For her lifetime achievements and contributions in the Floor Covering Industry.
CFA 2017 PERSON OF THE YEAR
Past CFA President; Strategic Accounts Manager at FlorStar Sales,Inc.; Sales Person of the Year 1999
Linda’s practical, personal, and passionate demeanor was forged in rural Indiana. Growing up in farm country, Linda learned early on that hard work was necessary to success. Nothing was going to be handed to her, except perhaps for some work clothes or a tool to get some job done. Folks in that community worked with a long-term view and little time for griping. Those foundational skills would serve Linda well as one of the pioneering women in wholesale floor covering sales.
As Linda matured during a time when there were few opportunities for women in the workplace other than teaching, being a nurse or becoming a secretary, she settled on being a teacher. She loved teaching, including her little brother, Dave, who played the less-than-interested student. Formally trained as an educator, Linda’s early professional career included stints teaching children at various levels. Later, life’s path took Linda from Indiana’s fields ultimately to the glitter of Las Vegas, where she was an owner, with a partner, of an upholstery workshop that also built and sold furniture. Again, these widely diverse experiences provided Linda with a background and love for teaching, training, and developing people, as well as an understanding of the challenges involved in managing and operating a retail business. Without question, these experiences helped Linda as she embarked on a career in floor covering sales that would later include responsibilities as a senior member of a wholesale management team.
Seeking a change, Linda pursued an opportunity in wholesale floor covering sales with Tri-West, Ltd., a large wholesaler serving the southwest and southern California markets. At that time, many of the products Linda carried involved dual or more distribution. Moreover, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the floor covering industry was neither as receptive nor as encouraging of female sales people, managers, or leaders as it is today. This is not meant to be some political or social justice statement; it is merely an acknowledgment of historical reality. Linda therefore confronted a situation in which she was inexperienced and not necessarily even welcome or respected in all cases by her clients. At the same time she faced direct competition carrying identical products and serving identical customers. Despite these challenges, Linda developed and grew her territory extraordinarily.
When Linda needed to relocate back to the Midwest for family reasons in 1995, the president of Tri-West picked up the phone (they did not have email in those days) and called Wade Cassidy at FlorStar Sales. The two were acquainted through their mutual representation of Armstrong and their service together on various industry boards and associations. Receiving a stellar recommendation, Mr. Cassidy agreed to interview Linda. FlorStar offered Linda a sales position. She accepted and thrived, setting records for commercial sales volume and earning promotion to commercial sales manager. At the time, Linda was one of the few women in such a senior management position in wholesale floor covering. Under Linda’s leadership, FlorStar developed a widely-respected and successful commercial sales organization, which has and continues to earn vendor awards for sales excellence.
While many people would have been content to focus inwardly on their company and personal career, Linda found time while at FlorStar to become an active participant within the CFA. She brought the same passion clients saw during sales meetings and presentations to board discussions, CFA recruitment efforts, and CFA events. Linda advocated tirelessly to vendors, wholesalers, and retailers regarding the importance of maintaining and growing healthy industry associations, the CFA in particular. Unsurprisingly, when the opportunity presented itself, Linda humbly and graciously served the CFA as its president.
Despite the reality of the challenges she faced as she entered the industry, she relished those challenges as the perfect opportunity for an exciting career. Each day brings new challenges Once told by one of her managers that he believed that “women in general, teachers in particular, make great sales people. While it may sound sexist, women have to be better than their counterparts to be given the same level of respect.” Linda responded with dedication and determination to meet that challenge.
Linda has spoken often of the joy she had and still has in helping a customer, teaching and training folks, and securing new business. One of Linda’s core philosophies is that, while it is nice to be liked, it is more important in sales to be respected. After more than three decades of service to the flooring industry, she is blessed with being both.
At the end of 2017, Linda will retire from active sales responsibility to Noblesville, IN, where her family resides. She’s looking forward to spending time with them and to watching her three little great-nephews and one great-niece grow up. She plans to figure out where the next chapter of her life will lead, but don’t be surprised if you see her at a few of the CFA events in the future.