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ARCHIVED  July 1, 1997

Florida wholesale tile company takes shine to region

FORT COLLINS — Fast-growing Northern Colorado has prompted a nationwide wholesale tile firm to open a local office here. However, some local distributors fear the new office won’t be limited to wholesale business, but that it also will sell to the general public.

Florida Tile Ceramic Center, the wholesale distributor of floor, counter and wall tile and related materials, has opened at 1841 E. Harmony Road, Suite 5.

The 43-year-old company, based in Lakeland, Fla., wants to better service the companies that distribute its products, said Connie Carlson, operations manager here. Locally, that includes Color Tile, Carpet Exchange, Decorating Dimensions, Avalanche Floor Coverings, Dale’s Carpet One, Petersen’s Linoleum & Carpet and others.

While the public can visit the four-person showroom to get an idea about products, they can purchase only from distributors and not from the new wholesale office, Carlson said.

“Most of the dealers here have our product already, and we want to service them better,” she said.

However, Clarie Hoover, co-owner of Decorating Dimensions, is a little wary. He’s seen wholesale distributors come into a market and eventually begin selling to the general public.

For example, builders sometimes send new-home buyers to a wholesaler to peruse products. In some cases, Hoover said, the wholesaler ends up selling directly to the home buyer in the builder’s name.

“If wholesalers want to take on the added responsibility of customer service, that’s their business,” Hoover said.

But, he added, wholesalers should not compete with their own distributors.

Another wholesaler in Fort Collins did just that, Hoover said, and he ended up pulling its samples from his store.

“Customers would come in here and spend two hours with us to pick out colors and products, then go to the warehouse and buy it from them,” he said.

Hoover said he simply will keep a close eye on which wholesalers keep their business strictly wholesale.

“I work with the ones that aren’t going to be my competition,” he said.

Florida Tile’s offerings are manufactured in plants in Florida, Kentucky and Georgia. Some products are imported.

With the opening of the Fort Collins location, the company now has approximately 30 locations. That should grow to 36 by year’s end, Carlson said. Another 20 are planned by the end of next year. A Denver site has been operational for 18 years, while one in Colorado Springs has been in business for two years.

“We will service Northern Colorado and all of Wyoming,” Carlson said of the Fort Collins locale. It is comprised of a 600-square-foot showroom and office and 5,400 square feet of warehouse space.

Florida Tile is one of several subsidiaries of Premark International Inc., a large public company based in Deerfield, Ill.

Carlson said that prior to the new office’s opening, Florida Tile was selling $70,000 to $80,000 a month in Northern Colorado through dealers. That is expected to increase with a stronger local presence.

The company competes with other wholesale distributors such as Monarch Tile Inc. and Dal-Tile International Corp.

FORT COLLINS — Fast-growing Northern Colorado has prompted a nationwide wholesale tile firm to open a local office here. However, some local distributors fear the new office won’t be limited to wholesale business, but that it also will sell to the general public.

Florida Tile Ceramic Center, the wholesale distributor of floor, counter and wall tile and related materials, has opened at 1841 E. Harmony Road, Suite 5.

The 43-year-old company, based in Lakeland, Fla., wants to better service the companies that distribute its products, said Connie Carlson, operations manager here. Locally, that includes Color Tile, Carpet Exchange, Decorating Dimensions, Avalanche Floor…

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