Obviously moved by their selection as the best of their respective industry product segments, manufacturer winners of NFT’s first-ever Supplier Service Awards have reacted to their individual accolades with a mix of gratitude, pride and dogged determination to maintain their high levels of performance over the years to come. The awards selection covered 10 product-specific groups, as well as an Overall Best Product category.

Voting for the NFT Supplier Service Awards, which saw more than 40,000 ballots distributed, kicked off at Surfaces 2000 and concluded on Feb. 15. Members from all segments of the floor covering industry — including manufacturers, distributors, sales agents, retailers, contractors and installers — submitted their choices of the companies they deemed the best of the best. The following are excerpts of our winners’ reactions to their awards.

Shaw Carpet, Shaw Commercial and Shaw Rugs

1st Place winners in the Carpet, Commercial Carpet and Area Rug categories, respectively.

“We were delighted to hear that we had won these awards. We’ve always felt that service is just as important as quality and price. In fact, our mission statement — ‘We will exceed our customers’ expectations in quality, service and value’ — reflects that position. In today’s market, service is more important than ever.

“Secondly, I have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we had been voted no. 1 in service. Quite honestly, our service during this second half of the year was not up to our usual standards, nor those of our customers. During the second half of 1999, we experienced some systems problems relating to the Queen merger, and this had an effect on our service — especially in the Queen, Tuftex and DesignWeave divisions. We’ve worked very hard to correct these problems and are confident that we are almost back to the level of high standards for service that our customers have grown to expect from us.

“We thank the voters for recognizing Shaw Industries, and we will attempt to provide even better service to our customers in the future.”
— Julius C. Shaw Jr., executive vice president of investor relations, Shaw Industries Inc.


1st Place winner in the Resilient Floor category.

“Without question, I think our commitment to innovation in the resilient category has clearly set us apart from the competition. The development of our patented NatureForm and NatureForm DG technologies have enabled us to make the products that consumers are looking for to beautify their homes, rather than merely trying to sell what we make.

“Mannington will continue to focus on the specialty flooring retailer as our conduit to market. We appreciate our customers’ loyalty, and our focus on independent flooring retailers has enabled us to develop effective sales and marketing programs in response to listening to them and learning what they need to be successful in a highly competitive retail sector.

“To those industry members who identified Mannington as the best of the best, we want you to know that we will continue to create innovative resilient products and programs that reflect the true value of this flooring option — both as part of the flooring products mix and to consumers.”
— Kim Holm, President, Mannington Residential Business Unit

Wilsonart Flooring

1st Place winner in the Laminate Floor category.

“It’s important to understand that customer service is the key difference that Wilsonart International was founded on 40-plus years ago. The high quality of service for which we have been recognized is due, in large part, to the dedication of the people who represent Wilsonart Flooring — from product development and manufacturing to the front-line distributor salespeople.

“We remain dedicated to the needs of independent flooring retailers. They are ultimately responsible for the success of Wilsonart Flooring, and we are grateful for their loyalty. Our focus, in the future has in the past, is on their needs and on what it takes to help them succeed in the flooring marketplace.

“As I said, we are truly grateful for the dedication and loyalty shown to us by the independent floor covering retailer. And we intend to do whatever it takes to remain their partner in the flooring business. For the vote of confidence they have shown through this award, we thank everyone.”
— Jim Schnietz, director of sales & marketing, Wilsonart Flooring


1st Place winner in the Rubber Floor category.

“We call it ‘fanatical customer service’ — I guess that’s what sets Johnsonite apart from the competition in rubber floors. Johnsonite will go to any measure to help our customers create the environment they want with products that will perform beyond their furthest expectations. From our customer-based scheduling process, to the Prima marbleization process, to our ColorMatch capability, everything we offer is focused on helping our customers create the interior synergy that they want with more design options then they’ve ever had before.

“We are constantly bringing new solutions into the marketplace and setting higher standards of production to give our customers what they’ve asked for, when they want it. Making their jobs easier to perform is important to us, and we continually strive to come up with new ways to meet their needs. The only way to stay ahead of the pack is to keep one eye on the horizon and prepare for the potential challenges our customers will face in the future. We will be here for them, right when they need us, with products that complete their vision.

“On behalf of Johnsonite, I'd like to thank all voters for their honorable recognition. We’ve worked very hard to help all our customers create the environments they want, and we are committed in our continuing efforts to surpass the high standards we have set for ourselves.”
— Joe Visintin, director of marketing, Johnsonite

Bruce Hardwood Floors

1st Place winner in the Wood Floor category.

