At the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) fall meeting in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, retailers across the board reported strong sales growth and optimism for Q4 despite supply chain issues and the ongoing impacts of hurricanes in southern United States earlier this year. Floor Trends had the opportunity to sit down with the members of the board to learn what's top of mind for dealers today: David Chambers, director of flooring, Nebraska Furniture Mart; Jason McSwain, president, McSwain Carpet & Floors; Deb DeGraaf, co-owner DeGraaf Interiors; Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer, RC Willey Home Furnishings; Larry Flick, president, The Floor Store; and Raffi Sarmazian, managing director, Sarmazian Brothers Flooring.

Floor Trends: What were the topics discussed among retail members at this conference? 

McSwain: We we prepared to bring and discuss areas of business that were innovative. To go around and see 43 different opinions and viewpoints—wow, we've been so busy. One member renovated renovated 95% of their showroom floor, renovated their website entirely and revised their payment plan for RSAs. Several people upgraded their computer systems and their websites. Our other focus was sharing with each other how we are attracting new talent at the retail level, particularly new sales people and compensation plans. 

Floor Trends: What are your current pain points or hot topics? 

Sarmazian: When you talk about multiple price increases, you really have to be on top of flowing through all these changes to the customer. We have changed our pricing three or four times this year. We had to take off our quotes saying prices were good for 30 days. 

Floor Trends: What about digital price tags? 

Chambers: It's definitely an investment. We did it based on some of our other product families and how often we were changing price. It was a pain point, and the investment paid for itself just in the reduction of printing tags, people having to print tags out. But now in today's world, the ability to just hit a button and have the price change automatically on your product, it's almost essential.

Floor Trends: How about pricing and the builder market? 

DeGraaf: When the builders come to us, they act like we're the only people that are talking about increases—I don't think so. The forecast from builders in our area is they're expecting 10 to 15 percent growth over this year for 2022, but they always say that.

Mondragon: I'm surprised our builders have not given us pushback because they are seeing it everywhere. They don't like it, but they understand. 

Sarmazian: Sometimes you can build a buffer in there, but it's subjective. Or you can add something in your contract force majeure or acts of God, but it's hard and depends on the relationships you have. They stopped all immigration Canada. Now they're going to open it up again, so there's going to be a huge demand for housing, especially affordable housing.

Floor Trends: What are you looking forward to hearing from vendors at this meeting? 

Mondragon: We're fortunate right now that even with price increases we've had to pass on, business is so good—there is that kind of demand. We don't have to go out trying to find something. Everything is just falling into place right now for everybody. It will come to an end, but right now everything is just really good across the board. Really the issue is the supply chain, so if you focus on what you have, what you have access to—that's what we're thinking. 

McSwain: One piece is we will see more of is from The Dixie Group and their relaunch of the Masland and the Fabrica branding. That brand is very established and they put some strategic positioning in place. We had an additional vendor, Stanton, stand out and we had a good visit with them. They were excited when they turned a nine-hour flight delay out of Newark into creating a strategy for every member. We recognize that every vendor does that to some degree, but for them it was very targeted. 

DeGraaf: Some of what the people will push is reintroducing something that they have, things they know they can get, rather than plastic, plastic, plastic, which a lot of it coming from China. Having a strong laminate line—a domestic product—and if they can get their hands on it, they're going to want to make sure we remember that this product alternative or option.

Flick: It's true. I know Mohawk just had ribbon cutting on their new laminate plant, so production is going to increase. We literally haven't been able to get laminate from them. It's been a three, four month wait. And I'm told that in the next two months that's going to go down to several weeks, which is huge.