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The History of 101 Floorcovering

Updated on January 19, 2013

101 Floocovering, inc

At one time, 101 Floocovering had three stores open across the US. Our original location in Cottonwood, Arizona, my uncle's shop in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and the final store in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The last remaining of our family shops is my uncle's shop in West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma which is called Designer Tile and isn't really affiliated with 101 Floorcovering, even though he was the one that owned the Colorado division.

The three stores were completely independant of each other and each operated as sole-proprietorships, until the final one in Siloam Springs incorporated in 1998.

Then as the first and second generations retired, my wife and I purchased the remaining stock and the final sales rights from my Grandfather who started the company. We managed to keep it floating along nicely until the housing plunge caused our builders to either go bankrupt or quit building. And though a large portion of our liquidity came from remodels, we could not support our large employee base.

One of my mistakes was keeping too many salaried employees too long, it took several years to pay off the back taxes.

Long History of Excellence

Eugene and Linnie Keith originally started the installation service in Flagstaff, Arizona in the late 60s under the moniker, "Gene's Floorcovering"

My grandfather already had a long history in floorcovering. He had worked for Smith Brothers in Tahlequah, Oklahoma early in his career. They moved around from place to place, stopping in Springfield, Missouri and Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

He was struck with arthritis in the early 60s and a doctor told him to move to a drier climate. Just months after moving to Arizona he was back on the floor working for a mobile home remodelling company.

Gene's Floorcovering turned out to be to close to competition in Flagstaff, so my family decided to move to the valley below Flagstaff.

Gene started 101 Floorcovering in Cottonwood, Arizona, in an old gas station that had a house next to it. The roof leaked. The power was unreliable, but it was a place to hang a shingle. And it grew slowly.

Grandpa had the philosophy, that if he bought a roll of carpet for stock, it would sell. If it didn't then he'd put the carpet in the house he had bought and sell it again, and wouldn't loose anything.

The first location soon had a huge warehouse and was soon outgrown. Of course, Sedona and recent housing had boomed in the Cottonwood area.

The second location started as two old box cars and about an acre of land. Grandpa built a showroom in front and a warehouse over the box cars.

101 continued to grow. Gene had employed two of his brothers and his son, and eventually his son-in-law and daughter.

The son-in-law decided to start another 101 Floorcovering in the city his parents had moved to. Fort Collins, Colorado. Keith and Donna Schultz ended up being a large out fit that specialized in commercial installations.

Soon after, Gene and Linnie made a decision that would alter the face of 101. They went into semi-retirement and sold the store to a truck driver, named Bob Ackerman and his real estate broker/wife Nancy.

My father and Gene's youngest brother stayed to help Bob to train his sons in the business. And Gene moved back to Arkansas not far from his old home. Supposedly to retire. Though a year later, my family followed him to Siloam Springs.

My dad, Rick Keith, worked at several odd jobs, trying to stay away from floorcovering, but in the end about a year after we moved to Siloam Springs, Grandpa opened the third 101 Floorcovering in an old movie theater.

And he used the same philosophy again. That first roll of carpet sold in less than a week, and the material money went to buy two more. The installation money went to pay for the first full round of groceries we had had in months.

Again we grew eventually filling that theater until it didn't seem so big. Then shortly after, grandpa's youngest brother, Roger Keith, joined us from Arizona.

HDC Knee Kicker/Carpet Installer
HDC Knee Kicker/Carpet Installer

One of many specialized tools for the industry. Owning one won't make you an installer, but it is a start.

 

The Seven Year Curse

Starting just shortly after my uncle moved from Arizona, Bob's 101, the first store, fell on a slump in housing and hit some obstacles with the IRS. Which, I have found, isn't that hard to do.

Once Gene had the inventory liquidated and the building sold, we had two stores.

101 Floorcovering in Ft. Collins went into a partnership with a counter top installer who ended up running that branch into the ground.

Keith and Donna followed us here, and for a while enjoyed Siloam's growth but, Keith had been a good boss for too long, and his commercial philosophy and grandpa's slow growth, didn't mesh too well.

With less than a year at the last 101, Keith left to start Designer Tile and Tops in Siloam.

In 1998, 101 incorporated so that the family could buy out grandpa's ownership.

In 1999, Roger tore a rotor cuff on the job and retired. Later, after his surgery he went to nursing school.

Also in 99, Dad had tried to get away from floorcovering and started a new service called ARC Electronics. It was supposed to be him, my brother and I (A-ric, R-ick, C-hris) running this shop. But shortly after, Dad came down with a virus, that we think came from a carpet job he worked on, that was eating away at his heart. He ended up having a stroke in the hospital that kept him from being able to do the electronic repairs. He retired completely and has been on disability for several years now.

In 1999, Donna let her stock go, as did most everyone else. My grandma, my wife, and me were sole stock holders.

In 1999, I had tried to leave as well. Helping with ARC and starting my own little venue, After Effects. My photo restoration studio and gift shop.

After Effects was doing well, but 101 needed a reliable installer. Our hired help wasn't keeping up with our demand.

In 2000, I shut down After Effects to hobby level and bought grandma's remaining shares. Lisa and I owned 101. And everything was great for a good long time.

I started bringing in the in-laws. I started training my father-in-law Darrell DeMoss, and soon after, my wife's uncle, Rodney Davis. Not long after that my sister-in-law, Sheila DeMoss started in the office. Then Darrell Junior, my wife's brother and Sheila's husband, started.

We took on several new builders and several independent installers. At one point we were emptying six carpet trucks per week. With as many as 12 crews taking material out the door per day.

And at the same time, Designer Tile got big as well. Keith's commercial projects were taking him to new levels.

But 101 Siloam got too big. Taxes were eating us alive and by 2007, between being behind on taxes and several accounts going bankrupt on us, we threw in the towel.

Seven years. That's how long it took for Bob's 101 to fall. 101 Ft Collins lasted seven years. 101 Arkansas lasted 7 years.

Where Are We Now?

Where did the 101 employees and owners go?

However, the 101 legacy lives on still. While in some hardship because of the building slump, Designer Tile continues to plug on. And it seems that they are making some head way. Now in a West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma location, they are primed to be in the middle of next area of growth in Siloam because of the Cherokee Casino dumping so much money back into West Siloam.

Designer Tile may not have 101 on the door, but it is still my uncle's 101 from Ft. Collins and it is his commitment to excellence that will keep the doors open, if he doesn't decide to retire soon. His son's, who spearheaded the artistic side of Designer Tile, have themselves retired from flooring and have never looked back. Seth is a supervisor at Simmon's Industries and Caleb is teaching "Special Needs" boys in a second grade environment.

My father-in-law still runs an installation business that stays very busy. Dad's Floorcovering is where he now hangs his hat.

As for me, while I bounce between Dad's and Designer Tile I actually (when I have time to take on extra work) have started Aric's Flooring and Home Improvement. A start up of my how to lenses here at Squidoo will be offered as Ebooks for download, as I begin the writing soon.

My wife is working on her test to become the manager of dietary of Quail Ridge in West Siloam Springs. She is basically second in command there at the moment anyway.

Rickey, my son, is a maintenance lead at Allen Canning and is a certified welder. He is currently building yet another dirt stock car.

Arica, my daughter, has married and divorced and remarried, has her CNA certification. For the moment, however, she is one of the highest tipped waitresses in Northwest Arkansas.

My brother-in-law now specializes in taxidermy of trophy animals and drives a fork lift for McKee Baking (Little Debbie). Far cry from carpet? His wife, Sheila, has become a stay at home mom.

I'll be coming back to clean this one up soon! Leave me some ideas that you might like to see.

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