San Antonio, TX — 3/12/19 CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Carpetland USA and Floorco dealers from around the country gathered at San Antonio’s Hyatt Hill Country Resort for the group’s Drive 2019 Convention. The Convention was held March 9-12.
During the Welcome Event, members and suppliers rode a mechanical bull, took selfies with a 2,000-pound Longhorn steer and danced and sang on stage with the band. Everyone was having a great time getting caught up and looking forward to making new memories. It’s always a good time at Alliance Flooring conventions.
Ron Dunn, co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, opened at General Session by saying, “No matter how good you’re doing, there’s always something you could learn and do better. That’s what these sessions are all about.”
One way a retailer can get better is through something he called, the “Principle of the Slingshot”. He explained the principle this way, “Great business doesn’t just happen. Sometimes we have to go through a ‘stretch time’ where we are challenged by something, and in the case of members working through a succession plan, challenged by the one taking over the business.” He went on to say, “Because of that stretch, we are able to launch further than we could have without the stretch.”
During his ‘State of the Industry’ presentation, Jon Logue, Alliance Flooring’s other co-CEO, announced that 2019 would be another good year for the group based on his research – at a 5-6% growth rate.
He cited many economic trends such as:
- Housing starts up 3%
- Existing home sales estimated to be up by 9% in 2019
- Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity STRONGEST IN OVER A DECADE…$354 Billion by end of 2019
- Consumer confidence remains high
- Stronger income and wage growth
- Record low unemployment
Every other year, a successful member hosts a ‘Member Summit’ at their store where they explain the ins and outs of how they run their business. Tom and Adam Arnquist, 2017’s CarpetsPlus COLORTILE Retailers of the Year, brought a little of that Summit feel to this year’s convention.
Arnquist practices what it calls “intrapreneurship.” Each employee is entrusted to make decisions for the company, to take ownership and act as if they had skin in the game. IF they meet their sales goal for the month, as they have for the past 15 months, they all get a bonus. If not, no one does.
He also spoke about how they hire people. Their top salesperson had no previous flooring experience when he joined Arnquist. He was hired because “he was a good person who was motivated and had a smile on his face,” Tom Arnquist said.
This year, several hard surface private labeled displays were added to take advantage of growth categories in waterproof flooring – even waterproof hardwood. Nearly half of these introductions are with new suppliers to the group. Kevin Logue, Alliance’s co-COO and vice president of marketing, announced these new introductions. Logue said, “Private labeling has become so important in hard surfaces because it can’t be shopped online. It’s more important than even soft surface. There is example after example of suppliers in our group who at first didn’t want to private label but when they did, their business with us grew exponentially.”
Logue also introduced a new division to the group called, Kitchen and Bath Design Network. “We are always looking for ways members can diversify and grow their business. One way we’ve been exploring for a while is through the Kitchen and Bath category.”
Logue continued, “We have one member who replaced a low-selling category in his store with cabinets and countertops and he has seen the business grow rapidly the past two years. Customers come to our member stores for design and fashion advice so why not add kitchen and bath to the mix? It just makes sense. With the addition of our Kitchen and Bath Design Network, our members’ stores can be a one-stop-shop design destination for more areas of the home than ever.”