While we could not keep ourselves from gazing downward in admiration throughout a visit to FloorFolio’s Raritan Center headquarters things were looking up in a very big way for this dedicated and innovative manufacturer of commercial flooring. That very day the company had been awarded its first patent, for EnviroQuiet®, a product with the potential to sweep the multi-level housing and hospitality markets worldwide. In the same month, FloorFolio would roll out, quite literally, its Nature’s Way line of sheet vinyl flooring developed specifically to meet the dual needs for quick installation and rigorous use in health care facilities.
This was a tipping point for FloorFolio, its inevitable entrance into a greater realm of influence and presence in the market. Said president and CEO Michael Freedman, “The future of our company lies down the path of designing and creating our own products, using our own patterns and our own equipment in our own factories. But the products are just the result of our main goal—to always do one better in giving our customers a real solution to their problem. That’s what we do. That’s what we’re really about.”
Michael founded FloorFolio seven years ago, following a lifetime of learning every facet of the flooring business and paying close attention to what could be done better. He started out working for his dad, who ran a small furniture company in Brooklyn that also sold carpeting. Flipping through an issue of Floor Covering Weekly at home one day, Michael ran across an ad for a job opening in New Jersey with a distributor for one of the giants of the flooring industry. He got the job, which was meant to focus on the local residential market with a sideline serving commercial customers in Manhattan. “Nobody would work in New York City because it was such a hard, expensive territory to lug around samples and meet with contractors, so nobody really ever called on those people. I was a single kid, nothing else to do, and by the time I left I took the territory from $100,000 to about $6 million.
Next, he went to work for a flooring contractor; then for a major manufacturer; then back to the contractor, who asked Michael to work out a system for importing, branding and marketing products from the flooring division of “a little company in Korea by the name of LG Chemical.” That done, he says, “I had had enough of doing things for other people, and that’s how FloorFolio was created.
“With the big manufacturers it was all about volume and selling and turning dollars and I just hated that,” he continued. “I never liked going to a customer and saying, ‘You can get black or white, and only in this size.’ So when I created my own company I wanted to give people choices.” Did he ever. Whether selecting luxury vinyl tile for a townhouse community or sheet vinyl flooring for commercial use, FloorFolio’s customers can choose from the same full range of products and patterns, and then some. “Where our competitors might offer a customer seven choices, we give them 200. But if they still want something different we’ll make it for them—a different color, a different texture, a different size. We do it all the time.”
And then there is EnviroQuiet, a genuine breakthrough in the industry. In apartment complexes, dormitories, hotels, and other multi-tenant buildings, there are sound reduction requirements that must be met from the second floor up. Traditionally, a sound-reducing underlayment is installed, then the flooring material, from a different manufacturer, is glued to that. “If the installer has a bad day, or the glue adheres improperly, or the underlayment starts to disintegrate, you’ve got a big problem and no warranty,” explains Michael. “With EnviroQuiet, we figured out a way to bind the sound reduction and flooring materials together during the manufacturing phase and cut it into a finished product. You take your plank or your tile, you glue it down and you’re done. It takes half the time to install and there are no warranty issues because the warranty comes from us.”
The great good fortune being enjoyed at FloorFolio is the kind that comes from hard work and adherence to an honorable mission; the kind that is likely to last. “My vision for FloorFolio was never to become a multi-billion-dollar company, explains Michael. “We wanted to create a company that developed personal relationships with its customers. We go out throughout the United States and form partnerships, and with those partnerships we grow outwards. Even though we’re only twenty people here, our customers, the people who represent our products out there, are in the hundreds, and every one of them is treated like family.
“We tried to stay under the radar for a long time, but now a portion of our story is being told by others; we’re not a secret any more. We’re growing and people are coming after us. So if somebody is going to tell our story, we’re going to tell it.” No doubt it is one that will have a very happy ending, many years from now.