E.J. Welch on the fast track to growth

EJ WelchsSome floor distributors grow by taking market share from weaker competitors; others do it through acquisition. EJ Welch & Company’s rise from unranked wholesale to No. 6 (estimated 2022 sales of $230 million) was all-encompassing—the basketball equivalent of a full-court press.

In approximately two years, EJ Welch has developed and implemented a strategic plan that includes customer service, pricing, purchasing, marketing and sales. In short, no stone remains unexploited. Today, in Earth City, Mo. established company has more than 25,000 product options, more than 10,000 items in stock in commercial and residential flooring, tools and miscellaneous items in a 27-state footprint.

Acquisitions funded through the private equity arm, Center Rock Capital Partners’ Merit Distribution Group, began in September 2020 when EJ Welch acquired the majority stake of then-Top 20 distributor T&L Distributing in Houston. A month later, it acquired certain assets from Gilford-Johnson Flooring, another Top 20 player based in Jeffersonville, Ind. In December 2021, EJ Welch agreed to acquire Cheney Carpet and Vrooman Carpet; in January 2022, it bought the remaining assets from Gilford-Johnson.

EJ Welch is also grown organically. For example, EJ Welch’s ProSupply is the physical storefront attached to the warehouses, where floor installers can pick up tools and sundries. For example, Tools4Flooring.com is the 24/7 online source of the most popular tools and various articles. EJ Welch’s e-commerce platform for customers will be launched soon.

Mitch Jolley, CEO of EJ Welch, said the company’s success is a total effort involving employees, suppliers and retail customers. “We’ve given many team members the opportunity to grow their careers and take on more responsibility in our company, while also bringing in exceptional talent inside and outside the flooring industry,” he said. FCNews.

The past 18 months have included a reorganization of the leadership team – with a new director added, along with new positions for VP of Purchasing and VP of Commercial Solutions.

EJ Welch develops multi-year plans for its suppliers while expanding into newly acquired territories. “Our customer strategy is evolving with high priority and the emphasis is on being on time, accurate and making it easier to do business with us,” said Jolley. “We are redefining the installer, independent retailer and commercial contractor experience.”

EJ Welch’s territory coverage now includes four regions:

  • Upper Midwest—It is expanding into a larger warehouse facility and adding a ProSupply near Minneapolis, plus the opening of a new ProSupply in Fargo, ND;
  • Southeast—It brought in Novalis and Raskin as suppliers and recently upgraded its Hill Country Innovations private label program and opened a ProSupply in Knoxville, Tenn., and Orlando;
  • Southwest—The company opened new ProSupply locations in Houston and Austin, Texas;
  • Central—It added a distribution center in Elk Grove, Illinois, to keep up with sales and product expansion.

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