Unquestionably, 2020 will be remembered as that bizarre, surreal, unsettling year when individuals, schools and businesses worked to find their footing and keep it. The coronavirus pandemic has, in many ways, caused increased physical, financial and emotional strain. As such, priorities have shifted.
“We’re in such a weird time now because people aren’t spending money on vacations, and they can’t buy swimming pools or bicycles because they can’t find them,” says Chris Brumley, owner of River City Flooring. “People are fixing up their houses instead, making vast improvements to them.”
River City Flooring, which Brumley opened 23 years ago, offers a full inventory of hardwood flooring, carpeting, and waterproof vinyl plank flooring. Brumley recalls that when he started the business in 1997, it offered just two choices – red or white oak. Now he carries thousands of colors.
The River City Flooring staff will write up and email a free estimate, informing customers how they can lower the cost of the project as well. In addition, there is a click-together product the company sells that can be self-installed if a client has the tools and capability.
According to Brumley, 63% of American households have some sort of pet, and because of this and other factors, many homeowners don’t want to worry about maintaining hardwood flooring. Vinyl plank flooring is scratch resistant and 100% waterproof.
“We started selling [vinyl plank flooring] just for basements, but it’s become a red-hot product due to its waterproof nature, and now we’re doing the whole first floor of houses,” Brumley says. “It’s amazing how every year products are looking better and better.”
COREtec luxury vinyl flooring is a leader in the industry. River City Flooring also stocks Mohawk and Mannington products, both of which are made in the United States.
Though the business sells a lot of pre-finished, engineered floors, customers often prefer carpeting for bedrooms.
“People want to be warm when they stick their feet out of bed in the morning,” Brumley says. “If you have little ones just starting to walk, it’s best to have them fall on padded carpet.”
River City Flooring boasts a large showroom, with 3’ by 3’ squares of flooring that customers can stand on for a realistic impression. Big-box stores, on the other hand, sometimes put small samples up high and at an angle.
“Customers are thinking, ‘My flooring’s not going to go up on the ceiling,’” Brumley says of the big-box store experience. “We try to help people make a decision.”
Brumley cares a great deal about both his employees and the community. For instance, he always celebrates the birthdays of his 13 employees by bringing in loads of catered food.
“The whole day is usually shot because we are too full to get any work done,” he says with a chuckle.
The company also throws a big Christmas party each year, and every quarter schedules a fun employee outing.
“To me, it’s a big deal because these people are our extended family,” Brumley says.
Last year the staff donated and installed flooring for Operation Victory, an organization that provides houses for homeless veterans. They plan to do so again this year. Two or three times per year the staff has also donated truckloads of extra inventory, including carpet tiles and hardwood vinyl planks, to Habitat for Humanity.
The business typically completes 70 to 80 jobs per month, and also works with flippers and DIYers. Though the company specializes in refinishing floors, the pandemic has made it difficult for crews to work inside houses.
Internet sales, on the other hand, have skyrocketed, especially when the business was shut down for multiple weeks. Like many business owners, Brumley was forced to estimate the number of staff members he would need, and unfortunately there was no way to predict the number. As it turned out he stayed plenty busy, often working 14-hour days. He relied on competitive tennis matches with his wife to decompress.
“Tennis is such a stress reliever,” he says. “For those two hours, you can’t think about flooring because you have a ball flying at you at 80 miles per hour.”
When he’s at work, however, Brumley is completely focused on both his employees and his customers, and in the wake of the coronavirus, that means his number-one priority is ensuring that everyone involved feels safe.
“I’m a biology major so I was ordering personal protective equipment back in February,” says Brumley, who requires masks at the business, as well as gloves for those who want to touch samples.
The company also has cleaning stations to ensure that everything remains sanitized.
“We’ve received lots of compliments from our senior customers thanking us for wearing masks when other stores were not,” Brumley says.
River City Flooring is located at 2201 Plantside Dr. in Louisville. For more information, give them a call at 502-261-8233 or visit them online at rivercityflooring.com.