Chattanooga, TN — 10/21/14 CarpetsPlus COLORTILE® recently held its latest member Summit Meeting at the Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, OR, October 11-14, 2014. CarpetsPlus COLORTILE member Randy Reed, owner of COLORTILE in Bend and Redmond, OR, hosted the event.
CarpetsPlus COLORTILE Summits enhance member businesses through networking, sharing best practices, and training. These events are hosted by a CarpetsPlus COLORTILE member who opens his or her business for the benefit of the group.
The Summit began on Saturday night with a Welcome Reception held outdoors against the backdrop of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains with the 9,000 foot, snow-covered Mt. Bachelor in the distance. Even with temps in the 40’s, the group was glowing with warmth while rekindling old friendships and making new ones.
On Sunday morning, the day began at the Great Hall with Ron Dunn, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, opening the General Session. He asked the group a question and added a directive, “What question do you want to have answered today? Take a moment and write down two or three questions you’d like to have answered before you leave. Let’s look forward to a fantastic day of mining some nuggets to use in your stores.”
He continued, “If there’s one thing that comes to your mind about last night, what would it be? Cold. Yet you wouldn’t leave. There’s a lot of mojo in this group. What is that? It’s the energy that makes you. If you’re a leader and lose your mojo, that’s a bad thing. If you’d like to take it to another level we can help but you have to communicate – talk to us, talk to your fellow members, talk to these guys (pointing to the NW COLORTILE group) and we’ll all try to help.”
Dunn then yielded the floor to his partner, Jon Logue, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE. Logue recapped the history surrounding the CarpetsPlus acquisition of the COLORTILE brand in 2002, the first meeting with these owners and how the working relationship has expanded and deepened since that time. Logue explained, “There was some apprehension as to how this all would be handled back in 2002. But the transition to CarpetsPlus COLORTILE allowed these guys to have a complete private-labeled carpet program. I think we all agree it’s worked out pretty well.”
Ryan Dunn, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE’s co-COO and vice president of sales, introduced Randy Reed, owner of the two Summit host stores. “Randy began his career in 1982 as a COLORTILE salesperson, then after a career change, ended up back in floor covering where he opened his COLORTILE location in Bend in 1994.”
Reed took the podium and introduced the other five members from the Northwest COLORTILE group and invited them on stage. They are Rich Best (Medford, OR), Dave Lee (Salem, OR), Jim Paterson (North Bend, OR), Rick Shervey (Portland, OR) and Steve Taylor (Kennewick, WA).
Reed then began sharing a little about his business. He spoke about best practices in sales, operations, how to merchandise exclusive products and other keys to their success. He also shared how he dealt with the eventual closing of COLORTILE corporate in 1996, just two years after opening his store.
“We had to decide what to do. Being friends with the other franchise owners in this area made it possible to form a close network in which to set up new programs with the local distributors. We got together and talked about what we were going to have to do to stay in business. That’s really how we became such a close group. We’ve been going strong for almost 20 years now.”
The business savvy of the group of franchise owners helped them navigate their businesses through a difficult time and come out on top without any major corporate buying power or advertising help.
Steve Taylor said, “We were friends determined to succeed and do what was necessary, including importing products and sharing inventory. That’s when the buying group was formed.”
Reed added that the group was vital to the survival of his business, “Without this group I would not be here today. I know that for a fact.”
Dave Lee was also thankful for the group and the insight they provided. He also believed the acquisition of the COLORTILE name by CarpetsPlus helped them not only survive but thrive by expanding their range of products to include private-labeled carpet.
The importance of the group was echoed by other members. Rich Best said, “Part of the benefit of the networking group we have in the Northwest is we’re all different.
We all run different types of operations and have different operation styles. What we get out of the interaction is we all have different ideas about things and by sharing these things, it just makes us all stronger.”
Jim Paterson said, “We trust each other totally. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve been through the COLORTILE closing, we’ve been through personal issues. So I can’t see how we could be any closer. We’re family.
Rick Shervey added, “Never think you know it all! Most of the time, I have to try super hard to zip my mouth and listen. I hope to always learn something from a situation or carry forward an idea and improve on it. Always value teamwork. When a group sets out to achieve a common goal, it’s exciting to celebrate the team’s success.”
Ron Dunn asked what advice that each of them had for other members across the country. Each member of the Northwest group presented advice they’ve learned over the years.
Shervey advised the room that branding is key. He said, “We are true to the COLORTILE brand. Branding is so key, especially in the metro area of 3 million where I am. People just won’t come to Rick’s Tile. The name COLORTILE is big for us. It’s one of the top brands in the industry.”
They also had advice about starting a regional networking group in other parts of the country. “Start off small,” Reed said. “Start with a set goal.” Dave Lee interjected, “Get to know each other. Communicate. Call the other guys.” Reed also said, “We meet about 3 times a year to discuss ideas on buys among other business items.”
Taylor said, “You have more in common with each other than anybody else. Who else would want to talk about flooring all day? Share with each other.”
Dunn then dismissed members for lunch which was held outside. The weather was gorgeous and everyone was abuzz about what they had just heard. Many were overheard talking about what they could apply to their own businesses.
After lunch, members loaded up onto the buses. The idea sharing ramped up as members loaded the buses and headed north on Highway 97 to visit Reed’s Bend location.
After members filled the store, Reed told them to take photos and pick something they might like to try that might be a fit for their store. Members were able to tour the store and gather lots of valuable information about merchandising and specific programs they have brought into the store to help them compete with the big boxes for cash-n-carry business. They also discussed many other aspects of their business with Reed and the other owners.
