November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11
The following is the 11th installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on Apollo Distributing.
It began in 1920 in Newark, N.J., when entrepreneur David Slobodien founded the Apollo Radio Co. to market a device to improve radio reception. It was well received and after many years of hard work and astute business management he grew the company into an appliance and electronic powerhouse distributing the finest brand names such as Crosley, Norge and Zenith throughout the New York metropolitan marketplace.
Forty-two years later, in 1962, David relinquished the reins of Apollo leadership to his son, Richard Slobodien, and retired. Under Richard’s skillful direction the business continued to grow and prosper. In response to changing business conditions, he redirected the company’s focus to the distribution of floor covering products with the purchase and assimilation of the O.F. Ruprecht flooring distribution company and, at a later date, the acquisition of Empire Carpet Co., a distribution division of Armstrong World Industries. In 1973, he moved the company to its current nine-acre location in Fairfield, N.J. The company, Apollo Distributing, was soon recognized as a leading flooring distributor.
In 1995, Richard Slobodien stepped aside to permit his son, and David’s grandson, Keith Slobodien, to become Apollo’s third president. Under his leadership Apollo has continued to excel by following the successful examples set by his father and grandfather. Of note, two of Keith’s college-age children, Harrison and Rachel, have completed the second of three Apollo summer internships to familiarize them with flooring distribution.
Tradition and continuity are important at Apollo. Among Apollo’s family of employees, 25- and 30-year tenures of service are common. Externally, in the metropolitan New York dealer base, many key accounts have built their solid relationships with Keith upon associations their parents established. An example is Apollo’s 35-year-old partnership with Armstrong Flooring.
“Floor covering distribution is in our blood,” Keith Slobodien said. “It is our passion. The business lessons learned from my family are elementary. They are: first, represent the finest products; second, provide the best service possible; and third, be fair to everyone. If we remain true to these principles the future of our company will continue to be bright and, who knows, maybe it will include contributions from additional family members.”