Opinions mixed on mandatory vaccination policies

Home Featured Post Opinions mixed on mandatory vaccination policies

vaccinationMunicipalities, hospitals and various federal, state and city agencies around the country are adopting mandatory COVID-19 policies as a means to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. This comes as the Federal Drug Administration and CDC gradually expand vaccine eligibility to broader segments of the U.S. population with the goal of reaching/surpassing herd immunity. These measures have taken on added urgency in the wake of highly contagious variants that have cropped up in recent weeks and months.

The dilemma facing many companies—whether they are small businesses or large corporations—is if they will adopt mandatory vaccination policies in keeping with what’s taking place at both the federal and state levels (in some cases). To that end, FCNews rounded up several specialty floor covering retailers to find out where they stand on vaccination requirements for their employees. It’s a controversial issue, indeed, as many retailers we contacted simply refused to comment on the matter publicly citing the politically sensitive topic.

Following is a sampling of those who agreed to share their perspective on the matter.


Jerry Levinson,
Carpets of Arizona, Chandler, Ariz.

When asked if he supported mandatory vaccines as a general principle, Jerry Levinson, owner of Carpets of Arizona, replied emphatically, “Hell no!” So, it was no surprise the way he responded to the follow-up question as to whether he would make COVID-19 vaccinations a condition of employment at his company. “Oh, hell no!” he quipped.

Levinson explained the reasoning behind his stance. “This is one of those issues that our media can make us believe is important to our customers. For us and most flooring dealers around the country, customers come in and want to know about their material selection and installation along with how long it will take to get installed and, yes, what will it cost.”

Almost everyone, Levinson said, can recall a story of a customer who wanted to know if an installer, salesperson or measurer had been vaccinated. As a general rule, though, he said he does not allow public pressure to dictate how he operates his stores. “Business owners tend to be more for freedoms and personal choice, but I would guess a good 15% to 20% think it’s our responsibility to demand our employees get vaccinated,” he stated. “The glory of owning your own business is you can make up the rules and your employees have a choice if they will follow those rules or go work for someone else.”

Craig Phillips,
Barrington Carpet, Akron, Ohio

I am against any sort of vaccine mandates as have been recently proposed,” Phillips told FCNews. “We have not, nor do I ever anticipate having, any sort of company-imposed mandates. We follow all common-sense protocols to reduce the chance of spread within our company for our employees and customers alike.”

Instead, Phillips said he believes there are other ways to prevent transmission in his stores. “Social distancing has proven to be our biggest success in stopping the spread,” he explained. “Two of our three locations have had employees who tested positive for COVID-19 through the pandemic. The cases were all isolated and we followed the CDC’s recommendations on quarantining. Once the employee stayed out the recommended time frame from exposure and no longer had symptoms, we allowed him to return to work.”

Following these safety guidelines and others (such as asking anyone who’s sick to stay home) has prevented wider exposure in his stores, Phillips noted. At the same time, he said he believes following even the most stringent protocols is no guarantee there won’t be other cases. “I feel that no matter what, we are going to be dealing with this virus and its mutations for a very long time to come,” he said. “Learning to live with it and taking precautions will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

Penny Carnino,
Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile & Hardwood
Tulsa, Okla.

In a nutshell: “We absolutely have not made vaccines mandatory. We do not support mandatory vaccines, either. This is America, where we are supposed to be free to make the choices we feel are best for us and our families. People have many reasons why they choose to either get or not get the vaccines for COVID-19; we ask our employees to respect personal rights and choice.”

Strongly Encourages

Ted Gregerson,
Abbey Carpet & Floor, Floors to Go, Anniston, Ala.

Those in support of vaccinating the population at large against COVID-19 view it as more than just a means to protect oneself but also society as a whole. Ted Gregerson, CEO of Abbey Carpet & Floor, Floors to Go in Anniston, Ala., falls in that camp. “I understand why a company would choose to mandate the vaccine for their workforce as I believe if everyone were to get vaccinated, it would definitely help get this pandemic behind us a lot quicker,” he said.

At the outset of the pandemic, before there were even any discussions about a vaccine, Gregerson took steps to minimize potential exposure in his store. Rather than close business altogether during the shutdown, he opted to divide his 20-person staff into two shifts. The benefit was that if someone contracted the virus, the entire staff would not have to be quarantined.

Once the vaccines became widely available in his area, Gregerson implored his employees to do the right thing—and 99.9% complied. Interestingly, he achieved this without making it a requirement for continued employment. “While we have strongly encouraged everyone in our company to get vaccinated—and helped them to appreciate the benefits of doing so—we have not mandated it as we believe it is a personal decision,” he explained. “We are proud of the fact that all but one person in our company has been vaccinated.”

Raffi Sarmazian,
Sarmazian Bros., Ontario, Canada

Sarmazian Bros., an NFA member, operates three stores in the eastern provinces of Canada—a country that enacted tough measures to close its borders in order to better protect its citizens from the novel coronavirus pandemic. While that approach didn’t completely shield residents from infection, disease experts say the steps Canada adopted early on certainly prevented more cases. That, coupled with the fact that the government was able to secure sufficient vaccine supplies for its citizens once they became readily available.

“We have over 80% vaccine rate in our area, but there are still those who choose not to get the jab,” Sarmazian, general manager, said. “I find it is mostly the younger generation in their 20s who don’t want to get vaccinated for whatever reason. The government can’t make people get it, so they leave it up to the employer to make their own rules.”

While Sarmazian Bros. does not require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, management stresses its importance. “We don’t currently have a vaccine mandate at work, but we strongly encourage our staff to get vaccinated,” Sarmazian explained. “There are a few customers who have asked us to send vaccinated installers to their homes, and we have respected their wishes.”

Bruce Odette,
Carpet Exchange,

In a nutshell: “We highly recommend everyone to get the vaccine. We are following all of the local and national CDC guidelines. Currently, 90% of our stores are under a mask mandate for all employees and customers. Prior to this mandate, if you are not vaccinated, you are required to wear a mask at all times in our stores.”

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Jan. 24/31, 2022

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