Ralph's Blog

Local Businesses Unite to Spruce up Our Black Creek Home

Posted on Fri, Dec 29, 2017 @ 22:12 PM

 

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Since my father founded Ralph’s Hardwood Floors in 1965, we’ve been located in the Village of Black Creek, and we have no plans of changing that. 

Black Creek may be a bit of a drive for customers in Green Bay, Appleton, or other areas of northeast Wisconsin, but it’s a perfect home for us. We cherish the small-town atmosphere, and we rely on the deep pool of hardworking, reliable, handy people in this area.  

We’re now one of Black Creek’s leading employers, a fact we take great pride in. So, naturally, we think it’s important to make Black Creek as pleasant a community as it can be. 

Fortunately, our fellow Black Creek businesses share our desire to spruce up Black Creek. Working together as the Black Creek Business Association (of which I’m the current president), we’ve taken several initiatives to make Black Creek more appealing to residents and visitors alike. 

My mom and dad grew up in the country surrounding the village, and back then, Black Creek was a different town, based on a farming economy. Downtown wasn’t big—basically just a crossroads—but there were several food stores and a bank, and people drove from miles around to get here. 

But as farms declined, so did the downtown. Stores closed, and vacant storefront became all-to-common. Businesses like ours, with well-established roots in Black Creek, realized we could help reverse this trend by concentrating resources on beautifying the village and attracting new businesses.  

In addition to initiatives such as helping fund public Christmas decorations, we’ve promoted structural face-lifts and encouraged the growth of specialty “mom and pop” shops that attract folks traveling “up north.”  

Perhaps our most notable success to date has been working with the village and American Legion Post 332 to create a Veteran’s Memorial. The 21-member Business Association identified a spot for it, helped arrange the sale of the land to Black Creek, and raised a significant portion of the funding. Now the Memorial is a meaningful, heartfelt tribute to those who dutifully served our country  as well as an eye-catching attraction! 

And, trust me, the Association has plenty of other ideas. We want Black Creek to be an exceptional place—a place where people desire to live, work, and do business. We’re doing all we can to take care of our home.  

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, stories

'Tis the season for giving back

Posted on Fri, Dec 22, 2017 @ 11:12 AM

 

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Like Thanksgiving, Christmas is a holiday when we should appreciate our good fortune. It’s a cozy, secure time with our families in our warm homes, gathering around Christmas trees with piles of presents underneath.

We not only look forward to the gifts we’re going to receive, we’re happy being able to give those we love a gift that they’ll love. The old saying, “It’s better to give than receive,” is very true.

That’s why it means so much to me that, each Christmas, many members of the “Ralph’s family” voluntarily work with the Salvation Army to sponsor families who aren’t as fortunate as we are—providing the parents with the ability to give something to their children, who like all children deserve to receive.

The Salvation Army prepares cards for families without the resources for a gift-filled Christmas. Each card lists clothes sizes and the interests of the family members, and we buy their gifts for them. It’s something my own family does each year, and it warms my heart that our employees feel the same urge to use their own money to help.

As a company, we also support the Salvations Army’s mission to make Christmas a time of joy for all. This year, on Dec. 8, Ralph’s matched all donations put into the red kettle during the “ring a bell” fundraiser outside of Sal’s Foods in Black Creek.

And it’s about more than just presents for Christmas. The Salvation Army supports those in need throughout the year, right here in Black Creek  and the surrounding areas.

Helping this noble organization help local families is the right thing to do—giving back to the community that has given us so much. I thank the Salvation Army and our employees who give. They truly understand the spirit of the season.

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, stories

Your hardwood floors: a pick-me present for yourself

Posted on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 @ 23:12 PM

 

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My family has a special Christmas tradition we look forward to every year: We give each other what we call “pick-me” presents. 

It’s a tradition started by my mother-in-law and now carried on by my wife and sister-in-law. They wrap up two gifts in one box and the person they’re giving the present to gets to choose which gift to keep and which one to return. 

It’s just a playful thing, but it’s become an important part of our Christmas celebration. It’s fun wondering who’s going to get the first pick-me present and seeing which gifts everyone choses. We get a great sense of what each person’s tastes are when they make their selection. 

Usually, it’s not a huge choice because the gifts are similar. The difference is typically something like two shirts that vary only in their color or pattern. The thinking is: “I know you want a shirt, but I don’t know whether you’d prefer blue or brown, so I’ll let you choose.” 

That logic makes a lot of sense to me. The difference in color could be the difference between a shirt that’s a favorite and a shirt that never sees the outside of the closet. So, it’s not just the playfulness I like about this tradition. I also like that it’s practical—letting us make a choice that best fits our personal tastes. 

It’s the same logic that underlies Ralph’s philosophy of helping our customers select the hardwood floors of their dreams. It’s a lot larger scale—our customers have many more options than two—but the thinking is the same: The more choices you have, the more likely you are to end up with what makes you the happiest. 

The ability to select flooring that makes a personal statement is one of the wonderful things about hardwood floors. With choices about type of wood, color, grain, texture, dimensions, and more, homeowners can create their own unique masterpiece. 

That’s why we urge anyone thinking about a hardwood floor project to visit our showroom, where one of our hardwood floor experts will listen to your dream and guide you through the options to make it happen. You can see, feel, and walk on your many options. 

Your pick-me present can be your own hardwood floors! 

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, stories

I Need To Vent...

Posted on Fri, Dec 01, 2017 @ 23:12 PM

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Something that sometimes gets me upset enough that I need to vent is … well … vents. 

As the president of Ralph’s Hardwood Floor Co. for going on 25 years, I pay very close attention to hardwood floors and how they relate to the rest of a home, and when I see wooden vents in hardwood floors that don’t match as well as they should with the hardwood flooring, it bothers me. 

Contractors and homeowners are building beautiful custom homes, where all the colors of the walls, cabinets, and floors blend nicely—except for the wooden vents. These vents catch the eye—sticking up as much as a half-inch from the flooring—and they don’t match the color of the flooring, or any other wood in the house. Even worse is when metal vents are used.  

To me, a mismatch between vents and the floor looks amateurish and diminishes the home’s beauty. 

And it’s not just vents; it’s also transition moldings—reducers, bull nosing, and other transition pieces. I believe these parts of the flooring should match with the flooring. But they often don’t. 

When we install site-finished floors, the vents and moldings will match exactly because we stain and finish them with the same stain and finish we use for the floors.  

However, when we install prefinished floors, we’re dealing with “coordinated” moldings provided by the prefinished flooring company—but the “coordination” leaves a lot to be desired.  It reminds me of the look of moldings in a carpeted room, where the carpet company just installs pre-colored moldings and leaves it at that, with no way to make the moldings blend with the color of the carpet. 

We wanted a better match. 

That’s why we made a change in how we do things. No longer do we leave it to the prefinished flooring company to provide the vents and moldings for prefinished floors. Now we procure them ourselves and finish to match. 

We realized that by working with the best manufacturers, choosing from among their wide selections, and using our hardwood-flooring expertise to make the right choices, we can provide a more seamless look. We can match vents and molding as close as possible to the species, color, tone, and texture of the prefinished flooring 

We’re also able to get wider and longer bull nosing so that spindles can be installed directly into the nosing rather than on an additional piece on top of the flooring. And we don’t have to splice pieces longer than 8 feet. 

The contractors we work with like this added value we bring. We free them from responsibility and help them please their customers. 

In fact, some contractors are so happy with our matching techniques that they ask us to also stain and finish stair treads to match with the flooring. They realize the dramatic difference that a good match can make. 

Tags: stories, about Ralph's, custom hardwood flooring

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