Pricing, product better than big box at Rockford Floor

THE RANDY AND STU SHOW—Randy and Stu VanderWerp, son and father, have worked together for a very long time and between them, have over 50 years of experience with owning a floor covering business. They believe educating customers, offering the best prices and continued good service is key to the success of Rockford Floor Covering.

THE RANDY AND STU SHOW—Randy and Stu VanderWerp, son and father, have worked together for a very long time and between them, have over 50 years of experience with owning a floor covering business. They believe educating customers, offering the best prices and continued good service is key to the success of Rockford Floor Covering.

“You won’t come in my store to see what is on sale and get a great deal. You will come into my store and find what you want and get a great price,” Randy VanderWerp, owner of Rockford Floor Covering described his philosophy of pricing. “We don’t hold sales and we never mark up prices, to mark them down in front of our customers. We have always, consistently kept our pricing low, so I guess you could say that everything is always on sale, if that’s the way you want to view it,” stated VanderWerp.

The volume of Rockford Floor Covering’s sales is what allows him to negotiate for the best pricing, said VanderWerp. “That definitely gives us an edge, to pass that savings on to our customers. The other thing is that we don’t play games with our pricing—no “razzle-dazzle”—no “you get this for free,” or “only $99 labor” on a job you know will realistically cost more. That one really gets me. Most people are very aware that workers need to be paid a certain level, so if someone is not charging you for their labor, they must get that money somewhere else,” said VanderWerp.

There are a lot of games Rockford Floor Covering refuses to play with its customers—games to make it sound like customers are getting a better deal. “It sounds better if you sell carpet for $1 a foot than $9 a yard. If I tell you a carpet is $2 per (square) foot, you are more apt to like that pricing rather than the $18 per (square) yard. It’s human nature,” according to VanderWerp. “We recommend that people get complete estimates, listing costs for each individual item, and have more than one person measure the space. They stick to the formula that has worked for them since the store first opened in 1981; having a great selection, having knowledgeable salespeople who can help customers choose the type of products that will perform the way the customer needs, having consistently low pricing, offering great service, and continuing to be there after the sale is over.

Rockford Floor services a vast array of customers, including remodelers and builders from all over the state of Michigan. A testimonial from a sales representative from Mohawk Industries described Rockford Floor as his top selling store in 2008 and for the past five years, being consistently in the top one percent of sales among his customers.

“What some people don’t realize is that Rockford Floor Covering is a full service store that I consider to be one of my best retailers,” Mike Tocco stated. Tocco’s territory is West Michigan to the Indiana border. “In the past five years, they are the only store in my area to grow their business each of those years, in a declining retail environment. That is a real testament to their level of service, quality and commitment to their customers and community.”

When customers walk into the comfortable shop in downtown Rockford, they find a friendly but professional atmosphere. An award-winning retailer and located in Rockford for over 28 years, Rockford Floor Covering also carries Karastan brand carpet, a more exclusive, higher-end carpet that is placed only with a few select merchants. The Karastan Company selects its’ distributors based on sales performance, business practices and space allotment for product display. “We work to keep our selection the very best for our customers and to educate customers as they are choosing their possible floor coverings. Sometimes carpets look very similar, but they may perform very differently, such as nylon versus polyester. The unwary buyer may not be aware that while polyester carpets are much cheaper than nylon, the polyester doesn’t hold up nearly as well. When we do a good job, our customers will tell others.

The economy has changed and Rockford Floor welcomes the opportunity to compete with the big box stores. “Ninety percent of the time our prices are the best. Add that to the floor covering knowledge of the staff here and the fact that our customers often call years after a sale and ask if we can tell them what they bought—and we can. People know where to get in touch with us and are often surprised to find the same salesperson they originally had—and that we remember their home. Our customers know we stand behind our products and that our company will still be here tomorrow and in years to come,” said VanderWerp.

This philosophy comes from values instilled while working with his parents and seeing their accountability to customers. Randy worked in his dad’s store, first cutting carpet, and making rugs, working with the store’s binding machine, then graduating to sales. In 1978 his parents sold that store and for the next two years VanderWerp became a wholesaler in the floor covering business. In 1981 he purchased his own store, opening at 119 Courtland St. then buying the building at 41 Courtland St. where the company is located today. “This has become a very good spot for us as far as location and traffic, he said. “It’s beautiful here with the Rogue River, the White Pine Trail, Garden Park and all the musical events and community happenings in downtown Rockford,” said VanderWerp. Not only is Rockford Floor one of the longest operating merchants among those in downtown Rockford, the company has a long tradition of supporting community events, such as Relay For Life and Rockford sports. Randy said he fell in love with Rockford early on and is proud to be a part of the business and family community. His wife is a teacher with the school district and the two love to work where they live. Next year Rockford Floor Covering will have its’ 29th anniversary in business.

“These days you can’t take anything for granted,” VanderWerp said. “You can’t just sit back and say, this is our customer base, because things change. People have never shopped like they do today.” He believes more than ever that price and taking care of customers are the keys to business success, and has a motto on his office wall to that effect. “If you haven’t got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?”

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