Dalene Flooring Carpet One Floor & Home, a flooring store in Southern New England, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The fourth-generation family business now has six Connecticut locations: West Hartford, Manchester, Enfield, Southington, Torrington and South Windsor, which was the first store to open in 1949. We spoke with CEO Steven Dalene, whose father opened the South Windsor store in 1949, about what this accomplishment means to the company, how they were able to succeed, and their plans for the future.

Floor Trends & Installation: How has the industry changed since you started working full time at the company in 1975?

Steven Dalene:  The consolidation has been the biggest change, then the innovation of new products. Carpet today is much heavier than it used to be because the products are better from when I started. In the wood and ceramic industry, we still sell a fair amount of finished wood, but all the pre-finished products and everything else that the mills have, have really upped their standards with much better quality.

Floor Trends & Installation: Has your father mentioned any difficulties that he may have experienced years ago that may or may not still be prevalent?

Dalene:  When we first started in 49, which was the new housing industry, the state of Connecticut had less building going on simply because there’s not as much land available. In the 50s and early 60s, we only did unfinished hardwood floors. Then we moved into carpet in the late 60s. In the early 70s came vinyl, then ceramic in the early 80s. The industry has changed from the mechanics and what’s required. Back then, we didn’t really get into retail until the late 70s, we were more new homes and commercial.

Floor Trends & Installation: What made the company decide to open more retail stores?

Dalene:  As we started to do more retail, we realized the new construction was not going to be there for us, so we got more into retail and opened up our second store in 1987. Then, we took over some of the Carpet Max stores when they had closed in 2000. Then some friends of mine that were Carpet One dealers, in Torrington and Enfield were retiring, so we took over their stores.

Floor Trends & Installation: What does the family tree in the business look like?

Dalene:  My grandfather and my father started the business together. Then, when my grandfather retired, my father was fully in charge. Now we have our fourth generation coming on board. We have my son and my daughter and my two nephews involved in the business.

Floor Trends & Installation: How has business been?

Dalene:  One of the benefits we have is what we call a three-legged stool. Retail is one of those legs, commercial is another and our new residential homes. The nice thing about that is, if one division is down, the other division hopefully could pick us up, and our commercial division has been growing every year. Retail has been a little bit off in the last six months, but it’s starting to pick up in March and April. Our sales numbers won’t be like 2022 for a little while but we’re coming back.

Floor Trends & Installation: Any other challenges you’ve been seeing?

Dalene:  Attracting employees is always a challenge and always a need and that’s something that’s happening across the country. Another challenge has been moving a company that’s 75 years old to the digital platform. We are getting there and doing better, it’s just a generational thing.

Floor Trends & Installation: Do you think the fact that a lot of things are digital and online these days has negatively impacted your showroom in any way?

Dalene: No, I think it helps because, I’ve always said this, we’re a destination. People are looking for flooring. Now, if you’re looking for price only, then you might go online and buy it from one of the online companies and go from there. But, if you’re looking for help and design and to get the best product and have a conversation about it, we’re the person you want to see. Not everything looks the same online. You can’t really see what carpet looks like online. People want to see and touch what they’re going to get and talk to somebody that’s an expert in the field.

Floor Trends & Installation: What celebratory events does the company have planned for the anniversary this year?

Dalene:  Being part of Carpet One, we’re part of the Retail 2.0 that they have. So, we’ve remodeled several of our stores and they’re just about completed in the process. So, we’ll have a re-brand opening on those stores to advertise for our customers. We’re advertising the logo and within our customer base, we have different events going on.

Floor Trends & Installation: What do you think helped the business remain successful for 75 years?

Dalene: Having a philosophy with our people. Treating the customer how they want to be treated and going overboard for them. Our goal is to make sure that happens in all aspects, and when you do that, you bring loyalty.