Ralph's Blog

The Spices of Fall

Posted on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 @ 23:11 PM

 

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One of my favorite things about fall is the smells and tastes coming from the kitchen.

There’s Thanksgiving of course, which I look forward to every year. But all season long, as the days grow cooler and shorter, I find myself craving “comfort food”—the kind of food that makes you feel warm and at home.

I’ve noticed, however, that as much as comfort food is about familiarity, none of the cooks among my family and friends prepare my favorites in the same way. They all have slightly different recipes—often due to variations in the spices they use.

How much nutmeg in the pumpkin pie? How much sage in the dressing? What spices go in the warm apple cider?

Each cook has different preferences, so while pumpkin pie is pumpkin pie, no two are exactly the same. 

And the people doing the eating likely have their own preferences, too, perhaps based on what they grew up with. “It’s good but not as good as Mom’s” is a common sentiment—even if what makes Mom’s stand out is just a subtle difference in spices.

Hardwood floors are the same way. A maple floor is a maple floor, but variations in color, texture, and other hardwood floor characteristics make each floor a reflection of the unique personal tastes of the homeowners. These characteristics are the “spices” that go into each homeowner’s “recipe” for the hardwood floors that will give them the most comfort.

An example is when homeowners select caramel maple flooring, which has a slightly darker, more-aged look than regular maple. The difference is subtle, but for some homeowners who are extending their current floor, it’s an essential ingredient.

I’m not the only one who thinks about hardwood floor “spices” in the fall. A trusted, high-quality supplier of ours, Karndean, actually offers a range of flooring styles based on the colors of spices such as nutmeg, paprika, and peppercorn—all of which are common in the foods of fall.  And their “Autumn Oak” prefinished flooring is specifically made with the colors of fall in mind.

For floors finished on site, we also offer colors whose names—“spice brown” and “nutmeg”—bring to mind the spices of fall. But it doesn’t have to be autumn to think about hardwood floor characteristics as spices. Any time of the year, finding the hardwood flooring that’s just right for you will involve small choices among “spices” to make the floors your own special creation.

When choosing your hardwood floor color, for example, you can get as detailed as a recipe—three parts of one color, two parts of another, three parts of a third … or two parts of one color and one part of another ... whatever you want.

If you’re not familiar enough with the many hardwood floor characteristics available, you can consult with experts like Ralph’s to come with your own hardwood floor recipe. We welcome you to stop by our showroom or call 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902 to make an appointment  

Tags: stories, custom hardwood flooring

What's in a Name?

Posted on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 @ 09:11 AM

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Calling someone by their first name can get confusing among the staff at Ralph’s. 

We’ve got three Tom’s who work for us, three Randy’s, and two Travis’s. (Last summer, it was three Travis’s, counting a seasonal worker. We also have folks with similar sounding names—Dori and Doris, and Rod and Robyn. 

And almost every male employee who’s interacted with customers has been called “Ralph” at least once—including me. It’s a common assumption that anyone who works for Ralph’s is either Ralph, or somehow related to him. 

Thinking about all this reminds me of the time when I briefly considered changing the name of the company to something other than Ralph’s. It was 1992, and I had just taken over from Dad, the real Ralph. I thought maybe we needed a name that wasn’t just a person’s name but was flashier and more descriptive of the type of hardwood flooring work we specialize in—custom flooring. 

I’m very glad that I didn’t follow up on that thought. It would have been a foolish thing to do because Dad had already built the Ralph’s name into a brand that customers associated with high quality. I realize now that there’s a lot more to a company name than just the words—there’s everything that becomes associated with the name through years of hard work and service to customers. 

The many great people who’ve worked at Ralph’s since I took over have done their best to continue to build the Ralph’s name into one that’s synonymous with beautiful flooring, first-rate customer service, and a commitment to always making things right if a situation ever does arise.  

I’m proud to say that I believe we’ve succeeded. When our customers—homeowners or contractors—say the name “Ralph’s,” I’m sure they associate it with those qualities. I also think they continue to think of us a family-oriented business because our team members operate together like a family. 

So, what’s in a name? What you put into it. And we put all we can into making the Ralph’s name one that brings to mind excellence and trustworthiness. I think Dad would be happy with what we’ve done with the brand he started.  

As for the multiple Tom’s, Randy’s, and Travis’s working for us now—that’s what nicknames are for! Besides, we all work so closely together and know each other so well, that it’s not really a problem. We all know who’s who—even if they’re sometimes called Ralph.  

