“The housing recovery – and the flooring recovery – has begun. The question we should be asking ourselves is, are we prepared, and are we positioned for success?” That’s the question Shaw Industries Chairman and CEO Vance Bell posed to an eager crowd of retailers gathered together in the Gatlin Ballroom of the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort early this year, setting the tone for InSight 2013.

InSight is Shaw’s exclusive bi-annual event for members of the Shaw Flooring Network (SFN). Held this year in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 20-23, InSight offers aligned flooring retailers a variety of sales, education, marketing and networking opportunities.

If you had to sum it up in a word? Excitement. Enthusiasm radiated from speakers and attendees alike, for prospects both near-term and long. But unlike the cautious and uneasy “this year will be different” sentiments the industry has seen in the past 3-4 years, the underpinnings of this round of positivity had a decidedly solid, un-hedged feel to it. And that brings its own set of challenges.

“Managing to succeed is much different than managing to survive,” Shaw President Randy Merritt said. “You’ve heard us talk a lot in the last six months about our Shaw vision, about creating a better future for our customers, for our people and for the communities we live in. That’s kind of the driving force behind this entire convention: we want to help our customers be prepared for a better year.”

“Are we prepared, and are we positioned for success?”Targeted marketing is crucial to a retailer’s success, and the more laser-focused the better. To build stronger connections between retailers and their customers, Shaw unveiled three new solutions to create in consumers a tailored preference for the retailer’s store and the company’s flooring products.

Shaw Smart Target identifies the top consumer to target for flooring purchases and assists retailers in maximizing this information in their market. Shaw Web Studio develops easy-to-manage, customized websites, and Shaw Ad Studio helps retailers capitalize on the company’s national ad campaigns and ties into Smart Target to maximize returns.

 “Our objective for 2013 is to increase consumer preference and purchasing intent of Shaw floors at retail specialty stores,” Todd Callaway, interactive marketing & media director, said. “What is really important for us this year is that our retailers are equipped to educate, engage and motivate in their own local markets.”

One of the cornerstones of the Shaw philosophy in general and the Insight Convention in particular is family. A quick glance in any direction in the exhibition hall saw almost as many children of retailers as retailers themselves, and there was no shortage of age-appropriate entertainment available for them to enjoy.

“This is a family event for us,” Shaw President Merritt said. “What’s really interesting to me – and tells me how old I’m getting – is that I’m running into kids now, working in the business, who came to our first convention in 1998 as 10 year olds. That’s pretty exciting; they’ve been coming here all these years, they want to sell Shaw product, and that’s a great thing.”

Keeping with Shaw’s commitment to community – and a source of tremendous pride for the company – is their role as the newest national sponsor and the exclusive flooring provider for the 2013 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. To date the program has raised more than $245 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and this year Shaw is donating a variety of flooring products to approximately 30 new homes being constructed across the country by the program’s builder partners.

“St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital really resonated with all of us as an organization. We felt like our cultures and our value sets were similar, and we also loved that the Giveaway program allowed us to use our flooring specifically for such a powerful cause,” Mollie Surratt, Shaw marketing communications manager, said. “I foresee us continuing it long into the future, because our support of St. Jude and our relationship with St. Jude is only continuing to strengthen and grow.”

“Are we prepared, and are we positioned for success?”Since first going public as Shaw Industries in 1971, the company has become the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, with more than $4 billion in annual sales. In 2001 the company was sold to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The key to their continued success? In a pre-taped segment shown during the opening session, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett may have put it best: “No business ever fails with happy customers.”