Our company was not just built on reputation we continue to build on it. When our grandfather started Lippert Tile Co. in 1949, his goal was to develop a strong business based on his reputation for excellence in the Milwaukee market and to provide employment opportunities for his family. He built the company primarily on his 30-year reputation as a quality installer of residential ceramic tile.
Sixty-five years and three generations later, Lippert Tile has expanded into a full-service commercial flooring contracting business, offering product specification and installation across the entire range of commercial flooring surfaces including carpet, wood, resilient and, of course, tile. In addition, we offer all pre-installation services, including subfloor preparation, moisture testing and mitigation, demolition, and diversion of 100% of our carpet waste from landfill to recycling. Our geographic reach has grown to include the entire southeastern Wisconsin region, and we are grateful to a large and loyal customer base.
While the business and industry have changed, some things remain the same. We continue to build our business based on the reputation we have in this market, and we maintain a sharp focus on performing our work better than any competitive company in the area. In fact, we strive to exceed our own best performance, since it requires us to look with a critical eye at our own behavior. Each job presents unique challenges, so we must consciously work to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations for our service, craftsmanship and safety.
At Lippert Tile, we have a mentality of continuous improvement. Twice a year we set aside a day-and-a-half and bring in a facilitator and go through strategic planning. We have used the same facilitator since 1995, and she knows us well enough to challenge us and hold us accountable.
This regular internal audit of practices and behaviors has aided us greatly in our quest to refine and improve our organization.
When asked how we market our company, we respond that we rarely use traditional marketing tools such as advertising to expand our business. We are fortunate to operate in a market area that knows us well enough to offer us opportunities for repeat business. Like our grandfather, we continue to believe that our good work speaks for itself and that its message is one that our clients prefer.
We operate with a mission to provide the best possible craftsmanship and service for a competitive price, and to add value as a consultative partner.
We have a particular outreach program within our company that has worked effectively for us. Cecelia Valentine, development coordinator, is certified to conduct CEU (continuing education unit) courses on a variety of flooring topics. Cecelia has a broad portfolio of CEU topics ranging from commercial carpet construction—sourced from the Carpet & Rug Institute—to critical installation issues, such as moisture testing and flooring installation in unfavorable conditions.
The audiences for these presentations is quite diverse—architects, interior designers, general contractors and facility managers—all wishing to know more about commercial flooring materials and installation standards. We have enjoyed a strong response to this program and we believe these CEUs have enhanced our local reputation as a “resource” in commercial flooring. We also believe they strengthen our image as experts, and our value as a partner.
Lippert Tile is a family business with the third generation currently running the business. However, my brother and partner, Jeff, and I understand that long-term success depends on our ability to identify, retain and train talented people who want to be part of a driven company.
To strengthen that initiative, the entire management team participates in interviewing and evaluating prospective new talent for our business.
During this process, there are three important qualities we seek in a candidate: First, a prospective employee must have a strong character, possessing personal values and a work ethic compatible with our business values and philosophy. Second, we look for a personality and behavioral style that will be a good cultural fit with our team. Finally, we look for relatable knowledge that can be adapted to our business and the commercial flooring industry.
We put every prospective employee through a rigorous interviewing program. From experience, we have learned the combination of these three characteristics leads to the most successful hires at Lippert.
We are also committed to training and developing our existing team. We take advantage of every training opportunity we can find because we feel it is our collective and individual responsibility to be experts at our business, and in our industry.
A significant resource in this initiative is Starnet Commercial Flooring, of which we have been a member since 2005. Starnet offers a wide variety of training opportunities, including conferences on sales, project leadership and floor care. In addition, we take full advantage of bi-monthly Webinar programs offered by Starnet on a wide range of topics including product specific information, social marketing, technical issues and installation. We gather our employees together in our training room to participate in these Webinars.
Typically, after the one-hour Webinar is complete, we discuss the information as a team and determine how we will incorporate new ideas and techniques into our daily operations. We find this process to be very helpful and productive.
We understand that our future depends on the strength of our team and we commit our resources to support these individuals as they continue to develop their skills and knowledge in commercial flooring.
At Lippert, we are proud of our employees, and grateful for an excellent business with a strong foundation of achievement. Our current management team is acutely aware of the challenges ahead as the marketplace continues to evolve. However, we believe we have the right people and business strategies to achieve our long-term goals despite these challenges.
Les Lippert is the president of Lippert Tile Co. in Milwaukee. In business for 65 years the company is a member of Starnet Worldwide, the industry’s largest cooperative of flooring contractors. Les is responsible for strategic planning, problem solving, and succession planning, but most important in the development of people and processes that make the organization succeed and grow, and that enables individual employees to exceed their expectations. To contact him, call (262) 437-9300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.