Tags: stories, about Ralph's, Wisconsin

Ralph’s and Van’s: Keeping It in the Family

Posted on Fri, Nov 03, 2017 @ 23:11 PM

 

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Ralph’s Hardwood Co. and Van’s Lumber and Custom Builders share a common history—they’re both run by the son of a previous owner who was their father. 

Rod Lorenz, Ralph’s owner and president, took over Ralph’s from his father, the company’s namesake, in 1992. Van’s president and co-owner, Craig VandenHouten, succeeded his father, Ray VandenHouten Jr., who in turn took over from his father, Ray VandenHouten. Craig and his brothers, who are equal partners— Kurt (sales), Eric (material sales), and Chris (job coordinator)—are continuing the family business. 

Since Ralph and Ray Jr. started working together in the 1980s, the two companies have continued to partner, and their ties have only grown stronger. Ralph’s began by sanding and finishing floors Van’s installed, but for the past 15 years or so, Ralph’s has been doing the entire installation in custom homes Van’s is building. 

The two company’s similar history is more than just a coincidence—it’s a large reason the partnership has lasted so long. Both Ralph’s and Van’s share similar family values, and so they each complement the other. They are both committed to doing the highest quality work possible and providing first-rate customer service. 

“We’ve worked with these guys long enough that we know we share certain values,” Rod says. 

Rod says trust runs both ways between Ralph’s and Van’s, and Craig agrees. That’s because both companies insist on the best, Craig says, which is what is needed in the custom home market. 

“Today’s customer is very particular,” Craig says. “Perfection is what’s expected. Ralph’s is very particular themselves. Customers are paying a lot and they except a lot, and Ralph’s does it right.” 

Working with Ralph’s over the years has been beneficial to Van’s in part because of Ralph’s commitment to staying on top of the latest hardwood floors trends, Craig says. 

 “I’ve always admired how they’ve been able to adapt to changing trends in the building industry,” he says. “They’ve been able to figure out what customers want and provide that service.” 

Craig also appreciates the personal touch that Ralph’s provides. A dedicated contact, Mark Triggiano, visits Van’s each Wednesday to check on the status of jobs and to see if Van’s needs anything from Ralph’s. 

“It’s really nice to have that in this day and age,” Craig says. “You know who you’re dealing with. And if there are any issues, he’ll let us know before it becomes an issue.” 

Craig also likes that Ralph’s fully guarantees its work and follows through on making sure the work is done correctly, taking risk away from Van’s. 

“If there is an issue—and there are very, very few—they’re excellent at fixing it,” he says. 

Another plus of working with Ralph’s, Craig says, is that he can send customers to Ralph’s showroom to select the exact flooring they want in their home. He is highly impressed with Ralph’s recently remodeled and expanded showroom. 

 “Everything they can do is right there, which is really convenient for customers,” he says. 

Best of all, Craig says, Ralph’s finished product is excellent. In his own home, the hardwood floors were finished by Ralph’s 18 years ago, and that finish is still getting compliments. 

“Their finish is the best I’ve seen and holds up very well,” he says. 

Ralph’s also is enamored of how Van’s does business. Rod says he enjoys working with Van’s because they share a commitment to quality, staying on schedule, and making sure the customer is more than satisfied. 

With those shared values and long history of collaborating successfully, Ralph’s and Van’s partnership should last for many more years to come. And that’s good news for their customers.  

Tags: stories, custom hardwood flooring

Setting the standard: The early days of Ralph’s

Posted on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 @ 23:10 PM

 

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Pictured from left to right are Roberta Lorenz(back to picture), Ralph Lorenz, Barb Strauch, Jim Strauch, Rod Lorenz (sitting in back), and unknown. 

When my father, Ralph Lorenz, started Ralph’s Hardwood Floors 52 years ago, the first person he hired was a man named Jim Strauch.

Jim was no stranger. He and Dad had both worked for a local hardwood floor company, and they frequently worked jobs together. Jim, who had more experience, helped Dad learn the hardwood-floor craft.

The two weren’t just colleagues; they were buddies, and when Dad set out on his own, Jim joined him.

“We were a team. It’s tough to break up a team,” Jim said.

Jim also had a feeling Dad would find success, and he wanted to be a part of it. Jim recognized that although Dad could come across as all-work, he had a personable side to him that ingratiated him with contractors, who provided a lot of our early business.

“He was great with relationships, and that was important,” Jim said.

And Jim could see that Dad had an entrepreneurial knack.

“He meant business; he meant business all the way.” Jim said. “He was a great business guy, and he had to be to be on his own.”

