Business

My Biz: Siblings run the Floor Shop for commercial work and DIY

'I try to help the best I can'

Steven Vogt and his sister, Sue Vogt are photographed in the showroom at The Floor Shop on Center Point Road in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Steven Vogt started the business in 2000 after working in the flooring business for two decades. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Steven Vogt and his sister, Sue Vogt are photographed in the showroom at The Floor Shop on Center Point Road in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Steven Vogt started the business in 2000 after working in the flooring business for two decades. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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As one might expect, the Floor Shop’s front windows display some if its wares and logos of products sold inside. And running across the bottom are four words in a large type: “Honesty, Integrity, Pride, Ethics.”

“I won’t jack my price up to have a 50 percent (discount) sale,” Steve Vogt said. “I just want to be as honest as I can.”

Vogt and his sister, Sue, launched the Floor Shop in early 2000. He’s 66.

“I think she’s 39,” Steve said one recent afternoon.

“And holding,” Sue called from the office.

Growing up in Robins, Steve had planned to follow the career path of his father, who worked for a contractor specializing in insurance-claim repairs for fire and storm damage. He even completed his carpenter’s apprenticeship.

“I got into a motorcycle accident after that,” he said. “I screwed my knee up really bad.”

So he sold floor coverings for other dealers before striking out on his own.

“I was learning a lot of what not to do, and I figured if I’m going to be putting in the hours I’m going to be doing it for myself,” he said.

The brother and sister are the Floor Shop’s only employees. Steve said he draws on a pool of independent installers for customers who aren’t do-it-yourself types. But the shop supports those tackling their own projects, too.

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“I try to help the best I can” with advice, Steve said. “I try to make sure I’m available.”

The shop handles some commercial jobs — “main street businesses,” he calls them. But residential customers, mostly remodelers, are most of its business.

“Some are just the fixers, the flip houses,” he said. “We have to really watch the budget on those.”

For smaller jobs, Steve said, “I just don’t have as much room to play with as far as pricing. Large jobs, I try to be as fair and honest as I can.”

But he said his years in the business give him a pricing advantage over the big-box home-supply retailers.

“A lot of it is the people I have been working with for the last 40 years,” he said. “They know I’m a small guy, but they know I pay my bills. So a lot of it is just that I’m getting good prices from the people that I’m buying from.”

Steve added that a cost-cutting estimate rarely leads to bottom-line savings.

“You get what you pay for,” he said. “Too inexpensive is inexpensive for a reason. You throw away more (material) in poor milling and warped boards, cracks, imperfections.

“Did you actually save any money? Probably not, but you don’t know until the end of the job, and then you’re stuck with what you’ve got.”

That’s a lesson many learned in the recovery from the 2008 flood.

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“We were trying to help the best we could,” Steve recalled. “But the last thing of the job is putting floor covering down, and by the time they got to floor covering down they had no money left.”

Of the cheap flooring put down then, “they’ve had to replace it probably in ’12 or ’13 because they put down a three- or a five-year floor,” Steve said.

As with other fashions, flooring trends tend to start on either coast.

“If you look around, you see a lot of taupe colors and grays and tans,” he noted. “In Iowa and the Midwest, we’ve always had more of the earth, natural, neutral colors. We’re just now seeing somebody adding a spark of color every once in a while, which is fun.”

l Know a business that’s been in operation for more than a year that might make an interesting “My Biz”? Let us know at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

AT A GLANCE

• Owner: Steven and Sue Vogt

• Business: The Floor Shop

• Address: 3909 Center Point Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 832-1937

• Website: thefloorshoplc.com

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Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.