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Atlanta, GA — 3/1/17  CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Carpetland USA and Floorco dealers from around the country began arriving at Atlanta’s Marriott Marquis looking forward to a huge accomplishment for the group – the 20th Anniversary Convention. The Convention was held February 25-28.

To kick things off, members and suppliers gathered for a Welcome Dinner Saturday night. The reception theme was Sports and Game Night. As relationships were renewed and old memories relived, members looked forward to making new memories this year. Members and suppliers alike were heard to say they had a blast and how much fun they had playing pool, table tennis, corn hole and throwing darts.

Early Sunday morning, members attended the Opening Session. Ron Dunn, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE began the session by offering some perspective on how and why the group was started, “When we started we didn’t want to have conference room geniuses. We wanted to get the opinions of our members. Our mission statement was ‘Make good things happen for good people’ and it still is.”

Ryan Dunn, co-COO and Vice President Sales of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, asked 100 members various questions for a fun game show they called “Celebrity Family Feud”. He invited up the CarpetsPlus buying committee members and Carpetland USA buying committee members and said, “Let’s play the Feud!”

After the game, Ron Dunn introduced the meeting’s first speaker. Dunn said, “The truth is, with the right attitude we can do just about anything. Our next speaker was picked for just that reason. Here’s a guy that went to England from Nigeria and was hired by McDonald’s to wipe tables and clean bathrooms. He kept being promoted and ended up going to business college. Then they decided to send him to Harvard to get an MBA when Domino’s Pizza hired him away. He helped take them global and run their operation in the US.”

Akinboro spoke about the importance of ‘Leading With Positive Attitude’. He compared leaders with a fixed mindset to leaders with a growth mindset. “It’s a matter of core values,” Akinboro said. “Your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.”

A fixed mindset says I am who I am and I can’t change, it doesn’t matter how much you try. A growth mindset says I get up every day and look at every person as a potential customer and look for people who can help me and those I can help. He added, “They welcome threats and challenges with open arms and say, ‘bring it on!’”

Speaking directly to store owners, he said, “You are the most important member on your team and your attitude has a direct correlation to your team’s performance.” He added that if the store owner acts and operates in a defeated manner, so will their employees.

Jon Logue, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE’s co-CEO, next gave the State of the Industry. He began by recounting some advice he gave almost 10 years ago by saying, “We told you to batten down the hatches in 2008 and we were right. Now it’s time to open up those hatches!”

He said that hard surface continues to grow with resilient leading the way followed by ceramic and laminate. He said there are 13 new LVT, resilient sheet, rigid core and carpet plants being built in America to be completed by the end of 2017 with a $1 billion investment in the categories. New hard surface trends are wider and longer plank lengths in addition to more tile looks. Logue said that carpet’s market share has declined including both residential and commercial segments. Polyester continues to grow overall and price point bifurcation continues.

Logue cited Wells Fargo’s economic forecast of a 2.5% GDP forecasted growth for 2017 (up from 1.9% for 2016), strong consumer spending and confidence as well as a buoyant stock market. Interest rates will increase to 4.25% by 4th quarter and inflation will increase from 1.5% in 2016 to 2.5% by December 2017. He also stated that retail sales were up 5.6% in January over 2016. He also mentioned that consumer confidence reached a 12 year high in January at 111%.

One new carpet trend is super-soft two DPF. Also trending is nylon and polyester filament and multicolor. Concern over carpet’s pet performance stories is growing. “Since 65% of homes now have pets, we came out with the Pet Friendly Destination that Kevin will tell you about,” he noted.

Kevin Logue, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE’s co-COO and Vice President Marketing, came up next to introduce the group’s new merchandising programs in carpet, luxury vinyl, composite core flooring and hardwood.

He announced that Mohawk Flooring has been added as part of Phase 3 of its Destination program with the launch of three new introductions — Your Pet Friendly Destination as part of its Happy Pets Carpet and Flooring brand; Your Soft Destination; and, Your Luxury Flooring Destination.

