Best Practices: Nampa Floors and Interiors - March 2023
By Jessica Chevalier
As soon as he was old enough, Kyal Wilson began pushing a broom in his family’s flooring business, earning quarters to buy soda. He spent every summer working at Nampa Floors and Interiors, often joined by his two sisters, but ultimately went into commercial diving. After realizing that working on oil rigs for months at a time and the hazards inherent with the job were not conducive to family life, he headed back to Boise, Idaho, officially making Nampa Floors and Interiors a third-generation family business.
“I got up to Alaska and had a couple of close calls in the water and decided to change the trajectory of my life,” says Kyal, who started as a salesman with his family’s company a little over ten years ago. “Growing up, people would tell me, ‘That’s so cool; you’re third generation.’ I was almost numb to it because it was normal for me. Coming back was when I truly understood the gravity of that. The products and services are cool, but the people aspect is what makes it worthwhile. I get to work with a lot of different personalities and build happiness into people’s homes and businesses.”
Started in 1954 by his grandparents, Nampa Floors and Interiors primarily sold carpet, linoleum, laminate countertops and some tile at its outset but has expanded its offering to a wider assortment of flooring, as well as window treatments and stone countertops in recent years. Similarly, while rooted in residential remodel, the company had begun taking on small commercial jobs on referral from a builder friend of Kyal’s dad, Roger, and Kyal saw an opportunity that became the training ground for his transition to CEO. After jumping into the family business with both feet, Kyal is now in the process of taking over operations from his father.
While working in retail sales for Nampa Floors, Kyal began reaching out to area builders and general contractors and ended up moving into commercial sales and ultimately business development. From those first few multifamily contracts, “the next thing you know, we are installing flooring, countertops and tile in hundreds and hundreds of units now,” he says, noting that that side of the business is still growing.
The Greater Boise area, known as the Treasure Valley, has been outpacing growth elsewhere across the country and is short thousands of housing units, reports Kyal. “We bet pretty hard on commercial-which historically tends to outpace retail and custom homebuilders by a couple of years-because of the need for rental housing in our market,” he says. “It’s panned out well and has helped us quite a bit in some of the other segments of our business.
“I believe to be healthy you need to be well-diversified.”
New multifamily housing accounts for the majority of Nampa Floors’ commercial work, but the company also does tenant improvement and office complexes, ranging from builder-grade to high-end finishes. Kyal says stone countertops, which his dad added around 15 years ago, have proven to be an asset. So, the company is investing in fabrication equipment and training to allow it to take on large multifamily jobs.
“The margins are great on that side,” Kyal says of the quartz and granite countertops, which account for roughly 10% of the business’s material sales. Carpet now sits at about 20%, composites and hardwoods make up 40%, and tile about 15%, he says.
Nampa Floors uses in-house fabricators and contracts with trusted subcontractors to ensure quality control on the installation side for all products. “We keep a close eye on that, and we pay pretty well,” Kyal says. “It’s the same with employees. If you want the best people to work with you, you’ve got to pay them the best.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE
As Kyal began growing in his role and taking on more responsibilities, he quickly recognized the value of having a strong team supporting him-and vice versa.
After moving into commercial sales, he spearheaded the opening of a clearance center to help turn aging inventory into financial opportunity. Meanwhile, the flagship store’s manager retired after 22 years with the company, so Kyal stepped into that role while simultaneously staffing and managing the clearance center. The company has three store locations: two in Boise and the headquarters in Nampa, which also houses the warehouse and fabrication shop, along with the clearance center.
“I quickly realized that while we were a good, strong business, there was a lot of optimization that needed to take place,” Kyal says, noting culling of inventory, updating showrooms and restructuring staffing. “I also started working in business development because there were a lot of general contractors and builders we didn’t work with. I wanted our books to be more diversified. Business development remains a pretty big part of my responsibilities and day-to-day.”
With things moving so fast, Kyal gained greater autonomy. While he doesn’t pretend that every decision he made was the best one, he looks for lessons in everything he does. The greatest one, he says, has been the importance of fellow staff.
