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Spotlight - Kevin Jones, All Commercial Floors Inc.

image L-R: All Commercial Floors Inc.’s Kevin Jones and Wade Pasch

DALLAS/FT WORTH - Kevin Jones has been involved in flooring pretty much all of his life, thanks to his dad’s industry origins and his own drive to create a successful flooring business. Celebrating All Commercial Floors Inc. (ACF)’s 20th anniversary this year, Jones reflects on its evolution.

 

 


How were you introduced to the construction industry?
    My dad was one of the original six members that started Evans and Black Carpet Mills, which is now a division of Shaw Industries. My father began integrating me into the floor covering industry at a young age. From that vantage point, I suppose flooring has always been a part of who I am.

When did you strike out on your own?
    Family businesses have their own dynamic. In 1994, I felt that in order to make my own mark, I needed to leave the family business – which really surprised my family! Consequently, I left our family’s business to become a salesperson for another floor covering company. I did well, and that’s where I gained a deep understanding of the special needs in the healthcare floor covering sector. This experience set the stage for the company I formed, All Commercial Floors Inc. (ACF).
    The mid- to late-90s saw the beginning of certain floor covering manufacturer’s purchasing commercial flooring dealers (which was commonly known as “roll-ups”). While profitable for the owners of the floor covering dealers, many sales and other front-line staff lost their jobs. I saw the writing on the wall and decided to pursue the idea of owning my own dealership.

What happened after you left?
    Two general contractors, who were friends and business associates of mine, had been asking me for four years to start a flooring division to complement their general contracting business. Within two years, we grew that business from zero to projected sales of about 15 million for the third calendar year. Despite this success, two years to the day from when I started – one day before my birthday and without warning – they locked me out of the building. Ironically, and to this day, they have never formally terminated me.
    So, I decided then and there to build my own company, success being the best revenge and tonic for a challenging business experience. Knowing the strong relationships I had with key suppliers and installation partners, I decided that day to start ACF. We started ACF out of the garage of my house in Las Colinas on March 2, 1999, which was my birthday. I called my sister, Staci, who agreed to join ACF. I did the selling and she did the rest.

What were those first years like?
    Incredibly challenging. Like many successful small business owners in their early years, making payroll each week can be, shall we say, stressful. Sitting down every Thursday evening or Friday morning signing paychecks, knowing you weren’t necessarily paying yourself on occasion… Yes, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that it was a very stressful first two to three years. Fortunately, we are well past those days today and I am thankful to all my friends and family who helped ACF during those early days!
    As we grew, I remember getting ACF’s first commercial bank line of credit with a small local community bank who was willing to take a risk on this “kid” who was growing a floor covering business and needed more inventory and working capital. They gave me a $1,000,000 line of credit, which I thought at the time, was an enormous sum of money. I quickly learned that whatever amount of money that I thought it took to operate a successful, growing business, I needed to multiply that number by at least ten – and that may not even be enough.
    Less than a year later, my banker said, “I have a million-dollar legal lending limit, and with your growth, you will need more than that. I hate the idea of losing you as a client, but I had no idea how fast you would keep growing and I’m truly excited for you.” He referred me to a new bank where we obtained our first traditional line of revolving credit. While the stress of growing a business never ends, with our terrific banking relationships, fantastic vendor partners, great customers and the best employees, the stress of making payroll each week has subsided.

How has the business evolved?

    Our philosophy is simple: Recruit/Communicate/Purchase better than our competitors. My father taught me a lesson early in my career. He said “Son, it is really easy…just be sure to hire people smarter than you.” With that in mind, in 2002, we expanded to Nashville and set up our first remote branch location. In 2003, we won a large HCA acute-care facility in Conroe, Texas, and opened another branch location in Houston. ACF kept these locations and we grew our revenues to approximately $20,000,000 by 2010. Given the tremendous U.S. economic dislocation from 2008-2010, I’m quite proud of the fact that, we while we did not grow at the same level during that time, we stayed steady and never lost money.
    In 2011, we decided that we needed to grow the company by adding branch locations that would be operated like a traditional floor covering dealership and focus on growth outside of our traditional healthcare vertical integration. Frankly, we did not have outside salespeople in prior years – I was the top salesperson – and we focused on our main for-profit healthcare owner network customers. We were concentrated at about 98% healthcare business from 2003 to 2011. I thought we needed to diversify, and we did.
    While current revenues are much higher, today our revenue mix is approximately 60% to 65% healthcare, with the balance encompassing virtually all other sectors of the commercial floor covering sector. We have marquee general commercial customers in sports and entertainment, Corporate, Tenant Improvement, Multi-Family, Education and Hospitality, including the Dallas Cowboys, The University of Alabama, the Gaylord hotel chain, Omni Hotels, The American Airlines Center. We have over 150 dedicated employees, and at least double that number through our long-term subcontractor relationships. Several of our installation crews have been with ACF since the beginning, over 20 years ago. ACF now has nine branch locations from Los Angeles to DFW to Nashville and Birmingham.
    We have installed flooring solutions in 37 of the 48 continental United States, and have completed jobs as far north as Palmer, Alaska and as far as south as the Caribbean islands. While we are concentrated in the southern region of the U.S., we have completed projects all over this great nation and beyond.
     
What future plans do you have?

    In the short term, my plan is to add at least two large regional branch offices, targeted for South Florida and Atlanta. We may add more to support larger customers but, at that point, we will have the direct coverage we desire from coast-to-coast. In 2018, ACF joined the FUSE Alliance, a member-owned organization of professional, commercial flooring contractors with 103 companies in 163 locations across the U.S. and Canada to further augment our own branch and vendor network. In addition, we feel the educational resources that Fuse provides will assist our own efforts in continuing to sustain the very best operations and installation teams across the country. This partnership helps ACF and our customers.
    My long-term goal is to maintain at least our last four years CAGR of 20% or greater, for the next five years, through organic and acquisition driven growth. We are engaged in making strategic acquisitions and will be announcing our second acquisition later this month.
    We also plan to continue to hire the very best people and give them a platform to grow and succeed. Our recent hire of industry veteran Wade Pasch is an excellent example of this philosophy. We hired Wade, who worked with Tandus for the prior 21 years, as our Executive Vice President of Operations. We also hired Denise Perry as Vice President of Marketing, a recognized leader among Architects and Designers, who is doing a great job of increasing the visibility of the ACF brand nationally.
    I am very proud of where ACF is today. When our customers hear the name, ‘ACF,’ my hope is that this brand, our company, puts a smile on their face. But as proud as I am of our team and our company today, this is a big industry and the sky is the limit. Our ultimate goal is to be recognized as the leader in the industry, providing the very highest quality floor covering and other surface solutions at a fair price. If we are able to maintain our past and current practices, I think we will achieve these goals.
    Subcontractor All Commercial Floors has Texas branches in Grand Prairie, Houston and San Antonio and nationwide. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net