Jim also realized that Dad something else going for him—the valuable and vital support of Mom (Roberta Lorenz), who pitched in on the business side (and sometimes on the job) and had a winning way with customers.

“If you can’t get along with her, you can’t get along with anybody,” Jim said. “She was a very important part of the business.”

It’s been years since Jim worked at Ralph’s, but he is still fondly remembered as someone who set the standard for future members of our team.

“We were going to get the job done, and we were going to do a good job,” Jim said about his and Dad’s attitude during those early days.

That’s the same attitude we still have, and—even though we’ve grown to around 40 team members and have more-pressing hiring needs than ever—we insist on hiring people who share in that attitude.

If you love to please customers and don’t mind working hard, as part of a team, then you’re probably a great candidate to follow in Jim’s footsteps. It doesn’t matter if you know hardwood floors. As long as you’re reasonably mechanically inclined, we can teach you the technical skills of hardwood floor installation and refinishing. A” Jim-like” approach to work is what we’re looking for, above all.

It’s a two-way street. In return for hard work, dedication, and trustworthiness, we do everything within our power to treat our team members just as Dad treated Jim—making Ralph’s a rewarding and fun place to work.

“I had good times with him.” Jim recalled. “He was a great guy to work with, and he treated me good.”

As evidenced by our many long-time employees, Ralph’s is a place where you can build a career. If you—or someone you know—may be interested in becoming part of the Ralph’s team, you can learn more and apply here.

Tags: stories, custom hardwood flooring

Where is your up north? Hardwood floors, cabins and vacation homes.

Posted on Sat, Oct 07, 2017 @ 09:10 AM

20170714_202124.jpgIn Wisconsin, many people will say they are going “up north” for the weekend. It might be a trip to Shawano Lake. Or “up north” could be Door County. Others might consider a rafting trip down the Wolf River, or 18 holes on a golf course, their “up north.”

When my family and I go up north for some vacation time, we love to visit my sister and brother-in-law, Brian and Jill, who have a cabin in Minocqua. It’s a trip we always look forward to.

Brian and Jill take a lot of pride in their cabin, and they are constantly working on home improvement projects. I think it’s relaxing for them. Even though it’s work, it’s not the work they do for a living. I enjoy watching them go at it (and helping, when I’m not in the way) because of the great pride they have in their cabin.

Considering the care that Brian and Jill give their cabin, I feel honored that they choose Ralph’s when they are making flooring improvements. Even with the family connection, they wouldn’t use us if weren’t up to their high standards.

When they built an addition to the original cabin, we installed some really rustic-looking Ash floors. Ash is a great hardwood for cabins because it’s pretty forgiving of humidity changes. Vacation cabins that aren’t kept at the same temperature and humidity when the homeowners are away need relatively stable woods like Ash, which are less likely to cup or buckle due to humidity changes.

When Brian and Jill decided to remodel the original part of the cabin, they used Ralph’s again. They wanted the project to be simple, so we helped them decide on prefinished engineered hardwood. Not only did this make the installation quicker, quality engineered hardwood flooring typically handles humidity changes better than solid plank hardwood.

The species they chose was European white oak, which has a nice natural look that’s perfect for a getaway cabin and is an excellent complement to the Ash floors in the addition. We were able to complete the project in a day, and Brian and Jill were very satisfied with the result.

To me, the work we’ve done at the cabin is a perfect example of how to choose the right flooring for a particular situation. We accomplished two things: the floors have just the right natural look for the cabin’s relaxed, casual atmosphere, and they also are a great choice for the humidity conditions.

Best of all, my wife, kids, and I also get to enjoy them! I can’t wait until the next time we’re walking on them. It’s always a fun, laid-back time. And it makes me feel good that Ralph’s successfully contributed to the home improvements that my sister and brother-in-law love to make.

Ralph’s is happy to work with you to select the right species and type of flooring for your home, whether it’s a vacation home or your primary residence. In addition to solid-plank, site-finished hardwood floors, we also offer a wide range of quality prefinished and engineered hardwood products, as well as luxury vinyl plank and tile.

Whatever look you’re after, and whatever the humidity conditions, we have the right flooring for you. Stop by our showroom any time to explore the possibilities, or give us a call at 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902to talk about your project.

Tags: prefinished hardwood flooring, stories, custom hardwood flooring

Producing Masterful Hardwood Floors: The Learning Never Stops

Posted on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 @ 18:08 PM

I’ve been working in the hardwood floor industry since I was a little boy, “learning at my father’s knee,” as they say.

