When it comes to buying group conventions, they are generally about the organization showcasing new products, programs and services it has developed—usually in tandem with their member advisory boards—to help the membership differentiate themselves in the marketplace and become more profitable.

While that was certainly the case at the winter convention for Carpet One Floor & Home, this year’s event had a more emotional feel to it as the group was not only urged to “Go Beyond” the ordinary, it was exposed to a new, long-term program the co-op has committed to in order to help bring hope and restore dignity to some of America’s bravest, those who have been severely injured in combat.

Eric Demaree, Carpet One’s president, told the members it is the organization’s “responsibility to ‘Go Beyond’ by providing innovative products, services and tools—from inspiration to installation. That is truly what Carpet One is about and as a group we have always been leaders and will continue to do so.”

As such, the organization rolled our a bevy of programs, including what will be a new Lees program called “Relax…it’s Lees, that will hit the market over the summer, and will be positioned at the top of the Carpet One branding chain, which Charlie Dilks, chief product officer for CCA, Carpet One’s parent company, said it belongs.

While the entire program got revamped based on member surveys, the biggest addition is Ultra 25 with Scotchgard Protector. The new program also includes a 25-year pet stain warranty while also maintaining the co-op’s exclusive ExtraLoc backing.

Speaking of revamping, the company announced it was also modifying its 13-year-old Selectafloor selling system. Theresa Fisher, vice president of store design and visual merchandising, noted when the system was initially launched “it was groundbreaking.” In fact, “it was the biggest launch out of Dalton and still is.”

While the system has undergone a number of facelifts over the years, the company realized with all the exclusive programs Carpet One members have been given since, such as Lees and Tigressa, which feature their own merchandising units, the Selectafloor as a whole needed to be modified to better fit into members’ store plans and selling strategies.

As such, Jim Aaron, vice president of merchandising said the co-op was reducing its footprint by taking away one of its “pods. Over the years we’ve seen fewer suppliers introduce products that meet the criteria of what each pod is supposed to do, as every one has to go through a process to fit a particular module.”

Fisher said this was just the beginning as Carpet One “wants to get your feedback on how you use the system” and from this feedback the company plans to make more modifications to ensure the system remains as beneficial to members as when it was first introduced at the turn of the millennium.

There were a host of other products and programs introduced, including some that were exclusive the all of CCA, such as a partnership with cushion supplier Leggett & Platt, which came out with a new branded program that incorporated Tempur Pedic memory foam into the padding.

Dilks noted the Leggett & Platt Tempur Pedic cushion, “is a great branding opportunity; there’s probably not a person in this room who doesn’t know the brand.” He pointed out Tempur Pedic already offers products in a number of categories, and overall, “92% of consumers are satisfied when they purchase a Tempur Pedic branded product.”

Recognizing the potential LVT has in the commercial market, Carpet One expanded its Core Elements program with a dedicated display unit featuring LVT products. Aaron said this was done because “we feel the biggest opportunity for LVT will be on the commercial side because we think residentially it will plateau but right now the sky’s the limit on the commercial side.”


Helping Veterans

While there were a host of other products and services unveiled at convention, including “one of the most aggressive Carpet One University training programs” that will take place this year, the highlight of the winter meeting was the partnership the co-op announced in conjunction with Mohawk Industries and their involvement with Building for America’s Bravest.

Building for America’s Bravest is a program in partnership between the Gary Sinise Foundation—run by the award winning actor of movies and TV—and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, founded in honor of the courageous New York City Fireman who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center after he ran more than five miles with 70 pounds of gear to help his fellow firefighters rescue civilians trapped in the burning buildings.

The program provides “smart homes” for severely injured service members—double, triple and even quadruple amputees—with each house custom designed to meet their needs and give them a place they can be at home.

Carpet One, along with Mohawk will be providing all flooring materials and installation for 46 smart homes scheduled to be built by the Building for America’s Bravest program over the next three years.

Fisher, who spearheaded the program for Carpet One and helped bring Mohawk on board, called it “a real co-op moment. The partnership with Mohawk speaks of the relationship our members have with Mohawk and of the trust Mohawk has in us.”

Noting most Carpet One members will not be involved with the smart homes, Carpet One developed a free POP kit that is was asking every member to display “because you never know who will see it and may know of a deserving veteran” who could benefit from the program.

“We don’t see this as a charity,” she said. “It is for those people who gave for their country and this is only just a small part of what we can do to say ‘thank you.’”

Tom Lape, Mohawk’s president of market development, agreed, saying, “this partnership is a way to just help make their lives easier because of what they did for us.”

To help kick off the program, Carpet One members were given the first public viewing and tour of the only 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit which is comprised of historic artifacts donated by firehouses throughout New York City and was created by the Siller Foundation as a way to ensure the country never forgets the sacrifice and bravery of America’s first responders on that dreadful day.

In addition to also hosting a number of the veterans who will be getting smart homes, the group was given an exclusive performance by Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band—named after his Oscar nominated disabled Vietnam veteran character in Forest Gump.

During the performance, Sinise said, “Carpet One gets it and is doing a wonderful thing. Churchill said everyone needs to do their bit and you at Carpet One are doing yours by helping these deserving veterans have places they can call home.”