San Antonio, TX — 3/12/14 Alliance Flooring, Inc., parent company of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE®, Carpetland USA COLORTILE®, Floorco and Clean Touch Pro®, recently held its 2014 Convention in San Antonio, March 9-12, at the Marriott Rivercenter. The theme of the Convention was “Drive 2014 – Accelerate Your Leadership”.
The Convention began on Sunday night with the member Welcome Dinner at the Lonesome Dove – about an eight minute boat ride down the river walk from the hotel.
Upon arrival there was a band playing outside and plenty of smiling faces. There was everything to eat from chicken and waffles to traditional Texas fare such as brisket, barbeque chicken and grilled corn. Everyone was having a great time recalling Conventions past and looking forward to making new memories.
Ryan Dunn, co-COO and Alliance Flooring’s vice president sales, was very pleased with the event. “The Welcome Dinner was awesome; what a great venue. This event sets the heartbeat for the entire show. It was a unique atmosphere with great sponsors, great members and great food. The photos in the Big Chair and the Armadillo Races were a huge hit.”
Robin Osterhaus, Flooring Frenzy, Owatonna, MN, had this to say about why she comes to Convention and what she enjoys about the experience, “This is where I come to get rejuvenated. It’s truly like a family reunion. Other groups are not like them.”
On Monday morning, members arrived early to get a good seat for the Opening Session. Ron Dunn, Alliance Flooring’s co-CEO, opened the meeting with this statement, “Wow, this has been quite a six year ride. You’re still here. Why?” He answered the question with these two words – character and leadership. He went on to explain these answers.
During his third annual RV road trip visiting Alliance Flooring dealers across the country, he asked members two questions – what is character and what is important. The number one thing that dealers said was integrity. He also said character plays into long-term success.
He gathered all the answers to his two questions – what is character and what is important – and presented members with the seven characteristics of leadership which he heard commonly repeated – they care, lead by example, teaches, is visionary, has passion, makes decisions and integrity. He showed several videos of member and staff interviews which reinforced this theme.
Dunn encouraged members to focus on these characteristics of leadership to help them be better leaders. He also asked them to share with each other, talk with other members and ask each other questions to get the most out of their time at Convention. Dunn reminded members, “Our goal is to be reminded, encouraged and challenged. Sharpen ourselves. It’s a reminder of why we do what we do. What drives it? A desire to do things right.”
Jeff Henderson, marketing consultant formerly with Chick-fil-a, also spoke during the Opening Session. He stated his goal was to grow member business and sales in the next six months. He said, “The single greatest way to grow your business is to grow your own personal leadership. If you want to grow, ask questions about growth. If you want to stagnate, complain.”
Henderson gave members 10 leadership questions to help them grow their personal leadership. He asked them to pick one question a month and focus on it for the next six months. He said, “Apply it as a parent, spouse and business owner. It’s transformative.”
He said asking questions will uncover answers already there and stimulate thinking. He’s a small business advocate who believes when businesses thrive, communities thrive and makes the world a better place.
One of the 10 questions was, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” He said you’ll get surprising information, encouraging information but you will also get your feelings hurt. It will reveal your blindside. He said, “Open the curtain and invite feedback. When our team sees us trying to improve, it will inspire them and provide opportunities for growth.”
Joe Andrews, Cleveland CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Griffin, GA, commented about the group’s leadership, “We like the leadership at CarpetsPlus. All of their people work together to make it happen. The qualities of their leadership trickles down to everyone. I think they already exemplify many of these leadership qualities we heard about today. Nobody has an attitude. They all work so well together to do what it takes to get the job done.”
Jon Logue, Alliance Flooring’s co-CEO, was up next and gave his State of the Industry presentation. He announced that the group, as a whole, was up double digits year over year. He also stated that many members had their best Februarys ever, even in the midst of record winter weather.
He cited many statistics on residential and commercial flooring that indicated certain trends such as construction seems to be inching back, new home sales in January were at a five year high and the Harvard Remodeling index is the highest in years. He predicted slow, steady growth to continue in 2014. He ended the session by saying, “Carpe Diem!”
