I was at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver late last month and the place was wall-to-wall with flooring retailers. Some big, some small, some wearing matching shirts that made them look like aging day campers. There were tired feet and a few grumbles about the whirlwind agenda, but no long faces that I could see. This was an upbeat affair; as much a pep rally as a business meeting. It was CCA Global Partner's first-ever Global Summit. CCA, of course, is the 3,600-store operation that includes Carpet One Floor & Home, Flooring America, FloorExpo, Rug Decor Outlet, and a cluster of other retail brands. The stated mission of this pow-wow was lofty: Nothing less than "Achieving Greatness in Business and Life."
I dashed back to put the finishing touches on this issue and we'll include more details on the Summit in our October NFT. In the meantime, it's not too hard to sum up the tenor of this ambitious family reunion and what it says about the state of our industry and the challenges ahead. We heard it over and over: Greatness (or even above average-ness) is a constant journey, not a destination. This helps explain why the president of Carpet One, Evan Hackel, acknowledged that his ambitious five-year plan has a much shorter shelf life than five years. He told members: "In three years we'll probably come up with another ‘five year plan.'"
Hackel is a smart and personable guy, but as we could see at the Summit, that is only part of why he is a good fit for his job. He has an aggressive streak and a disdain for complacency. He knows that many of his members are successful and comfortable. Many came to Denver to relax, maybe catch a Rockies game. Without being alarmist, Hackel's mission in Denver was to remind them that success and comfort can be fleeting when you have competitors like Home Depot and Lowe's nipping at your heels.
Often, when describing one of the new initiatives being unveiled, the objective could essentially be boiled down to a two- word mission statement: "dominate flooring." When Carpet One unveiled the new look for the LEES for Living brand (beginning in October it will be known as Lees and use the tagline Relax...it's Lees) Hackel assured members it would sharpen their competitive edge. "The industry will have to catch up to us," he said. When he talked about a spruced up web site he reminded members that it is not about rock bottom prices: "We have no plans to be the low-priced Internet leader. We just plan to lead."
Build relationships with your customers and don't rest on your laurels. That was the tone of the Denver meeting and it cut across all the groups involved. Whether you are part of the extended CCA family or you compete against one of their banners, this mindset will serve you well.