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CSA Exclusive: Retail co-op members stay independent with shared tech

Shelby Design Center is an independent member of the CCA Global Partners Carpet One Floor & Home retail co-op.

CCA Global Partners is helping independent flooring retailers remain competitive in the face of national chain competition and COVID-19 challenges.

Chain Store Age recently interviewed Howard Brodsky, co-founder, chairman, and co-chief executive officer of CCA Global Partners. Based in Manchester, N.H., CCA Global is comprised of 14 different business divisions – including flooring as well as lighting, bicycle shops and childcare, with locations in four countries. Brodsky, who began his career in the flooring retail vertical, focused his comments on the cooperative’s flooring division.

“We had a small family business – a chain of flooring stores,” recalled Brodsky. “We then started a national trade association, thinking if we don’t do it, somebody else will. Otherwise, the flooring market would go the way of national chains. Scale becomes everything. Specialty retailers had 70% of the flooring business, now they have 40%.”

CCA Global launched the Carpet One Floor & Home cooperative to offer independent flooring retailers a competitive edge by providing shared buying, marketing, merchandising and management resources, including technology solutions. 

Although CCA Global’s original goal for Carpet One was to reach a total of 300 stores, the coop currently has over 1,000 stores across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Stores are typically family businesses, but not “mom and pop” operations, with average annual revenues between $3 million and $100 million.

“We’re not just about buying,” said Brodksy. “We offer in-depth marketing programs. CCA Global also helps provide group insurance and operates a real estate group. We negotiate leases and buy and sell buildings.”

According to Brodsky, CCA Global seeks to serve as the “Great Equalizer” for the independent retailers who join the Carpet One cooperative, providing a level playing field with national competitors by offering business resources and capabilities at scale. These include technology.

“There are multiple technology avenues that our members can follow,” said Brodsky. “Everything is offered in one place, MembersNet. This includes online training as well as marketing tools.”

CCA Global also offers Carpet One members a sophisticated proprietary CRM platform called Drive, as well as access to the Docusign electronic document management solution. The organization also offers a proprietary flooring installation process called Neutralize, which eliminates 99.9% of viruses, including COVID-19, and includes a treatment that kills any contaminants already in the home and also protects the floor after the installation with an antimicrobial treatment.

In addition, CCA Global provides Carpet One members with a virtual room visualizer that enable customers to get a digital advance preview of how different flooring samples would look in their living space. The company customized an existing solution to meet the specific requirements of its members.

“Room visualizers are so needed today,” said Brodsky. “We want to make our members’ lives easier by letting them do things they could never do on their own.”

In the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of Carpet One’s members shut down in-store operations. However, with assistance from CCA Global’s shared resources, 99% of members ultimately stayed in business. During the next six to 12 months, Brodsky sees a continuing shift toward omnichannel shopping in the flooring vertical.

“There will be more shopping at home and designing at home,” he said. 
“Customers will do more on their own. People want to make decisions without leaving the house.”

[Editor’s note: See how specialty hardwood floor retailer LL Flooring met COVID-19 challenges with virtual consultations here. ]

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