On Solid Footing
Gulf Coast Flooring & Services’ personal touch spurs growth
After 35 years of serving clients in the Greater Houston area, Gulf Coast Flooring & Services (Gulf Coast) expanded into the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a second location in the summer of 2018. It was at the request of a large office-developer who wanted to know its projects would be done right in North Texas, too.
“We looked at what it would take to move up there and be profitable,” says Gulf Coast managing partner Jordan Jenks. “We were thinking it would take 6 to 12 months to get a return on our investment based solely on this one client. But, we’re getting there much sooner than that.
“We are a flooring contractor, but we also do paint and wall coverings,” Jordan says. “We are able to bundle all that under one contract. That makes a project easier for the general contractors because there are less points of contact to work with and less people to point the finger at one another.”
The company’s services include installing quality products, such as carpet, ceramic tile, custom backsplashes, custom showers, granite and marble counters, vinyl composition tile (VCT), sheet vinyl, resilient wall base, decorative concrete, concrete polishing, epoxy coatings, wood and laminate planks. They also install engineered hardwood, reclaimed wood and installed and finished wood. As part of its overall bundling package, Jordan says the firm also does remodeling, pressure washing and parking lot striping.
Serving mostly office and industrial property owners and managers, Jordan says it takes more than providing a quality product to build strong client relationships; it all comes back to the service provided.
“If we were only in this industry for the money and not the personal touch, our client never would have asked us to expand to Dallas to solve their issues,” he says. “Our willingness and ability to respond to issues is what makes us stand out from the competition. Whenever you’re on a project, there’s a curveball thrown at you more often than not. The flooring industry is known to sit there and wait to hit someone with a change order so they hold [clients] over a barrel. That’s not how we operate. If we can resolve an issue, we will do that—and do it in a timely manner.”
The multigenerational family business was started in 1986 by family patriarch, Alan Jenks, who initially worked out of his vehicle with the only money in his pocket as he built the company.
The company originally was called The Carpet Store. It maintained a “mom and pop” status for years, Jordan says.
Jordan joined the firm in 2008 after serving in the military for seven years. He had planned a career in law enforcement, but his father called and asked him to come work with him.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and started thinking about my friends’ parents who were in law enforcement, and they were always working, scrimping and saving,” Jordan recalls. “And then I started thinking of my parents. They were around on the weekends. We weren’t rich, but we were comfortable. I called dad back the next day and decided to do a six-month trial run. That was 10 years ago.”
Jordan’s mother, Katherine Jenks, joined the team when Jordan and his sister, Jessica Jenks Cleveland Core, were in school. Later, she took the role of partner. Jessica joined the team part-time in 2012, and after a few years, joined the leadership team, as well.
The company name changed to Gulf Coast Flooring & Services in 2012, and the company grew exponentially under the second generation’s leadership and with the expansion into more commercial flooring and concrete resurfacing. Three years ago, Jordan assumed the managing partner role.
“Dad is semi-retired now; but I don’t think he’ll every fully retire. I learned my work ethic from him,” Jordan says.
Jordan’s business philosophy is one of willing support, he says. “I work alongside the team. I try to foster a mentality that encourages employees to be willing to work, not just because it is their job, but because they want to,” he says.
The company now has 42 employees, but it still has that “mom and pop” small office perspective, Jordan says. “Everyone here feels like they’re important and that is deliberate. No one here feels like a number because they’re an integral part of the team. The way we treat them and speak to them is critical. We sit down and have a conversation and talk about the ways we can make your life easier or better, how can we work with you to make things better. That’s because we care about our employees and our clients.”
As part of that desire to take good care of their employees, Gulf Coast made the concerted effort in 2018 to be more involved in the community as well. The company served as a Montgomery County Fair Association sponsor.
“We sponsored the Cornhole Tournament, Horse Shoe Pitching and Washer Pitching Contest, and we entered the Bud Light BBQ Cook-Off, which was our first ever. It was rewarding to get involved and see the money raised going toward scholarships for area youth,” Katherine says. “Gulf Coast Flooring & Services has been blessed with steady growth, and we wanted to start giving back to the community. Most of us at work have kids in school and thought this would be a great opportunity to pay forward to the future generation by helping to contribute to their college education.”
Gulf Coast is also involved in supporting The Landing, which offers support to victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation. The organization encourages and empowers survivors to become independent by meeting basic needs and increasing awareness of the resources available to survivors.
Gulf Coast’s projects extend beyond its office and industrial body of work to include providing services for governmental entities as well as institutions of higher education. The company did all the tile work and walls for the main dining hall at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. The project won a Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership 2018 Design Award.
The firm is also doing all the tile work at Texas State Veterans Home in Houston, which is currently under construction. Additionally, the company has worked with some large general contractors and building owners to remodel their lobbies as part of the Hurricane Harvey cleanup efforts across the Houston metro area. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused destruction along the Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Beaumont. It has been estimated to be one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, causing an estimated $125 billion in property damage.
Beyond the specific projects, Jordan says the firm is seeing polished concrete become a more popular choice for its commercial customers. “There used to be a lot of carpets and wood as well as VCT and vinyl in conference rooms, but we are seeing a slow transition away from those products and a move to concrete polishes. These were being introduced a few years ago as a real contender and are making strides and gaining market share.”
About three years ago, he says, he saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to be left behind. Offices, restaurants and break rooms are the most popular places for concrete polishing.
“It is definitely popular in the trendier locations,” Jordan continues. “We opened up our own in-house concrete polishers. We own the equipment and it is our employees that go into the field, which allows us to control the polish concrete game. We are better at it than most firms.”
According to Jordan, concrete polishing and resurfacing transforms new and old concrete into a reflective, durable, cleanable surface that reduces maintenance because there is no stripping or waxing. It doesn’t require moisture remediation and there are no problems with moisture vapor transmission. “Polished concrete is suitable for any commercial facility, including schools, industrial, retail, restaurants and corporate facilities,” he says.
“It is hard to differentiate yourself from the competition in the flooring industry because everyone does the same thing,” Jordan says. “It’s not a glamorous industry. We set ourselves apart by the service that we bring. We still serve all of our clients with a personal touch regardless of their company size or project size. A testament to this: we still have a lot of the same customers we started with almost 30 years ago.”