Focus on Leadership: Doug Enck discusses his successful career in contract flooring - Dec 2020
Interview by Kemp Harr
Third-generation in the flooring business, Doug Enck started his career in his family’s carpet sales agency and had early stints at Robertex and Patcraft. In 1990, while Enck was at Patcraft, Queen Carpet purchased the firm, and then in 1998, Shaw Industries purchased Queen. In 2001, Enck accepted a position as vice president of sales and marketing for Mannington and then held the same position at Constantine Carpet until its acquisition by Milliken in 2009, before returning to Shaw, where he has spent the last five years on the contract side of the business-first as vice president of commercial sales and now as executive vice president, commercial division. Doug, whose brother Phil works at Milliken, lives in Dalton, Georgia, with his wife, Jane. He has three grown children-two daughters and a son.
Q: When did you decide that sales would be your career focus, and how did you end up getting into the commercial flooring business?
A: I sold for my father’s commercial carpet sales agency business while in college. One of his vendors, Robertex, hired me. In the ’80s, many of the manufacturers were residential and commercial. I was fascinated by the specification process. Closing business involved the integrated channels. When you add the market segment dynamics, commercial is a strategic business with very diversified clients. In commercial, you can influence demand and profitability directly.
Q: Tell us why you left Patcraft in 1998 when Shaw acquired Queen? What changed that motivated you to come back?
A: I was actually at Shaw for three years after the acquisition and through the integration, which is where I developed many of my relationships with other colleagues. I was recruited to a higher-level position at Mannington, where I was able to learn the hard surface industry before the LVT boom. I also worked for Constantine, a smaller company owned by a private equity firm. Both those experiences benefited me when I returned to Shaw. I also learned from the outside how strong Shaw was in many ways, especially in terms of culture and resources. Shaw Commercial needed someone to develop the global accounts end-user business. This was one of the few areas it did not have high marketshare. I was intrigued by the challenge and opportunity to leverage the industry leadership position in the market in this channel. The organization had great talent to join.
Q: Why does it make sense for Shaw to have two commercial brands? How is the promise different for Patcraft compared to Shaw Contract?
A: Both brands are very successful with their own characteristics and cultures within our overall commercial business. We have a good balance of each brand’s own entrepreneurialism but collaboration to leverage our resources.
The main strategic reason for having two commercial brands is to have multiple approaches to cover the market channels and segments. Philadelphia Commercial does the same for mainstreet commercial. The commercial marketplace seems to appreciate more choice and a broader vendor base. It’s such a relationship business, especially with the design community. There are thousands of A&D firms, end users and dealers to reach. Multiple brands also allow greater scale with the sales organization to do this.
Q: It’s been said many times that commercial flooring reps can make or break a brand. What do you do to keep them loyal to Shaw?
A: You are so right. We take talent very seriously. People are our true north. We have a talent strategy that is supported with significant resources in recruiting, development and retention. Culture wins. We try to support our associates in many ways and ultimately respect that their success is our success.
Q: Who would you say your mentors are, and what did they teach you?
A: There are many-some I’ve been close to and others whose success I’ve observed. Learning from others is an accelerant. Bernie Zuckerman, the co-founder of Stratton, was an early mentor who coached me on business acumen. Bob Chandler, who I worked with for 25 years, has had a tremendous influence, both professionally and personally. The current leadership team at Shaw is at such a high level, especially strategically. I’ve been blessed to be at the table with many CEOs and other C-suite leaders. There are many peers over the years from whom I’ve gained guidance and knowledge.
My learnings have been broad through these people. First, is to always do the right thing and understand that leaders set an example for the organization. Diversity of talent and thought are what win in business. Appreciating the customer and understanding market dynamics are essential. Be curious and authentic.
Q: In 2016, you lost your wife and the mother of your three children to cancer after 34 years of marriage. How did that change your perspective on life, work and faith?
A: Faith has been paramount to get through the tough experiences of life. It’s been a journey I never thought I’d experience. Family is number one. I am so proud of my kids. My wife was so supportive, caring and the rock for us all.
Friends are also family. So many people came to my support.
Shaw is family, and work helped me get through the immediate hardship-staying busy helps me. But work is not enough. As is the case for many of us, work can be all consuming, even after tragedy. You have to intentionally work on the balance, which is easier said than done. I’ve learned to have other outlets and hobbies. I’ve also become very focused on health after her illness. This is something we can take for granted.
I’ve remarried to a wonderful woman, also a widow, who is a very positive part of this journey. To me, a positive attitude is everything. The sun should shine every day.
