Bill Luallen sits down with Mark Berndt, Senior Director of Technical Services for Bentley Mills, to discuss flooring industry trends and standards. With 21 years of experience at Bentley, Mark offers incredibly valuable insights.

After 21 years in Bentley Mills’ technical service department, Mark Berndt certainly knows the ins and outs of the flooring industry. His drive to go above and beyond for his reps and customers is evident in how he handles every aspect of his job. “I enjoy the end result of serving the customer,” Mark says. “I like serving sales people. I like for them to have good answers. I like for them to have a go-to for their answers for whatever the need – whether it’s installation or maintenance.”

Have an issue with flooring installation or maintenance? Mark says talk to someone. “If there’s a situation where something isn’t working, obviously we want to be called. We want to help out. If there’s no communication on something that isn’t right, then we’ve got nowhere to go with it.”

When it comes to growing the industry and advancing its reach, Mark believes that, again, having a conversation is more important than ever. “That clear, open, honest communication is what promotes and makes it better for everybody. If not, then we’re not going to get better.”

An open dialogue between mills, dealers, and service providers is the starting point for flooring maintenance. “We’re not going to spec a product that we don’t think is going to perform. We don’t do that. We avoid that,” Mark states. He adds, “There are some sales people that might say ‘Sell now, repent later’ but we don’t like that idea very much. The fact is, it works well when we get on the front side of things, especially with maintenance.”

On Manufacturer Recommendations:

“I always like to say ‘We’re a well-greased wagon wheel.’ Because it’s XL North, it’s Antron, it’s Starnet, it’s Bentley, it’s XL Brands, it’s TRCC.

All of us are on the same page with the products we promote. Why wouldn’t you – at the service end of it, the maintenance end of it – why not? Why wouldn’t you stick with that? Why not make that work?”

Mark believes that education is vital to keep the flooring industry thriving. “I think there’s an enormous lack of education in the installation side of products. That’s going to hurt our industry. It’s going to hurt our labor unions. It’s going to hurt our industry in whole because there’s not as many people signing up to do this hard labor.”

He also points out that apprenticeship programs are incredibly valuable, but they are in decline. He says “That is a big thing, but there’s not enough of it.” After working with the CRI on new manufacturing guidelines, he states, “The number one thing they’re looking for is education. That’s the thing that’s going to keep our industry alive and surviving.”

Getting down to the bottom line on maintenance, Mark believes that an explanation and offer of manufacturer-recommended services sets you apart from your competition. Educating a customer about these specifications and procedures gives you an opportunity to show that you are well-informed. Mark says, “[Manufacturers have] a strong recommendation of what to do. The service provider should always promote those systems that make sense and just move forward with that.”

XL North’s responsiveness is key in helping Mark answer questions he receives from his reps and customers. “I know I can get the answer,” he states. “If I’m a maintenance provider, I’ve got to have that trust in XL North. You guys are the chemistry guys.” The wealth of information that XL North provides customers is an additional benefit. Mark states, “I see all the videos you put together. You could get an education from your website.”

The relationship between Bentley Mills and XL North has been a truly unique and beneficial resource for Mark. “I can’t thank XL North enough. You’ve been tremendous in the time frame that we’ve worked together. And it’s just been something that Bentley didn’t have before. I’m thankful that we have you guys from the service side.”

On Keeping an Open Mind:

“If someone is open-minded to a solution to any type of problem, that’s great, but when they’re not open-minded, it makes it really difficult. That is the hardest thing to deal with.”

For more than 30 years, Bentley Mills, Inc. has defined design, color, quality, and customer service in the commercial carpet industry. The California-based brand manufactures and markets award-winning broadloom, carpet tile, and area rug products for interiors across the globe. With luxury, timelessness, and crafted quality at the forefront of our product design, Bentley is proud to be recognized consistently for leadership in design, performance, and customer service to the architecture and interior design community. They are also committed to sustainable commerce as they continue to evolve their product line to mirror their eco-conscious philosophy and achieve top industry certifications. As the largest commercial carpet manufacturer in California, Bentley is proud to operate in a LEED-EBOM® Gold carpet manufacturing facility, the same facility in which they began their journey in 1979.


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Author:
Bill Luallen

Bill Luallen is the Director of Technical Sales for XL North, a division of Textile Rubber and Chemical Company. He is the IICRC RFMT TAC vice chair and participates on many panels and boards including the CRI and the League of Hard Flooring Professionals. When Bill is not traveling to work with customers or talking on the phone, he spends all his down time with his wife Cynthia of 30 years, outside enjoying this beautiful world.

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