A few weeks after Fuse Alliance announced its year-long transition to new leadership was complete a record number of members and suppliers came to the commercial buying group’s annual meeting where they were put on the “Launch Pad” and exposed to a new vision designed to make them the “go-to” network.

At last year’s meeting, a plan was announced to make Geoff Gordon, who had served on the group’s board for seven years, the new executive director. That transition officially took place and at this year’s meeting Gordon was formally announced as executive director, replacing Fuse’s co-founder Ron Lee who has taken on the roll of COO as part of his preparation to step down and retire.

Both members and suppliers were happy with how smooth the transition went and noted their excitement for the direction Gordon has set for the group.

John Bonney, vice president of national commercial flooring contractors for resilient supplier Karndean, called Gordon a “huge ball of energy” who is “going to take Fuse to the next level. One of the reasons we love Fuse is the family atmosphere, trust and friendships we’ve developed, but now it is even more focused and knows where its going and what it wants to be—and we’re happy to be partnered with them for the journey.”

Bill Randall, vice president of Fuse member Solidus, was glad to see the transition go as it did, noting “it was gradual and kept much of the continuity in place so it wasn’t a shock for everyone in the room.”

Gordon said even if Fuse wasn’t the “intimate group it is,” a key reason why the transition worked so well is because “we are an open book. There is nothing about us that is not transparent, so everyone, from our members to suppliers, were kept up-to-date on how we were progressing and what was taking place.”

With a new leadership in place, this year’s convention was about giving the group a new look, a new vision and a new way to be the preferred source for commercial jobs.

“We’re not just installers, we’re contractors” he said, “and a lot of work goes into preparing a bid, securing a job, dealing with the logistics of materials and people. And, making sure we have the best trained, most knowledgeable people possible.”

With that the group unveiled a totally revamped website on both the public side as well as the behind the scenes member only side, now called Fuse Link, that is totally responsive to whatever device on which it is being viewed, as well as a new social media strategy to better connect members with today’s younger A&D community.

Gordon said the website will serve a double function, noting the public side is not only “more robust, it contains more information designed to educate people about Fuse, its members and why we should be their go-to network. This is especially important for national accounts where we will be able to present ourselves as experts in all facets of the job and because we have members located across the U.S. and Canada we can provide them with confidence that no matter where the job is it will be done with the same level of professionalism, skill and service.”

For the member’s side of the site, he said, “it will be Fuse’s virtual corporate office. Fuse Link is a robust place for our members to get the most from being a part of the organization. It offers financial reporting, calendaring, social media integration, a member share best practices and other pertinent business tools.”

It will also link to the group’s online learning system, Fuse University, and includes onsite training opportunities for members to not only learn about growing their business, but to help them with personal development as well as obtaining CEUs that will allow them and their employees to maintain important certifications and credentials.

Along with the website the group was exposed to a new social media marketing strategy. While the group as a whole and most of the membership was already participating in a variety of social media platforms, Gordon said overall it still was not very much in comparison to what it should be. “Young people are very involved with social media and many of today’s designers are young and heavily involved in certain social media areas and we need to be actively engaged with them so they know who we are and what we and our individual members stand for.”

He explained social media “will be the platform of communication and not only do we need to be on it we need to be more dynamic and engaged.” By doing so Gordon hopes to “drill down” to members the importance of this so that by having them engaging with the A&D community at the local level it will “morph us into a much larger presence. This will not only help our members, but also our suppliers because as we grow and are more successful they will be as well.”

Part of that engagement for members will be to share with corporate and on their own social media platforms photos and stories about their various jobs.

When it comes to social media, Gordon said it is only as good as the content on it so “we are encouraging our members to share with us photos and stories about their various jobs and keep us and their local market informed of what they are doing. Our members do some amazing things and in today’s world communication is key and we want to communicate to everyone why we are the go-to network.”

Fuse’s Lee noted, “We can’t be the go-to network unless you are the go-to place in your local markets.”

He noted this new vision is about differentiating both the group and each member as a brand that is based on providing value and professional services rather than one that just competes on price. “You can be a low-price solution and that’s OK, but if you want to be a value provider you need to show you have the knowledge, reliability and the ability to provide quality services, including making sure things are done safely—something that is a huge issue in today’s world. And nobody does a better job of this than our members.”

Gordon stressed, “We should never take for granted the quality of work, management, training and overall skill level of our members. They are the ones who make Fuse look good, and it’s a pleasure to get a call from a supplier or end user about how good a job looks or for thanking us for the help we did in making sure a project was successful.”

This new strategy certainly resonated with both members and suppliers as everyone Floor Trends spoke to noted the group was “launching” itself in the right direction.

Mark Brunelle, senior account executive for USFcontract, the commercial division of USFloors, noted, “What they are doing with their new website and social media is what it is all about today.”

Rod Von Busch, vice president of operations for Fuse member CDI, which has been a member since the group started, said, “You come to events like this to gain knowledge and see and hear things you might not normally consider, such as using social media as a direct marketing tool. CDI is very good at developing relationships on a personal level—that’s a key reason why we have been successful—but in today’s world it is important to also connect with people online and social media is the way to do it.”

Randall felt the new social media initiative was spot on, noting, “we already target A&D people via our own social media activities and have actually connected with some new clients through it so what they presented was very interesting.”

Gordon said the “world is shrinking due to technology and our strategy is very important for our future success.”