Flooring Solutions, Inc. (FSI), a full-service flooring contractor serving northern California, was named one of the 100 fastest growing privately held companies in the Bay Area for the second year in a row. The award was given by the San Francisco Business Times. FSI, which has been in business since 1990, is the largest non-union flooring contractor in Northern California. We recently spoke with company owner Rick Elfman, who runs the business with his wife Holly Elfman, president, to learn more about their strategy for success.
FT: What did it mean to be named one of the 100 fastest growing privately held companies?
Elfman: It was an honor. We live and work in an area of the country that is dominated by computer and tech companies. To be in the commercial flooring business and end up in the top 100 fastest growing two years in a row is a compliment to all the hardworking people we have who work here and the teams that install for us. We have great customers that we have retained over the 27-plus years we have been in business and again it’s a testament to the fine folks here who take such good care of them.
FT: Tell us about projects you were particularly proud of in 2017.
Elfman: We did three Mollie Stone’s supermarkets with many different types of flooring materials. All the work was done at night, which presented a unique challenge for our project manager, Jon Miller. Jon did an excellent job managing the projects. They came out beautiful, and we will be doing more locations for them.
The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, Calif., is consistently named one of the top 10 restaurants in the country for the past 20 years. We installed Eco-Grip safety flooring in their brand-new 5,000 sf, high-tech kitchen. It was a project managed by Calen Davidson, who did a great job with a very tricky and difficult project. We have received many referrals from this project because it came out so good and is such a famous restaurant and owner/chef.
FT: Tell us about your strategy of using factory-certified installers. How do you recruit and maintain loyalty?
Elfman: We have been using the same sub-contracted installers for over 25 years. We spend a lot of time and money training them on the latest technologies for all types of flooring installations. We feel that factory-trained installers are the best representatives we can have in the field. We send them to local and long-distance training centers and conduct training sessions here in our warehouse on a regular basis. Installers really find us because they hear in the trade that we treat our sub-contractors with respect and dignity, pay them a fair rate and work closely with them to improve their skills and their lives.
FT: How was business in 2017? What contributed to your growth?
Elfman: Business in 2017 will remain flat compared to last year, but 2016 was the biggest year we ever had, so we’re pleased. What reasons contribute to our growth are threefold: 1) We are in the Bay Area, and the economy is very strong here in the tech and biotech sectors, with a lot of construction opportunities for all. 2) We have a powerful presence on the web, with our redesigned website and our activity with social media and blogs. We are constantly out there promoting new products, new suppliers, prestigious installations we’ve done, important industry news and regulations. 3) Last, but not least, it’s our great people inside and outside who have been with the firm up to 25 years. They have helped build our solid reputation for great service and integrity, competitive prices and innovative, high-quality installations.
FT: What is your projection for 2018?
Elfman: I think 2018 will be equal or better than 2017. The economy is still strong in the Bay Area, and our account managers and installers are geared up for a great year. We are looking to add a business development manager to our staff to call on architects, designers, general contractors and developers in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We also may dabble in high-end multi-family housing and senior living projects and expand our wood flooring offerings, which is a fast-growing segment here.