“We added Mohawk because it offers a unique pet warranty and that was something members were asking for,” explained Kevin Logue. “They were also asking for a private label pet and performance brand they could market and promote locally, and we’ve given them that with Happy Pets Carpet and Flooring. It features the Happy Pets Performance Promise which covers both carpet and hard surface.”

He said, “Our market share as a group continues to grow in hard surface. We try to give them the tools to grow and be comfortable selling it.” He said the group is anticipating double-digit growth in hard surface this year. For this reason, it launched a new LVT program with Karndean called Design Destination which includes 40 SKUs in 24” x 24” samples as well as architect folders of the entire collection. It was shown first at the group’s Pittsburgh Summit in October at SP Floors and Design Center.

“The idea behind the Design Destination launch is the flexibility of installation options,” he said.

CarpetsPlus is also adding to its Destination Hardwood program, introduced last year, to include new stacker displays featuring wood from Shaw and Anderson. “Everyone wants to show larger samples of wider widths and longer lengths so customers can see how product will look on the floor,” said Kevin Logue.

After the new introductions were shown, Kevin Logue asked members to become a Destination Location by taking on these premier displays each year which helps them to stay up to date with the best products. Ryan Dunn said, “The Destination location program has been three years in the making. It gives our dealers a rebirth in their showroom, taking them a step above.”

The first example of a Destination Location was shown at Stacey Pape’s store in Pittsburgh, PA. The program focuses on updating store layouts and displays to show the latest new product. To become a Destination Location requires a buy-in purchase of six to eight Destination displays.

Pet Friendly Destination display unveiled at convention

“Other benefits include additional suppliers, an expansion in hard surface products, more private labeling, Web Pro 3.0 platform upgrades, enhanced marketing, quicker display turnaround and in-store POP,” explained Kevin Logue.

“To be successful as a specialty flooring retailer today is you have to establish yourself as the fashion and design destination in your community. You have to solve a problem for the consumer. You have to offer design solutions. You have to offer a multitude of options. You have to have a knowledgeable sales staff. That’s what the Destination Location idea is all about,” Logue said. “To help them to elevate their game at retail and develop a consistent look and feel across all product categories and CarpetsPlus COLORTILE locations. That’s really what it’s about.”

The next morning, Ron Dunn opened the General Session by saying, “Lots of things have changed over these past 20 years. But some things haven’t such as customer service and the need for leadership.”

He had a 12 foot high pole vault set up on stage to illustrate his next point. He asked members, “What is the one thing that comes to mind as we look at this bar? You’ve got three options. One, you can look at it and say, ‘No thank you, I’m going home. I’ll let somebody else do that.’ Two, you can say, ‘Lower the bar.’ Third, you could say, ‘Give me the pole.’ It’s so important for us to pay attention to where our bar is. When we make our choice, what example are we setting?”

Member Bruce Kautzman inspects new Destination Luxury Flooring

We asked four questions our RV trip. The first was, ‘What is your bar?’ Describe your bar. What words have you written on it? What are you trying to accomplish? The second question was, ‘Are you ever tempted to lower your bar?’ The third was ‘What is the pole you know you have to have to get over that bar?’ The fourth was, ‘What in business is most satisfying to you?’”

Ryan introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Randy Ross, who encouraged members to “Be Remarkable.” He said, “Being remarkable means you leave a lasting impression on people. That’s a powerful thing. I want to challenge you to be remarkable.”

Ross added that business owners need to intentionally craft a remarkable culture. He defined culture as “the collective expression of values, beliefs and behaviors individuals bring to any endeavor.” He said, “Values drive our thinking, our thinking creates our beliefs, our beliefs in turn then drive our behavior. Those three things are vitally important as you think about crafting your culture.”

“Your culture is the single most differentiating factor that you possess.” He told the audience that the greatest way to grow their business is to, “Constantly keep your hand on the helm of culture. You must not only be a champion for that culture but a keeper of that culture because you will have a culture by design or by default.”

General Session continued after lunch with Scott Humphrey, CEO of WFCA, as well as Steven Feldman, Publisher of Floor Covering News.

