Best Practices: Texas’ Spring Carpets – Dec 2023

By Jessica Chevalier

Second-generation flooring retailer Spring Carpets, based near Houston, Texas, has found success as a stocking dealer and maintaining an independent, family approach for 30 years. Father and son Harry and David Schillings run the business together with an eye on the fact that they must stick to what has brought them success and yet not fall behind with regard to what could help propel them to greater success in the future.

FROM RENT TO OWN
Early in his career, Harry was a flooring installer. That career path led him to join a homebuilder’s installation team, and that company eventually asked him to become a salesman. Instead, he decided to open his own retail flooring business.

In seeking a location for his burgeoning enterprise, Harry found a residential property up for rent on I-45. He leased the home and created a showroom.

It was 1983, just after the oil crisis, and business in Texas was slow. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Spring Carpets really started to see growth. Eventually, Harry opened a second location 15 miles west in Tomball.

Around the year 2000, Harry approached his landlord about purchasing the Spring property, but the the owner didn’t want to sell. However, two acres came available on I-45, a stone’s throw from that property. Spring Carpets purchased the acreage and built a new facility, which was completed in 2002. Simultaneously, David, who had worked in the warehouse and installed flooring through his teen years, graduated from college and returned to oversee the Tomball location. When they decided to close the Tomball store in 2019, David joined his father in Spring.

The “new” Spring location enables Spring Carpets to have its warehouse onsite, and David believes that’s a bonus. “Few competitors have a warehouse as big as we do. Our quality control is second to none,” he notes.

A STOCKING DEALER
Spring Carpets has been stocking carpets since Harry opened the doors in 1983. Initially, it had a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-grade carpet and a sub-FHA grade carpet, as well as a couple of SKUs of sheet vinyl. Today, Spring Carpets stocks 52 styles, from sub-FHA grade to the high end, as well as 24 hard surface SKUs spread across WPC, SPC and laminate. These are not seconds or discontinued items.

“We ask for great deals from our manufacturer partners and only stock from Mohawk, Shaw and Dreamweaver, which we added four years ago,” says David. “We occasionally buy a distributor special.”

One of the greatest benefits of stocking is that it enables Spring Carpets to offer customers quick turnaround. “Customers can come in today and have their flooring installed tomorrow. Contractors can get material the same day they order it, right then,” he says. “The big boxes have big showrooms with surprisingly little carpet for same-day pickup or next-day installation. Service is our strength-service with quality.”

Because stocking inventory ties up liquidity and comes with risk, Spring Carpets has developed a unique way of building accountability on its RSA team. “We have six RSAs, and every one gets to vote on what we bring in,” David explains. “We may ask Shaw and Mohawk to provide us information about the best-sellers in our region, but that is just one consideration for us. As a group, we pick the colors and styles.”

Spring Carpets takes pride in its ability to serve any customer. David says, “We can be installing in a $5 million home Monday and a mobile home Tuesday. The bulk of business is right in the middle. We won’t lose a job over price or service with carpet. There are no hidden fees.”

Volume-wise, carpet accounts for 70% of sales. Dollar wise, it’s closer to 60%.

The company uses subcontractor installers, but David notes that Spring Carpets’ crews work for them almost exclusively. “We keep them busy with as much as they want to work,” he says.

Today, Harry continues to work in the business, overseeing the regional crews, while David runs the day-to-day operations.

KICKING TIRES
David reports that the greatest challenge the business faces is keeping up with technology. “When you are successful in the way you do things, you don’t want to change as much as you should. Advertising and marketing should be our main concern in promoting the business, but it’s a never-ending challenge.”

David does keep a sharp eye on Spring Carpets’ online presence. “We track everything through FloorForce, and we spend quite a bit on advertising,” he says. In addition to repeat business, the company also pulls in a lot of eyes with an 8’x4’ LED sign along I-45. The sign is used to promote Spring Carpets’ partnerships (Mohawk is its largest manufacturer partner), show product images and advertise pricing. In addition to its advertising, Spring Carpets attracts a substantial amount of business through word-of-mouth recommendations. The company also has a Facebook page.

Eighty percent of Spring Carpets’ business is true retail; the other 20% is contractors, interior designers and builders.

HAPPILY INDEPENDENT
Ultimately, David wants very much for Spring Carpets to remain a family business and is hopeful that one or more of his three daughters will be eager to join the business someday.

Over the years, Spring Carpets has been approached by many different industry groups but prefers its independence and enjoys the freedom of being able to craft its own destiny.

“What I have been doing over the last four years is slowly removing a lot of distributors’ products from our showroom,” explains David. “Many Houston distributors have sold out to investors, and I have circled my wagons around manufacturers like Mannington, Mohawk and Shaw. They can provide us with everything that a small, family-owned business should need. The quality of their goods separates us from the box stores. Every family-owned business should be able to beat the giant stores on attentiveness, product and turnaround time.”

CRAFTING A TEAM
This summer, O’Briens Carpet One hosted the CCA conference for its region; this event and others like it were held in plaea coordinated the conference, which welcomed around 100 individuals. Several Carpet One executives traveled from New Hampshire to attend, and Beth reports that it was a “very exciting and successful” affair.

Copyright 2023 Floor Focus 


Related Topics:Shaw Industries Group, Inc., The International Surface Event (TISE), Mohawk Industries, Broadlume, Mannington Mills, Carpet One