The Opening Session ended with Kevin Logue, Alliance’s vice president marketing and co-COO, announcing new introductions to the group. Afterward, he said, “We are very bullish about the future. We saw an uptick in 2013 and feel that 2014 will be another growth year. We strive to provide our members the most effective tools to be positioned as the floor covering leaders in their towns such as this new merchandising with product selection to fill the needs of their customers.”
Suppliers were invited to participate in Rush Hour, a fast-paced buying event on Monday night where members get a head start on special buys from suppliers. Near the end of this event, the group added to the frenetic pace of the evening by having the 2nd annual Alliance Flooring National Championship during their Elite 8 basketball speed shooting competition, won by Ric McKeehan owner of At Home Floors, Largo, FL. Everyone had a blast including the suppliers who were pumped about the buying activity this year.
“Rush Hour was fantastic. It’s something we really look forward to. We appreciate each of our suppliers and the hard work they put in bringing great products and deals to our members. It’s one of my favorite nights,” Kevin Logue commented.
On Tuesday, the topic of online marketing and social media was discussed. Ron Dunn opened the General Session by saying, “Today, it’s become a lot more complicated to market and advertise your business. How do we figure it out? It’s all being done on a smart phone. We’ve done a lot of research on this and put together a team dedicated to doing that for you.”
The web and social media team presented some facts and ways the group could capitalize on their rich stories they live everyday at their businesses like their sense of family, beautiful work and investments in their communities.
After these facts were presented, Dunn announced the group’s website program, Alliance Web Pro, is being updated and revamped with an overall re-design with extra features. He said it would be easier to update with a new content management system.
Dunn also announced the group’s advertising program, Alliance Media Pro, which was unveiled at their Summit in Indianapolis last October, to the rest of the group who didn’t attend the Summit. “With Alliance Media Pro, our members can utilize professionally designed, coordinated advertising, and run advertising campaigns with ease and for far less money than if they did it on their own. It offers a new jingle for radio, TV and internet usage, coordinating POP kits, direct mail, print ads, TV and radio spots and scripts, website graphics and social media,” said Dunn.
He also introduced a pilot program that will provide an all-inclusive, in-house solution for member’s needs in social media, website maintenance and advertising called Define Your Reach. The program was a result of members’ expression of need in these areas and will help them by allowing them to spend most of their time on what they do best – flooring.
Ryan Dunn and Kevin Logue teed up the Exhibit Hall next with a call to action for members. Logue quickly reviewed new introductions and asked members to participate in the exclusive merchandising package and to visit new suppliers.
Suppliers were very pleased with the reaction to the new merchandising and new products. As members checked out the displays and new products in the Exhibit Hall, Bill Storey, Mohawk’s vice president of sales, noticed, “Dealers are showing a lot of optimism here. They are optimistic despite the bad winter weather in many areas of the country. We are happy to be a part of this group of fashion-oriented dealers.”
When asked what makes CarpetsPlus COLORTILE members product and selection leaders in their areas, Jon Logue said, “We were at the forefront of the industry when we provided our members with soft carpet merchandising. Members value the marketing and merchandising we do. Our high end sales have gone through the roof. The customer seeking luxury appears to be back – and we made sure our members were ready for them.”
Kevin Logue, Alliance’s vice president marketing, added, “Our dealers are pumped. At our last convention, we met with our advisory board’s merchandising committee. They pointed out areas where they needed help and we addressed them with our new displays and programs. We retrofitted some displays to keep costs down and introduced others to make sure they could provide their customers with the product selection they wanted. Our suppliers really reinforced their support for our group this year and we appreciate their partnership.”
Shaw’s John Godwin, executive vice president of sales, when asked about what his general feeling was about the near future responded, “I feel like we’re going to see a lot of growth because of pent-up demand. This year has been really good for us so far with CarpetsPlus COLORTILE and we feel like the rest of 2014 will continue to be good with them. Everyone’s attitude is very good.”
Participating in their second convention, Tim Hanno, Karndean’s National Retail Account Manager, was very pleased with their show. “We had a great show. I’m very impressed with this group’s membership. If you were only around these guys for 15 minutes you’d see these dealers are a very family-centered, optimistic, high energy group. Alliance has become a very important group for us – a perfect fit.”