I didn’t get started in the timber flooring industry until my late 30s. I was living in Yorkshire in the United Kingdom when I decided I wanted to do something different with my life. After moving to Australia and working as a builder, I got a job as a sales manager for a flooring company called Flooring in Wood, due to my trade background.
I worked for that company for five years and then decided I had the skills to go out there and do it myself. I enjoyed working in the industry so I took a leap of faith, and didn’t look back.
I was confident going into it, and of course I had many contacts within the flooring industry. At that point I also had a wealth of knowledge about the different types of timber flooring applications.
It was the 1980s, and a really exciting time for the industry. Engineered flooring products were coming in, and so was direct stick and plank, ply, and it was the true beginning of what I believe is the modern flooring industry we have today.
Today, the flooring industry gives customers so much more, and the options for customers are amazing; depending on what they want to spend, or what type of floor they want – there are just so many different things you can do!
I believe the emergence of engineered timber flooring was a great thing, and because of this development we’ve now got products that can be ‘in-between products’, and they are all pre-manufactured. It opens up the possibilities for creativity during flooring applications and for varied costs.
The best part about working in timber flooring was always dealing with people. I found that really interesting. You would go and meet someone to give them a quote and at the end of the job you would have the satisfaction of knowing you were there at the very beginning. Knowing that the client is happy with the final result was always really enjoyable for me, even though it was hard work at times!
As someone on the verge of retirement, I’ve noticed today that anybody who goes into this business realises fairly quickly that there are no shortcuts – everything has to be done right.
So I think the challenge for anyone in this industry is constantly making sure that you’re doing the right thing by your business and by your customers.
However, I do believe regulation has gotten a lot better in the flooring industry because the associations have so many great resources people can learn from. The challenges for many are ensuring that they are well-read on all of the guidelines, and abiding by the correct processes.
I started a little bit late in business, but I enjoyed being the manager and making the decisions myself. However, you then end up doing everything! And the bigger jobs aren’t as easy.
On reflection, if I did it again I would have made sure I was more ambitious about staffing numbers, and been more adventurous with plans to expand the business. But in saying that, I’m still happy today with the way my career turned out.
This industry needs the reliability of the people within it, and the implementation of good practices. Both of those things are crucial.
Somebody once said to me “do it once and do it properly”, and I always remembered that. You should always do what you believe is the right thing to do.
At the end of the day, when you have done the work, you have to have happy customers. If you don’t have happy customers, you are in an industry that relies on word of mouth, and it will catch up with you.“It was the 1980s, and a really exciting time for the industry. Engineered flooring products were coming in, and so was direct stick and plank, ply, and it was the true beginning of what I believe is the modern flooring industry we have today.”