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Twenty-five years ago, when I took over Ralph’s Hardwood Floors from my dad, Ralph Lorenz, one thing I’m pretty sure I did right was to realize I was far from through learning.

The hardwood floor industry is changing all the time—with new styles, new materials, and new installation techniques. Just as with so many other fields, you can’t rely only on what you already know. You have to keep seeking knowledge, or else you fall behind the latest innovations.

I keep current with hardwood floor trends and innovations in many ways, including our company’s membership in the National Wood Flooring Association, an organization that provides many valuable training and educational services, such as guidelines, tech manuals, live tech support, and “NWFA University,” an online portal full of information to keep my installers and me continually learning about the best—and better—ways to practice our craft and keep our customers more-than-satisfied.

The NWFA also offers a trade magazine, which we diligently read at Ralph’s. And they hold annual expos, which I attend every year.  Every other year, I also attend the Surfaces trade show, which is designed for all floor coverings. From this show, I get a better take on colors and trends, whereas the NWFA expo is more about techniques to achieve certain hardwood floor looks.

Customers tell us where to focus

Customers frequently drive the course of our continuing education. When they request a certain look, and we’re not sure of the best way to achieve it, we look to sources such as the NWFA, other trade magazines, and websites to figure out the best solution for the customer. I’ll even spend time talking to other industry professionals if I know they have more knowledge about the customer’s desired look than we do.

The goal is always to find the materials and techniques that will produce the best result for the customer.

This process is nothing new for us. When I took over in the 1990s, there was big demand for maple floors stained with dark color. As I said, customer requests often focus our learning efforts, and that was the case then just as it is now. I wasn’t satisfied with our results with this style of flooring, so we got advice from any source we could, did our research, and learned through trial-and-error experiments in our shop.

We tried multiple combinations of sanding techniques combined with different stain brands—until we had figured out how to create dark-stained maple floors that made our customers go “wow!” Over the years, we’ve done the same in learning how to achieve excellent results with other consumer trends, such as hard exotic woods, lighter red material (e.g., red birch), and hand-scraped flooring

Most recently, we’ve focused on learning about current trends like wider-plank flooring, engineered floors, lighter-textured materials, and luxury vinyl tile.

I can only speak for myself, but I suspect my installers all feel the same way—this constant learning is one of the best parts of the job, a part that keeps us feeling refreshed every day.

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, about hardwood floors, hardwood flooring trends

Movin’ on up

Posted on Fri, Aug 04, 2017 @ 11:08 AM

In my thinking, the point of a business isn’t just to survive, maintaining the status quo year after year. The goal of a business is to continually grow and evolve.

That’s why it gives me such satisfaction to know that since its founding in 1965, Ralph’s has moved into larger facilities four times and has undergone numerous expansions and remodels, including a recent remodeling of our showroom.

That tells me we’re doing the right things to please customers. If we weren’t doing those things, there’s no way we could have moved so many times. We wouldn’t have had enough business to afford the upgrades

Out in the country … starting small

The first location for Ralph’s Hardwoods didn’t even have a showroom. It was just my Dad’s garage, behind our house in the country outside Black Creek. Dad—who founded Ralph’s in 1965—stored materials and equipment there. He was a one-man show back then, doing all the work he could handle and always seeking more.

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As Dad’s hard work and commitment to customer satisfaction led to more and more work, he needed more storage space. So he moved the “warehouse” to a nearby 40x80 sq. ft. pole building barn. Dad worked out of that shed from about 1975 through 1992, when I took over the company.

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In 1988, with business continuing to grow, Dad decided he needed a place for customers to visit and see with their own eyes what Ralph’s could do for them. That’s when we made our move into town, with Dad renting part of an old building to create our first showroom.

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Continuing to get bigger and better

That first showroom was a great step up for Ralph’s, but it wasn’t an ideal situation. The building was terribly old and we had to share the space with another tenant. So when Dad passed the company on to me, one of my biggest priorities was getting us into a better location.

In 1993, we built our current building in Black Creek, at 404 W. State Street (Hwy 54). It allowed us to bring our showroom and warehouse together in the same location, and it gave us even more exposure to customers.

Since then, we’ve expanded the building three times, including a major expansion in 2005 that doubled our square footage. We now have 4,000 sq. ft. of showroom space and a 19,000-sq.-ft. warehouse—quite a step up from a garage!

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Even more importantly than the size, though, is the improved quality of the showroom and the cost-savings our efficient modern warehouse allows us to provide our customers. We’re not just growing to grow—we’re growing to better serve our customers.

