Starnet focuses on creating strong partnerships between its members and their network of preferred vendor partners who work with them each year. These partnerships are designed to mutually drive business together, and they are important both on the national and local level.

To recognize the impact of these relationships, Starnet began the Dream Team Celebration in 2015. Each year, members and preferred vendor partners are encouraged to submit examples of their dynamic member and vendor rep teams who collaborate together to deliver exceptional customer experiences along with producing outstanding business results. 

This year, the nominations were outstanding and the level of business building partnerships impressive, making for a judge’s challenge. The judging team included: Rob Hailey, president and CEO, Howard’s Rug Company in San Diego; Jim Wilkinson, vice president, Image Flooring of Lenexa, Kan.; Dan Ulfig, president and CEO, Master Craft Floors of Michigan; Fred Williamson, executive vice president, Starnet; and Tanja Kern, editor, Floor Trends.

The winning teams in the 2018 Starnet Dream Team Celebration are:

Starnet Member: Lippert Flooring & Tile
Preferred Vendor Partner: Milliken

The collaborative approach utilized by the Dream Team of Lippert Flooring & Tile of Menomonee Falls, Wis., and preferred vendor Milliken has resulted in the multiple project contracts and strong business relationships.

Sofia Ismaili, architecture and design consultant for Lippert Flooring & Tile, has diligently worked to build relationships with the architecture and design community over the last two years, building a reputation as an unbiased source of flooring product information. Bryon Spinler, account manager for Lippert Flooring & Tile, has a knack for building relations with local general contractors, and his extensive installation background enables him to provide expert guidance on how products will perform in various applications. Roxanne Carlson, Western senior territory manager, Milliken, has used her positive approach and expertise to offer guidance and build sales. In fact, As of October 2017, the contractor’s purchases with Milliken are up more than 300 percent year over year, Carlson has received numerous awards for her 2017 sales performance.

One successful project the team collaborated on was the First Bank of Beloit, which demanded a flooring product that could transition from minimal to heavy color. There were a few challenges with the installation. First, the space was occupied and open for business, which required that work was completed during the first shift while the bank was open, and it also required precise coordination between moving of the furniture and installation to minimize disturbance to bank staff. The floor plan of the bank also featured many angular walls, resulting in complicated layout. The Dream Team’s successful performance led the client to commit to similar projects at three more branches and their office building.

Starnet Member: Hoem and Associates
Preferred Vendor Partner: Milliken

For 15 years, the Dream Team of Milliken and Hoem and Associates in San Francisco have built tight relationships within the Bay Area general contractor community. Understanding that forging relationships is vital, Mike Valerio, owner of Hoem and Associates, and the San Francisco account managers at Milliken—including Chris Greenaway, Timothy Engen and Adam Greenaway—have shared contacts in their personal networks to expand their collective businesses. This collective effort, which emphasizes craftsmanship and performance value, has resulted in a multitude of large annuity accounts and new national account business.

Recently, the team collaborated on a project at the Moscone Center, one of the most well-known venues on the West Coast. In 2004, Hoem and Associates lost the project to a competitor. When the opportunity arose to bid for the account again in 2016, Valerio knew the best chance of success was by partnering with his Starnet vendor partner. Due to this project being large and competitive, they knew they had to differentiate themselves. They discussed the strategy for this project and agreed to lead with focusing on two specific areas: the cushion benefits of the product, as it promotes less wear in higher traffic areas, and the unique design technology Milliken’s product provides. They worked together to educate the end user by showing them how precise the Digital Dye Infusion technology is and what the space could become visually by using this technology.

The week prior to the project being awarded, Milliken’s Site Related Solutions initiative was released. It describes how specific open cell cushion backing in the product allows the carpet tile to breathe, preventing the formation of water. Coincidentally, the Moscone Center had readings that were up to 95 RH in some areas and avoiding moisture mitigation would make a big difference on their budget. By leveraging these three attributes along with their focus, they were able to win the project.

Starnet Member: Paul G. White Interior Solutions
Preferred Vendor Partner: MAPEI

For the past five years, the Dream Team of Paul G. White Interior Solutions of Portland, Maine, and MAPEI have focused on surface preparation to create winning commercial installations. While surface prep is an area of installation that is often subbed out to specialists, Paul G. White has become one of these specialists, sending employees to MAPEI’s corporate training center on numerous occasions to keep its team up to date on the latest installation products and methods. The investment in training has paid off: Paul G. White’s 2017 sales grew more than 25 percent with purchases totaling over $1.2 million.

Recently, the Dream Team collaborated on a tenant fit-up in a major Northeast city that was being transformed from warehouse space into office space. The project called for major floor prep due to the abuse the concrete had to withstand as a storage facility. While the original specification called for a gypsum-based product, after working with CEO Paul White and MAPEI sales rep Ron Spezzaferri, the building owner decided to use a self-leveler for the compressive strength requirements of the finished flooring. The rapid response from both MAPEI and the Starnet member resulted in a $300,000 finish flooring contract being awarded to Paul G. White as well. “The working relationship between Paul G. White, MAPEI, and our distributor Daltile, allowed our customers to have great faith in our process, products and customer service,” White said.