Business Builder

Spirit of the industry

Monday, January 16, 2017

I had the pleasure of spending a week with my dad over the holidays — time that I cherish since we haven’t lived in the same state for many years.

We talked about a lot of things but one conversation really stood out. He recounted for my kids and I his work history beginning with selling eggs to the neighborhood grocers when he was just six years old. He packed them into cartons himself and delivered them via red wagon. He made a label for his product that said, “Jim Joyce Distributors.” That began a long history of forming businesses, mainly in distribution — everything from industrial fastenings to adhesives and plastic moldings. 

When he sold his last distributorship about five or so years ago to “retire,” he soon realized that sitting idle wasn’t for him, so along with two other couples, he took over a lakeside RV resort that was in disrepair. Over the last three years, they rebuilt the resort — refurbishing the cabins on the beach, adding fire pits and beach games. The mini golf course was restored and a snack bar and game room were added. The pool and lazy river were updated and space was leased to a restaurant. 

In October, he sold his shares of the now booming resort and again looked to retire. But as we talked this holiday, there was a glimmer in his eye. At 76, he already has another idea forming.  

My dad’s work ethic was a great example growing up. But these conversations made me see what a strong entrepreneurial spirit he has, even now.

Not every business was an instant success. He too felt the pain of the Great Recession. But he was always resilient. Much like some of the stories we’ve covered over the last year telling of a tenacious industry, an industry of entrepreneurs — even when the companies are larger, that same spirit exists.

Take Armstrong, for example. It will soon celebrate its first year as an independent company. See this issue’s story with Don Maier to read about all the ways the company has transformed.

USFloors will celebrate 15 years and its new ownership by Shaw as well as the first domestic WPC plant. 

We also worked with MP Global on its 20-year story. That company literally burned to the ground and was resurrected in 7 months, delivering on all its orders while rebuilding. It proudly makes its products in the U.S. and has survived on strong leadership and innovation.

We are seeing businesses transition from generation to generation, working hard to keep true to their values while adapting to the changing world. We profiled O’Krent’s earlier this month as it brings its fifth generation into the fold. I also think about Allie Finkell who is a growing leader in her dad Don Finkell’s American OEM business. 

Keith Spano of Flooring America/Flooring Canada told us that they spend a good bit of time helping members with succession planning. He especially likes working with the next generation of ownership because of the fresh ideas they bring. 

A resilient, entrepreneurial spirit is something I admire in my dad. It is also what makes the floor covering industry so engaging. I look forward to sharing these and other great stories with you this year!

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Calendar of Events

Aligned Conference - Promoboxx
October 3 - October 5, 2018
Boston, MA
FCICA - Mid Year Convention
October 3 - October 5, 2018
NFA - National Floorcovering Alliance
October 17 - October 18, 2018
Rhode Island
Starnet Fall Meeting
October 19 - October 21, 2018
San Antonio, TX
Total Solutions Plus (NTCA+CTDA+TCNA)
October 27 - October 30, 2018
Grapevine, TX
NAFCD & NBMDA Convention
November 6 - November 8, 2018
Dallas, TX
The International Surface Event
January 23 - January 25, 2019
Las Vegas, NV - Mandalay Bay Convention Center
February 28 - March 2, 2019
Atlanta, GA - Hall A2-A3 Georgia World Congress Center