Resiliency and Resolve in the Face of COVID

All Commercial Floors

In the November 2019 issue of Construction in Focus, we noted All Commercial Floors’ (ACF) growth and success. Since that story ran, the commercial flooring company based in Grand Prairie, Texas has also demonstrated extreme resiliency in the face of tough economic times.

COVID-19 led to some challenging issues for everyone in 2020; however, All Commercial Floors is determined to overcome any trials caused by the pandemic, according to President Kevin Jones.

Indeed, a spirit of optimism prevails and he believes that the company will soon regain its forward momentum. “We have more than $35 million in 2020 business that has been postponed into 2021 and 2022. We were expecting to hit $90 million to $100 million last year until COVID happened. It looks like [we’ll hit that figure] this year,” states Jones.

As All Commercial Floors’ name implies, it specializes in commercial flooring and has clients in the retail, sports and recreation, government, health care, corporate, and hospitality sectors, varying by location.

“The market focus shifts as we move from branch to branch. While Grand Prairie is more focused on health care, our Denver offices specialize in multi-family, and our Nashville office does more hospitality and corporate interiors,” says Vice President of Marketing Denise Perry.

The company offers flooring options from carpet natural stone and porcelain tile, to wood and resilient tile and sheet. “We have made a strategic effort to expand our services in natural stone, exterior cladding, and countertops. Natural stone was a [good fit] as our clients often want the subcontractor installing the ceramic and porcelain tile to handle that type of work. Exterior cladding and countertops have also become a focus with an acquisition we made,” says Perry.

The acquisition in question was of a local company that did commercial stone and tile work for “very high-end homes,” she adds.

Founded in 1999, All Commercial Floors currently has thirteen branches in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, California, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama. “We’re from coast to coast. We have branches from Orange County, California to Miami, Florida,” says Jones proudly.

“We have worked in thirty-six continental states and Alaska. While we have done work in the British Virgin Islands, we are not actively seeking work in Canada or Mexico. The labor rates in Mexico would be too difficult to compete with, and we just have not had an opportunity in Canada,” adds Perry.

When COVID struck hard in early 2020, the company reacted quickly and decisively. The main goal was to ensure its workforce remained safe.

“I don’t think it took very long for everyone to get on board with safety precautions both in the field and the office. As far as face coverings, check-ins at main office, temperature checks daily – those are part of the culture now we have for installers and office staff. Everyone is following these procedures,” states National Operations Manager Alex Knox.

As workers adjusted to these health strictures, the company established new ways of doing business. “One of the biggest changes that everyone has dealt with is trying to figure out the new model of how we deliver our projects, how we do customer service when we can’t necessarily be there in person; seeing how we can have more connectivity amongst our branches and work more in unison together because we are nationwide,” says Perry.

Jones credits the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, for helping ACF get through the financial fallout caused by COVID. The program provides loans for workplaces so they can meet payroll in the face of economic disruption.

“We are the poster child for PPP. Had that not happened last year, we probably would have cut four branches and dropped sixty employees. That program worked the way it was supposed to for us. We did not lose any branches. That is a fantastic tool for companies such as ours,” says Jones.

All Commercial Floors has even increased its workforce. The company currently has 165 employees, up from 150 in our previous profile.

Although qualifications and education are important criteria for new hires, “One of the things that is important to us is culture. As we grow, especially with the exponential growth we’ve had since last time we chatted, we’re trying to have same voice throughout all of our branches,” notes Perry. “We have multiple positions available. We’re trying to find people with a growth mindset, that understand the fluctuations of this industry.”

ACF prides itself on customer service and top-notch project management and can assist clients with design, budgeting, specification, and installation. “If a hospital were to contact us, we would go out to the hospital, meet with the customer, review the flooring or the countertops that they want to replace. We would review those areas then come up with a budget. Then I can come back and find products that suit their needs and wants,” explains Vice President of National Sales Blake Walker.

The goal is to balance aesthetic appeal with practicality. The health care sector, for example, has challenges specific to its building type. A hospital requires flooring that can hold up to round-the-clock foot traffic, heavy stretcher loads, and unusually frequent and intense cleaning.

ACF does not install the flooring but relies on a regular pool of subcontractor installers. These installers “are an arm of All Commercial. They represent us on a daily basis. A lot of these guys have been with the company for twenty years. They make some decisions in conjunction with our project managers. They coordinate and discuss items with the clients on-site,” Knox says.

The firm likes to maintain close ties with its supplier network as well. “Our vendor relationships are based on longstanding relationships we have had since the inception of ACF and building new relationships based on the products that the design community is specifying. The specification of a product and working with a vendor is truly based on the need of a job,” says Perry.

To participate in sustainable design, employees can “apply to sit for the LEED examination to be accredited,” she explains. “ACF is involved with LEED projects whenever the general contractor has been awarded a LEED Project. We are currently working on sixteen LEED projects.”

ACF has recently earned some significant industry honors, including a Fuse Spark Award for its work at a KidZania USA location in Frisco, Texas. The KidZania company offers interactive environments for children, and ACF was given the task of procuring 60,000 square feet of flooring and arranging its installation. The project worked as planned, and the Frisco KidZania branch opened in November 2019 – the first location of its kind in the United States.

Other memorable flooring projects include the AT&T Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys, a residence at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, a flagship lounge at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and the neonatal intensive care unit at Medical City Dallas.

It is not all about revenue growth and the bottom line, however. One company tradition is to ‘adopt’ a local family at Christmas to help them through the holidays. While COVID has limited our traditional interactions with their charities, All Commercial Floors was able to partner on a project with Hollman Helps – a charitable operation by Hollman, a firm that manufactures lockers. This venture saw Hollman Helps renovate locker rooms at a Hamshire, Texas high school that had been “flooded and damaged by Tropical Storm Imelda and Hurricane Harvey. ACF provided the flooring and labor as a part of the renovation,” says Perry.

COVID has also affected the way ACF does its marketing and promotion. “Our marketing strategy shifted from having traditional face-to-face meetings with our clients and potential clients to going old-school and making phone calls. We also utilized web conferencing. We were very flexible in partnering with our vendors to see their new products. From in-house displays to Zoom presentations, we were very adaptable in our efforts to continue to grow our knowledge of products,” Perry says.

The company is looking at new acquisitions, growth, and expansion. “I think we’re in a very unique position, in the way we’re growing and how we’re growing. We’re looking to take what we started and develop and get some momentum moving with it. If we have a chance to talk again in two years, I think you’ll be surprised at how much we have evolved the company,” notes Perry.

“Our plans are to grow the flooring division into a $200 million company,” echoes Jones. “We could be $300 million to $400 million. That’s our goal for the next five to seven years. We believe we can do it.”

More Than Just a Trend

The construction industry is typically slow to evolve. Despite the existence of countless new innovations and technologies, and safer, better ways to do things, it is an industry where tried and true construction methods and long-accepted materials are seldom replaced by a new product or approach.

April 17, 2021, 8:31 PM EDT