Ralph's Blog

Setting the standard: The early days of Ralph’s

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


Home Show.jpg

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: custom hardwood flooring, stories

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: custom hardwood flooring, prefinished hardwood flooring, stories

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