Rod Von Busch learned the value of teamwork and quality service at a young age working alongside his siblings in the restaurant his mother owned and operated. After entering the flooring industry as an installer in 1979, he soon realized that these tools also apply to the longevity and success of a business in the flooring industry.
Q: How did you get started in the flooring industry?
Von Busch: I was first introduced to the flooring industry as a part-time installer in 1979. As a college student in Lincoln, Neb., I was looking for summer employment. I was hired by an older gentleman that considered himself a jack-of-all-trades, so we did everything for steam cleaning carpets to commercial floor covering installations. I left college at the end of my junior year due to financial issues and began working full time as an installer.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the flooring industry?
Von Busch: Over the years, I have met so many truly wonderful people that are passionate about this industry and it’s their enthusiasm and desire to share their knowledge that has fueled my growth both personally and professionally. Through networking in associations such as FCICA, CFI and Fuse, so many individuals have become more than just mentors, they have become close personal friends. I look forward to these associations’ annual conventions because there is always a great exchange of ideas. But also, when you bring so many like-minded people together, the atmosphere is similar to a high school reunion or large family get together.
Over the last 18 months, I have chaired a committee with CFI that is responsible for the development of “The Resource Guide to Surface Prep” which is a residential and commercial guide developed to evaluate and problem solve floor preparation issues to aid the retail community and a hands-on, three day training program for surface preparation for the installation community has been rewarding. Joining with other members of the industry to bring this to the industry has been rewarding.
Q: How’s business? What opportunities and challenges are you seeing?
Von Busch: As vice president of operations at CDI, I’ve been fortunate to be part of an organization that has been blessed with dynamic leadership and an outstanding and dedicated staff. CDI has been uniquely positioned for continued success year after year, and despite the current economic uncertainty, our current sales are up from the previous year.
Without a doubt, there are many challenges facing the commercial flooring industry. At a time when the well-discussed shortage of quality installers is already hindering industry growth, the COVID-19 pandemic has made PPE and the safety of both our office staff and installation professionals vitally important. However, simply stated, I think our industry’s biggest challenge is attracting and retaining a viable workforce. We’re faced with competing with other industries for the best and brightest, yet, the flooring industry doesn’t possess a strong public image. If asked how many high school or college students would say they have considered a career in the flooring industry, my bet is very few would say they have.
Attracting the next generation of team members is important but it is just as vital that we challenge our younger staff members and provide them with opportunities to grow. Organizations like FCICA are raising the bar for the next generation of our industry through programs like CIM (certified installation manager) and sharing best practices based on many years of experience.
Q: How do you see the state of the industry right now?
Von Busch: One thing I’ve come to recognize over the years is the key to success in this industry isn’t production, it’s service. With very few exceptions, the companies that are consistently successful are not the ones that sell cheap and produce high volume sales. At CDI, we believe quality service leads to success. Tom Jennings of the WFCA starts off each of his “Tom’s Tips” webcasts with this saying: “Champions don’t do one thing 100 times better than their competition, but 100 things just a little bit better than the rest.” Providing quality service should never be a measure of convenience, it should be at the top of your company’s list of 100 things to do better.
Along those lines, we can learn much from other service industries. My mother owned and operated a restaurant in Lincoln and all of my brothers and sisters, myself included, spent a significant amount of time filling in as cooks, waitresses and dishwashers. At her side, we learned the importance of a good work ethic. But more importantly, we learned the value of teamwork in providing quality service. Mom always said, if you serve a plate of food you wouldn’t eat, why would the customer? If the wait staff isn’t pleasant and accommodating, no matter how good the food is, why would you come back? It takes the combination of good food and quality service to make a restaurant a success. It’s little more than a common sense approach. In the floor covering industry, it takes a quality product, a proficient staff and qualified installation to create a successful flooring project. But the key to long-term success comes from the development of customer relationships built on quality service.
Q: How did you become involved with FCICA and what benefits does the group offer?
Von Busch: I was introduced to FCICA by Brent Fike of the Roppe Corp. He and I have always had a great working relationship and his persistent encouragement to become a part of FCICA finally convinced me to join its ranks. He also pushed me to enroll in the CIM program. I will say, after almost 40 years in the industry, I wasn’t sure how much it had to offer me. But I was both pleasantly surprised and impressed with how comprehensive the program is. I fully expected the CIM program to train installation managers on how to deal with issues in the field, but in addition to that, the program also does an excellent job of demonstrating how field operations and project management can function hand-in-hand to create superior results.