Guessing Game Ends as Congoleum Names Mohawk its National Distributor
So Mohawk is in and LDBrinkman & Co. is out. Congoleum said it would phase out its distribution arrangements with Brinkman (owned by Beaulieu), which represented the line in the central and western United States. Brinkman accounted for 21% of Congoleum’s sales in 1999. In some areas, Brinkman was an exclusive distributor; in other regions, they were part of a dual distribution arrangement.
The news brought a wide variety of reactions and raised numerous questions, many of which remain to be answered. In my discussions with people throughout the industry, one question asked over and over again was, “Will Brinkman remain in resilient floor coverings and, if so, whose line(s) will they handle?” Obviously, a huge number of choices are not available.
Another often-repeated question concerns existing Congoleum distributors. Frankly, for many of them, dual distribution has long been a way of life. Of course any time a change such as this occurs, many will wonder if there are some shifts and changes on the horizon.
What some forget is that big-time resilient distribution is not new for Mohawk. Several years ago, the company bought Volker, a huge full-line, multi-branch operation that was a major Armstrong distributor from the Midwest to the West Coast.
One area on which that retailers, distributors and manufacturers agree is that the ripple effects that the Mohawk-Congoleum alliance will have on our industry will be greater than any move seen in a long, long time.
This appointment by Congoleum, following on the heels of Berkshire Hathaway’s mammoth purchase offer for Shaw Industries, is a clear reminder that what for so long had been a predictable industry is now one laced with dramatic changes and surprises. Make no mistake about it, however, these modern-era changes trace their roots to the big surge of consolidations/buyouts/mergers that gained steam in the 1990s and continue to this day.
That Mohawk is committed to making this work is obvious. The company told NFT, “During the next 12 months, startup costs for vinyl, wood and ceramics will ensure that Mohawk will achieve a significant position in the hard-surface market. Payroll costs for over 200 new sales and technical personnel, additional regional warehousing cost, sample expenses and other hard-surface floor covering-related costs and investments will in be included in these startup costs.”