Q: How did growing up in Michigan as a hockey player help to mold you into who you are today?
A: Like business, hockey is a team sport. Trust your team and know their strengths. Complementary skills are powerful. Everyone has a role and should communicate and cover each other. Hockey is a tough sport and teaches resilience and to move with speed.
Q: I understand you are a strong advocate for the diversity initiative at Shaw Industries. Why has that become one of your core causes?
A: Diversity and inclusion are core to our leadership competencies at Shaw. We need diverse thinking and people collaborating for success. I grew up in a diverse community in Ann Arbor in the ’70s, so my experience shaped my views. I joined one of our associate resource groups at Shaw, and at the same time, my daughters entered the workforce and had a couple of bad experiences. This immersed me more into the diversity and inclusion space, and I have since learned a ton. I actually have a reverse mentor, who continues to coach me and is a close friend. Our associate diversity and inclusion engagement at Shaw continues to grow and this helps the business.
Q: What advice have you given your children as they’ve stepped out into the world to start their own careers?
A: Be challenged, learn and be curious. Follow what you enjoy doing. Work hard and be responsible. Follow up. Respect others. It’s a pretty simple message.
I have a son and two daughters. When the kids were young, every other year for vacation, we traveled outside the region, all over North America and the Caribbean, to expand their view of the world and teach independence. Also, all three studied abroad as part of their college education Now, they are off on their own with successful careers.
Q: When you hire a salesperson, how can you tell the pros from the wannabes?
A: Their drive, enthusiasm and passion. They ask great questions and are empathetic-it’s not about them. They have the ability to build relationships and network. I loved the ones who are self-aware and like to learn and work on self-development. They have high emotional intelligence. The really good ones are strategic, and they can navigate the market channels.
Our salespeople have evolved into an effective team-based selling organization. Our sales leaders have intentionally recruited for and coached to this competitive advantage.
Q: I understand your son Robert is focused in the technology field. What role will technology play in which brand is selected for any given commercial flooring project?
A: Everything is digital and now virtual. Remote work during this pandemic has accelerated this. Visualization is essential in many mediums and delivery. We need to leverage digital tools for deeper client engagement and lead generation. We are investing a lot of resources in digital advancements and technology, including new tools for our associates and better ones for sales to improve our client engagement. We now have to compete on an entirely new front.
I believe you have to bring some new talent into the organization, because it changes fast. It’s very important to get the user experience right. I actually had Robert meet with a few of us for some outside-the-industry perspective and understanding.
Q: What do you do for fun or as a diversion when you aren’t focused on work?
A: I participate in regular fitness activities for health, both physical and mental. I play some golf and do a lot of things outdoors. I’m actually picking up on new hobbies during the pandemic. I love being with family. My passion is being on the water, mostly on lakes boating. And, of course, experiencing these things with Jane, my wife, our children and friends. I haven’t been on an airplane in a year, after a career of about 75,000 miles annually. I am looking forward to traveling again for business and personal reasons. I’m so ready to connect with people in person.
Q: What is your vision for where you hope to take Shaw’s commercial business?
A: Growth. Continue our industry leadership in many categories, especially design and talent.
I am very proud of how our leadership, operations and all associates have managed the pandemic and commercial slowdown. We’ve embraced our teams and helped our customers navigate through unpredictable circumstances. We are very well positioned to take marketshare in the economic recovery with inventory and aggressive lead times. Our operations are prepared for a flexible response to fast-tracked project schedules.
Our product mix continues to shift with market demand. We have multiple new resilient product platforms being introduced and in development. Our supply chain management and logistics are world class, and we’ll continue to leverage them as we grow our resilient business. There is also new energy in innovation for carpet tile. The same goes for other flooring solutions, such as acoustics, moisture management and cleaning/disinfecting products.
The entire enterprise is very focused on enhancing the customer experience. We want to surprise and delight our customers every day. This is a competitive differentiator, especially in parts of the market that become commoditized. We want to be easy to do business with and add more value to all our customers. We have initiatives underway tailored to the various customer types we serve. Leveraging our CRM, net promoter score activities and digital advancements will support those efforts. Similarly, we’re working to continue to enhance our culture and ensure our associates have a great work experience. Happy associates mean happy customers.
I’ve been fortunate to follow some great leaders and to inherit a strong organization with amazing resources. My goal continues to be to support an amazing team, enhance the business and find new market opportunities to continue our growth and market leadership.
Copyright 2020 Floor Focus