18 December 2009

AFA's Wanda Ellis Urges Going Global At DOMOTEX

Wanda Ellis, AFA

Meet Wanda Ellis, Executive Director of the American Floorcovering Alliance (AFA)

Why AFA Considers Going Global and DOMOTEX So Important To The Floor Covering Industry.

Dear DOMOTEX blog readers,

It is my pleasure to introduce Wanda Ellis, executive director of the American Floorcovering Alliance (AFA).

For those who do not already know her, Wanda has organized an AFA Pavilion at DOMOTEX for quite a few years and, before that, she contributed to the USA Pavilion. Wanda has made sure that the participating AFA members and especially those located in Georgia have fully benefited from the international sales platform that DOMOTEX can offer and has coordinated her activities closely with the State of Georgia, another strong supporter of the industry.

Wanda has taken her members to Hannover, Shanghai and Dubai. The Domotex staff here in the US and in Hannover appreciate her dedication and hard work. She is a strong believer in creating worldwide sales opportunities for her members.

We would also like to congratulate the AFA on its 30th year and look forward to welcoming the AFA members at DOMOTEX 2010!

Here is Wanda on some of her experiences.


This year, AFA is celebrating its 30th anniversary, with a members’ reunion mixer. AFA (or CMMA back then) was started in 1979 by mid-sized carpet manufacturers for the purpose of bringing dealers/distributors to town to sell products. After all, Dalton was known as the “Carpet Capital”.

Not being around during that era, I missed out of cleaning out the local Holiday Inn guest rooms to make room for the carpet samples. I have to rely on tales told by the founder members that were involved! But, the stories abound about the markets back in the good ole days at the Holiday Inn. They all say those were the times when shows were fun and they made money. Certainly, life was a bit easier. I will enjoy talking to some of the manufacturers at our reunion party to learn more.

With consolidation, mergers, & acquisitions, CMMA had to undergo some changes. No longer could the regional markets survive. In 1991, CMMA became DFCMA (Dalton Floor Covering Market Association) to keep pace with the industry changes.

By 1997, it was apparent that DFCMA had to go global. So, in 1998, I teamed up with the State of Georgia to develop international export programs for mid-sized mills. Our first venture was Domotex in Hannover. Thinking that we could take some sample books, meet customers, and bring back orders was naïve at best. After the first year, I realized that there had to be a long term commitment from our association, as well as the mills, in order to make it worthwhile.

This started what I term to be one of the most important programs for AFA & our industry. Being located in the Domotex USA Pavilion in the beginning, we were able to help our exhibitors have a presence at one of the most important international marketplaces in the world.

Year after year, we gradually developed a network of customers from around the world, looking to buy USA goods. At the same time, we were building a strong support system for our group of exporters. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to help a company go global. Everything but samples are provided for our exhibitors to simplify the process.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that any manufacturer look to cost effective ways to develop business in new markets. With the US market down, new emerging markets overseas is the next place to look.

2010 will be an extremely difficult time for any US manufacturer to hold steady with what production base they have been able to maintain over the last 18 months. Hopefully, by taking a small stand with AFA at Domotex, more will survive until our economic situation takes an upward turn.

Look for us at DOMOTEX 2010 in Hall 5, Stand B29. We have 12 AFA members (45 people) exhibiting in our Pavilion and an additional 5 non-exhibiting members visiting Domotex with us. On hand to assist are representatives from the Georgia Economic Development - Alice Carson from Atlanta, Nils Gerber from the Germany office, and an interpreter/hostess.

See you in Hannover!


Thank you, Wanda!

Wanda Ellis has been with the American Floorcovering Alliance since 1993. In addition to her role as executive director, where she handles marketing, membership programs, press releases, meetings, trade shows, and financials for the AFA, Wanda serves on the North Georgia Export Council ETAC Committee and is a prior board member of the American Red Cross, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Georgia Sheriff’s Home for Girls.

If you have questions for Wanda or me, please don't hesitate to ask. See you at DOMOTEX 2010!

~ Rita

Rita Dommermuth, Hannover Fairs USA
rita@hfusa.com - Tel: 562-901-9191

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