The Coeur dAlene-based flooring company known today as Great Floors LLC has seen its sales grow exponentially with the addition of new branches that reach from Boise to Bellingham, but its president has taken care not to let go of the companys roots.
Great Floors President and CEO Doug Chadderdon, who also is majority owner of the company, has maintained the concerns corporate office in Coeur dAlene, despite its predominant growth in Western Washington.
Ten of the companys 15 retail flooring stores are in the Puget Sound area. It operates two stores in the Spokane areaone at 231 E. Francis and the other at 13708 E. Indiana, west of the Spokane Valley Mall. It also has a single store in Coeur dAlene, one in Boise, and one in Yakima, Wash. In addition to its stores, it also operates four distribution centers and an outlet in Post Falls that fabricates and sells granite and stone.
Each of the companys stores has retail, commercial, and builder divisions, to help insulate the company from big market swings, he says.
Sales go in cycles, Chadderdon says. Housing starts are followed by growth in the commercial sector. About five years after new housing goes in, the remodel cycle begins. If you participate in all three cycles as we do, its a pretty balanced cash flow.
Chadderdon, a Coeur dAlene native who was a banker in Seattle through most of the 1980s, joined the family business in 1992, moving to Boise to manage its expansion into that market.
My wife is from Boise and we decided to move there, he says. Boise had been in the tank, but was just starting to take off.
The flourishing of technology giants Hewlett-Packard Co. and Micron Technology Inc. helped rejuvenate the economy there.
After his father died in 1993, Chadderdon returned to Coeur dAlene from Boise and took over the companys leadership. His mother, Marge Chadderdon, has retired from the business and is currently seeking election to a third term to the Idaho Legislature.
Chadderdons cousin, Ken Chadderdon, who is Great Floors vice president of purchasing, and Jim McGee, its chief financial officer, are minority owners in the company.
Under Doug Chadderdons leadership, Great Floors sales have grown tenfold, to $128 million last year, from $12 million in 1992. He expects sales this year to be on par with last year.
Great Floors employs more than 400 people, and works with about 500 independent contractors, most of whom install flooring products on its behalf, he says.
Chadderdon asserts that Great Floors has become one of the largest flooring companies west of the Mississippi, and its larger than he ever imagined it would be before he joined the company.
Chadderdons father, Keith, started in the business as a traveling salesman who peddled carpet from the trunk of his car in the late 1960s. He and his wife opened their first store, named the Carpet Center, on U.S. 95 in the northern outskirts of Coeur dAlene in 1971.
As that store proved to be a success, they opened a second Carpet Center outlet, on Trent Avenue in Spokane.
My mother and dad were an inseparable business team, he says. She did all of the bookkeeping, and he ran the stores.
The original store later was moved to 3800 Government Way, in Coeur dAlene, where it is today. The Trent store eventually moved to Sprague Avenue in the Valley, and was replaced in 2006 by a 48,000-square-foot outlet on Indiana.
In 2000, the Carpet Center formed a parent company, called Flooring Sales Group LLC, through which it acquired 10 Carpet Exchange stores in the Puget Sound area. The company changed the name of all of those stores to Great Floors to suit better its flooring lines, which include tile, hardwoods, linoleum, slate, and bamboo, in addition to carpet.
With the acquisition of the Carpet Exchange stores, Chadderdon thought the company was poised for a steep climb in revenues in 2000, but the U.S. economy started to dive. Then came the 9/11 terrorist attacks, followed a week later by a massive layoff at Boeing.
That had a big impact on our Seattle stores, but consumers came back, and 2002 was a good year, he says. It doesnt hurt to be in a market with 4.5 million people.
Most of Great Floors sales occur in the greater Seattle market, Chadderdon says.
Still, We choose to be here, where we all play golf and ski, he says of the companys owners.
Flooring Sales Group changed its name to Great Floors LLC in 2005, and the company bought the three-story, 15,000-square-foot Masonic Temple building, at 524 Sherman in downtown Coeur dAlene, where it now has its corporate offices. The move to the larger quarters from its former offices, which occupied only 880 square feet of floor space at 5555 Pioneer Drive, enabled Great Floors to create in-house marketing and centralized ordering departments.
Orders come in from each location, and we contact suppliers to place the orders, he says.
The companys information-technology department, which has 10 employees, is located in Seattle, Chadderdon says.
Thats where its easiest to hire IT people, he says.
Through the years, the company has had to adapt its product lines as styles change, Chadderdon says.
For the last several years, architects and designers have been trying to bring the outdoors inside. That calls for more hardwood and stone, he says. Carpet sales used to be 80 percent of our business. Its about 50 percent today.
Last year, the company opened its 23,000-square-foot Great Floors Granite & Stone Center, at 3293 Seltice Way, in Post Falls, to meet demand for stone countertops and floors.
We built the granite business in a central location to service everyone in the Inland Empire from one location, he says.
The companys strategic plan envisions adding more locations, although that depends on the economy, he says.
The next growth area for the company likely will be along the Interstate 5 corridor, he says.
We would ultimately like to go south and land in Oregon, Chadderdon says.
Great Floors also is eyeing southwest Idaho. It has no plans to open more stores in the Inland Northwest anytime soon, Chadderdon says.
Until we see more growth in the population, weve probably saturated the market here, he says.
Contact Mike McLean at (509) 344-1266 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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