Retailers reveal the suppliers they win with

By Ken Ryan Behind every successful floor covering retailer is a supplier—or core group of vendors—with a vested interest in the health and vitality of that retailer. That philosophy is the common thread across the various suppliers floor covering retailers (and even some distributors) have identified in this second annual “Retailers Reveal the Suppliers They Win With” special feature.

The top suppliers, many floor covering retailers agree, are the ones that help specialty retailers maintain healthy profit margins—especially in an extremely competitive environment inundated with so many me-too products jockeying for market share. But it’s not the only factor retailers consider. The best vendor partners, retailers say, are the ones that also consistently provide the necessary support and value-added programs that help fuel their successes.

Following are some of the suppliers that stand out in retailers’ minds.


1. The Dixie Group

 

TDG is obsessed with its customers’ success and prides itself on providing visually appealing and differentiated products. “We offer market-leading visuals in hard surfaces, and our selective distribution creates a strong profit opportunity,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division. “Our product offering and approach to the market helps our retail partners enjoy higher sales tickets, better margins and a more profitable business.”

What retailers had to say

“They are partners with integrity that focus on fashion, performance, quality and pushing the limits of design. The integrity follows from Dan Frierson to T.M. Nuckols to Bill Waters, Jamann Stepp, Jeff Hudson, Tony Godfrey and recently added industry leaders Pami Bhullar and Len Andolino. They embody the Dixie culture: understanding that our business starts with our customers.” —Jason McSwain, McSwain Carpets & Floors, Cincinnati

“We have great sales reps who really take good care of us, and they also are very good at making sure that if we have any issues or claims they get them taken care of. They are a great mill partner for us. We started doing business with Dixie because they were an NFA vendor back when we joined. Dixie brought us some great roll promotions, and our sales staff really got behind them.” —Penny Carnino, Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile & Hardwood, Tulsa, Okla.

2. Engineered Floors

Since its inception in 2009, Engineered Floors has been known as a leading industry disrupter, with its state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. From how the company started to how its premium solution-dyed fiber (PureColor) is made, Engineered Floors has led the industry with innovation despite the company’s short history. It is EF’s mission to provide comprehensive flooring solutions for the healthy home.

What retailers had to say

“EF stands out because of its vision for the future. They see how business will evolve and they have set themselves up for success. We enjoy the management team from Jeff Bengtson to Will Young. They are in touch with our business and understand how important it is to review our products and displays regularly so we can maximize profits and product growth.” —Doug Bertrand, Carpetland USA, Davenport, Iowa

“We’re big on polyester and they’ve got a great selection with polyester. Ultimately it comes down to Will (Young), and our rep is awesome as well. They stand behind their products, they don’t play games with us. It’s nice to know they have our back. If I have an issue, I can always call Will and he’ll resolve it. Great products, great value to the consumer and good margins for the retailers. We’re in with EF big time.” —Jeremy Winges, 3 Kings Flooring, Fort Wayne, Ind.

3. Karndean Designflooring

With Karndean luxury vinyl, retailers can make more margin and differentiate themselves from local competitors. As a family-owned company, Karndean places customer service at the heart of what it does. Karndean’s dedicated customer service reps develop relationships with their customers, know their order history and take great care to consider each one’s unique needs when placing orders and delivering accurately.

What retailers had to say

“Karndean designflooring has been a great vendor partner for us. The quality of their products is very consistent, and they manufacture first-class visuals that sell themselves. Karndean is a little more expensive than others, but the margins are higher. Furthermore, my installers really like installing it.” —Josh Elder, Gainesville CarpetsPlus ColorTile, Gainesville, Fla.

“We got in with Karndean about seven years ago and they’ve shown flexibility with us from the start. We have worked together to create pricing scales that meet all my customers’ needs. Their designs are totally custom. No one else has these looks. They are by far my favorite vendor, and it is a very profitable line for us.” —Ben Case, The Carpet Collection, Lockport, N.Y.

