It all began in the summer of 1961. I was just out of high school and needed a job. My only carpet experience at that point was to have watched a couple of men install carpet in my home, and I had installed a piece of carpet in my best firend’s metropolitan. For those of you under 50, that is a small car about the size of a VW bug.
I applied for and got a job at a local carpet store as chief flunky. This dealer was a union shop which ment I had to join the union as an apprentice carpet mechanic (they were not called carpet layers by the union). The carpet mechanics at this shop were very skilled, and they taught me the art of installing carpet over the next three years. It took three years to learn the trade well enough to go out to an empty home and install a job by myself. I suppose it would not have taken as long if I had not been going to college three days a week, and working in the carpet business three days a week.
After three years and while still in school, I went to work for another dealer. This dealer did not have a carpet department, but I convinced him he needed one. Thus, we set up a small section in this dealer’s showroom to display carpet samples from a local distributor. This worked well for me, as I’d go to school on Monday, work the showroom and sell a job on Tuesday, go to school on Wednesday, and on Thursday install the job I sold the previous Tuesday, go to school on Friday, and work the showroom on Saturday. This was great experience, and I was making pretty good money for a college student.
Two years passed. I recieved a piece of paper from college that said I had graduated and was qualified to teach. I checked out jobs in the teaching field, but before I had a chance to decide, the Army said they needed more troops in Vietnam, and thus from 1966-1969 I was in Vietnam and Oberamergau, Germany.
After my time in service, I again checked into teaching. The going salary for teachers at the secondary level was $8400/ year. Back in 1966 I was making $12,000/year installing carpet three days a week. Mmmmmmm! Yep, it was a no brainer! In the fall of 1969 I went to work for the man who had taught me to install carpet. He had opened up a carpet store while I was in the service. I worked for this dealer for seven years. I was promoted to sales manager, and was making a living. I saw many changes in the industry both in the product, and in the way the product was sold.
For various reasons I had decided that in order to go any further in the carpet business I was going to have to open my own dealership. In April of 1976 my wife and I opened Carpet Classics in Tigard, OR. Our goal was to keep it simple. We were determined to keep the business at a level where we could really serve our customers. I had learned from working for a large dealer that many complaints involved lack of communication between customer and salesperson. My goal at Carpet Classics was to run our business with the customer’s interests in mind. This method must be working because after thirty years we’re still here, and our business is mostly repeat customers
Duirng my time in this industry I have attended numerous seminars, conventions, various industry functions. I have made it my vocation to be one of the more informed people in this business. I have made friendships with many people in this business including dealers from all over the USA, product engineers, fiber experts, chemist, cleaning specialist, and manufacturer personnel. I also qualified to be a certified member of the Carpet Cushion Council. This is just one of the many industry organizations in which I have participated.
After 42 years of running Carpet Classics, I decided to retire at the age of 75. I still do consulting, and keep in touch with my past customers and suppliers. The industry is changing each day, and I do my best to keep up with what is happening. When I started in this business, over 80% of the floorcovering the home was carpet. Today, it is closer to 33%. I expect that figure to change as consumers figure out how much work it is to maintain hard surface floors.