Shaw Flooring Alliance retailers pack the floor at the “Explore” convention.

A major expansion of Kathy Ireland carpet lines highlighted the Shaw Flooring Alliance convention held recently in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Much to the delight of the nearly 1,000 dealers assembled for the three-day meeting, the famed former model was on hand to shake hands with retailers and pose for photos in front of the newly revamped ColorWall carpet display, which was also unveiled at the meeting.

Randy Merritt, president of Shaw Industries, in front of the updated Kathy Ireland ColorWall unit.

Shaw officials noted that the updated merchandising unit – featuring 80 fashion-forward colors and styles - is an essential component of the Kathy Ireland launch. Also introduced were new rug, hardwood, laminate and ceramic looks.

The meeting, called “Explore,” was designed to encourage dealers to look for new opportunities as though they were on a safari or mountain expedition. Prominently featured were several new products adorned with the eye-catching Shaw Green Edge label, developed as part of marketing initiative designed to identify Shaw’s dedication to environmental concerns. Shaw Industries’ president Randy Merritt noted the Shaw Green Edge is a central component to the company’s long-range outlook.

“More end-users and consumers are concerned about the environment, and they’re looking for companies that share that concern,” he said. “They will find that with us.”

A brief, informal survey of retailers indicated strong interest in carrying items with the Shaw Green Edge label. Of  particular interest: the new Inspired Spaces collection of Anso nylon carpet and the Epic hardwood line, which features the EnviroCore engineered core made from sustainable wood fibers.

Warren Buffett, CEO of Shaw Industries parent company Berkshire Hathaway, meets with SFA retailers and their families at the welcome reception.

“Sustainability is huge,” said Dan Friedman, owner of flooring store Kenny Enterprises in Buffalo, N.Y. “Shaw’s recycling program has helped save us from hauling old carpet and padding to the landfill.”

“You have to step up and embrace green products and programs or you’re going to be left behind.” agreed Mike Bartholomew, general manager of America’s Finest Carpet Co. in Chula Vista, Calif. 

About 30 manufacturing partners set up exhibits on the busy show floor, ranging from flooring makers to suppliers of computer software, radiant heat systems and window fashions. The consensus among them was that the meeting offered exposure for their products while reinforcing the benefits of the Shaw Flooring Alliance to retailers.

“We’re here to promote Shaw,” responded Marianne Fifner, a Stainmaster carpet territory manager, when asked why her company agreed to participate. “We’ll promote ourselves at other events.”

Shaw’s Merritt said the dialog between retailers and manufacturers was an important focus of the event.

“We’re giving our retailers ways to improve their business and their profitability,” he said. “We want them to use the tools here.”