4. Mohawk

Mohawk continues to innovate and provide the latest in product and program offerings that help drive retailer differentiation and business growth. In 2021, the Mohawk Momentum Roadshow gave retailers the momentum they needed – when they needed it – to move their businesses forward in 2021. As we move into 2022, Mohawk is excited to showcase new advancements in products, programs and platforms.

What retailers had to say

“Mohawk allows us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. For example, having the SmartStrand fiber as a much higher-quality upgrade compared to the PET fiber. There is no advantage in filling your stores with a large PET offering. Everyone has it and at the same price.” —Bruce Odette, Carpet Exchange, Denver, Colo.

“The best thing about Mohawk is their service. From our regional reps all the way up, Mohawk Industries offers exceptional service. They are responsive when we have issues and are a great resource when we are looking for products to offer our customers or solutions to issues that arise.” —Gerry Yost, Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J.

5. Republic

Republic is a pioneer in the development of resilient vinyl Pure SPC flooring, which leverages advanced manufacturing techniques for ultra-realistic patterns and designs. Republic Floor also manufactures a wide range of stylish and durable laminate and rigid floors, and it offers high-quality engineered hardwood flooring that helps dealers earn higher margins. As a company, Republic is setting new standards in health and safety, and has raised the bar on quality and environmental sustainability.

What retailers had to say

“They have an excellent array of products with great looking visuals and very affordable prices. Their inventory levels are always good, and the service is excellent. We have had zero issues or problems with them and our business has grown with them because of this.” —Dan Mandel, Sterling Carpet & Flooring, Anaheim, Calif.

“From the day Rotem (Eylor) started the company he has been true to his word. Their product selection has been great, and their service levels are beyond anything we could have asked for. They are also a profitable line. I don’t lose jobs when I quote a Republic flooring product, and I don’t think I have lost one job.” —Steven Hernandez, Hernandez Carpet, Commerce, Calif.

6. Shaw

Shaw’s commitment to providing the best service in the industry has guided the company throughout its 50-plus-year legacy. From Shaw’s associates designing and creating its portfolio of cutting-edge products to its sales representatives and drivers sharing the products in your stores—Shaw’s entire team is dedicated to providing the best solutions, style/design, innovations and more to help flooring retailers be future-ready and to be able to grow your business to new heights.

What retailers had to say

“What stands out to me about Shaw is their willingness to not only listen, but to react to feedback from their retailers. In the 13 years we have partnered with Shaw, I can honestly say that I felt valued as a small independent retailer and my business was appreciated. I have never felt less valuable to anyone at Shaw compared to my larger counterparts, including the box stores.” —Michele Michalski, AC Carpet Plus, Fifield, Wis.

“For me it comes down to the partnership. When things happen—which is rare—they are there for you. They’ve always stood out and made that effort. The reps all the way to the top are transparent. On every level they are great people to do business with.” —Missy Montgomery, Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus ColorTile, Venice, Fla.

7. Stanton

As a leading supplier of decorative high-quality wool and synthetic carpet, custom fabricated area rugs and luxury vinyl, Stanton is recognized for its sophisticated design sensibility across the board. Stanton prides itself on great product, the highest level of customer service, the best in people, innovative technology and a sales team that is second to none. These are a few differentiating factors that make doing business with Stanton easier and more efficient than ever.

What retailers had to say

“Stanton offers cutting-edge products at affordable pricing. Beyond that, their representation and management team are second to none. The culture is shaped from the top down. Sy Cohen’s background in retail fuels Stanton’s approach to dealers in terms of bringing product to market that customers want and solving the inevitable issues that arise.” —Joel Schreier, Home Carpet One, Chicago

“Stanton is constantly ahead of the curve with their product styling and professionalism. Stanton Carpet’s showroom displays are some of the most impressive in the industry. Myers Atlanta, Nashville and Dalton combined are the largest wool carpet retailer in the Southeast and one of the top 10 in the country. Stanton Carpets fits perfectly with our high-end brand.” —Rick Myers, Myers Carpet Company, Atlanta

8. Phenix

Consumers want products that help to keep their homes cleaner. Phenix is the only residential carpet with Microban protection. Surfaces treated with Microban protect 24/7 against the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, and remain 99% cleaner than untreated surfaces. Look for the Microban logo on Phenix carpets. In addition, most Phenix carpets are made with solution-dyed fibers, which help carpets look newer longer.

