Originally posted on FloorCoveringWeekly.com on 7/7/2010
[Orlando, Fla.] Wheeler, a division of J.J. Haines, held its first annual Wheeler Loyalty Club summit here on June 28, with 86 registered attendees and 29 supplier representatives. Wheeler started its division Loyalty Club in January 2010 with the goal of signing up 50 members in the first six months. (It currently has 63 members.)
“The Wheeler Loyalty Club is really an extension of the Haines Loyalty Club program. It allows us to offer a solid umbrella loyalty program across the entire J.J. Haines and Wheeler footprint for all of our customers,” said Bruce Zwicker, president and CEO of J.J. Haines.
The company originally was not going to host a summit this year, but seized the opportunity after Jed Collins, sales manager, eastern region, Wheeler, and Mike Thomas, sales manager western region, Wheeler, attended the Haines Loyalty Club event in April (FCW, April 19/26). “We had planned not to do a summit meeting this year. But we needed to get all of the benefits out to our members who had been signed up since January and we wanted to get them some information so they could start taking advantage of it,” Thomas said.
Collins explained that with everyone searching for value, it was a crucial time to host a summit for Wheeler’s newest members. “Consumers are looking for a value right now and so are the retailers, so this is one of the ways that we can show value to our dealer base and make their businesses more successful,” he said.
Wheeler provided members with information about the products and services that the Loyalty Club offers. “We felt that we needed to get them here and show them that we appreciate their support the first time around,” said Richard Harris, senior marketing manager for Wheeler.
The company also held several seminars to teach members about social networking, e-mail marketing and new credit terms, in addition to a product showcase. “It is great that they are giving us this information because as active business owners, we are so busy and it’s a great way for us to get information quickly,” said Julie Herndon of Herndon’s Classic Wood Flooring in Melbourne, Fla. “It gives us a chance to talk to other people too. We can find out what they are doing and what is working for them.”
Members came to the summit excited to learn about all of the goods and services that they would be able to take advantage of, but the summit also gave them the sense that their business was important. “Wheeler is our largest supplier,” said Don Herndon, owner of Herndon’s Classic Wood Flooring. “We liked it because it was a small family business like we are. When Haines bought Wheeler, everyone got concerned. Haines made us feel like part of the family. It makes us feel like we are the most important customer it has and it makes everyone feel that way.”
Herndon added that as the recession is slowly easing, the benefits that the Loyalty Club program provides will help them grow their businesses. “We are moving forward and it will give us the tools to move forward. We get great support,” he said.
Rosana Chaidez, vice president of supply chain for J.J. Haines and general manager of Wheeler and Scott Roy, vice president of sales for J.J. Haines, credit the dealers for not only their drive to learn about the advantages that the Club offers, but their desire to put them into action. “They are hungry to reinvent their business. They know that continuing to do the same thing is not going to change the results dramatically,” Chaidez said.
Roy added, “These guys are looking for business and they are trying to take the tools that are being given to them – like the financing and all of these other programs – and use them to drive business.”
Dealers were not the only ones with praise for the Loyalty Club; suppliers were eager to show support for Wheeler and its new program. “Wheeler is a very important partner of Lamett and we are very proud to be here for its first Loyalty Club program,” said Perry Coker, president of Lamett, North America.
Bruce Hammer of Artistic Finishes praised the Loyalty Club and its services, but also said that a program like this makes Haines and Wheeler more than distributors to retailers; they are valuable service providers. “I think it’s a pretty unique way for Haines and Wheeler to set themselves apart and be more than just someone who is trying to sell them the latest thing,” Hammer said.
Jason Strong, vice president of sales for IndusParquet, explained events like the Wheeler Summit are important because they expose the crucial relationship between retailers and distributors. “This event demonstrates the loyalty of its dealers, but from our perspective, we see that distribution plays an integral part with the dealer. This is a validation of the distribution channel,” he said.