That evening, members arrived to celebrate the conclusion of the 20th Anniversary Convention. It was a night to remember. Several awards were given to members and suppliers for various accomplishments, including Retailer of the Year for both CarpetsPlus COLORTILE and Carpetland USA.

CarpetsPlus recognizes charter members

Ryan Dunn took a look back at the previous 20 years and said, “Thank you for coming to our 20th Annual Awards Night. I’ve come to realize through all these years that people and relationships are what we’re all about. And it really is true, we’re all family here. Tonight, we want to recognize those who have traveled farther and flown higher than they thought they might have this past year.”

They first recognized their charter members. Ron Dunn said, “At Surfaces in 1997, we launched as CarpetsPlus of America. These roughly 40 retailers embraced the plans and vision, joining as charter members. Thank you all for getting on board and we salute you as well as all our members who joined with us later for your vision, passion, resilience, commitment to network and share and all the success you’ve had over the past two decades.”

National Retail Salespeople of the Year

Kate Butcher, Dan Smiddy & Alicia Self

  • Dan Smiddy, Smiddy’s CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Terre Haute, IN
  • Alicia Self, COLORTILE and Carpet, Salem, OR
  • Kate Butcher, Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Bloomington, IN

Alicia Self was very surprised and humbled by the award. She said, “I think it shows I’m appreciated which I sometimes have a hard time accepting. But this award is a reassurance that I’m on the right path and headed in the right direction. It feels good.”

Hard Surface Supplier of the Year: John Callahan, Karndean

Callahan was ecstatic to win this award, “Truly, everyone at Karndean is overjoyed to be recognized by our partners at Alliance, and we appreciate the hard work done at every level to support this relationship. While our customer dedication and premium service levels have been recognized in last year’s ReCo report, the acknowledgement as Hard Surface Supplier of the Year by CarpetsPlus further supports our commitment to forging meaningful partnerships in the marketplace. Thanks so much and looking forward to 2017.”

Carpet Supplier of the Year: Greg Payne, Shaw Industries

Payne said, “It means the world to the entire Shaw team to win this award. It raises the bar for Shaw to exceed higher expectations and deliver. We will carry the banner of Supplier of the Year proudly but realize our goals of growth and service just increased.”

Ryan Dunn gave the qualifications to be a CarpetsPlus and Carpetland USA Retailer of the Year winner. He said, “These awards are presented to the members who, in 2016, exemplified leadership in the following categories:”

  • Rebate volume earnings
  • Convention & Summit Attendance
  • Support of our merchandising launches
  • Networking with fellow members
  • Branding of their store
  • Use of Web Pro 3.0

Carpetland USA Retailer of the Year: Bob Caputo, Carpetland USA, Dothan, AL

Bob Caputo wins Carpetland USA Retailer of the Year

Bob Caputo said, “When I moved to Dothan from Chicago, I worked for Carpetland. I’m closer to all the owners now than I was back then. Jon and Ron have helped this group really grow together. Thank you.”

Before Ron Dunn presented the CarpetsPlus COLORTILE Retailer of the Year award, he commented, “So many great choices to choose from. Sometimes when you have so many amazing options and have to make a final decision, it really requires a lot of reflection and thought. This store is in a growing community. When a building opened up they decided to move to a main road. They embraced the program, completely remodeled the building inside and out, put up a beautiful digital sign and saw 67% growth. Guys, you earned it.”

CarpetsPlus COLORTILE Retailer of the Year: Jim Brown and John Brown, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE of Bloomington, IL

John & Jim Brown win CarpetsPlus Retailer of the Year

John Brown commented about the help they received from other members after he and his brother Jim won the CarpetsPlus Retailer of the Year award, “Mark and Mary Ann Dougherty opened their store, their entire store to us. We just want to say thank you. My brother and I were also lucky enough to find a mentor here, actually two of them. I just want to say thank you to Scott Melkonian and Jeff Dearing.”

Jim Brown added to those thanks, “I want to thank our entire staff back home. Without them we wouldn’t be here. Without all you guys here, the networking, membership, and all you people up here, Ron, Ryan, Jon and Kevin. Thanks to all you guys. Thank you and God bless.”