National Floor Trendsrecently sat down with Randy Merritt, Shaw president, to talk about the company's recent Unity 2011 dealer conference in Orlando, Fla., and how he sees the economy progressing this year.
What was the overall message you wanted retailers to go home with from Unity 2011?
We continue to work with our SFN [Shaw Flooring Network] customers with the message that we are stronger together than we are apart; that they are more secure as a dealer when they tap into all of the offerings available to them through the Shaw Flooring Network. The dealers that were up the most within the Shaw Flooring Network were the ones that utilized more of the resources available to them through their partnership.
Additionally we wanted to make sure that we all understand that we must get onboard with technology.
How can retailers prepare themselves for the next generation of Internet-savvy consumers?
First we must understand that reaching this new, connected consumer will take a different approach than the techniques of the past. Dealers, in order to be successful, must adapt their marketing and advertising to reach multiple generations of consumers. The term "word of mouth advertising" takes on an entirely new meaning with the new consumer.
What does the new HGTV Home - Flooring by Shaw collection offer for retailers and their customers?
The HGTV Home - Flooring by Shaw program is an exciting partnership with a strong manufacturing brand and a consumer-relevant media brand. Dealers have requested for years that we find new ways to channel customers to their doors. The brand recognition of HGTV will help accomplish this. The simple yet refined collection of HGTV Home by Shaw products in hardwood, laminate, carpet, and rugs creates a destination within the store that focuses the trust of the HGTV brand toward a specific group of products within the dealer's store. This trust plus great product will equal more consumers in store and more sales closed.
Finally, where do you see business going in 2011?
We are cautiously optimistic that we will begin to see an upturn in the flooring economy as we progress through 2011. Consumers have become more comfortable with the "new norm" of our economy. We should see more investment in their existing homes as they realize the likelihood of remaining in their current homes longer. We should begin to see a slight uptick in new housing, but minimal compared to the peak of 2005-2006. And the commercial business should remain strong. We are excited about the new year.