For example, with last year’s showroom renovation, we added numerous displays and features to give customers a better experience, allowing them to see, touch, and walk on the very latest in hardwood floor trends.

Is this new showroom the last time we’ll expand or improve our facilities? I doubt it, but it is what we’re very excited about now. To me, it’s just the latest evidence of our business philosophy of achieving growth by giving customers what they want and exceeding their expectations.

I hope you’ll pay us a visit and check out how far we’ve come.  

Tags: stories, about Ralph's

Hardwood flooring - It’s a family affair.

Posted on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 @ 18:07 PM

When my dad, Ralph Lorenz, started Ralph’s Hardwood Floors in 1965, he was setting out on his own after learning the trade at another local hardwood floor company.

But “on his own” doesn’t mean he had no help.

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My mom, Roberta, was always lending a hand—answering the Ralph’s phone line in our home, helping Dad with non-technical aspects of installation, handling the accounting, forming bonds with our customers, and doing anything else that needed doing. She was essentially Ralph’s office manager … and much more.

I was born the year Dad started Ralph’s, and it wasn’t long before I was helping out, too. Some of my earliest memories are of working with Dad. At first, it was little stuff, but as I grew up, Dad began teaching me the hardwood floor craft.

In the early days of Ralph’s, Dad also got help from family members from outside of our home—but not from far away! My uncle, Gene Blake, was a farmer who lived across the street and he began helping Dad with jobs when Uncle Gene’s work was slow and Dad’s was busy. He also let us put a phone in his house, which he or my Aunt Dolores would answer when Mom or Dad didn’t pick up the Ralph’s line in our home.

Gene still live across the street from the house I grew up. And I see their son, Al, all the time. That’s because he’s Ralph’s longest-tenured employee. He joined us in 1986 as an installer, and he’s never seen a reason to leave. Now Al’s son, Reed, is helping us in the summer. The family tradition continues!

We have about 40 team members now, but I think the “family” feel of the company remains. That’s how we started, and that’s how we carry on—like a family pulling together.

We’ve made countless hires over the years. Some work out; some don’t. But those that do tend to stay with us for the long run. We want employees who are honest, nice, clean cut, hard-working, physically fit, mechanically oriented, eager to learn, and eager to please customers. We want people who we’d be glad to welcome into our family.

If you—or someone you know—has what we’re looking for, let us know. Joining the Ralph’s family could be a life-changing opportunity.

Tags: stories, about Ralph's

The Wheelhouse Restaurant: Delicious Food and Yummy Hardwood Floors

Posted on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 08:06 AM

In 1977, when Jeff Maiman bought the building he turned into The Wheelhouse Restaurant, he knew he had to do something about the hardwood floors. They were worn out and ugly, painted dark chocolate.

Maiman wanted to create a woodsy, nautical look in tune with the restaurant’s location—the Chain O’ Lakes in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, a popular area for boating, canoeing, and other outdoor recreation. And he knew hardwood floors would be a key element in creating that natural atmosphere.

Maiman called a company he had heard did high-quality hardwood floor work—Ralph’s Hardwoods. From the moment Ralph’s founder, Ralph Lorenz, and his wife, Roberta, showed up at his door to look over the job, Maiman has been glad he turned to Ralph’s.

He appreciates Ralph’s attentive customer service. And as avid woodworker himself, he has great respect for the skill of their work.

“We were really, really impressed with the job they did,” Maiman said about the refinishing of the old floors he had bought. “They do quality work, and if it ain’t right, they make it right.”

The relationship between The Wheelhouse and Ralph’s has stood the test of time and is now in its fifth decade.

A Natural Match

The rustic charm of The Wheelhouse fits perfectly with the idyllic Chain O’ Lakes, and the hardwood floors set the dining area’s tone.

“This is really a knotty pine and wood interior,” Maiman said. “It’s kind of an ‘up-northy’ feel, and the hardwood floors really make it pop. I couldn’t see having any other type of floor.”

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Maiman painstakingly constructed the tables and booths for the restaurant with his own hands, so working with Ralph’s is more than just good business. It’s an assurance that the floors with live up to his personal quality standards.

Whether it’s the tables and booths he sweated over, or the pizza, sandwiches, and other menu items—which are known for being delicious, fresh, and scratch-made—Maiman insists on the best. So it’s only natural that he chooses to work with a hardwood floor company that shares in that insistence.

