TIFFIN — The desire for something better: it’s what led Nicolle and Rob Folkers into owning their own business. It’s also what they hope leads customers to their door.
Simply Floors, the business venture started by the Folkers, has been open since April 2008 and is located in an industrial park on the south edge of Tiffin. Nicolle said she grew up in the business, working for her Dad by installing flooring. Rob spent approximately 10 years in the flooring industry, and also spent his fair share of time on his hands and knees installing products.
“I enjoy working with my hands and making something better,” Nicolle said.
“It’s something I got into and really found enjoyment with. I get a sense of excitement seeing the transition from old to new,” added Rob.
General Manager Colin Cornelius joined the Folkers in November, looking for a change of pace from a career in property management.
“I wanted to be an integral part of a business making a difference,” Colin said. “This was a better vehicle for me to make a difference as well.”
The Folkers realized the toll installing floors can take on a body, and decided to go from installing floors for other people to selling their own. Their concept is simple: to offer consumers a variety of different options, and to try to bring back a higher level of customer service than is commonly found. Convenience and education are also major factors behind Simply Floors.
A unique feature of the young business is a free mobile showroom.
“It’s all about making things easier for the customer,” Colin explained. “Everybody’s busy. We’ll help to make your decision easier.” Following a short telephone conversation, an appointment can be made for the mobile showroom at a time and location convenient to the customer. Samples are brought and measurements taken during the free consultation.
“Typically customers are forced to go into a showroom, and they might have some idea of the type and/or color of flooring they are looking for,” said Colin. This way, with samples brought to their doors customers are able to see exactly how the product will look in their homes. Colin added that many showrooms allow customers to borrow samples for a fee.
“Simply Floors eliminates the hassles of deposits and returning samples. Plus, we answer all of the customer’s questions,” Colin said.
“It’s a big investment, you want to be sure you know what’s going on your floor,” Nicolle said.
“We want to make sure you make the right choice,” Rob added.
Simply Floors offers such products as: carpet, vinyl, laminate, hardwood (finished and unfinished), and ceramic tile. Included are many variations, such as vinyl planking. In addition to a wide range of materials, several different well-known brands are carried, including: Armstrong, Quick Step, Mohawk Carpets, and Mannington. All installations are performed by professional contractors, who are well-known to the Folkers. Quality Control is very important, therefore contractors are selected by their specialties and reputation. Simply Floors also offers an 18-month guarantee on the installations, while only one year is typical in the industry.
“That’s why we’re so careful about our contractors, we stand behind their work as well as our products,” Nicolle said.
The family-owned business is 100 percent local and not affiliated with any franchise or national chain.
“We don’t have the largest showroom, we don’t have the largest variety (of products), but we make up for it with integrity, honesty, and customer service,” said Rob. “Being small enables a better one-on-one with the customer.”
“We wanted something our kids could be proud of,” Nicolle said, explaining that Lexi, 11, and Triniti, 8, are “very excited about the business.” 13-month-old Ethan was unavailable for comment. According to Nicolle, their customers are excited about the business as well.
“It (new flooring) makes them really happy,” she said of the transition from old to new, and the resulting effect of making their house a home.
Opening a new business during an economic downturn led to additional challenges for the Folkers.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Rob said. “We’ve had to work hard to get the word out (about the business).” He continued, “We came in during a rough time, but we’re fighting through it. We work very hard at what we do, and we take pride in what we do. We try to add value to your dollar.”
Future plans for the business include hopes of a more formal showroom in the area.
“We have many years into it (the flooring business) and we’re looking to continue for many more years,” said Rob. Simply Floors serves the Iowa City – Cedar Rapids area, as well as the surrounding communities
For the Folkers, it’s also about giving back to the community. Simply Floors will donate product and services to a Habitat for Humanity project in North Liberty later this year. The Folkers will do the installation themselves, rather than call on their contractors.
“This is our home,” said Colin, while Nicolle added, “We try to give back when we can.”
Colin summed up the Simply Floors philosophy:
“We’re just trying to make the whole floor buying process easier for the customer, by doing as much of the leg work for the customer as possible.”
“Just keeping it simple,” Rob added. “Simplicity makes sense.”
Simply Floors is located at 1077 S. Greenfield Drive in Tiffin. Phone (319) 248-5343. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Showroom hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays by appointment only, closed on Sundays. After-hours appointments are available, and the mobile showroom is scheduled by appointment. Simply Floors accepts Visa, Master Card, and Discover.