NFT recently spoke with Chris Dutton, Faus Group’s marketing manager, about the company working again with distributors, its newest products and initiatives, and where the economy may be going in 2011.



Editor’s Note: Welcome to Industry Q&A, an ongoing feature highlighting members of the industry and their companies. Interested in participating? Contact Jeff Golden at GoldenJ@bnpmedia.com or (818) 224-8035 ext. 2218.


NFT
recently spoke with Chris Dutton, Faus Group’s marketing manager, about the company working again with distributors, its newest products and initiatives, and where the economy may be going in 2011.

Why did Faus go back to selling through distributors as opposed to a direct sales approach?

I’ve been surprised by the number of people who assumed the move to direct sales was a planned, strategic decision; in fact, it was a reaction to a major distributor that suddenly ceased operations. Once the company was able to take a step back, stabilize its operations, and evaluate its strategic direction, it was clear that we were simply not happy with a direct sales model.

To that end, we have refocused on forming strategic alliances with progressive distributors who can provide the level of support and insight local dealers need for sustained success. We continue to sign dealers in territories without a distributor, and the entire Faus team does a wonderful job supporting these dealers, but it’s not a sustainable business model. We need distribution.


What are some of Faus’ newest products?

Most of the products developed and released by Faus are unique to the industry; our new multi-direction charcoal slate decor in absolutely stunning. Right now we have several multi-width decors nearing commercial production. I haven’t ever seen a single plank design that incorporates a narrow-, mid- and wide-width strip appearance on a single plank, so I think this will really shake up the laminate category. It’s a very simple and value-driven solution to the complex requirements you would find in a true multi-width hardwood installation.


How important is sustainability to Faus?

Taking the issue out of an ethical realm, I just find it to make good business sense. We are pretty darn good at making a sustainable product. There are a few immediate things I can see in our IT infrastructure that could be implemented to save the company time and reduce our carbon footprint.

Additionally, with our parent company based in the EU, there are a lot of things we currently do in Europe that could be implemented here, allowing us to benefit from their previous experience. There are some other things we are also doing, but it would be premature to speak about them at this point, though I hope to speak of them soon.


What’s on the horizon for the company?

As the company moves forward, we are establishing a Faus Forward team, consisting of cross-functional team members representative of all aspects of the business. These members will be charged with evaluating business processes, customer service, and product development to deliver incremental improvements in the months ahead.

We’re optimistic that we may not only find efficiencies for the business, but also establish improved morale among our workforce, as they get greater input into how the business operates. If there is a way to gain efficiency, make workers happier, and make our customers happier, I could care less if the idea originates in shipping and receiving or a top-level C-Suite – I just want to hear the idea and see if it might make sense for the business.


Finally, where you do see the economy going this year? Do you see signs of a recovery?

I’m quietly optimistic that after what felt like a double-dip recession, we may finally be working toward a sustained growth in the economy. While Faus is a private company and doesn’t provide sales figures, we think that as petroleum prices once again make their inevitable march north, laminate manufacturers will fill a niche for quality, sustainable products not as susceptible to turbulent commodity markets.

For Faus, this immunity from market volatility is even greater, because 90 percent of our product is sourced and manufactured at our facility in Calhoun, Ga., so we are not impacted greatly by shipping fees or long lead times. Taking all of that information into consideration, and looking at the great dealer and distributor network we are building, we are certainly optimistic about the future.