Tri State Industrial Floors, Inc. thrives on ‘something new every day’
You’ve probably been in a car dealership and noticed how the floors were impeccable. The same goes for the lobbies of newer corporate office buildings. Floors in those spaces are shiny and spotless. For Tri State Industrial Floors, Inc. (Tri State), creating those immaculate floors is all in a day’s work.
Tri State was founded in 1999 by Bob Gladieux, who is CEO. Josh Schultt, the firm’s President, joined the enterprise in 2004, after working as a concrete mason.
“I realized there was no money in concrete work, Schultt recalls. I came to these guys because they had done some work for me. I was thinking it would be a steppingstone. I had a family to take care of, and I was looking for a job. Lo and behold, I enjoyed the flooring world and kept right on going and moving up the ladder.”
What has kept it interesting for Schultt, Gladieux, longtime Executive Vice President of Operations Mike Maraldo, and other members of the Tri State team, is the diversity of projects they have tackled.
Tri State does everything from those sparkling car dealership floors, large automotive, manufacturing plants, food-processing operations, education and health care facilities. The company works with epoxy, vinyl, ceramic, carpeting and other materials, providing a full package of options.
“We can go into an industrial space, be cost effective and do quality work,” Schultt says. “But we can also slow down, go into a beautiful commercial office building, remove flooring, replace it, and our quality is also there. We’re multifaceted.”
Schultt estimates that about 35% of the company’s work is done for local and state governments. An additional 10% is for federal government. The rest of Tri State’s revenue is from private businesses. That includes the firm’s niche work for auto dealerships and auto manufacturing plants. Schultt says it’s fascinating for his team to see the life cycle of how vehicles are created and then marketed and sold to consumers. “It’s cool seeing it from the raw stage, where they make the cars, and the finished stage, where they sell them,” he says.
The Tri State team is not afraid to follow jobs outside of its Toledo, Ohio, base. Schultt says that geographic growth is important as long as he and Gladieux can maintain quality and deliver it to the expectations of customers. His firm has completed work in 48 states.
“At this point we are maintaining what we have,” he reflects. “We know what sales we need to generate and keep our core group of people running.”
The company’s leadership wants to make sure their employees are not overworked, and that’s what Schultt thinks is the key to a low turnover rate.
Barry Hayward, a Tri State Installation Foreman, exemplifies the quality of the firm’s tenured employees. Hayward has been in the flooring business for his entire adult life. He started working for a flooring company when he was 18 and has now been with Tri State for 15 years. Now, at 43, Hayward takes pride in his career and can show his children the results of his labor.
He recalls a recent job at Bowling Green State University where he and his team worked on an indoor soccer field. Hayward had left one of his tools on the job site and was with his kids when he had to grab it after hours.
“My kids walked in and said, ‘Oh my gosh, Dad, you did this?’ “ Hayward recalls. “And I said, ‘Yeah, I really did.’ The stuff we do is really cool.”
Hayward has also worked on basketball courts for the University of Michigan and loves knowing that he did the floors on that job.
Schultt agrees with Hayward’s sentiment.
“It’s hard for us to turn down any Main Street and say, ‘I didn’t work in that building,’ “ he says. “We’ve been around and built a solid client base and reputation. In our industry, being able to drive down the street and see the car dealership, or hospital or commercial office building, or giant manufacturing plant, or work for the government like we did...it’s both fulfilling and cool. It’s not monotony. It’s something new every day.”
He continues: “We don’t have a bunch of guys who are great at everything. We have a bunch of guys who are good at one thing, and they can teach and bring the younger guys along to make them successful.”
At Tri State, respect for employees and for their personal and professional needs extends beyond the workplace. Hayward, who recently faced the passing of this father, says that, in his nearly 25 years in the flooring industry, he hasn’t dealt with such an empathetic company.
“I love these guys, and I love the owners of the company,” he says. “I had the owners on the phone with me, calling me and asking how I was doing and if I needed anything. It made me feel good.”
Hayward also speaks about the impact that COVID-19 has had on the industry and how Tri State has dealt with those challenges. Most employers, from his experience, wouldn’t be as responsive to employees needing PPE (personal protective equipment). But when he informed Schultt and Gladieux of the need for masks and other gear for his team, Hayward says the response was immediate.
“Tri State’s leaders would take their shirts off their backs for their employees,” Hayward says.
Treating employees in a way that does not over tax them has worked out for Tri State, Schultt says, and that has a lot to do with paying attention to how much his employees have on their plates.
“We have made a conscientious effort to not take on more work than we can handle,” he says. “We’re not about over promising and under delivering. It’s really based on the available labor pool that we have. We employ 45 installers out in the field. They’re direct employees and not 1099s, so we are directly responsible for them. And they know that. And we’ve built a great core group of people because of that.”
Tri State employees, and the company’s leadership, also give business back to companies for which the firm has done jobs. Schultt, for example, tends to only shop at businesses his company has served, such as Meijer and Kroger stores. He jokes that his girlfriend gets upset because he doesn’t shop at Walmart and prefers giving back to the retailers that have given work to him.
“If they want to spend the money for us to do the work, we should be able to buy their product as well,” Schultt says. “If we’ve done a Ford plant, I buy a Ford. I think that’s the way the world goes around. You get out of it what you put into it.”