What retailers had to say

“Phenix has always created stylish, on-trend collections for specialty retail, and their investment in the solution-dyed arena continues to set them apart from the competition. With the addition of Microban technology for all Suresoft products, Phenix continues to deliver added value to their retail partners.” —Scott Browne, Macco’s Floor Covering, Green Bay, Wis.

“Phenix has been a valued supplier for us for many years. In fact, we have life-long relationships with their management team. Their soft surface products from entry level to premium products are best described as ‘value.’ We give them floor space and sales of their products are growing.” —John Stacy, S&H Flooring, Dallas, Texas

9. Southwind

Quality, service and availability are the tenets of Southwind, and customers have come to rely on the company to deliver on that and more. This year Southwind built brand awareness by recruiting Alison Victoria, host/designer of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab,” as a spokesperson for the new XRP resilient products. Also new are three collections of LVT as well as Duxxe, a line of laminate flooring, and numerous new styles of carpet.

What retailers had to say

“They remembered me when we first started, and I’m just a little retailer in Montana. They are welcoming and great to work with. This year we’ll do close to $200,000 with Southwind, which is significant for us. They’ve become one of my main go-tos, and they step up every year with better products and service.” —Chad Higley, Bobcat Home Furnishings, Bozeman, Mont.

“We have a really good rep, John Roberts, who does a great service educating our salespeople. Southwind always has really good stock inventory; they have a good color range, and their prices are really competitive. For us, Authentic Plank, which is a 9 x 60 format, has been doing well for us.” —Barry McEntire, Flooring Depot, Panama City, Fla.

10. Tarkett

Over the past 150 years, Tarkett has grown into a clear leader in the flooring industry with beautiful products, exceptional quality and performance and top-notch service. Tarkett Home is passionate about providing customers with flooring choices that meet all their needs while allowing them to stay true to their personal values and unique style. Tarkett’s products are durable, easy to maintain and guaranteed to make your home warm and comfortable.

What retailers had to say

“Tarkett is easy to sell; we have great confidence in the integrity of the manufacturer. With the higher acrylic content and the ability to be installed in three-season rooms, it is one of the most technically advanced LVPs out there. The darker core also allows for less visibility should you accidentally scratch it. Also, when loose-laid, it is fairly easy to remove/replace bad boards.” —Tina Shumway, Surfaces Flooring, Homossa, Fla.

“Tarkett’s portfolio of products in a one-stop shop. They have products for both residential and commercial settings, Johnsonite accessories and Centiva, so an entire project can be completed using only Tarkett products. Plus, Tarkett has put itself in a position to compete on a national level with their users and dealers.” —Nik Burdett, Atlanta Flooring & Design, Georgia, North Carolina

11. XGS

XGS understands the needs of flooring retailers, and we make it a point to uphold the bold promises we make. Today’s customer wants the shortest possible delay between choosing a floor and having it installed. With the innovative solutions provided by XGS, dealers can simplify their flooring distribution and focus on what they do best—sell flooring.

What retailers had to say

“We’ve been with XGS for at least 15 years. What’s great about the company is they really invested in service and logistics. They committed to having a presence in the 50 or 60 largest metroplexes, which really allows them to get product out to us so much faster than everyone else. Plus, they have the ability to cover both hard and soft surfaces, and they can deliver the product, unbroken, and in a timely fashion.” —Jeran Steuart, Carpet Direct Limited, Tulsa, Okla.

“What makes Xpress Global different from others has been their ability to overcome delivery issues in the past and improve to the level of service we are seeing today. We believe, with the current management team, there have been significant improvements in service and reliability.” —Ron Campbell, Southland Floors, Pompano Beach, Fla.