After completing the Bend store tour, everyone loaded up once again and headed north to Redmond where they were treated to another store tour. Redmond is a city with over 52% of the population having moved there in the last 10 years. It’s a rapidly growing city and Reed decided to build a store there in 2006 to take advantage.
Members walked around the two-story store taking photos and discussing ideas for what they would try in their home store. Staff answered questions and suggested ways to use what they saw. When the tour was over, the group gathered for a group picture inside the store and then were invited to a Question and Answer Panel discussion.
Ron Dunn opened the session and reminded them ‘all of us are smarter than any of us’ then gave the floor to the six members of the regional Northwest COLORTILE group. Many questions were asked and among them were: Do you have installers on staff? How do you open a second location and make it work? The Daltile Statements program was also discussed and received positive reviews from those who use it.
After the Q & A discussion, Jim Brown, co-owner, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE of Bloomington, IL, was asked about what he’s gotten out of the Summit so far. He responded, “The networking provides so much information and knowledge. Everyone does things a little different. I will pull the things that were shared and implement what will work best for my store and market.”
When the members left the store and returned to the resort, they were able to have some free time to enjoy and continue their networking away from an official event.
On Monday, the group started the day out with a Supplier Round Table event, similar to the idea of speed dating. Groups of members got a short period of time at a table with suppliers, with a break in between, and then rotated to the next table.
Suppliers thought this was a very productive session. Cole Hood, Mohawk’s Director of National Accounts, was one of the suppliers who thought his time was well spent. He said, “I truly enjoyed the Round Table discussions. Too often we’re bouncing from place to place at conventions and don’t get to have meaningful conversation with members other than the immediate topics at hand. The Round Table afforded me the chance to hear what we do right, what we can improve on, and how to help the members and Mohawk get to the next level.”
Members also appreciated the change-of-pace event. Todd Ramsey, co-owner of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus COLORTILE in Ft. Wayne, IN, said, “The highlight for me was the supplier one-on-one. It was like merchandise dating x 10! We were able to ask questions and get answers that were quick and to the point, and I gained a lot of knowledge.”
Kevin Logue, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE’s co-COO and vice president of marketing, was pleased with the event. “We got a lot of positive feedback about the Round Table event from members and suppliers. We were able to come up with some great ideas by having everyone at the table together and lay the groundwork for an exciting new exclusive product launch for CarpetsPlus COLORTILE stores in 2015. The Round Table event was a huge success.”
After the Supplier Round Table event, members got to choose one of three optional activities to enjoy the beautiful day and scenery as well as network in more relaxed settings.
The evening culminated back at the resort with an Appreciation Dinner. The hard work of the Northwest COLORTILE group was recognized as well as Reed’s staff. Drawings were also held for some great prizes as well as the annual Stars of the Summit award and other recognitions.
Ryan Dunn drew a name of a Summit attendee for a free trip for two to the Drive 2015 Convention in Atlanta, GA. The lucky members were John and Wendy MacCheyne, owners of MacCheyne’s CarpetsPlus COLORTILE in Fairbanks, AK, our very first members.
Coming to Summits is very important to many members. One such member is Josh Elder, owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus COLORTILE in Gainesville, FL, who flew almost 2,400 miles to attend. He won the award for the member who traveled from farthest away.
At the end of each Summit, the Star of the Summit award is presented to the member who shows a noticeable willingness to participate, asks questions and shows interest in what is being presented. There were three winners for 2014 and they were Don and Laurie Cantor, owners of Lake Interiors Paint & Floors, Chelan, WA, Jim Brown and John Brown, owners of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE of Bloomington, Bloomington, IL, and Ric and Jayne McKeehan, owners of At Home CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Largo, FL.
Laurie Cantor remarked after winning the award, “It was very exciting and shocking to win the “Star of the Summit” award. Now the staff will see we really did do something!”
In conclusion, Ryan Dunn commended the host store, “Randy said, ‘It shouldn’t be me. It should be the other guys.’ He never wants to take credit. He’s a very humble guy. Thank you for taking the time to share your store for the benefit of the group. Thanks to Randy and Holly (Randy’s wife).”
After Reed’s recognition as the host store of the Summit, Reed talked about the importance of his team, “I cannot be successful without my team. I mean that from the bottom of my heart – Sandra (Stanifer), Denise (Smith), Kelly (Marler), Chris (Smith), Paul (Stanifer). Without these people I’m nowhere.”
He also reflected on the value of his regional group, “Last but not least, the Northwest group. They mean a lot to me. I look up to them. It’s great to be able to share ideas. No one’s better than anyone else. I like to listen to my group here in the Northwest. If you get off-track, they’ll let you know. We’re like brothers really. We all have different styles but that’s what makes us so good. No one’s greedy. I look at them as coaches and my employees as my team.”
Brooklynne Potter, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Pocatello, ID, “Just wanted to thank all of the Alliance Flooring team as well as my fellow buying group buddies for a great summit! I can’t wait for convention next year in Atlanta. This group really inspires me to do great things! Now it’s back to work, and believe it or not I can’t wait!”
Pat Douds, Bob & Pete’s Floors, Canton, OH, “I took tons of notes from various members that I can use to improve or implement in our store. An example is how Sam Quandahl, Floor Coverings of Winona, MN, does his estimating. I can take part of that and implement into our sales process.”
Diane McEvilly, Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Bloomington, IN, 2013 Summit Host, “We know how hard it is to have one of these (Summits). It was great!”
Sam Quandahl, Floor Coverings of Winona, Winona, MN, “Listening to the history and wisdom of the ‘Northwest Group’ was interesting and entertaining — talk about getting the wheels turning upstairs! Fresh ideas! Display less, display better, display what you can make some money on.”