Going Beyond Surface Relationships
Sun Country Floors, Inc. brings its winning personality to each project
Bob Seiter, Owner and President of Sun Country Floors, Inc. (SCF), isn’t walking back any of the employee profiles on the company’s website. Along with citing an employee’s contributions and responsibilities, there’s often a humorous addition that really floors the reader. Perhaps it’s believable, but probably just seriously funny.
If it sounds like the company isn’t serious about business, that’s incorrect. Based in Mesa, Arizona, SCF has installed beautiful floors—whether wood, carpet, high-quality vinyl, rubber or tile—for customers for more than 40 years.
The levity is just a fun way to build relationships—with both employees and customers. Company leaders know that employee connectedness and happiness can enhance relationships with new and returning customers.
For instance, the profile for manly Josh Creamer, Sports Floor Sales/Project Manager, states that he “has a regular article published in Quilters Monthly and Basket Weavers Quarterly,” two nonexistent publications.
About no-nonsense Tyson Law, Controller: “To put himself through college, Tyson sold male hair extensions.”
A tiny woman, Beth Grahl, Field Superintendent, is lauded as “the National Arm Wrestling Champion, seven years running.”
The “calculating” Gina Gilbert, Estimating Manager, “enters team mountainboard competitions with her granddaughter” and “they hope to make it to the World Cup in Alberta next year.”
Her co-worker Andrew Hawkins, an Estimator, keeps a count of a different sort. He and his wife once infiltrated an armadillo-catching competition in Venezuela with the sole mission of setting as many free as possible. Supposedly, the couple saved “73 armadillos, three sloths and 17 flamingos.”
Estimator Paul Wilson once proved his skills during a trebuchet (a type of catapult) tournament in Lichtenstein, Germany. He “won the tournament by fashioning a trebuchet from live trees on-site and launching a VW bug the farthest.”
Members of the SCF team saw the bios and chuckled at the outlandish parts, Seiter says. The comical characterizations were a hit with everyone in the tightknit group.
Posting these bios felt natural because at SCF, “we take our jobs incredibly seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Seiter says.
Right This Way
SCF specializes in planning, designing, constructing and maintaining each flooring project it does. To be in a room with a floor installed by SCF defies the common human inclination to look straight ahead—instead, many folks look down frequently. Customized carpets have that well-balanced look and feel. Sports floors are exciting. Lobbies gain a new sense of place. Offices become distinctive. Even hallways exhibit a “take a walk with me” quality.
The company’s 39 employees act as a cohesive unit that takes pride in installing flooring well. Seiter says, “That’s because SCF cares about every project 100%. We go the distance when it comes to the essentials: hiring the right team members, expertly planning each project, recommending high-quality materials, delivering on our promises, and meeting and exceeding expectations for each customer. Every time.”
He adds, “We are a 100% company! You can get 95% done by anyone. The real work is in the last 5% and that’s where we shine.”
Seiter inspires the company’s team members to be their best every day, project after project. Seiter lives the motto, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”
“His biggest desire is to help everyone be successful,” says Taft Smithson, Vice President. “We all have such pride in the company.”
Seiter got his flooring skills, business savvy and management know-how from “on the job training.” With a solid view on life and an ability to know right from wrong, he and his father, Art, started the company in 1979 with a commitment to customer satisfaction and to quality installations. Seiter took the helm of Sun Country Floors in 2000.
Business as usual was very successful up until the Great Recession of 2007-09. Seiter was forced to make drastic changes to survive the national economic decline. He cleared the employee roll to just himself, overhauled the business and its operations, and started to rebuild.
“We’re stronger today than we’ve ever been,” Seiter says. “Our strongest value today is relationships. We don’t want to be a ‘bid house’ that does things without knowing the people or the companies. Now, we focus on general contractors and end-user relationships.”
Seiter’s favorite pastime even nurtures relationships. He loves fishing at nearby Lees Ferry on the Colorado River at the far southwesterly base of Lake Powell. It’s a fishing mecca and Seiter has hosted several trips to this destination for customers and employees alike.
What also surfaces for Seiter is witticisms that he uses to inspire his employees. He has always believed that happy and well-supported employees achieve something special with customers, job after job.
SCF interviews and hires new employees using a “working interview” method, Seiter says. The company identifies a likely match, puts him or her on the payroll and then gives the new hire two weeks of training and work opportunities. Company leaders have a responsibility, too, to make sure the candidate is getting guidance to fairly gauge the person’s capabilities. By the end of the trial period, both management and the new hire know whether it’s “a fit” or not.
The company does not enforce quotas, but instead continues on-the-job training to ensure projects are done right and the new employee is growing professionally. There’s very little turnover.
“Hire the attitude; train the skill,” Seiter says.
“It’s the SCF culture. It’s the way we treat everyone on the team, giving them everything they need to be successful,” he says. “Other companies put their employees out there and they’re on their own, but we’ve prepped our team members with a realistic look at what it takes to succeed.”
Scoring Big With Customization
Relationship-driven SCF has delivered expertly installed floors at numerous commercial and institutional locations. These include the FatCats family entertainment center in Gilbert, Arizona; Gannett Media Technologies International in Phoenix; TruWest Credit Union in several locations in Arizona; and various retail businesses and public and private schools and universities.
One-third of SCF’s projects consist of sports flooring. These customers include higher education institutions such as Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Grand Canyon University. The expansive stadium floors that SCF installed for Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona, for what is now called the Desert Financial Arena can be viewed by as many as 14,000 when all tickets are sold.
Customized flooring is no longer a rare choice for commercial customers, according to Seiter. SCF works with a number of top flooring manufacturers that offer a variety of options that retain the original quality, strength, color and style for the lifetime of the surface.
The expertise. The company’s style. The satisfaction of making customers—and employees— happy. These attributes continue to define Sun Country Floors.
“Business is running better now than it ever has,” Seiter says. “We’ve created a culture where employees never tire of exceeding customer expectations—and the company is stronger for it.”