Report, and (3) Appendix/Tables and Charts.

Highlights of the April report include: (1) Economic indicators are pointing towards a period of continued economic growth in the coming quarters due numerous variables, which include, recovering global economy, low energy costs, rising employment and more, and (2) Threats to economic growth include U.S. government deficit, changes in Federal Reserve Policy, international discord and more.

Members can access the report in the Research Center. The Canadian report is also available.

Coming soon: Market Insights will provide members with access to its Country Market Report featuring county-level market data on flooring sales dollars per flooring product category which will be highly useful to regional distributors.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

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.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
Page 1 of 4
1  |  2  |  3  |  4
Community Search
Sign In


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