Aug 4 2017

Jablon Talks Non-Traditional Approach to Flooring with NAFCD

Kevin Jablon is the owner of Spartan Surfaces, a specialty flooring distributor headquartered in Bel Air, Md. The company was founded in 2007 with an emphasis on specifying products through the A&D community. Jablon recently sat down with us to discuss Spartan's non-traditional approach and where he sees the business headed. What follows is our chat:

NAFCD: Spartan has succeeded by promoting the brands of your sales consultants at the same level as those of your suppliers. What went into setting this strategy and how has your approach to the business changed over the past decade?

KEVIN JABLON: We formed our company in 2007 as a commercial flooring rep group. We had limited resources and did not represent the most well-known brands in the marketplace. To separate ourselves, we made it a point to hire high-profile reps that had great relationships with architects and designers. It was my responsibility to make sure I put them in a place to be the most successful.

NAFCD: For those NAFCD members reading this who would like to become more design-oriented, what advice would you have for them?

KJ: We prioritize the design community the same way most distributors prioritize their contractors and retailers. The contract community is extremely important to us, but everything starts at the specification level at Spartan.

NAFCD: Are you seeing any trends in the various markets your company is servicing?

KJ: The multi-family market segment is a big focus of our company. We call on developers, property managers and specifiers throughout the segment. We are seeing a trend shifting from new construction multi-family towards renovation work. We feel that the renovation market will be robust for a long period of time.

NAFCD: Spartan has morphed into a stocking distributor over the past few years. Can you elaborate?

KJ: We realized we had pretty good market penetration in the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., marketplace. We had solid relationships with the dealer community, but we couldn’t service them properly without local inventory for fast track products. We invested in trucks, a new software system, and an internal distribution team to best serve our customers. We now stock and deliver daily the following products: Johnsonite, Tarkett, AzRock, Schonox, Ecore, ProtectAll, and XL Adhesives.

NAFCD: Was there some advice given to you early on in your flooring career that has stuck with you?

KJ: You may not always be the smartest person in the room, but don’t let anyone outwork you. Take business seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

NAFCD: How important is it to have a fun and creative work environment, and what are some of the ways leadership can foster that?

KJ: Extremely important. We believe that culture trumps strategy. We want to attract the best talent and, in order to do so, you must have a great working environment.

NAFCD: How has being involved with the NAFCD been of benefit to you personally and your company, in general?

KJ: Last year was our first year as a member of the association. We look forward to getting more involved in the upcoming year. Any opportunity that I have to sit down and discuss best practices with other distributors, I am all about it.

NAFCD: Lastly, what has you most excited about the remainder of 2017 and beyond?

KJ: We are constantly looking at new ways to reinvent ourselves as a company. On a business level, the rest of 2017 looks to be pretty strong. On a personal level, I feel very fortunate that I get to do something that I love every day.

To view the orginal article on NAFCD's website, CLICK HERE.