Celebrating 50 Years in the Flooring Business
Follow Jay's 50 year journey in the flooring business, starting when he was 12 years old. Discover the determination and character it took to prevail and to build Carpet Concepts from its basic foundation to what it is today.
- 1963 – I started in the floor covering business when I was 12 years old, helping my dad install carpet on weekends and school vacations. It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years and I am still in the same business.
- 1967 - I got my first car (a station wagon) when I turned 16 years old. My dad strapped carpet to the roof racks and sent me off to do a carpet job on my own.
- 1969 to 1973 – My father wanted something better for me so he paid for me to go to college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished college but I was sure I didn’t want to do anything related to the flooring business.
- 1973 - The job market was tight the year I graduated; so I went back to work with my father.
- 1976 - I opened my own flooring business, Messina’s Carpet, and hired my father to do the carpet installations.
- 1977 - Hired my 1st full time employee and paid him $11,000.00/year which was more than I made the year before.
- 1977 to 1990 – My business grew and prospered, moved to a better location with a larger showroom, hired sales people, warehouse workers and an office manager – things were going great.
- 1990 to 1991 – Then came the recession, sales dropped by more than 50% and a number of my larger customers declared bankruptcy leaving me with over $100,000.00 in bad debt.
- 1991 – Messina’s Carpet closed in 1991. I was left without a job, a car, a house and a wife. We were divorced that same year. All I had left was a condo I bought in Cape Coral, FL. By then the condo was worth less than I owed on it, but it was all I had left so I made the move to Florida.
- 1992 to 1993 – At 41 years old I needed a new start but all I knew was the flooring business. I went to work as a helper for a tile installer I knew. It was hard, dirty work in the Florida heat. I helped him set up a retail tile and carpet store and I ran the inside and he the installation end. As it turned out there wasn’t enough money being made so I had to look for employment elsewhere.
- 1994 – Went to work at a commercial tile contractor in Fort Myers. It was a steady paycheck, but I had almost always worked for myself and found it difficult being on the employee end of the business – I lasted six months.
- 1994 – With very little money I bought a van and rented a storage space, I convinced a carpet distributor to give me 5 sets of carpet samples and displays at no charge and opened Carpet Concepts. I placed those 2’ x 5’ displays in five stores that previously sold only tile with the promise that I would make that the most profitable 10 square feet in their showroom. They showed the samples and I did the rest and paid them 10% of the sales for their trouble.
- 1995 to 2000 – We outgrew the storage unit and rented warehouse space with a small showroom in Cape Coral. I had a few builders I was doing business with. I took on a partner who was a great salesman and together we built a profitable business.
- 2000 to 2004 – Purchased our own building in Cape Coral increasing our showroom and warehouse space. During that time, we grew from 3 employees to 5 and sales and profits more than doubled.
- 2004 – The building boom was picking up steam; we purchased the building and lot next to ours and moved the showroom there giving us a larger area to display all types of floor coverings. We continued to use the old building as a warehouse. We now sold not only carpet and tile but wood, laminate, stone and more.
- 2004 to 2008 – Business was great, at times we had as many as 13 full time employees and over 20 installation crews working for us. We were doing business with more than 30 builders. We weren’t sales people anymore, we were just order takers. We were so busy that we locked the showroom doors and saw new customers by appointment only. The money was rolling in.
- 2008 to 2009 – Suddenly someone turned off the spigot – the bubble burst. A number of our builders went bankrupt and others were stuck with a large number of spec houses unsold. We took some very large financial hits. We let go more the half of our employees and those left took major pay reductions. My partner went out on his own needing more money than the business could pay and I struggled to keep the business afloat.
- 2009 to 2011 – Our business had been 80% new construction and that’s how much our sales went down, 80%. From just under 9 million in 2006 to a low of just under 1 million in 2010. We shifted our direction in 2011 and concentrated more on the do-it-yourself market. At a time when most retailers were cutting back on stock we brought in more low to mid-priced carpet and tiles. Now our sales were nearly 80% from our stock. With a little infusion of personal cash we were able to stay afloat. Hundreds of other businesses in Florida and around the country were not as lucky. By mid-2011 we were back on solid ground; not getting rich but able to pay our bills and give the remaining employees, and myself, a much needed raise in pay.
- 2012 to 2014 – In the last two years things are starting to come back. The builders that survived are starting to build new homes again and consumers in general seem to have more confidence in the economy and are spending again.We hired 2 more employees, refreshed our displays, increased the number of in-stock selections and we’re ready to do business.
Today at 62 years old, I am in good health and happy with the way things are going. I’ve got a good staff working for me and we’re paying the bills. It’s been an interesting trip through the last 50 years and it will be interesting to see what the future holds in store!
We serve Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Estero, Bonita Springs, Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, Naples, and Marco Island in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier Counties in Florida.