12. Flooring Lines

Flooring Lines is a direct, independent sales network that carries the relationship from factory to dealer or distributor. They work with many different global manufacturers to develop high-quality lines. With more than 40 displays available across the U.S., Flooring Lines has almost every category covered for your businessfrom entry level to custom.

What retailers had to say

“Flooring Lines brings true construction quality to the market, allowing retailers to have a small sense of a proprietary product that faces little competition They’re a younger, more agile group than most established flooring companies. They are more selective of their partnerships as well.” —Francisco Mondet, Conejo Hardwoods, Westlake Village, Calif.

“We carry all of their lines. They are nimble and able to adapt to current trends. Flooring Lines hits all the price points and looks that consumers are after, and they are creating an environment where retailers like us can survive.” —Tim Hosea, Arizona Hardwood Floor Supply, Phoenix

13. Lions Floor

Our products are renowned for proven stability and exceptional performance. Every collection is tested in U.S.-based laboratories and examined to surpass industry standards. All products are made from 100% ecological ingredients, and are FloorScore, CARB2 and GreenGuard Gold Certified. As importers, we prepare our inventory at least 50% more than our immediate sales while remaining competitive on selling prices.

What retailers had to say

“Lions Floor is one of the best values out there. Between the quality, the wood grain embossed decorative film with the 20-mil wear layer, it makes the product an excellent buy. It truly looks like real hardwood. The benefit to the end user is the ease of maintenance. Another plus is contractors enjoy installing Lions Floor because the ease of putting the product together.” —Michael Barczak, DeMar Wholesale Flooring, San Diego

“Lions Floor products are easy to sell, and it’s easy to get product. They are centrally located and they provide deliveries for us twice a week. With other manufacturers you have to wait two months. Also, Lions Floor hires people who know how to treat clients. My Lions Floor rep (Alex) always goes above and beyond for us.” —Carlos Hernandez, Hernandez Wholesale Flooring, Santa Ana, Calif.

14. Wagner Meters

Buying a Wagner Meters tool is far more than a sales transaction. It’s just one piece of a relationship dedicated to helping you and your business excel. The Wagner Meters mission is to equip the industry with the tools and education they need to manage moisture issues. To do that, it works hard at building strong relationships that stretch far before and after any sale.

What retailers had to say

“We like the Wagner hand-held moisture meters simply because you’re not doing damage to the wood. We don’t have the luxury with our products to be taking off a lot of surface once it goes into the moulder or planer, so we don’t want to have pinholes in the wood.” —Paul Ericson, Shelton Structures, Chehalis, Ore.

“My ace in the hole for finding dampness behind walls or beneath the floors or shower tile is my Wagner pinless moisture meter. When I first got the meter I ran it over a 3-inch-thick phone book with a glass of water beneath it. The meter actually detected the water. I was very impressed.” —Dan Temple, Emerald Home & Building Inspection, Gresham, Ore.

15. Wellmade

Wellmade Performance Flooring remains a leader in the burgeoning HDPC/SPC rigid core arena with its patented HDPC family of waterproof wood and vinyl products. Quality and innovation are the hallmarks of floors from Wellmade. Attention to detail yields floors that speak directly to the Wellmade brand, providing beauty, performance and value to our retail and distribution network.

What retailers had to say

“Wellmade’s HDPC Waterproof Wood is one of the most innovative floors we have in our arsenal right now. We have many customers in search of a combination of click together, easy-to-install hardwood, and this is perfect. On top of the ease of install, it is waterproof and extremely durable. We continually to do really well with this line.” —Rob Tarver, Wanke Cascade, Portland, Ore.

“We had looked at a lot of waterproof wood floors, but Wellmade’s—with the SPC core—stood out for its looks. It’s been a different category for us since we took on the line, and it has been well received by our customers. It’s our third year with the product, and last year was our best year with it.“ —Kevin Gummon, the Brandon Company, North Little Rock, Ark.

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