Article Number: 2696
Distributor Marketplace proves mutually beneficial
Austin, Texas—The goal of the NAFCD’s Distributor Marketplace is as basic as it gets: connect manufacturers and distributors in a focused forum. Exhibiting suppliers are looking to fill geographic voids, while distributors are hoping to add a line or two that can complement their offering.

John Himes, president of Wood Flooring International (WFI), was exhibiting in year two based on last year’s success. “It is a concentrated time with the type of customers with whom we are looking to expand,” he said. “From the contacts we made at last year’s show we grew from 30% coverage in the U.S. to about 80% coverage. Could we have done that without the Distributor Marketplace? Yes. But this provided a much faster launching platform than we would have been able to realize otherwise.”

This time around, the show was about filling in a couple of holes. “For us, it’s a great platform to meet with our existing customers,” Himes said. “It’s a little less crazy and more focused than Surfaces. We can spend better time with the right people.”

Then there are companies like Faus, whose goal was to reintroduce itself while introducing some new products. “With all the recent changes that have occurred within our company, we are exposing different levels of management as well as our sales force to distribution,” said Ken Freedman, director of sales. “So as much as it’s about selling product, it’s also about networking and building relationships. It’s more about exposure.”

One manufacturer drawing attention was WEGO International Products, which markets the South Mountain brand of hardwood flooring. The line features a full collection of distressed and handscraped products as well as exotics. According to Alex Shaoulpour, product manager, the company has about half to three-quarters of the country covered and is looking to expand its distributor base. “Through distribution we put together a program with backup inventory in five warehouses,” he said. “We import 500 containers a month.”

The event can also serve as a launching pad for companies new to the marketplace. Such was the case for FloorFolio Industries, master distributor for the Responsive Flooring line of commercial flooring. According to Richard Freedman, president, “Our philosophy is to support distribution and flooring contractors, so we are here to launch our line through distribution. We have signed up four distributors in the last month and are looking to add more throughout the country. This is the only venue that focuses solely on distribution.”

Distributors’ perspective

For every distributor with whom FCNews spoke, a different manufacturer had attracted their attention. Bob Weiss, president of All Tile in Chicago, was raving about his visit with ShawMark. “They just introduced Anything Goes! Green, which is huge. Everyone knows Anything Goes!; now it’s a stand-alone display with beautiful, recycled products with a true green story.”

Lucky Burke, president of Readers Wholesale in Houston, said he was just looking to see what was available. “Ark had some pretty cool exotics, and WEGO had some neat handscraped looks.”

Kent Goodman, president of Space Flooring in Atlanta, was trying to find new products that could fight the current economic conditions. “We went by the TruLock booth; they had some very interesting exotic visuals with the 5G locking system.”

And Chris Freed, president of J.H.Freed & Sons in San Diego, had set up some appointments with existing vendors and a potential new one. “We are contemplating introducing Preverco to the Southern California market in the first quarter next year.”