The 43 members of the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA), an elite group of flooring retailers with individual annual sales of more than $10 million each, met for their fall conference last month to strategize growth in today’s new norm of political pressures, strains on pricing and recruitment challenges. 

Many members reported that retail is flat or up slightly, while some members said they are gaining traction in their commercial and builder businesses. A lack of millennial buyers is affecting sales, and a deficiency of qualified installers making it tough for many to complete contracts. Price increases due to tariffs on flooring products imported from China have been another drain on business efficiencies and margins. It’s a lot for any retailer to manage, but the benefit of this group is that all the members are there to learn from one another and reveal best practices. 

“Our whole group is ferociously independent and willing to share,” said Jim Walters, president, Macco’s Floor Covering Center, with six stores in Wisconsin and a store in Fort Myers, Fla.

Some of that shared guidance surrounds marketing and advertising initiatives, how to navigate direct imports, and product diversification. 

“Regular floor covering dealers that aren’t diversified…they’re putting themselves out of business—and that’s what they should be worrying about,” said Dave Snedeker, executive vice president, Bob’s Carpet Mart, who manages 16 stores in Tampa Bay, Fla., and the surrounding area. (See more on the NFA’s meeting on

In an era with so many challenges, retail collaboration is key. On the topic of collaboration, Floor Trends is attending Edge Summit this month, a conference hosted by Mohawk that represents the manufacturer’s commitment to the future of independent flooring retail.  

At the summit, Mohawk will unveil products, brands and programs to help retailers achieve their competitive edge in the face of increased competition, pressures of e-commerce and digital influences in the retail space. The approach is nonpartisan from a retail perspective: top retailers from every major retail group, including the company’s own aligned dealers, will attend the event. It will be a meeting of the minds as the company lays out its strategies aimed to help retailers outsmart the competition, leverage digital marketing tactics, and re-envision in-store experiences—while fostering loyalty to the Mohawk brand. Learn more about Edge in this month’s issue and look for more exploration on all of these topics as we roll into 2019. Wishing you all the best for the new year.