What started as a pilot program two years ago, the Members Mentoring Members initiative has helped connect young professionals across CCA Global Partners with other flooring store owners and managers. The program has taken on many iterations and first began as a pairing between young flooring store owners from the Nex40 group with more experienced owners and managers.
The program made its debut in the summer of 2019 when Vice President of Member Services and Operations Frank Santaniello sat down with Vice President of Regional Network Groups Sally Kelly and CCA University's Nicole Harding and Tim James to brainstorm Nex40 initiatives. They decided to create a program that fostered mentorship connections by pairing Nex40 members with veteran store owners and facilitating initial team building.
"[We] sent out sophisticated surveys to each of the people and asked them who are you, what do you do, how many locations are in your business, how much of your business is commercial, how much of your business is residential, etc.," Training Project ManagerTim James said. "We did these really deep surveys, and then the four of us got together and did our best to pair up Nex40 members with the veteran store owners based on that."
According to Tim, the program was still in its early stages, so it had to be put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It wasn't until the spring of 2021 that the Nex40 council was able to delve back into the logistics of Members Mentoring Members, and they decided to restructure the program.
"When we started to bring it back with our new Nex40 council, [we] asked them, 'hey, what should this program be?' They wanted us to go more towards this peer mentor program rather than us trying to facilitate these relationships," Tim explained.
Much like many programs at CCA, Nex40 recently expanded beyond their original Carpet One members across all CCA divisions. With new members joining the Nex40 council from Flooring America, ProSource, and the International Design Guild, there was a group consensus that the new Members Mentoring Members program should focus on peer mentorship.
"The mentorship will be geared toward specific topics that Nex40 members are most interested in learning about," Sarah Fitzgerald, a business consultant for International Design Guild, said. "We want to ensure that experts in the provided topics to choose from are the best fit for what our mentees are looking for help with."
The new program had a soft launch at the Summer 2021 Convention in Denver and will continue development into the fall.
"We started introducing people to the new version of members mentoring members, which is a peer mentor program that is not based on these long-lasting relationships as much as it is just connecting Nex40 members who want to talk about specific issues and specific challenges with their businesses," Tim said.
Since CCA Global Partners is such an extensive company with many facets of divisions, the Nex40 group works to bring together people of a similar age group to connect on a more personal level. One of the most significant advantages for Nex40 members involved with the Members Mentoring Members program is the exchange of knowledge between professionals of different backgrounds.
"There is always a benefit to learning and being taught the ropes of the flooring business," Sarah said. "We like to think that our Nex40 members are the future of our co-op! While our Nex40 group may understand how to address the newer hurdles thrown at them, the basics are still essential, and we have many members who can share a wealth of knowledge on a range of topics relevant to our NEX40 members."
The program is available to all Nex40 members and can be accessed through their website at Nex40.org through two separate links. The first asks members to create a profile detailing their work experience and areas of expertise, while the second link leads them to a survey where they can request a connection or support.
Tim is excited to see how this program can grow and evolve as it becomes less of an idea and more of a normal process incorporated into the lives of Nex40 members.
"This is their career, and this is their family business," Tim said. "[All] we do is help young professionals find success in their career and grow professionally. When we do things well, and we're able to facilitate those connections and help these folks, there's no better reward than that."