He fondly remembers how Ralph’s once voluntarily returned to refinish a floor free of charge because Ralph wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the first refinishing. That’s the dedication to quality he’s come to expect from Ralph’s.

As Maiman has expanded The Wheelhouse, Ralph’s has put in the hardwood floors. And Maiman calls on Ralph’s every year to recoat the floors—a frequency of recoating that isn’t needed in a home setting but that Maiman deemed necessary in a high-traffic commercial space like his popular restaurant.

“We wanted to stay on top of it,” Maiman said. “Ralph’s worked very well with me in doing so.”

New Hardwood Delights Customers

Three years ago, during the relatively slow winter season, Maiman had the hardwood floors completely replaced with new Ash flooring, including in areas that previously were carpeted. Now the restaurant, which has about 3,000 square feet of space in its dining area, is virtually all hardwood, coated with a moisture-cured urethane finish designed specifically for commercial spaces.

Maiman loves the new floors, and so do his customers. A compass rose inlay medallion, in particular, draws raves.

“Ralph’s blended it all so well,” he said. “I’ve had nothing but compliments from everyone who has come in. They look at our floors and say, ‘Wow! How can we get floors like that?’ And we send them to Ralph’s.”

Refinishing each year makes them look like they’re brand new, Maiman said, and he values the durability and easy maintenance of the moisture-cured urethane finish.

“It’s hard as rock, “he said. “It holds up so well, and it’s so easy to take care of. “

Let Ralph’s Do It

Maiman also owns an ice cream shop, Scoopers, across the street from The Wheelhouse. For years, Maiman refinished Scoopers’ pine plank floor himself, coating it with a polyurethane finish. But he was so pleased with the finish, and Ralph’s craftmanship in The Wheelhouse, that he eventually brought in Ralph’s to take care of the floors in Scoopers as well.

“Why not?” he figured.

“Hands-down, they are better than I am,” he said, laughing. “And they have proven themselves.”

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, about Ralph's, finishes, stains & textures

Cold ice, hardwood floors and the Mother's Day I will never forget.

Posted on Sun, Apr 30, 2017 @ 10:04 AM

I look forward to Mother’s Day every year. It’s a chance for me to express how much I love my mother, Roberta Lorenz.

With Mother’s Day coming up next week, I’m eager to make her feel as special as she is.

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Rod, Roberta and Ralph.

But I’ve also found myself thinking about my father, Ralph, and his role in a Mother’s Day long ago.
I was a small boy, about 7 or 8, and snow still covered the spring ground. Dad thought it would be fun to take me out for a snowmobile ride. It wasn’t supposed to be a long excursion. He just wanted to give me a quick bit of excitement before we returned to celebrate the day with Mom.

And I did have fun, riding in front of Dad and driving  …. until we fell through ice.

We were flying across what appeared to be a snowy field when I saw a spot just ahead that didn’t quite look right. It was a small pond, and before I could react, we hit it and broke the ice.

We were stuck in the ice-cold water. Suddenly our lighthearted romp had become serious.

We eventually got the snowmobile back onto solid ground, but my feet had gone in the water and were freezing. I was pretty miserable, and Dad was worried that I would get frostbite.

That’s when his quick thinking saved the day. He had me strip off my boots and socks, and then he put the socks on the muffler of the running snowmobile to dry them off. Soon enough, my feet were relatively warm again in toasty socks.

Dad’s urgency and resourcefulness in that situation reminds me of the many times I saw him overcome the sudden problems that inevitably arise in hardwood floor work. When something wasn’t right, Dad jumped right on the problem, and he was a master of thinking of creative solutions.

Dad started Ralph’s Hardwood Floors in 1965, the same year I was born, and I learned the business from him. I took over in 1992, and, sadly, Dad passed away in 2014. But his fix-it-now, resourceful spirit still lives on in the work that we do.

Of course, our goal is to have no problems with jobs—a goal we typically achieve. But when we “fall through the ice” and a problem arises with installation or refinishing, we take immediate action to fix what needs fixing. Whether it’s our fault, or a manufacturer’s, or a contractor’s—or even the customer’s—we don’t rest until the problem is resolved to our satisfaction, and most importantly, to our customer’s satisfaction.

When we got home that Mother’s Day after the snowmobile incident—much later than planned—Mom just laughed. She realized that I had been in good hands because Dad was there.

That’s the feeling we continually strive to give our customers. When it comes to hardwood floors, we take all the worry away, always making sure our customers have “warm feet.”

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, picking the right floor for your lifestyle, hardwood floor trends

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