Last October, Bob Wagner, president and CEO of Baltimore-based distributor Fishman Flooring Solutions, was named president of the board of directors of the Floor Covering Distributor Alliance (FCDA). FCDA members manufacture and market an extensive line of flooring installation tools and other flooring-related products under the Powerhold brand name. Wagner recently shared his thoughts with FCI on the FCDA, where he sees it headed and the value the Powerhold product line brings to the flooring installation industry.
Q: FCDA has a relatively low profile in the flooring installation industry. What is its purpose and who are its members?
A: One of the driving forces in forming the FCDA was the recognition among a group of floor covering distributors back in 1999 that the flooring installation industry was changing. We believed the days were quickly coming to an end when a flooring installer focused on doing business in a small geographic territory or a single community.
The time was coming when a contractor would be installing flooring in, for example, Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore, over the course of a year. So, we wanted to ensure that contractors had access to the best tools and other installation products wherever they were conducting business.
That required two things. First, developing a new, national brand of products for installation contractors, which ultimately became the Powerhold brand. Second, creating a network of the best distributors in the flooring industry to market those products across the U.S. I’m very proud that Fishman was among the founding members of that network, which became the Floor Covering Distributor Alliance or FCDA.
Almost 20 years later, the Powerhold brand and the FCDA, which currently has 19 distributor members in the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, are both making a positive difference in the marketplace.
Q: According to its website, the FCDA sells more than 600 flooring installation products under the Powerhold brand. What are the major categories under which these products fall?
A: Powerhold tools fall into three basic categories. First, tools for the jobsite. This includes but is not limited to knee kickers, seaming irons and utility knives. Second, installation products such as adhesives and underlayments. Third, luxury vinyl tile. The quality and reliability of Powerhold products are directly related to the quality and reliability of FCDA’s 22 manufacturing partners. Our goal is to select the best manufacturer in each product category.
Q: How are Powerhold products marketed?
A: FCDA currently has a two-fold marketing program. First, we do some limited advertising. Second, FCDA members do their own marketing of Powerhold products in their sales territories. For example, at Fishman Flooring Solutions, we put up banners and display point-of-purchase materials at our branches and routinely use Powerhold products in our promotions.
Q: As president of the board of directors of the FCDA, what changes, if any, would you like to make to the organization?
A: The FCDA is almost two decades old and we’ve spent a lot of time building a comprehensive line of products under the Powerhold brand and attracting some of the very best distributors to get them to market. What needs to change, in my opinion, is raising greater awareness of the Powerhold brand and the value Powerhold products bring to the flooring installation community.
Installers should recognize Powerhold products for their superior quality and reliability and the installation solutions they provide. How do we do that? By having a greater presence in the marketplace. By participating in interviews such as this. By educating installers face-to-face at seminars, clinics and trade shows about Powerhold products and how to use them. By leveraging social media to reach the flooring installation marketplace. By more aggressive advertising.
My goal over the next three to five years is to have Powerhold sales represent 10 percent of the annual revenues of every FCDA member. That’s doable, but we have to be more aggressive marketers.
Q: How do Fishman Flooring Solutions and other distributors of flooring and flooring installation products benefit from FCDA membership?
A: There’s a cooperative spirit among the FCDA members. When it comes to the Powerhold brand, it’s not about what’s in it for us, but what’s in it for our customers – the installation contractors. As I said earlier, we want installers to have access to, and benefit from, high-quality Powerhold tools wherever they’re doing business. Our mission is not to market Powerhold products at the lowest price. Our mission is to market products that have the highest value for floor covering installers.
Q: How do distributors become members of the FCDA? Who is eligible for membership?
A: The U.S.-based FCDA members do business in designated areas of the country. However, we don’t cover the entire country. There are areas where there is no designated Powerhold distributor. Any flooring distributor operating in an open area of the U.S. would be a good candidate for FCDA membership.
I’d also encourage distributors of flooring products worldwide to consider becoming involved in the FCDA. The first place to start would be the Powerhold website (powerhold.com) to learn whether Powerhold tools would fit in their product lines. If that’s the case, there are plenty of opportunities for distributors outside the U.S. to engage with the FCDA.
Q: If one thing defines the flooring installation industry, it is constant change—particularly in relation to new installation products and technologies. Is the Powerhold brand keeping pace in terms of introducing new products?
A: I’d say we’re doing a good job introducing new products, but our goal is to do a great job. We’re continually interviewing current and prospective manufacturers to see what’s new in their flooring installation product lines. We’ve added more than 100 new products in the past two years, but we want that stream accelerated.
Q: Is there a final message about the FCDA and Powerhold products you’d like to send to the flooring installation marketplace?
A: Yes. I’d like to reinforce something I said earlier. At FCDA, we’re not interested in selling products at the lowest price. Our goal is to sell products that have the highest value for our customers. We want to make Powerhold the go-to brand everywhere for installation solutions.
For more information, visit powerhold.com.