“The key to our success has been to find the absolute best people in the market and take the absolute best care of them,” says Kyal, who encourages employees to put family above work and seeks to help them make time for soccer games, dance recitals, date nights and personal hobbies. “A happy employee will outperform a tenured employee if they’re disgruntled.”
He also seeks to offer competitive wages. “If you take care of people, and that includes aggressive compensation, the money will come,” he says. Though he adds, “If my main focus is the bottom line, I missed the mark entirely.”
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Kyal says another key to employee retention is outfitting them with the necessary training and tools to succeed, especially as his employees essentially run their own businesses, meeting with clients in the showroom and helping them design their projects, going out to measure and estimate jobs, scheduling the installation with the appropriate subcontractors, and following up with clients afterwards. Many staff members have been with the company for ten to 20 years.
“There’s really nothing we won’t do to help our staff succeed,” Kyal says, referencing “small investments that really aren’t small; they’re telling people you care and are listening to them and that what they think and feel matters.”
For example, if a staff member discovers a laptop model that outperforms the standard company equipment in helping them in their design role, he’ll buy it for them. He offers a company fleet of vehicles and has invested in tools through RFMS and Measure Mobile and also for seamless payment options.
Nampa Floors has offered consumer financing for almost 30 years, and Kyal says it’s become invaluable over the last decade. “Historically, consumers saw financing as a means to attain better quality within budget,” he explains. “More recently, though, the financial benefits of financing, especially 0% interest programs, have become immensely more popular as consumers with greater liquidity have adopted their usage as a means to keep their cash working for them in other means.”
Kyal believes Nampa Floors’ independent status is a benefit, especially as it is unique in the surrounding market of regional chains and buying group-affiliated stores. “We can pivot really quickly and tailor our offerings,” he explains. “We can find exactly what our consumers want and not have that conflict of interest in that pursuit.”
He recalls advice he heard from former Shaw CEO Vance Bell during the pandemic about minimizing in-store offerings. “That is something we’ve always tried to do, but within a couple of weeks, we had reduced the offerings in our showrooms by an additional 30%,” says Kyal. “It streamlined our sales process. I would never go back the other direction. That’s something you can’t really do when you’re part of a buying group.”
Nampa Floors has been a Shaw Flooring Network (SFN) dealer since the group’s inception, and Kyal says it provides resources independent dealers wouldn’t otherwise have access to. For instance, at the most recent SFN meeting, Shaw shared exclusive research and findings about the consumer shopping and buying experience, which you can read about on page 39.
To help attract customers, Nampa Floors uses a variety of outreach methods, including billboards, digital ads, social media and some print ads. It also has a longstanding partnership with the Boise State Broncos that offers broad and organic visibility both at the sporting events and on the athletic program’s social media. “It can do really well with stimulating retail as well as builder and commercial [business],” Kyal says, noting the broad cross-section of spectators.
He sees a lot of room for growth in terms of the stores’ own social media engagement on Facebook and Instagram, where an internal team posts about installations, staff members and Nampa Floors’ wide-ranging philanthropic involvement in the local community, a cornerstone since the business’s inception. Kyal is currently mapping out related goals and says big changes are coming this year.
Nampa Floors offers a robust website, with tools including a virtual room designer, design resources, videos and a floor care/stain guide, and Kyal says this helps drive traffic and engagement on the front end. “Our online resources also assist immensely post-sale to further educate customers regarding care/maintenance and solidifying expectations,” a big focus for the company, which follows up with consumers following installation to ensure satisfaction, he says.
In all aspects, Kyal remains focused on the things he can do, which as he looks to the future include staffing, fleet expansion, IT infrastructure and a few surprises.
Though a growing community, Nampa and the Treasure Valley area are still tight-knit, something Kyal works to cultivate professionally as well. The benefits of good personal relationships with customers are well recognized in terms of creating repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals, but he also wants his customers to think of Nampa Floors when they come across someone who might make a great addition to the team.
“I look for people who have a lot of drive and who look at a challenge and think, ‘How can I get through this and work around it?’ and don’t focus on the obstacles in the way,” says Kyal. “There are a lot of people who look at tough situations and challenges and think, ‘I don’t know if I can do this. There’s too much in the way of success here.’”
Copyright 2023 Floor Focus
Related Topics:Shaw Industries Group, Inc.