Like many flooring contractors, JP Flooring in Westchester, Ohio started out as a small installation company in 1988. Our founder, Phil Schrimper, first learned the carpet business by working for a local retailer and branching out into starting his own company was a natural move motivated by his entrepreneurial spirit.
In the early years, the business’ focus was the builder market followed by commercial flooring. We also started our invaluable residential business. Both new markets supported the larger segments of the business.
Twenty-five years later, the company has expanded and grown driven by Phil’s simple philosophy: “Round the ball” for your customers and success will follow. In simple terms, this motto stands for meeting the service and product needs demanded by JP Flooring’s customer base.
As is the case for most companies in our business, our challenge is to anticipate market needs and to be able to stay ahead of the commercial trends in order to offer a superior service to our customer. If we wait and just react to customer needs, we lose the game.
I have been very fortunate to work on the commercial side of the business of JP Flooring for over 20 years. During this time, I have watched the Cincinnati-Dayton-northern Kentucky market change influenced by normal economic swings and driven by a unique business environment, which has been influenced by the changing industrial base of Ohio. Our business base is a strong blend of corporate end users, small and large contractors, excellent healthcare customers and a number of notable higher education and K - 12 institutions. Unlike the rest of Ohio, our area didn’t suffer to the same degree from the decline of the auto and steel industry; the Cincinnati area has a different business base, which more effectively weathered the economic shifts.
However, even with that advantage, we needed to be flexible enough to change our go-to-market strategy in order to meet the expectations of our customer base. Competition has grown and, most importantly, the customers I work with every day expect more from a commercial flooring contractor.
In order to “round the ball,” we operate with a one-stop shopping philosophy. We know our customers want the commercial flooring contractor to handle all aspects of the projects they are managing. At JP Flooring, we have worked very hard to develop the capability to handle every flooring segment required by a project plan or, if necessary, we subcontract the work under the umbrella of our project management team.
Our goal is to make the implementation seamless to the customer so they have confidence we are managing any issue or problem that comes up.
Being successful in these efforts depends on several things:
Training. Our mentality is to maintain a training mindset at all times. Again, trying to stay ahead of market demands, we work with our installation teams to identify future training needs and we try to give them the support necessary to professionally execute the project.
Specifically, over the past several years, we have seen more demand for ceramic tile and wood installation. We have trained our crews to sand and finish hardwood, which was a new service. Our dustless containment unit is constantly busy with a big backlog and is quickly paying for itself.
However, we identified the design trend and felt we needed to address it. In the ceramic area, we continue to expand our excellent installation teams who work with our project management team on every phase of the project.
For many years, we offered demolition and floor prep, so that is not new to our teams. However, like other companies in the commercial flooring industry, we have raised the bar on moisture remediation and, on occasion, we work with outside experts in that area if the situation requires a more experienced base.
The ultimate goal is to meet the needs of our customers and to deliver the project on schedule and on budget.
Project Management. We distinguish ourselves from the competition with outstanding project management. From our early days, Phil Schrimper recognized his installers had to be above the competition in professionalism and skill. From their appearance on the job, their respect for the facility in which they were working and, of course, their installation skill, our crews are among the best.
This field excellence is supported with strong project management capability starting with project planning, costing, material specifications and purchasing. As margins have grown tighter, it is critical to execute with limited issues and our project managers make that happen.
Partnerships With Flooring Manufacturers. We are grateful for our strong partnership with a number of leading flooring manufacturers in the commercial segment of the industry. We work with these partners to identify projects in the earliest phase of development and, importantly, to specify the correct materials for the job.
Over the years, we have created the cooperative spirit and trust necessary to most successfully serve the customer.
Geographic Expansion For New Market Opportunities. In 2010, JP Flooring made a bold move of expanding into the Columbus, Ohio market. This decision was made in the teeth of the recent economic downturn and there was risk involved in starting a new branch, so we started small with just a sales manager and four salespeople with the appropriate support staff and built from there. We were able to leverage the experience of our Cincinnati branch and bring the same philosophy to the Columbus area.
This branch has exceeded our expectations and we have added to our staffing in order to capitalize on every opportunity. Columbus offers a different customer base, of course, with a strong influence from the Ohio State University infrastructure, the State of Ohio, and all the insurance companies based in the city.
We believe the success of this growing branch comes from applying the same philosophy as our base business: Excel at meeting the needs of your customer base and continue to “round the ball” in terms of your service offering. We have utilized the same principles of strong project management and have given our customers in Columbus the assurance that JP Flooring will handle every commercial flooring need for them.
Aligned Membership: In 2013, JP Flooring became a member of Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring. We believe this membership aligns with our basic business philosophy while strengthening our service offering in several important areas. Specifically, Starnet is placing a strong emphasis on partnering with its preferred vendor partners, many of which are already working successfully with JP Flooring. We know our relationships will improve through our membership in Starnet.
In addition, we expect to strengthen our project management capability through the group as this is a strong area of emphasis for its 2014 program and beyond.
Finally, sharing best practices with the other members, including building on a good relationship with our fellow Cincinnati-based Starnet member, AIC Contracting, will strengthen our capabilities overall.
For the JP Flooring team, growing with the business has been a very gratifying experience. We continue to work in the building market, the commercial segment and the residential business. Our working facility is excellent with a large and complete showroom for displaying product options, which can be incorporated into the overall project plan.
We know our focus on the customer—and on “rounding the ball” to meet his/her needs—is the key to our success and will drive our business to even greater success in the future.