Primera Carpet One Floor and Home achieved those numbers after two strong local flooring retailers joined forces with the company in 2012 to lead its interiors business here in Prescott Valley, Ariz. Dennis Rowland, regional vice president, and Staci Harbison, director of sales and marketing, both came to the company with extensive flooring experience. Rowland’s career in the flooring industry began in 1978 as an installer, but by continually updating his skill set and responsibilities he ultimately grew to COO of the Carpet One store until 2009, just prior to its acquisition by interiors giant Primera in 2010. Harbison owned and operated a competitor flooring business to Rowland’s for 19 years in Prescott Valley.
Joint leaders of the revamped Primera division, the two saw opportunity in the previous management’s focus on the residential remodel side of the business.
“We were a very big part of the builder segment in our market for many years,” Rowland explains. “[The company] took its eye off the builder market when the economy tanked in ’09 and the then current management focused more on the retail business as a result of the new construction tail off. We should have been attending the parties of the couple of builders that did maintain a presence.
“Because the eye was taken completely off the builder business we are not the biggest player out there anymore,” he continues. “It’s a market opportunity on which Staci has made great strides.”
Those strides Rowland mentioned have rebuilt the builder segment of the business back to one of the company’s fastest growing segments. “The builder slice of the pie is steadily increasing,” Harbison says.
Overall, flooring represents about 65% of the company’s business with the other 35% coming from countertop sales in its granite operation. The company also recently extended into the cabinet business and, as Rowland notes, “since we’re new in the cabinet world we’re not banking any remarkable revenues yet, but check back in a year.”
The positive approach brought on by the Primera team carries through to its customers.
“We don’t focus on price,” explains Harbison, “we sell quality and customer service. Here customer service is not simply a department; it’s a way of life. The buying power of [Carpet One and Primera] allows us to play in that area of pricing while still offering world class customer service.”
The customer service “way of life” is created by keeping most elements of the end user’s contact in-house. Rowland and Harbison note the store has 14 employees on top of two in-house granite installation crews and seven in-house flooring crews, supplemented by two subcontractor crews who have been working with the company for 15 and 17 years. On the commercial side, the company’s account manager utilizes the same two or three crews for most jobs.
Also, Rowland boasts of his company’s sales team, “We are the experts in our market area. We hang our hats on that and are continually trying to improve.”
That strength is showcased in how customers are served and the team is deployed.
“In our business model,” he explains, “we have estimators on staff along with our salespeople. [Since the roles are separate] our sales team can interview customers and focus on design, color and need assessment to find the best product fit. Then we send out our estimators to find the best application of that product. All of it is managed by people who have been in the flooring business their whole lives.”
The discreet roles also give the company one of its greatest weapons in the war against the big boxes, Harbison says. “It is a differentiator that probably gives us the greatest opportunity as [places like] Lowe’s and The Home Depot don’t always have flooring experts in their flooring departments.”
Another element in the firm’s endeavor to provide the best service: Providing a visual element for customers in a 4,200-sq.-ft. showroom with 38 vignettes showcasing every type of flooring the company offers, as well as cabinets, counters and backsplashes.
Exclusively for builders and their clients, she notes the company also has an off-site design center on the property to help them.
Over the years, they both say the company’s affiliation with CCA Global and its Carpet One division have been a “tremendous bonus.”
“There is a lot of value in Carpet One’s recognition where customers [new to the area] find us from having used or heard of Carpet One before,” Rowland says.
In addition, their store ties into at least four national promotions from the buying group, which are offered throughout the year. The cooperative provides marketing and advertising support, and POP material and allows Primera to focus on what they do best: Serving the customer.
The store also promotes itself through local community events including being involved in annual Christmas and Fourth of July parades.
Although Carpet One has been a great boon since Primera joined the cooperative in 1995 Rowland notes many customers simply look to the local business because it has served the community of 140,000 people successfully for 35 years.
Both the company’s leaders found it difficult to point out some of its best practices established over the years; not because they didn’t exist, they are simply so ingrained into the business’ operations those practices are now second nature for the team.
Specifically: “We follow up with every customer by sending cards and thank you notes,” Rowland notes.
“We also vacuum after every single job to ensure a healthier installation,” reinforces Harbison.
And finally, to ensure they can continue to provide the best service to their community, Rowland points out one of the company’s biggest strengths has been to make second nature something that should be but is not for many businesses: “Our accounts receivable is very good and we collect our money.”
All the different elements have come together to allow Rowland and Harbison to be “most happy about all our customers being happy after the install. We get numerous cards and thank yous from customers speaking to the execution from what they’ve selected to design services to how it is installed.”
By keeping its eye on the prize, which ultimately is to make its customers happy, is key to why Primera has experienced such positive growth—even during these tough times.