CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Carpetland USA and Floorco dealers from around the country recently gathered in Atlanta for the group’s 20th anniversary.

Ron Dunn, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus ColorTile began the event 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.”

Jon Logue, CarpetsPlus ColorTile’s co-CEO, gave the State of the Industry where 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 fourth 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 mentioned that consumer confidence reached a 12-year high in January at 111%.

Kevin Logue, CarpetsPlus ColorTile’s co-COO and vp marketing, introduced 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,” he said. “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.”

Kevin Logue said the group’s market share as a group continues to grow in hard surface and he anticipates 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 2016 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.

Leadership at the convention emphasized that more members become Destination Location by taking on premier displays each year, which helps retailers to stay up-to-date with the best products.

“The Destination Location program has been three years in the making,” said Ryan Dunn co-COO and vp sales of CarpetsPlus ColorTile. “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.

“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, 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; 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.”

Several awards were given to members and suppliers for various accomplishments, including Retailer of the Year for both CarpetsPlus ColorTile and Carpetland USA. 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.”