The Power of Kitchen & Bath Alliance Membership

Written by Rob Stott

August 10, 2023

FEI Group kitchen and bath alliance knba nmg

Last year, Nationwide Marketing Group launched a strategic partnership with the team at FEI Group — an alliance that allows Members of both organizations to take advantage of an even wider scope of services and programs to enhance their business needs.

FEI Group, the flooring industry’s largest network of interior and exterior finish contractors and interior finish showrooms, is also the parent organization to a number of related industry groups, including the Kitchen & Bath Alliance. K&BA is a leading network of kitchen and bath and decorative plumbing and hardware showrooms.

Independent Thinking recently sat down with Brian Penabad, vice president at FEI, to talk about the relationship, benefits the K&BA offers and more.

IT: What do you feel is the biggest benefit of buying groups in general for kitchen and bath dealers and designers?

PENABAD: There are so many benefits, but networking with like-minded entrepreneurs and learning from other business owners is far and away the biggest. Members share both successes and failures with one another, how they’ve struggled and how they’re thriving. This type of frontline knowledge is invaluable to becoming a better, more forward-thinking business owner.

But there’s a bonus. You’re sure to make lifelong friends. While you forge business partnerships that will help you guide, position and shape your business for tomorrow, you’ll also form lasting friendships and create incredible memories with a first-class group of true professionals.

What benefits do you offer that makes K&B Alliance unique?

We have strength in numbers. K&B Alliance is a division of FEI Group, the nation’s largest and finest network of interior and exterior finish companies.

In over 200 markets nationwide, the Members of FEI Group provide turnkey services for the multifamily, single-family, foreclosure, remodel, student, senior and military housing markets. Our newest FEI Group division, Exterior Contractor Alliance, consists of fullservice roofing and exterior finish contractors who service the remodel, storm and insurance restoration segments of the same markets.

K&B Alliance members have access to exclusive supply programs, operational resources, national business programs, full-service rebate tracking and reporting, business insurance, brand marketing, benchmarking and best practices. These are all vital to the growth and profitability of all kitchen and bath businesses.

Industry-wide buying group numbers have been stable over the years – what do you think prevents more dealers/designers from participating in these groups, and how do you counter those objections?

There’s a real lack of knowledge and understanding of what these groups do for their members. A common misconception is that there’s a catch. That’s not the case with us. Ask any one of our existing members and they’ll tell you: Our goal is to bring better business practices and more profitability to our member companies, while promoting business autonomy.

To us, it’s simple: K&B Alliance companies have an advantage in their markets because they have access to programs and services exclusive to members, all while maintaining their independence.

We’ve added nearly 20 new K&B Alliance members in seven months, so we’re doing something right.

Can members belong to multiple buying groups?

No, not if the buying groups offer programs in the same product categories, i.e., cabinets, countertops, decorative plumbing, hardware or flooring. The exception to this is membership in Nationwide Marketing Group (NMG). We encourage dual membership in K&B Alliance and NMG if applicable. Our supply partners recognize membership in both groups.

What would you tell kitchen/bath dealers and designers who are contemplating joining a buying group?

Where else can you plug in with the most creative, most successful minds in the industry? Whether it’s Member site visits, regional meetings, supplier trips, manufacturer tours, benchmarking workshops, cocktail parties, trade shows, monthly conference calls or our National Conference, we offer members the opportunity to connect with their peers face-to-face.

The annual FEI Group National Conference is arguably the most important personal and business affair event on the FEI Group calendar each year. We discuss business experiences, learn from each other’s winning ideas and mistakes, make friends, laugh and address the opportunities that impact our businesses every day.

We’d also say, don’t take it from us. Here’s what K&B Alliance member Scott Amarant, Amarant Design & Build Center in Dublin, CA, said shortly after joining: “Since joining K&B Alliance, I’m getting a lot more attention from the sales reps – a seriously higher degree! In retrospect, I feel like there were times we were treated like the unwanted stepchild. Now, it feels like we’ve stepped into the big leagues.”

We’d be remiss not to mention product procurement and leverage here, too. We are in a position to negotiate supply programs on behalf of large numbers of dealers that result in benefits not typically available to one showroom attempting to negotiate on their own behalf.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about K&B Alliance?

K&B Alliance represents the most respected kitchen and bath and decorative plumbing and hardware showrooms and suppliers. Our members service retail, to-the-trade, multi-family, and single-family remodel and new construction markets.

KBx and K&B Alliance together represent over 200 showrooms in 35 states.

We’re the ungroup. We’re about business, but we’re big on culture and having fun, too. Our focus is to aid our members’ professional and personal growth, and we bring 25 years of experience in building and managing groups to achieve that.

Want to learn more about K&BA? Contact Brian Penabad at bpenabad@feigroup.net.


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