Mark Novoa heard the complaints. As a flooring installer, he would be in customers’ homes installing the flooring they had recently purchased, homeowners would mention how difficult it was to select carpet, tile or flooring in a store. He understood their concerns.
“While I was on site they would talk about the buying process of how they have to try to pick the right color from samples without the right lighting or without being in the room where the flooring was going to go,” he recalled. “So I came up with a mobile showroom concept where I could bring the entire flooring department right to their front door.”
With that idea, some guidance and advice from the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University and a 30-foot long trailer, Novoa started his own flooring company — Ground FX Flooring — in 2011.
Working from the ground up, so to speak, Novoa and his trailer traveled all over Southern Illinois, carrying samples and ideas from the driveway to their home where flooring samples could be seen in actual usage environments.
Novoa said the concept was welcomed almost immediately.
“It was just like any other business. You work hard and you work long hours with all of the profits getting reinvested back into the business. It wasn’t long before we needed forklifts and pallet racking and we had done well enough by 2012 that we moved out of our garage into our shop in Herrin,” he said.
He said the move allowed for the business to expand, giving customers even more options.
“We began to have the capacity to offer not only the mobile showroom but customers could also visit our showroom here,” he added.
Ground FX Flooring offers carpet, vinyl, tile, laminates, hardwood as well as custom tile applications for showers or backsplashes, Novoa said. In recent years, the company’s offerings expanded to include epoxy surfaces.
“I was so impressed when I first saw how beautiful some of the metallic and decorative concrete finished were,” he said. It was a desire to display the products along with some of the floors at our showroom so that when people came in looking for carpeting or hardwood, they would be exposed to these surfaces as well.
Novoa said the professionally-applied epoxy finishes are both affordable and unique.
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“It requires being a little artistic,” Novoa explained. “We never know how the materials are going to flow on a particular day, so it’s a one-of-a-kind look each time.”
He added that epoxy finishes are cost-effective.
“Instead of spending $9 a square foot on three-quarter inch hardwood, we could do a $7 a square foot metallic application that will completely blow their mind, be completely waterproof, long-lasting and custom to every client,” he said.
As Novoa would create floors, he naturally would post them on social media outlets. These simple posts led to additional growth in the scope of Ground FX Flooring.
“All of a sudden, people were calling me from all over the United States wanting to buy the same materials that we were using. It was a high-quality product and many of their suppliers couldn’t get them the products that did what our material did. They began picking up the phone and ordering the material directly from us,” he said.
Novoa said the company quickly evolved into a distribution center for epoxy-related products including floor-preparation equipment. He says the company fills as many as 15 equipment orders every month as well as dozens of orders for materials.
“Just the other day we had 15 different orders go out,”, including one to Arkansas, one to Florida, one to Kentucky and another to Wisconsin,” he explained. “We’re literally shipping throughout the Midwest and all over the United States.”
He added that Ground FX Flooring also offers seminars and other training opportunities about the finishes so that contractors can learn to use the equipment and products on their own jobs.
Novoa said that the two components of the business — traditional flooring sales and installation and distribution — each make up about one-half of the company’s revenue, despite only dealing with the epoxy finishes for three years.
“We’re excited about all of the new growth and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” Novoa said. “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and when we look back over the last eight years, we’re just blown away, like ‘Wow.’ Who would have thought we’d go from a single-car garage and a 30-foot trailer with some hard work and transform into a company that employs 17 or 18 people locally?”