Tool and accessory maker Q.E.P. and the laminate floor company, the Faus Group Inc. were among the companies honored by The Home Depot at the retailer's supplier of the year awards. Q.E.P., which has been a supplier to Home Depot for 25 years, was named winner of the floor covering product category supplier of the year award. Faus was recognized for its DuPont Real Touch Elite laminate flooring, which was named as the runner up in the annual Innovation Award. (The award was won by Techtronic Industries Co. for its ONE+ System cordless tools and AIRgrip laser level, which are both sold under the Ryobi brand name.)

"It is the ultimate vindication of our efforts," said Len Gould, vice president of sales for Q.E.P, based in Boca Raton, Fla. "We are very proud of this because it recognizes the efforts for everyone here at Q.E.P.-not just sales or manufacturing or art-every one of the 600 people who work for Q.E.P. These awards are usually won by the big companies so when I heard our name called it was the closest I have ever come to a heart attack."

Q.E.P., which offers a range of installation tools and adhesives, was among 12 companies honored as a category supplier of the year. Gould noted that Home Depot was one of the first retailers to place an order when Q.E.P was launched 25 years ago, and now ranks as the supplier's biggest customer.

"We count on our suppliers to develop products that will respond to changes in the marketplace, advances in technology and the changing needs of our customers," said Home Depot's executive vice president, merchandising and marketing, Tom Taylor.