By Ken Ryan
With the great recession in the rear-view mirror, flooring retailers are hiring again, buoyed by an improving business landscape. This upbeat mood is reflected in recent surveys showing small businesses across all sectors are more confident. In January small business optimism jumped to its highest level in more than eight years, according to a monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
Flooring dealers are feeling the bounce back too. Paul Riemer, vice president of Riemer Floors in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said that after three strong years he finally feels secure enough to add staff. “We have been at the bottom and have now experienced double-digit increases three years in a row. We are at the tipping point where we need to add staff; otherwise service levels will be hurt.”
In a survey of specialty flooring dealers nationwide, FCNews found that most dealers are expanding their teams in 2015.
Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa.
I just hired someone who started earlier this month. The position will entail aspects dealing with hard surface flooring. Our business had a nice spike in 2014 but my hard surface division is lagging behind national averages of 50/50 soft surface vs. hard surface. I hired a hard surface director in the middle of 2014 and the new person coming on board will work with both of us. Our company does over $4 million in sales from our one location but as of now 87% of that is soft surface. We have tremendous growth potential.
Carpet One Floor & Home, Carroll, Iowa
We are hiring in 2015. In Carroll, one of our four Iowa locations, we lost a receptionist two years ago and got by, but with business growing we are currently interviewing to hire one back. We are also currently interviewing to hire an additional salesperson because of the increased volume we have now and will be expecting into 2015. In our Spirit Lake store we just hired an interior designer. In our Urbandale location we need about ½ of a person now. I feel it’s going to be a good year so we are currently running ads to expand our sales staff.
Littrell Flooring, Encinitas, Calif.
I will be adding at least one full-time employee soon. It will be a sales position because we need another person to handle our incoming business. I think 2015 sales will exceed 2014’s. There seems to be growth in all areas, especially the custom builder market.
The Flooring Gallery, Louisville, Ky.
We are hiring to fill retail and outside sales positions. We have seen an uptick in business and feel the need to bring in more staff to allow us to grow and meet the increased demand.
It has been harder to find the type of person that we want to fill the positions. On the retail side many people are not accustomed to working the evening and weekend hours that it takes to be successful in this type of business. On the outside business it is all about finding people who are good at developing relationships and getting out in the community.
HOM Furniture, Coon Rapids, Minn.
We are currently looking for a commercial project manager, a builder specialist, a project coordinator and three to four retail sales associates. We are expanding our commercial sales efforts. We have seen good growth since we opened a new HOM Floors commercial showroom and outlet center last fall, and expect this to be a growth category going forward.
We are also opening a new HOM Furniture retail complex at the end of February, which will have our largest HOM Floors retail showroom. We expect it to quickly become one of our higher producing stores.
We finished 2014 with double-digit growth, and after a somewhat slow December and early January, we have seen an uptick in business over the last two to three weeks. We expect continued growth in 2015.
Riemer Floors, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
We are looking to hire qualified installers, delivery personnel and builder sales associates. Home starts are expected to increase another 6% this year and retail will be stronger in this first quarter of 2015 without last year’s polar vortex effect.
Floors & More, Benton, Ark.
We plan on hiring additional team members in 2015 due to our commercial business increase. We will need additional flooring installers and additional delivery/warehouse personnel. We also plan to hire one team member for our office to process our projects from beginning to end in the timeframe requested by our clients.
Brian’s Abbey Flooring Center, McCalla, Ala.
We are opening our third location in April. We will only hire one additional employee to support the new location along with our current employees. We hired two salespeople last year and were overstaffed in 2014 in hopes of being prepared for 2015.
O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring Center, San Antonio
In a nutshell, we are always hiring qualified sales associates. We are anticipating hiring one new retail associate and one commercial associate because business is good.
Carpetland USA, Rockford, Ill.
We are hiring in the Chicago market, which is strong and I believe will continue to stay strong. I have two retail brick-and-mortar locations in Rockford and Sycamore, with an office in downtown Chicago. Our commercial contract division covers a 300-mile radius that extends into the surrounding states.