Only in Louisville:
The Floor Store

Profile by Eve Lee 

It’s not terribly unusual to imagine people in, say, the flooring business dreaming of doing something less strenuous someday, like becoming a teacher--but John Glaser went to Bellarmine University and worked as a schoolteacher before making the switch. “I went to work one summer for a guy who imported flooring, and that started me in it,” says John, 64. He quickly rose through the ranks as sales manager, creating a national sales force for all things beneath his feet before founding The Floor Store in 1979.

As a kid, John’s son Matthew, 32, learned quite a bit about hard work from the former teacher. “I grew up with the store and flooring,” Matthew says. “When I wanted to earn money to buy my first Nintendo, I had to come down and clean toilets.” Matthew studied international marketing at Indiana University Southeast, but even as a student he had one foot in the family business--he cleaned carpets, not toilets--and after graduation he took a full-time position as a sales manager. “I didn’t expect this at all,” Matthew says. “I was thinking of a career in the import/export business. I started a small product acquisition company in Southeast Asia when I was in my twenties--but now I’m working all aspects of the flooring company and I’m really into that.”

From tile to laminate to hardwood to carpeting, the Glasers have Louisvillians’ flooring needs, well, covered. Matthew’s brother, Patrick, 25, works as an installer (“He’s paying his dues right now,” says his dad), and John still does most of the measuring. John says that installation is for “young people with good muscles and strong legs,” but he refuses to let anyone coast. “We’ve all been known to get on the forklift and unload trucks and do whatever it takes.” Adds Matthew: “We’re like all small businesses. We wear all sorts of hats and we don’t sit behind our desks. We get out there and work.”

And The Floor Store’s nine-person staff of installers, refinishers, designers and salespeople all get out there and work--and John is very aware of the responsibilities that come with working independently for the people of Louisville. “We’re more than competitive,” he says of the shop, which is one of a network of independent businesses that leverage their buying power to negotiate prices that undercut the big guy. Matt says, “My dad started the business to help small guys out and keep money in Louisville. We just want to share that with the local community.”

The Glasers also share their expertise. If someone is thinking about getting some new flooring, John says, “Hopefully they’ll invite us into their home. We’ll do the measuring for free. We give free samples out and bring them out. They get designer advice. And then hopefully we’ll get them in the store to show them the big samples.” Unlike the competition, the family has decades of know-how honed by real-world experience. At the other places, John says, “You might get a guy who sells blinds or cabinets and five other things. We sell flooring and that’s all we want to do. We know how to guide people to the right flooring for their needs, like carpeting in the bedroom or hardwood or good-wearing carpet in family room, where everyone lives. We do it all--new, old construction, sanding, refinishing.”

“If it’s inside and you’re walking on it, we sell it,” says Matthew.

“Everything but clean it,” adds John.

Apparently there still are some ground rules.

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