“Bruce Hardwood Floors attributes our success in the Supplier Service Awards to the breadth of our product line. With a wide variety of widths, thicknesses, colors, and edge and end treatments, we can provide consumers with multiple design options for any taste or preference.

“Our goal has always been to provide our loyal dealers with the support and tools they need to sell all of our great products — it’s really a joint effort with our dealers to help drive the business. Also, we believe it is our responsibility to continually manufacture innovative products and educate consumers about hardwood flooring. We always listen to what the consumer tells us and use this information to create new products and programs, and enhance existing ones. We also look to manufacturing and R&D to find new ways to meet the tough demands of the industry while maintaining overall quality and improved installation.

“We’d like to thank everyone who voted for us in this category. We will continue to develop innovative products, programs and services that help their businesses succeed. In keeping with the Bruce philosophy, we will continue to work together with our dealers as partners, to help drive their success as well as the success of the entire hardwood product segment.”
— Joe Thompson, director of marketing, Triangle Pacific Group

Florida Tile

1st Place winner in the Ceramic/Stone category.

“What sets Florida Tile apart from the competition is our experience and leadership. We have been a leader in the tile industry for coming up on 50 years. We’ve been a leader in merchandising, and a leader in service and fill rates. We’ve prided ourselves on having the finest distributors in the industry — that also helps. We are the fashion leader in our segment of the industry, and we have excellent people working for us. I believe all of these strengths have contributed to Florida Tile winning this award.

“At Florida Tile, job no. 1 is to maintain and improve our service edge and not to rest on our laurels. To do this, we’ve installed brand new computer systems. We were also the first in the industry to allow our distributors onto our website to check on inventory and scheduled production runs. We were the first to institute an electronic data interface (EDI), which is a paperless system of ordering and billing. So, technology will help us maintain our edge in the marketplace. And our ongoing commitment to customer service won’t change. We believe that the best way to combat our many competitors in this industry is through our high level of service.

“Obviously, we are very appreciative and grateful to have won the support of Supplier Service Award voters. Admittedly, like any manufacturer, we are not perfect at all times. But we get up every morning trying to figure out how we can be.”
— Bill Reid, vice president of sales & marketing, Florida Tile Industries Inc.

Armstrong World Industries

1st Place winner in the Training Programs and Installation Products, Tools & Equipment categories.

Our relationships with leading resilient, wood and carpet manufacturers help us to better define and provide ‘best fit-best performance’ installation products. Last year alone, we introduced 15 new installation products. We manufacture products that perform consistently and are trusted by core customers. But it doesn’t stop there. Our technical and installation system team leads the industry in providing support beyond just the product.

Our industry partners are crucial to our current and long-term success. We will continue to look at training and communication vehicles that allow us to (be a) better partner and maintain the open-dialogue approach that has been so mutually beneficial.

Obviously, we want to thank the voters for these two awards. This is the best feedback we could possibly ask for — it’s confirmation that we are on the right track. Being recognized as the best of the best will only make us work harder to maintain the loyalty and relationships we’ve established with all of our Henry Adhesives customers.
— Mike Crouch, marketing manager, Armstrong World Industries, Installation Products Division

Beaulieu of America

Winner in the Best Overall Product category.

“I believe what sets our company apart from the competition is our branding strategy, which is unlike any other in the industry. We've licensed Waverly, Laura Ashley and pop culture icons such as Dennis the Menace for active area carpets, and Dilbert for main street commercial. I think the retailer recognizes that, within a sea of sameness, there are brand names that jump out and scream at the consumer. Our brand names clearly separate us from the pack.

“We’ve already taken important steps to leverage customer loyalty by better serving them. Back in December, Beaulieu purchased LDBrinkman, which has clearly been the industry leader in distribution of all floor coverings categories. We feel that we leap-frogged the competition by combining forces with the floor covering source in the industry. We literally established 50 (distribution) sites overnight to help serve our customers’ needs.

“We are humbled and very flattered to be a Supplier Service Award recipient. Beaulieu has grown into a $2 billion company over the last 20 years and, for the industry to recognize us with this award, I can’t emphasize enough how appreciative and humbled we are to have our customers hold us in such high esteem.”
— Sam Ruble, executive vice president of marketing, Beaulieu Residential