Alliance Flooring honored Jerry Caputo with the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award during the Awards Banquet at the group’s annual convention in Orlando, March 26, 2013.
Ron Dunn, co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, gave the audience a little background on the award, “We’re a fairly young company but over these 15 years we’ve had the privilege of having some amazing leaders be a part of our group. We’ve given this award to five individuals previously who have made a significant difference in their company, their community, in our group, as well as in the flooring industry overall. Tonight is no exception.”
Jerry Caputo began his career installing carpet in the 1960’s in the Chicago area. His ambition then carried him to work for Carpetland at their corporate offices in the 1970’s opening stores in Indiana and Michigan.
Caputo’s wife, Marge, offered some perspective on their humble beginnings, “We were both very young when we got married. When he did find a job installing carpet, that’s what we both thought he would do the rest of his life. But there was always something in him that he knew there was something else for him.”
That little “something else” was the desire to own and operate his own store. Carpetland corporate suggested he begin working in retail at another Carpetland location. After working retail for a few years, he was promoted to management and gained the experience he needed. He now had the preparation and the opportunity to open his own franchise. So Jerry and his family moved from Chicago to Dothan, AL in 1993 and opened that Carpetland store he always wanted.
“My mom and dad always had a goal of owning their own store,” added their daughter Nickie Blissett, “That dream came true when they opened their store in Dothan, AL.” Their son Bob said his dad took a big risk, “At 50 years old, he sold his house and cashed in his retirement to open his own business. At my age I can’t imagine doing that.” Marge reflected on the life-changing move, “We packed up everything and came down with all our eggs in one basket and kept our fingers crossed it was going to work.”
And worked it has. Their son, Bob, who now runs the Dothan store, gave credit to his dad for the start he gave them and the success they are enjoying today, “Carpetland of Dothan will always be my dad’s store. We’ve grown that and taken it the next level but without that foundation we would not be where we are today.” Bob attributes his father’s success to a passion for the business, taking care of his employees and following through with everything he began. He continued, “He didn’t have much turnover with his people. He had a lot of structure and he always gave people the opportunity to succeed or do better.”
Continuing with the same sentiment about his upstanding character, Marge, who also worked at the business, said, “If something wasn’t right on a job, he made it right. It was irrelevant whether the customer was right or wrong. If the customer wasn’t happy, he didn’t want his name, Carpetland, to be associated with anyone saying, ‘You don’t want to go there.’ ”
Alliance’s Dunn also gave a little background on Caputo’s drive and determination, “Really, Jerry’s story is the story of what built America. It’s the dream. He said, I’m going to take a risk. I’ve grown up around it and I’ve learned about it and now I’m going to put all my chips on the table. Because it was so strong inside of him, he could do nothing else but that. He had the vision, he had the desire and so he put everything at risk. Now look at the result of it.”
One of Caputo’s long-time friends, Gene Podell, also observed a few things that made him who he is and why his business has succeeded, “I would describe Jerry as being very driven, extremely honest, very transparent and he’s a humble individual.”
Jon Logue, co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, spoke about what he remembers about Caputo, “I’ve probably known Jerry longer than anyone else here, except his family. I started working with Jerry in the early 90’s when he was with Carpetland corporate. I remember Jerry as being an extremely hard worker, motivated, great product guy and extremely professional. He’s a real stand-up guy who made things happen.”
“This is extremely humbling,” Caputo said about receiving the honor. “I want to thank the Alliance group for making this happen.” He was noticeably touched by the recognition. So much so, it was hard for him to talk. “None of this would’ve happened without my better half, my wife, side by side with me. If I put in 15 hours a day, she put in 16. She was right with me, all the way. Thank you.”
See the video of the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation on their You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/user/AllianceFlooring.