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Orlando, FL — 10/12/21  Alliance Flooring held its member convention in Orlando, October 8-10, which they called, Family Reunion where members came together to have fun, learn, network, share ideas and see new merchandising and product introductions.

During March, when the group normally has their conventions, the decision was made to have a virtual event and product launch. The last in-person event was almost 20 months ago in Tucson, so this event was truly a real Family Reunion.

Kevin Logue

Kevin Logue, co-COO and Executive Vice President Marketing, said, “Throughout the pandemic and shutdowns we did our best to keep everyone connected and plugged in but there’s only so much you can do over the internet. We just felt it was time to go live again.”

Ryan Dunn, co-COO and Executive Vice President Sales, opened things up during the general session. He encouraged members by saying, “Lift one another up. Be the light for each other and the industry. Remember, we’re all family here.” He continued, “We are made to be together. During this event, we want you to network and enjoy being together. Last night’s energy was great.”

Ryan Dunn

“That’s one thing this group is known for — the camaraderie between members. It just shows the type of people who belong to this group — family-oriented, friendly and caring. It really is like a family reunion at every event – especially this year.”

Ron Dunn, co-CEO, spoke to the group next about what he’s seen in the industry the past two years and what he’s noticed about how members have handled this adversity. “It was inspiring to hear your stories about how you have dealt with all the struggles you’ve faced as retailers in this difficult time.”

Ron Dunn

He asked dealers a question – “How has your business changed, how has your personal life changed since the last time we were together?” Answers ranged from an increase in anxiety and shortages to working from home and a distorted sense of time. He asked members what do leaders do in challenging times. A few answers were:

  • Realize employees are people – be patient with imperfections
  • Use the word ‘we’ not ‘me’
  • Focus on long term vision, not short term drama
  • Integrity is most important – the golden rule
  • Everyone sees something you don’t

Jon Logue

Jon Logue, Alliance Flooring’s co-CEO, shared his annual State of the Industry. Some of the key points he shared were:

  • Consumer confidence continues to be strong
  • Raw material price increases including shipping containers
  • 1.7 million Total Housing Starts forecast for 2022 (highest since 2007)
  • Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) forecast to be +9% in 2022 to $390 Billion
  • 2021 Industry Hard Surface Growth vs 2019 is up 10% across all categories
  • New US hard surface plants show investment in domestic manufacturing
  • 2021 Industry Hard Surface Growth vs 2019 is up 10% across all categories
  • Polyester carpet growth continues

He also shared a few steps for growth:

  • Digital Marketing growing exponentially – be sure you’re on our Web Pro, SEO Pro and Social Pro programs
  • Participate in our promotions with lower-than-credit-card rates in our Consumer Credit program
  • New product updates a must including Happy Pets carpet and COLORTILE Max+
  • Increase LVT inventory

With the company’s Alliance Digital Marketing program, members have access to all digital needs in one online program. It assists members with a website, SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. The group also stressed cyber security and offered help to members in that area. “As everyone is probably aware, many large suppliers of ours were attacked and now they are going after small businesses. We can give you some best practices to put in place and protect your business,” stated Logue.

Kevin Logue shared the group’s 2021/22 Product Strategy. In addition to launching new programs, he said the group added several new hard surface suppliers. Most new displays were launched virtually in March at the Connect ’21 virtual event but a few new displays were introduced at this show.

Suppliers were invited to participate in Rush Hour, a fast-paced buying event on Saturday night where members get a head start on special buys. Everyone had a great time including suppliers who were excited about the incredible buying activity this year. Alliance Flooring encouraged members to take advantage and stock up since prices continue to rise. Several suppliers reported to have sold more at this Rush Hour than any previous.

The next morning during Exhibit Hall, the group unveiled two new carpet programs with Shaw and Phenix called the Happy Pets Destination. Kevin Logue said, “Much of the product mix has shifted to hard surface with our members over the last 10 years with nearly 65% now in hard surface and 35% in carpet. Since Stainmaster exited, it left a hole in members’ carpet offerings which we filled with our Happy Pets brand with Shaw and Phenix. We also added hard surface programs from COREtec, Shaw, Happy Feet and Engineered Floors. We try to keep members competitive with product and we feel these new introductions help do that.”

Tom Lape

After lunch, Tom Lape, a strategic advisor for Mohawk, shared some insights on what he expects we will see as an industry in the next year. He expressed confidence that the flooring business will continue to thrive, especially at the mid- to high-end, but warned to continue planning for labor shortages and other cost increases. “The GDP was negative in 2020 and flooring was up. Inflation was 1% in 2020 and is up 5% so far in 2021. Existing home sales and new home construction are both up but the challenge is margin,” he said. Lape expects demand to taper off in 2022, while costs will continue to rise.

Another key focus of this convention was growing membership. There were several prospects in attendance. It’s not just a numbers game with Alliance Flooring. They want the right kind of members that will fit in with the group. Billy Beasley is one such member who joined Alliance Flooring just weeks ago. He said, “I’m glad I made the move. There’s a different atmosphere here compared with some of the other groups I looked at. I have nothing but good things to say. Everybody here is welcoming; nobody is a stranger.”

Ryan Dunn said, “We interview prospects as much as they’re interviewing us. I look at their culture and feel them out. I feel very strongly about our group and want to protect them. We have something special. We don’t just say hey, come on in, anybody can join. If we start bringing in the wrong type of dealers who don’t think about the entire group and aren’t open to sharing ideas then we would lose our uniqueness. We protect our program.”

Kevin Logue added, “We want dealers that want to share ideas and share in that peer-to-peer camaraderie because that’s what we’re all about. Plus, we see a huge membership growth opportunity with 2nd and 3rd generation specialty retailers. A lot of businesses are being passed down and Ryan and I want to make sure those new owners know they are a very important piece of what we’re doing.”

Ryan commented, “We tell prospects just do your research. Read about us. Talk to others. Most of the time they call me back and say, ‘where do I sign?’. We feel like we’re positioned very well for growth for the next several years.”

Member Dave Lee, owner, COLORTILE & Carpet in Salem, OR, won a free trip for two to next year’s convention, also in Orlando.