Best Practices: Jon Moullet is grateful for the success his team has achieved – July 2023
By Jessica Chevalier
Jon Moullet can’t believe his good fortune. Having stepped out on his own in 2001 to launch what was then called The Flooring Place, with the goal of making $1 million in its first year of business, Moullet is today at the helm of a $44 million flooring, window treatment, appliance and cabinet business with three locations in Montana. Moullet is humbled by Monteriors’ success and credits his team, above all, for the business’ big wins.
IT STARTED WITH A LOUSY FOOTBALL SEASON
Now the president of Montana-based Monteriors, Moullet began his journey in the flooring industry during college. He was a football player at Eastern Montana University, who, amid an unsuccessful season, figured he could pick up a little extra cash working at the local flooring store. He made $2.25/hour manning the floor and still found the time to do his homework.
Moullet stayed with that business for the next 27 years, until the parties went their separate ways in 2001. Without missing a beat, Moullet launched his own venture, opening a 1,500-square-foot showroom with his son-in-law, Tyson Naffziger, who is still with him today and is in the process of taking over the business.
In 2003, Monteriors built a 20,000-square-foot building in what is now the center of town and leased out spaces to cabinet, window covering and lighting operations to assemble a one-stop-shop style establishment.
Over time, the firm has taken cabinets and window coverings in-house and added granite countertop and area rug fabrication, as well as appliance sales. Today, these “add-ons” account for 55% of business.
In terms of flooring, hard surface makes up the greatest percentage of sales at Monteriors. Moullet notes that both ceramic and hardwood are strong categories for his business, though the labor costs are high, and, generally, all the flooring categories that Monteriors carries are performing well.
In 2008, Monteriors opened its second location in Helena, about 90 miles from Bozeman. And in 2020, the business launched an outlet store in Bozeman to fill what Moullet saw as a growing niche for a flooring store with a more warehouse-style image, contrasting the high-end look of its original location.
Moullet built Monteriors to be a family organization. In addition to Naffziger, another of his sons-in-law runs the warehouse and logistics. Moullet’s wife oversees payroll. A grandson heads up fabrication. A nephew runs the Helena store, and two of his three daughters work for Monteriors, too.
But the family atmosphere at Monteriors isn’t limited to Moullet’s relatives. “A happy employee makes happy customers,” says Moullet, who goes above and beyond to show Monteriors’ employees how much he values their contribution.
Each February, Moullet takes employees on an overnight stay at a resort, and each summer, he hosts a summer campout at his cabin. In addition, the company puts on a golf tournament for reps and employees annually. At Christmastime, “Santa” is brought to give gifts to each of the employees’ children, which totals between 20 and 40 each year. It’s a memorable event for everyone. “One of the kids said they saw Santa at the mall, but another said, ‘No, the real Santa is at the flooring store,’” Moullet laughs.
Another perk that Monteriors has offered to its warehouse crew is bringing a Red Wing boot trailer on site and allowing each crew member to choose a pair of boots for free.
Moullet’s efforts seem to instill loyalty in his team. More than half the business’ employees have been with Monteriors for over six years, and the majority of the business’ 28 RSA and design team members have been with the company for over a decade.
When Monteriors does have a new member join its sales team, it allows them to choose whether they’d like to learn all the product categories that the business sells or focus on one. Moullet believes it’s best that new employees master one and then move on to another, if they so desire, though having employees who can do more than their prescribed tasks is an important feature of the Monteriors’ approach. The administration team is fully cross-trained so that they can cover the operations of any member who is out of the office for a period of time. The administration team meets monthly for training to help facilitate this.
Monteriors’ subcontractor pool of installers is also highly tenured and dedicated. “We have been very lucky,” says Moullet. “Many of our installers have been with us since 2001. We have a rebate system with our subs through which we give them a 1% bonus at the end of every year. We get a lot of installers coming to work for us, an abundance of installers. It’s very rare.”
With its offering of flooring, cabinets, countertops, appliances and window treatments, Monteriors offers shoppers the ability to plan a full job through a single organization, which is a great benefit for its customers. In fact, Monteriors’ designers will work with customers to choose everything down to the paint. While the store does not offer paint, it has a full spectrum of paint chips available to offer a comprehensive experience for the client.
“Our greatest strength is that we’re a one-stop shop,” says Moullet. “We have great designers on staff, and they make it really simple for end users.” In fact, all of Monteriors’ expansion into categories beyond flooring has been due to opportunity presenting itself, not sought-after diversification. Initially, when a friend recommended that Monteriors carry appliances, Moullet was hesitant but willing to explore. “If there is a need, I’m not afraid to look at it,” he notes.
The company also does a small amount of commercial work, all of which is negotiated referral.
With his Monteriors ducks in a row, Moullet’s greatest concern isn’t about the business he has built directly, but about the nature of business in general if interest rates continue to rise. “If the Fed keeps slowing the economy, we will need to cut expenses and do it in a professional way,” remarks Moullet.
As Moullet winds down his career, his greatest focus is setting up the next generation for success. “I’m 69 years old; I’m at the end of my career,” he says. “I still come in daily, but I’m turning a lot of the decision-making over to the next generation.”
Moullet will gift the business to his successors, believing it’s important the operation maintain a strong cash flow rather than undergo the stress of having the new leadership increase their salaries to afford its purchase.
The Flooring Place and The Flooring Place Outlet became Monteriors and Monteriors Outlet, respectively, in May 2023. The new name better reflects the comprehensive nature of the business, not simply its flooring offering.
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