CHESTERFIELD, MO.—Virgil Hendricks, president and owner of the Mid-West Floor Co. and the guiding force of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), passed away Feb. 19. He was 93.
Hendricks, who served as NWFA’s first president from 1985 to 1990, had injured himself moving snow in January and eventually succumbed to heart failure.
“When I think of Virgil, the phrases ‘the consummate professional,’ ‘a gentlemen’s’ gentlemen’ and ‘the epitome of The Greatest Generation’ say it all,” said Ed Korczak, NWFA’s executive director/CEO.
The NWFA was an idea spawned by Hendricks and seven of his associates in 1984, said his son, Ron. “The idea behind the association was to get all facets of the wood flooring industry involved to be used as a learning and teaching avenue for new people in the business while giving everyone in the industry a voice.”
It was launched in 1985 and was a huge success, he added. “Schools were formed and all instructors were volunteers. Up to this time, the only associations you could join were manufacturing, and only manufacturers or associates were allowed to join. NWFA lets all companies in with everyone having one vote.”
As well as founding father of the NWFA, Hendricks was the former owner of the St. Louis distributor Lockwood Flooring and served as the first president of the Flooring Industry Council. He was also a trustee for Local 1310 Floor Layers as well as a member of the Home Builders Association.
After starting Mid-West in 1939, Hendricks served in the Army in WWII. Upon his return in 1946, he rejoined the company, which started out carrying just hardwood but expanded into carpet and other categories in the 1950s. “At one point during the big building boom in the ’50s and ’60s, Mid-West was running 200 mechanics,” Ron Hendricks said. “That’s a pretty fair sized shop.”
In 1975, Hendricks started a small distribution company called Flooring Supply. It originally began just supplying Mid-West Floor with products, “but when the larger wood manufacturers such as Bruce, Robbins, Memphis Hardwoods and others began looking for distribution, it made sense to move Flooring Supply into this arena,” Ron said. In 1978, Flooring Supply’s name was changed to Lockwood Flooring.
“My dad has always been a leader in the wood flooring industry,” his son said. “He was always looking for ways to improve the industry that was his first love and to leave something that would be a benefit for all who were in it.”
Scott Gardner, owner of Onyx Hardwood & Remodeling in Shawnee, Kan., who got to know Hendricks when he worked for him at Lockwood, said, “Virgil was a man created by the industry and, at the same time, made the industry what it is today. I look at the hardwood guy across from me and smile. Today, he is not my competition, he is my brother.”
Hendricks is survived by his wife, Marjorie; son, Ron; daughters Denise Riehlman and Christie Lewis; stepson, Frank Catanzaro; nine grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.